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.