I just got finished with two hours of OSHA training. Swear to god, another fifteen minutes of that shit and I would die. It was all done on a power point presentation, and I almost fell asleep. There was a funny slide though during the "Bloodborne Pathogen" section. The slide was on HIV and how not to get infected (there's something really wrong with hearing my co-worker say "semen and vaginal secretions") by a dead body, and the little clip-art next to the instructions read "Get Well Soon" which made me chuckle. Really? Get well soon? On the HIV/AIDS slide? I thought it was funny.
Also, I forgot to mention: a case we had last week was being embalmed by Jane and I was keeping her company in the prep room. She started injecting and after a little while these little bruises appeared on the deceased's breasts. They looked like bite marks. Why weren't they there before we started injecting, you might ask... Well, that means the bruises were made at the same time the person died usually. Interesting? Yes.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I just got finished with two hours of OSHA training. Swear to god, another fifteen minutes of that shit and I would die. It was all done on a power point presentation, and I almost fell asleep. There was a funny slide though during the "Bloodborne Pathogen" section. The slide was on HIV and how not to get infected (there's something really wrong with hearing my co-worker say "semen and vaginal secretions") by a dead body, and the little clip-art next to the instructions read "Get Well Soon" which made me chuckle. Really? Get well soon? On the HIV/AIDS slide? I thought it was funny.
Monday, June 29, 2009
I'm at a funeral Mass right now. It's hot as hell, and I'm in a (super cute, but that's beside the point) skirt suit, nylons, and four inch heels, sweating my ass off. And to top it off I have a run in my pantyhose that looks like I was in an MMA fight in order to get one that big. There is a baby crying (like a little, fresh outta the chute baby) and I thought I'd text message my co-worker about it. What did I send, you ask? "Kill that baby," which before I hit send didn't seem that bad, and now I'm thinking about how I'm going to be tried for murder someday and the prosecutors will read that text to show my history of violence, even toward children. I did make my co-worker laugh out loud though, a couple of Mass attendees even turned around to glare at him. Unprofessional? Yes. Funny? Definitely. So, I just want to say, for the record, I don't really want to kill that baby.
For some reason I was thinking this weekend about people my age and having our parents die. I’m almost thirty, as is my husband, and as are most of our friends, which puts most of our friends’ parents around 50 or 60. Now, that doesn’t really seem that old, but I work in a funeral home, and it is definitely not uncommon for people of that age range to die, which made me wonder: Which of our friends’ parents (or our own) are going to die soon? I mean, statistically some of us will be affected by the ‘early’ death of a parent, right? If not there wouldn’t be that many cases in the funeral home in that age range. Actually, back in November the mom of my best friend in Jr High died, and somehow they chose the funeral home I work in, not even knowing I worked here. She just dropped dead one day of a deep vein thrombosis or something, and was my dad’s age. I mean, people my parents’ ages have dead parents, so they have to die sometime, and I guess it is going to start soon, or has already. Does that make any sense? I’m not even sure why I’ve been thinking about it, but I have come to the conclusion that I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do when it happens. My friend whose mother died in November, well there really wasn’t much I could do. I just sorta cried on my friend while she cried on me. Looking back it seems selfish, or self-centered to have cried, but I figure I would have cried even having not been the funeral director handling the services, as this woman, for a few years, was like a second mother to me, and honestly, I didn’t know what else to do but cry. There are times when I realize something: No matter how good I am at my job I can’t do the one thing families wish I could, bring their dead relative/lover/friend back to life. It makes me feel a bit inadequate sometimes, even though I know that it’s silly to feel that way, I mean, I am doing the best I can to make everything okay, and I love doing that, it just seems strange a times, doing less than what people wish I could do, however unrealistic those wishes might be.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
We went to my in-laws' house this weekend. One of my husband's cousins had a graduation party Friday night to celebrate her finishing college and moving back here (she went to school in Kansas, don't ask where, I'm not even sure I know which state Kansas is). We left shortly after we got home from work and were at the party around 8 Friday night. We had fun, and stayed until about 10 (the party was at my grandparent-in-laws'), and then headed over to the hubby's folks' so that we could watch season 3 of Dexter on Showtime on Demand. For some reason though, there were only the first 6 episodes of season 3. Does that mean that there were only 6 made? Please, someone, tell me that isn't the case...
Anyway, yesterday the in-laws were busy with work in the morning so the hubby, child and I went to get a new battery in the car (yay for warranties) and have lunch in our used-to-be home town. It was a nice afternoon and we sorta just relaxed the whole day. We left our daughter there for Saturday night, the in-laws are on their way here now with her, and husband and I went out last night with friends. We went to one of our favorite bars and sat out on the patio, I had ketel one (spelling?) martinis (and no offense to my good friends, the couple we hang with a lot, but these martinis were the best I'd ever had, the olives at the end bringing back fond memories of my grandpa giving me the vodka-infused ones from his martinis when I was younger) while the hubby had Vikodin, and we played dice with our friends til about 130 in the morning. It was effing great.
I rolled out of bed at about 9, made iced tea, and headed to the pool with my book, and laid out for an hour and a half, soaking up some much-needed vitamin D, and was only joined at the pool at the very end of my tanning session. It is up to at least 105 right now, and I knew that my only alone time would be this morning, and was lucky to get in a good hour of my book.
At 1130 the hubby and I went to one of our dice-playing bar buddies' house to watch the US score twice in the first half of the Brazil match, only to watch them loose in the second, and then I came home to swim a bit more. Swear, I love this place. It seems like summer has taken a while to get here, but she totally made up for it this weekend.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Funeral poems are strange things. The poems we have at the mortuary for families to choose to have printed in the programs or Mass cards are nice, and families usually choose from the most popular 6 or 8, and those same ones always seem to have deep meaning to the family,which I suppose gets lost on me, as I read them and hear them a lot.
