Saturday, October 18, 2014

To Say "I Love You"

I've loved before, but I never said it.

They probably knew, but I never said it.

I never said it, because I knew they didn't love me back.

So when I finally decided to say it to someone, you would think it would have been hard to get the words out, to utter the sentiment that had been on the verge of my lips and in the core of my heart time and time before, tucked away, hidden, silenced.

Instead, it was the easiest thing in the world.

And once I started to say it, I couldn't stop.

Imagine my surprise when I heard those words said back to me.

It was the best feeling in the world.

It took 38 years for it to happen.

And now I realize it wasn't real.

The love I heard wasn't a lie, but it wasn't the love I wanted. It wasn't the love I gave.

He said "love is love," but this love is not that love.

And now I wonder why I had to open my big fat mouth. Why did I ever have to say anything at all?

It was a gift I gave him that he didn't want.

And the worst thing in the world is to say "I love you" to someone who doesn't want to hear it.

On a Break

Sometimes, you need to take a break.

Sometimes, things are just broken, and you have to throw them out.

Sometimes, things are so bad, you just don't have anything to say about them.

Sometimes you have to give up and do something else.

Sometimes you have to do nothing at all.

You don't cry.

You don't rebound.

You don't distract.

You don't self-medicate.

You don't lash out.

You just...don't.

There is no anger worth having.

There are no feelings worth hurting.

There are no hurts worth feeling.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Photo Essay: The Lost Furry Companions of LA's Pet Cemetery

If you love animals as much as I do, the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park – translation: pet cemetery – might prove to be too heartbreaking for you.



But, it turns out, I love to have my heart broken. Apparently.



All over the "park" you'll find statues of St. Francis of Assisi, known as the patron saint of animals...



...and the origin of the Blessing of the Animals...



...which usually takes place on October 4...



...but can occur throughout the month.



I suppose you always find some animal iconography at cemeteries...



...certainly birds and bunnies and big cats and lambs...



...all of which make their appearance in the Bible (both in the Old and New Testaments)...



...but here...



...these above-ground statues and figures...



...are only a small tribute...



...to what's buried down below:



...the beloved companions of individuals and families throughout the LA area.



Some of the families are famous or prominent in some way...



...having enough money to spring for a proper resting place (replete with casket and headstone) for their furry friends...













...but in other cases...



...like Milton Sill, the famed German Shepherd "who knew everything," (even how to spell)...



...or Arras of the Los Angeles K9 unit...



...or even Blinky the Friendly Hen (infamous as a performance art piece in which a frozen Foster Farms chicken was buried and mourned)...



...the animal itself has some claim to fame.



"Room 8" was a neighborhood cat who wandered into a classroom at Echo Park's Elysian Heights Elementary School...



...and who died in 1968 at age 21, after over a dozen years of returning to the same classroom at the start of every school year. The school's students raised the money for his gravestone.



Tawny is probably the only lion buried at LA Pet Memorial Park, and reportedly one of the former MGM lions.



But even the not-so-famous pets clearly had a major impact on their families...



...who were not just "owners"...



...but considered themselves parents...



...often attributing their own salvation to their little angels...



...who were often also considered the soulmates of those they left behind.



I have never seen a cemetery in Southern California so lovingly kempt.



The lawn is green, watered and fertilized.



Many of the headstones are as large and imposing as one would be for any human dignitary or movie star.



The more modest plaques are in terrific condition...



...and are inscribed with the most adorable pet names...



...etchings of the animals...



...and the most heartwarming (and heartbreaking) epitaphs...



...in many languages...



...and for multiple faiths (many of the tombstones carrying a Star of David).



There are a few horses buried here, as well as countless cats, dogs, birds, and turtles.



There's even a mausoleum (and crematory)...



...for above-ground interments...



...including one for a 9-11 hero dog who has passed.

The Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park was founded as a kind of cemetery to the stars in 1928 by celebrity veterinarian Dr. Eugene Jones (the same Dr. Jones of the doomed Jones Animal Hospital that West Hollywood just voted to demolish in favor of the Melrose Triangle development project). Although it was intended as a final resting place for Hollywood's animal kingdom, it has provided consolation and a place for bereavement for many other families – and continues to provide funeral services for new burials today, but also a supportive community for grieving, with occasional candlelight vigils.

Despite those 40,000-plus animals interred (including a number of unmarked graves), reportedly they're not running out of room anytime soon.

And yes, you guessed it: it's also haunted.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Photo Essay: Remembering the Civil War at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery

I tend to find larger, more popular (and populated) cemeteries a bit overwhelming. Unless I'm there to visit someone specific, or to see a specific building, I find myself wandering aimlessly, taking photos of the faces that keep me company as I wander.



Angelus Rosedale is one of LA's oldest cemeteries, and relatively large but not that well-known.



Situated on 65 acres in the West Adams neighborhood, it was the first of the "lawn" cemeteries...



...not associated with a particular church...



...and, back in 1884, one of the first to be open to both all races and all creeds.



Every year, Angelus Rosedale hosts a Living History tour with the West Adams Heritage Association...



...to help visitors navigate the cemetery's rich history...



...and the real historical figures that populate it.



This year, the grave sites came alive with the ghosts of those who witnessed the Civil War...



...including wives and other family members of those who fought...



...those who actually fought...



...all he nurses who took care of the wounded...



...all in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States.



Four hundred fifty Civil War veterans are buried in an area dedicated to the Grand Army of the Republic...



...but the cemetery is also where plenty of early LA pioneers and former mayors are also buried.



In fact, as people continue to be buried here, space is at a premium, and a palm tree-lined, paved street was torn up and filled in with dirt and grass...



...to make more room for more graves.



Not just the palms...



...but all of the many varieties of trees...



...really stand out in the meadow...



...as do some of the more unusual monuments...



...and larger tributes to those that have passed...



...including a couple of Celtic crosses.



The cemetery is a bit unusual in its policy of upkeep:



...the families of the deceased are responsible for taking care of the area surrounding each plot...



...including watering the grass, removing debris, and keeping the headstones from becoming consumed by the earth below.



So the cemetery isn't uniformly neglected (and is actually in pretty good condition)...



...but you find the occasional leaning marker...



...or one that has toppled altogether.

Other visitors might prop them back up, have them lean against something so they can actually be seen, but somebody's got to come fix that in a more permanent way, because the cemetery's not going to do it.

And if they don't have anyone left to take care of their above-ground reminder of their underground resting place? Perhaps the memory just disappears.