Tuesday, September 28, 2010
You know what's rad? Ladies night in the mortuary! (Well, Ladies day. Night just sounds funner).
It doesn't happen very often but occasionally there'll be days in which only ladies are to be prepared for their funerals. Some times guys just don't die that day... It feels like I have a beauty salon of my own but the customers are just really tired and quiet.
For some reason I get really excited by this and my work gets fine tuned for the primping and priming that my job entails. The ladies get a full bubble bath, shampoo, condition and blow dry, styling and cosmetic makeover. Even though they smell pretty crappy when they initially come in, they leave looking like Betty White and smelling like Chanel No. 5 (A donation from a previous client who didn't need it anymore!). My girls are classy broads, I tell you!
I usually like to use pretty, soft natural colours on my ladies faces but I do whatever the family tell me to. I get a little sad when they say "Please use very natural makeup but she would want red lipstick and blue eyeshadow." Wtf. Puhleese, blue eyeshadow on a dead person...it looks revolting. Their eyes are permanently closed so you see blue all the time, no eyeballs moving around to break up the focus on the hideous lid. Make up on corpses is pretty simple, although people with gammy teeth can also piss me off. I like a smooth lip line as the face is completely scrutinised due to the stillness of the corpse but sometimes, nanna doesn't have the features to pull off death...But I love to try!
I had a random thought today as I was washing a ladies hair. What would happen if you died in the shower while you had conditioner in. You know how you leave it on while you wash the rest of your body and go back to rinse it after...Anyway, if you fell and it didn't rinse out, imagine how soft it would be when it came time for the mortician to rinse out the conditioner that had been in your hair for who knows how long?!?! Just a thought. Funny huh.
I love the rain.
There is something really special about working in a mortuary while it's storming outside. It sounds strange, but the room takes on a different feel. It's quite beautiful. The rain was percussion on the garage roof and my thoughts were a little melody I guess. To make it even better, today I was given a copy of a CD to listen to while I worked. My new friends at the Guitar Repairers in Red Hill said that I'd fall in love with an artist named Gillian Welsh....and an apt assumption they did make!
Holy amazing, her album 'The Revelator' combined with the rain made my afternoon spectacular. You know, when you have those moments where everything seems to be perfect because you accept the universe's riddles? I was working on a beautiful looking little old lady, I was alone with sweet sweet tunes and I sorted out some anxieties in my mind. Thank you clarity!
The afternoon went as described until I realised that our garage had started to flood. My co-workers and I had to rush around to move out three hearses to higher ground and relocate some coffins off of low racks so that nothing could be water damaged. You see, the entrance to the garage is pretty much in a ditch so water flows in pretty badly, tsunami style. Let's just hope I don't get a phone call in the middle of the night saying that the mortuary has started to flood and we need to move our lovely patrons to another location. I think there's about 10 guests in my hotel so that will be a mission!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Check this out!
A lovely lass from JCU decided she wanted to write about me. Go team! You'll find what she wanted to say at the link above.
Be safe this weekend ok...I just looked after a young man that, if he wasn't a corpse, I would probably fall in love with. Pity he had too much fun last weekend....
I'm reasonably confident in most aspects of my employment, but there are occasions where I feel pretty unequipped. My weakness is my entire lack of muscle, I gots me no brute strength. Sigh.
Who would've thought that to be an undertaker you need to be pretty physically fit? I guess, when you think about it (which I didn't), when people die they can't pick themselves up off the bathroom floor and walk themselves down the five flights of stairs into the transfer van...
I remember my first weekend of transfers well, which when basically described is when you go to wherever the person has died to pick them up and take them back to the funeral home (this only refers to natural deaths, suss ones involve the police and police contracted undertakers.)
I had only just learnt how to take the stretchers out of the van without the whole thing slamming to the ground. This involves this whole technique of gravity and clicky things and smooth movement, all skills of which I lack completely. When it was time to pull the stretcher out in front of the family I was probably the most afraid I have ever been in my life...they were all staring at me, most likely thinking "How the hell did such a little, mousey girl get a job like that. Strange..."
Two years later and I still fear the damn things. I don't like the fact they go up and down and the legs are bendy. I'd prefer to piggybag the corpses if I could, fireman stylz for sure. I haven't dropped anyone yet, but the scenario plays over and over in my fears...
Monday, September 20, 2010
People often ask me what the hardest part of my job is. I re-contemplate this, and most of the time I answer that it's being alone in a room for an extended period of time. I think I lie to save myself the explanation of the ultimate bummer and the ensuing emotionally charged conversation. I quite enjoy being alone to listen to whatever I want. I just don't like seeing children die.
Most people would understand that it's pretty horrible, but it seems as though it only gets harder and harder the more cases I come across. One of the first bodies I ever saw was a thirteen year old boy, but he was very very sick so I could see that death for him seemed natural. I am challenged however when a baby or child looks perfect, untouched, and sleeping. They are taken in the still of the night, and that to me is pure heartbreak.
