Remembering Meoskop

September 16, 2015 Open Thread, Opinion 49

Meoskop's twitter avi: a patch of asphalt pavement with On September 14, cancer did what cancer does and stole a damn good woman away from us. Meoskop, who also answered to Liz, leaves behind her husband “S”, two daughters, 11 and 15, her brother @Tothiro and a metric shit ton of broken-hearted friends, both online and off. She was 47, which is way too damn young, and this was the third time she’d had cancer, which is just fucking unfair. When she received this most recent diagnosis just a few months ago, she created the hashtag #DogNamedLucky – a blend of the ironic and gallows humor that made her so loved – where she chronicled her treatment and vented about her condition. She suggested we mute it, but I seriously doubt anyone considered it.

I first met Meoskop in the comment section of Dear Author about five years ago. It was the tail end of the romance blogosphere’s Golden Age, when blog comment threads regularly went to a hundred or more. If you see a thread like that now, it’s probably on some earth-shaking bit of drama, but you used to get multi-page comment threads on everything from favorite tropes to why the “babylogue” is a problem to why a romance better have an HEA, or we’ll fucking cut you. Romland was and is full of incredibly smart people and you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting someone with an advanced degree in that crowd, but I swear Meoskop was the wisest woman in the room. She packed more genre knowledge and solid reasoning into a handful of sentences than other posters had in their novelette-length comments. Few people shared her ability to cut through bullshit and get to the point or shared the insight she had as someone who’d been reading romance for decades. Rarer still was her willingness to have difficult discussions and to speak up for marginalized people.

Meoskop often joked about her “record store clerk” taste where her tastes were objectively good, but she always respected others’ right to their bad opinions on books or music. In a community that valued “nice” and decried “reader shaming”, she wasn’t at all afraid to say something was Not OK, even if it was the hottest new trend. She insisted that “dark romance” was mislabeled erotica and had no time at all for the genre’s handwaving on abuse dynamics. When favorite authors switched to erotic romance, she got grumpy, as she was a sex scene skimmer. She did not go along to get along, and thank god for that.

Romland slowly migrated off blogs and onto Twitter, where Meoskop was one of the first romance people I followed. She was someone I felt comfortable talking to about damn near anything. It was her super power; she’d told me that perfect strangers routinely told her their life stories unprompted. I knew I could tell her stuff about my private life and she would never share it with anyone. She was maybe the only person I could talk to about the dumbass things disability makes my body do who truly understood and could commiserate or chuckle with me. If I ever had an argument I needed a third party opinion on, I trusted Meoskop’s judgement more than anyone’s. She was the perfect confidant: empathetic, fair, and always, always honest.


There are a million things I’m going to miss about Meoskop: her excited tweets about buying tickets to shows and music festivals, her dry, surgical wit, the running commentary on how her soaps were trying her last nerve, the enormous hand she had in keeping this site running. I think about how we’ll never hear more stories about 11 and 15 or read another review from her, and marvel at the magnitude of what we have lost. She didn’t have a million Twitter followers, or a high-profile blog, but she left an indelible mark on those of us lucky enough to share a fandom with her.

A screenshot of a  Twitter DM conversation. Meoskop: "Something that keeps me blogging through burnout is how much it annoys them." Ridley: "You are the other half of my soul." Meoskop: "The hockey hating half, for sure."

You really were, you know. Goodbye, Meoskop. I’m going to miss you so much. <3

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Ridley

An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.

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49 Responses to “Remembering Meoskop”

  1. AnuK

    Thank you for this post, Ridley. We didn’t have many interactions, but Meoskop is unforgettable. I liked her enormously. What a loss. My heart goes out to you, her family, and everyone else who knew and loved her best.

  2. Ridley

    I’d like to invite everyone to comment with their own memories of Meoskop/Liz. It’d be nice to have them in one spot.

  3. Beks

    So here’s what I really thought was going to happen. I was going to step away from LITM to get my writing career where it needed to be. Working a day job and writing was giving me no time to read or review. And these awesome ladies encouraged me, Liz encouraged me and told me not sweat it. So I thought I was going to pump out some books and then come back and everything would go along as it had been going along.

    And then Liz got sick and in my brain when bad things happen I try not to panic until there’s a definite end cause things change and certainly Liz would get better because why not, right? I’m still very much in denial about Liz being gone. We were just taking a break, nothing was over. We still had work to do, margins to frolic through, books to read, sooooo many tweets to tweet.

