Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sad Dreams and The Waldorf Hotel

I had a dream that my mother died, and it was... just so awful, as you can probably imagine.

It felt so real, and the entire dream I was just crying and crying. Someone played a recording of her voice and I lost it. What was funny though was that throughout the entire dream, I was convinced that it wasn't true, that I had to be dreaming. Really. There were points where I was like "Lisa, that's stupid. Stop pretending and face the music." and others where I was like "No no NO, this is a dream, this has to be a dream." Thankfully it was.

Thinking back though, there were a number of things that made it obvious that I was dreaming. For one, I was in high school again, haha. Second, they were displaying a picture of my mum that is not a picture that exists in real life. There were a bunch of other smaller things too that should have made it very obvious, and when I woke up it took me a few minutes to even remember that I had had that dream and feel relieved.

I went to a really fun place last night with my good friend Chiara, called The Waldorf Hotel. It's like a club for hipsters, really. And it was sooo coooool. My makeup was dope, and I even drank. Yes, actual alcohol, people. It always, always burns my throat on the way down though, so I will not be making it a habit. But it was fun to feel like an adult.

The theme for the night was old Italian music, haha. Like, kind of weird 60s music sung in Italian. There was also a live band, and a girl who did this weird writhing-around-on-the-floor-dance-while-flipping-her-hair in a skin-tight flesh-toned leotard. There were hipsters, and all the hipster girls had the cutest outfits on! They're all like, size 4 to size 0 though, so nothing would have fit me. I think I looked nice. I wore my fitting black dress with the rainbow stripes, and had dark lipstick on and orange eyeshadow. We mostly just talked and drank, and hung around outside with Chiara's boyfriend, Dan, who is one of the bouncers there. We showed her friend Colin how to light a cigarette off of one of the big heat lamps they had outside. I talked to a very nice drunk girl who complimented my tights and told me that I was very cute. Self esteem!

I am definitely going to go back there, hopefully with Chiara again because she gets in for free, haha. Hell, maybe I'll even dance one time. Chiara said she goes with Brianna and Matt a lot, and they're both pretty cool. I'm going to need more cool outfits to wear though.

Funny thing is, I almost didn't go. Chiara texted me early in the day and asked if I'd like to be her date. I said yes, but was so nervous about it that I almost cancelled. I was worried that I would bore her, I was worried that I would be bored, I was worried about going to a new place, I was worried about looking fat.... Just overall worried. Max told me it was the right thing to do though. I need to get out more and try new things. I am super glad I did go, because otherwise I would have stayed home and played Fallout all night (I still did that, haha). I'm liking this new person I'm becoming. She's less anxious and tries new things, and it's fun.

Okay! Going to actually clean my house today! If I don't, I'm going to... er... punch myself? I don't know, but I am going to get this shit DONE.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Bones Of An Idol

The funeral was... one of the hardest things I have had to endure to date.

The night before, I was so nervous. I knew it was going to be hard, I knew I was going to cry, and I almost didn't go. But I would have beat myself up forever if I hadn't.

Getting there was a nightmare. The group with the info on Facebook only had the address for the cemetery, not the funeral home. We (Tanis, my dad and I) drove around like mad trying to find it, and when we finally did I almost couldn't walk to the door. My legs were so shaky with nerves and relief, every step required concentration.

I lasted for about 5 minutes in the funeral home lobby before I started crying. Seeing her friends cry was sad, but seeing her family cry was harder, because they just let it all out. Actually, what really got to me was the music that was playing. All classical, and just the most heartbreaking songs that you could think of. They are not allowed to play music like that at my funeral.

I just felt really numb and weird, like it was all a dream. We filed into the funeral parlor, and there was her casket on this little gurney-type thing. I took solace in the fact that there were so many people there, easily over a hundred. My mum has always said that the sheer number of people that came to her own mother's funeral had really touched her heart.

