Monday, December 30, 2013
Troglodytic. It means that lonely, unfriended sack of shit feeling of self-unworth, or at least the preceived state of being sat in it. I'm in it, I can't get out of it, and I suppose that's how I found that ludicrous word to begin with.
I'm feebly resisting that end of year, calendar-imposed slip into self absorption, that brooding over what is tangibly done and dusted by December's close. It's hard to buck. What sticks out most, as I fight the urge for both good and bad, is that on this last day of this year, I feel small.
I don't want to fall victim to it.
I was at the gym a couple of months ago busting my ass. I don't consider myself particularly fit or sportsminded but I was genuinely enjoying the results of a routine workout. I was about ten minutes into my session and I noticed three gym members sitting on a weight bench in the corner, laughing at the active class. Laughing, I assumed, at me.
I went home distraught because I'd already been feeling like a stranger in other areas of my life and this sensitivity was processed in the dark, self-feeding mechanism of the depressive think tank. The more rejection I assumed, the more I would and continue to bury myself away in defense. The gym had been a way for me to connect with others and dare I say myself, in a healthy way. It was a place where physical and mental strength was fostered, and this was a motivation form that I could see benefit from.
After that evening and that particular episode my nervousness and sensitivity levels have run high. Even though I can reason with these feelings in general, a mini moment of sad can act as a trigger for all those other, big bullshit feels. I forgot a friends birthday and I wanted to disappear. I had a fight about a tomato on the bench and I wanted to disappear. No one called me, and I wanted to disappear. Someone called me, and I had nothing to say, and I wanted to disappear.
Here's to a stronger year, each little battle win or loss at a time.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Like an offering to the sea; yonder swept. Farther drifting, stalled afloat for a time unencumbered by all but the bulging, briny deep.
"Just do us a favour, O'Connor. Write something."
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Love. Love hard, and without hesitation. Love your way. Connect with love, because when everything else fails be it with your environment or your dollar bills or your mental and physical health or your material distractions, true and honest love will be the only thing that you will wish not to let fall from your fingers if you have just a minute left to live.
After five years of burying and cremating people, this is what I've gathered as my richest insight. I have substantial evidence that through the height of our grief for each dead or dying person, the legacy that one leaves behind seems to perpetuate the balance of pain and happiness for us left, for those still living.
Directing memorial events, washing, treating, suturing, dressing and coffining dead bodies, giving information and assistance to grieving people, driving hearses and body transport vehicles; these are tasks that the average funeral director may execute every day. Sadly though, a funeral directors role (or at least in Australia), is considered an unskilled labour. The salary is underwhelming, the hours can be unbearable, and the support systems hollow.
Now hear me in this. Funeral directors in Australia do what they do as a sacrifice, be it for good or for something else entirely. An individual collecting trolleys at the supermarket brings home $5 an hour more than the professional who might collect your grandma from her deathbed. The funeral director who will roll her gently with dignity and respect to tuck a sheet around her. Who places a rose on her chest as a gesture of appreciation before taking her into their care. Who will answer your calls in their own time at the gym, at the supermarket, at their child's birthday party, at the dinner table, on the toilet, while they are supposed to be getting sleep. The funeral director who will clean your grandmother's soiled body and rest her with care as if she is in fact their own family member and still an individual walking amongst us. And this is just the beginning of the relationship between funeral director, funeral commissioner and deceased person. With little care of sounding conceited, I sure as hell believe that the role of the funeral director is in fact one of immense skill and great dedication. I sure as hell believe that a funeral director should be respected as the professional that they could and should aspire to be.
There is always a but, and this blog entry cannot escape such extension. Not all funeral directors feel such motivation in their role. Some seem to not think about death, or loss, or love. They go through the motions, generally well. They wear the same suits and drive the same vehicles, but their disconnection to reality and the gravity of their role in the life and in the death of others seems to pass them by unawares. Perhaps this is why some aspects of traditional funeral custom are slowly changing due to consumer awareness and rejection, and thus the antiquated views of the stern male funeral director in tails and a top hat, smoking outside the chapel are slowly being shaken off.
I quit my job as a funeral director on Friday.
