You’re Finally Getting Old: Mortality & My Relationship With It

I have never had an issue or any fear surrounding death and mortality. That is when it comes to myself. I had honestly never considered living very long, which may be due to the large slew of deaths that occurred when I was 15-17. Three of which were murders, one of my dad’s best friend and my sister’s and I’s godfather (the other a distant barely known relative, and another of a kid who went to my high-school). My struggle has since been that of a wide range of ages of those who died, I realized that I too was very likely to die young.

In drastic contrast to this I have a hard time recognizing and handling people aging. Old people who slowly lose their minds is a realistic fear of mine. That is of no fault of those elder people. But in all my experiences with death I was not struck with any personal fear of my life ending. This may be due to the fact that I have been suicidal for a large part of my life, but I had honestly never considered living a full adulthood.

On the other hand I was deeply upset when other people dies and not for the reasons you would think. I find that there are two things that bring out the worst in people. Death and birth, for some reason everything begins to revolve mostly around the people who have very little of nothing to do with either event. Used to manipulate and falsely cite the wises of needs of the deceased or newborn, honestly it’s pretty fucked. Worse than that there is some solace in the people you love dying young. Now hold tf on, you say that’s so wrong. Let me explain that one of the most horrible things is have someone who was basically an immortal God in your young life, the person who you heard stories about die young and still some how your hero is better than growing up to be disenchanted.  Currently I am watching the sudden decline of my father, and along with realizing he isn’t the person I remembered or idolized as a child, is much harder than the sudden deaths. Self actualization and realization is in some ways more horrible than having questions forever. You don’t see minds and bodies deteriorate, or the pain that aging into death brings. For the first time ever I saw a picture of my dad and he looked old, from the ages of about 22-40 years of bodily abuse, hard labor, depression, weight fluctuations, two cross country moves, and the murder of a best friend he always looked the same. Now the years and strife have caught up physically and with it the sole stability in my tumultuous universe I have realized is not going to bury me, before I do him.

I guess I had confronted the idea of my own death and mortality, an openly accepted it as a fact. I however have yet to come to grips with such as it applies to those I care about.

The origin of “The Lime Green Umbrella”

There were very few moments of uninterrupted happiness in my life, especially as a kid.  Stress was such a normal state of being that even now in much more peaceful times of my young life, it kinda seems like I am just waiting on the ball to drop. I did however get lucky and ended up going to a really great high school, which I can honestly say is, besides my sisters the sole reason I didn’t kill myself before I turned 20. My first year at this school I got to go on a trip to Italy and France, which I busted my ass to get to, and owe alotta people thanks for helping to facilitate.

 

The reason this particular moment stands out in my mind as clearly as the day my youngest sister was born. Which to my 9 year old horror I witnessed, and have since, recalled that memory as my primary form of birth control, pure unadulterated fear of birth is a good way to remember preventative methods ya’ll…

 

So what had happened was, I was fifteen and a few days into this trip, when we went to Florence and stayed in a cute little villa hotel about 45mins outside of the city. Now it was mid January so the weather in the Mediterranean, and during the time we were there was rain. So much rain that one of the girls on the trip, who had made the uniformed decision to wear moccasins spent the whole evening skating and falling on the cobblestones that pave the streets of Florence. Poor dear. That night we and by we I mean all of us on the trip with the exception of like two people crammed into one room to hang out. Because it was raining we couldn’t sit outside on the super nice patio, which to a bunch of teenagers, is kind of a bummer. So instead we brought the two patio umbrellas in all crammed on the two beds and opened them up above our heads. We spent the next hour horsing around a giggling like toddlers, so much so we did have a teacher come check on us, look in and decide it wasn’t worth reprimanding us. It mattered because that 10 day trip and that maybe hour of silliness was one of the last pure and uninhibited or regulated moments of my life. I had no fear of someone coming in to scream at me, I didn’t have to worry about trying to fall asleep early enough so I could get up, help my sisters get ready and walk myself to school. I didn’t have to worry about work, which was an actual concern I had, had since I was 13. I just got to do some regular kid shit, which I pretty much missed out on, or only had as brief stolen moments.

 

About 3 and a half months later my Uncle Mike, my godfather, and my dad’s best friend was shot and killed, about six blocks away from a house we moved into for the duration of my high school days. That summer followed my great grandmother Mom-Mom, that November my Grandpa Chris and with his death a lengthy and painful trial over my inheritance of his estate. It was a shit time, but I remembered what it felt like under that umbrella, and when I spaced out that’s where I went, to a moment without complications.

