Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

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Friend Grief

The End. But Not The End.

The End. But Not The End.
Apr 26, 2016 by Victoria Noe
There it is. Yeah, the cover of the final book in the Friend Grief series.

Do I like it? Oh, yeah, I like it a lot. My cover designer (Rebecca Swift) never steers me wrong.

But still...it's the last one. It's the last book in the series. I'm about to hit "send" on the final edits, so next week it goes to the formatter. I had planned on it coming out this month, but the universe conspired against me. It'll be out in early May.

The end of the series does not mean the end of my weekly blog. Not by a long shot. I still have plenty to say about grieving the death of a friend. And to be honest, it's not...

Working on Two Books at Once

Working on Two Books at Once
Apr 19, 2016 by Victoria Noe
winghill.com

(Or, "Who Thought That Was a Good Idea?")

Someone asked me recently what I was working on, and after I answered, he said “You’re working on two books at once?” I’m not sure if he was impressed or horrified.

I am working on two books. I have been for months. And while they are very different, I’m not sure I’d recommend it to any of my writer friends. It’s exhausting. The only saving grace, I think, is that I have not been doing the same thing with each book.

The first one – Friend Grief and Men: Defying Stereotypes – is in the final stages. I’ve been deep in the editing for the past few weeks, deleting and adding...

"He's A Man"

"He's A Man"
Feb 23, 2016 by Victoria Noe
worldtraveltribe.com

Vice President Joe Biden has long been known as a man who wears his heart on his sleeve. Sometimes that results in public statements that are uncensored. You rarely get the feeling with him that his speeches are canned, rehearsed, carefully vetted. That can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your politics.

Author Mark Liebenow wrote recently about why Biden’s public grief about his son was important. Of the five reasons he gave, the first was of great interest to me:

“He’s a man.”

The final book in the Friend Grief series comes out in April. Friend Grief and Men: Defying Stereotypes will introduce you to a lot of guys like Joe Biden. They are a wide...

How to Remember Them

How to Remember Them
Feb 16, 2016 by Victoria Noe
It’s award season. There’s one thing that every show includes (besides the pre-show red carpet extravaganza).

The “In Memoriam” segment.

Some people take that as their cue to get up and go the bathroom or get more snacks. Others are glued to the TV, wincing as each familiar face appears on the screen.

If you feel like this segment is getting longer, you’re not alone. So many celebrities – legends in the arts communities – died in the past year. Everyone from Louis Jourdan to Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey to Leslie Gore, in what feels like a never-ending list.

That pause in each awards ceremony to honor those who have died is largely uncontroversial. But after the Grammy’s last night, the Twitterverse lit...

A Different Kind of Writer's Block

A Different Kind of Writer's Block
Feb 09, 2016 by Victoria Noe
writing.inside.tru.ca

Most writers lead lives that are shockingly normal. They work at jobs to pay their bills, they carpool, they take care of aging parents, they do their taxes. It’s not surprising that after everyone else is asleep, they sit down at their computer and stare at the screen. They’re exhausted – mentally and physically – too exhausted to think of anything to write that deserves to see the light of day. Classic writer’s block.

I don’t have that kind of problem. My writer’s block is something completely different.

Seven years ago St. Patrick’s Day, I was in a minor fender-bender (an RV rear-ended a jeep that rear-ended me). It happens so often driving in the city that at...

The Show Must Go On

The Show Must Go On
Feb 03, 2016 by Victoria Noe
Coming from a theatre background, I learned early on that ‘the show must go on’. Once I had a severe allergic reaction a few hours before going onstage. I made it through the show, though I couldn’t sing worth a damn. If you watched the amazing live production of Grease that aired Sunday night, you probably heard about Vanessa Hudgens, who played Rizzo: her father died less than 24 hours before the broadcast. She went on as scheduled and the whole show was dedicated to him.

Less than a week after my father died, I was 400 miles away making a presentation at a national conference. I didn’t want to be there. The organizers assured me I didn’t have to be there....

Giving a Eulogy for a Friend

Giving a Eulogy for a Friend
Jan 19, 2016 by Victoria Noe
In the final book in my series – Friend Grief and Men: Defying Stereotypes – you’ll meet a man who gave the eulogy for his best friend. Neither man was old. In fact, both were 29. It wasn’t a task anyone expects to be given at that age.