I have resigned from this career because my understanding of my potential as a funeral director has divorced from how the varying duties can be honestly and ethically executed within the current Australian death care system. It has been a difficult decision to step aside from my experience and a unique skill set. It is disappointing that I have to start from scratch, perhaps doing something that I am not as intrinsically excited and inspired by, because the basic conditions of the job have not allowed for my pursuit of self actualisation. I would stay in the job, but I cannot honestly do that without my basic needs being met. I need to grow, I need to be able to pay the bills and save up to pursue my goals, and I need to be able to rely upon the experience and dedication of other funeral directors who should by the very nature of the role share the same altruistic traits as myself. It is sad, and maybe I'm a giant wanker for expecting others to meet me up there, but I expect the highest standards of a business that makes money from such an unavoidable circumstance as death.
It's not there yet. When it is, I'll be back.
Until then, unless it kills me in the mean time,
Peace and love.
Monday, October 7, 2013
I'm sitting on my bed with an animal hat on my head, eating peanut butter on toast for dinner. I'm nearly at my 29th birthday. The bread just fell out of my hands and on to my t-shirt, wet side down. I feel reluctant to move it. The woman and the little girl in me, sitting one in each other like a stack of chairs. I'm contemplating on age and sorrow like an antique in a new store.
I ask myself how much of my identity is based upon being a funeral director. Without my job, without my insider's upper hand on something different, what else might I be.
For five years my life has run alongside a track next to my professional duty. If I wasn't to continue in this career, who would I be? I still question death, this bastard, this cause of immense suffering, without answer. It's like shooting hoops alone at night, with no way of finding the balls that bounce off the hoop and into the shadows.
You said love. You said we made it, and you signed off with it.
But when you were in another country, another bed, another woman
I felt the closest to you.
It ate the food off of my plate. It lay between us and stole the blankets.
You said love twice, while the animal was out of the room.
You said love. You said we made it, and you signed off with it.
But when you were in another country, another bed, another woman
I felt the closest to you.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Part Two: Roots.
Life was more shattered than I dare wish to push my breath to speak of. Normal daily decisions grew from being mere annoyances to overwhelming binds. I was driving to work one day and I considered wetting myself so that I could go use the embarrassment to go home and hide. I felt selfish, and I'd get angry at myself for my ignorance. Day after day I witnessed people in real pain, in excruciating grief, and yet there I was constricted and consumed with hurt because of a boy exercising his own free will. It wasn't until I considered crashing my car into a wall on the Monash Freeway that I knew I had hit a low point and I needed to change my projection. I fantasised about my own death in a similar way to how a little girl dreams about her wedding. I desired it when my cheeks were flushed with rage, even though I held fundamental issue with the covenant and conditions of execution.
I packed up my shit and moved from the tip that I lived in. The time was not without incredible stress but the action was healthy. In some ways I longed for friends to talk to or family to support me, but my avoidance coping mechanisms kicked in and I entertained the illusion that as soon as I parked my car back in Brisbane my troubles could be dumped in the southern state.
Herein lies the beginning of my legal fuck ups. I didn't pay a bunch of tolls, because the auto payment function on my e-toll device had been disabled due to a declined top up transaction. I continued using the toll roads because of time pressures at work, and I didn't follow up on it because I just wanted to get the hell out of Melbourne. Time passed. Fines accrued. Six months down the track and I'm facing some heavy penalties. Twenty one way trips can cost more than an overseas holiday. Take example and be a good citizen.
So why the avoidance?
Good question. Because of hurt. Because anything Melbourne related brought back feelings of anxiety, and I wanted to push it all away. Maybe because even something that could land me in jail got me out of where I was.
This made me consider what else I had avoided to my detriment. Like Alice into the hole, I fell further and further into my empirical experience. Major stressors, life long, appear to have been dealt with in a similar fashion. When I had my first period I didn't tell my mother, I just found the tools of the trade and got on with it. I parented myself through my teenage years and early twenties and I avoided anything that compounded my feelings of injustice for being required to do so. It may hurt my parents to hear it, but I did not feel that I could discuss problems with them. I assumed and considered my burdens with an existential awareness that they may not have been able to connect with me on.
In my early twenties I intermittently experimented with drugs with relatively little drive or reward. Very few people know of this time. I don't have much to say about my experiences as it's not very interesting, to be honest, other than how I have never addressed how close I came to using drugs as a way of self medicating and numbing issues of disconnection and depression. Being sober brings clarity if nothing else.