I have posted before that I make an origami crane for little lives that are lost. I think it's just as much for me as it is for them. It was in the mortuary that my first maternal feelings surfaced, and I (very sadly) learnt how to perfect a cotton nappy on dead babies. I cuddle and sing to them for as long as is appropriate. Sounds creepy, but I think it helps. I sometimes feel like because their folks can't be there Aunty Sar has to step in to make sure the baby is safe until it leaves my care. Finally, I leave them all in the watchful care of a responsible looking dead old lady...surely if their little caspers are around the old lady ghost will take charge and make sure stuff is going smoothly and the kids aren't running amok?
I guess what I'm saying is that I hate it, but I love to help. Someone's got to do it, I can, and I will be there. (Creepy Aunty Sar and her zombie kiddos.)
Sunday, September 19, 2010
I've made an important decision. Some would say, the most long lasting decision I'll ever make.
If (or I should say when) I die, I want to be buried.
I've got some pretty cool reasoning behind this I think, and once you think about it I am sure you'll agree. When you're cremated your body is here one day and pretty much gone the next. If it was possible to be made into cocaine or something high inducing and snortable that would be pretty cool, but if it's just some dusty powder flakes then I'm just not convinced that this form of body disposal is significant enough for me.
Burial is the only option I think, simply because that way I get to become a skeleton. Skeletons are just about the most interesting things around. If anyone is rich and wants to buy me one for my birthday I would be very appreciative....
Anyway, if you're cremated you give up the option of your flesh falling away and your bones being the showstopper. I have a plan to write in it my will that in 300 years after my death if my family wishes they can exhume my skeleton and put it on display in their home....great nana Sar hanging out again above ground...the great great great grandkids putting me in compromising positions in who knows what future fashions....maybe I'll fly to the moon.....
Best idea. It's 7.30AM....I shouldn't write this early....hahahahaha.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Note to Whoever: Play this at my funeral.
Also, note to self: Find and marry this man.
Alright, it's time to take charge. I need to exercise before I end up on my own table. My butt is starting to extend pretty far into my thighs, is that normal? It's all a bit sad really.
A few months ago I borrowed a BMX and rode to work and back every day for a fortnight. It was super fun, partly because I'm still a little kid and also because I am a RETARD and have trouble riding confidently in a straight line. I played this game in which whenever I saw one of those suburb signs I had to ride in between the poles. This is a huge challenge if you overthink your general path positioning and freak the f&*! out. I do this. I do however reward myself with a 'ding ding' of the bell if I make it through without running over dogs, small children or my own feet. You know how it is. And yes, this BMX is black and tough and it has a skeleton on it but it also has a really cool bell.
Alack and alas, the bmx's brakes are really squeeky so I returned it to it's rightful owner. I'm driving my car with some type of shock absorbing lamo problems that I can't be bothered paying for, so I should probably bite the bullet and spend $50 on a new second hand bike. Yes, I need a new bike. I live on a mega hill, so I'm thinking this time that gears are necessary...
I remember when I was about 6, my older sister Deborah tried to make me ride my bike without training wheels down an alley way to get something from the shops. (She'll love that I'm recalling this...)I freaked out because the alley had those bars in the middle to slow people down and I couldn't find the brakes. Instead of being calm and figuring it out I just threw myself off the bike at quite the speed, but somehow went over the handle bars in the procedure. Anyway, I totally ruined the purple catchit shirt I was wearing and split my chin pretty clean open. To make the story even more incriminating for Deb, who was about 12, she put me in a car with a strange man she didn't even know... he saw the accident and told her that he would take me home to my dad.
Who the crumbs was this man, you ask? We never found out, he said he knew my parents but I think he probably wanted to steal me. Dad had no idea who he was. Anyway, Deb kept on riding to the shops and picked herself up some cobblers and life savers and after being dropped off home by this potential pedophile I was sent off with Dad to get 4 stitches in my chin. Stitches in your face are terrifying because you can see all that stuff going on. (If dead people can see what I have to do to them, gah!)
Thanks Deb. What a great big sister! x
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I've recently committed myself to slogging out my days in the mortuary for another couple of years at least. You know why?
You made me.
And to think the blog idea was born on Australia Day, floating on a water noodle in the pool whilst consuming my body weight in sausages, lamingtons and a toxic punch... (Thanks Gus for the initial brainstorm and your instigation of enthusiasm, I owe you.)
I have dreams of writing a book. Not a normal book chaptery book, but a scrap book of cartoons, art, diary entries and short stories about death and life and music and, well, fun things. Cool huh.
I also want to meet Kerri Anne Kennerly. Maybe also Ellen De Generes. Just Saying. It could happen.
Oh, and from any money I make I want to drive around America looking at petrol stops, eating hotdogs, washing dishes, playing mediocre music and...well...writing for you.
This is my wish, and this is my intention.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
This is what happened the last time I was on a weekend vacation.
I had a tooth removed the week before the trip and I got a dry socket...I can't really explain what that is, google it, but it was revolting. I was in a tremendous amount of pain and none of the alcohol that I was consuming at the time was soothing it. So, I did what any spontaneous, partied-up, cartoon loving person would do and found the dodgiest, cheapest tattoo parlour in town to ink me up thus commemorating my little lost dead toothy. Furthermore, I've named him Elvis P. Tootherton (no-one knows what the P stands for).
