Spring!

March 10, 2009

Hello, daylight savings.  We’ll celebrate this springy weather with a little death, shall we?

Assignment #51
Here is your chance to think about and describe what you would like done with your body after you die. Do you want to be buried in a cemetery, cremated and scattered in the ocean, composted beneath an apple tree? If you don’t make some decisions now, someone else will make them for you later. Feel free to be creative but try to make sure that what you describe for your final remains will be legal and really possible (not fantasy), so that your friends and family can actually carry out your wishes when the time comes. If there is a particular ceremony or activity that you would like to have accompany your final Good Bye, describe that too.

Justin

dead-in-spaceWhen I first sat down to write this, I started listing extravagant, yet realistic things do with my body after I die, God forbid.

I wrote that I’d have my service somewhere architecturally interesting, so that if people got bored they’d at least have something interesting to look at. Then I’d want people to come up and recite poems or passages from books I liked or maybe just stuff they thought was pertinent. Whatever. Or they could just say whatever they felt like. But it wouldn’t be mandatory. If a person just felt like sitting, I’d be fine with that, too.

I’d decided I wanted music played, too. I thought that maybe I’d make a mixtape, but the difficulty there is what kind of music to include. I’d be too worried about depressing everyone, because that’s the worst part of funerals, how goddamned sad they are. But I guess they should be. That’s why I wouldn’t want anything too upbeat because I wouldn’t want to confuse anyone. Though if people felt like dancing, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t stop them. I wouldn’t mind if they felt like it, honestly.

After that, thought a parade might be nice. Maybe Clydesdales could cart my body through the streets while confetti rained down from the rooftops. I’d find someone who could play the zither and have them play Anton Karas’ theme to The Third Man, not for any significant or sentimental reason, but just because I think that song is neat — plus it’s not every day you see a zither. My mom once told me that my dad wanted the Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” played at his funeral, even though it’s about a whorehouse.

Then came my favorite part, where I was shot into space in a rocket so my body might float through the ether for eternity, simply sightseeing if you will.

“Oh hey, look,” my body would say. “There’s the Horsehead Nebula.”

I even made ansurprisingly morbid cartoon of it.

But when I finished writing, it all seemed too farfetched, too smart-assed. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those things, but I’d be dead, there’s no use in wasting money or being a pain in the ass for everyone.

So instead, when I die, I’d like for whoever wants to come to my memorial. And if they want to bring flowers and if they want to say nice things about me, they can, it’s just too bad I wouldn’t get the chance to thank them. I just hope no one cries too much because I think that might make me feel a little guilty.

I’d also write a list to be read by someone, anyone. A list of regrets, things I wanted to do in my life but never had the chance, stopped by excuses, maybe, or just plain old bad luck. And a list of things left unsaid, to apologize to all the people I loved of cared for but were too scared or timid to tell them. To thank the people who appreciated me and let them know that was very kind of them. The last words on my list will probably be, “I’m sorry this list is so long.”

And when that’s done, I’d like to be cremated, because that seems somehow responsible. I’m not too particular about where my ashes end up. My grandmother’s ashes were spread over her son’s grave, my uncle, who I never met and who died in a car accident before I was ever born. When I was just a beardless youth, my grandmother fed me ice cream or bowls of Cool Whip whenever I stayed with her, even though she probably shouldn’t have. So once I’ve been shook loose this mortal coil, I think my ashes should be spread where hers are. That would be fine. I wouldn’t mind.

Even though I still think the space thing would be pretty great.

Lauramarie

I’ve though about this all week, and I am still unsure.  My mother is constantly worried– she must be creamated, she says.  I must not forget her ashes in the closet, she says.  She is concerned.  I am too young, mostly, to think of death in such explicit terms.  And even though I know that statement is wildly untrue, I have a hard time understanding that I will someday be a body, and something will have to be done with that body.
Just do it quietly.  Put me in the ground beneath a big tree somewhere in Tennessee.  No headstone, no marker.  No big deal.  I like the thought of the earth swallowing me up, little bugs breaking down flesh and muscle, and the entire idea that my bones will turn dust to dust in the soil.

Amber

On the off chance that I will someday kick the bucket, my instructions for what should be done with my body are fairly simple.

For starters, when I die, I want to be cremated. Bodies that no longer harbor souls  are useless and silly and only take up space in the ground. Besides, I’m a donor so I will be organ-less and some other person will be walking around with my baby blues. I just see no point in sticking around under these circumstances.

I digress. After my body is cremated, I would like for it to be transported in one of my squirrel purses (I’m sorry, but we all know how I am about squirrels) to a piece of land that is out in the open and can be cared for by someone I currently know. I have no preference as to whether it’s in Georgia or Asheville, seeing how both of these locations have become my home and whatever sentimentality I have towards one, I feel equally towards the other.

In said open space of land (preferably by some kind of running water… cause you know, the sound is soothing and stuff), I want there to be a tree planted. I would like a weeping willow because when my parents bought the house they currently live in (while I was in gestation), they planted a weeping willow and it grew up with me and is now taller than the house. If the climate/location is non-conducive to the weeping willow, then any tree will do, really (just please not the Bradford Pear trees that smell gross). My ashes will be spread in the ground where the roots of the tree will spread.