I’m quite a bit older than that but it’s been a while since I spoke at a funeral or memorial service: almost eleven years. So I didn’t expect to be asked to speak at the memorial for my writing group leader, Jo Stewart. I’d already written about her here, a post that her daughter shared on Facebook. That was that, I thought. Then I got the email inviting me to speak. We agreed...

Respecting a Dying Friend's Wishes

Respecting a Dying Friend's Wishes
Jan 13, 2016 by Victoria Noe
David Bowie's final photo by Jeremy King

Unless you were in a cave on Monday, you heard of the unexpected death of David Bowie. Though he wasn’t one of my top ten favorite performers, I respected his talent and unconventional approach to his craft. “Did you like David Bowie?” I was asked. “Which one?” I replied. He was fearless in his artistic pursuits and, as it turned out, his death.

He did something that I’ve discussed here before. I asked several friends if they would tell me if they were dying. Most said they would. Some said absolutely not and refused to elaborate. Surprisingly, no one asked me (that’s a topic for a future post).

It was his decision...

Putting 2015 to Bed

Putting 2015 to Bed
Dec 22, 2015 by Victoria Noe
batangamedia.com

In the newspaper world, “putting to bed” means finishing something and moving on to the next level. Today is my final blog post of 2015, so I thought it was appropriate to put the year to bed and look ahead, too.

You probably make a list of resolutions each New Year’s, only to realize the list is largely undone by the time Christmas rolls around again. I know that’s true for me. Sometimes we’re overly optimistic; sometimes we’re delusional. And sometimes life just gets in the way.

This year marked a few serious changes of direction, most of them planned and thought-out. I committed to changes in my marketing: increased public speaking and more deliberate involvement in the...

Friend Grief and Men (ACT UP Edition)

Friend Grief and Men (ACT UP Edition)
Dec 15, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Jim Eigo receiving his award from Stephen Spinella

One of the men you’ll meet in the final book of my series – Friend Grief and Men: Defying Stereotypes – is Jim Eigo.

When I walked into my first ACT UP/NY meeting almost three years ago, Jim was the guy who waved me over to an empty chair in the circle. That kindness morphed into a friendship I treasure.

He has a long resume, which I’m sure was recounted when he was honored at Treatment Action Group’s (TAG) Research in Action Awards on Sunday night in New York. Playwright, editor, writer, activist: words that cannot convey the depth of his talent and commitment to fighting the epidemic that is now...

World AIDS Day - And A Big Announcement

World AIDS Day - And A Big Announcement
Dec 01, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Bus shelter poster, 1991

Dec. 1, 1988. I was in London, at a performance of The Secret of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke. At the curtain call, Brett made a speech about that being the first World AIDS Day. The ushers passed around collection buckets for donations to AIDS service organizations in London. What a concept, I thought: the whole world thinking about AIDS.

Over the years I’ve spent World AIDS Day conducting fundraising events, attending religious services, discussing issues. Tonight I’m leading a conversation on women and AIDS – how women were treated at the beginning of the epidemic and where we are now - at Women & Children First Bookstore in Chicago.

Today is also...

That's What Friends Are For

That's What Friends Are For
Nov 17, 2015 by Victoria Noe
My brain is in a fog.

I’ve spent most of the last week trying to process news that I could’ve never anticipated:

  I attended a luncheon where Caitlin Jenner was the speaker. She told why she decided not to commit suicide, when in fact, that would’ve been easier than coming out as transgender. She also spoke of the extremes that the paparazzi will go to, extremes she was able to occasionally thwart by wearing the same clothes several days in a row (they can’t sell photos to the tabloids if she looks the same as the day before). The horrific attacks in Paris. My daughter studied there for four months earlier this year, arriving just 10 days after the Charlie Hebdo attacks....

To Absent Friends (You Know Who You Are)

To Absent Friends (You Know Who You Are)
Nov 03, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Delle

This week, the first week of November, a very special festival is taking place in Scotland called “To Absent Friends…” I suppose it’s no coincidence that the week begins with All Saints Day. But what I quickly realized was that it ends on November 7th, which this year is the 9th anniversary of my friend, Delle Chatman’s death.

The 7th was a Tuesday, election day. I knew she was close to death: earlier that day, her brother was writing her obituary. After dinner, I sat at the dining room table with my laptop open, waiting for the news I dreaded. But I didn’t wait long. Instead I went upstairs to watch the election results. The next morning...