I had a funeral Mass yesterday that was very large, for a young guy that died of heart problems. The family was all really nice and the siblings of the deceased were my age, so it was easy to talk to them like normal people, not like elders. They were funny, laughing a bit during the arrangement conference which is always nice, and everything went smoothly. It helped too that the parents of the deceased were in fairly good spirits too considering. It really is crazy, the differences between grief reactions of families that are anticipating a death and those that have a family member die suddenly. Anyhoo, after the Eucharist, the Monsignor allowed one of the family members to say a eulogy, and at the end of the eulogy the gal read a poem from The Family Guy:
Oh squiggly line in my eye fluid. I see you lurking there on the peripheral of my vision.
But when I try to look at you, you scurry away.
Are you shy, squiggly line?
Why only when I ignore you, do you return to the center of my eye?
Oh, squiggly line, it's alright, you are forgiven.
It’s strange, but it really stuck with me. Hmmm…
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Michael Jackson dead, age 50.
RIP, King of Pop.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
This is Monica’s third day here and she is really awesome. I got really busy this weekend, and had been very busy Friday, so there was a ton for her to do on Monday and she jumped right in. Yesterday I had a few cases to get dressed, made-up and in their caskets, as well as finishing up loose ends from Monday, so of course I was running around like a headless chicken, on the phone, in the back, on the phone again, family walks in to pay, go to the bathroom, on the phone again, etc. I forgot that I left one of the curling irons on in the body prep area and as soon as I remembered (like and hour or two later) I went back to actually curl hair, and Monica was finishing up on the case I had so long before started and forgotten when a call came in for me and interrupted my progress. So, not only had she done this gal’s hair, but her make-up was done and outfit was straightened out, and she had instructed my back-room boys to get her in the casket. Wtf? How did I get so lucky? I mean, it was like having someone hand over an hour of my time. She had even put the princess tiara that the family had brought in for their mom to wear (don’t ask- I have no idea). Kick ass, right?
So, that left me with time to work on some of the other cases, Mr. Unviewable for one, who, if I can just say, turned out awesome. I put back the patches of hair that were missing (just in case you are wondering where the hair I used came from, I took it from the back of his head, which sounds strange, but it’s much better to mess up his haircut in the back than have his family see that the accident was so bad that he’s missing patches of hair on his head). This is how hair is replaced: I paint stuff called “spirit gum” on the skin and I let it dry a bit so that it gets sticky. Then I take one hair at a time and start from what will be the underneath layer and place it in the tacky spirit gum. I do that over and over again, working my layers upward, and after a while it looks like the surrounding hair. It takes quite a while, but isn’t really hard. And replacing hairs on a head is a ton easier than eyebrows, eyelashes, and especially facial hair. Those are a bitch.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Pie crust cookies
My youngest sister is an awesome baker/cook. She always makes amazing pies, and even though I am not a big fan of dessert I always enjoy when she makes boysenberry pie, which she did for father’s day. My dad loves boysenberries and my parents have a boysenberry plant growing in their backyard. My sister picked the berries and made the pie on Sunday, and it was amazing. She does a really good job with the pie crust, which is why I think her pies are so delicious, and it got me to thinking: Why don’t people make cookies out of pie crust? I realize it isn’t sweet like a normal cookie, but imagine a yummy pie-crust cookie, dipped in a maple frosting, or an apple frosting, or a lime frosting, etc. I mean, it would be so delicious, and for those of us that aren’t into sweets so much there could be plain ones with maybe a little bit of cinnamon on top. Swear, people should just pay me to come up with kick-ass ideas.
My daughter, who is addicted to Nemo and Monsters Inc., told me last night that she wanted to watch a movie, but that she didn’t want to watch Monsters (thank god). I searched for a movie for her to watch and decided on Fantasia since it had been like forever ago since I’d seen it, and having been in the Nutcracker when I was younger (wow, I sound like a dork), I thought it would be nice to listen to some classical music for a bit. What I forgot about Fantasia: That movie is a trip! Note to self: Next time I have the desire to do hallucinogenic drugs, keep that movie on hand.
Guys Choice Awards on Spike
Disclaimer: I am not a fan of Spike TV as a general rule.
I watched the Guys Choice Awards last night on Spike. I don’t know if it was a re-run or what, but it was actually entertaining. The Fight Club bit (which is a very good read, although not the author’s best) was cute, and Brad Pitt, who I do find attractive, but apparently not as attractive as the general population, was a total hottie (I think it had something to do with the fact that he rubbed his own nipples on stage). One award they got wrong: Hottest Mil(l)a. Anyhoo, very entertaining.
On Saturday evening two of my gal-pals came over and we played Mexican Train dominoes like a bunch of 60-year-olds. I made dinner (tri-tip, potatoes, corn, garlic bread) and they made themselves martinis while I had a couple of beers (just two, as I am a responsible funeral director when I’m on call). So, we sat out on the porch and played Mexican Train, which, if you don’t know how to play, is a game that is super fun.
My dad was at church on Sunday after a week of surfing. My sisters and I bought him a new wet suit for father’s day and gave it to him a week early so that he would have it for his camping/surfing trip, and it’s so funny, you know? My mom sent me a photo message of my dad coming out of the ocean with his board and he’s such an old hippie-type sometimes that I just wonder how I turned out so normal. He had a blast though, and his wet suit fits perfectly, so we did good. One of these years we are going to have to save up to get him a father’s day trip to Hawaii so he can surf in water that makes a wet suit unnecessary.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Things to learn so that this post makes more sense:
1. When a person dies and their cause of death is either unknown or due to an accident they are a coroner/medical examiner’s case.
2. When someone dies in an auto accident it is not always necessary to do an autopsy, as the COD (cause of death) can be fairly obvious, but they will run toxicology to test for things like drugs and/or alcohol.
3. When an autopsy is done the normal incisions are on the trunk (a Y-incision made from each shoulder to the sternum and down to the pubic bone) of the deceased and the head (across the top of the head (like a headband) from behind one ear to behind the other ear), which makes for more work during embalming.
