Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Musings from a funeral

I'll be fine.

I'm going to show respect for an old family friend, but I have no real emotional ties. She and my mother were good friends once; her son and my brother best friends at school. But time painlessly pulls people apart, and nostalgia is not the same as heartbreak.

I feel an imposter, that I lack the proper credentials to present myself as a mourner. I recognise almost no-one. I am awkward. I am wearing red shoes, and I feel inappropriate, trashy. My cleavage surges brazenly from my dress.

The cortege starts to make its way to the chapel. The slow pace annoys me. Surely we can be respectful without dawdling.

Chipper Funeral Directors so poorly named. Sombre Funeral Directors much more suitable.

God, the song playing in the chapel sounds like chirpy elevator music.

I'm going to hell, surely. Why can't I just think solemn thoughts?

And we're down to business.

The first speaker - is MC the right term at a funeral? - a family friend, gives a speech in memory of Denise. It is heartfelt, but he is not a great public speaker, he stumbles reading his lines often. I wish I didn't notice these things, but I've worked giving tours and presentations, I can't help it.

The son comes up to give his mother's eulogy. He is devastated. My cool distance begins to crumble. I sniffle. It is almost a relief to have human reactions.

The daughter's strength is amazing. Her happy memories make people smile and laugh. Among her recollections is that her mum always had a pair of red shoes. My shoes just became a tribute, and I'm glad.

Denise's husband speaks. He remembers his love of 37 years. He only crumbles at the end.
I realise that while I have no real grief for the deceased, the pain of others is heartbreaking. I want to cling to my mother and order her to never die.

My brother's face is sad and drawn. My big, cynical brother is deeply moved.

A slideshow of photos is shown, You Are So Beautiful plays.

We are invited to place a sprig of rosemary on the coffin, for remembrance. The song playing now is twee and irritating, it repeats as the mourners come forward. I resolve to plan my funeral music in advance.

And afterwards, I think that if you're not sure how to live your life, try to consider what people might say about you at your funeral. Make meaningful connections, be passionate about what you do. Love, and be loved. Be remembered.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sometimes it's hard, being a woman...

I'm not going to claim to speak from a shared totality of female experience here. I always feel a bit of an amateur when it comes to being a girl, so I don't know how much my experiences have in common with "real girls."

There are some things that really punch me in my womanhood. That's not a euphemism for vagina, just so you know. I just mean, stuff that makes me, as a girl, feel bad/sad/desperately inferior.

Maybe my biggest punch - being the heftiest girl in a group. I'm not exactly a fatty boombalada, but I do have perhaps an excess of feminine curves. In my friend group, I'm the biggest. I feel like a lumbering elephant in a room of graceful sprites. I can't borrow anyone's clothes. When we eat together, I feel like everyone is judging me for my gluttony. When I talk about exercise, I imagine them pityingly thinking how little good it's doing me. And I know it's all in my head - but that doesn't make me feel any better.
I volunteered at a burlesque event recently, and we were all dressed in 50's style dresses and petticoats. All the other adorable girls looked cute, ravishing and sexy. I felt ridiculous, bulging out of my dress like an overstuffed sausage.

Another woe - boobs. Unneccessarily large boobs. F cup jubblies, over-ripe hooters. I can see no good in these fleshy bags of bother. They sag, they sway, they bounce around painfully. They make all clothes look  frumpy or slutty. Like the look of those cute, girlish bras in the shops? Tough luck. Need to find an industrial strength sports bra to hold those puppies down? I'll need a specialty store and a generous bank balance.
Small breasted girls speak sadly of their own limited assets, and I glare at them, lost in seething envy. Them with their pretty bras and well-fitting clothes, them that can go bra-less when the outfit demands it. They probably don't carry a permanent indent on their shoulders from their bra-straps fighting a losing battle with gravity. They probably have space between their boobs and their belly buttons.

Make up. Why does it look so natural and perfect on everyone else? Why do I look like a drag queen?

Hair. I have a short crop of fine wisps, unstyleable, unstylish. I have to repress the urge to scalp girls with thick, flowing, princess locks.

Normal women wear heels all day. Some women dance in them. How come when I wear heels for two hours I'm crippled with pain, blistered and bruised and unable to walk?


There are a few consolations.

I got a warm glow watching a burlesque performer's cellulite jiggle at an event. I didn't think any less of her - but I felt a little better about me.

I sometimes look at pictures of "real" breasts on the internet. Real, lopsided, sagging, pendulous, huge nippled, tiny nippled, multi-nippled (!), imperfect breasts. Bless them all for existing.

I lift weights at the gym, and I enjoy my strength. It's not huge, I have so much room for improvement, but I'm proud of every kilo I lift, every kilo I add to my personal bests.

I am ashamed of being such a shallow creature. I am a vaguely intelligent woman with many talents, and I want to be judged on my character, not my appearance. But gods above, that doesn't mean I don't care how I look! As much as I respect people who really do rise above such fluff, I find myself unable to.

Being a girl is hard, y'all!