Saturday, December 22, 2012
I get it. Or as much as there is to be got on being miserable, I took as battle wound.
A constant, I wept as a widow does.
Like the obscene Vatican Fountain, my tears fell. For all who passed by to see, splashing down with intensity as if falling from a giant's cheek. Yet for what was spent in construction, and the toll was considerable, not a soul was fed by these tears. Nobody healed. My energy atrophied.
So I sat. And I thought. And there is only one way to go. And that is on with it.
To continue in being miserable is to ignore what I know and to thus miss the entire point of it all.
"Only by embracing all that you regret and not denying it, only by placing the highest value on what you've gained because of all that you have lost, does regret lose the ability to cripple you."
- Augusten Burroughs. (He said this because he is awesome).
Dear Self: Change things and see what happens. As the days develop, so should you.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
What would I tell my theoretical thirteen year old daughter about growing up and being a woman of influence and strength?
Your mother loves you. She thinks you're an excellent human being based on the fact that hopefully you've reached this level of maturity without setting other family members on fire.Your face also resembles hers or the person that she does/once love(d), so there's joy found in the nostalgia for her that takes away the horrific memories of labour and the subsequent occasional bladder control problems that she experiences to this day. She's sure you're brilliant. She's sure that you're her proudest accomplishment.
She feels that now is a perfect time to talk to you about your potential. You're at an age where not only can you influence your life, but you can take it and build a megalopolis. You can also run away (when at legal age) and build a teepee in the middle of the Mojave desert with a large exotic black man, if that is what you feel will enrich your days. If you don't mind her and her cats moving into either establishment with you when she's 80 and senile, then you're both winning.
At the time of your mother writing this you are not born, conceived or even possible. In fact, your mother is yet to find a partner that can handle her perspective, her past, and her slightly incongruent plans for the future. At this moment she is flying a flag of self-deprecation, but in an unorthdox way she feels that by writing to you now she is both making sense of her situation, bringing hope into her mindset, and being altogether quite hilarious.
Do what you want in love and in life, always. But do it with every awareness of the future and those that share the world around you. Be kind, be honest, be fair and be compassionate. This will help with that fact that life itself does not always manifest these characteristics. Do not care what other people think of you. Listen, always, because every bit of interaction will shed light on something. It may be bullshit but it's still a lesson, even if uncomfortable.
Do not strive for perfection. It is not even a goal. It's something created by a dickhead who didn't understand the concept of the middle path. Just be. Be you, and be admired by doing so.
Thirteen marks the beginning of a really rewarding time for self exploration. You are not a child anymore - hooray! Your body is doing really whack stuff, but rest assured that all of your friends are pretty much going through the same thing even though you'll more than likely be hairier than the rest of them. Don't worry, this year your mother will pay for ALL OF THE LASER. Your body is your vehicle for so many excellent things, not the be all and end all but a very interesting shell. Keep it safe and treasured, but forgive yourself when you bump it. It will take quite some time to understand and grow into. You are not alone, but you will soon understand that you can be very sufficiently.
She wants you to understand that when the time is right, you will have your heart taken by somebody. Well, it will feel that way, but in reality what you've done is given it over. Make your decisions based on the way they make you feel; you and they should be excited and inspired, and if so it will be the start of something tremendous. If your body doesn't respond to the way they look at you, and if that isn't corresponding to your intuition on their role, go and chat to your mother. Do not allow people to make you feel less than valued. If you've done something shit and fessed up, the right people will stand true and the others will fall away leaving you to do the right thing next time. At the end of it all, believe it or not your mum has experience in both being heartbroken and in breaking hearts. Love is good. This is all the insight that she holds on the matter right now, but it made/will make you and that is good, so YAY LOGIC.
Your childhood days are passed so let them go. You cannot change them. Your mother hopes that those days were filled with an appropriate mix of imagination and reality. Appropriate for you, and what you required to grow. She hopes that you weren't embarrassed by her crying every time you sung a song from the 90's in the right key and in the same style as the original and not the shitty remix. She hopes that you felt safe from threat in her care, no matter how universal. Above all, she hopes that you know happiness and will have the confidence to fling it around to others.
Go! Be! Don't fear, ever! SHE GOT YO BACK.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
I wrote about him as if the sky would fall before we did.
I've lamented his connection to my writing. To my guitar. To my passport. To my skin.
To lemon meringue pie.
Now to the repetitive morning heartbreak, like the uncomfortable backlash from a late night kebab. I wake up with a burning chest, sobering to remember that we've indeed fallen apart.
On the way we talked about many things. Tofurkey, lavender, trucks, Officeworks, The Age. Then we spoke about love.
"What's the secret to a happy union?" I asked, as I often do.
"Knowing what battles to fight, and what to walk away from."
Sunday, December 9, 2012
I have crucified you. I have stabbed you and hung you above the city for your action and belief. Instead of a tomb I have laid you out for the birds to make meaning from your insides.
The first topic to come to tongue, you are the weather.
Your signature sweating with hurt. Heavy and hot.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Today I was driving between jobs. I had just finished a morning funeral and I was in a hurry to make it to a family home to pick up the next group for the afternoon. Without lunch, without sleep and without being able to stop for a piss.
I was on the highway and the thought came into my head. I did not want to drive, not for another minute. I wanted to pull over. I wanted to pull over the car and sit by it's side. I imagined what would happen if I quit, there and then. I couldn't do that to the group waiting for my ferry, never could I leave someone when they needed....someone. Not me, just someone. Some lady with wheels, in a silly outfit and $4.50 in her bank account.
