Wednesday, October 27, 2010
It's a relatively recent promotion, but I am supervisor of the Brisbane - Gold Coast Mortuary Division within my company. It's only really three mortuaries in total that I 'supervise' but I've been finding it quite an interesting task. Managing staff is even more challenging than simply sewing up stab wounds and fixing eyes closed. And then, when you're managing a group of people who's job it is to make death normal nothing is really very normal any more.
You'd think that different mortuaries would run pretty much in the same fashion, but one thing my job has taught me is that different morticians have different ways to get their job done. We prefer different soaps, use different hair drying techniques, and have favourite bandages. One common difference is the radio station choice, which I must say is a particularly sensitive territory.
I'd like to say to my mortuary maidens; Sue, Charlotte and Erika.. Thanks for your support and patience. We love our jobs, and I'm pretty damn happy that I have hard-working, dedicated and professional hooligans that I can share this experience with.
Oh, and you guys have mad skills with scalpels and lipstick brushes...
Me: Hey Matt, I'm Sarah.
Matt Caughthran: Oh hey, Sarah the mortician! What's going on dude?
Me: (insert lame girly giggles and over-ferocious handshake).....
This happened. I met one of my favourite bands, and since saturday night I've barely been able to wipe this goofy ass smile off of my face. Now, I wish to pose the question: How does someone I really love...actually know of me? Biggest trip out moment of my life. Two years ago at soundwave I almost died, narrowly escaping being trampled in a moshpit watching the band, and now I have sat backstage watching them rehearse in their undies. Best turn around.
I decided on Thursday last week that I would email jjj and suss out if they could hook me up with some sort of meet and greet. Mariachi El Bronx was coming into the studio to chat with my good radio friend Lindsay McDougall. For some reason they agreed to organise a photo with the guys, and to top it off they asked a few questions during the interview for me and mentioned me on air...
Now, I'm enjoying cashing in on the social credit this exposure has brought me and I'm pretty sure I'll get some sort of dancing taco tattoo to memorialise the experience...because that's how I roll.
In other news, I won that scholarship! Ima going back to school mum! I got my bag packed, my shoes tied tight...I hope I don't get in a fight!
Peace yo. x
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
I hate flying.
The fear is called disambiguation, so wiki says. Aerophobia, aviatophobia or pteromechanophobia. Whatever it is, I gots the cloud fright. Give me crazed clowns any day.
Perhaps it's the only repercussion of witnessing the decomposed remains of a young family who decided to fly a small plane in bad weather; and this within a couple of months of starting my mortuary career in 2008. (Oh, wait.. I'm not a great passenger on long drives either). Transportophobia?
I'm heading to Melbourne tomorrow morning, only to fly back that afternoon for a day. Then, Friday I'm heading back for Mariachi...It's THIS FRIDAY! The trouble is, I can't get excited about Friday until Wednesday is over.
Flight number one is for a scholarship final round; if I speak knowledgably enough about social media to beat two other peeps I get money for some sweet education. So, if all goes swimmingly prepare to be blown away by eaten knowledge next year. I'm thinking of doing my honours on some cross cultural funeral practises or maybe grief expression. Whatever the topic, it'll be death related so stay tuned.
So, planes. 4 within 5 days. If I go down, I will be wearing my favourite undies and my teeth will be plaque free. The odds of an aviation disaster are pretty low, but then again, those stupid disaster shows do bad things to my sensibilities!
Life, don't end now!
(P.S) Luck me at 1.15PM Wednesday y'all!).
Friday, October 15, 2010
What is up with that dogs eyes?
ANYWAY, my birthday is on Monday. I just had a conversation with my father and the last thing he said to me was 'Remember, I need some grandchildren Sarah. Hurry them up. Get married."
Dad, I understand your intent to see me happy, but really... REALLY? I have no sperm, for one. Then, I have no money, no self control and no patience. Sorry pops, but in the next 365 days I highly doubt that any fruit will be beared from these humble loins. Gross.
So I won't be adding to the population this year, but I sure as hell will be taketh-ing away. It was weird today as I prepared four bodies; two ladies and two men to be buried or cremated on my birthday. I'll be at work eating cakes and goodies and wearing a little celebratory pointy hat and they'll be heading six feet under. My happy day is their very very sad day. I've always thought of October 18 as the best day of the year but for Bruce, Betty, Jessica and Williams's families, the day will forever be marked by loss.
Happy new year, ol' body of mine.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
All they say about the eyes being the gateway to ones soul; maybe I know something about that from today's experiences. Just maybe.
I assisted a medical professional in a bilateral enucleation today, which, in fancy jargon, means that we removed someones eye balls for donation. The altruistic donor was a beautiful lady of 70 something, and during the procedure I couldn't help but stroke her white hair and focus on her perfect (although pale) complexion. What a darling. Giving is winning.
