Have you ever had one of those days when everything in your whole life feels like crap, and all you want to do is run screaming and throw yourself off the nearest cliff into the sea?? Well, last Monday was one of those days. Tuesday wasn't great, either; in fact, I took a sick day on Tuesday so that I wouldn't totally lose it at work like I wanted to do on Monday.
I'm totally frustrated with my job and my life right now, and have been for almost five years, ever since I got my MA and started looking for a job that would make me eager to get up in the mornings. As of today, I'm still in the same job, making the same salary, and with the same prospects for something better. And now this whole losing my office thing. It SUCKS. And I'm tired of it.
I've been thinking (endlessly) of how to get out of this gods-awful professional rut that I'm in. I want to DO something with my anthropology degree, but it appears there is no room for me in the museum world, at least not around here. And forget going to Egypt, at least for quite some time!! So, where to go?? What to do???
After quite a bit more thought, I've come up with an idea; rather vague as of yet, but at least it IS an idea. Combining my fascination with death, mummies, cemeteries, and anthropology in general sums up to something I've only heard about recently: mortuary archaeology.
Death is such a subjective and emotional subject for most people in our society, and so many people refuse to prepare in advance for it, especially if they are healthy; they put it off indefinitely, insisting that they will have "plenty of time". Because of this, way too many arrangements have to be made by grieving relatives at practically a moment's notice, when they are still shocked and grieved by a death they may or may not have expected. Mortuaries and funeral homes charge high prices for making dead people look enough like they aren't dead that the mourners can pretend their loved ones are "just sleeping", as well as for services such as embalming and expensive padded caskets that most people feel are either required or "expected", whether they actually ARE or not. But mortuaries also perform very necessary services, burying or cremating bodies and keeping the records of the deaths as required by law, and they steer the grieving family through the legal morass of red tape required. Perhaps both sides could use some help that they are not currently receiving.
Mortuary archaeology is the study of death rituals in various societies, of how people bury their dead and how they express their grief. I ordered (and just received) three books on various aspects of mortuary archaeology, and I'm going to immerse myself in them and see if I can't come up with one or more ideas on how to possibly become a bridge between mortuaries and those who use their services, hopefully meeting needs on one or both sides that aren't being met by the status quo. It's all very tenuous as yet, and I'm not sure what (if anything) will come of it, but we'll see how things progress.
At least I'm no longer fighting the urge to run screaming...