Archive for June 11, 2022

Mina, Bram Stoker’s Dracula [1992]

My lifespan at best will be about 100 years, counting potential advances in medical miracles and my penchant for personal abuse. So turning 50 in the middle of a global pandemic is unequivocally the halfway point in my idolatry on the face of Mother Earth. It is all downhill from here — evidenced by “Senior Moments’ of trying to remember what I was just talking about as my Dad puts it or the myriad of aches and pains and home surgery my body complains about as it is slowly breaking down. Mortality gazing — like doomscrolling — is a thing; what is your legacy?

Bad news, kids: you encounter death more and more often as you grow older. In fact, it is part of the ToS you don’t remember clicking through when you were born.

My first death was my father’s grandmother in Palm Springs. My clearest memory of her is visiting her in the old folks’ home, and I was playing on the stone wall of the circular stacked-rock fountain they had in the middle of their lobby, slipping off, and then stumbling backwards trying to catch my balance until I crashed into some other resident in her wheelchair. My parents were mortified more than usual and so was I.

Biollante the irrepressible Rose Bush at Robin Street

My Great Grandma loved roses. Specifically pink ones. I used to stay in her room after she passed on when we would visit the Andrews in Palm Springs. It was a tiny single mattress in a smallish room in a house made of alabaster adobe walls and wrought iron. But there was a glorious mural above that bed: delicate pink rose blossoms, swirling thorny stems, praying verdant leaves. My Grandma Andrews also loved pink roses; obviously due to her Mother, who somehow came to live with her from Scotland across an ocean to California. I am pretty sure both of these ladies had those old-school squeeze-bulb pumps for their rose water as perfume. I was absolutely thrilled to find an unruly, sadly tended, and tragically unloved rose bush as a bonus when I rented Robin Street. My Mom commented on smelling the blossoms that this was not one of those newfangled hybrids; this was an unadulterated strain that was unmistakably organic and true, probably planted in the 60’s when the house was built. I named her Biollante after the 90’s Godzilla movie where a rose was crossed with G-DNA and it turned into a Kaiju. Without my gardener crew to take a gas-powered hedge clipper to her once every few months, Biollante will flood my yard with sweet-smelling petals; she will grow to tower over my roof; she will sage my entire house with the comforting scents of my Grandma and Great-Grandma.

Biollante in Rose Kaiju form

I don’t think you ever forget the first time you have to deal with death as a concept. My Mom argued that my first IQ test was flawed because I was dealing with the death of my Great Grandmother; insisted that I take it again because I was certainly not a moron. Legend has it that I beat my brother Kyle on my second attempt. By 2 points. First Death is unique: it is the first time you have to grapple with never seeing someone again, and the regret that inevitably follows, creeping in like an intruder over time.

As I live this life, I have watched my Mom’s parents devolve into tube-ridden, bed-bound ER patients that couldn’t recognize their own kin. My Goddaughter Tyler, an incredible talent, tech witch, and influencer before influencers was ignored to death at Rady’s Children’s Hospital in San Diego before she could laughingly lead the way for Gen Z. My Aunt Nancy — one of the most incredible free spirits I have ever known — fought breast cancer for years and finally leveled up way too early. Bela Chris Feher went and fell off of Half Dome doing what he loved and left me here without his one of a kind fucked up opinions. Never mind losing visionaries and heroes like Prince, George Carlin, and — just a moment ago — Andrew Fletcher of Depeche Mode. Unfortunately, you get to watch your heroes die.

I have finally hung a pair of floating shelves that is the newest revision of the Shrine of the Angelkittn, where I have in chronological order, pictures of the 10 or so cats I have raised that I have sent into the beyond like a Pharaoh to greet me on the other side. I love my kitlets like my children: everyone has an experience with a companion dying and they were part of the family: this is another way death pokes holes in your soul. To this day I miss my murdered Mallory and his vanished brother Mickey, the Natural Born Kitlets. But I moved on and have a new pair, The Bravehearts, Murron Rae and Haemish Argyle, guided by the immortal Brother Barack. It is the least I can do to remember Samwise, Frodo, Cleopatra Mykelti, Kalvin Cromwell, Anastasia Katarina, Hobbes Niclaws, Atari Mogwai, Kanji Cloud, Mickey and Mallory. But you know what you’re responsible for: it’s outliving them, then remembering them.

I keep coming back to the top GIF, as it captures a wish. One you cannot have outside of retreating to a full self-imposed fantasy world or, from what I have heard, a serious heroin addiction which I am not interested in. The opposite of life is death: those are the scales we balance the cards that we’ve been dealt, circumstances be damned.

But please, take me away from all this death. My fundamental pieces — brain, heart, and soul — cannot take much more of this.