In loving memory of Elana Kestrel, 1962-2013
This site was originally: “DreamCircle.com – The online workshop of ELANA: creative artist, female geek and breast cancer fighter.
Elana’s online workshop of artistic works, creative ideas and geek perspectives – plus the latest news on her fight against breast cancer.”
She lost that fight.
Elana and Christopher (that’s me) shared love and life for a decade, most of that with my being her caregiver for her war with cancer, as it spread and ultimately caused her shockingly sudden death in late 2013. She also had PTSD from some very violent situations, involving evil and crazy people, long before our first meeting and the start of our friendship.
Elana was a wonderfully creative and caring person. And she so loved the birdies! She had excellent journalism with in depth interviews with many of the leading artists in the field of progressive electronic music.
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She also was an artist with graphic and jewelry design.
I withdrew from the full time workforce to take care of her. As her cancer journey began, we were able to do some small freelance projects combining our skills (her enthusiastic personable nature and graphic design expertise), and I had some small projects on my own. (My background includes working with software and digital media technology, and making business improvement plans, in several industries.) But as the medical situation got worse and more unpredictable, even part-time work became impossible.
Soon after her death, I unexpectedly became a cancer patient myself. In mid 2014, a four inch (10 cm) tumor was successfully removed. Over the winter, I had follow up chemotherapy. Fortunately, it wasn’t a kind of chemo that causes hair loss, as she went through; but it was still physically hard in many ways.
I’m scheduled for scans and lab tests every few months for now. The latest results all show that so far, I’m free of any return of the cancer, thank Go.
Emotionally and spiritually, the caregiving was important. Financially, it was a catastrophe. I’m job hunting now and until I get new freelance clients or work, I am destitute.
I have a bunk bed in the dorm, and meals at a shelter, and an old laptop I can use to get online at the library.
I am asking for someone, or a group of those who cared about Elana or could desire to help me get back on my feet, to provide a few hundred dollars of help to be able to pay for the storage unit with Elana’s life’s work, and just about everything of my few belongings that remain after the lean years, and her personal effects that I’ve not been able to sort yet. This loan could be paid directly to the mini-storage company without having to go through my hands. I expect to reasonably be able to repay it in full by the end of 2015.
I will probably have some basic work or initial clientele within a month or two, to get minimally back on my feet while I figure out a longer term plan to start new career-level work for the long term.
After her death, I relocated away from the town we were in. It’s climate is bad for my health; it’s the scene of my greatest sadness and loss; and there are few economic opportunities for the type of work I can do.
Once I have my own room again, even if it takes longer to get a home, I want to move the stored items and sort through them at last. This includes her wonderful newsletter of the interviews.
My goal is to put her archive of work online. We had discussed that before her death, but with her cancer and then my own, I’ve not been able to work on implementing those plans yet.
I want to go beyond simply posting the archive. I want to also host discussions for both musicians and fans to share their appreciation and perspectives on this intriguing but little known genre of music. And I would like it to be a place for new artists to be discovered, and for established artists to introduce their new work!
One long term friend believes that with this web site starting from the core of the Elana archive, I’ll ultimately be able to offer some level of additional service on a subscription basis, so the site becomes self-supporting even if a server upgrade is needed. I would like that very much, as I believe the kind of in depth and personally caring connections Elana made are well worth continuing and expanding for those who love the kind of creative innovative music that so captivated her passion (and my own, as I got to discover some of the best of it through her).
Her newsletter was printed and mailed out to subscribers around the world.
She wanted to make it affordable even for people as broke as she was (with a history of low paying day jobs, as she only started to gain valid self-confidence in her worth shortly before the cancer). Unfortunately, she set a price too low to even cover her costs and eventually had to give up because she could not subsidize the losses any more.
I met her right as she was closing the newsletter, and didn’t know the reason until she told me many years later. It’s very sad that she didn’t talk this over with anyone at the time, as I believe her readers would have willingly paid enough to let her do the work without having to subject herself to financial harm; and with enough extra to offer a sliding scale to those few who might have really needed it.
Fortunately with the Internet, distribution costs are a fraction of what it costs to ship out pages, and contents can also include audiovisual clips. Other than a few of the past musicians who went on to thriving careers, I don’t know how many of the artist from those previous years are still around, or what the situation is with rights sold to little record labels that may have since closed. If the legal an technical aspects can get sorted out, I’d like to offer some kind of online radio show or archive, as much of this music has only had limited, sometimes even obscure, physical releases.
