December 28, 2015

Tasty

It's a quiet post-Christmas day at work (half my office is out this week), so I'm reading through some old emails and chats and I came across this fucking gem from Amir from a few years ago:
Ayelet: Jason and I had lunch with [retracted], which was nice. Fuck, I hate the word "nice"--remember Mrs. Lindberg [English teacher] railing against us for using it? But what other word would work here? Lunch wasn't "lovely" or "great" or "special." It was nice. That's it.

Amir: Lunch should be "tasty."
Damn straight.



December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve (who gives a shit?)

We never celebrated Christmas in my family, so I'm one of those lucky grievers not drowning in yuletide memories. Having been lucky to spend several very happy Christmases with Jason's family, I'm thinking of them today, particularly my late mother-in-law, who loved Christmas down to her very core and made it so lovely and special for all of us.

I'm home today--it's grey, gloomy and muggy (WTF, weather gods?), and I'm planning to see a movie tonight so as not to think of all those happy families spending Christmas Eve together with their loved ones. I'm going to spend these four days relaxing, reflecting and taking a breather from life. Grief makes everything heavy and dark, but I'll do my best to relax and enjoy the time off.

I've found a safe place in my sibling grief-support group, among people I consider close friends after only knowing them for a few months. Simply having experienced the same unimaginable pain of losing a sibling, these fellow grief-travelers understand me and my journey in a way that even my closest family and friends can't.

Meanwhile, our friend Jeremy recently sent me some photos of Amir I hadn't seen (including the one at right, from about 2003). He was so fucking handsome, with big blue eyes, mile-long blond eyelashes and a sweet smile. I'm so sad I won't get to see him grow into a middle-aged or old man. I think he would have been one of those enviable men who only get more beautiful as they age, a la George Clooney.

Instead, Amir will remain forever young. My entire body aches every day from missing him so much. It's been 13 months since he left us and I still wake up every morning hoping it was a bad dream. How can it still be so hard for me to believe he is no longer here with us? How can we be a family without him?

Thank you, everyone, for reading this blog and for continuing to remember Amir and Jason--two beautiful souls who will be in my heart until my last breath. Sending warm wishes to all of you for a peaceful, joyful and relaxing holiday and good health and happiness in the new year.

December 10, 2015

What I Miss

Three weeks ago, on the anniversary of Amir's death, his girlfriend Joleen wrote me a heartfelt email in which she shared some things she misses about Amir. I've been meaning to share it here since. Her words paint a vivid picture of Amir in my mind that makes me smile and will stay with me always:
"I miss listening to music and talking with him. I miss hanging out at Club 21 eating tots with ketchup and ranch, sipping on whiskey gingers, and playing rummy.

I miss all the walks. I miss his Michael Jackson hat trick. [Ayelet's note: I will have to describe this in detail one of these days!] I miss his cigarette tricks.

I miss him ordering way too much food at restaurants and blaming it on being Jewish. [Ayelet's note: I laughed out loud at this bit of truth, as did both my mom and Yael when I shared it with them.]

I miss him eating really slowly. I miss gazing at his beautiful face. He was a cutie. I miss how sometimes he'd look up at me and smile this boyish smile and he'd blush and say something funny because I caught him. I saw his love.

I miss him talking about his family. I don't know anyone else that loved his family so much.

I miss every goddammed thing that came out of his mouth.

Here's to a beautiful soul. Here's to one of the funniest people I knew. Here's to the one person that I feel was my soul mate. He always knew what to say."

November 22, 2015

November 22

It is here. The day I've been dreading. One year since the morning I received the most horrible phone call of my life. First, it was my mom telling me Amir was in the ER and the doctors did not think they could revive him. Then, less than an hour later, word that my beautiful, beloved brother was gone. He was 38 and the center of all of our worlds.

Amir was the baby of the family, adored by Yael and I. He was a sweet, smart, loving, curious boy who loved Star Wars, music, animals and sports. My sister and I shared a room and when my brother was 4 or 5, he used to get out of his bed late at night, take his pillow and park himself in front of our bedroom door, where he'd sleep all night.

Amir made us laugh like no one else could and I will forever miss those deep-down belly laughs that only Amir could provide. It's always the clown who suffers the most sadness, right? I remember talking to him about Robin Williams' death. He related to Robin in a very personal way, having struggled with anxiety and depression most of his young life. We will never know why. 

Amir turned to prescription pills to help ease his anxiety, depression, insomnia and constant state of worry. He was meticulous about how what he took and how often. He took better care of himself than most people (worked out, ate healthy) even when depressed. His death was technically an accidental overdose, though he did not have an excessive amount of anything in his system. Just two drugs that should not have been mixed. He died of respiratory failure. His poor girlfriend was with him. She said he was sleeping peacefully until early AM, when she heard him stop snoring and called 911.

It hurts so much to know that he did not want to die. He had so much he still wanted to accomplish. He was doing well, in spite of hiding his pill use from us. He had a good job and a lovely girlfriend who cared for him. He talked about going back to finish college and changing careers. He was excited for Yael's wedding and looked forward to getting to know Thiago. They would have hit it off beautifully.

I am 44 and, if I'm lucky, I have another 40+ years of life ahead of me. I can't bear to think of all those years without Amir. He was one of my very best friends and we were truly kindred spirits. Yael and I have talked at length about our new reality as two instead of three. We were always three. The three of us were the center core of each other's lives. Now I just feel lost. And I miss him so very, very much.





November 19, 2015

Heartbeeps

This post has been sitting amongst my drafts for so long I had forgotten about it. Until now. It's these tiny remembrances from our childhood that I fear Yael and I will lose forever, as so many of them were brought to light years later by Amir.