The whole act took about a half an hour, but most of that time was spent by the doctor fastidiously organising the layers and layers of disposible sheeting and hygeinic paraphernalia that he brought in a cute little suitcase. A couple of simple but expertly directed snips later and the peepers were safe in two seperate specimen containers, ready to be dissected and shared with someone in need of better goggles.
After the removal it was strange looking into the ladies face, two big caves where her sweet blue eyes used to be housed. I wondered what her ghost would've thought if she was hovering near by. After some cotton padding, plastic caps and tiny invisible stitches, very swiftly the resemblance of normality returned. In fact, she looked happier and more peaceful than she ever did. Her new cotton packed slumber gave her an appearance of bliss. Maybe her eyebrows were a little more raised or something, but she really did look joyous.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Ever heard of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease? (It's featured in an x files episode called "our town", which is pretty cool...if you are awesome...)
Basically, its incurable, always fatal, and largely terrifying.
It's thought that we can contract the disease from eating beef that is infected, and most people know the disease by its nasty name of 'mad cows disease.' Cannibalism in tribes and that sort of thing was a big spreader of the whole schmozle apparently.
That's just one piece of 'meh' info that I'm not sure about, but generally the disease really badly damages the brain and makes it look like a sponge. It's a prion disease, which I think means that a protein in the brain goes wacko?!? Google it anyway if you're so inclined.
The reason I'm writing about it is because I think it's pretty much the scariest thing to deal with as a mortician who doesn't have a hugely scientific background. I mean, we're taught about infection control, but it's rather terrifying when you're working with a dear dead little darling who has an illness that could most certainly kill you. I dealt with it today and I was dressed in about 4 layers of PPE, just to be sure. I sweated like a banshee.
Health regulations do state that deceased people with CJD can be looked after just like anyone else, as long as they haven't had an autopsy. In this case, a qualified embalmer has to carry out any cosmetic work because the risk of infection is remarkably higher. Neurosurgical instruments are bad bad bad, as the cerebro spinal fluids are a mega contaminant.
The things I do huh. And for about the same amount as a check out chick at woolies! The lovely lady today looked amazing in the end. I don't discriminate by what people died from, they're all in need of my TLC (even if I have to scrub the skin off myself after).
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
What am I doing as a mortician? It's offensive to the physical, moral and aesthetic tastes of the average folk!
I think this all the damn time. I hate poop. I hate decomposing flesh. There is this stuff called 'purge' which is the dead version of vomit; part blood, part snot, part poo plus more...Some days it all gets pretty hairy. I guess all in all, the good stuff outweighs the bad.
A co-worker of mine, Paulie, celebrated his twentieth year anniversary working within the funeral industry. Twenty years! Imagine the number of eulogies he has heard, all the palls he has beared, all the coffin lids he has sealed. Paul, let us sit down, me at your side. Spin me your tales, oh wise man! (Seriously, this man is an inspiration. I am so lucky to have him as a mentor and a friend).
I wonder if I'll be in 'Death care' in twenty years. Even if it's simply for some continuation in my life, I think I'd still like to be involved with the Grim Reapings of the community. I can't wait to see what changes evolve the industry, and perhaps I can be a player in the uncovering of the mysteries of the deep dark dead.
Congratulations Paulie! For he is a jolly good fellow.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Have you ever heard of the sin eating folklore?
This s%^t be whack! My good friend Howard, a funeral director, was very excited to tell me about this 'sin eating ritual' he had learned about in a movie. I wikipedia'd it (sigh) as soon as I got home and, lo and behold, this ritual practise seems to have been pretty freaky but largely unstudied.
The term 'sin eater' refers to a person who, in a wacky ritual, pretty much took on the sins of a dead person by eating food off the corpses chest! Traditionally, it was performed by a beggar, and some villages had their own special sin-eaters. They would be brought to the dying person's bedside, where a relative would place a crust of bread on the chest of the dying and pass a bowl of ale to him over the corpse. After praying or reciting the ritual, he would then drink and remove the bread from the dead dude and eat it, the act of which would remove the sin from the dying person and take it into himself....
Crazy! What sort of person just takes on someone elses sins for food? Ummm, probably me. I don't really fall for superstition and I love ale. A lot.
On another note, a group of ministers in training came in to the funeral home for a tour today. It was funny, I didn't really assume younger folk to be ministers, so I had quite the shock. Religion huh. Anyway, I gave the obligitory cheesy speech about what my job entails, including the 'I hope I don't see you again' farewell...nervous laughs aside I think people loved it. Ministers, eat my sins? You'll have a lot of chins. Resorting to rhyme. See post script note.
P.S. Writing whilst someone in the other room is watching a particularly steamy episode of Mad Men is a challenge...the biggest challenge to my writing yet.