ALLIGATORS IN A HELICOPTER

a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Death

This is a gloomy post. Fast-forward if you aren't in the mood.

For much of my first four decades, I lived a rather charmed life, in one way: I had no friends or family who passed away.

Now I'm 44, and wow has that changed.

Several years ago, I lost my best friend, who passed away one night due to (they think) a heart ailment. He was 40.

My wife lost her best friend to epilepsy; she was in her 30s. Two people out of our small wedding party, gone.

Another close friend has a wife battling cancer. And this past week, I learned that another college buddy has weeks/months to live because of cancer as well.

For years my friends and I would get together on Saturday nights and play poker, something that continued whenever I returned to New York. Now, out of those 5 other regulars, one is dead, one is dying, and one has a wife in bad shape. And we're all in our mid-40s.

I never felt old, until now.

I'm still lucky. My parents are in their 70s, and still alive. And all their siblings (my dad has two sisters; my Mom has two brothers and a sister) are all still alive too. My brother and sister are doing fine; I have about 15 cousins, and none have passed away.

I'm not sure what the odds of that are, but it's pretty amazing.

Yet there seems to be something suddenly wrong with my generation, the small circle of my immediate longtime friends, and it's putting me into a funk.

Yesterday, director Anthony Minghella died. He was 54. I knew his daughter when I read for Miramax.

I know, life goes on, etc. But it still makes me sad, and I hate funerals.

16 Comments:

At 10:21 AM, Blogger Christian M. Howell said...

We're the lost generation. Stuck on the couch eating junk food and complaining about everything.
We're growing fat and lazy and like Bill Maher says
"Ask your doctor if getting off your ass is right for you."

 
At 12:13 PM, Blogger marcoguarda said...

Sadly enough there is little we can do about the friends that are no more.

But we can honor them not forgetting them, remembering the little things they loved, as well their idiosyncrasies.

We can bring on that little spark through the remaining days we who live are given.

The "Big Chill" is quite a controversial movie, strange, and sad, but I love the way the characters who live bring to life the character that is no more.

 
At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Kathryn said...

I'm 45. I hear you.

I've lost one parent, had non-life threatening health issues that rocked my world, and my best friend is down a breast and other bits due to cancer.

In addition, I have three asthmatic kids, two of those kids have non-trivial food allergies and I'm desperately hoping never to hear the words ambulance, life support team or hospital stay again.

The shine wore off my world years ago. Some days it's pretty scary and hazy. Some days I look at my kids and see huge potential for what they and the world may be.

But most days I call my friend who is down some body parts, we gripe about our health like little old ladies (we figure as long as no one else hears us, it's okay) and we make encouraging noises at each other.

Unless you grew up in a place where life and death played out dramatically on your doorstep, the 40's seem to be an adjustment to mortality and aging and loss. I can't say I'm doing it gracefully - but I'm grateful I still have the option to do it.

 
At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

beat the odds, man. sounds like they in your favor anyway.

rez

 
At 1:10 PM, Blogger Travis Fields said...

Hey Scott, sorry to hear that.

And I was sorry to see Mr. Minghella passed away -
I loved The English Patient. Great Director.

I saw Heath Ledger in person in December in Santa Monica, and his passing made me sad for a lot of reasons, mostly that he was just too young.

I spent half of a year back East recently - after nearly a decade in California - helping my father rehab from a stroke that nearly took him out -
he'd been happily working full time the week before. Sometimes, these tragic events just suck.

But they can help us to realize we must cherish the relationships we have in the time we have.

On a lighter note, Gary Gygax's passing had me
and an old buddy I haven't seen in years reminiscing via email, and I wondered how we'd ever let ourselves fall so far out of touch.

 
At 4:09 PM, Blogger Friarduck said...

Wow, Scott. I am living the same type of charmed life: I've only had one friend pass away. She was in a car accident, about 14 years ago. And today is her birthday. So she's been on my mind the last 24 hours, a lot.

I hear what you're saying. Be there for those people, as much as you can, in any way you can. You can't do more.

 
At 4:41 PM, Blogger Cathy Krasnianski said...

Welcome to the realities of life. :-(

Having turned the big 5-O myself, I now remember some advice given to me a very long time ago:

"Ask the questions while they're still here."

I'll only add to that: And write it down.

 
At 6:13 PM, Blogger E.C. Henry said...

Scott, you've got a good heart. Most times tragedy strikes without warning, and it can come in bunches. Recently my younger, and only brother, had a prostate cancer scare, when a health test came up with a high PSA count. Making matters worse is the fact he and he wife of 8 months were expecting their first child, my parents first, and possibly only grandchild UNLESS Tavis can through me and hook me up with miss 3 a.m. But today we JUST got the word that Derek's PSA count went down with antibodics, thus it's an infection, not prostate cancer to which I say, thank you, Jesus, He does indeed answer prayer!