I couldn't find the house. I had thirty seconds until I would be late for the pickup. The house numbers were muddled, and I hadn't been informed that there was a side lane in which a nursing home slept unassumingly. I saw a postman so I stopped the car and ran out. They understand numbers. They understand houses.
"Postman! Postman PAAAAAAAAAAAAT."
He didn't hear me. He didn't hear me through his silly outfit.
The job ended as it should. I got to the next job with ten minutes to spare.
I ate a biscuit. I turned the air conditioning in the vehicle onto arctic freeze so that my cheeks felt a sting.
I've since been ruminating over this feeling.
It's more dangerous to dig a grave for your feelings and bury them than to attend to them; to action them with all their ugly, decomposing honesty.
I want to use this. I want to accept these feelings and look at them and scrub my mind clean with them. I want to remove indecision by shaking them and poking them. These feelings are sad, but I need not be so forever.
Someone told me once that they repeated the same affirmation day after day in the car on the way to school.
"Every day in every way, life is getting better and better for me."
Affirmations feel 'culty'.
I need to be responsible for how shit I may feel as a result of the route that I'm driving. If not, maybe I have to get out of the car.
Monday, November 19, 2012
Sometimes it's hard to just be.
Here and now; it's apparently all that really matters, yet people don't appear to behave in ways that support the notion. What are home loans all about if it doesn't matter if you ever pay them off? Why have children, if our one unifying drive is to live for the moment? (Unless the fruitful focus of the moment is in fornication, I suppose)...
That is a digression. I had a point to this waffle but I appear to have lost that too.
I struggle with ambiguity. It's a control issue that I've only just uncovered.
Happy or sad; these two emotional states are comfortable for me. If I'm sad, I know where I stand. Acknowledging the root of this disappointment or depression is healing in itself. I generally perk up organically.
Shit gets ugly if either state, when grounded in reason, is compromised or brought to question by the unknown. And the unknown has a direct link with the future. As a very clever friend brought to my attention, happiness can be more readily sensed when opportunity is present. It's an attractive energy, radiating back in time from a possible pleasure inducing destiny. But opportunity, oh opportunity, where art thou?
Will I? When can? What is?
This is a rebirth, this stage a modification of infancy born out of the realisation that I can conceivably keel over and die at any moment, or worse, that those I've formed attachments with can do so too.
When I don't have the answers, sometimes it is so very hard to just be.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
I blush. Lots. It's a thing that I do at the most inconvenient of times.
I blush when I do normal 'sexy-clumsy' things like accidentally touch a stranger's boob or maintain a goodwill handshake for that instant too long so it looks like I'm initiating a creep attack. I also blush at stupid times, confirming the impression that I am of a dastardly marrow.
Explaining mortuary procedures. Announcing grave locations. Shaking hands with Priests.
It happened yesterday when I was at a family home arranging a funeral service. A man had passed away at the age of 90 and his nephew was appointed the task of commissioning the arrangements. I arrived at his stately Brighton home in the early evening and I was taken aback by the grandeur. Mercedes and BMW in the driveway, parked in a neat spread eagle around the Bellagio-esque fountain. I wanted to roll in the lush grass but alas, I had a grown up job ahead of me.
I rang the fancy bell wearing my fancy fake pearls. The gentleman answered, looked at me in my most serious garb, smiled earnestly and ushered me inside. I blushed. I wanted to look suave and impressive, just like the mansion I was stepping into, but these attempts were foiled by the observed parody of me looking like I was lugging a corpse in addition to the coffin catalogues and overstuffed plot pricing folders that I forcibly haul in my briefcase (I am the Mary Poppins of funeral props and I can confirm that this bag holds the mysterious secrets of the departed). We made our way across his perfectly parqueted floors and past his grand piano in the drawing room, and in under two minutes I had waltzed into a land of long dismissed budgets.
A digression, I know, but I live behind a naughty massage parlour and a convenience store in a run down suburban unit that has questionable electricity supplies. There are holes in most of the walls and the entrance is a large graffitied metal gate with wonderfully creative anarchist embellishments. I am at peace with my humble existence and it's outwardly dreary appearance. I have cake and other such greatness inside.
Anyway, I just want to highlight that I felt like Jenny from the block. Like Jwoww in a patterned powersuit.
I blame science for inducing rapid onset blush #2. I was soon given a glass of water, placed on a delicate coaster next to me. Science did it's thing to make me look like a dickhead. The vaccuum created by the condensation on the glass did that sneaky little hermetic seal thing and I proceeded to spill water over all of the nearby expensive decor-wankery. The coaster clanged to the table, frightening me even more, and after the initial splatter I compounded the tsunami; jerking my hand upward with such vigour that I threw the contents of the glass across the room. My contract paperwork was soaked. I was embarrassed, and I wore it in my cheeks and on my white blouse.
"Let's talk about the Prayers of the Faithful whilst you judge my sad and sorry wet t-shirt competition entry?"
It was less than ideal. We moved on.
With great possibility of sounding like an even surer dickhead, I had incorrectly assumed that this man was gay. It goes without saying that this bore no impact at all on the service that I was providing. (In fact, for whatever reason I felt like we bonded on a personal level moreso than I ordinarily do with the general cross section of middle aged male clients). The fact of the matter is that my gaydar was activated with little to no significance. His style was impeccable, his face soft and dewy, and his tone of voice ever so whimsical. And that was that. Until he mentioned his children and I incorrectly assumed his male partner and himself had children. By this stage of exposed idiocy I was in an eternal state of blush.