    I’ll end this tearful rambling with my favorite memory of Liz. I’ve been criticized by friends and family for my refusal to grow up in a lot of ways. Part of my adorable youthfulness comes with an obsession with all things Tokidoki. Last year when I was sending out Christmas cards, all late as hell (R and V, you’ll get yours this year I swear to god) Liz asked for my address so she could send me something. I have package PTSD from my mom who will literally send me stuff she finds around the house and call it a care package. Liz sent me a brand new Tokidoki bag. That’s who Liz was. She’d seen me eyeing Tokidoki bags MONTHS before on Twitter and then sent me one for Christmas. I am never, will never be that thoughtful and that’s the kind of person we lost in Liz.

  4. MKP

    Thanks for this post. I internet-met Meoskop at least years ago through mutual friends on Livejournal. She quickly became someone I looked forward to reading because her stories were hilarious, her kids were precocious, and you are so not kidding about that record store clerk music taste. I looked forward to her comments on my LJ because she could cut through my BS with a hatchet, but was also willing to scoop me up and tell me to forgive myself, that she was proud of me, that she understood what I was going through. She was the cool older cousin who told you what was what, and I loved her for it. She weighed in on my terrible relationship choices, helped me have a sense of agency when I was feeling trampled on at work, validated my feelings when I didn’t know how to–she helped me grow up. I hear her in my head reminding me to set boundaries, to tell people to go eff themselves, go easy on myself, and wallow appropriately. We met up in person once, in NYC, and it was exactly as fun as you’d imagine–BBQ, Toys R Us, and a walk through midtown with the girls and S.

    Eventually she moved on from LJ, and we only stayed in touch via the occasional email–I was so happy when she resurfaced on Twitter because I got to chatter at her daily. She was so helpful and supportive during my mom’s cancer treatments and recovery (“have all the fights now,” she said, “because after this she’ll be Your Mother the Cancer Survivor” and boy was she right).

    I remember being stunned during her first diagnosis, dismayed by her second, and because she’d powered through them so emphatically I never really believed this one would be The One, even though she tried to prepare us and was never anything but frank and direct about how she was feeling. I’m so awed by the way she kept reality in check with dark humor and ridicule–cancer sucks so hard but it was not allowed to take up any space in her life without a fight. I wish I had dropped the banter and annoyed her by being mushy and sincere more often–but I also think that it’s fitting the last tweets of mine she RT’d were jokes about an ER catapult.

    One of the smartest things she ever did was creating the #DogNamedLucky hashtag–finding friends and family of hers has kept her voice alive on my TL; sometimes I have to double check who just responded to me because someone else is channeling her wit or tone. I’m glad we have eachother. I’m devastated not to have her. How is she not coming back online to tell me Adam Lambert sucks or 15 thinks I’m a fuddy duddy or come collect the snowbirds from NYC because she can’t take it anymore. I think of her every day, and I’m grateful I knew her, and I miss her, miss her, miss her.

  5. Courtney Milan

    For people who think you can’t make friends in 140 characters, here are two tweets from me; her reply is on the last one.

    https://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/477091962496233472
    https://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/477091997631922176

    Her reply felt like a hug. And that’s not the only time she made me feel that way, not by a long shot.

    She had a way of doing that, of making you feel like you were not alone with a simple phrase. She had a generous heart and an open mind and an incisive wit and a sense of humor like a scalpel.

  6. Melody M

    I am so moved by these posts and how beautifully you captured the essence of her voice and her filter. I have known Liz IRL for 30+ years and I can’t believe she tolerated me since I never knew what music she talked about, didn’t watch soaps, and don’t read romance. Yet she was the person I called first always to vet ideas and get input. She surgically and skillfully always called me on my bullshit, but never in a way that slammed the door. The void in my life can never be filled because there’s not another like her.

  7. Nu

    So sorry to hear Meoskop is gone. I didn’t know her as well as you, Ridley, but I always enjoyed listening. She will be missed.

  8. Laura Vivanco

    In addition to her humour and her insights into romance fiction, her tweetstream provided me with a much better understanding of what was really going on in US politics. Quite often the BBC would catch up a few days later and not explain it anywhere near as well as her retweets, links and commentary did.

  9. Kimmaline

    One of my lifelong best friends has known Liz since middle school, when they rekindled their friendship online, I was what Liz referred to once as “collateral damage” of them getting back in contact. I was part of the LJ Lovefest, which gained me Liz and Miranda and a whole host of other people who are just plain good for my soul.