Here is part of an email he sent to both me and Yael in July 2014:
Friday night I went to our local move revival house, the Laurelhurst Theater (A.Y. - you were there with me once) to see Steve Martin in "The Jerk" on the big screen. One of the awesome things they do when they show older movies is showing trailers beforehand for movies released around the same time.
There was a trailer for "Empire Strikes Back" that gave me goosebumps but it was "Heartbeeps" that nearly made me shit my pants. A movie I completely forgot about (for good reason). However, I know we watched it MANY times as kids. My brain kind of folded in upon itself as soon as Andy Kaufman hit the screen in that ridiculous robot makeup. And Bernadette Peters, bless her soul, totally adorable in "The Jerk," yet criminally misused in this robotic romantic comedy. Apparently, this was the movie that was supposed to make Kaufman a huge film star after his TV success. Whoops.
I, too, had completely forgotten about Heartbeeps. Shit like this forces me to wonder what other childhood tidbits Amir might have dug up that I had forgotten about. With his loss, Yael and I have lost an important part of our memory. But I will keep searching old letters and emails for these memories from Amir in order to keep them (and him) alive, at least in our minds.


November 12, 2015

One Year

Hello friends. Hard as it is to believe, 10 days from now will be one year since we lost our beloved Amir. It still does not seem real that he's gone and I have been struggling terribly these past few weeks to face this sad anniversary, even though I know it's just a day like any other. It is simply excruciating to accept that we've been without him for a full year.

In marking one year since Amir's death, I'm asking all of you again to share your stories, memories or photos of Amir--anything you'd like to share with our small audience to help us remember him. Last weekend, I spent some time with Ron Lunski (a close friend to both Amir and Jason). He shared a very funny tale of Amir Gone Wild that made me smile and got me wondering what other anecdotes are out there, waiting to be shared. (P.S. Lunski, if you're reading this, would you put your story on paper so I can share it here?)

Please email me at aprizant@gmail.com with anything you'd like to share. I hope to spend the rest of November posting remembrances of Amir from those who knew him best.

Love to all!
xoxo

October 23, 2015

Still Here

As we approach the one-year mark since Amir's death, I am finding it harder to cope with the loss. Perhaps it's because I miss him more as time goes on or because I reflect back on the mind-numbing shock of receiving that horrible phone call. Or because his death has changed my life in nearly every way imaginable and I struggle to look forward to a future without him in it. Fall is by far my favorite season, but this year it is so tinged with loss and longing that I'm filled with dread for the weeks to come. First, my wedding anniversary is this Sunday and I'm not sure how I will commemorate that sweet, happy day, which also was my late mother-in-law's birthday.

I turned 44 a few weeks ago, a day filled with longing for Jason and the way he always made my birthday special. But marking that occasion was also painful as I consider the possibility of living as many years without Amir as I did with him. Not that I don't aspire to live a long life, but I struggle to imagine all those years ahead without him (and Jason, in a different way).

After feeling numb for much of the past 11 months, I've become more sad these past few weeks. Who said grief was supposed to get easier?!? Shortly after Amir died, I began to feel a strong urge to do something more meaningful with my life, which I'm sure is a common feeling for those who lose a loved one at an early age. But, in those early days, my job was a great comfort. Going to work each day, keeping busy with projects and being among my kind coworkers helped me cope with my grief. My job also provided a lot of comfort in the first few weeks after Jason died--I needed to be in my routine in order to feel "normal" (whatever the fuck that means anymore).

But, almost suddenly, over the past few weeks, I have felt an overwhelming indifference toward my job and my routine. I just don't give two fucks for anything but my immediate family and friends. Much as I like my job, I am growing ever more intolerant of staring at three cubicle walls all day and performing my regular job tasks. Everything feels so meaningless and futile. I ache to escape the tedium of that 9-5 routine in which I have always thrived.

So, now that I've decided my job is meaningless and I can no longer stomach the daily grind, WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO? I'm not na├»ve enough to think I can find a way to change the world. I just want so badly to do something that honors these two beautiful souls--my brother and my husband--who did not get the chance to accomplish or contribute what they wanted or to live their lives in ways that made them proud and happy. I'm sad for us having to live without them, but I'm also overwhelmingly sad for them, for all the things they will miss out on, for all the years they should have had ahead of them.

September 26, 2015

Cool Morning

It's finally feeling like autumn here. This chilly morning, I reached for Amir's green hoodie to warm myself up and a flood of emotions came pouring over me. The hoodie doesn't smell like Amir but I can visualize him in it and it comforts me and tears at my heart all at once. I have been missing him horribly these past few weeks. Losing Jason has made Amir's death more painful and real to me in many ways, even though some days I find I'm so lost in thoughts of Jason that I don't think of Amir for hours on end. The two of them battling for space in my mind, pulling my emotions in two different directions, leaving me confused and spent--I can almost imagine them enjoying torturing me.

Music destroys me and makes me fucking nuts. So many songs remind me of each of them and there are few overlapping, which makes three-quarters of my music collection unlistenable. So, I turn to streaming music and I still get punched in the face. This morning, it was Elliott Smith, whom Amir and I both adored and who Amir related to in ways I never could. I remember talking at length with Amir after Elliott's death. Amir had five more years of life than Elliott did.

Last night, on my commute home, it was Radiohead. Neither Amir nor Jason shared my complete love of Radiohead, but they both appreciated the band's brilliance and significance. Whenever they released a new album, Jason and I would listen to it and appreciate it together, while Amir and I would talk about how they remain so relevant after all these years.