So, Mr. Unviewable was not autopsied, his COD being very apparent from the looks of things. Normally that would be awesome, but in the case of this guy it makes for a bit of an inconvenience. See, when the skull is crushed, even just in a few places, the head incision really helps out because the bones can be wired together from the inside and then the skull filled for support (normally the brain would do that, but it is removed during the autopsy), which is a ton easier than trying to fix things from the outside, which is usually done by hypodermically injecting the face with a substance that pushes the bones outward toward the skin. The method of doing it that way sucks compared to the wire-and-fill method.
Anyway, Mr. Unviewable, without his head autopsy, took a bit of work this weekend. He didn’t have any deep head wounds, which is a blessing because of how long the hidden stitches take me, and a curse because it makes injecting the support substance easier, but after a while I got the left side of the face to come out so that the broken cheek bone was normal. The lower jaw was also broken in half, which is very common in auto accident cases, and that I took care of fairly easily with wire and a substance referred to in the funeral home as “peanut butter”. After those two major issues were taken care of I was on to the lacerations, which were many, but none of them were deep so I took care of them with medical glue (the kind that they use to glue cuts together at the hospital) for the most part, and a few with stitches. There will be four places on the scalp that I need to replace hair that was missing, and although that takes a lot of time, is not very hard to do, and will do that tomorrow.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Okay, so if somebody told me to pick a radio station as we were driving in a car or at a party or something I would find a rap station. I have tons of love for all things hip-hop, and even a bit of love for the RnB. I actually tend to be pretty easy-going about music, with the only genre I cannot stand being alternative (or whatever it’s called when they sound constipated in the mic and tell me about their feelings or some shit). Actually, I shouldn’t say all alternative, I do really like quite a bit of alternative music that comes from Mexico, but really it’s a whole different ball game. So, this morning on my way to work I was listening to Big Boy in the Morning and one of my hands-down, all-time favorite songs came on (fyi, I have MAD love for Nate Dogg, who, in my opinion can not do any wrong), which always makes for a kick-ass morning. What song was that, you ask? Next Episode (Dr. Dre feat. Snoop and Nate Dogg)
Also, as if this day couldn’t get any better after that song (swear to god it must be a good luck charm), I got me a car accident victim that, according to the coroner, is not viewable. Well, that sounds like a pretty effing good challenge, dontcha think? So, I’m gonna have at this one today, and probably tomorrow too, and we’ll just see how it works out…
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I'm at a funeral right now. Its funny, the priest was just eating breakfast when we got here, and it was like 10 in the morning. Just seems like when you're a priest you should be halfway through your day by then. Also, the mass started when the church bells chimed for 11, but in looking at my clock, the church bells are 10 minutes slow. Strange.
Since we got here about an hour before Mass started I sat down on a bench in the church garden, and was soon joined by a boy (well, he looked about 18, but I didn't ask) who said hello and took the seat next to me (uh, I guess he didn't notice the other two empty benches right there) and started chatting me up. Normally I bring a book with me to a funeral, and just read it during the 'down time' but I finished my book last night and didn't stick another one in my bag. So, he is asking me all about working at the funeral home and what I do there ("are you the one that takes out the guts?" to which I say that he is confusing an embalmer (me) with a coroner (definitely not me), and that I do not remove any guts, just blood and other body fluids), and he's really into it, but not in the morbid-facination way, but in the I-bet-I-could-do-that kind of way. So, he tells me he works at the local high school and runs a soccer training school as well, and lucky for me we started talking about him instead. After a bit more soccer chatting my co-worker walks over and the boy asks if that's my boss, and I tell him that in fact I am his boss, and he doesn't believe me since I'm not only female, but also about 35 years younger than my co-worker. So the kid asks my co-worker, who confirms that I am indeed his boss, so the boy asks me for a job. Lol, right?
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Since my daughter is out of town and our Friday-night hang out friends' kids are out of town with my daughter, the hubby and I went to our friends' house for dinner last night. The wife half of the couple and I were thinking that we’d make dinner for our boys while they sit out by the pool and talk about boobs, and decided that we were going to make chicken-fried steak. Now, I grew up never having had it, but the hubby’s mom made it all the time when he was younger, so she taught me how to do it, and even though I hardly ever make it (I think it’s gross), it’s an easy recipe, and gravy is even easier, and both my husband and hers absolutely love it, so that’s what we made. She baked potatoes and made us gals a bomb salad, and her husband made me a killer vodka martini, and I’ll tell you what: it was a great evening. After dinner she and I chatted on the couch about everything, I even told her I had been blogging (not even my husband knows about that, he tends to be VERY protective of the funeral related info I have shared, and would be hard to convince that I NEED an outlet to talk about my job), and we had an awesome time.
Conversation I just heard coming from the two desks behind me:
Buffy: I’m so tired of your anti-Semitism, Buck. I mean, this is just not allowed.
Buck: Buf, I swear, if you don’t let me work…I don’t even know what you're talking about, anti-Semitism. Aren’t you supposed to go to lunch?
Buffy: Hey, Doll, what do you call that spot between the balls and ass?...Buck, that’s what you call it.
Me: (answering at the same time Buffy did) It’s a perineum, Buf, or were you looking for taint?
Buck: What?? What did you say, Doll? That’s disgusting. How do you know that?
Me: It’s not disgusting, it’s a word. You need to lighten up.
Buffy: What about a Cloaca, Doll? Do you know what that is?
Buffy: Buck, you're a cloaca.
Okay, so I am a member of Amnesty International. I am not a crazy person, however, (in my mind AI people are a bunch of weirdoes) and really like writing letters in attempt to change the way in which people are treated all over this globe. I used to live in an area with a local Amnesty chapter, and it was nice to have meetings with other people (even if they are a bit nuts) that have the same interest I do. The city I live in now, however, does not have a chapter, and it sucks. I was talking on the phone last week with one of the AI guys in San Francisco, chatting about Iran and stuff and the recent letters I had written, and he mentioned to me that it would be very possible to start up an AI chapter in my little town. I sorta laugh and don’t think much of it, but he emailed me the chapter start-up info anyway, and the more I think about it the more I want to do it, and I figure that even though I doubt I’d be a good leader, I could start it up and maybe find someone good to take over leading and go back to just showing up and writing letters. But that leads me to my problem: where do I get people to join? I was thinking about going to the university campuses (there are two) and the community college, because don’t college kids like doing that kind of stuff? Or maybe I could get the local indie magazine to write an article… Any ideas??