Scott, you may be 44, BUT at least you're 44 and HOT!! Think about how much it would SUCK if you were 44 and butt ugly.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

 
At 6:46 PM, Blogger Chesher Cat said...

E.C.

How do you know Scott's hot?

I mean, I know he's hot because I've been in his physical presence...but I'm pretty sure he's never been to Bonney Lake.

Are the two of you having some torrid video chat affair?

Scott,

No need to tell you how I feel about loss.

Anyway, mortality sucks!

DC

 
At 6:57 PM, Blogger kristen said...

That sucks. I'm sorry.

 
At 7:06 AM, Blogger japhy99 said...

My thoughts are with you. Confronting similar things myself. I'm 38 and over the past few years my wife and I have been losing way too many relatives and friends. Largely to cancer. I fucking hate cancer.

 
At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Jim Hines said...

Scott,

You know I feel bad for you, so I'll save it.

You really helped me, so maybe this will help you.

The last time I lost a friend, it just so happened that I came across "We Are Marshall." and watched it.

It helped me a lot.

I hope it works for you.

Jim Hines

 
At 12:22 PM, Blogger Steve Axelrod said...

I wonder if you're familiar with this great poem by America's most underrated poet, Edna St Vincent Millay:

CHILDHOOD IS THE KINGDOM WHERE NOBODY DIES



CHILDHOOD is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age

The child is grown, and puts away childish things.



Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.





Nobody that matters, that is. Distant relatives of course

Die, whom one never has seen or has seen for an hour,

And they gave one candy in a pink-and-green striped bag, or a jack-knife,

And went away, and cannot really be said to have lived at all.





And cats die. They lie on the floor and lash their tails,

And their reticent fur is suddenly all in motion

With fleas that one never knew were there,

Polished and brown, knowing all there is to know,

Trekking off into the living world.

You fetch a shoe-box, but it's much too small, because she won't curl up now:

So you find a bigger box, and bury her in the yard, and weep.



But you do not wake up a month from then, two months,

A year from then, two years, in the middle of the night

And weep, with your knuckles in your mouth, and say Oh, God! Oh, God!



Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies that matters,—mothers and fathers don't die.





And if you have said, "For heaven's sake, must you always be kissing a person?"

Or, "I do wish to gracious you'd stop tapping on the window with your thimble!"

Tomorrow, or even the day after tomorrow if you're busy having fun,

Is plenty of time to say, "I'm sorry, mother."



To be grown up is to sit at the table with people who have died, who neither listen nor speak;

Who do not drink their tea, though they always said

Tea was such a comfort.



Run down into the cellar and bring up the last jar of raspberries; they are not tempted.

Flatter them, ask them what was it they said exactly

That time, to the bishop, or to the overseer, or to Mrs. Mason;

They are not taken in.

Shout at them, get red in the face, rise,

Drag them up out of their chairs by their stiff shoulders and shake them and yell at them;

They are not startled, they are not even embarrassed; they slide back into their chairs.



Your tea is cold now.

You drink it standing up,

And leave the house.
CHILDHOOD IS THE KINGDOM WHERE NOBODY DIES



CHILDHOOD is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age

The child is grown, and puts away childish things.



Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.





Nobody that matters, that is. Distant relatives of course

Die, whom one never has seen or has seen for an hour,

And they gave one candy in a pink-and-green striped bag, or a jack-knife,

And went away, and cannot really be said to have lived at all.





And cats die. They lie on the floor and lash their tails,

And their reticent fur is suddenly all in motion

With fleas that one never knew were there,

Polished and brown, knowing all there is to know,

Trekking off into the living world.

You fetch a shoe-box, but it's much too small, because she won't curl up now:

So you find a bigger box, and bury her in the yard, and weep.



But you do not wake up a month from then, two months,

A year from then, two years, in the middle of the night

And weep, with your knuckles in your mouth, and say Oh, God! Oh, God!



Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies that matters,—mothers and fathers don't die.





And if you have said, "For heaven's sake, must you always be kissing a person?"

Or, "I do wish to gracious you'd stop tapping on the window with your thimble!"

Tomorrow, or even the day after tomorrow if you're busy having fun,

Is plenty of time to say, "I'm sorry, mother."



To be grown up is to sit at the table with people who have died, who neither listen nor speak;

Who do not drink their tea, though they always said

Tea was such a comfort.



Run down into the cellar and bring up the last jar of raspberries; they are not tempted.

Flatter them, ask them what was it they said exactly

That time, to the bishop, or to the overseer, or to Mrs. Mason;

They are not taken in.

Shout at them, get red in the face, rise,

Drag them up out of their chairs by their stiff shoulders and shake them and yell at them;

They are not startled, they are not even embarrassed; they slide back into their chairs.



Your tea is cold now.

