there is nothing left now that goes unsaid | Thanks and RIP Alice Alsup
Leon casino, “She did a number on us.”
-Alice Alsup on Tropical Storm Allison
About one week ago, the local poet, journalist, and University of Houston student Alice Alsup wrote a Facebook post soliciting favorite lines from suicide notes. As a fellow poet, journalist, and lover of words, I thought nothing of it-maybe she was working on a story for Houstonia, where she interned, or maybe she just had some kind of goth predilection. I contributed some lines from one of my favorites, Mayakovsky’s Vladimir Mayakovsky: A Tragedy. I think Alice, herself, recommended something from Sylvia Plath, but I could be mistaken. Alice’s Facebook profile no longer exists. As of Monday, June 9, neither does Alice.
She was a sprightly being, a read-headed butterfly fluttering about on her bicycle from a vintage shop to a picnic in the park, from a friend’s club gig to the next poetry reading…to places beyond and places between. Her lucent, gossamer complexion betrayed a radiance within-she did not seem of this world, in truth. A faerie. A nymph. A sprite. Her voice-a little squeaky, a little unsure-and her charm-she seemed at ease with being ill at ease, disarmed any unease as another stranger became Alice’s new friend.
At Summer Fest this year, Alice said hello to me then immediately struck up a conversation with my companion, placed a Texas sticker on her chest so as to leave a negative tan “tattoo” in the shape of the Lone Star State, thus giving her a fun distraction from the heat. Our mutual friend Make was about to perform. She supported her friends, and her friends, likewise, remain some of her biggest fans. (Look for Alsup’s article about Make, aka Josiah Gabriel, in the July edition of FPH-we wish she were here to see it. And look for Alsup’s poetry in the upcoming Word Around Town poetry festival.)
Yesterday, a motley crew of about 50 tattooed, pierced, dreadlocked people gathered in Menil Park to mourn and celebrate Alice. The diversity, in every sense of the word, among her friends bore witness to the breadth of her explorations-young, old, black, white, hispanic, man, woman, trans, rich, poor, crusty, preppy-all came out to wring their hands, lament their loss, curse her act, share tears and laughter.
I did not know Alice well, though I had hoped to get to know her better. I first met her at a dance party I helped organize on Valentine’s Day. My collective, Nomadic Beats, threw a renegade street party on the median in Montrose in conjunction with Art League Houston. We dropped some funky beats and handed out 200 red carnations to motorists stuck in traffic. Alice appeared to have loved it, and her presence added much to the atmosphere.
Back at Menil Park, Kira, whose shoulder bears a tattoo line drawing of Vonnegut’s face with the caption “So it goes,” Mary, and I read this passage from Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, the Bokononist death rite, and talked about savoring every moment of our time in this form:
God made mud.
God got lonesome.
So God said to some of the mud, “Sit up!”
“See all I’ve made,” said God, “the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars.”
And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
Lucky me, lucky mud.
I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done.
Nice going, God.
Nobody but you could have done it, God! I certainly couldn’t have.
I feel very unimportant compared to You.
The only way I can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud that didn’t even get to sit up and look around.
I got so much, and most mud got so little.
Thank you for the honor!
Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep.
What memories for mud to have!
What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met!
I loved everything I saw!
I will go to heaven now.
I can hardly wait…
To find out for certain what my wampeter was…
And who was in my karass…
And all the good things our karass did for you.
Some folks at the park felt angry about Alsup’s “selfish” act; others wiped tears from their eyes and shrugged their shoulders and said she had every right, that the life was hers to live or refuse; some spoke of mental illness; some said our lives are not ours alone, that we belong to others in addition to ourselves. I was reminded of my high school guidance counselor’s adage that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
I hear tell of at least three suicides in the Houston arts scene just this week, all under very different circumstances. I’m not really sure what else to say about that. Love your friends, I guess, and look for those signs.