Losing my two closest friends on this planet so close together has left me feeling so lost that some days it's all I can do to remember my own name. I ache to talk to them. I ache to hold Jason one more time, to kiss him and embrace him and hold his hand. I dread the future in many ways, knowing neither of them will be a part of it except in my heart and memory. I never realized how much of grief is about dreading the future. Because of how I've grieved for Amir and how I miss him more now than ever, I know my grief for Jason is not going to get easier with time. The reality may sink in more and the day-to-day pain may lessen, but as the days and months keep passing without them, I find myself more and more distraught that they are not here and so very angry at the universe for taking them when we need them here so badly.

August 19, 2015

Goodbye, Again

Amir and Jason, late '90s
I've been neglecting this blog due to yet another horrible tragedy in our family: the death of my husband, Jason, at age 40. As most of you know, Jason and Amir were friends since their teenage years, sharing a biting wit, a keen sense of humor and a love of wordplay, music and Star Wars. Sadly, they also shared a susceptibility to anxiety and depression and the resulting tendency to isolate from friends and family while self-medicating with substances (pills for Amir; booze for Jason).

Amir and Jason were both troubled souls, both tortured by insecurity and crippling self-doubt coupled with a somewhat inflated sense of self-worth common among addicts. They each were keenly aware of how incredibly intelligent, funny, creative and sensitive they were and yet they struggled to achieve the successes and milestones so many of their friends had. There's a reason Jason stepped into my life and became my best friend, lover and partner: I fell deeply in love with a man who was a kindred spirit to my brother, one of the closest males to me in my life.

I don't believe in heaven or an afterlife, but I can't deny the sense of calm I get in imagining Amir's and Jason's spirits together somewhere, discussing their lives and sharing their relief at being free of the horrific prison of addiction. The idea that they both are at peace--their troubled minds quieted, their anxiety finally quelled--is a comfort to me as I mourn them in different ways. They are no longer struggling, no longer questioning, no longer sad or confused or anxious, no longer suffering.

That just leaves the rest of us to suffer in their absence.

July 22, 2015

Your Guess Is as Good as Mine

The following was written by Amir's boss and read aloud during a memorial for Amir held by his coworkers and clients a few days after his death:

"I realized over the last several days that Amir touched everyone's lives who entered the tennis center over the last 6 years. Every kid, adult, member and guest he had helped in this club in some way with amazing poise, courtesy and honesty. That is why I remember I hired Amir that I noticed he had those qualities.

He loved his Lakers and loved baseball and all you had to do is ask him about either and he would start talking. You may have thought he was a quiet, shy kind of guy but just get him going on most subjects actually and it got his mind and voice going.

I learned new things about Amir from members and friends over the last several days that he had shared with different people that I never knew about. Such as his love for doing crosswords with ease (often teasing others who did and those that attempted them, he'd often say the daily crossword was easy and he had already finished it). I also never knew about his love to write literature and his amazing story about his grandmother, who survived Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps to eventually get his family to America. If you haven't read this, please do so, it is an unforgettable story.

Amir told me how he felt that SAC [Sunset Athletic Club] had saved his life over the last several years because he was finally able to get insurance to help him with the cost of his medications and treatment. Amir treated SAC and its members as it was his life here. I want to say thanks to all the friends/members that helped him along the way survive through some tough times.

I am going to read you something I found that Amir had written a couple of years ago that I think gives us some insight to how Amir's mind worked and what a great person he was...
Endless false starts, hiccups and blown promises later, here we are again. Unsolicited musings from my heart and brain to yours. A lifetime of transformative joys, sorrows, indifference, low-brow humor, cruel irony and bitter sarcasm. From literature to sports, philosophy to pet-rearing, I take pride in spanning a wide swath of disciplines. I intend to take you on a journey that you'll most likely soon forget. I'm your everyman neighbor, if your everyman neighbor was a reclusive, technologically challenged Bar Mitzvah boy with a displaced chip on his shoulder for absolutely no apparent reason. Only one caveat here, folks: Your Guess is as Good as Mine. At turns immodest and self-loathing, decent and crude, radiant and dull. I operate on the premise that we're all individually carving out our place in this world. At the end of the day, the differing paths are all born of the same motivation--the need to sift through the bullshit and chaos and hone in on something authentic and lasting. Corny? Probably. Beautiful? Certainly.
Amir, we won't forget your journey."

July 12, 2015

If I Could Turn Back Time...

Now you have an earworm. You're welcome!

I haven't written here in weeks but that doesn't mean I haven't written. I just have trouble formulating my ramblings into anything coherent. My thoughts are so garbled these days--I'm struggling with focusing in every sense of the word. Part of that is my health issues (certainly not going into that here) but it's also due to grief. While my parents and sister and I are grieving in different ways, with some obvious similarities, we all share this lack of focus. My mind wanders constantly and thoughts of Amir pull me out of whatever I was thinking or doing, leaving me confused and scattered. No one tells you grief makes your mind stop working properly.

In the days immediately after Amir died, I was desperate to find some kind of support group for my particular type of grief. There are plenty of support groups for parents grieving a child or for spouses who are widowed or for children who have lost a parent*. But I found limited resources for adult sibling loss. One group I found here in NYC didn't have enough participants to continue after the first meeting.

On Facebook, I found Grief Beyond Belief, an online group that has helped both my mom and I immensely. It is here that I can openly share with others and derive comfort and support from people who know the shitstorm grief can dump onto your life and also understand and relate to the ups and downs of grieving that I never would have understood had I not lived it these past 7+ months. I've never met any of them but, as a group, they have guided me through this new reality and I'm very grateful for that.