The casket was maybe 5-6 feet away from me, and all I could think about was how small the stupid thing was. She had been maybe 5 feet tall, and so slender. My necrophobia was tugging at me too, and I felt this horrified sensation creeping over me, knowing that Yasaman was in there, and that she was dead dead dead.

The funeral director was a bumbling idiot. Not only did he pronounce her last name wrong twice, he made a joke about his own sister. "This poem is about sister's. Well, maybe not my sister since she's not very nice, haha." That's great, asshole. Laugh it up to the 9 year old boy who just lost his. He did say one thing that I agreed with though. "Young people today tend to try and distance themselves from death." He said this in relation to the viewing that was to follow.

I knew the viewing was going to be hard. Again, thank you necrophobia, which has plagued me for years. I think I can trace it back to that funeral I was forced to attend when I was 15. Anyway, standing in line to look at Yasaman was really fucked up. I just wanted to scream, run, pull my hair, cry, anything. At one point I could just see the top of her head from where I was standing, and I almost left. But I gave myself a mental slap and steeled myself.

She looked... not like Yasaman. I mean, it was obviously her, despite how much I wished it wasn't, but it wasn't the same. I actually remembered a line from one of my favourite Radiolab shows, about the Afterlife. Robert Krulwich said "I saw my mom just before she died and just after she died, and I thought the myself 'There's a real difference here.' It's beyond pallor. It's a very noticeable, deep absence of something." And that's all I could think about. When I first heard him say that I thought "Well, no shit." But after seeing Yasaman, I get it, and it's feels like it's so much deeper and complex than just a lack of life. Now, I am most certainly not making the argument for souls here. It's just... I don't know how to describe it. I knew this was Yasaman, but at the same time my brain was telling me that it wasn't. Who knows. Maybe I was just in shock.

I'd written a letter to her, as pathetic as that sounds, to leave in her casket with her. Again, I know that's dumb. She isn't going to read it. But funerals and the rituals we go through aren't for the benefit of the dead, they're for the benefit of the living. It made me feel better to know that there was going to be something from me in that casket with her. As I reached in to place the letter by her, I was seized with this sudden longing to touch her hand, just to make one last connection. I was too scared though. It was more than I could bear being that close to her. I'm glad I didn't touch her though. She would have been cold, and that would have made me lose it.

She didn't look like she was asleep. She looked dead. Something happens to your face when you die, and it goes all slack. I guess that's because your muscles aren't holding everything up any more. She just looked all puffy and weird, and I remember noticing that her skin had to much makeup on it, and she had pink lipstick on, which is really bugging me because I know Yasaman would not have been a fan. I wish it had been red. These things don't matter, but it's still bugging me. Also, I could see a cut on her hand, from the accident, and it made me feel so sick. Since I was one of the first people to approach the casket for the viewing, I also had the pleasure of watching every single person walk out after they saw her, some inconsolable. A few aunts had to be half carried out. One guy about my age was doubled over, choking out these heart wrenching sobs. There were two little kids who came out with their mom, just crying and crying.

I saw and talked to Elmira properly for the first time since high school, and that was nice, but what a reunion. I think she's taking this a lot harder than I am. She drove Tanis and I to the burial site (I'm sorry Tanis, I was only dimly aware of you for the entire funeral. I was just so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I kept forgetting you were there), which was nice.

Yasaman's friends carried her casket over to the whole that had been dug for her, and I just remember thinking about how fucked up they must feel. It rained a little bit, which I felt was appropriate, and the funeral director said a few more rambling things. Relatives tossed sand on the casket that was piled high with white and purple flowers, and I was really glad that I wasn't able to watch her family throw their handfuls of dirt (there was a much taller person in my way), because it just would have been too much to see her little brother like that. I did see a few aunts and uncles, however, and the images are burned into my brain. One uncle gently placed his little handful on the polished wood lid, and then bent down to gently kiss it. An aunt held her handful to her lips, whispering something, and then tossed it without even looking, this pained look on her face. I wanted to go up and touch the casket after too, but again, I couldn't make myself do it.