According to one friend at the memorial, Alice had been posting photographs on Facebook that dropped subtle hints about the way she would eventually choose to go. According to another friend, on a recent visit to the prison museum in Hunstsville (which she wrote about for Houstonia) she seemed particularly captivated by condemned prisoners’ last words. And then there was the Facebook exchange I mentioned. Taken together, these observations begin to paint a picture, but taken independently, how could any one of us have known?
So what is there to say? It’s just sad, really really sad. A tragic loss. Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Alice Alsup. If only she knew the number of people she inspired.
Let’s let Alice have the last word. Ronald Jones’s videos do an excellent job of capturing her spirit. I can’t believe she’s gone.
Read love it’s last rites.
Say to yourself
“This is my heart letting go.”
I should always be prepared to be in transience, you know, ready to move on at any time. Even now, I love where I ‘m living now, but I have every cardboard box that I’ll ever need stuffed in the hallway closet just in case I need to move again. And I have left two boxes unpacked.
All photos courtesy of an anonymous friend of Alice’s.
Feel free to use the comment space to leave stories of Alice and thoughts for her loved ones.
32 Responses to there is nothing left now that goes unsaid | Thanks and RIP Alice Alsup
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Dear Madeline, Mike, and Whitney,
The pictures here and the tributes paint a picture of an extraordinarily lovely young woman with great gifts. I am so very sorry for your devastating loss.
I wish I had a copy of the poem that was read at Alice’s memorial service on Friday, because I think it fit her, and the situation, perfectly. As it is, I tried to capture some part of our friendship, and how much I miss her, on my blog (http://theinnerlimits.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/goodbye-part-2/), but I know that it’s just a shadow, and probably only has meaning for me. I wish I could have done more for Alice, because she helped me so much. But i guess all I can say is goodbye.
Thank you all for the love and fellowship you shared with our beloved daughter Alice. She was a kind, funny, quirky, smart, empathetic, beautiful young woman that we will treasure in our hearts forever.
Michael, Madeleine & Whitney
Dear Dr. Duvic,
It’s Holly Clark (Hazlett now). I am so sorry for your loss. I recall visiting your home one day when my son was born…I think maybe you had a baby gift for me. You spoke of your children and I could tell you loved them very much. There is really nothing I can say except you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers…..I am so sad for you.
I knew Alice well when she lived in Portland, and stayed in touch after she moved to Houston. I can’t believe it. Alice, thank you for every word and for everything wordless. And thank you, Harbeer Sandhu, for writing this tribute, and thank you for everyone who could go in person to celebrate the life of my brilliant, vast-hearted, irreplaceable friend.
I am amazed at her talent and beauty. I didn’t know Alice, but the testaments from her friends astound me. Really what astounds me is that she could do what she did with so much love around her. Just trying to find an answer, I would say AA says it all. I know I’ll be faulted for that, but it seems many artists struggle with this search for creative voice in something outside themselves, and when they don’t have that it’s frustrating. I don’t know. Like I said, I didn’t know her, but it’s certainly disheartening to see such a lovely person, an amazing talent, just go away.
“Read love it’s last rites.
Say to yourself
“This is my heart letting go.””
Were these her passing words?
Alice, from all the comments already spoken, you must have been a very talented and gifted poet. I was impressed by the words others used to describe you. Now you are writing and creating for God. RIP, God Bless, Tom W
Friday, Jun. 13, 2014 at 11:00 AM
The Church of St. John the Divine
2450 River Oaks Boulevard
- See more at: http://m.legacy.com/obituaries/HoustonChronicle/obituary.aspx?n=Alice-Alsup&pid=171300834&referrer=298&preview=False#sthash.vfORAEu3.dpuf
Because this is an issue that many deal with, I felt it was important to remind people that there are resources for those considering suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1 800-273-8255.
I met Alice at a friend’s house after a night at the bar. She accidentally spilled something on the floor and offered to come back the next day with her mom to help clean the stain off the carpet. A few days later she borrowed my scarf at an outdoor concert because it was really cold and she accidentally left with it. We then began a goofy game where she never returned my scarf but would text me every time she was out wearing it, and I would text back how cold my neck was. I always harbored a small crush on her. It’s hard not to do, as she’s amazing…was amazing. I remember dancing with her at Summerfest the other week to Make and later Tune-yards. Now I’m kicking myself for not texting her more or telling her how awesome she was or telling her I liked her. Maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference, but I regret it all the same. RIP Alice.