When I was in junior high, I remember wishing I could rewind time and go back to my younger years, a feeling that hit me even more strongly in high school. Can you imagine being 16 or 17 and wanting to go back to a "simpler time"? Well, that's how I felt. I wrote about it in my journal, how I longed to go back to the days before SATs and AP exams and anxiety over boys and money and my body and college and whether I was smart or savvy enough to succeed in the world.

An oft-repeated adage says "time heals all wounds." And yes, the immediate shock and grief of a loved one's death fades as time goes by. But in some ways, my grief has intensified. Grief changes as weeks and months go by and you get further and further from the time when your loved one was alive. The formerly routine act of turning the calendar page to a new month has become a painful reminder that I'm entering yet another new month without my beloved brother and friend. I ache to be able to rewind time, to go back and be with him again, to have one more deep conversation, one more hug, one more laugh.

The passing of time has factored into my grief in a way I never expected. Members of the GBB group share often about their longing to rewind time. Not to save their loved one or alter history, but to just recall how they felt before their hearts were weighed down by grief and longing. I think of November 2014 and I ache--a deep, painful ache--to go back. If only to tell Amir what an incredible person he is and how dearly we all love him. I know he knew it, but I wish I could tell him one last time.

*In fact, I recently heard a wonderful podcast about a support group for children who have lost a parent. I'm an ass for not remembering which podcast but I can narrow it down to two or three. The name of the support group has completely escaped me. This is why I have to write everything down now. Even the important stuff gets lost amid the chaos in my mind.

June 7, 2015

Higher Power

Amir and I had a great many personality traits and beliefs in common, one of which is atheism (or, at the very least, agnosticism--we had not discussed it in some time and though Amir knew that I am an atheist, I can't say whether he had come to the same concrete realization, our shared fondness for Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins notwithstanding). We had talked about the lack of evidence for any type of god or god-like higher power in the world and how glad we were to be part of a family in which religion was never important nor emphasized as an essential part of our lives. For me, the term "higher power" meant nature and the living, breathing world around us, oxygen, water, our universe, our planet, our loved ones--all the things that keep us alive in both the physical and emotional sense. My family and friends are more of a higher power in my life than any god conjured up by me or any religion could be.

I have found heartfelt and helpful support through a Facebook group called "Grief Beyond Belief," which brings together those of us grieving a loved one without the comfort of belief in god. I'll admit sometimes I wonder if I'd have an easier time accepting my brother's death if I believed he was in "heaven" or that he was with our deceased grandparents or that I'd see him again someday. Would mourning him be easier if I didn't believe death was final? If I believed he was still "here" in spirit? I wonder about these things often. The religious find comfort in ways we atheists never will--they express their grief through prayer and belief in god. They glean comfort from their fellow believers and the notion that their loved one is "with god" or "in heaven" or watching over them, a guardian angel.

Comforting as those ideas may be, my logical brain prohibits me accepting those ideas for which there is no evidence. I can only find comfort in my memories of my brother, the life he lived, my memories of him and the love we all have for him. I know that only my own death with be a release from the pain of losing him and other loved ones.

Members of the Grief Beyond Belief group post stories of their loved ones or share their grief in ways that I find comforting, particularly from those who have lost a sibling. I feel a strong connection with people who have lost a brother, just as my mom has found comfort from stories of those who have lost a son.

One member of the group, Amy Teel, recently lost her 17-year-old son. She wrote a long, insightful post that resonated deeply with me and I asked her permission to share it here. An excerpt:

"The problem of evil is one of the main contradictions when I consider the idea that a loving, omnimax god exists.
It cannot. No logical definition for a god has ever been introduced, i do not pretend to need one when tragedy strikes.
The characteristics of all gods on offer are dismantled when a guy like Jake dies.
My son is not the only important & good human to have been taken too soon, to have died while being stellar.

If there was a omniscient god, it would have known this was going to go down prior to February 6th.
If that god was omnipresent it means it stood by and watched.
If it is an omnipotent god, that means it was powerful enough to stop that event in a plethora of ways, but it didn’t.
It stood there, present in the 20 seconds my son was conscious, and did nothing.
If it is an “all-loving god” and it didn’t prevent this event, it cannot be omni-benevolent.
It is logically impossible that that god exists and is "all loving."
The god is dismantled and must be taken out of the equation, and because I consider myself an honest person, it’s gone. Logic dictates, and I do my best to follow only that road.

Some people have said, “God needed him more, he needed another comedian”
A god that needs anything is not a god.
Some have said, “He’s watching over you” or “He’s in a better place"
His optic nerves, his entire body is ashes now, he cannot watch anything. “He” is not a conscious thinker or intender, anymore.
Consciousness, as evidenced, is the result of a brain, nervous system, physiology. It cannot exist without those components.

The dead are dead. The facts are cold, and I don’t need or find any use for an emotional crutch to save me from this bitterness.
Time will carry us to a place where we don’t feel broken.

I am in one piece, I will be able to accept my fucked reality and not find it taking me to my knees, some day. I will do this, because I intend to.
I can take actions that are contrary to the way i feel. I can walk into life and participate, even if I don’t think I have the strength to. We all can.

Jake in skin, is done. There is no evidence that a soul exists.
The ambiguity of supernatural ideas concerning what a soul or spirit would be doing are a mind fuck that my prioritizing of evidence saves me from.
Thank you for understanding, and if you don’t understand, thank you for respecting my lack of belief and instead focusing on being close, loving and fully present."