For some reason, everybody had to leave before the funeral crew came and buried her. Like, literally leave the cemetery. I thought that was bullshit. Her friends all left, I knew they were going to a wake/get-shitfaced-because-this-hurts-too-much thing at a local bar, but her family stayed. Elmira's family was close friends with Yasaman's, and since she was our ride out of there, Tanis and I stuck around while everyone lost it. They were moaning and wailing, and at one point Yasaman's mum (who I learned was dying from cancer) let out this crying then started moaning and half-screaming in Persian. Elmira immediately burst into tears, and I asked her what she'd said. "You won't be alone long, I'll be with you soon." was basically it. Her voice is going to stay with me forever.

It was over. Tanis and I went to our houses to change, and then we went shopping, of all things. We both commented on how weird time felt, like the funeral was a million years ago when in reality we had been there only a few hours ago. And now here I am, a week after the funeral and it still feels that way. It hasn't even been a month since she died, but it feels like longer. But from now on, Yasaman's death is going to serve as my motivation for everything. I am going to try harder, I am going to do more, I am going to be better.

Tanis, I want to thank you for the way you quietly put your arm around me when I started sobbing in the lobby. I don't like having people I'm close with seeing me cry, because I want you to all know that I am stronger than that, but thank you for not saying anything and just standing with me. Thank you for going through that whole ordeal with me. You're a real bro. Also, I'm sorry that I can't express my feelings like a normal human being, and I struggle with the "L" word so much. Just because I don't say it doesn't mean it isn't there.

I promise I will begin writing again, mostly because I miss it, but also because I just noticed that I have a new follower. Thank you, stranger, for paying any interest in the things I write. It means an awful lot to me.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Is Coming, And We Will Be Alright

Yasman's funeral is tomorrow. I had a good, long cry today, so hopefully I won't break down during the ceremony, but I'm not making myself any promises.

These are the tests that we have to endure in life, and because of them we will be stronger.

Friday, March 11, 2011

La Mariposa

Just cried for the first time over Yas. It was really sudden. I've been watching a Criminal Minds marathon, and there was just one scene where the mother was visiting the grave of her young daughter. I don't even remember what they said, but it just came over me so suddenly. I've thought about Yasman none stop since I heard that she'd died. And it still seems so... unbelievable. In a news article, I read that a passerby who stopped to help said “I could see her finger twitch, that was all.” I don't know if she died at the scene, or in the ambulance, or at the hospital. I don't know. I feel really angry. I guess that Kubler-Ross 5 stages of grief thing is real after all.

Ah. Being sad for too long is physically draining. I just feel tired today. The tears come in waves. And I know, I know, Yasman. I know you would disapprove. Shit, I disapprove. Tears are for pussies. I am not a pussy. You're making it awfully hard to not be one though. And I can practically hear you laughing at me, hahaha.

And life goes on. I have a St. Patrick's Day party to go to on... well, St. Patrick's Day, go figure, and I'm really looking forward to hitting the mall and picking out something pretty to wear. Doing my makeup and getting glam. I'm going to have a drink in memory of Yasman, and let them all know. Let everyone know that Yasman Rahnamay was alive and she was awesome.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bang The Doldrums

"From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity." -Munch Edvard

I've used this quote before to discuss my thoughts on death and dying. Now I use it to remember someone. A friend of mine, named Yasman, died on the 8th. I just got a chill, actually, because I last updated this blog at approximately the time that she died. 7pm on Tuesday the 8th.

I was at work and Amanda texted me:

Omg Lisa did you see yas's fb? She passed away last night :((((((

I was just going on my break, and reading the text message, I couldn't comprehend it for a second. I was just stuck staring at that tiny little screen, my mind blank. I can't remember what my first thought was. I think it was "What?" I went and sat down at the table and mechanically started getting my food ready. I told a few of my friends, and they were all very sympathetic, which was nice. Honestly, I just wanted to tell everybody who walked into the store about what had happened. I wanted everyone to know that there was a Yasman.