The arrangement ended positively, through no fault of my own. This man was lovely, and somehow his sense of humour and relaxed views on death actually led to him being charmed by my lack of social grace.
The moral of the story, I do suppose, is that some days I just don't get things right. I also don't give myself enough credit. I made a mess. I forked out a faux pas. But I still manage to connect with people, every day, in the most unique of circumstances.
I'll keep wheelin' and dealin' in death for now.
Peace and Love,
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
I am here on the fringe of reason.
I am there with you when you attempt to make sense of this dissonance. The reality of death, the malignant repercussion of existing.
I am here on the fringe of reason.
I am there with you if you want to talk, to rationalise mortality. When you farewell your people you are free to pursue understanding, and this inquiry will supply fuel to the meaning that you attribute to life.
I am here on the fringe of reason.
Monday, October 1, 2012
Exhaustion has a strange effect on me. A strange and obnoxious effect, that hijacks my tongue from it's subterrane. I'm stifled by this invisible monster. I'm a time pauper, a beggar for rest, a lady in liquidation.
Being a funeral director can be a tough gig. Each undertaking on it's own is relatively simple, but like Jenga, if you stack each errand atop the other without deliberation and due concentration the tower becomes unsturdy. The citadel collapses.
I miss having the mental energy to write.
The whole operation is basically a case of highly specialised albeit slightly morbid event management. Each death that we come across cannot be isolated in time. The end of a life deserves it's own respected moment, but this is not necessarily the case in reality. In any one week I may have personally fielded over fifty calls from family members enquiring about funeral services rates and procedures. Fifty dead people, requiring immediate and deserved attention. Each unique soul disconnected and recently departed from it's corresponding corporeal flesh. My office is abuzz with bereavement. And somedays, I wish I could switch the latch to engaged on deaths door.
I'm sorry Mr Reaper, please wait until the individual in the cubicle has relieved herself. Thank you.
I'm questioning the sustainability of a profession that observes no boundaries. Can you balance a job that you never really understand? How many people can I help float before I start to sink?
Peace and Love,
Friday, August 24, 2012
Why do I feel, as I'm nearing thirty, that I don't know who this is?
Meet Dianne. She is my mother. She squeezed me out in October of 1984. I imagine that as soon as I could focus my tiny baby eyes on my forebearers face I was probably trying to figure her out.
Screaming to get back into the womb that she housed me in, from day one I commanded for her attention. I wonder if she looked down at me in all of our placental muck and thought "Gee, this squall is going to be a handful..."
A handful I was. I continue to be quite a dickhead.
I've accepted a tapestry of truths in an attempt to construct a personality profile of my mother. She likes bingo, but not as much as she likes the pokies. From 1992 until about 1999 I only ever saw her in bike pants. She buys every item of new clothing for herself from Millers. She sticks her tongue out when she's watching TV. She likes hazelnut Cadbury Chocolate, and used to hide blocks of it in her underwear drawers. We never talked about life, or love or sex, or friendship; and mystery shrouds her experiences of such phenomena. I was resentful that she wasn't my best friend. I wanted her to assume the role of a traditional matriarch and share secrets of the ages. But life isn't like that, and as evidenced by Ursula's failings in The Little Mermaid, you can't control the desires of others.
Under the various roofs that we lived beneath during my childhood, I would question her intent. She is not an archetypal woman, but she strived to keep her brood out of harm. I certainly philandered with varying threats to my survival; perils like falling off my bike, getting cracked in the skull by swing sets, and diving under the wheel of reversing vehicles (I did all three to test her patience). She worked to keep me from from going hungry. She took me to dancing competitions, she drove me around when I most certainly should have walked and most importantly she bought me connector pens in 1995. And all these things she did with minimal complaint.
Why do I feel, as I'm nearing thirty, that I don't know who she is? I question why she worked to keep me alive, just to shy as her last bird flew the nest.
I get it. Being a mother looks backbreaking. There's a script for it if you're one to take on characters, but doing so is a sham. Being a mother wan't so much a choice as it was a predetermined path. Things have changed.
Mother, I can share with you some of my stories about life, and love, and friendship with you, if you're keen? We'll leave discussions about sex out of it for now. This isn't Skins.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Love is real. It's alive, lurking far beyond the purview of it's bastardisation in popular culture.
This blog isn't going to permutate into a perpetual almanac of dribble about my new relationship.
(It is true though, I am in love).
My fidelity seems incomparable to the Hollywood notion of romance and attachment, which is ironic(?) considering that Los Angeles, the terra firma for such piffle, is where we'll soon reconnect.
This is old school amour. I feel like our names were written in hieroglyphic passages decorating the pyramids. The possibility that I've found this other corresponding identity feels cryptic. I want to do all the things that I deemed as important, but with him. And in turn, I want for him to take my hand as we traverse through those experiences that he calls for company therein.
To yearn sounds rhetorical; but to ache.
Monday, July 30, 2012
Let's be honest here. I haven't been writing like I used to. The well hasn't dried up; more so there's been an enduring clusterf*ck of establishment hiccups due to the introduction of a new automated jet pump drawing upon the water. Life is a rising swell.
Moving to Melbourne was far more difficult than I had envisaged, and I was indubitably weakened by my efforts to fit in. I staggered through the weeks in self pity and dejection. I ate badly and drank too much. I convinced myself that I was experiencing an organic period of depression. Perhaps it was, but the more likely explanation is that it was me attempting to get a handle on my melancholy. See handle, read label.