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Yesterday was my wedding anniversary. Our daughter is on a camping trip with my parents until Wednesday, so we had planned on going to my favorite bowling alley to bowl, drink beer and eat fried foods, but decided to go to a restaurant near our place that we hadn’t been to before and go bowling afterward. The food was really great, and you can see a photo here of the appetizer:
Goat cheese, roasted garlic spread, toasted bread, balsamic vinegar reduction, oven roasted tomatoes, basil and kalamata olives. Yum. Turns out we were so full after dinner that we didn’t think bowling would be do-able, so we just played pool and drank beer (well, I drank beer, he had water).
Also, we booked our New Year’s trip to Vegas, and get this: we’re flying!!! It’s not that I don’t like the drive to Vegas, but the drive back from Vegas always kills me. Who wants to drive after the amount of partying that goes on? Not me, that’s for sure. So, we got plane tickets, which are very cheap right now, and are staying at who knows which hotel (I let the hubby choose, but I like downtown better than the Strip, as does he since the poker tournaments are usually at Binion’s anyway), and our friends from here and from Colorado have also booked their trips as well. We haven’t been to Vegas in about 8 months, so it’s been way longer than we usually wait between trips, and while I’m bummed that we aren’t going this summer (there’s nothing like laying out and having a cocktail at 10am, not to mention that most of the pools at the Strip hotels are European now), but it will be a nice break from the Christmas gloomy weather here. So, that’s exciting.
Alrighty, I’m off to dress a 550-pound dead person.
Monday, June 15, 2009
I had a funeral Mass to work this morning at the Catholic Church just down the street. It’s the oldest one in the area (I work downtown) and is absolutely breathtaking. I’ve been inside more times than I can count, and every time I go in I am amazed at how lovely it is. I also love that there is always some small group of Mexican women kneeling in the front pews saying the Rosary in Spanish. I don’t exactly know why, but hearing the Rosary chanted in Spanish is one of the most soothing things I can think of. It’s way better than in English, and although no one in my family speaks Spanish I think I’d like my funeral Rosary said in Spanish instead of English. I’d be surprised if God even paid attention to such a small detail. And maybe making my family say it in Spanish would force them to pay better attention to the words they are saying. I mean, I am far from being spiritual, but am fairly religious (funny, most people claim to be the opposite), but the Rosary is a very interesting prayer. Actually, I like it better than Mass.
The service I had this morning was all in Spanish, and I mentioned the family in a previous post. Yep, this is the service with the good-looking grandson that translated for his mom (although I must say, my Spanish is getting quite good), and I’ll tell you, that boy was cute today in his black suit and hair all pulled back into a low ponytail and Spanish accent and buff, casket-carrying physique. And he chatted with me at the graveside after the service was done, and I kept thinking, “Man, I wish this kid had more funerals to go to,” then feeling bad because it sucks to have to go to funerals for the general public. I’m not convinced that makes me a bad person yet though, I mean, it’s not like I asked the guy out.
Today is Buck’s 62nd birthday (yep, he now qualifies for Social Security) so I made him chocolate cupcakes with butter cream frosting and sprinkles (I let them pick what kind of cupcakes they want for their birthday) and sang a Marilyn-esque “happy birthday”, although without the super-tight dress. He was glad (more for the cupcakes than the song) and has eaten three so far.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
So, I have had a very relaxing weekend (mostly). The hubby was on call for his job and had to go into work Saturday morning, and didn't get home until the afternoon, and I was watching my sister's one year old daughter, as well as having my two and a half year old. Now, I am not what (any)one would call a 'kid person,' but I do okay with a few at a time (okay, one at a time, two max), and my sister watches my daughter four of the five days out of the work-week, and I'm way more awesome than she is (although I don't look as much like Barbie as she), so I figured I could handle it (which I totally did, I mean, I was a nanny all through college). Now, I like to go on bike rides and have one of those kiddie-tow-trailer deals for the back of my lavender beach cruiser, and was thinking about taking the kiddos when I realized that I don't have a helmet for my sister's daughter (and living in the land of 'tons-of-laws' I know it is indeed possible to get pulled over while biking), so I settle on taking them for a walk in the bike-tow thing, which luckily converts into a two-kid-capacity stroller. Not five minutes into the stroll however, do I realize that 85 degree weather should, under no circumstances, be wasted on a walk, but it should be enjoyed sitting on a patio drinking a hefeweizen while just barely beginning to sweat (man, I love summer). So, quickly I call my bestest drinking gals to meet me at the closest TGI Frapplebee's and all of a sudden it's 90210 (okay, not even close) on a patio of a family restaurant with two young kids and my friend's fourteen year old daughter (the one that gives me most of the reading recommendations that I follow) who, luckily, are all glad to be there having milkshakes instead of some healthy applesauce and pb&j at home. Anyway, I not only had my wonderful beers, but it really was a nice walk to and from the restaurant.
That evening I get a call from my sister-in-law who lives in LA and she and her hubby are in town for a few days. Since they live quite far from us I was surprised that they hadn't called to let us know they were coming, but they were staying with his brother who lives here, so it's not like they were needing a place to stay, and they knew we'd be around since it was my hubby's weekend on call, and they're kinda last minute people, so really, it's just kinda them to call out of the blue. So, she says her husband has a day of golfing planned for today and wanted to come by for lunch and stay the afternoon with us, playing with her favorite niece. She got here today at about noon and we had a great lunch and then while my hubby (her brother) and daughter napped she and I talked about good shows that we'd seen and hulu-ed them. Her husband works in the business (the entertainment business, that is) and has been working on a show called 'Army Wives' for a few seasons now (I guess they just signed for their fourth...I think) and he brought the first 6 episodes of the current season with him, which I guess haven't aired yet. He's off for a while (it's always nice when the season starts airing because the crew all gets a break until they start filming the next season, which with this show I think is done in one of the Carolinas), which is how they got a weekend and two extra days to come visit, and says maybe we'll watch those episodes while they're here (although every time i watch a show he's working on it totally bombs, so I doubt I will). Okay, so while she and I are watching the snl skits she missed but shouldn't have, she asks me if I watched the episode of 'glee' that aired. I told her that i tivoed it but that I wasn't allowed to watch it if my husband was home because he thought it looked awful, and she said perfect let's watch it now, and that it was awesome I was going to love it, which I did. It really was amazing. Like, I cannot wait to see the next episode (why doesn't my brother-in-law work for that show...).