    Since both Liz and I have been friends with Beth for time measured in decades, it would make sense that Liz and I would click, right? Except that just wasn’t how she was. But we did. I often caught myself being slightly surprised she liked me so much–I am by no means insecure, and I doubt many would even bother to call me unpopular–but I would argue that her “record store clerk” persona went into realms far past musical tastes. But like me she did, and the feeling was more than mutual.

    Liz and I shared some stuff that those who love us would gladly take away…and while that bonded us on a deeper level than most online friendships, it was never the point. Until one night, when Liz just happened to be on LJ when I posted that my mom had just killed herself….four months before my giant, 200 guest wedding. From three-thousand-and-something miles away, Liz became the bouncer at the door of my online circle…rallying support, shutting down the morons with their INFINITELY misplaced comments like “she will be missed”, and she never stopped bugging me. It was a couple weeks into figuring out how to balance wedding planning with dealing with my mother’s suicide when I asked her if she was worried about me…she scoffed and said, “really? Come on, Kimmaline. You got this. I’m just pissed I’m missing a great excuse for us to get blitzed and make fools out of ourselves. Damn distance.”…or something to that effect.

    I haven’t spoken to Liz in the last couple of years…I got updates from mutuals and thought a bazillion times as I dozed off, “crap. Gotta email Liz.” The last few months she has been on my mind to a far larger degree….*I* would say that mayhaps my heart knew her time on the Eart was limited. But if I said that, she would scoff and make fun of me. No time for that type of sentimental bullshit. :)

    But…like Miranda, I wish I had decided to swallow my want to avoid her irritation, and tell her more what she meant to me. I am beyond sad to know that her biting, sardonic wit is not in my future. But OMG….I am so incredibly blessed that it is in my heart and my memories.

    Sitting here reading people’s accounts of how she touched their lives, there is still a piece of me wondering what the hell she saw in me which she so adored…because there is no doubt that it was Liz who sought out my friendship. But I think I know, in that ephemeral way we sometimes do. And to quote someone who knows Liz even better than me….”she didn’t make mix tapes for just anyone”.

    I am so, so, so glad for the memories I take forward, and my heart is just ROCKED by the fact that there are no more to be made. But I am honored to be part of the elite club of meopta/meoskop/dognamedlucky friends.

    Writing that last line made me laugh out loud, because I can see the look of scorn Liz would make when she read that.

    I am most sad there is no Liz in my future. Second to that is that I can’t remember ever thanking her for being what she was in my life….especially during some really brutal times. So in closing, I will say: Liz, thank you so much. What you saw in me, I saw in you….and the mark you made on me was made in indelible ink. But not that annoying, pink crap with the glitter. Your mark was black. Sharpie for sure.

  10. Ros

    Meoskop (because that is how I always think of her, not Liz) was someone I didn’t always agree with but I was always glad to have listened to. She was kind, funny and so damn smart.

    One of the last conversations we had that was more than just a tweet and reply was about the differences between the way sex scenes are written in AA and white romances. She had examples, explanations and a well-argued point. I wish she’d had the strength left at that time to write up what would have been a brilliant blog post. Some day, probably, someone else will write about that and they won’t do nearly as good as job as she did in half a dozen tweets with some screencaps.

  11. Bedora

    About 20 years ago, I had an idea for a Rom novel and I ran it past Liz. She thought for a minute and said it was similar to this one and sort of like another but that particular idea hadn’t been done yet, so go for it! She then told me she had read literally a semi-trailers volume of romance novels…and that was 20 some years ago. She recently told me that one day as a kid, she decided to read Shakespeare so she got the complete works and commentary and read it all.

    She and her brother educated me on all things political, social justice, and popular culture. And, as mentioned above, always a few steps ahead of the curve. I joined Twitter to keep up on her and the fam and in the process found many people to follow with so many different perspectives.

    Thank you all for your accurate descriptions and for sharing things quintessentially Liz. Here’s what I wrote on Facebook on Monday: “One very early morning in 1968, I heard a knock at my studio apartment door. I stumbled out f bed and opened the door. No one seemed to be there, except when I looked down, on the doorstep was a little baby in a basket! My first thought was milk, bottles, diapers. In that instant, I had completely accepted that the baby was mine. In the second instant the heads of my sister and brother in law appeared on either side of the door saying, “Meet your niece!” I was disappointed. It wasn’t my baby after all. But in my heart, she was and always would be my foundling. Well, the foundling grew up to be an utterly unique, thoroughly honest, brave, kind, hero-to-the-vulnerable, outspoken, savvy woman who was a great mother to her children, soulmate to her husband, and indispensable sounding board for those who knew her. Liz fought cancer heroically (she’d say, “what heroics? What is the choice?”), losing her third bout with the Big C today. Inflammatory Breast Cancer is a sadistic torture-chamber of a disease and I am attempting to take some comfort in the fact that she is no longer suffering.”