And then I met someone that helped change my perspective. And this was organic. At this point you should read the last entry, and then read it again just because. This babe of a man has influenced me with such positive ramifications that I'm quite happy to keep my hands by my side like a jig champion until we share the same continent and I can grab his again.
A month ago I would have thought that the concept of meeting a boy that seemingly fixed everything was f*cking obtuse. It still is, at face value, but with his happiness and energy things seem so bright. The man is a beacon. My own path is illuminated.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
"The gorillas were a red herring to cover the real intentions of my proposition" he said.
Six months of interminable self reflection has provided evidence suggesting (to myself at least) that I do things the tricky way. At an elemental level, I tie my shoelaces the long way, with two bunny ears. I avoid microwaves. I drive a manual car. I live in a house with a toilet so far away that, story has it, people are reported to have preferred to take relief in the shower.
I've got quite the story for you. It involves my future happiness, an interesting life event, and undoubtedly another prolonged period of narcissistic speculation. My friends, in order to tell the story properly I need to take you back in time.
November 2, 2011. 10:22PM. The night before my grandmothers funeral. I received an email from an interesting young fellow, a reader of this here blog. It went a little something like this:
We have a mutual friend. I won't tell you who it is because life would be far too boring without mystery... We may or may not have met, I'm gonna go with no... If we have I apologise...
Anyway, I stumbled across your blog earlier this year. One of them at least, and I'm not sure where or why or which one, but I remember it happened. The aforementioned mutual friend sent me the link to it tonight, after a brief discussion of the perpetual existential dilemma that is my spiritual journey.
Long story short, wow. Like holy effing wow. Your writing, your thought patterns, your perspective: All amazing. I'm blown away.
I will read every single post tonight, I've just stopped to make more tea, and thank you for possibly being a part of the very first steps of my 'new direction' - whatever the hell that may be.
That and you listed Cream before Simon and Garfunkel. You've made my night.
Please never stop writing. The world needs story tellers now more than ever.
To this email I replied, quite happily, at 11:07PM:
Hey there C-Dawg,
Is Chad your real name? I ask this because Chad is a very strong name, and one that I'd remember. And, it rhymes with rad.
What a lovely email. I'll be frank; I'm having a pretty suck ass time at the moment so to hear this from you has made my pre-slumber moments much more pleasing. I just finished writing my grandmothers eulogy. She is newly dead.
Anyway, good luck on the epistemological and metaphysical super highways. I certainly hope that this mutual friend buys you beer, and me one too. Thanks Chad. Chad, what a great name.
Never stop reading? Yes. That is good. Knowledge gives you magical powers.
From this time onward, Chad and I corresponded with tantamount disposition. My life seemed naturally snagged unto his, like a pair of fishing lines cast too close. We wrote, less often at first, about our fears, our friendships and our misgivings. Some days I told him about the funerals I was on, and the families that I had met with. It was an unexpected and initially unconscious relief to have found someone, a stranger, who held an opinion that I trusted and respected. Through our friendship I felt respite and consolation, even from across the considerable distance that fell between us. Hail to the Internet.
We shared our shitty youth stories, our shitty family stories, our shitty sex stories and our shitty health stories. I must add that it wasn't all shit that we spun, as we both have some people that we cherish and many a fun tale that we shuttlecocked across to each other in an increasingly rapid rally.
Fast forward eight months, and thousands upon thousands of words later. I met with this arresting gentleman. When our eyes met it was comforting. I was apprehensive, and well aware that by meeting someone through my blog it could be well fucking awkward. What sort of weirdos read mortuary blogs anyway, AMIRIGHT?
We came home and drank tea. He was hungover, and all I wanted to do was hold him.We talked endlessly. My social anxieties non evident, my composure strangely stable. We spooned. We held hands. We kept things PG, mostly out of uncertainty but also out of respect for each other. What fool would threaten ruin to an interesting relationship such as ours by having a one night stand with a long term pen pal? Pffft.
I'm quite sure it was at this point that he ripped the heart out of my body and used it as a t-ball. If he knew at that point, I'm sure he made it as gentle as possible. Chad has a strong name and an equally strong character. He is humble, and intelligent and all sorts of accomplished. Add to that, he is all sorts of classically attractive. I stalked him long before I met him, but never would I have assumed that he might in turn find in me a perfect mate.
He knows me better than anyone, I imagine, through these last few months of exchange. He has listened to my bullshit, at great lengths, and told me that he digs it. Hard.
And now he is leaving the country. In four days actually. Indefinitely, on his own journey of discovery and development. Balls, I know.
He once quoted "We should buy a castle, in a cloud, and remove ourselves from society, and be the great rescinded fairy tale the world deserves." I think this is an Edgar Allan Poe quote? I don't know. I should know.Either way, it's a fucking beauty. And either way, our story is bittersweet.
Great timing, O'Connor. Fall in love, wish to marry and have babies and do all things you once condemned and rejected, with a handsome nomad that has rock solid plans to dominate the world and take nothing but twenty three kilograms of causal clothing.
This is the first time that I've written about a relationship. It's very personal, and very exposing. I've loved before, wooed by ladies and gents and all sorts of people in between, but this is different. When we talk, or touch, or even just look at each other, it's un-fucking-believable. I do not know what this is.
Is this what I've been looking for? Is this what they tell me about, the old man who's wife I just buried? That old lady when she handed me the hat for the man she loved? A good old fashioned, heart warming, spine tingling thrill of the chase.
My eulogy is destined to be one with a crazy twist. My intentions are this: Saving starts now, as does the development on my proposition....
Do they need funeral directors in Antarctica?