May 24, 2015

Six Months

It's been six months since we lost my brother and I'm still having a hard time coming to terms with the sad fact that he is not here. Six months and there's a sense of disbelief that won't leave me. Six months and I still pick up the phone to call him. Six months and I still have to stop myself from starting emails to him. Six months and I still forget, momentarily, that I can't forward that funny video or article to him. Six months and I wake up each morning having to remind myself that I'm no longer the eldest, but the elder. That a huge, irreplaceable part of my life is gone.

Last week, we celebrated my sister's marriage to a warm and wonderful man who made a beautiful speech at Amir's funeral in spite of never having had the privilege of meeting him. Yael and Thiago's party was a lovefest for all, in a room bursting at the seams with warmth and joy. My mom admitted a few days before that she felt overwhelmed about a weekend of celebrating when we are all grieving and missing my brother. I admit I felt the same way. How could we be joyous when his absence was so palpable? How could we eat, drink and dance when our sorrow is so profound?

But we did. I reminded my mom the day before the party that Amir would be fucking peeved at all of us if he knew we spent any precious time being too sad over his loss to enjoy ourselves, particularly my sister, who waited so long to find her perfect partner and deserved this party so absolutely. Amir would want us to have the best fucking time and to celebrate the joy of the occasion unreservedly.

I thought of him all night long, as I'm sure many people did. Every photo snapped should have had him in it. Every toast--he should have been there raising his glass along with the rest of us. Every song--he should have been there dancing (though, frankly, he likely would have skipped the dancing in favor of hanging out in the parking lot, smoking pot and shooting the shit with cousins and old friends).

I fucking hate that he wasn't there. I'm so angry that he missed out.

Amir would have been fast friends with our new brother-in-law, with their shared intellect and curiosity. Their new bond would have made the occasion all the more glorious. But it was not to be, shitty as that is.

I am immensely proud of my sister and my parents for enjoying the fucking hell out of that party in spite of Amir's glaring absence and the gaping holes in all of our hearts. I don't believe in heaven or spirits but I was comforted knowing Amir would have been beaming with joy for our sister, the beautiful love she has found and the wonderful blended family she and Thiago have created.

May 2, 2015

Axl Rose's Orthodontist

I've spent my Saturday morning reading through old emails and chats with Amir, feeling a strong need to connect with him. Grief is a more complicated thing than I'd ever imagined. And yet... you strip away all the complex emotions and ups and downs and "what ifs" and you're left with "I fucking miss him."

Reading this Gmail chat from last year made me smile. I can "hear" Amir in these chats and emails (and cherished piles of handwritten letters) that I will forever cling to as a way of keeping Amir's exceptional wit, humor and intelligence alive and preserving our unique interplay. In this one, I believe we started off talking about David Bowie and Mick Jagger's semi-ridiculous cover of "Dancing in the Streets." (P.S. I never did get my $20 money order.)

Fwd: Hangout with Amir (Jun 23, 2014 - 4:21 PM):

Amir - 4:21 PM
Yeah, that video was a low point for both icons. Then again, very few Rock stars from the seventies made a smooth transition into the eighties.

Ayelet Prizant - 4:22 PM
C'mon, David Lee Roth transitioned perfectly to the 80s!
And what about the Steves? (Perry and Tyler)

Amir - 4:27 PM
You are mistaken. First of all, Van Halen and Journey were both more eighties than seventies. So yes, their lead singers were younger and more hip in the MTV age. And though Aerosmith are clearly a seventies band in origin, Tyler was a raging coke addict in the early eighties and looked like shit. Aerosmith went dark between 1979-1986, they were a fucking mess. Tyler cleaned up and they busted out "Permanent Vacation."

Ayelet Prizant - 4:30 PM
Yes, Tyler came back in late 80s and made gazillions w/ new fans and videos. I"m sure I can come up with someone else. Elton John? Big glasses in 70s, different big glasses in 80s = $$$$$!

Amir - 4:32 PM
Yep. Also: Billy Joel (until he grew that shitty goatee and crashed into a tree), Mark Knopfler, Neil Young, ZZ Top (shittier beards that hid the fact that they were 50 yrs old) and actually, Bowie from '80 - '84 was very much at the forefront of all trends.
"Serious Moonlight" Bowie. Not "Blue Jean" Bowie.

Ayelet Prizant - 4:33 PM
Don Henley! Pansy-ass lite rock in 70s, similar in 80s, with artsy black and white videos to sell gazillions more.

Amir - 4:34 PM
A Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac.

Ayelet Prizant - 4:34 PM
Hey, I learned the word "deadhead" from that song.
Sad but true.

Amir - 4:34 PM
Everyone born after 1960 did.
Then Henley did that one with Axl Rose. Twenty bucks if you name that tune without Wikipedia.

Ayelet Prizant - 4:35 PM
I Will Not Go Quietly

Amir - 4:35 PM
Holy shit.

Ayelet Prizant - 4:36 PM
Boy am I a sad specimen of what the human brain is capable of.

Amir - 4:36 PM
I'll send you a money order.
I was gonna say I Will Not Lie Down
A strange pairing.

Ayelet Prizant - 4:37 PM
I remember really liking that song.
Recently downloaded "Sunset Grill," too--always liked that one.
But Jason and I were listening to oldies radio at home yesterday and we both groaned loudly from different rooms when "Hotel California" came on.

Amir - 4:43 PM
Is "Sunset Grill" the name of a good steak house in Hollywood?
What is that song about?
And yeah, it's very difficult to hear Hotel California with fresh ears. It's just too ubiquitous.

Ayelet Prizant - 4:44 PM
Probably a titty bar
Or gay bar

Amir - 4:44 PM
Or an orthodontist.
Axl Rose's orthodontist.