So, there's my weekend. No work, all play.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Please don't read this of you don't want to read about facial reconstruction.
So, I finished working on Mr. Mangledface, and he looks pretty good. All of the rebuilding was done from the inside, his skin was all there, just a bit slashed, which helps (um, that it was all there, not that it was slashed). I had the facial bones and jaw bones put together in less than 2 hours, and after that it was just a matter of building up the nose (luckily I had a great photo of him before so that I could get the proper nose width and shape) where there had once been cartilage and stitching the two sides of his face together using my white floss and a hidden stitch (which brought the skin together without making a bump traveling from the hairline, along the bridge of the nose and over to the right cheek). A bit more bone work was done on the skull and stitching done in the hair, and viola! he’s (almost) done. Now I just have to wait until the clay in the face dries and hardens so that I can go over the small gaps in the stitches with what I can only describe as bondo (that car stuff), so that the “seam” doesn’t show at all.
Man, that was fun. I love my job.
K, I’m a bit hung over, so read this post slowly to get the full effect.
Also, just fyi: I type all of my posts in Microsoft Word in a file titled “Work Notes” because we aren’t to use company computers for personal internets, and luckily my manager is old-ish enough that he has to be at a certain angle to my computer to get a look at what I’m doing, so it looks like I’m doing something work-related.
Last night the hubby, kid and I went to a friend’s house for dinner. We ordered pizza and all ate outside by the pool, my daughter and our friends' kids ate on the grass and we were having a blast. Now, these friends are awesome drinkers, and are never at a shortage of things to drink. They keep the fridge stocked with beer (for me, and not just crap beer but good stuff), pepsi (for my hubby) and milk (for my daughter and theirs); the liquor cabinet is full of good vodka (for my sister who just about lives there and for the dad of the family that lives there (who, btw, makes a super kick-ass vodka martini, extra wet and extra dirty, please)); and the wine fridge is always stocked with cabernets (for all of us) and pinot grigio (for me, again), and let me just say, we got into all of it last night. A friend of the family was there in town from New York (I think I know which one that is…) whom I had never met but heard a lot about over the years. She is 25 and super adorable, and for the first time in my life, I met someone that gave me a run for my money in the crass/inappropriate/hilarious/life-of-the-party department. WE WERE UNSTOPPABLE!!!!!
After dinner (and after the ladies there (me, the mom of the house, gal from NY, my baby sister, and neighbor gal) were all hammered) we decided to play a game. Now, if you’ve ever played the game, “Apples to Apples” (which really isn’t that fun) you will understand this game, as it’s just a dirty version of that game that the dad of the house we were at made. In this game we are all given three playing cards with words, nouns to be exact, written on them. There is another deck of cards that have an adjective on each card. The person whose turn it is takes a card from the top of the adjective deck and places it face up on the table. Then the rest of us look through the three we have in our hands and pick the one that we think goes with the adjective card the best and place it face down on the table. The person taking their turn then reads them all out loud and picks their favorite, and the person whose card that was wins the round. Okay, so as I type that it doesn’t sound that funny but this deck of cards is dirty. Like, don’t-let-the-kids-come-out-to-the-backyard-while-we-play-this-game dirty (although how they would know that ‘tea bag’ isn’t just a tea bag I cannot fathom). Anyhoo, we’ve played this game before, but never with me and NY girl, and swear it was insane. And somehow I got a text this morning from her saying how much fun she had and what am I doing tonight, lol, and it was signed “Bouf Kurtina” which was the name we made up for her at some drunken point in the evening.
Side Note: the out of town funeral home I am helping just had the deceased brought here yesterday instead of me having to go there, since the coroner is in my city and it would be easier on me. So, I'm off to the back for a while!!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
I got a call from a funeral home in a town about a half-hour drive from here asking if I could help them out. Apparently they have a case that was in a pretty bad car accident and have heard that I work miracles when it comes to facial rebuilds. Now, this might be tooting my own horn (okay, there’s no “might be” about it) but facial rebuilds are what I live for, and for as often as we see tragic accidents on the tv, they really aren’t that common. Now, I’m not trying to say that doing the hair and make-up of the little old ladies that pass away is not enjoyable, it totally is, but accident victims, come on? It’s the best part of what I do, allowing a family to not realize the trauma that their loved one suffered before death because they cant see the evidence.
In mortuary school I specialized in Restorative Art, and was the best in my class for it (which sorta makes up for the total crap performance I gave in accounting). I even have awards in it, and wish I could have kept the exams we had (exams consisted of being given a type of modeling clay used in the mortuary and a model of a body part (from the neck up, ladies…) and an hour or two, and then being graded on them), as I was very proud of mine. The final in the class was to bring in a photo of someone and re-create their head (using mathematical formulas to determine how big it should be, yay math!) in a week. Then, the really cool part: we got to make death masks out of them, which I had never done. Actually, I’m still waiting for someone to request a death mask of their deceased loved one so I can try it…
Alright, so back to this other funeral home. I wasn’t really sure how they heard of me and so I asked. They told me that Jane, embalmer extraordinaire (whom I think might be the best fluid pusher in the world) told them about me. So, Jane happened to be in the prep room at my funeral home just then (and is now too) so I went back to chat at her. Turns out she really thinks I should go help out over there (and warned me that they aren’t really into having women in their embalming room, which must mean this guy is in bad shape for them to call me, a female and a young one at that) and to remember to bring my dental floss and good needles, as their equipment isn’t that up-to-date.