And here I am, examining my roots. If I have met you and have seemed distant or preoccupied or just fuzzy behind the eyes, it's because I have been preoccupied and fuzzy behind the eyes. I'm not an asshole or a ditz, if this is how I seemed. If I owe you fifty bucks and have never paid it, this is why. If I haven't returned an email, or a CD, or your love, this is why.
Being close to death isn't the cause for my feelings. Not being close with the living is. Roots are fortified with the strength of other trees. Luckily for me, I've started sharing.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Part 1: I'm in deep.
My life events are starting to string together to create a weave of action and reaction. There's a natural ebbing and flow of connection and solitude, and in the last five years I've observed myself navigating a career change, five romances and five corresponding breaks to the heart, an interstate fling, two global adventures, and this here literary adventure.
I'm facing an erupting volcano. A situation that I'm going through today has been developing over the last six months due to a maladaptive avoidance coping style that I've since self identified. It's no secret that I had a rough 2012, but I didn't share the full extent of my issues other than the odd "A book this heavy should be closed in private" sort of analogy. It was very certainly the most challenging period of my life.
I told someone about my anxieties and a depression that I had faced during this time, of which I still succumb to occasionally. This companion said "You're not anxious. You're the happiest person that I know. A REAL anxious person does 'x,y,z'....". This stung to the core, as they didn't even pretend to consider the internal conflict that I had been facing at any point of the year before. My anxiety wears lipstick, hides knots under smoothed hairbands, speaks softly and with temperance, and unleashes like a high frequency whistle to a dog when the burden is too heavy. It also pushes strength to it's limits and faith for a clearer future, and blends it up into a smoothie of 'life on this planet hurts.'
Prospective funeral directors take note: if you're a nervous or anxious person generally, becoming a funeral director will give you a new found perspective on life and love and make you grow into a very aware and capable professional. On the other hand, the time pressures and responsibility specific situational factors involved can send you on a downward spiral if you fail to keep your life in balance. I took a little from column A and a lot from column B. I burned out in 2012, working too hard and too rigidly in a new city.
I drank too much, ate badly, wasted opportunities and constantly chased my next pay day. I felt lonely and restricted by finances, so instead of the bigger picture I kept focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. With one step forward and seemingly sixty five back, I didn't get anywhere but deeper and deeper into it. Into debt. Into desperation. Into illusion.
There was a point where things felt good. I met a gentleman that could seemingly take my blues away. He addressed my loneliness and my intellectual hunger and he literally took me away from my problems at work and at home. We spoke of travel (and did some), and then of marriage and children and a house full of light and love. Obviously, this didn't work out. He left for travel and never came home for reasons that neither of us can really understand. It was on, and then it was off, and my life was more shattered than I dare wish to push my breath to speak of.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
This period in my life feels alien.
Some days I can't break out of my own thoughts and I'm all consumed in a battle to feel better. Stronger. More connected. Less stressed. Then there's other days, sometimes flowing in succession, in which I am a detached onlooker of my behaviours. This period of observation exposes how easy it can be to ruminate in resentment and dejection.
I'm arrogantly absorbed by these things, these feelings that have no relevance to how strong I am, how much stress I place onto or absorb from others, or how connected I am to the world around me.
I have more information about myself than I have ever had before. I'm 28. I know shit. At least shit about how I function best. And I know that I don't know even more about the actual world than how much I think I know.
It's another new good start. I want to learn and love and stay steady in the ebb and the flow of those two pulses.
This is not alien. This drive is as organic to life as the salt is to the surf.
Monday, July 1, 2013
A perfect* gentleman entered and exited my life, romantically speaking, and I'd probably let him do it all again.
I was sure that I'd be able to record our days together, our quiet work nights in and our noisy weekends out. There was something intrinsically supportive born in the early days of our relationship that made me feel dynamic and inspired, and even though I was reluctant to settle into monogamy I felt so swiftly bewitched by his perspective. And those eyes. The way his hair sometimes fell across his face and called to my hand like a magnet. The exemplary steering wheel percussion. The Seinfeld Sessions. The.....fuck.......the almost everything.
You know what the Rolling Stones say. You can't always get what you want.
I wanted more than what I could have. Within reason, but without a basis in reality.
In retrospect I can see that I wasted more time in being consumed with the fear of losing the relationship than I did in actually enjoying it. Circumstances changed but the contract couldn't. I was like a fat woman and a packet of twinkies; it was comforting but we were just no good for each other. That and twinkies can't actually sustain you.