I met Alice about 2 years ago via a good friend. We hung out and she was the intrepid little adventurer. She lived with my girlfriend at the time for a while, so I was over quite a bit. When she went to her relatives back east, w e kept in touch via Facebook. When she came back, we hung out and talked about random shit, then I took her to meet her aa sponsor. That was the last time I saw her. She was a sweet soul, but I could tell she was really tortured, and I didn’t know how she held on through it all. I am really sad to hear she took greet own life, but I know she desperately wanted inner peace, and I can only hope she finally is at peace.
Safe travels, Alice. You are obviously missed.
We first met in first person. A bar named Double Trouble celebrated its 3rd birthday, when Berenice and Andreeff introduced us to one another. We had our first conversation during a short parooze around the next door vinyl shop. You could hop thru conversations as if strangers were hoops to your social circus. You were a teacher for anyone.
Then, you were invited to my almost-christmas, western winter house party, where you laid on my bed reading Everything is Illuminated, choosing not to engage any social activity within the room adjacent. Your choice impressed me greatly, exposing an inner juxtaposition of moods that you were not afraid to express. And then, just for a minute before you departed, you shared your crystal-clear logic with me as we cut vegetables and prepared some badass guacamole! I said to myself, “This girl is alright.”
Next, I enjoyed a spontaneous phone call from you a month later, on SUPERBOWL SUNDAY, inviting me to Notsuoh’s poetry open mic, where you proclaimed yourself a “featured reader” for the evening. Prior to attending, we strolled the isles of a Fiesta grocery store while the halftime show took place, gathering up your nutrition needs for the upcoming week. You showed me your ghetto mansion of hippies and misfits, made me a supa-dank mexican comida bowl, almost broke your rice cooker, and let me read your “History of Hip Hop Production” book, where I first learned of the term “diggin’ in the crates”. All of this was in exchange for assembling the HP printer your father had just purchased for you, so that you could have fresh prints of your poetry ready whenever you needed to perform.
Nina picked me up after two hours of poetry, and then after that, I would say our experiences together were far and in between. I last saw you here, at Ben’s Beans Monday night open mic, only a few days after purchasing my new camera. I was still young to the sport, and most of my shots were blurred like a biatch. But this one, this particular one, you had high praise and gratitude for.
Audrey shared a status yesterday that notified me of your latest choice. Though I cannot say that I truly understood the reason for anything you ever chose to do, I can say that everything you ever did seemed rich with passionate, timeless intention. Thus, I think you know what your message is for us, and as a teacher to us all, have left us with something to learn from.
I’m sure this piece was written with the best of intentions, but Alice was not some manic pixie dream girl fantasy. Those who read her poetry or talked to her about her feminist beliefs would know how much it upset her that people saw her as such.
She was not “A faerie. A nymph. A sprite.” Alice did not want to be remembered this way.
i wish i knew her thoughts on architecture
i wish i knew more of her side of things
Alice was a close friend. I don’t mean to be morbid but is there any word on how she killed herself?
I knew Alice while she attended Reed College in Portland, prior to her relocating to Huston. This piece captures her perfectly- “she did not seem of this world, in truth. A faerie. A nymph. A sprite. Her voice–a little squeaky, a little unsure–and her charm–she seemed at ease with being ill at ease, disarmed any unease as another stranger became Alice’s new friend.” Alice seemed unhappy while I knew her, and I had hoped the start of a new life in Huston would change that. I’m very sad to hear that this was not the case. Thank you for submitting such a beautiful tribute to such a beautiful life lost. Rest in peace, Alice.
I was fairly close to her at one point. I admired her for her quirkiness and her ability to never be a victim of embarassment. I would visit her at her house, and her company helped me deal with my depression. Recently I was in houston, unfortunately for another friend’s memorial, and I saw her. She said she had been sober for quite awhile, and she seemed happy. I wish we had still stayed close. Another amazing person down.