Then I started thinking: Is my boss going to let me work for another funeral home? So I texted him (he’s on a funeral service and I didn’t want to bug him) and he told me that I should totally do it and that I could leave early if I needed to. You know, this business could be a lot worse, I mean from funeral home to funeral home, but it’s freaking awesome.
The funeral home that I am going to help out emailed me photos and I am super excited. I think I am going to need some wire though, so I have to go to a hardware store first, but I’m like bursting at the seems right now with anticipation. And guess what? Restorative Art is $100 an hour, so while I might miss tae kwon do tonight, I will have a pretty check in my pocket when I leave.
Thursdays are funny. The office has staff meetings on Thursday morning. Like every week. I suppose that is a normal thing, but I’ve never been part of a company that did it. And the employees here are hilarious about it. We all sit in a circle and Tank goes through the list of things he wants to cover and we chime in when he is talking about a topic that we were/are/will be involved in. Everybody is very supportive of each others' ideas, and at times I feel like I’m in an afternoon special about mutual respect and teamwork. Today we talked quite a bit about Monica, the new girl that starts on the 22nd of this month.
So, this Monica is someone I’ve never met formally, although I have talked on the phone with her a good number of times, and seen her a few. She currently works for a corporate-owned funeral home just down the street from us, and when Sally quit a few months ago she approached our firm to apply for her position if we decided to fill it. Monica has always been a sweetheart, and she really is gorgeous, and it will be interesting to see how she fits in here. There is only one other woman that works with me full-time (and only one other gal that’s part-time), so it will be kinda fun I think, having someone close to me in age, and with whom I can bitch about not being allowed to wear pants at work (which is a pain in the ass when it comes to moving bodies around all day, not to mention the b.s. that is pantyhose). So, yeah, I think I’m excited.
Another topic: Tonight my daughter has tae kwon do which she loveslovesloves. It is a real gas to watch her class (2 year olds to 5 year olds) and listen to them count in Korean, and respond to the teachers with a “yes sir” or “yes m’am.” She has only been in it for about 3 weeks now, and I’ll tell you what, it sure beats the hell out of ballet class.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
So, one of the things I am working on today when my manager is not in the room is writing up the lyrics to Penny Lane all neat-like for my ex-roommate in New Jersey. She is pregnant right now and is going to call her baby Penny (short for Penelope) and wants the lyrics to the song to give to her hubby for father’s day then hang them in the baby’s room. Back in college for one of her birthdays I wrote the lyrics to You are my Sunshine and framed them for her and she’s always thought that was the best gift and keeps it hung in her bedroom (had I known she was going to like something cheesy like that I wouldn’t have bothered with the necklace from Tiffany’s the year prior). So, I’ve been slowly finishing the Penny Lane song today.
Another phone call that I have to post came through about an hour ago:
Me: You kill ‘em we fill ‘em Funeral Home, this is Doll.
Salesman: Hi Doll, this is Michael from (a company whose name you will promptly forget), can I speak with the owner or controller?
Me: (wtf is a controller?) May I tell him what this is regarding?
Salesman: It’s a matter that needs to be discussed with him; can you please put me through?
Me: If you could just tell me what company you’re from again, please?
Salesman: No, I will not tell you that again, and you ask way too many questions when you should just put me through to the owner or controller. And get me some coffee while you’re at it, it’s your job. *click*
One thing to learn about me: I am horrible with pop culture. When it comes to movies I probably haven’t heard of it, and people in the office love to make references that I totally miss, having not seen anything that isn’t either Finding Nemo or the Flight of the Navigator. So today when Big Bird randomly said, “The plane! The plane!” it totally went over my head (no pun intended) which sucks because she never does anything remotely funny or non-stick-up-my-ass-ish.
I was having a short conversation with Buffy and Buck this morning about the phone chat I had yesterday with Restaurant Slacker, as Buffy has Tuesdays off and didn’t get to hear all of what happened. So, after Buck and I finished informing him, Buffy began telling us about this dream he had about a girl he had dated back before he was married whom I had never heard about, so I started asking questions. Now, Buffy and Buck are quite the pair, with 30 years age difference and quite different tastes in EVERYTHING, but they somehow always seem to have these fabulous conversations that I swear I wish I could record and post. So, Buffy was reluctant to tell me anything about this girl, which prompted Buck to chime in about how Buf had run off to San Francisco with her and she ended up cheating on him WITH HIS ROOMMATE. Okay, so in normal everyday-ness I wouldn’t think that warrants all caps, I mean, people do shit like that all the time, but Buffy is like a super-nice guy and even the look on him as Buck told me about it made me want to bite this chick in the face. I guess they were a thing for like 5 years or something (which seems like forever).
Here’s something funny that Buck (keep in mind the man is 62) said in describing San Francisco roommate stealer: She was one of those Goss (rhymes with floss) people.
Me: You mean Goth?
Buck: Oh, yeah *chuckles* Goth.
Buffy: No, she wasn’t Goth, Buck (irritated at his misadventures in love being the topic of discussion)
Buck: She was Enron then (speaking slowly, realizing that can’t be the right word)…
Me: Emo, Buck. You mean Emo, right?
Buck: *Laughing* Oh, yeah, EMO!!!
Buffy: Fu*k (reaching in his pocket to get a quarter for the swear jar), Buck, she was a hipster. God.
Buck: What’s a hipster?
Me: Look it up, Buck. Here, let me give you a website.
I wrote this yesterday, but was too pissed to complete it, and was shaking enough to make typing it a bit too slow:
So here is a little history: I used to work for a family-owned funeral home a ways (like hours, not like across town) from where I work now. I got a job there just out of mortuary school and it seemed like a nice place to live, so I started working there and liked it a lot. They had an apartment above the mortuary for me, so I had free rent and utilities, and the apartment had a kick-ass patio and its own laundry room. About a year ago I decided to move back “home” and luckily found a job at another family-owned firm, although this one is much bigger in terms of case load. This firm I work at now is awesome, and it’s one of those places that someone either has to retire or die for anyone else to have a shot at a job there, and lucky for me one guy had just quit to join a restaurant and another guy quit to move far away. There were other interviewees but I was breathtakingly awesome and wooed them with my manipulative charm, so of course got the job. Anyway, the guy that left to work in the restaurant business decided after a few months that he wanted to be back in the funeral industry and wanted his job back. Apparently he was a slacker and my boss was happy to be rid of him and said that his position had been filled (and by someone that looks awesome in a skirt suit and heels) and that we weren’t interested in hiring another employee, so he got a job at another funeral home in town. Needless to say, Restaurant Slacker didn’t take too kindly to that and has pretty much hated me for the past year.