THEN (here’s the best part) Christmas lights will be strung all about the tree, none of that sparse uneven jive either, I’m talking like light-bonanza extraordinaire. The big tacky color Christmas lights, too, not the classy white ones. I expect these lights to stay on year-round, no matter what.

So I just realized that there needs to be a nearby power source in order to follow through with my plan. I have already come up with the solution to this dilemma. You see, I simply will not die.

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Week 3: Phoning It In & Catching It Up

March 3, 2009

February was a hectic, mangled month for most of the Team. It’s still so cold we don’t know what to do with ourselves. There was no meeting this week, but the good news is that there are some really lovely completed assignments to post. Also good news, we started a Facebook group to keep up with all our friends, so please join because that will be a great and easy way to communicate with all the team. We’re even contemplating getting on that massive and strange Twitter thing, but don’t look for that anytime too terribly soon as we are slow-moving in these parts, at least until the spring.
Enough chit-chat! Everyone on board? Good. Let’s go.

Assignment #9
Draw a constellation from someone’s freckles

Connect a series of freckles, moles and/or birthmarks on someone’s body using a ball point pen. The shape that is formed can be abstract or representational. Draw this on someone else, not yourself.

Cat

cat11cat21

Lauramarie

a constellation discovered on Malcolm's bicep

a constellation discovered on Malcolm's bicep

Assignment #11
Photograph a scar and write about it
Photograph a scar on your body or on someone else’s body. Make it a close-up shot so that it shows just the scar. Include a story (write it on a computer as a separate file, don’t write it on the photograph) about how the scar happened.

Emily

emily-scars

There are certain memories from childhood that remain more vivid, more present than any present action ever can.

My mother’s maiden name is Metzger, meaning “butcher” in German. This fact may or may not explain my two-year old inclinations. I was eyeballing a heap of vegetables on the thoroughly indented chopping block. My mother was in the kitchen with me, or rather, I was with her. She at once grabbed the wincing produce by their necks and without a second thought began committing acts of severe brutality on innocent carrots, off with their heads! She sliced through celery ribs, carving through their cellulose lungs mercilessly, yanking the exterior skins off of artichokes only to get to their buried hearts to chop into little bits, a love affair gone completely bitter, setting an uncanny example for me, but also sparking my keen interest in butchery. She was stewing these body parts until tender, a veritable scene of vegetable carnage, and I very much wanted to be a part of this. So, I thought, I would butcher, too. I grabbed the knife and plunged it through the tops of the index and middle fingers on my left hand before my mother had time to react, and began to scream. What followed I do not remember clearly, but it wasn’t as I had expected at all. My nubby sausage fingerprints were not added to the stew, but rather taken, along with me, to the State College Hospital emergency room where they were sewn back to their finger bodies.

The scars have become difficult to decipher. The smell of blood co-mingling with the earthy produce has taken permanent pungent refuge in the folds of the furrowed landscape of my childhood memories.

Assignment #69
Climb to the top of a tree and take a picture of the view
Send in your photo and tell us where the tree is located. Please be specific as specific as possible, for example: “This tree is located in middle of the lot between houses 12 and 14 on Old Bridge Road in Woodbridge Virginia.” If you send us more than one tree photo please make sure it’s clear which location goes with which photo.

Lauramarie

Deer Park in Cleveland Tennessee, facing 17th Street & Harle Avenue

Deer Park in Cleveland Tennessee, facing 17th Street & Harle Avenue

anonymous

Lauramarie writes: A friend helped me climb the tree in Deer Park, and when he was brave enough to go high up, this was the picture he took of the view. He didn't want me to post it on the website with his name, so we'll leave it anonymous. Besides, who doesn't love a good secret? (especially one in a tree...)

Lauramarie writes: A friend helped me climb the tree in Deer Park, and when he was brave enough to go high up, this was the picture he took of the view. He didn't want me to post it on the website with his name, so we'll leave it anonymous. Besides, who doesn't love a good secret? (especially one in a tree...)


A Difficult Week for Projecting (assignments 9 & 25, and 24 by accident)

February 24, 2009

We are experiencing technical difficulties, because we are not technologically inclined, but we’re working it out.  Keep checking back.  We had some really great (and some super silly!) responses this week.  Gold stars to Cat for completing both assignments!  Yaaaay Cat!

More to come…

The Very First

February 17, 2009

Hello from the first Learning to Love Us project night.  Dinner was delicious and we’ve been working hard on our projects for this week.  Only four of us showed up, but that’s okay– more M&Ms and wine for us.  We hope to see lots more faces in the future.

welcome to Top Chef Spinet Street

welcome to Top Chef Spinet Street

vegan friendly and very pretty

vegan friendly and very pretty

the chefs

the chefs

Assignment #70
Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye. It just feels easier to keep holding on. But in the long run it’s usually a good idea to let go, it’s the daring thing to do. It allows room for new things, for transformation. And maybe the goodbye isn’t even forever, but you can’t know until you really say goodbye and mean it. In some cases, goodbye is really the end, and good riddance! For this assignment, say goodbye to all the things you need to let go of: bad habits, dead people, alive people, ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, self-destructive feelings and behaviors, jobs, projects, re-occuring thoughts, etc.

