Sunday, August 21, 2005

Angela Phipps Towle -- 1973-2005

copied verbatim from her funeral program:

Angela Marie Phipps was born in Burbank on December 21, 1973 -- the eldest daughter of Robert and Diana Phipps. Just 14 months older than her sister Michelle, the two were good friends and playmates from the start, a relationship that grew stronger through the years.

Growing up, Angela consistently baffled people with her announcements in mid-December that "I'm 8 now, but I'll be 10 next year." With her birthday late in the year, this was of course possible, but she loved to watch intelligent adults struggle with the concept.

Angela was creative and extraordinarily loving. She connected deeply with others, gave her full attention to people when she spoke with them, and always gave the warmest of hugs. Her charm and manner made it so that people just did not want to say no to her.

Music and dance were important throughout her life; starting with her first ballet, piano and singing lessons at age 5. She grew up performing in musical theater workshops, sang with her choir behind REO Speedwagon on the Goonies movie soundtrack, and co-starred in her high school production of Grease. After high school, her love of music and dance continued on a more personal level and were often deep methods of expression for her.

She was a voracious reader from a very young age. Her parents encouraged this by allowing her to stay up indefinitely past her bedtime, so long as she was reading. However, during her parents' dinner parties, Angela could often be seen in the corner with a book in her hands -- not actually turning the pages -- as a ruse to stay up and listen to the adult conversation!

Writing played an equally large role in her life. She majored in creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and made her living as a professional writer. She wrote short stories, essays, poetry and journalistic articles. Her first poem was written at age 8, and her first professional writing was published while she was still in high school.

Angela was so full of life that everything interested her. She studied languages, becoming fluent in French. She lived abroad for 5 years, and gained a new perspective on the world through those experiences. She touched people everywhere she went and has close friends in many different countries. She was socially aware, and always enjoyed engaging others in friendly debates -- as a way to learn varied perspectives and further her own causes. Colleagues describe her as "sweetly combative" and cite her "unique way of blending an exceptional gentleness with an utter commitment to her beliefs." Through writing a story on them for The Hollywood Reporter's Philanthropy issue, she discovered Chrysalis, a charity which helps the homeless and disadvantaged prepare for and find jobs. She was moved to volunteer many hours toward their work.

Angela packed more living into 31 years than most people do in 80. She was an amazing lady, adored and beloved by many. We are all better for having known her, and she will be deeply, deeply missed.


i really dug this chick. like -- A LOT. soon after we first met in 2001 we were each others' new best friends and spent countless hours just hanging out without purpose. i wasn't around her much this past year, for which i will feel eternally guilty. i'm not saying that i could have single-handedly changed anything, but i would have liked to have had the opportunity to try. or to just be around her. i don't know.

i thought that going to her funeral the other day would give me some semblance of closure, but i feel like i'm just getting started with my grief. i've been lucky in that i haven't experienced too much loss, so this is new for me. i'm heartbroken, but not in a lovesick kind of way -- it's more lifesick, more wretched.

i lost it when i saw the coffin. i lost it at many points throughout the day, especially at the reception when i was reviewing old photo albums of her. and especially when i spoke to her mother, whom i had been afraid of speaking to for fear of not being able to offer more than my putrid and meaningless "i'm sorry." she was a gracious hostess, making the rounds to meet the hundred or so folks who turned out for her daughter's funeral. i had met her before once or twice but figured she wouldn't remember. "i'm milla," i said as i took her hand. she held on tightly to my hand, as she did to everyone else's while she spoke to them. Angela would have done the same thing.

"right, milla. i remember you. Angela talked a lot about you." i just stared at her. i tried to contain it, but the hot tears raced up and spilled over in an instant. "i'm sorry," i muttered, embarassed. "i know," she said, "it's tough. it sucks, but we're here now to celebrate her life." i just nodded and breathed a "yeah" while watching the dead girl's mother walk away in a jiffy. she took a moment to compose herself before moving on to the next group of nobodies.

it would have been nice if we were there to celebrate her life, like a birthday, but we weren't. and i'm still so fucking pissed off at Angela for doing this. i'll probably never understand it, and that's probably ok. and i'll always miss her, and that's ok too. and i know that it will all be ok eventually. i understand that. but the now really does suck. it is tough. and sad.

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