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
An observation of late: The sounds from the rear passenger seat of a mourning car; my eyes fixed on the road.
One physical sense in catatonic observation. Emotion and energy, we are trading without need for verbal exchange. It's the sounds that are held by heavy air.
A terse exhale. Mouths parched. Aperture in drought.
An audible shuddering, similar to one a child makes during the dash between the pool and towel on a cold swimming day.
Silence. An oscillating instruction.
Winded by grief, confusion inspired by the tangible reality of the close and the dead.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
At twenty seven years of age I believe that I'm being bullied. A gentle menace here, a lazy torment there; these little moments in the day that stir in me a desire to slap and bite. And not in a sexually deviant way. No sir.
I'm the kid in the playground with the goofy hat on and last seasons trainers that the cool kids tease. The trouble is, the monkey bars have been traded for the cemetery grounds. The trainers swapped for questionably named easystep heels that get stuck in the mud and trip me up when I'm pall-baring in the rain. The hat is still a goofy hat. And nobody likes me.
I'm slightly over exaggerating, but it seems true that more funeral directors in this state dislike me than anywhere else. I've certainly got an opposite-day sort of following, and of late these fellows of mine have been particularly vocal about their distaste of my Northern flava.
I've never worked with this many women before. Add to the sheer fact that we all have ovaries at different stages of productivity is the emotionally strenuous nature of our industry. We're constantly in the public eye, forcing ourselves to keep a stiff upper lip and dry brow when sometimes all we want to do is rock back and forth underneath the display coffin racks or sob, shoulders shaking, behind closed church doors.
What? I never wanted to do that? (I definitely, and totally did).
One particular woman today stood at the hilt of my desk and succeeded in making me feel like a mutant. I was going about my work, chuffed with my new blue highlighter. I'd just been complimented for a second day in a row by the boy in the local cafe that looks like Elvis. (If you're reading this, delightful crooning barista from Whyte Cafe in Carnegie, you are divine and you make soy milk taste like guilt free marshmallow. Thank you for making me feel beautiful at 7:00AM when I'm wearing the (ill)tailored equivalent of a vomit covered tea towel from the dark days of the 1760). Needless to say, my mood was soaring and this woman might as well have lifted up her skirt, snipped off her pantihose with my kitchen scissors and laid down a giant shit on my post it note pad.
I barely said a word in my defence. She insulted every essence of my personality, including my honorability. It's fair to say that I question this woman's clarity and sanity on a daily basis, but I'd never bring it up in the case that she'd recognize her own vulnerability.
I guess we all go through stages where we don't necessarily fit in. I am radical in most of my opinions on death care, I do suppose. My coworkers all deliver their version of quality care, I'm just different. I think we should use less paper, take more responsibility, change culture, look sharp, think strong and rule the world...
Not everyone agrees.
Tomorrow I vow to grow some balls, figuratively of course. Intimidation isn't pretty. I'm going to stick it to the (wo)man.
Be true to me, if not nice.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Oh yeah, that's right. Life is short. Especially when you consider how long this majestic planet has been around, and how long this majestic planet will continue to exist after the breviloquent years we find ourselves alive in. These waking days are all we have, so why not use them irrevocably?
I want for adventure. I want to keep this enthusiasm of mine, all the time.
Eulogies keep me on my toes. Especially tragic versions of life events, stacked together like the elemental atoms in DNA. Connected by complex moments, like polymers, and made succinct so that the story itself is easily explained.
Freedom. Connection. Devotion. Joy. Charity. These things. A focal reminder, while we can.
Monday, May 21, 2012
Driving the hearse today I felt a surge of sentimentality. Two years is a reasonable length of time. This time has been peculiar, and resultant of very little determined intent on my behalf.
I took a phone call today from a man who has just lost his two year old. And this, directly following a weekend birthday party that I attended for a set of two year old triplets. I don't spend much time with children so this came at a particularly challenging time for me.
Taking that call was agonising. I didn't know how to prepare for when we were to meet face to face. I wanted to look like I had the answers for him. I wanted to revisit all my notes on infant death so that it'd appear like I dealt with dead children all the time. I was so nervous. I wanted to help.
When I worked solely in the mortuary I was in my own environment, but now I'm in family homes, sipping their tea and spelling their names out. It's often surreal.
My days are like this. I have a funeral directors voice now. I wear pantihose, and ladder them no less than twice a week. It drives me crazy.
Assisting the grieving has been the greatest challenge of my life. This, and learning how to master the roads of Melbourne in a hearse with a cortege in tow. Without a goddamn GPS. Moving has been unsettling, as has been swapping the crocs for heels, and the morning hours of the prep room exchanged for late calls in the night by weeping widows.
Stay with me.
Continued peace and love,
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
What's the secret to a happy marriage?
I ask this of many of my clients. My new ones, the grieving and the breathing ones. I used to ask people their opinions on the secret to a happy life, but when you've arrived to a house armed with a calculator, a box of tissues and a coffin book my original query seems malapropos.
I visited a newly widowed school principle recently. She said that the secret behind the strength of her thirty eight years of wedded happiness was that she let her husband be who he wanted to be. I wondered if that meant that he liked gimp masks and koala costumes. I smiled, thought about the super talented Tom Gabel (soon to be Laura Jane Grace) and I moved on.
When they acknowledge my question they get a look in their eyes, a particular poignancy. What follows is a pregnant contemplation of stand out moments, like a mental flick book of special events.
It's nice. I take them away into a peaceful meditation, if only for a minute.
There's something in having a one and only, even if you have to make up your own rules to get there.