 

This piece is for those people. Especially my Uncle Mike who has been gone 8 years to the day, who’s work was published in a small book at his university. I made it to his graduation, for his Masters degree in English, though he did not. Walked for my high school graduation with his tassel. He showed up late to my parents secret wedding. Traveled the world, and still remained kind and geniune, even though I was a fairly annoying little shit of a kid. I wore his graduation sash under my clothes my last day of college classes, a degree for which I did not walk, but I knew he woulda been there. We both have degrees in English

 

The books I found in the trunk of your van gave me small umbrella moments, in a life awash with floods and I am ready for more of both. But I am hoping for more under the umbrella moments so to speak. RIP Michael John Thomas.

“To make the world. To make it again and again. To make it in the very maelstrom of its undoing.”
― Cormac McCarthy, The Stonemason: The first piece of liturature that made me consider the universe and my place in it, also found in the back of that van.

Tales of tubs

Let me be honest, I have struggled for years to not be hyper critical of my actions, I am often tortured with second hand embarrassment for silly things I did when I was like four. I have the memory of a damn elephant so I am perpetually bothered and over my own nonsense. For instance, I have always dealt with depression I just didn’t know it, and around 21 I developed panic attack, one of which happened while I was on a bike… Now with a little more kindness on my part, for my self I can remember with a little less ire that during the height of my depression spirals I can be found doing some pretty ridiculous shit. The crescendo of one which were based upon some post break up blues. It was odd honestly cause I broke up with him, watched him cry on me for about three hours, then packed my shit and made him drive me home. Only later did I get sad, after acknowledging that my reasons for the break up where pretty serious and the depression that followed was due to a realization that I had again sunk myself into another human, who frankly saw my value and then took advantage of it. It was about January and during winter break, which I only ever briefly visit home for holidays. Mostly ceremonial and to comfort my family and I see no value in arbitrary celebration days, that follow a religion that I don’t practice.

Now back to the fun depression part. You see I had no where to be no work to do, a zero desire to chase any kind of tail. Men had disappointed me again, and I like in a small town so looking for other queer women is disappointing to say the least. Which is unusual as I am a deplorable flirt. I had tried even a few dates only to be severely underwhelmed, and frankly I have never actually managed to develop any sort of decorum, especially when hurt or depressed. So I would tell them “We aren’t going to have sex, you can come crash if you’d like, but it ain’t happening,” and then literally walk the fuck out. Surprisingly enough I did have quite a few more awkward sleepovers than you would imagine, many college kids don’t own cars, hedge their bets on getting laid and end up stranded several miles from home. Already having spent their uber money on my margaritas, and living in the snow belt, I decided to not be too cruel…but anyways.

It was Saturday, I decided to for go a tinder date, most people I know where out of town and if I am going to die young it’s gonna be mine choice, not being murdered.  I was filling the the bathtub and opening bottle of red wine. The primary difference between this sad lush’s bath and any I had taken previously, is that I had decided to indulge in my very worst and slovenly fantasy. There was of coarse an ended list of things I had for saw of my pending doom, but I decided to get out of my head and indulge.

I wanted to watch tv in the tub.

My at the time roommate (who is actually a real life saint) was gone in Chicago to spend the New Year with her sister. I don’t actually care about privacy, but she does so I had amended my usual behaviors of being naked or mostly naked all the time, and always leaving the bathroom door open. I grew up in a 5-9 person household, with one bathroom, we didn’t do privacy… So anyways, I turned our tv around (it had chrome-cast) pointed it to the bathroom, grabbed the remote, and so there I did stay for a good 4 hours. Which I know because I love historical dramas, and they are super long, and I watched at least two. Reading this back to myself this honestly sounds like a scene straight out of what my most perfect suicide, and eventual discovery of my body should look like. The headline would be “Young girl found dead, drown in her own wine and bubbles, next to a plate of pizza rolls, smiling while watching Downton Abbey,” seriously it wouldn’t even have to say my name and I know about six motherfuckers who would laugh, then sigh, cause they knew exactly who did that shit.