I'm heading down to Melbourne in mid October to see Mariachi El Bronx with a bunch o' my favourite peeps and I'm thinking about getting a little something something somewhere, just as a souvenir. Maybe a little ghost? Maybe a cowboy? Can somebody draw me something?
I think, more than anything, I like tattoos because they remind me not to take my skin too seriously. Skin schmin! Sure, if I make it to be 50 I'll probably hate that I have a tooth on my wrist and who knows what else...but I could die tomorrow. Also, if I keep sane and my character remains intact, I can use the tattoos to connect with my youth and pass on stories to my cabbage patch kids. I think I'd love that! And what better justification could I have other than the fact that I want my mortician to have a good indication of what sort of person I was in life...postcards from a yesterday for them to imagine...
P.S. Draw me a tattoo, peoples of the universe!
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Today was fantastic!
You can probably see from these pictures that I didn't have a lot of work to do so it was a chance for me to take a breather!
I dressed myself head to toe in mega huge bubble wrap, complete with asian style hat, slinky dress and shoulder wrap. It was a hit with the manager FO SHO!
Then I pretty much ran around writing funny things on things for the majority of the afternoon. Isn't it funny that there is seriously a brand of eucalytus oil called double d. A drop is great on a face mask to hide malodours, but double d boobs are also great!
Yay for nonsense days, even morticians need them to unwind!
Oh, and I saw a vintage pair of high heels that were branded 'Pennywise'. Awes!
Peace and relaxation
Monday, September 6, 2010
I need a 101 lesson in hugging. It's unfortunate, but I have always been anxious about actions pertaining to the sharing of togetherness.
For as long as I can remember I have been envious of those that look natural when they partake in a welcome casual hug. My friends do it, all the time. They are the epitome of awesome casual huggers. In fact, they even do the peck on the cheek hello thing. Boys and girls inclusive. I think they might be surprised that I am even writing about this topic because I 'fake' the coolness and internally, I still get all 'ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!'. I WANT to hug, that intention isn't false, but I just don't know where my body goes...
The reason that this topic is front of mind is because when I am on call I'll generally give the deceased's family members a hug if they look like they're edging in for one. It's usually in the goodbyes, but sometimes old ladies will literally hug me as soon as I enter the room as if I am a saviour. It's funny, but I was thinking the last time this happened that I am more comfortable giving a strange old bearded lady a hug than I am hugging my own flesh and blood or my own best friends.
I guess, what I want from this, is to ask that people forgive me if they know me and maybe in the future we can try for a more rewarding casual embrace. No more high-5's, I promise.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
It's come around again, the on-call weekend.
If you decide to die of natural causes this weekend in Brisbane, chances are that I'll be one member of the smiling duo that will come to pick you up. Hello!
Today I feel a little amped, you know when you feel a strong surge of intensity in yourself that you can't quite understand the origins of? I'm sure if you believed in astrology or voodooisms then some planet must be retrograding or rampaging another one in my sign or something. All I know is, I'm glad I'm forcibly off the sauce this weekend. I was swooped by an owl last night too, so I'm sure there's some symbolism in that somewhere.
Maybe it was the soundtrack of the days mortuary work today that has me feeling a little rustled. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, but maybe the hopping across genres was too roller-coastery. Angus and Julia Stone covered Nelly Furtado on JJJ's like a version which was pretty damn fantastic, I mean, Nelly Furtado?
I guess Glassjaw, followed by Amy Winehouse wasn't very smart...I was all rar rar rar yeah then I was all like, "Gimme some coke and buoffant my hair..."
I'm not being very engaging today am I. Oh well. When I'm not carting around the peeps today I'm teaching myself some more harmonica, masterclass weekend in the blues my friends!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
It's a very interesting day for me today. I'm going to a funeral.
The thing is, I'm off on bereavement leave because my mum's best friend died and today is her funeral day. Poor Edna, she was 80 something, at least 20 years older than mum, but they shared something rather beautiful in their differences.
I met Edna when I was about 12 I think, and terrified of her bunions then, I used to hate going over to see her. But, over the years she was a constant in mum's life (and therefore my teen years,) so I got used to having her around. She'd always have cans of coke in the fridge, icy cold. And everytime I was there she would talk to me about her daughter, who was then grown up, trying to bridge a commonality between us. Lastly, I did secretly enjoy reminiscing about her glory days as a successful dancer. Of course, I grew up and left home and haven't seen her since I was about 18. Bummer.
Today is strange because another funeral company is doing the service. I know, back to front, the way that I would run a funeral. But how are things going to go today? I think I'm going to do a lot of lurking, checking out the competition. I might try and rattle them....(only joking).
I hope there's a viewing too, because I've never seen how another Brisbane company prepares the dead. I don't know if there is and I'm not close enough to the family to ask, but I'd like to check out old Edna to make sure she looks dignified.
Hope things are continuing on somehow Edna, without the bunions. May you skip in the heavens, free of limp
Love Sarah. x