Monday, May 7, 2012
I had a great night out on the weekend. I let go. I was reposed, my self consciousness relieved like a piss after a long drive. I talked to strangers. I held hands. I made plans. I went home alone without feeling like I needed to cry into a bucket of haagen dazs. My life is not yet a bad country song.
It has taken me far too long to acknowledge my fear of being alone. I've heard mates say that they love to be alone, but to me these people present like patricians taking vacation into a third world country. I imagine that being constantly surrounded by people would make solitude and withdrawal attractive. Yet, there's only so many dinner reservations for one that you can withstand without wanting to stab a hospitality worker in the temple when they say "Only you?"....
Yes, dickhead. Single people need to eat too.
I'd much prefer to show someone else the shapes on my plate that I can make with my mashed potato. You can't read books on your iphone convincingly, no matter how much you try. Eating alone just isn't as fun. And life without honest reflection is a life still of wanting.
And then you get to this stage, where I am, where you long for company but also despise conventional niceties. Making small talk with people that exhibit social bias. Trying to fit in, when assimilating is the worst thing that you can do for your own strength of character.
I asked an eighty year old widow today what the secret was to a long and happy marriage. He replied with great joy "Forgiveness for being human."
I don't think that it's necessary to apologise for ever being human. I think apologies are only for when you've been stupid. We sell ourselves short. I do everyday.
Be good. Be safe. Be mindful.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
I'm a changed woman now.
I say with full sincerity that Wednesday was a definitive day in my career. I felt in control, professional; an administrate of death ritual in the most agonizing of circumstances. Baring witness to a community rocked by calamity, I realigned my perspective. Life is good. Death is bad. I'm lucky to have a lightness of being and breath in my lungs. And I want to turn into a giant mother bird with soft feathered wings so that I can wrap up the bereaved to keep them safe from harms. But that's just silly talk. Instead I will do my biznezz with honesty and compassion.
Suicide is devastating. Most certainly alarming is that of an intelligent, self-aware and virtuous teenage girl. Such a young lady died last week and this has been the subject of my deepest reflections. Her life, her death, her challenges. Her parents, emotions hijacked by grief and torment. Her little brother, pensive and forlorn. A sixteen year old has enough on his plate to deal with. Perceptive of this, I felt a desire to protect him most of all. If this is a maternal feeling being fostered, so be it.
I visited the family home on the morning of the funeral with the task of driving them to the church. As I knocked on the door I pulled my spine back from it's slouch and inhaled with all the power and intention that I could. I wasn't sure how the journey was going to fare with me as their driver, looking like a teenager myself with zits on my chin and dark hair not dissimilar to their own daughters. Would they be disturbed by my youth, if they had subconsciously expected a more mature funeral director?
Instead the father insisted that I have a cup of tea with him while his wife tweeted about the cat running rampant between the dozens of floral tributes sent to the house. We talked about snack foods, music videos and Melbourne's traffic problems, during which time I couldn't arrest my wandering eye from the open door to my left. Her bedroom. Her place of reflection and rest. I wished that she could go back there and close her door. And live.
The schoolgirls, her friends; their farewells full of apology, guilt and sorrow. Hundreds of young lives changed with the shock loss of their companion. And for what?
I'm employed to ensure that a 'memorial event' runs as scheduled. It's not my job to make people feel better. It's not my job to ponder about the why or why not's of one's mortal toil. But for some reason, it's the reason why I'm sticking with it. And I can't go back to the mortuary, for now I know that I can improve other people's lives in a time that really, fucking sucks.
Rest in peace, young lady.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
What in the precious father's name happened back there?
Let me tell you.
I've been single for a while now, bar a few month long stints in poorly conceived and thus ill fated romances. I'm friendly with all my ex's, and seemingly an ex to too many of my friends; and it's been tough for the old ego, falling for babe after babe and then, quite swiftly, being rejected. This rapid repudiation made me a target for a quick fix. And quick they were.
Transitioning from a serial monogomist to a whirlwind courtesan in the space of one year is an interesting personal experiment at 27. To be honest I miss the intimacy of having a one and only, but as I go on I can acknowledge that settling down for the sake of that comfort is not enough to stabilise and satisfy my own hankerings. What I really want is to fall in love; to give love, and accept love, from people that make me feel inspired and motivated.
And that's as girly as I get. I just think about love a bunch because it seems that grief is the downside of love and I deal in that business directly. To face a challenge to my own mortality alone would be scary. I hope not to base my entire romantic inclinations on this concept, but I can't promise anything at the end of the day. Maybe it's a universal truth, isn't it the reasoning for the rubbings together of Adam and Eve?
So yeah. That stuff happened. And in and around all that I moved. And was broke. And moved in with an odd stranger into a house that consistantly smells of kangaroo.
Nothing has changed in the external world to arouse this change of mood. I just feel good recognising that I've had a shit time. I forgive myself for losing confidence as a result of the dumpings. And I vow to move away from the kangaroo commorancy.
All is well.
Friday, March 23, 2012
I can have one single unit of beer and feel a slight laxity of composure. Two drinks in and I have the laissez faire and overstated confidence of a six year old at a wiggles concert. I level out after three or four beers into a state of entertainment, but any juncture after that is consummately reliant upon the environment at hand and the selection of poison. I get ripped easily, and frequently, and I think it's time to consider where that road can take someone, i.e. me, without much notice.
At 27, I've been drinking without a break for ten years. Most weekends without question. If I haven't sunk a couple on a Friday and Saturday night it's been due to that fact that I've been working or hung over from the night before. Is my experience that different from most other people in my peer group? I think not. I am the poster girl for binge drinking 2012.
