Friday, July 19, 2013

Friend of Ours

Three and a half years ago L. and I held hands, lined up behind a woman we love as she wed her high school sweetheart. Yesterday we held hands again outside a tiny country town crematorium as our friend farewelled her stepfather, who died suddenly last week. 

We stood, cold with the wind against our backs, part of the huge crowd that couldn't fit inside the small building. The deceased had been a prison guard, his fellow officers making up much of the crowd; the young guard next to me would wipe her tears away and then adjust her dress hat every few minutes as the service wore on. This man was loved, you could feel it, this man who had told me all about his kids proudly as he blew up balloons for my friends' engagement party. Everyone wept quietly, brought undone as the children said their piece. I'm not sure anyone could have kept it together as his youngest daughter struggled through her short eulogy. 

I sing at a lot of funerals, and you never get used to them. It's not unusual for me to be moved to tears with the odd story, especially if the person who's left is clearly adored and missed. So often, though, it's not for the deceased that we cry, it's for the people left behind who are hurting. It's for the people we love who one day will leave us. And it's the sobering realisation that, one day, a few people might gather and mourn us too. 

Coming from as Catholic a background as I do, I'm always unsure of funeral etiquette for others. Catholics all go funerals a lot, because it's not just a celebration, it's a requiem, a chance to pray for the deceased. So if you know them at all, you go. I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing going into yesterday, but the moment our friend C. walked out of the church and saw us, the look on her face told me we had absolutely done the right thing, making the 3 hour trip down from Sydney. When she was able to break free of her family, we held her close and told her we loved her, which is what we had gone there to do.

We ended up at a workers' club for drinks that were filled to the brim and slopped down the side as we tried to budge our way through the crowded wake. L. and took turns looking after our friend and after her mother, who was doing pretty well all things considered. The crowd dwindled, and eventually it was just us and the immediate family ranged around, sipping drinks and trying to make each other eat. We made inappropriate jokes, we made plans to catch up when C.'s in Sydney next week, we talked about L.'s daughter's birthday party. 

My friendship with C. worries me from time to time - do we have enough in common to stay friends? Are we really close if we can sometimes go quite a long time without speaking? The answer was on C.'s face when she saw us, and how pleased she was to have us there as she tried to take care of everyone while trying to come to terms with her own grief. The petty, paranoid stuff ebbed away, and I am grateful that my presence meant something to her and made a shitty day a little bit better. No friendship is perfect, we're not close like girls on television shows, but we do have an intimacy that no one else can share. 

We take care of each other. Sooner or later there'll be different combinations of friends holding hands at different funerals, but that won't change. We have each others' backs. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

All The Pictures On The Wall

I'm currently immersed in writing hell, almost 4800 words into a 6000 word paper (whee!) so what you're getting from me is a bit of picture fluff....literally. 

I'm a committed and regular letter writer, and a lover of the medium. My plan for Masters is to use letters as my main source, lots of them, from lots of people. But a few years ago, when my life was a total mess and finding nice things to write about was difficult, I would occasionally fall back on an old writing trick of mine, where I would describe my surroundings. It came to me that there might be something interesting in talking about what I loved enough to put up on my wall. 

My parents wouldn't let me put posters up as a teenager, but eventually they stopped tearing them down and my tastes evolved, just a little. (I still kind of miss my Buffy poster that my mum destroyed....) When I first lived by myself it was mostly movie posters, but now it's swayed back to music, as I find the nicest and most interesting designs are being done for bands and solo artists. Having said that, I do have some art prints up there. 

So this is what I have my walls right now:

Oh, Chrissie. I had a clipped magazine article about The Pretenders that I'd nicked from the library that also didn't survive my mother's purge of '99, but here she is in a fabulous, wonderfully colourful poster I bought two years ago from a 2007 concert. I love it.

I wish I could link to the etsy seller from whom I purchased this, but she seems to have closed up shop. This is a 8 x5 inch card, and I don't know why I love it so much, or why it appeals to me, but I do and it does. It's also the most feminine design on my wall. 

(Hieronymus Bosch, 'Christ Carrying The Cross')

I think some of you know I have a thing for Bosch. No, not the power tools. Especially given some of the craziness in my head, this poster has a certain strength for me, and is especially relevant given the paper I am trying to write  at the moment. (Shuddup and forget about the damn thing for ten minutes!)

This image does not do the poster justice. It is this beautiful, thick paper and the design is shiny on the page. These guys are amazing live, so I like that this is a concert poster, albeit for a concert in the UK (Wembley, April 2009).

Hey look, it's Kyp Malone before he shaved his afro off! This is a much more modern design than most of the stuff I like, but the colours and silliness of it are very appealing. TV On The Radio are one of my favourite bands on the planet, can't live without'em.

The 'Writing Frankie' poster girl. I had this in my etsy favourites for about a year before I finally bought about a year ago. You can buy it here from a lovely lady in Finland. 

There's a positivity to this that I love.

Finally, apart from a two month calendar from my favourite magazine, there's a small square of paper with a definition of what a 90+ Honours result looks like. A 90+ result would mean that I have produced 'work demonstrating the highest level of accomplishment and intellectual autonomy that can be expected from an undergraduate student'. 

That's what I'm hoping, so it's back to the paper now.

What do you have on your walls?