I cried like a fucking child for days because I guess we just don't go into these things thinking that they will fail. Especially at an age where people are having children, not acting like them.
And unrequited love is just sad.
I'm ok. I really hope he is. I also hope that he doesn't think that I want to eat him.
*Perfect, with discretional allowances.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
You and I.
We're in for a good time, not a long time. Lessons concentrated, tightened in a loop by sight of the start and the finish.
The truest love lies with the realist; he who holds an awareness and acceptance of our impermanence.
I'd wish me for you, and all of time, but all of time wants more from
you and I.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
I'm not asking for much. A simple black book. I don't even want a picture on the dust jacket.
For fucks sake. I don't even need a dust jacket.
Let me write a book.
I'll put my best stories in there. The profound ones and the shocking ones and the nonsense ones and the ones that make you smile and the ones that make me cry.
I'm not asking for a lot of money. Just enough to pay my way, and enough to buy one of those fans without blades. Those things are so rad.
I want a book that I've published to hand to my mum.
I want a book that I've published to hand to my grade seven teacher.
I want a book that I've published to prop my feet up when I'm resting in my coffin.
Deal? (give me).
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Monday, June 3, 2013
~it's your world now
use well the timebe part of something good~
People often ask me why I began a career as a mortician. My answer is generally satirical. I seldom acknowledge that the lure of the industry was an awakening of ideas and the beginning of my own epistemological journey.
Death. The unhinging of all of this that we are.
Before this gig I was working the counter of a successful cosmetic brand in a city department store. I studied full time and worked the cosmetics job four days a week, growing restless and disenchanted with the application of camouflage. My customers mostly wanted to impress a man or gain some power somehow, and although our quick exchange made me feel like I was giving these women a boost I was also painfully aware of the superficiality of my services.
One afternoon a co-worker threw a phone book on the bench and dared me to call a funeral home. There were two businesses in the city area. We'd been watching Six Feet Under at home and thus had begun a discussion on the practical applications of cosmetics on a corpse. Never shying from taboo, I called the first listing. As they say, the rest is history. They needed a mortician and I needed a challenge.
I'd seen a corpse just once before. Driving with my mother late one night when I was twelve, the head beams of our car illuminated a gentleman on his stomach, bloodied head still, contorted to face the direction that we were coming from. He was wearing a red checkered shirt and faded blue jeans. He didn't look mad or shocked or angry, he just looked like a very unfortunate splattered lumberjack. A police officer had ushered us to drive around the scene at the very time the covering blanket was moved for a forensic photographer to complete his work. I will never forget my mother's questioning.
"Well, what is it? What is it, for fucks sake?."
She was flustered by the commotion, but completely unawares.
"A man, mum. It's a man."
We drove the rest of the way home without any further discussion. How Bizarre by OMC came on the radio as we pulled into the driveway.
I was 17 years old when my best friend's father was killed. We'd been hanging about doing something teenagerish when she was called away to the hospital. I didn't see her again that night, as she and her mother had to make the very painful decision to switch off his life support after he was declared brain dead as a result of haemorrhaging. His death was so unexpected that the rest of 2002 was spent building this family, my extended family, a coping schedule.
As his death was a police matter, the road to healing for us was protracted well into the following years. There are many things about this period in time that I can't remember, possibly because I've blocked out those moments most painful. I remember his funeral though, as it was the first time that I'd attempted to understand tragedy.
I very openly sobbed through the majority of the service and I held on to my own parents as if the ground was going to gobble us up too. Through my distress, I wanted so desperately to keep it together. I was dizzy with grief, and I continue to acknowledge that the man that was buried that day often acted as my adoptive father at a time when my biological one wasn't always available. He went on a walk with his daughter and I EVERY Saturday morning to get the Courier Mail and buy us an icecream. He showed me how to cook a real english breakfast and bake the fluffiest of cakes. He took me to see my first music concert. He taught me what it was to work hard for every dollar you could bring in to the house. He ferociously loved his children, his wife, his bike, his life in Australia, and he never ever let us feel anything other than safe.
I will never forget the shock and the awe of that loss. The cataclysmic feeling that your world has been irrefutably changed forever. I know, almost eleven years on, that we think about him every day. This is what I remember every time I meet with a family who has lost someone in a similar tragic circumstance. Nothing makes sense and everything hurts, and there is very little that I can do apart from provide an honourable ceremony to make things...endurable.