We enjoy getting together to share happiness and hubbub, and a drop of whiskey can lubricate our egos just enough to talk about the concepts that we haven't got the confidence or forthrightness to speak about sober. In some occasions, these areas of conversation shouldn't be entered into at any time, especially when under the effect of alcohol. Still, being a shy girl at heart, feeling free from social constraint is pretty fun and I can see why most weekends I so easily picked up a stubby and swayed my way into most Saturdays.
Small but sure wrinkles are beginning to creep outwards from my eyelids. My face is slowly and certainly losing the apple shape that I used to hate. Of course the crap that I'm putting in to my body, especially after ten years, is starting to have an effect on the supposed 'windows to my soul'. It's time for a regulation, a self check, before things go to far.
About once a week I deal with a family who's mum/dad/sibling has died due to alcohol related disease. They often hide the real cause of death, but you can see in the shattered family dynamics that to have a loved one addicted to booze is to not really have them there at all.
I'm not saying I'm an alcoholic. Family and friends please do not call an intervention. I'm just glad that I've noticed an involvement in a part of youth culture that is not always good, not always bad, but not always thought about proactively.
Peace (and moderation). x
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Excuse my ardor, forgive my zeal. I am on a mission and I'm hungry like the wolf (Do do do do do do do dodo dododo dodo).
Herein lies an invitation to be my friend.
I'm in Melbourne, living in my little house, working from dark until dark. Things are getting familiar and routine is setting in. I don't need my GPS to get around town. My coffee boy sings to me in the mornings because he knows it makes me smile. Most of the time it's a Train song, but that's ok. I can answer the phone with "WASSUUUUUP" when my boss is calling and she isn't offended by my informality. I very much like the comforts of insight, and I'm slowly becoming accustomed to my new surrounds.
It hasn't been easy. In fact, almost daily I think about what it would be like to pack my car up again and speed back home. I knew that for every weekend in Brisbane there was a party to be had and rock solid mates to do so with. During working hours I knew my craft, I was 'on my game', and I could walk away from the fridge knowing that sh*t was sorted.
Everything is new here. I'm driving hearses around suburbs that sound like sneezes. I'm preventing widows from jumping into graves. I'm breaking up fisty cuffs outside churches. The usual funeral director stuff, but business that a mortician doesn't often get to see from the inside of the parlour itself.
I miss the confidence and security in my old world, but I am refreshed by the challenges of the curious and unfamilar.
I'll be honest however and divulge a secret. I'm a little lonely. I value peer interaction over most other things. Being around death and seeing grief as an expression of love; it does things to the way I live, be it good or bad. I want to meet pals that I can talk shit to, without being worried that I'm too intense. I want them to be cool with wearing pyjamas while we eat cookies and watch the x-files, be cool with me getting too drunk and starting fights with cab drivers, and above all, finding folk that actively seek reflection, honesty, and enjoyment in general shit.
It would also help if they like: words, harmonicas, animals that look worldly, pickles, stationery, loose puns, and unobnoxious lighting. I've thought about dating sites but I'm too polite. It would be a bad move.
Well then. Friends?
Monday, March 19, 2012
I found a dead swan. In the middle of the road. In the middle of nowhere. On the way to a funeral. Maybe there's a message from the universe in the experience. Maybe.
I met with the Dalai Lama a couple of years ago, as the result of a random successful scholarship application whilst studying Eastern Religion at university. A true scholar I was not, but I found a way of picking elective classes that would boost my GPA while allowing me ample social time for boozing and sinning in ways that a 20 year old should. I wrote a pretty questionable essay on Vipassana Meditation which was pretty much just 3000 words on acting stoned when you're not. I got a 'high' distinction.
Anyway, I sent the essay in to the Dalai Lama and his gang. With it I wrote a note saying that I wanted to say g'day during his visit to Sydney but I had no money for tickets. I outlined that I enjoyed reading Buddhist scripture and was disheartened by the reality that a financial hurdle could stand in the way of enlightenment. Two weeks later I received a letter of acceptance into a scholars program and was flown to Sydney for a three day intensive. It was intensively boring, as half of the day was spoken in another language, but it was a special experience none the less.
Ever since then I have felt a connection with Buddhist monks. They are happy, they wear cool gown things, and they walk a 'middle path.' This basically means that anything goes in the loveliest of moderations. Some might see it as fence sitting, but I like to apply the middle path principle to remain impassive to trends and exaggerations. Being in the moment and finding calm in impermanence; these principles are woven deep into my personality like syrup on a pancake.
There is a point to this whole Buddhism thing. I was driving a Monk to this funeral when we saw the swan, neck limp and curled around like a cold hard question mark. If I was alone I would have stopped to move the body off the road. Instead I let out a drawn out 'ooooofph' sound, and I caught the monks placid response in the rear vision mirror. I continued on, slowly, thinking about both the swan and my passenger. I didn't know whether to talk about it or if the conversation would be deemed as inappropriate on the way to a funeral. The monk sensed that I was ruminating, because after a short moment he smiled and followed with "Death is a strange field for a young lady to be working in...."
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
We can go from strangers to companions in an instant. We can change people's lives in a single meeting. I am assured of this.
I met a man and he told me about death. We met by accident, in a cemetery, because I thought he was a gravedigger and I called on his services from across the monuments. The reality was that he was a man who loved his overalls but had just buried his wife. My bad.