Along with the newsletter, I have the hundreds of CD’s she kept of those sent to her for review. This would be the initial nucleus of a potential online remote service, or re-issue service, that would meet the current needs of the artists and fans. I want to talk with the artists to help find out what kind of direction here would be good for them.
All of this would be only for the trash bin of history, though, if I can’t make the storage payment that is due at the end of this week – and has only a few days grace period into early August, at double the cost (with the need to prepay rather than get billed for the subsequent month, plus substantial penalty fees), to meet the storage bill so that the contents won’t go to auction and, most likely, get thrown away.
I had wanted to start discussing all this earlier, but the combination of health and financial crises has been too overwhelming to do this earlier. I wanted to first have at least a few issues scanned, converted to text with in-depth cross-reference links added, and uploaded, before asking for help.
I wanted to ask for help from a position of strength once already started, not in weakness of a desperate situation.
My pride was foolish perhaps, but I am asking now.
My last name and contact details, other than emailing me through Elana’s site here, are not going to published here until I’m back at work, for my own protection: I don’t need potential bosses or clientele finding my name linked to such sad news of cancer, death, and loss. Email me and I will write or call with full information.
Even if you’re not in a position to help financially, I would like to hear of your positive thoughts about Elana, if you knew her, or just any words of encouragement yo might have for me. It’s perfectly okay to say you don’t have the answers but you do wish me well as I search for them!
Moral support goes a long way!
One more thing, I suppose I should address her briefly, is why she didn’t discuss our relationship. This was a mutual decision.
We both are rather private people, and concerned about online privacy with its many complicated issues and facets.
We both are from families that unfortunately included abusive and negligent harm to us as kids (hers was much worse in many ways), and in the present, alienation we did not want or choose.
We both had been through abusive relationships, bullying hostile workplaces, and other emotionally toxic circumstances, before we found each other to share kindness and love.
Some of the people involved in those painful circumstances from the past were in our inner circle of friendship before we became a couple, and they often got increasingly distant as her cancer spread and had ever more serious and complicated repercussions, including her need for increasingly long and unpredictable times of sleep.
For all these reasons we decided to not expose our relationship to the unwelcome scrutiny of unkind people. We also wanted to give each other the opportunity to privately “vent” about the other if desired, without it getting back to the first person. Unfortunately, in this process, we also became increasingly separated from good people who would have been happy to offer compassion, wisdom, and balanced kind concern, in a peaceful way.
(One other thing to mention for the long term: I do have had an interest in making electronic music myself. I had a small home studio rig, but our home was burglarized, including all gear and demos and work in progress, soon after she relocated to be with me, and I’ve not yet been able to rebuild it. That is a long term interest, but I don’t know if it will get to the point of having its own economic value rather than just the joy of creative expression.)
That’s my current situation and I hope to hear from you, whether or not you can help financially. And, I hope at least a few people will be able to help me not lose everything of mine and of hers, before I have a chance to rebuild my life.
There is so much more to say about Elana’s life and art. I have ideas for several pages to add to the site but again, will need to just get past this overwhelming time of loss before I can properly write them up.
Let me mention a little more about what would be most helpful.
By the way, I DO have access to good oncology through a government program, and am currently cancer free. So, please hold any comments about cancer treatment until I am able to collect them before my next office appointment, which will be in a few months.
Also, as far as spiritual meaning of cancer or loss, I have a philosophy of life that sustains my ability to persevere now. If you have a comparable experience I would be interested in your own PERSONAL story and journey; otherwise, I don’t need additional secondhand opinions on this now.
I’m scheduled for a government job hunting workshop, and I have carefully studied the examples and lessons of people who have successfully turned my type of skills into a new business. If you have a relevant personal anecdote, or a lead on a book or website that inspires you, please feel free to share it.
If you happen to know of anyone who’d like to say hi in person, or if you know of anyone with a couch I might be able to crash on (no more than a week with any one place, so I won’t wear out my welcome even thought out and about all day), I’d be grateful for any potential introductions or referrals.
The immediately URGENT key, though, is the $260 for the storage by July 31 if at all possible; and then, encouraging moral support and any practical leads towards my regaining economic self-sufficiency.
Thank you for reading, and I hope to hear from you.
My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Blessings and Namaste,