An accidental death. An accidental awakening. An accidental career. One big purpose.
These occasions, thrown together in a story for you, make me make sense.
Monday, May 27, 2013
I'm hypersensitive to sound. It's a unique and unfortunate side effect of working in an isolated and intensively silent workplace. I can't sleep if someone is doing the dishes or has the television on. I struggle to concentrate if someone is walking upstairs. It's as if being immersed in death during business hours makes the presence of life and living during rest time an overwhelming stimulation.
With this in mind, you can imagine that the particularities of share house living presents me with a few challenges. I can control what tunes I play in the mortuary and if I have the overhead exhaust fan running, but I cannot constrain my housemates to when they take a shower or watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Normal evening activities carry the noises of our bustling interchange and lately I've found myself fitting in an episode of mild neurosis before bed time.
Luckily, I live with three of the most understanding and approachable individuals on the planet. They fill our home with a warmth and abundance that eases my upset. Even if I flip out, they'll be there to flip me back in. And then they'll have a beer and some pringles with me afterwards.
Thanks friends. I love you guys, like real love but not the sexy kind. I'm buying us all Japanese slippers until I work through this.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
I feel as though when you are in my thoughts I could be in yours.
A disconnected body of tender architecture. We might have made it from up here.
The Story Bridge at 4:30PM. The soupy, saturating sun that curtains across the buildings with a verve that speaks of you. Glass illuminated like the oceans.
This time of day.
I feel as though when you are in my thoughts I could be in yours.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Death is the ultimate no no.
It's astonishing that life can actually exist in the first place, being that sperm and ova have to do that delicate little breakdance at the right disco to the right jam. But death can occur at any time from day one to day one hundred and something, and it's governance seems to be delivered like a round of apple bobbing. Do we play it safe or live theatrically on the edge? Death isn't actually weird, it's just the opposite of what we know and so we, as tiny humans in the big world, are a little scared. We're scared of blood and guts and anything hairy because they are things that could land us on cold silver tables.
I don't have any more answers than I did when I first entered the mortuary. All of the dentures and cotton wool and human waste has not shown me what it looks like behind a corpses stare, if it is a place to see or be seen at all.
Happy Third Birthday, Until it Kills Me. Let's keep looking.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
I'm sitting on my bed and drinking a glass of wine. It feels good to look around at my things and acknowledge, although admittedly egotistical, that my material possessions have shown enough value to remain close and slowly collect as do the wrinkles on my hands.
My walls are still largely undecorated but small and sentimental treasures have begun to emancipate themselves from their cardboard penitentiaries. I have a wardrobe and a bed. A lonely old guitar is propped upright, well behaved but under appreciated on a rack intended to house a family of five. There's an old suitcase that I've planted against a wall to throw some books on. My typewriter is beside my bed, and although far from being practical it serves as a reminder that articulation is my right hand man.
I had only just settled in early February before an old friend asked me to look after his home. Being full of positive energy from the move, I was quick to welcome another gratified opportunity. Four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a spa, an entertaining deck, tropical gardens, a mahogany four poster bed and a well stocked and well hung adult DVD collection. For seven weeks I was to lord over the Queenslander, taking sole responsibility for the ferns and the fish and all of the fancy towelling that I could ever possibly wish to launder.
I've looked after homes before but there was something about this one that lent itself to calamity. Within a few days I'd forgotten how to take apart the pond filter. Within a week I'd over exhausted the jacuzzi. Within two I'd killed the plants. The washing machine died. The dog ran away. By the end of seven weeks I felt as though no matter how genuine my intent, I'd failed this crib. The demands of an opulent kingdom had overcome this honorary King.
It's fair to say that I over extend myself. I say yes to things because there's something organically good about being reliable. I thought that to be accommodating and adaptable and willing was to be a top notch citizen.
So no more house sitting. I have no experience in palm arboring nor do I possess a knowledge of orchid growing conditions. I can't remember to take the rubbish bins out every week. I can't guarantee that I'll dust the rooms that I don't step foot in. I certainly don't always remember when I ordered that Indian takeway. And I definitely can't turn away a gathering of beautiful young people desperate to drink champagne in a jacuzzi. You only live once.
There's a lot to be said about your own castle. Maybe, just maybe, this is mine. The horse is waiting outside and it's bloody good to be have four walls of my own.