April 18, 2015

Birthday Boy, Part 2

On Amir's birthday last week, his girlfriend Joleen sent me an email describing how she planned to celebrate him. Reading it soothed me on a difficult day and I've been meaning to share it:
"Last night, before I went to sleep I talked to Amir for a while. I shared memories and told him about what I was going to do today and then I started talking about stupid shit, just like I used to with him and he'd listen and give advice.
7 am this morning I went to Kornblatt's for breakfast and got the eggs benedict (on a bagel, with salami not ham). This was Amir's favorite Jewish deli. He also liked Kenny & Zukes for their chicken matzo ball soup and bagel dogs, which are beef hotdogs baked in bagels, similar to pigs in a blanket.
Last year, we went to Kornblatt's on Sunday. This morning, I sat there all alone for almost an hour reading the paper and trying not to devour my breakfast too fast. I was trying to do it like Amir. He always took his time and we could easily spend over an hour eating.
[Later], I plan to walk over to the Hollywood District and go to the vintage mall. We discovered it back in August/September one Saturday. Neither of us had ever been in it but all we had was time that day so we went in and ended up being there for 2 hours. It's an IKEA style vintage store. IKEA, in that it has tons of rooms and corners all decorated, but with all this old shit. You can't help but touch and look at everything. We separated at one point and ran into each other an hour later. He said 'This place never ends, you turn a corner and it just goes on and on.'
We couldn't get over how awesome this place is. So, I'm going there next! For lunch, I think I'll go to Ole Ole for a steak quesadilla. We went there on our third date. He loved that place. He loved quesadillas a lot."
Just pretend it's a grilled cheese
I told Joleen how much her email had made me smile, thinking of Amir taking an hour to finish a meal, often reading the newspaper while he slowly chewed and contemplated every fucking thing. He was always the last person at the table to finish his food, typically lingering for hours in a restaurant, rarely skipping dessert. 

Also, I have no doubt that Amir's undying love for quesadillas was inevitable given his childhood obsession with American cheese slices and, later, grilled cheese sandwiches. Grilled cheese was his first love (after his sisters, of course). You could have thrown that kid into a tub full of thumbtacks and he would have been just fine, so long as he had a grilled cheese.

April 7, 2015

Birthday Boy

Amir would have (should have!) turned 39 today.​ I'm heartbroken that he's not here to receive my card or my call. He is so very missed. It's raining and grey and gloomy here in New York, which is apropos of how I'm feeling and yet it makes me smile because Amir loved rain.

When he turned five, Amir had a birthday party at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor, complete with an R2-D2 cake. There's a smile for ya!

I hope all of you who knew him and loved will think of him and remember him today by listening to a song he loved or doing something he enjoyed doing or spending some quiet time with a special memory of him. You can laugh or you can cry. Just remember him fondly and raise a glass, if you're so inclined.

xo

April 3, 2015

Lost

"I'd be lost without you and Amir, truly." That was part of a Gmail chat I had with my sister less than two weeks before my brother died.​ And that's how I've been feeling these past 4 months since Amir died. Grief comes in waves and the sadness and emptiness roll in at seemingly random times, while other moments seem almost normal. I'll never be sure I'm navigating my grief correctly or even if I'm dealing with it the way that's best for me. I just go with how I feel, day to day.

I haven't posted anything here in a while, but I have been writing. I often post on Saturday mornings. That's by far the most difficult time for me, when my mind returns to the minute before I received that awful phone call. During the week, I'm kept busy with work and other commitments, but it's the weekends when I find myself struggling the most--just being home can be difficult at times.

Turning the calendar page to April a few days ago, I felt a pang of sadness, as April was Amir's birthday month and (to me) marks the true beginning of spring, a time of rebirth and renewal.

Tonight, I'll be celebrating Passover with my aunt and cousins, which will surely bring back memories. Amir was the youngest at our table for so many Brooklyn seders. He was the cutest little blond thing--sitting on pillows or phone books to reach the table. I love thinking of him and remembering him that way, though that's not the Amir I miss the most. It's who he was these past few years that will stay with me, as I think he would have wanted. He was a friend and confidant to me, as well as a joker and a playmate of sorts.

My thoughts are mostly incoherent today, but I wanted to mark this special month in some way. I may write more this weekend.

March 14, 2015

Keeping Close

I just returned from spending a few days in Reno with my parents. Being in their home is so bittersweet now; it's wonderful to be with them, to talk about Amir (or not talk about him when we need to) but every minute is a reminder of what's missing. Photos of Amir line the hallway and bookshelves. His presence is so palpable there.

My parents are coping as well as they can, though it's painfully clear to see they will never be the same. If I could do anything to ease their sadness beyond spending time with them, I would do it without hesitation. I am proud and thankful for the way they rely on each other for comfort and support even though, like most people, they grieve in different ways.

As for me, I have a lot to write about--sadly, more desire to write than time to indulge. For now, I wanted to post one of my all-time favorite photos of the three of us. Each of us has had a framed copy of this photo in our respective homes for all of our adult lives and, no matter how physically far apart we have been over the years, it has kept us and our memories close.


February 28, 2015

Silliness

As children, Yael and Amir and I had our share of fun times and adventures, memorable family trips and lazy summer weekends in our backyard. Being so close in age, we had similar shared experiences within the span of only a few years, along with shared tastes in music and many friends in common. Like most siblings, we also had the occasional disagreement or throwdown (three of us sharing one bathroom, particularly as teenagers, led to some epic shouting matches and disgruntled compromises). But, for the most part, I recall us getting along as though we were close friends in addition to being siblings.