It had been cathartic to indulge in such overwhelming self pity. Even as a child whenever I was in pain or upset, I had learned to keep it shoved so far down that at least 80% of my life has felt like a video game. As an adult my first tattoo was based on Roman Stoicism and I currently practice Zen Buddhism, so I am not a feeler ya’ll I am a detacher, and a rationalizer. In that moment I had allowed myself to be overwhelmingly human. Not the pretty parts of humanity, mind you but all of the self serving self loathing degrading part, sprinkled with enough impracticality to honestly make clear headed me cringe. Later, i could admit to myself, that this indulgence was exactly what I needed. The very next day I left the house for the first time in four days, and actually felt happy. Which was new, I ride on a fair about of emotion ambiguity and frankly just ignoring most things that make me feel things. But you gotta let yourself feel sad I suppose, if you want to ever truly enjoy being happy. I don’t know shit though.

The English Program Stole My Joy (a post graduation reflection)

After a two year break after graduating high school I decided after a spiral of depressive and suicidal thoughts that now (summer 2013) was a good time to change my life, and go back to college.I was always an over achiever and I had taken so many college classes in high school that I had about 2 years worth of credit already so frankly I was burnt out by the time I graduated. Or at least that was part of it, the other part was I had never mourned the murder of my godfather, grand father, and great grandmother, all of which had died within less than six months apart of each other starting April 2009. I had ignored my train wreck of a life, deep sadness and abusive living situation by being so busy I couldn’t think.

But that is a bit more background than needed I suppose. Basically I went back to collage in 2014. Switching my major from Anthropology to English which I am still not sure about as I enjoy their studies equally. Book however, books were often a beacon of comfort and stabilizer in my life where most human beings had failed. Writing was a comfort and talent that I often hid from others, mostly because my parents had gone through my journals when I was 15 and then screamed at me about being delusional and crazy…again I digress. I did however win awards for writing and always, with the exception of once got A’s in English. So, I decided to follow where my talents lied, or so I had empirical evidence of where they were. I am a creature of almost stifling over analysis and thinking, it is just my nature. After applying for transfers and getting accepted for two of the three I went for, I chose the university further from my home, and that cost significantly less.

Let’s be honest I was disenchanted by the second semester and maybe it’s because I am a hardass but I was frustrated. I had never cared about the canonical works of so many dead whitemen and I figured that maybe I wouldn’t have to re-read such mediocre works as I did in high school but I did. And I fucking hated it.It became obvious for me while I was in a lit class where because it was a survey class of a specific time period their were some things we just had to cover, and I accepted that. What really grated me was that while my instructor was really great and facilitated wonderful conversations the people I was learning with, no offense, but full offense are boring and here’s why. We read Kate Chopin’s novella “The Awakening,” which is not a bad piece of work, but we spent almost 3 class periods of almost two hours rehashing this novel; it was followed by Zikala Sa’s “Impressions of an Indian Childhood,” which was so long we only did part of it, and was very descriptive, as the author’s whole drive was to help people understand and humanize the experiences of residential era Native Americans, of which she was one.

That class ended early.

I was enraged to say the least, you see to me, this piece had so much more truth and rawness; it was an actual reality frankly I stick by that. I could not relate to Kate Chopin’s characters because at best in this story line I would have been some house Negro fondly recalled, and worst I would have been some faceless living mammy, watching a sad over privileged white lady drown herself. However i found it in myself to do critical analysis and discuss this person who I could not for the life of me find kinship to as her people would have murdered or bought mine. But I fucking did it, because I am not afraid of a challenge. These white people in my class could not even stretch themselves to get up the gumption to talk about “WOW I NEVER KNEW THIS HAPPENED.” So comfortable in their privilege and idea that their experiences are truly universal that they were unwilling and unable to try and reflect upon an experience outside of anything like their own. I had to do this in almost every Literature class, and every Philosophy class with the exception of one. Constantly I was stretched to my limits of comfortably, and still there is no one on this earth who could say i didn’t participate. I hyper participate, I can back to higher education to do this so I sure as shit wasn’t going to just laze through it

So for the next year and a half before I graduated this was my lot, to watch mediocre and hyper analyzings of the same repeated story lines and principles. I crammed and stuffed these into my brain choking down canon that ignore of glorified the destruction of my peoples. Furthermore because of this I had no room or time to pleasure read.

By the time I graduated with a less than great GPA, my mental health barely intact, and all the free time in the world, I had forgotten what I liked to read. Just as my return to academia had surely saved me from taking my own life it have severed something in me that has yet to return. The real joy sapped from just sitting and doing so simple regular ass reading. I still haven’t gotten it back and I desperately it.