Monday, April 8, 2013
When I was twelve years old I told my best friend that I was going to marry Prince William. I blushed in telling her, supposing that I'd be consumed by a sudden and furious celebrity exposure. Perhaps it was his downcast eyes and alabaster skin. Maybe it was his family tragedy that I found appealing. Consider this; Was Prince William the Edward Cullen for kids in the 90's? White, sad, historically significant and really really loaded?
(Ok, so I know nothing about Twilight, apart from the fact that the glitter spangled guy is British).
What I find interesting is that at one stage I felt destined to be a princess. The freshly-evoked feminist in me raises her brow in nervous apprehension.
I am not stereotypically lady-like. I curse like a sailor and dress like a perpetual camper. I stitch together body parts for a living. What part of Disney's 'finding my prince' phenomena did I not find metaphorical? I called bullshit on the Bible, so what in the fairytale kept me under spell? And lastly why, when no other personal qualities offer explanation to the attraction, would I deem myself an appropriate royal?
I was talking to my dad about my romantic failings recently. My sister was sitting with us at the dinner table, thumbing through pictures on my phone camera roll. I snatched it off of her when I realised what she was doing. What sort of person looks through another adults camera roll? I suggested that I might have pornographic images stored, to which they laughed. "What would YOU be doing with boob photos?"
It dawned on me. I've been treating the whole partnership thing way too seriously and even my family can see it. I'm making dot points so that I can beat down this illusion into simple anti-romanticised take home messages.
1) I've been waiting for someone to come and collect me in a motherf*cking pumpkin for sixteen years. Given, I've also expected him to shred like a demon and look like Johnny Depp. At any rate, this whole 'Prince' caper is a sham. It is no more right for me to uphold this expectation as it is for a man to expect his lady friend to be able to bake a goddamn Cherry pie).
2) I need to celebrate my boobs more.
3) My family are hilarious but I will probably never tell them about boys or bad dates again. My dad might do something protective like ask for their email addresses again.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
If I have kissed you I apologise. It was possibly shit.
My first kiss was on a trampoline at Cassi Devine's birthday party. She was a cool kid and everyone in our grade that mattered* was there. I was about sixteen. It was fucking terrible.
This young lad decided that he'd try and pop his digits down my fake snake skin pants after about fifteen seconds of making out. He was strong and handsome and I remember the initial excitement as his mouth pushed into mine. And then I realised that he was PUSHING. I had never kissed anyone before, but I knew that in this maiden exchange I wasn't supposed to feel conquered. Luckily I valued that little basket o' virginal goods and high tailed off the trampoline in time, dignity still contained in those god awful pants. In the peak of a Brisbane heatwave I hid my lust-damaged throat for the following week under a blue turtleneck. If you're reading this El Trampolino, you literally sucked. (And thanks for hooking up with the birthday girl almost immediately after me, swiftly schooling me in the ways of the school representative footballer).
I had a conversation at that party with another young man as he stood, leaning away from the crowd with his back up against the house. He was smoking a cigarette and I said to him that doing so would harm his babies. He had honey skin and a set of big brown deer eyes that caught me by surprise. I wanted to acknowledge his odd composure but I was distracted by my near miss intercourse with ol' mate Mr Trampoline.
It took a few months for us to talk more during class. One day he asked if I wanted to go shopping with him and his mother. I wore a Cat in the Hat shirt and his mum drove us in to the Queen Street Mall. His mum dug my shirt. She loved olives and used to eat them from the jar so for many years to follow I pretended to like them in the hope that I looked as cultured as her. Damn that woman and her casual weekday elegance.
I was almost seventeen when he and I started officially dating. About a week passed after the shopping trip and he asked me if I wanted to take a walk down to the Scarborough shorefront after school. We carved our names into a tree and exchanged stories that still trigger an emotional reaction in me after all this time. As we walked to his bus stop I knew that this kid was seriously special. My first 'real' kiss happened as the bus waited for him to board, his fare awkwardly clasped in his hand that pressed against the small of my back. Is your first love so special because retrospectively you can see that you were naive to the pain of what it was to break up?
Obviously we did break up a few years later. In my first year as a Psychology student I was in no position to successfully diagnose or treat his problems (and nor should I have). I think he got another girl pregnant soon after. I don't even know if he's still alive. I really loved him, and then I really didn't.
So that's a nice story for you.
