At the end of yesterday’s post, I snuck in a quote from Birdman: “A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing.” In the film, it’s written on a notecard and stuck to the main character’s mirror. It also shows up later in the film as he tries to explain his life – and usefulness – to a notoriously negative theater critic. It’s one of those vague self-help quotes that I’m never quite sure is deep or just posturing, but for today’s post, we’ll assume the former.
On my way to work this morning, I was mulling over various things, and briefly considered the fact that were I to die today, my parents wouldn’t know what songs to play at my funeral. I thought of how little anyone can really know a person, but how much less my family knows about me than pretty much anyone else I interact with on a regular basis. I live roughly 1,000 miles from the town of my birth, and try to avoid returning as much as possible. On top of that, my family doesn’t travel, and we don’t talk or email that often (forget texting – my parents’ cell phones only get turned on in case of emergencies).
Of course I feel a twinge of regret. I’m an only child, and was quite close to my parents before moving away 15 years ago. But to be honest, though I miss them from time to time, they have their lives and I have mine. If our life stories are told by our family connections, I guess mine will end up being sad. I’m under no illusion that my life, as structured at this moment, will somehow end up being magically full of the love and laughter of family members in my golden years. So let’s cross our fingers that I get married before I keel over, and my husband (poor, unlucky mystery man) and friends get the body (or what’s left of it) so as not to completely muck up my funeral.
Anyway, before I got carried away thinking of funeral plans, I was thinking of the fact that I am a thing, and while I know myself to be a thing of some specificity, with a defined list of likes, dislikes, habits and mannerisms, from the outside I am constantly being mis-defined as another thing entirely by the people who know me least, be they family members or innocent bystanders. Maybe it’s being a Scorpio? People accuse me of holding secrets and not conveying information well enough, which I’ve heard is a habit of the sign. Or maybe it’s that very few people pay attention to other people, and no matter how much we care and how much time we spend studying our friends to learn their quirks, we’ll never really be able to pin down the entire personality.
I dunno. But in case I do get run over by a bus on my way home tonight, or fall off of a cliff while I’m in Spain this October, here’s some vital info for those of you who know me IRL:
Disposal Method: the most ecologically sensitive method available at the time of my passing. See Be A Tree for ideas. I was holding out for a mushroom death shroud, but I don’t think they’ve been perfected yet. One of those bio urn things would be nice, but DEFINITELY NOT A PINE TREE. I’m serious, guys. If my choice is to fuck up the environment or support the life of a pine tree, just let me do my goopy, chemical-laden worst. Pine trees are an abomination. I’d be fine with being a maple or a beech, though.
Funeral: Pointless for me, as I’ll be dead and disinterested in celebratory acts. If you want to have one, just meet up at the bar or something. If you’re in New Orleans, go to Holy Ground. Have Cheryl pour you a Jameson on the rocks. Try to remember a time when I said something funny or nice or something. Give other people hugs. Have funeral sex if your standards are that low and your whiskey goggles are working. I won’t judge you. If you’re in North Carolina, go hang out with my dad. He’ll be crushed, and he’ll need you to check in on him from time to time (though he’ll never say that).
Music: All of my crappiest favorites, and make it a karaoke night, why don’t ya? Start with Donovan (not Mellow Yellow, please) and early Chicago, move on to KISS, and finish up the night with a couple of hours of 90’s alt rock and 60’s pop. Don’t forget to throw in some Dry the River, Joan Armatrading, 2 Skinnee J’s, and of course Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.
Important Facts: If you’ve got to add religion into the mix, DO NOT under any circumstances quote the bible or talk about Jesus. I definitely do not want that man’s name mentioned. He was a nice guy and all, but he’s not my team captain. Also, it’s my goddamn funeral, and it’s too late to convert me. Feel free to quote St. Francis of Assisi all you’d like. He’s fantastic. You can also talk about the concept of a divine power if you’d like. Burn some sage, too. Burn lots of sage. If my spirit is still hanging around, I’d like to go ahead and move on. Gee, I hope I’m not hanging around. It would be hard to see some of your faces and not want to stay and make sure you’re OK.
There should be a photo booth, so people who don’t see each other often can get some good shots together. You never know when you’re going to see each other again, guys.
Oh, and there should most definitely be food. Clam chowder, an assortment of cured meats and cheeses (don’t skimp on the brie), GOOD bread (seriously, not just any old shitty bread, I’m talking properly chewy baguettes with a crusty exterior, fresh from the oven, and maybe some loaves of sweet black bread with honey butter), and plenty of mashed potatoes and spicy chicken wings from Popeye’s. And maybe some mini Cornish pasties and Scotch eggs. They’ll really help with all of the whiskey that I intend for people to consume.
So there you have it. Folks who know me, it’s up to you to share this with the right people if you find out I’ve shuffled off my mortal coil. Folks who don’t know me, try not to be too jealous of how fat and happy my funeral’s attendees are going to be.
Do you have funeral plans? I’d love to hear them. Might as well have some fun planning our parties while we can, right?