  12. Dabney Grinnan

    I just searched my Twitter feed with Liz and started laughing and then crying. She was so damn funny. Much of her humor was a sort of barbed hug. She made you feel as though you were strong enough to get through whatever but reminded you that you weren’t struggling alone.

    Dabney Grinnan ‏@DabneyGrinnan Oct 1
    For absolutely no good reason, I just spilled coffee on myself. I was standing at my desk, working, took a sip, and missed.

    Meoskop ‏@meoskop Oct 1
    @DabneyGrinnan you’re living the first chapter of a HQN this morning. Klutzy, potential tragedy, quick, look for a handsome doctor.

  13. Jennifer Lohmann

    Ridley, this was a beautiful tribute. I always looked forward to reading Meoskop’s comments and reviews. She had a unique voice and I will miss hearing it.

  14. Olivia Waite

    @Bedora, that story is incredible — thank you so much for telling it. Liz/Meoskop really had a way of getting straight to the heart — of subjects, of people — and it’s marvelous to know she was like that even as a wee thing in a basket.

    I’ve also been combing social media, which means I just spent an entire hour reading past posts and comments from years back, reveling in how on-point she was, how warm and stern simultaneously. Years after all the drama has faded into semi-memory, her analysis and responses to genre events and discussions are still funny, still pleasurable, still important. That is a real and rare gift.

    Like others, I regret not reaching out more. My affection for Meoskop is best described as “listening from the corner, swoony with admiration,” because there is no faster way to my heart than a quick wit or a memorable turn of phrase, used for good. And oh, the unflinchingness of the past few months … I’ve lost close family to cancer and seen how it works: every blunt, biting, thought Meoskop shared went through me like truth’s own sword. Sharp and painful but in a way that felt like relief. This, too, felt like a gift. I wish I had a better way to say thank you.

  15. sarah

    Your Comment Here…@Melody M: Melody and others, I did even know this woman but she was clearly wonderful: the sort of friend one wants to grow old with. I am so, so sorry cancer robbed you of that chance.

  16. Sarah

    I never interacted with her (I’m pretty much a lurker on Twitter) but I always loved reading what Meoskop had to say. She definitely forced me to open my eyes and be better at calling out bs and seeing injustices.

    On a separate note, this may be totally ridiculous, but what did her handle actually mean? I always wondered…

  17. Liz Mc2

    Meoskop (I never knew she was a fellow ’67-vintage Liz) sometimes pissed me off (I’m sure THAT was mutual), often made me laugh, and always, always made me think. Her comments and posts helped shape the way I see romance, and definitely influenced what I read. Her perspective meant a lot to me.

    I know the sense of loss I feel is nothing compared to that of the people who really knew and loved her. Her family and friends are in my thoughts.

  18. Phyl

    Ridley, that was a beautiful tribute. Thank you for writing it and creating this place for us to leave our memories.

    I didn’t know Liz that well either, although we did have a handful convos on Twitter or via DM. Like many here, she challenged my thinking and made me see things in a new light. I’m grateful for that. I’ll miss her voice. It was unique and I will always treasure the fact that I shared a small corner of RomLand with her.

    To those of you who knew her well, my sincerest condolences.

  19. Evangeline Holland

    I wouldn’t say we were BFFs or anything, but I respected the hell out of Meoskop for cutting through the bullshit in Romland. The last conversation we had was the kick I needed to cut through the bullshit I hadn’t realized I carried, so I can more than pay tribute to her memory from now on.