Alice and I grew up together while attending Presbyterian School. I have the most vivid memory of one spend-the-night that I think back to so often. It was the first time I saw My Best Friend’s Wedding and we would rewind the opening song so we could memorize “all you gotta do…is love em..and hold em…and squeeze em..” you know how it goes. We then went upstairs and tried to make Whitney wet the bed by putting her hand in hot water, to no avail, we then did the old feather to her forehead trick while shaving cream and or toothpaste was in her hand…I’m sorry Whitney!! It was fun to be rascals together though…its strange how often I have thought back to that tiny vignette in my life, I feel as though it was meant to stay burnished in my memory because I would need to remember it one day. She was such a wondering being to grow up with. Michael, Madeline, and Whitney, sending you loving energy and thoughts, the world was truly blessed to have had her lovely feet frolicking upon it.
There will two chances to say good bye to Alice tonight, Wednesday night, for the poetry community.
One at AvantGarden at 411 Westheimer at 8pm and another at Notsuoh at 311 Main starting at 9pm and going into the unreasonably late hours Alice kept. The Notsuoh tribute will feature videos of Alice performing.
Alice cut a wide swath through both of those venues. For both parking and *other* reasons, these might be a good evening to arrange a carpool.
The Students of the University of Houston are having a memorial/ candle light vigil for Ms. Alsup. While some of us may not have known her on a personal level, we are still doing this because it could have been one of us. Check out the event on Facebook, Days of Remembrance for our Lost Cougar, Alice Alsup.
There will be something done by the students, even if it’s just one of us- and the University still has not said anything as of yet.
This event is needed because there should be a public form of remembrance for her. Slowly but surely the word is getting around.
Met her at the memorial fundraiser for Chelsea Norman, another untimely death. Her fantasticly bright dyed hair, “I (picture of a revolver) Texas” T and baggy low-hanging shorts made her stand out in the crowd - but it was her willingness to sit down, eat and chat with us, complete strangers, that made me instantly like her. She demurely covered her mouth when talking and eating bar-b-q, yet smiled and laughed freely while almost yelling at us over the absolute DIN of the free 15 minute concerts at the Tour de Hood Compound. She spoke of her being a student, a writer and a recent transplant to Houston. While we instantly labeled her a hipster, something that would put her kind of outside our normal circle, she was certainly someone we were happy to meet and wished to know better. She spoke of writing many stories for local mags, being rejected frequently, and it making her determined to write even more.
Such spirit. Such intensity.
Hey the University of Houston Students are holding a memorial service on campus Friday evening. Separate from the family’s own observances, we would like to remember her as well. She was a Cougar and we take care of our own (at least the students try to). Please spread the word and let her family know that the students do care about her!
This makes me so sad… she was friends with many of my friends and now they are all mourning her. I only met her one time, purely by coincidence, not realizing who she was or how many mutual friends we had… I approached her at Cecils (which itself says something abt her, since I almost never do this), struck up a conversation and offered to buy her a drink (she had a water). We talked about mythogenesis, the creative impulse.. something else, I cannot recall. It has been so long since then and I hardly feel right to say that I knew her… but I will miss her just the same.
“Her lucent, gossamer complexion betrayed a radiance within–she did not seem of this world, in truth. A faerie. A nymph. A sprite.” What a beautiful tribute. Thank you.
Thanks for a very well done article about Alice. She was a lovely girl and I’ll miss her.
RIP Alice ♡ you singed my heart with ur smile and left ur imprint like a fiery hot brand of a ranchers cattle prod I am forever scarred, may you see the love radiating from those u touched and be at ease
Madeline, Michael and Whitney - We are so sorry to hear about Alice. This tribute was so thoughtful - what a wonderful and creative soul she had.
Rest easy Alice. We love you and miss you more than you know.
I miss you Alice. I wish I could have known somehow. You were an amazing soul.