Chapter 5 for a Friend

Chapter 5 for a Friend
Oct 13, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Steve Montador Concussions are a serious issue. Believe me, I know: I had one six years ago and I still deal with the fallout every day. Mine is classified – in today’s language – as a “mild traumatic brain injury”. I had no fracture, no swelling, no bleeding. I did not lose consciousness. I’m able to function pretty well most of the time, and I’m not getting worse. But many athletes are not so lucky. One was Steve Montador, who suffered multiple concussions during his ten year NHL career. He was found dead of natural causes on February 15. How does one die of natural causes at 35? An autopsy of his brain found severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy....

Friends Helping Friends

Friends Helping Friends
Oct 06, 2015 by Victoria Noe
As promised last week, I have another new announcement related to my new book project, Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community.

Last week I unveiled a new Facebook page dedicated to that book. Yeah, I know: the book itself won’t be out until 2017. I figure it will be about a year before I finish research and begin to write. So why open up a new page now?

Well, as I’ve found here in this blog and other social media platforms, people are interested in the process of writing a book. Sometimes they’re readers who are curious about what goes into writing a book. Sometimes they’re writers who are curious about how other writers...

Fasten Your Seat Belt!

Fasten Your Seat Belt!
Sep 29, 2015 by Victoria Noe
There’s so much news to share with you and a lot of it has been happening quickly. So fasten your seat belt while I bring you up to date on what I’m doing.

First of all, do you see the upper right hand corner of your screen, where is says “subscribe to my newsletter’? You really want to do that. Subscribing to my short and sweet Wednesday newsletter means you get all the good stuff first. Not only that, but subscribers receive a pdf copy of my latest book, Friend Grief in the Workplace: More Than an Empty Cubicle, free. Yes, free, but that’s an offer that will not last much longer.

Back to the news. Here’s what I can share and...

Ghost Friends

Ghost Friends
Sep 22, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Looks like the car I saw.

It happened again.

It’s probably happened to you, too.

I was walking towards the elevators at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, DC, between sessions at the US Conference on AIDS. For some reason, in the crush of people, one man caught my eye.

I gasped. It was someone I used to work for, except it wasn’t possible: that guy died over twenty years ago.

One of the men I interviewed for my next book, Friend Grief and Men: Defying Stereotypes, talked about seeing ghosts. When he walks down certain streets he’s transported back to when his friends lived and worked there, men who have been dead for decades.

The conference felt a little like that anyway....

Friend Grief Presentations

Friend Grief Presentations
Jul 07, 2015 by Victoria Noe
bandni.co.uk

I attended a writers’ conference a few years ago. I was particularly looking forward to one presentation. The speaker – who shall remain nameless – was someone I’d been following for a while on Twitter. Occasionally sarcastic, his tweets were always entertaining and full of great tips. We gathered in the ballroom and he opened his mouth.

Not many speakers have ever disappointed me as much as he did. While his online persona was larger-than-life, in person he was the opposite. He rarely made eye contact with his audience as he read from his script. He could barely be heard, as he did not make good use of the microphone. Unlike some people, I stayed for the...

Friend Grief in the Workplace

Friend Grief in the Workplace
Jun 09, 2015 by Victoria Noe
If it seems to you like my next book – Friend Grief in the Workplace: More Than an Empty Cubicle - has been in the works forever, well, it feels that way to me, too. I can’t remember when my original publication date was, other than it was 2014. But it’s finally happening, and I’m ready to share some specifics.

The one thing I knew when I started researching and interviewing was that I would use a very broad definition of “workplace”. The majority of people you will meet in my book don't work in an office, much less a cubicle: A Trappist monk and the nun who lived down a winding Kentucky road, united by their vision of a better world. The...

Tracy Morgan's Friend Grief

Tracy Morgan's Friend Grief
Jun 03, 2015 by Victoria Noe
"Bones heal, but the loss of my friend will never heal."

You probably know Tracy Morgan as the talented comedian on 30 Rock. But his life changed forever almost a year ago, June 7, 2014, when his limo was rear-ended by a Walmart truck. The accident killed his friend, comic James McNair, and left Morgan with debilitating injuries.

Last week he appeared on the Today Show, for an emotional interview with Matt Lauer. I'm not going to repeat much of it. It's much more powerful watching Morgan speak of his amazement at surviving, as well as his gratitude to the medical staff, his family and friends. How he struggled to understand what happened is very touching.

I know when something bad has happened...