If you were an anthropologist and you observed my mother's last months, you would inevitably conclude that spending sprees are essential to the dying process. About six hours after she died, my father and I stood together at the kitchen sink, unwrapping individual pieces of silverware with shiny mocha-colored resin handles and dropping them into a large bowl of soapy water. It was a job because there were two tiny rubber bands securing the wrapping to each piece. There was similar set with ivory-colored handles in the pantry, customarily used on holidays and other special occasions.
It’s hard to talk about money. It’s also hard to talk about death. And it’s really hard to talk about all the ways money and death seem to tangle themselves together. But since The Billfold was already down with one of these notoriously gnarly subjects, I figured the other might not be such a hard sell.
When it comes to grief, what’s meaningful and what’s creepy is often a matter of largely unpredictable personal preference. I recently came across a website selling 12-inch poseable action figures that are customizable to resemble a dead loved one, whose ashes you can also get sealed inside. After an initial reaction that was something along the lines of "oh HELL no" and a swift x-ing out of the browser window, a minute later I found myself back on the page, scrolling through all of the options: "Trendy Male," "Casual Female," "Male Grey Suit," "Nice Nurse," "Karate Male/Female."
If you had asked me in the summer of 2011 where I thought I’d be in a year, I would have said living a queer artist’s life in San Francisco, “writing” my dissertation. Instead, I spent the summer of 2012 moving my parents out of their retirement property in South Florida -- think Boca but not nearly as bougie -- and bringing them back to New York, where my brother and I had grown up.