You drink it standing up,

And leave the house.
CHILDHOOD IS THE KINGDOM WHERE NOBODY DIES



CHILDHOOD is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age

The child is grown, and puts away childish things.



Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.





Nobody that matters, that is. Distant relatives of course

Die, whom one never has seen or has seen for an hour,

And they gave one candy in a pink-and-green striped bag, or a jack-knife,

And went away, and cannot really be said to have lived at all.





And cats die. They lie on the floor and lash their tails,

And their reticent fur is suddenly all in motion

With fleas that one never knew were there,

Polished and brown, knowing all there is to know,

Trekking off into the living world.

You fetch a shoe-box, but it's much too small, because she won't curl up now:

So you find a bigger box, and bury her in the yard, and weep.



But you do not wake up a month from then, two months,

A year from then, two years, in the middle of the night

And weep, with your knuckles in your mouth, and say Oh, God! Oh, God!



Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies that matters,—mothers and fathers don't die.





And if you have said, "For heaven's sake, must you always be kissing a person?"

Or, "I do wish to gracious you'd stop tapping on the window with your thimble!"

Tomorrow, or even the day after tomorrow if you're busy having fun,

Is plenty of time to say, "I'm sorry, mother."



To be grown up is to sit at the table with people who have died, who neither listen nor speak;

Who do not drink their tea, though they always said

Tea was such a comfort.



Run down into the cellar and bring up the last jar of raspberries; they are not tempted.

Flatter them, ask them what was it they said exactly

That time, to the bishop, or to the overseer, or to Mrs. Mason;

They are not taken in.

Shout at them, get red in the face, rise,

Drag them up out of their chairs by their stiff shoulders and shake them and yell at them;

They are not startled, they are not even embarrassed; they slide back into their chairs.



Your tea is cold now.

You drink it standing up,

And leave the house.
CHILDHOOD IS THE KINGDOM WHERE NOBODY DIES



CHILDHOOD is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age

The child is grown, and puts away childish things.



Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.





Nobody that matters, that is. Distant relatives of course

Die, whom one never has seen or has seen for an hour,

And they gave one candy in a pink-and-green striped bag, or a jack-knife,

And went away, and cannot really be said to have lived at all.





And cats die. They lie on the floor and lash their tails,

And their reticent fur is suddenly all in motion

With fleas that one never knew were there,

Polished and brown, knowing all there is to know,

Trekking off into the living world.

You fetch a shoe-box, but it's much too small, because she won't curl up now:

So you find a bigger box, and bury her in the yard, and weep.



But you do not wake up a month from then, two months,

A year from then, two years, in the middle of the night

And weep, with your knuckles in your mouth, and say Oh, God! Oh, God!



Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies that matters,—mothers and fathers don't die.





And if you have said, "For heaven's sake, must you always be kissing a person?"

Or, "I do wish to gracious you'd stop tapping on the window with your thimble!"

Tomorrow, or even the day after tomorrow if you're busy having fun,

Is plenty of time to say, "I'm sorry, mother."



To be grown up is to sit at the table with people who have died, who neither listen nor speak;

Who do not drink their tea, though they always said

Tea was such a comfort.



Run down into the cellar and bring up the last jar of raspberries; they are not tempted.

Flatter them, ask them what was it they said exactly

That time, to the bishop, or to the overseer, or to Mrs. Mason;

They are not taken in.

Shout at them, get red in the face, rise,

Drag them up out of their chairs by their stiff shoulders and shake them and yell at them;

They are not startled, they are not even embarrassed; they slide back into their chairs.



Your tea is cold now.

You drink it standing up,

And leave the house.

 
At 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Completely unrelated but... What do you think about Craigslists when it comes to writers? Ads like this one I mean: http://losangeles.craigslist.org/sfv/wrg/607901527.html

Thanks!

 
At 2:10 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Someday I'm going to do a post on all the weird ads in the writing section of Craigslist.

Ads like the one you cite (a film company I never heard of looking for horror scripts) could be legit, but they could also be someone looking to take your script and steal it.

Paranoid, yeah, but legit companies usually have better avenues to go through to get submissions. The fact that it says "no pay" (even though there probably is; they are just saying so to get on the freebie board) doesn;t inspire confidence.

I have gotten the occasional reading job through Craigslist though, so there is value there. Just be careful.

 
At 10:32 PM, Blogger LHOOQtius ov Borg said...

My condolences to you, Scott, for your friends who are in dire situations. It's been quite a time for passings. Anthony Minghella, Arthur C. Clarke, Gary Gygax, and Paul Scofield. Someone here just died, at our mutual workplace, a couple days ago -- very tragic, he was a very nice guy, and much, much too young. And I just saw the wonderful film Young @ Heart which, while I also laughed, also brought tears to my eyes.

Lots of passings, but the job of the living is to persevere and remember those who are gone. It's tough, and I don't like it -- I'd rather everyone stick around -- but there's no other alternative available.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home