  20. Megan Mulry

    I was going to do some in memoriam bullshit over on my blog but I love this idea of having all of this here in one place. Meoskop (yes, I too will always think of her as Meoskop even though the emails were signed L or Liz, because, well, just because) and I met on Twitter years ago and—like it sounds for many of you—she was the samurai sword of bullshit slicing and dicing in my twitter stream. Perhaps for some, “in my twitter stream” makes it sound like she occupied some little sideline of my life (that’s probably what it is for “normal” people), but we are not normal, and my twitter stream over the past five years has pretty much become the equivalent of my amygdala—i.e. the place where I process memory, emotion, social and sexual behavior, etc. So in this hotbed of disputes and passion and large and small trials, I found her. I’ve never encountered anyone with such a clear vision of what she thinks and why, and yet she never came across as doctrinaire or intransigent. Our interests intersected in so many ways, like living in Florida (why again?)…

    …and marriage:

    Meoskop: So I get it. Marriage convos can be brutal but half truths kill

    …and motherhood:

    Me: Empathy is learned
    Meoskop: Teen girls are The Worst
    Meoskop: So once were we

    …and alcoholism:

    Meoskop: Quitting isn’t failure. It takes several tries for most people. When the things pushing you to drink are handled then you’ll more clearly see what happens

    …and romance novels:

    Meoskop: Anyway, when I get going if you’d like to talk old school reads as you or a fake you, I’d love to be your ignorant slut.
    Meoskop: (As in Jane Curtain.)

    …and dark dark humor:

    Megan: Can’t sleep. Thinking of you.
    Meoskop: It’s vomit day! How will you celebrate?
    Megan: I was about to offer to hold your hair so you don’t get puke on it…bright side?
    Meoskop: Bro likes watching me absentmindedly prep my pony tail

    And we shared lots of laughs about people-who-think-they’re-great-but-are-really-twats-and-everyone-knows-it (but certain DMs are never to be shared, even after death). I regret that I never did that sex-and-violence old school Q and A the two of us always talked about doing together. I was too much of a pussy. I don’t really know why I like a little violence with my sex, but I do, and I know that interested her and frustrated her in equal measure. She didn’t like violence, full stop, and as Ridley noted above, she didn’t like sex very much lately either. The cancer was another shared interest (despicable disinterest, really) of ours. Mine, my mother’s, hers—how to live with it, how to ignore it, how to rid it of its power. Because that’s really what Meoskop was about, I think: she knew how to address power. Whether she was dismantling a social structure or navigating an intimate personal relationship or contending with microscopic genetic malfunctions, she had this amazing ability to confront power. I have a backlog of interactions to keep her alive in my memory forever, and I will revisit them often if I feel her slipping away, but one of my fondest recent memories is the joy she shared by offloading a few concert tickets this past summer when her health prevented her from going herself. Friends of friends of mine in North Carolina got to see Robert Plant, and they had the best time—they sent pictures and descriptions of the playlist and their smiles were Meoskop’s—no joy went to waste. Then she gave me two tickets to see Rickie Lee Jones down in Fort Lauderdale, and I was so excited, but then when it came time to actually go, I was sort of tired and meh about the whole thing, because whatever…washed up old lady music, right? But I used to love it in college and I dragged my 15-year-old daughter to come with me (cries of, “I’ve never even heard of this old bag singer! Why are you making me go with you?!” were heard across south Florida). Well. Let me tell you what the fuck. That Rickie Lee Jones concert was like the sweetest living flow of Meoskop channeling some deep shit connecting my daughter to me and mothers to daughters everywhere, and the beauty of an artist like Rickie Lee Jones laughing at her own dumb luck at being able to stand around and sing and play instruments and all the while with this can-you-believe-how-lucky-we-all-are-to-be-alive and that everyone whose life we touch and everyone whose life touches ours creates this new spark or energy or connection or whatever the fuck. Oh but it was beautiful.

    Meoskop: I cried that you took 15 because Rickie changed my life at 15 – your 15 needs special moments with you more than she knows.
    Meoskop: It was perfect.

    And that’s what Meoskop was (and always will be whether she’s here now or not) for me. Perfect. This beautiful light that could be bored or angry or frustrated or hilarious, but always ALWAYS grateful in this raw and eager way. And that’s huge. She was huge. I feel so honored to have known her even in this bizarre, attenuated internet fashion. Right up until the end, I was constantly (so selfishly) badgering her to assure me that our friendship was real damn it, that the fact that we’d never met in person was just a technicality, right? RIGHT?

    Megan: Love you so much. Will miss you so much. It’s times like this I wish I believed in an afterlife, but just having known you in this slim, paltry way has been so incredibly important in my life. *crying absurdly at Serena Williams Gatorade ad* I know without having met them that your children have the same innate belief in their abilities and their greatness because you are their mother. all love and peace and joy for your remaining time with your loved ones.
    Meoskop: Thanks – not sure how much I’ll be checking in. My online friends are as real as offline, & you’ve been a good one to me.

