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Tim Chevalier ([personal profile] tim) wrote2013-04-23 06:36 pm
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Debra Boyask, 1966-2013

Debra, aka [livejournal.com profile] badasstronaut, was the first person I added as a friend on LiveJournal who I didn't already know, back in 2002. This was mainly on the basis of both of us having Nina Paley in our interests list. I met her in person when I visited her in Bristol, England in 2006 while I was interning at Microsoft Research. Unexpectedly, we became lovers. That didn't last (living on different continents will do that, though for a brief period, things were such that I actually considered moving to the UK), but we always remained friends. She visited me once when I lived in Portland, and I visited her twice more in Bristol; the last time I saw her was a year ago when she was visiting New York City with her wife Kris, and I flew out to NYC to see them.

Debra was creative, intellectually probing, and very funny. She made indie comics and was an educational developer and university lecturer; in that order (at least as I saw her). Unfortunately, most of her comics don't seem to be online, except for a few. She started out as a hairdresser before she went to grad school, and at one point planned to write a Ph.D dissertation on hairdressers' professional culture (but, like me, she never finished her Ph.D). When she lived in New Zealand, she also did feminist and other political activism.

She liked robots and bunnies and had a great sense of style. One of the times with her that I remember best was when I visited her after going to ICFP in Edinburgh, in September 2009; we went to a bed and breakfast in Hay-on-Wye for two nights and went kayaking and, one night, sat in the pub attached to the B&B drinking scrumpy (or at least I did) and listening to some guys literally talk about how to "make Britain great again".

There's so much more, but nothing I could say would be adequate. For the past year I've known that Debra was ill with breast cancer; she didn't seem to want to talk about it much, preferring to go on as normal, so I generally didn't press the issue. We did exchange emails on the subject of top surgery; rather than having a mastectomy with breast reconstruction, she wanted to have a male chest reconstructed so that she could present a more genderqueer appearance. She wrote to me back in September 2012:
Strangely, I am quite excited about it! It's funny - some women I've
talked to say they'd be most worried about the hair loss (what???) and
losing their bust. Those were the least of my concerns, and if I come
through all this successfully I feel I will be able to celebrate with
new clothes and almost a new persona. And I might take up running...

I will miss her so much. I know that her wife Kris and her mother took good care of her over the past year, and she wasn't lacking for support. Even so, I wish I'd been a bit more in touch with her instead of assuming she would prefer to be left alone.

This is the one picture of her I could find that I took (I have more, but am disorganized with my data), on that trip to Hay-on-Wye in 2009):

[personal profile] puzzlement 2013-04-24 02:03 am (UTC)(link)
She sounds like she was an amazing person. I'm sorry Tim.
lindseykuper: Photo of me outside. (Default)

[personal profile] lindseykuper 2013-04-24 02:32 am (UTC)(link)
Yes, what a lovely person. Thanks for writing about her, Tim.
sasha_feather: dog looking over a valley (dog and landscape)

[personal profile] sasha_feather 2013-04-24 02:59 am (UTC)(link)
I am so sorry for your loss.
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[personal profile] kaberett 2013-04-24 03:15 am (UTC)(link)
I bear witness.
ivy: Two strands of ivy against a red wall (Default)

[personal profile] ivy 2013-04-24 04:20 am (UTC)(link)
This is a beautiful memorial, and I'm sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you.
lileyo: A Red-headed Woodpecker, perched on a wooden stump and cocking its head. (Default)

[personal profile] lileyo 2013-04-24 04:27 am (UTC)(link)
Damn. I'm so sorry, Tim. I remember seeing her around your FB wall. I wish her family all the best, and I shall give you hugs IRL this weekend. ♥
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[personal profile] nentuaby 2013-04-24 05:14 am (UTC)(link)
I'm sorry for your loss. May remembered joy wear the edges off current pain.
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[personal profile] sonia 2013-04-24 05:21 am (UTC)(link)
:-( I'm sorry for your loss.

Thank you for sharing your memories of your friend.
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[personal profile] wordweaverlynn 2013-04-24 06:20 am (UTC)(link)
I am so sorry for your loss.
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)

[personal profile] brainwane 2013-04-24 12:54 pm (UTC)(link)
I wish I had known her -- dammit. Thank you for writing this. My condolences.
kyriacarlisle: melancholy: leafless tree & sun through grey clouds (tree)

[personal profile] kyriacarlisle 2013-04-25 01:45 am (UTC)(link)
I recognize her name from your posts over the years. I'm so sorry.
azurelunatic: The Space Needle by night. Slightly dubious photography. (Default)

[personal profile] azurelunatic 2013-04-26 07:04 am (UTC)(link)
I am sorry for your, and the world's, loss.
wild_irises: (fuck cancer)

[personal profile] wild_irises 2013-04-27 05:05 am (UTC)(link)
May her memory be a blessing.

[identity profile] anemone.livejournal.com 2013-04-27 10:04 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm sorry. I only knew her from the comments she left in your journal and facebook, and I'm sorry she's gone.