I've always disliked the passive euphemism that people use for death. Sleeping. Gone. No longer with us. Taken. Passed away. They're too meek. Death is a harsh fact of life, and I think it's good to be realistic about it. Death is sad. Death is hard. I think we need to use terms like "dead" to help us let go and come to terms with what has happened. If you say that someone is gone, it sounds like they've just gone on a trip, and that they could come back. If you say that someone is taken, it sounds like you could just find them if you looked hard enough.

But Yasman is dead, and we have to remember this.

I've never had anyone close to me die before. Well, my grandparents, but I was so young when it happened that it didn't effect me. I remember knowing that they were dead, but kind of being like "So what? Don't people die all the time?" They do, but as you get older, and your brain can think about more complex things, it's a much, much different experience. First is this sense of... loss. I didn't even know what to do with myself for awhile. Everything felt really futile. Was there a point in even eating? I just felt really shocked. She hadn't even turned 21 yet.

I hadn't seen Yasman in a very long time. Almost 7 years, actually. I was friends with her in grade 8 and 9, and then she left Killarney and moved to Port Coquitlam. I remember it was at the end of October, right before her birthday which is on November 3rd. I remember that she didn't tell us until the week before she left. I think she didn't want us to be sad for too long while she was around. I was a little mad. She was our friend, and of course we would want to know that she was leaving. I think we had a mini-goodbye party for her at our little spot in D-Wing. It was so long ago though, I can't remember...

My two most distinct memories of Yasman are both from grade 9. The first one took place in our spot in D-Wing. There was a girl named Hannah who would come around sometimes, and she was very annoying. One of those preteen girls obsessed with boys and makeup and the possibility of sex. She must have said something particularly depraved that day, because Yasman suddenly got really annoyed and yelled "Oh my god, Hannah, shut up! I swear, you have a sex drive the size of Mount Seymour!" Hannah got really offended and left, at which point Yasman said "Why is she so upset? I mean, Mount Seymour doesn't even have a sex drive." It was incredibly funny to a bunch of 14 year olds.

The second one was of just Yasman and me. Third block had just ended at school, and I was making my way back to my locker. I found Yasman, Alma and Sam slowly walking down the hall, so I called out to them. They turned to look at me, and I stopped dead in my tracks. Sam was crying, and Alma and Yasman had these really grave looks on their faces. "You guys? Where's Amanda?" I asked, suddenly horrified. They had all had PE together, and the look on their faces plus the absence of Amanda told me that something was really wrong. For a split second, I thought "That's it. Amanda is dead." They told me that fallen on the ice and was taken to the hospital. She was okay though. I later found out that she had... compressed her tailbone? I think that's the term. Anyway, there was an assembly that we were supposed to for last block, but Yasman and I were too bummed out, so we decided to skip it and go home. She lived at the very bottom of Champlain Heights, so we were both going in the same direction. I remember that as we were walking, I told her about this story I had read, about a little girl who was born who couldn't feel pain. Literally, she her body could not sense pain. Yasman thought that was really cool, and wished that she had the same ability. I told her though that life for this little girl was going to have to be very cautious. Her mother said that they had to be careful when she ate hot food, because if she was eating something too hot and burning herself, she wouldn't know. Pain is here to remind us to be careful. Yasman eventually agreed, but I had the feeling that she still would have preferred to be like that little girl.

I haven't cried. I feel terrible about not crying. If she was closer to me, I think I would. God, that sounds horrible. It shouldn't matter how close we were. Worse than that, I was briefly thankful that I didn't know her better, because that would mean that this would hurt so much more. I'm feeling very conflicted though, because I also wish that I had known her better. She was a really cool person. I wish I knew what she'd been studying at SFU. I wish we'd had the chance to hang out just once after she moved. More than that, I wish she'd stayed at Killarney, so we could have become better friends and graduated together.