Write it as a simple list:

Goodbye Bill.

Goodbye wetting the bed.

Good bye interrupting people when they are talking.
etc.
It can be as long or as short as you like. And, most importantly, take a moment with each one to really say goodbye. This isn’t a catalogue of your fears and faults, this is a ceremony to bid them farewell. Please don’t send us HELLOS, only goodbyes.

Lauramarie
Goodbye…

to believing I can only love in ways I have loved already

to self-defeating prophecy

to unrealized ideas and unfinished projects

to listening to everybody but myself

to holding onto mistakes as barriers

to eating the entire bag of potato chips

to being uncomfortable with my own self-expression

to drunk dialing, drunk texting, drunk e-mailing, drunk Myspacing, drunk Facebooking, but NOT to drunk dancing

Amber
Goodbye…

to complaining about the job that I truly love

to dipping Ruffles Potato chips in mayonnaise

to holding grudges against liars and the mean girls who love them

to relationships that left me when I left the city in which they were created

to giving third chances to people who did not even deserve a second one

to drinking four cups of coffee instead of eating breakfast

to all of those single earrings I lost… and their lonely partners

to falling in love with men who do not even exist

Cat
Goodbye…

to drinking that last swig of wine from the bottom of the bottle

to canned asparagus

to the phone number which was deleted from the cell phone that is written on the envelope that is turned upside down at the bottom of the drawer underneath the socks in the dresser

to living alone in prague

to the jeans i wore in highschool

goodbye goodbye

George
Goodbye…

mainly to self-destructive behavior….besides that i feel like things are mostly good. let’s see,  goodbye to…people that can’t see the bright side of life, people that claim to be victims, also people  that take advantage of others…fuck that, goodbye.

Leslie
Goodbye…

Goodbye my life with Robbie and to thinking about my life with Robbie anymore.
Goodbye caring what my family thinks I am doing and thinking.
Goodbye my 2 pregnancies that failed.
Goodbye illness, you can’t stop me.
Goodbye Asheville.
Goodbye stunted creativity.
Goodbye biting my lip when I am nervous.
Goodbye being anyone but me.

Assignment #55
Photograph a significant outfit

Remember exactly what you were wearing during a recent significant moment. Maybe it was the day that your boyfriend broke up with you, or the day your nephew was born, or the day you decided to become a vegetarian. It should be something that happened in the last six months. Lay out what you were wearing on the floor, as if you are dressing an invisible, flat person. Tuck the shirt in to the pants, the socks in to the shoes, etc. Don’t forget the other things that complete your outfit such as jewelry, purse, hat, etc. Do not add anything extra, like a wig or a mask – just the clothes you were wearing. Stand on a chair or table and photograph the clothes from directly above. Not from above at a slight angle, but so that the camera is pointing straight down. Send us the photo, along with the importance of the day, for example, “What I Was Wearing When I Got The Phone Call About Grandma Marris Dying.” Please try and keep your title/description as short as possible. Do not write on the actual photograph, and make sure your photo is in focus. Note: avoid moments that you knew would be significant and so dressed accordingly – such as graduation or Halloween. The outfit itself does not need to be significant, it is just what you happened to be wearing when something of emotional significance happened.

Amber

November 4, 2008. Four phone calls from friends on lunch breaks... I feel loved. Meet a boy who is fantastic (and ends up kind of breaking my heart a little). Obama wins... proud to be an American finally. EAR PWR show... danced until I couldn't stand anymore. Prayed to God for the first time in a long time... and thanked him.

November 4, 2008. Four phone calls from friends on lunch breaks... I feel loved. Meet a boy who is seemingly fantastic (and ends up kind of breaking my heart a little). Obama wins... proud to be an American finally. EAR PWR show... danced until I couldn't stand anymore. Prayed to God for the first time in a long time... and thanked him.

Cat

i had just completed a series of projects...and for the first time in a long time...i was REALLY proud of myself!

i had just completed a series of projects...and for the first time in a long time...i was REALLY proud of myself!

George

i stole the hoodie from a friend of mine on the coldest day of the year...0 degrees, brrrr... That's significant to me!

i stole the hoodie from a friend of mine on the coldest day of the year...0 degrees, brrrr... That's significant to me!

Lauramarie

I was wearing this outfit the day I realized that some things never change, and that's why life is beautiful. I was wearing the same thing four years ago when I realized that nothing would ever be the same.

I was wearing this outfit the day I realized that some things never change, and that's why life is beautiful. I was wearing the same thing four years ago when I realized that nothing would ever be the same.

Thanks for reading!

Next week’s assignments are:
Assignment #9 Draw a constellations of someone’s freckles
Assignment #25 Make a video of someone dancing

Check http://www.learningtoloveyoumore.com for complete details for both of these assignments.  Send any pictures and/or videos to learningtoloveus@gmail.com or bring them in a digital format to next Monday’s meeting.

See you then!

Love,
the Learning to Love Us Team