Fast forward ten years or so and here I am, thinking about all of the kisses between then and now. The few good ones, the few shit ones and the much more common fantasy ones thanks to Joseph Gordon Levitt. I wouldn't mind a kiss. Not like with Mr Trampoline, but like Mr Bus, with focus and connection and intention. Bring back the kisses that stop time.
* And by mattered, I most certainly do not mean by whom was and is most interesting, nor successful in later years.
Monday, March 11, 2013
It's odd, coming out the other side, eighteen hundred and twenty six kilometres away from where I started. Or at least from where I was, if it were not the start but some sideways skip. They say that running away from your problems will never make you free of them, but I propose that driving far away isn't a bad approach to giving your own engine a good run. I know nothing about cars but any shit writer would have enough fuel to connect a Ford with the human mind and pump out a bunch of 'destination vs journey' analogies.
For the last three weeks I've been sitting at a desk. I haven't been out driving hearses, preparing bodies, arranging funerals or carrying coffins. It's been entirely uneventful and largely underwhelming, but necessary in it's sweet relief. Do not be alarmed, I'm still involved in the funeral business, but I'm the voice on the other end of the phone at present when someone calls to say "Hey, Nan's dead. Come help."
From the impregnable safety of the office blanket fort I can think a lot about why I left Melbourne. There were a bunch of reasons. A perpetually empty wallet. An exhausted body. An overthrown character. Chiefly though, I needed to shake a habit of catastrophising and being a general dickhead. I didn't have a good grip on what problems were actually problems and what drama I was creating out of exhaustion. This whole relocation has stopped me from throwing my car into a ditch somewhere between Caulfield and Camberwell.
I saw a coworker the other day rushing around the funeral home. Watching her from my desk, I could see that she was consumed. Frantically, she stammered about wasting time. This lady, drowning in panic, undermining what time she had in hurry. I could see that all she needed to do was stop and breathe and open the cupboard to find what she was looking for, but I was struck with the awareness that in my own pressure I had failed to stop and understand what was right in front of me too.
I didn't need to go anywhere, but wanting and changing shit for health and happiness is a bloody good move. Thanks perspective, you're great.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Sometimes thoughts kamikaze into consciousness. Today, enjoying a coffee and reading the paper, my concentration was interrupted by the mindful realisation that I was indeed relaxed. Why my brain felt the need to say "Oi Sarah, you feel tranquilised" was curious in itself, thus manifesting in a ditched Courier Mail and a half an hour of me staring at the wall, cogs turning recklessly.
I'm on holidays, initiated by my relocation after the Molotov cocktail that was 2012. Most of the year was spent with my days dictated by work and the pressures of kicking it in a busy city. The job itself in Melbourne was not that difficult, yet I found myself feeling like a falling Alice. I observed people toying with logic. There were constant limitations. I felt like an outsider. I had a yearning to return home. There was an overriding theme of death, a sense of urgency and an obsession with time and self analysis as I woke up. There, back in the real world, half way through my soy latte.
Being in direct contact with death for forty to seventy hours a week shapes you. It smooths your corners during the day; it softens your tone of voice and sharpens your focus. When families thanked me, I had the go-to phrase of "That's what I'm here for." In reality, that wasn't what I was there to do. I was there to arrange for the disposal of a body and to co-ordinate a memorial event. I took the rest on, because I thought I could.
A hangover of this dedication is the exhaustion that I'm facing now. As a twenty seven year old, I came home mentally depleted and could govern nothing more than a bath and half an episode of futurama. I wished for my time in Melbourne to be spent growing and learning, but instead I could feel my batteries wear like a torch left on in a drawer. In my private life I felt hypervigilant, perhaps due to my constant exposure to high stress situations. Being the one in control of arrangements I assumed a responsibility to alleviate heightened emotions. The more aware I was of this responsibility, the more sensitised I became to stresses outside of work. I was highly strung. I catastrophised, and this is potentially the root of many of the problems I faced in my personal life. It no doubt caused rifts between myself and others that I cared about, and explains why I felt like such an alien to my peers.
So these thoughts stole me away from my otherwise passive enjoyment of caffeine. I am glad for the deviation. I am glad that in knowing this, my year will take a different shape.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
I've been reluctant to write, knowing that I've been ruminating over denouement, pensive and sober, my feet stuck in the drying mud.
Times like that; black, hungry times. The crushing ones, the ones that make you throw things and cry out. Should I have shared them? I could have given legs to my pathos and let you take them for a run.