    And that, as they say, was that. *wanders off to read all the Edith Layton*

  21. Julia Broadbooks

    I imagine I met Meoskop on Twitter through out mutual Megan Mulry, although I can’t really remember how or when any longer. She quickly became one of those twitter friends who I looked for in my feed. I’d scroll back to follow the thread of a conversation to see what she had to say because her opinions were always so smart and sharply articulated that, even when I disagreed, her arguments helped me define my own thoughts. As others have said, her ability to cut through bullshit was the stuff of legends. But she never lost the ability to laugh, even at herself.

    @juliabroadbooks @MeganMulry I was RANTING. IT WAS A PERFECTLY GOOD RANT. Individual rights and mutual respect. Gaaaaah.— Meoskop (@meoskop) May 4, 2015

    Like others, I wish I’d been brave enough to cut through her stoic sarcasm and send her long sappy DMs to tell her how much her friendship has meant to me. I think she knew all the same.

  22. Darlene Marshall

    I always looked forward to seeing Meoskop’s comments. We didn’t always agree on every subject, but she had her say with wit, verve, and communication skills that outshone 140 characters. May her family find comfort in the difficult days and years ahead, and may her memory be for a blessing.

  23. Merrian

    Twitter is a strange beast that carries me out of my little sphere threading through lives and moments and events and letting me share in the world and connect with so many people. It is a wonder to me how I’ve been able to make connection with so many romancelandia ilk across the oceans. Meoskop was always a person who stood out from the romancelandia crowd and in the past few years her’s was a voice I looked forward to hearing each day, and looked for when there were things that needed to be talked about. She brushed off the dust from my thinking and I loved her deep and arcane knowledge and how listening to her was always learning from her. Meoskop had such genuine feeling and compassion for anyone in trouble. I admired so much the way she reflected on her life experience and applied that to her engagement with the world. Her heart was on her sleeve but not in a lacy, sentimental way. Meoskop had it pinned there with a knife I think. Chatting to her was a happy part of my everyday and I think we were friends and I’m grateful for her kind support in my dark moments. Like everyone here, I’ve cried at the unfairness of her loss and for her family and their loss of Wife, Mother and beloved Sister. I put all those in capitals because it was so clear that while protecting their privacy, her family were the capital part of Meoskop’s life. I am thankful for having known Meoskop and my world is greyer now.

  24. Jackie Barbosa

    It’s taken me a few days to screw up the courage to write this comment because I know it’s going to send me right back into tears and pain and grief. Meoskop (like many of you, that’s her name in my mind) was one of the handful of people I knew in any facet of my life who really “got” what I was going through when I lost my son. Sadly, I knew she “got it” because she’d experienced her own deep and painful losses. That’s not something I wish on anyone, but it was good to have someone I could turn to in random moments and say what I was really feeling, even if what I was really feeling was that I wished the whole world would just go hang itself. She never, ever suggested I should ever feel differently or that it would get better. I valued that more than I can say.

    Losing her is so tied up in losing Julian that I almost can’t separate the two pains. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense. How can losing someone you only know through online communications have any similarity to losing a child who once shared your body and lived under your roof every day? All I can say is that it’s because she was a hand in that darkness, a warm, validating voice in a sea of cultural messages telling me to just get on with it. Having that hand and voice snatched away too soon is just another slap in the face from a chaotic, random universe and even though I knew it was coming this time, I still wasn’t prepared for it.

  25. SuperWendy

    I was hoping to see a tribute to Meoskop (which is how I knew her) here on LitM. Thank you Ridley for writing it and giving us a space to leave comments and remembrances. 47 is too damn young and going through the cancer battle 3 times is criminally unfair.

    What I will miss most about Meoskop, besides her humor which I found biting and hysterical, was that near encyclopedic knowledge of the genre. I just fell down the rabbit hole of her posts here at LitM, and damn – it’s just all so unfair.

  26. cleo

    I was hoping for this tribute – thank you Ridley and everyone else for sharing. I knew Meoskop through LITM and I always enjoyed her posts, even when I didn’t agree – and that is not an easy feat. My heart goes out to all of her loved ones.

    And like @Jill, her reading while white post inspired me to look long and hard at my reading habits and to start making some serious changes.