May 1996
Once we became adults, our relationships deepened in wonderful new ways. Along with turning to each other for guidance and advice and exploring new avenues together, we constantly cracked each other up with our steadily maturing humor and sarcasm. We bitched and laughed with each other about our parents. We were equally entertained by the cultural differences, malapropisms and various foreign accents of our parents, grandparents and other family members constantly floating around us. We ditched family gatherings early to go to the movies together or for a post-event cocktail or dessert--just the three of us. We took a memorable road trip from L.A. to San Francisco, during which we laughed off the rain that pelted my little Nissan and forced us to change our route, turning a 6-hour drive into a 12-hour adventure along muddy, deserted backroads. That's a story for another time.

This photo was taken at my grandparents' L.A. apartment after a particularly lively dinner when we were in our 20s. By this time, Amir had already moved to northern CA and it was the last year Yael and I would both live in L.A. I remember the three of us banding together at one end of the dining room table. Wine was flowing. Amir was cracking us up, as usual. Someone (maybe Dad?) captured this silly moment in a photo that embodies so well the dynamic between the three of us as adults--probably making fun of our elders but, more than anything, competing for the ultimate prize: making each other laugh.

February 11, 2015

A Bright Light - by Jude Feldman

From Amir's high-school friend, Jude Feldman:
I remember Amir as a bright light; a cynical genius who also maintained a charming and quiet faith that everything would ultimately work out satisfactorily. He was one of the finest road trip companions ever, and we wrote endlessly entertaining (and frankly terrible) free-form, Beat-style "poems" together on the road. We would hike for hours, with friends, in the splendid silence of the redwoods. He introduced me to the work of authors and musicians I never would have found, and his good taste informs my library still. He was brilliant--one of the smartest people I knew--and tremendously funny and self-effacing.
Amir had an incredible, dry sense of humor, and recalling some of the absolutely straight-faced, hilarious things he said still makes me laugh all these years later. He was a master of perfectly flat delivery, while his eyes sparkled with barely-suppressed mirth.
I sincerely hope that remembering the gifts Amir brought into peoples' lives will help comfort you in this most profoundly difficult time.

February 7, 2015

The Luckiest Hand I Ever Drew

What I read at Amir's funeral on December 2:

At my wedding, 2009
New York Times writer Frank Bruni dedicated his memoir to his siblings, calling them "the luckiest hand I ever drew." I couldn't agree more, when it comes to the hand I was dealt. Lucky me--I hit the jackpot twice in the sibling department.

Amir and I were kindred spirits and shared a particular closeness neither of us had with anyone else. He was both my patient and my counselor, seeking guidance and providing it. He often sought my wisdom and was always responsive when I asked for his. He was my sounding board for all measure of ideas and plans. I was proud that he looked up to me and Yael and I hope he knew we looked up to him as well.

From a young age, Amir and I shared the same passion for music and often quizzed each other or made bets based on our mutual encyclopedic knowledge of the most trivial of music trivia. I'd say we were about even in our accumulation of useless knowledge, but when Amir lost a bet, no matter how humiliating the defeat, he always accepted it with grace. And he always paid up.

Amir and I shared a singular and sometimes twisted sense of humor, a love of history and wordplay and a deep-seated yet good-natured sarcastic streak. Amir could rouse my sense of humor and make me laugh in a way that no one else could. He knew precisely what I'd find funny because he found it hilarious himself. In many ways, we live​d in our own little bubble of inside jokes, making an art of cynicism and mockery with an underlying kindness.

Through his smart and insightful approach to just about every subject, Amir even managed to occasionally spark my interest in sports. We exchanged frequent texts about hearing random or obscure songs in supermarkets or stumbling upon favorite childhood movies on late-night cable TV. We shared regular emails outlining the finer points of particular books or new movies and we enjoyed long conversations about politics, history and current events.

Amir was one of the most well-read people I've ever known--he devoured books at an impressive rate. I must take partial credit for this, recalling those special early years when he'd asked me to read to him regularly. I cherish the memory of riding in the car with Amir and him asking Yael and I, "What does that sign say?" and "What about that sign?" Teaching Amir to read street signs made long car trips fun and entertaining long before DVD players and iPads.

Climbing with Dad in Chatsworth Park, 1981

It's nearly impossible to imagine a world without Amir in it. It will certainly be less bright for everyone who knew and loved him. I will feel his absence every day for the rest of my life. But though we gather today to say goodbye, Amir will always be with us.

January 31, 2015

On Reading

Amir worked at an upscale health club/tennis center in Portland for more than 5 years. He was able to swim and work out there, which he enjoyed, and though he'd sometimes gripe about certain club members, he was well regarded and liked by the majority of people he came into contact with. Being an introvert is not easy, particularly when having to deal with people all day--Amir and I related extremely well to each other about this aspect of both our personalities. Introverted people are often misunderstood as being anti-social or even misanthropic, a struggle that Amir and I shared and about which we often commiserated and empathized with each other. 

2004
I recently finished reading a book (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking) that I so wish I could have shared and discussed with Amir, as it helped me better understand my own introverted nature. As the loss of my brother and dear friend has begun to sink in more deeply, I find myself so desperately sad about all the things I won't be able to discuss with him--books and music, most importantly.

A few weeks ago, I received a box of Amir's books kindly shipped to me by his girlfriend, Joleen. It jostled me a bit to see among them Less Than Zero, A Million Little Pieces and Dry. Amir was a voracious reader and addiction was a topic he was well versed in, not just as a product of his own struggles (and those of people close to him), but as someone interested in the inner workings of our brains. We used to talk at great length about addiction and its foundations--why it took hold of some, including himself, but not others under similar circumstances. Why Amir but not me or Yael? (That's an entire other blog post I'll have to get to one of these days.)