This is what happened today: Restaurant Slacker called and Buck answered the phone.
“This is RS. I need to talk to Doll”
Me: I pick up the phone, “this is Doll,” I say in my sweetest, most bubbly voice.
RS: He decides not letting me talk is his best approach, so tells me in a gush of words, “Doll, this is RS. I need to talk to you about a family member of mine that called there earlier. She said she talked to you, so don’t try to tell me that you don’t remember. When someone calls for me I would appreciate you not lying to them and telling them that I work at a restaurant. She is an effing family member!”
Me: Trying not to sound as flustered and I-could-stick-a-pencil-in-your-neck-I’m-so-pissed angry, “you know, RS, this sounds like an issue for you to bring up with my boss. And I’m sure you know that it isn’t our policy to give out past employees’ phone numbers. And just to let you know, she did not identify herself as one of your family members. Why doesn’t one of your family members know that you haven’t worked here in a year, anyway? That doesn’t seem right.”
RS: “I’m tired of the way you act. I can't believe you offered to help my family. That’s just not right.”
Me: “I told you I didn’t know they were your family. And since when does a funeral director not offer to help someone?? You really need to bring this up with my boss; this isn’t an argument I should be having.”
Okay, so it went on and on like that for a little while longer until he hung up on me. And now I am sitting here, shaking like a Polaroid picture, pissed as frack, waiting to go home, where I won’t drink beers because I’m on call tonight.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I've been paying attention to where the people live that visit this little site and am having the same nightmares that I was having back when I took bonehead geography in college.
(Disclaimer: I am not stupid. I went to school for a degree in chemistry, as well as a degree in natural science (wtf is that used for, you ask? teaching high school science, fyi) and did very well. I also went to mortuary school and got a degree (okay, an associate's degree, which isn't as impressive, but is a degree no less), but am terrible with geography (and English, and history...)).
Anyhoo, until my junior year in college I didn't know any of the states east of the Mississippi River (which I have swam in), save maybe two (Florida and Maine...wait, and Illinois where I saw my first ever firefly). Now, you might be wondering what happened my junior year, so I will tell you: 1. I got a new roommate, and she was from New Jersey, and 2. I took World Geography 101.
The roommate couldn't believe that I didn't know where New Jersey was and bought me a map of the US to hang in my room. Okay, so I learned where New Jersey is.
The geography class was of course world geo, which I am not as bad with, but the teacher, in order to offer us a bit of extra credit (which for some reason I always thought was bs, because if you do the work proper you should be able to pass without it, but even more ridiculous is that I always did the extra credit anyway) would let us fill in all 50 states at the end of our 4 exams that semester. Needless to say, I never got the extra credit, even after actually trying to learn them all.
And all that mess leads me to this map, where I have now located the great state of Virginia (which interestingly is one of the names I had down when I had a baby a few years back. My husband then explained that unless I was giving birth to an 80-year-old it just wasn't going to fly.):
So, my day started out busy, and it’s one of those I-can’t-believe-it-isn’t-noon-yet days where all my work is done in a fast and furious whirlwind and now I have nothing left to do but blog. So, here’s a play-by-play (okay, not really, but close) of my morning:
7:45 dropped off by the hubby at the Starbucks down the street from the office.
7:55 walked into work and before even a “Good Morning,” Big Bird says, “Doll, whenever you have a minute Pete and I have been trying to figure out how to open an obituary attachment on the company email.”
8:00 open previously mentioned email attachment and print it out for BB and Pete.
8:10 visit Jane in the prep room, getting ready to embalm a very large decedent and leave her there to fend for herself while I get ready to meet with the family of said decedent.
8:20 call the previously mentioned family. “Um, hi… Were you planning on coming in this morning? I have down here that you are scheduled to be in at 8…oh you’d rather come in this afternoon? Sure. I’ll go ahead with scheduling the church and everything in the meantime.”
8:30 gown up and join Jane in the prep room.
8:40 manager (Tank) comes in and says, “Doll, when you’re finished here I need to have a little chat with you.” Uh, what? Wtf does that mean?
8:41 Jane says I should go “chat” with Tank now, she's dying to hear what he has to tell me (and she knows I can't keep from telling her anything)
8:42 wander around the funeral home looking for Tank. When I find him he takes me into his office (shit, his office??) and tells me that the funeral home is hiring a new girl (Yay, a girl, and she's cute even) that I am to train. Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!
9:00 Get all the service stuff scheduled for the new family and the casket ordered.
10:00-ish help Jane finish up the embalming
10:30 a few more calls for other services, and my day is DONE!
Huh, it seems like there was something else I was going to mention, but I suppose I can just add that later. I will also post about this new hot chick that I will soon be training.
Monday, June 8, 2009
There are some things that I get to experience that aren’t in the general public’s realm of experience.
Mondays tend to be busy at the funeral home, and whenever we have services scheduled for a Monday we try to have part-time workers work them so that us full-time directors can be available to meet with the new families that we got over the weekend (some of the families we meet with over the weekend, but not much can be done with them since cemeteries, doctor’s offices, and churches don’t have office hours on Saturdays and Sundays). So, this morning I’ve been working on the family I met with Saturday, calling the church and cemetery, getting the flowers and musicians, etc., and tying up the loose ends from this weekend. Well, Buck, the director that was on call this weekend, must have felt bad that I came in to work on my day off because he and Tank are meeting with the new families today, and I’ve now got nothing to do.