  27. Susie

    Was away on biz, and am only just seeing this. Thanks for the wonderful tribute. I’m Edith Layton’s daughter. Liz was an early and young Edith Layton fan who became my mother’s pen pal back in ye olde snail mail days when finding your favorite authors and then screwing up the courage to write to them was actual hard work. My mother was touched by her story, her appreciation and her ability to connect with wit and wisdom. Although my mother was decades older, they kept up writing to one another and shared confidences, their love of reading and lots more jokes.

    After my mother passed away, I discovered “@meoskop” and became a fan of her reviews and her tweets. I had no idea she was Liz — the fan my mother had a friendship with. In time we figured it out, and I shared many private messages with Liz. When she revealed her latest battle with cancer — I could relate only too well as I saw my father though 10 years and then my mother through 5 years of treatments. But you know, it’s far worse because Liz was so young. It is not OK, not fair, and I was honestly floored by the news of her death.

    I hope her kids see this and understand a FOL (friend of Layton) is a friend for life. I am not joking when I say they can email me 50 years from now if they visit NYC and if I’m alive — Thor willing — I’ll give them a bed, a tour and a blockbuster dinner.

    Love to her family and all her fans.
    Susie F. that Layton woman’s daughter

  28. Bedora

    @Sarah: Your Comment Here… I’m glad you asked that question. I wondered about it but never asked her, but a few days ago I saw a photo of her collection of stereoscopes. I found that the Czech version of Viewmaster is Meoskop. Gotta love that symbolism. p.s. Her maternal grandmother was 1/2 Czech (Bohemian at the time).

  29. Bedora

    To all: on Sunday, September 27th there will be a memorial service for Meoskop. I’m hoping to be able to speak there (if my voice cooperates. When I cry, my throat gets all tight and either squeaks or nothing comes out.) Anyway, with high hopes of holding it together, I’d like to offer to pass on messages to her family and friends who may not (most won’t) have known her in this context. If you wish, just reply to this with what you want me to say. n.b. while M. was an aficionado of the F bomb, I will find it difficult to read it to the diverse assembly in (an albeit Unitarian) church.

  30. Bedora

    @Susie: I will make sure they get the message. I happened to be there when a certain package arrived and she was so touched as to break her own rule (no crying in the house) for a moment. The rugelach was one of the last things she really enjoyed eating. You did good.

  31. Susie

    @Bedora: Ooof. MAde me cry. Though we messaged, I didn’t know her time was so horribly short, but I’m a big believer that all of our expiration dates are short enough that we should never wait to send soup. Hey, I do have something I want to tell you/the family, not for the service, perhaps, and certainly not here. Let me know if there’s a way to email or msg you privately. Thanks so much. I am susie.felber [at} gmail

  32. Sarah Mayberry

    Ridley, this is a wonderful tribute to someone who was clearly a wonderful friend. I hope you didn’t get too snotty writing it, and that if you did, the tissues were close by. Huge sympathy to Meoskop’s husband, children and brother, and to everyone who loved her. I always sat up straighter and paid attention when Meoskop posted something. She didn’t muck around or pull her punches, but she was also thoughtful and often very kind. Being mortal sucks.

  33. Merrian

    Your Comment Here…@Bedora: Liz was Meoskop to me, my friend from the other side of the world. Meoskop was a voice I gravitated towards not just because she had something to say but because she listened too. I’ve been thinking of these words… “I hear the voices that will not be drowned” (on a sculpture by Maggie Hambling, on the beach at Aldeburgh, UK) as summing up the woman I knew.

  34. Emma Barry

    I’ve put off commenting on this thread because I don’t want to admit that she’s gone. I didn’t know her well, but we chatted on Twitter about music (of Meg Myers, she said, “it’s like Neko Case and PJ Harvey had a baby raised on Nirvana”), houses, and movies (particularly Beyond the Lights and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford). I loved her opinions and I thought her anger was righteous and beautiful. I’ll miss her voice terribly.

  35. Bedora

    @Merrian: I love that! The thing was that Meoskop didn’t see economic, social, or cultural differences as cause for judgement or any kind of distancing. She had friends in every strata and from everywhere. She was sensitive to prejudice and any form of oppression and worked to make sure those victimized by prejudice or oppressed were heard. Every suffering she had in her life (and there was plenty of it) she turned to wisdom and compassion for others’ suffering.

  36. Melody M

    So I didn’t write anything for the service this past Sunday because sitting down to make a tangible document would not allow me to just keep busy and pretend that I couldn’t just pick up the phone and talk to her directly.