I was arriving at an old rural cemetery early to sight a grave and make sure that everything was organised for a burial arranged for later that day. I saw a rugged man in boots and overalls smiling at me, and waving gleefully from afar. Being pretty pleased that someone living was wanting my attentions, I made my way over to talk about what I assumed was the burial plans that lay ahead of us.
I threw my hand out to shake his, and introduced myself as the newest and most competent member of my company. I joked about something stupid and grinned unabashedly. I felt a connection to the 'gravedigger,' probably because he was covered in tattoos but still had the gentle warmth and energy of a labrador.
He then said, "Sarah, I'm not a grave digger. You buried my wife five weeks ago."
Imagine my face. I must have looked like I was going to cry, because he gently reached for my shoulder and assured me that he wasn't insulted. In fact, I think he was oddly chuffed that he fit the bill.
I hadn't actually buried his beloved, because I hadn't been working in Victoria for long enough to have even been a member of staff on the service. Needless to say, our conversation started with how the lady had died and how he felt that the funeral proceedings went. Everything went according to plan, but death in itself was never in HIS plan.
We sat at her grave, alongside each other, looking at the headstone. We talked about how the five weeks had passed by so slowly. He seemed pained by the memory of her loss, but happy to talk to someone who understood. What he was saying was sad, but his face was happy, and I was confused by that.
We talked about how the first week blurred together. I asked if his friends and family were still in close contact with him, and he hadn't spoken to anyone apart from myself in almost seven days. We then walked for a short distance and he showed me his mother's grave in a nearby plot. I felt like I was being introduced into his family, even after their passing, and I let him know that I felt a priviledge in doing so.
I felt so close to that gentleman. He taught me about the reality of death for those that are left behind to wash the sheets, cancel the bank accounts and 'move on' with living. He taught me how to open up to those that are willing to hear. He taught me that I can find inspiration in dark places.
And he taught me that I should exercise more care and restraint when approaching citizens in a cemetery to avoid looking like an idiot.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
This guy knows where it's at.
WHY IS HE SO HAPPY? How the sh*t do I get so convivial? How do I get there, during the course of my humble life trajectory?
I have questions today. Serious questions, because I had a very serious day.
I answered my first "Hello ma'am, my mum just died. Help me?..." phone call today. It was the worst Jerry, the worst.
I've been perfectly trained in what to say and how to say it, but when you pick up the phone and you can hear the pain in the callers voice as they whisper over the line from the room beside the one that their mothers/fathers/lovers body is going cold and stiff in, that transaction f*cking sucks. Attention is aggressively pulled away from the clear view of the hot dudes punching the boxing bag in the gym across the street. The fax machine noises that have pissed you off all day vanish. Everything disappears as you try to dive into the phone receiver, twisting through the wire to come out the other side and into the person's mind-space. If only.
I desperately want the words to flow out of my face naturally during the conversation so that I can actually HEAR what the other people are saying (as opposed to what is going on in my own head whilst I kick myself for stuttering/whimpering/pitching my voice too high because I'm stifling tears).
And then I have to muster up the balls to talk to these grieving people face to face, mano to mano. In this arrangement procedure we talk about family history to register the death legally. We make choices like whether they require a cremation or a burial, a coffin or a casket, a religious or non religious ceremony; and the list extends to all the madcap things that you can do to celebrate the life of someone who has died. I have only just now begun to comprehend how much of a multi-tasking genius I have to be, how trusted I need to be by my folk, and how responsible I will be if I stuff sh*t up.
Funerals are pretty crazy. Ladies cry. Men cry. Kids cry because the grown ups are crying. Today even a priest looked like he wanted to cry. The lass that had died had lived very very short life. She left a small, scared child behind. Did that lady know a happiness? If so, does her child know that she did? Will her child remember the funeral in 20 years time?
Gosh, will that child remember me? If so, I hope I said the right thing.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
One month of living in Melbourne is all it takes for most of what you know to expire.
More specifically, one month away from familiar custom is how long it took for me to understand in retrospect that what I had in Brisbane was bloody sterling. I miss my friends, I miss my co-workers, and I miss my heap of shit granny flat in Paddington. I realise that it's alright to have these feelings, but I feel like a dickbag for not reaching this appreciation earlier.
I had grandiose expectations about my new life here. Presumptions of a type of rebirth into a dashing life of unconventional glory. This brings me to realisation number two; converging with new people is exhausting and comparing folk to those you already love will get you nowhere. Cities change, but my social inaptitudes endure. I will expect nothing more from Melbourne apart from death, taxes and f*cking great coffee and cake combos.
Going from the busy underbelly of the biz to a public show pony of death has been preoccupying. Repairing skulls and buttoning blouses has been replaced with squeezing the cheeks of infants, helping old folk up church steps and inspiring personalised floral choices. It's copacetic, but demands reflection on the change in pace from the days in the mortuary of listening to tunes and drinking tea on demand.
Time, you tricky trickster. I will place no pressure on your healing ability.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
And there ain't nothing wrong with a spot of homelessness.
(Obviously this is a highly insensitive statement to true homeless folk and I'm not actually dumpster diving and huddled in a trolley.) I'm drifting from place to place until I find a home. It's a bit shit, but I have hope that a house will be all like "Sarah, I'm cosy and cheap, look at my strong walls and generous pantry! I want you, I need you etc...."
It's a long story, but one that one day will deserve more than a brief mention. Needless to say, I am without roof of my own. It's not ideal by today's societal standards, but y'know what, it's a bloody thrill.
What makes a mortician comfortable at the end of the day? Is it four walls and a door to close? I think not, and something tells me that I'm in for some learnings.
Fate be kind, and bring me a chimney.