Knowing our similar tastes in reading material, Amir had been encouraging me to read Chuck Klosterman for years. I just never got around to it. Now, with three Klosterman books in my possession from Amir's personal collection, I will begin tackling this writer who resonated so deeply with Amir. But I hesitate, knowing the empty feeling that will accompany my finishing these books without being able to call Amir to discuss them.

Everything I see, read or do now is tinged with a sense of loss and the harsh realization of Amir's absence. I have no choice but to accept it, though it will never feel right.

January 22, 2015

"I Like Toast" - by Ian Levy

Amir has been one of my best friends since the summer before 8th grade. He made fun of my use of my middle initial, which I am quite sure he found stupid and pretentious. He adopted the first initial Q. so as to not be left out of the initial club. We had a "band" (that created no actual music) called QAP and IEL. (Pronounced: Kwap and Eel). To me, he will always be Q. Amir Prizant.

He was the inventor of a game called Vashad Varoom, which we played almost every day in his backyard the summer before 9th grade. The game only had two rules. It had to be played in a pool and it had to involve a ball. All other rules were to be made up on the spot and varied day to day. It was one of the all time great games, and I'm glad I remember it.

Ian, Jeff, Amir - 1994
There were four of us that we called the Four Amigos--Amir, Y. Mike Kelly, Ryan G. Sierra and myself. Three of us went to one Jr. High. Amir went to a different one. Which meant he was frequently bored to tears when we would talk at length about people he had never met and didn't care about. One evening, when such discussions had been going on at some length, Amir suddenly interjected "Personally, I prefer Cookies and Cream." It broke the whole room up. It was his way of telling us to stop boring him and get back to discussing important things like drama girls and the nuances of prog rock. "Personally, I prefer Cookies and Cream" is something I still say to people when they are going on interminably about something I have no knowledge of or interest in.

He had the sharpest, most biting wit of anyone I have ever known. I'm just glad that most of the time I wasn't on the receiving end of it. That smirk of his is permanently laser etched into my brain. He could also be as banal as humanly possible. I have a school photo he gave me in 10th grade. I used to carry it in my wallet. On the back he wrote:

"Ian, I like toast. - Amir"

I don't think any person had more impact on my musical tastes than Amir. If I think about my favorite bands, I can trace at least half of them directly to him. Special thanks to whoever bought Amir that stereo for his bar mitzvah. You changed my life.

I remember how much he admired and adored each member of his family. I slept in their house dozens of times. I saw it up close.

I remember how proud he was when we went to see "House of Blue Leaves." We were just TADW kids looking forward to joining the Chatsworth High drama program. It was the big time for us. But what I remember most was how Amir was pointedly--visibly--proud of his sister Yael. He put up a cynical front sometimes, but that night he could not contain his pride. He was showing her off to us. It was a moment of real sweetness when it felt like we were standing at the gateway to the rest of our lives, and I will always treasure the memory.

Ayelet, you were his best friend. I don't think he looked up to anyone in the world as much as you. He truly adored you. He talked about you all the time. I remember him planning trips from Arcata based on when he would get to see you. He tried to play it cool, but I could always tell when he was really excited about something and getting to see you was always one of those somethings.

Many of my best memories of Amir are in your house, playing Mille Bornes (which we intentionally mispronounced Mill Borns) at the kitchen table, staying up all night on New Years and Halloween and 4th of July. Watching the same movies over and over again in the den. Relentlessly mocking anything that moved or didn't move. Turning your house into a hurricane we were probably barely aware of.

Amir [was] a man of integrity, who cared about others, looked out for those in need and wanted to make the world a better place. [He] cared about children and animals and always had a work ethic from the first time I met him. He was an honorable person, and he was my friend. He made my life much better.

Goodbye, my dear friend, Q. Amir Prizant. I miss you. I will play some Trane for you. And Revolver. And Christmas in Hollis. And ELP. And Stairway to Heaven, even though it's the most overplayed song of all time. Not because that's exactly where you are if there is such a place. But because it was voted #1 in the top 1000 greatest rock songs of all time by the listeners of KLSX in 1988. And 89. And 90. As we knew it would be.

Shalom, my friend.

January 20, 2015

California Road Trip, 1994 - by Jeff Spector

Amir, Vitto, Gregory, (possibly Larry too) and I all hopped in Vitto's dad's RV and took a road trip to Santa Cruz ostensibly to visit Ryan and Abe (the memories are slightly, to no one's surprise, a bit hazy). Amir was in top-form, dryly cracking wise the whole way there and matching me bit for bit with the music trivia. He was erudite and had a true sense of who he was then, a fully formed adult in many ways at just 17. I was 22 and felt younger than him in many ways.

That trip in the Carmona RV was in every way about the journey and not the destination. Much like our lives. I think about that time often and the others I was privileged to be in his company.

Whenever I hear Sonic Youth, the Beastie Boys' "Check Your Head," The Beach Boys' "Friends" album or early Pink Floyd, I know Amir's somewhere on his own journey critiquing the music, dryly musing over the moment, and flashing his wry "seen it all" smile.

January 18, 2015

Remembering Amir


Amir at 5
Hello, dear friends and family. I've started this blog as a place for us to share our memories of Amir as a tribute to his life and his special place in all of our lives.

Yael and I invite you to share your stories of time spent with Amir, your photos of Amir, your letters/notes from Amir or any special musical memories. (Please email any content to Ayelet.) We have decided not to share this website with our parents so that we all can express our feelings and truths honestly, without hesitation.

We miss Amir terribly and we hope this site is a healing place for all of us who loved him.