    I’m not even sure what I actually said because it seemed to all come out in snuffles and tears. But what I think I wished I had said was this:

    The famous “S”, my brother, mentioned that Liz had a way of nudging you in the direction you thought you should go. She had definite opinions about what your place in the universe would be and she didn’t like it when you were not following them correctly.

    Well – I don’t know who she “NUDGED” because for me is was usually a very direct kick in the ass. (And yes – I said ASS during the service – more to come on that front) She had been invited down to be a bridesmaid in her cousin’s wedding and my brother couldn’t attend. She asked me to go with her as her “date” and what I didn’t know is she was trying to set me up. During the reception (she didn’t like the guy I had been dating on and off for several years) – she pointed out one of the groomsmen and said, “I want you to meet him.” I looked over, said NO WAY, and got ready to leave after dinner. She dragged me over by the arm, made mutual introductions, and evaporated. I married him 10 months later.

    Fast forward 10 years. I had a baby and was considering how to balance work and family with little support system living in NJ. She called me and said, “You need to move back to Florida. I’ve been looking at neighborhoods and I have picked one out for you. They are getting ready to start another phase of the development and you should come look at the models.”

    Liz was not one you could say no to easily. We bought our lot and moved into the neighborhood she selected. I found building a home a tad overwhelming so she agreed to accompany me to the design center, where she proceeded to pick my cabinets, tile, carpeting, etc. “I hope you appreciate I am building my dream house but you get to live in it.” At least I can say the two guest rooms were for her and the girls.

    When she got cancer the first time, I remember driving down to take her for scans, a few tests, and some of the consultations. She made a bargain with the universe at the time. “Just let me make it at least until kid #1 is in high school and kid # 2 has started middle school.” That seemed such a long way off at the time. Cancer diagnosis #3 came when Kid #1 was in high school and Kid #2 was in middle school. She remembered that as the treatments were not going well. Her response, “Goddammit – I wish I had made a better deal.” (Yes – I said that in the service as well.)

    My plan is to print this thread for the girls at some point. I want them to know how appreciated their mom was by the wider world….. And by me.

  37. willaful

    I finally felt up to doing a search of my twitter interactions with Meoskop. We were never really close and mostly chatted about fairly inconsequential things, but I was struck by how she provided moral support to me at a time when she was literally fighting for her life. Even when heavily drugged and no doubt exhausted and worried, she still cared about our shared romance culture and its meaning in our lives. And she was so funny. I was already sad she’s gone and sad for her family, but now I really feel how important her voice was and how big our mutual loss is.

  38. Bedora

    willaful, your post reminded me that in this way Meoskop was so much like her grandfather. He suffered with cancer for 10 years, fought like crazy to stay alive, and was always saying stuff–especially jokes–to make everybody else feel better. Meoskop, too, was doing that right up until the end.

  39. Bedora

    @Melody M: That sums up what you said nicely. Your brother, Meoskop’s husband, also spoke eloquently. I couldn’t speak and so am very glad that you will be collecting these comments for the girls.

  40. Danielle

    I only learnt of Meoskop’s passing today. I hesitated to comment because I did not know her at all other than through her reviews, and through the years I commented on fewer of those than you can count on one hand. But she was my favourite romance reviewer. Her mix of honesty, bluntness, and compassion encouraged and supported authenticity and truth in an environment where niceness often seemed to be touted as more important. By doing so, she helped me trust the validity of my own reading experiences but also to look at my reactions and ask questions about them that I know has made me grow both as a reader and a human being. I missed her reviews these past several months, and now will always miss her voice. I thank her for all she gave, and offer her family and loved ones my condolences.

  41. Bona

    I didn’t know her personally, I’m one of those silent people in the back of the room that just read and do rarely comment.
    Her reviews were so insightful that they always made me see the issue (the book, the topic) under a different light. It was here when I was conscious, for the first time, of the lack of diversity in romance.
    I feel that what she gave here to us, the ones that were perfect strangers to her, was a precious gift. A little part of herself, but a sincere, honest, frank and unique part of her. She had a distinctive & brave voice. The kind of person that deserves to be remembered with love & respect. My heart is with her family, and as I’m a mother of teenagers, specially with her children. STTL.

  42. Bedora

    Well folks, in about an hour it will have been a month. I had a thought for those who wish to do something tangible in memory of Meoskop. Every December she would take on several children’s wish lists from the angel trees they have (usually in malls) and make sure that the kids got more than they asked for. I plan to take on some of those in memory of her this year and thought some others might want to do the same. Seems like a fitting tribute.