Finding the words that match the way I feel, to colour mood with more dark than light, allowing others with minds that paint with words to see alike.
I enjoy the idea of words dying as time does. Of laying them out like corpses to say goodbye. Yet in shock and tragedy perhaps the close of such a heavy book is best done with a private funeral.
I'm moving. Come along and read with me. I'll blow air into a new balloon with words that float, born of the hunt.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
This term gets thrown around a bunch, but the last twelve months have been a f*cking rollercoaster. A portentous, rough and ungoverned amusement ride with the occasional reportable injury, lost child and zombie infection. Let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we?
Rewind to New Years Eve, 2011. The one beyond last night, back before this years loops, the free falls and the corresponding bouts of vomit. I was new to the city. I had just started dating a pretty clever guy, so clever that he told me that under no circumstances was I to ever write about him. So I didn't and won't, apart from this, because the story is pretty entertaining. It's also pertinent to the general mise en scene of 2012.
We got ready to head out to a 70's themed party at some fancy Melbourne restuarant. I knew a couple of people attending, but the majority of the guests were strangers. Funny, smart folk who seemed to have their shit together. At this point in time not only did I not have my shit together, but I didn't even know where my shit was or if I was creating said shit from scratch.
I'm not proud to admit it but at that stage in my life I had no reservations about indulging in both legal and illegal intoxicants. My friends and family know this, but for some time I partied a little too hard and fast for a young woman with no 'issues' to pin the occasional substance use on. Not that everyone has a reason. I didn't. I was just young, bored and a maker of poor decisions. Never did I play with anything jabby. If there was fun to be had and mind states to be altered, I was smoking or snorting before anyone could find the lighter.
This was one of the very last times that I took a drug. It was a horrendous evening.
Proceedings were lighthearted. Merriment was in the air, yet not even two hours later my brain exploded and I lost all ability to reason. To ring in the new year I was in a gutter alone, crying, because some hot french bird at the table mentioned that she was missing her Parisian friends. I missed my friends, more than anything. In Brisbane people were interested in who and why I was such an oddball, but these people and especially my date were nonpartisan to what I could offer. It was not me at my finest. In fact, this was me at my worst hour.
Needless to say, I was dumped pretty quickly for being ridiculous. I lost, and was lost. I started the journey from January 1st to clean up in body and mind.
After that there was a period that stank of melancholy and loneliness. I felt split down the middle; I could go from feeling strong and free to insecure and fragile in the time it takes to shut the doors of the cremator. I had very little human interaction outside of work, which I've decided is just not good for anybody. I met the occasional fellow and had the occasional snog, but nothing was right and I lost all confidence in my ability to capture anyone's interest.
Baseball saved me from turning into a hermit. I ran around hitting shit and sliding in mud. It was a necessary outlet for the frustrations building from feeling forsaken. When you're in the game you're not in your head, and that for me was like a benzo. It was, and is, one of my favorite discoveries of 2012.
And then I felt good. I felt better than I had all year. And then it was July.
Oh, July. I fell in love thanks to this here blog.
The way I felt was like as if I'd never experienced live music, and suddenly a symphony orchestra was setting up their instruments in my loungeroom. I had to stop myself from saying that it was crazy, because it wasn't, and we damned well deserved each other. From the day we met I was devoted and all consumed. And then, just a couple of months down the track and after a phenomenal holiday filled with companionship and adoration, it fell apart with as much fire and gumption as when it begun.
December for me has been a time of very necessary scrutiny. From all the crazy business, the feelings of inaedquacy and rejection and deficit; I've brought that upon myself. There is just no need for it. No need, and no room for it in my plan to meet others and shoot the shit.
I spent this New Years in a bath tub (clothed, in case you got excited) with two of my dearest friends, of whom I met through old mate that I was dating at the 70's party. I lost contact with all of the other people associated in that circle, due to my erratic behaviour no doubt, but these two girls have stuck by me through all of the drama. I've been late to countless dinner dates and so forth because being in the funeral industry sucks a fat and is very good at interrupting my personal life, but they are patient, kind, and wise beyond their years and I love them for their advice and excellent laughs.
And so that's that. You know me a little more now. Probably too much. And don't worry, this is the start of being an excellent decision maker. I'm open. To everything (apart from spliffs).
COME AT ME DAWG.