But all this sentiment does not suit Yasman. She was not a sentimental person. She scorned emotions. I think she would be happier that I didn't cry over her, actually. I know she didn't believe in an afterlife either. It's strange to think of someone so vibrant and smart and opinionated just sitting in the ground, decaying. For all my criticism of life after death though, it's nice to think of Yasman as some kind of ghost. Not in heaven and any kind of hereafter, but just walking around among us, laughing at how sad we all are. Silly emotions.

Yasman was gorgeous, no doubt about that. Long black hair, pale skin, big dark eyes. She was Persian, though you never would have known by how pale she was. She was quite the goth when we were in high school, and she always reminded me of a vampire, although she wasn't very intimidating at just over 5 feet tall. She was a fantastic artist, and could talk at great length about the things she was passionate about. She didn't like her name, and later changed it to Autumn.

This still doesn't feel real. I think the funeral will give me some closure and make it feel like it really happened. I don't want to cry, mostly because I think Yasman would disapprove, but also because I want to instead celebrate her life instead of mourn it.

Life is so fleeting, my children.

Yasman (Autumn) Rahnamay
November 3rd 1990 - March 8th 2011
Requiescat In Pace


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Out Of Focus, Luck and Art Programs

I wish I was good at keeping myself focused, but I'm really, really not. I don't know what my problem is, but I can't keep my mind on one thing for very long. It's really frustrating and annoying.

Take today, for instance. I was going to get up, tidy the place a bit, maybe bake a pecan pie, plant some flowers, and feel good about myself. Only one of those things got accomplished today (planting flowers). It's like, I wake up in the morning and tell myself that I'm going to do all these things, and then I just can't get going. My house looks like crap because I haven't done anything else to it, and it's driving me crazy. I think I'm becoming depressed by my surroundings, because everything is uuuugly.

I just listened to a Radiolab episode about people with motivation problems, and a great solution is to give yourself an ultimatum, something that really despises you. For instance, they spoke to one woman who had been trying to quit smoking, and she finally told her friend "Listen, here's what's going to happen. If I ever smoke another cigarette, I'm donating $5000 to the Klu Klux Klan." I know, sounds insane. But she actually quit smoking because of this. It's because the prospect of letting those maniacs have her money was so absolutely repulsive to her that she could not let herself smoke. Obviously, we all hate the KKK because they are racist sons-of-bitches, but this woman had also dedicated years of her life to fighting against discrimination, organizing protests and even going undercover to expose prejudice in housing projects. Another man, Oliver Sacks, was having trouble finishing a book he was trying to write. So he gave himself 10 days to finish it, and if he wasn't finished it by the 10th day, he was going to commit suicide.

I need to find something that is both repulsive and abhorrent to me, so I can motivate myself to start creating things, but I don't think I've reached the point of desperation that would be required for this to work. Maybe I'll threaten myself with suicide eventually too.

So, I was in a crappy mood when I started writing this, but now I'm in a pretty great mood because the government has yet again decided to bequeath me with money! They said that they were going to be reassessing my tax file for HST, and boy, did they ever. I've been sent another $511.44! It's just... I feel like I'm rolling in luck right now. I mean, personally I'm not in the greatest spot. I'm still struggling with my self-worth and like, but everything around me is going alright. Work is steady, I'm drawing comics more, all this money is rolling in, and I got into the Langara College Fine Arts Program. Yes, I did! I got the email a few days ago, and I am over the moon about it. Still anxious, but excited. I'm going to learn actual art for the first time in my life. I've always wanted to be in some kind of art class, always. But we could never afford the classes that were outside of school, and once I got into high school I had to choose between Art and Band. I ended up choosing Band, and don't regret my choice, but I it's always been a source of regret that I never managed to take any art class of any kind. But now I am, and I'm going to end up a famous graphic novelist. I am, I am, I am.