So, back to the experiences that I get to have: Since I have nothing to do I decided to go into the embalming room (also called the prep room) and hang out with Jane, the embalmer that does most of the embalming here. She’s about 50 years old, and we get along very well. She’s been in the business for about 25 years and is an AMAZING embalmer, and has taught me quite a lot in my time at this mortuary, which is handy since the man that originally trained me was a woman-hater and didn’t want me in his prep room (“You have such a pretty face, Doll, you shouldn’t waste it back here with the dead. And the chemicals will hurt your ability to have healthy babies.” Really?? What??). So, she was getting ready to start a case, and I helped her get the body undressed and on blocks, and we were chatting about the weekend. After a bit more preparation we start injecting and bathing the deceased, and I noticed something that I know I’ve seen her do a million times before, but never really noticed. Jane always washes inside the deceased’s belly button. Maybe that won't seem strange to non-embalmers (or maybe it is such a strange thing to think about that it does sound strange, as does all of this), but it is. And it’s funny. I'm talking hilarious. It took just about all of my self-control not to just laugh out loud there at her. It’s like a trademark of hers I suppose. I mean, I wash the bodies, but I can’t remember sticking my finger in someone’s navel to clean it out. K, so that’s my experience. Maybe I shouldn’t have shared now that I re-read this, but wev, right?
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Warning: I did not attempt to write this very clearly. I wrote it exactly the way I would have said it, and do not feel like making it easier for y'all to read. Sorry
So, it isn't my weekend on call at the mortuary, but there was a family that came in yesterday like 5 minutes before we closed to get prices on a full traditional Catholic service (okay, so since I'm the Irish (raised by a) Catholic and no one else at the funeral home is Catholic (or knows anything about the religion apparently) I usually get to do all of the Hispanic (usually Catholic, but I'm not trying to sound stereotype-y) arrangements, which would be this family that walked through the door) and I didn't want to make them see a different director if they ended up choosing our funeral home (nor did I want to hear about how much work it is to arrange not only the funeral (Mass) but a fracking Rosary as well (yes, I work with a complainer or two)), so I gave the grandson of the deceased my cell phone number so that if his mom had any questions or wanted to make arrangements they could just call me directly.
(Side note: our funeral home is not the cheapest in town, but we aren't the most expensive either, and I am honest with families about this when they are shopping for prices. I also am very sure that I am the best funeral director out there (although I dont say that to families) and tend to keep price-shopping families even when they find a cheaper place to have a funeral. I dont know why that is really, I just decide its because of my bad-assness and level of professionalism (frack, I'm concieted), and damnit, families just like me.)
Okay, back to it: So, not 15 minutes after the family (and I) leave the mortuary does my phone ring with a number that I don't recognize. And yes, it's the grandson (who, if I can just let you all know, reminds me a LOT of what I imagined Jacob from the Twilight books to have looked like before the movie ruined my imagination of him) and he is telling me that they liked me (surprised?) and that they wanted to come in to make the arrangements on Saturday afternoon.
And that's what I just did, made arrangements with this family (the grandson was the only English speaker, so he translated for his mom and aunt, making me have to look at him most of the time, and let me say, for such a young guy he really was very man-esque in his wife-beater and jeans) and now I'm getting ready to go home and was just thinking this: I love my job.
P.S. Yes, I, a 29-year-old, have read those Twilight books. Also, I loved them.
Friday, June 5, 2009
I met with a guy today about pre-arranging his funeral services. He is young (okay, by young I mean 45), and when I walked into the arrangement office I saw that he wore a "free hugs" button on his plaid shirt. Anyhoo, I had assumed that he must have some sort of not-life-threatening-right-now-but-I'll-die-young-of-what-I-have-early diseases/disorders, and it turns out I was right. I mean, it's rare for someone who is only 45 to make their funeral arrangements, because people that age don't tend to think about their own death too often. So, here he is with his free hugs and his disease, and he's happy as a clam, telling me that his 61 year-old caretaker will outlive him and not seeming to have any problems with that. He also told me what a stud he used to be, and how even though he's alone (for the most part) now, that he sure has time to read and work in his garden (he's been on disability for years now so has quite a bit of free time), which apparently is the greatest garden in town.
It's strange, you know, the things that are important...
Thursday, June 4, 2009
1. Oh, (hee hee) you see dead people??
2. Does your hair really keep growing after you die?
3. People move, like, they sit up, after they die, right? Isn't that scary?
4. Aren't you freaked out?
5. What do you do with all the guts?
Argh! Just use your BRAINS!!!! Sheesh.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I just finished typing up instructions on something really hard to do. Wait for it…yes, folks, copying and pasting in Microsoft programs.
So, Big Bird is a bit old, and by a bit old I mean that she isn’t technically old (62), but she is technologically old. She has a hard time comprehending anything computer related and I’m even a bit surprised that she can use her cell phone.
The programs we hand out a funeral services are all saved in our computer as templates using Microsoft Publisher. We have a template for each of the poems/verses that are commonly chosen by families. When a family decides to use a custom program however, something say, with a photo on the cover, we have a local print shop do the printing and photo editing for us instead of printing them in house. Now, in keeping with Big Bird’s controlling nature, she has to design all the wording for the folders before we give this other company any of the details to the program they are to print for us. I have been the one to do this in the past, be the go-between for the print shop and the funeral home, but Big Bird insisted this week on learning how to do it (which I am all for not being the only one that knows how to do something, especially since I’m not really an office worker anyway). So, I explained yesterday to her that the print shop does not have Microsoft Publisher (I tried to tell her that they are a Mac-based people and we are not, but noticed that she thought I was speaking Swahili, so I just said that they couldn’t open the ‘attachment thing’ if we sent it to them like that), and that we would need to save the Publisher file as a picture file when we were ready to email it over to them. I quickly showed her how to do that (she took notes) and then opened the picture file so that she could see what it would look like when the print company opened it. Well, this started a discussion about why they couldn’t then edit it and all that mess. Argh.
So now I am typing up instructions on how to copy the Publisher words and paste them into a Word document, save it, attach it in an email, and send it to the print shop. Swear to Buddha, I might just die.