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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Of Epitaphs and Freebies

I included my newest blog in the One World One Heart giveaway, offering a copy of Photoshop Elements for the platform of their choice to the commenter who tells me what they want on their headstone. Goodness! That was quite a few entries to go through. Must be because I was the last entry or something…

I disqualified anyone who looked like they just pasted something in ("beautiful giveaway, please enter my name!") Rather than make 300 numbered pieces of paper I had my son pull from ten of them three times, one for each digit. It took quite a few tries before I found someone who followed the directions <ahem>…

The winner is one Trudy, whose chosen marker appears here. I don't have much in the way of contact info for her so I'll let her come over here to find out she won. (How long should I give her?)

Sorry I'm late but it took about 20 minutes to fake Trudy's grave and like SIX HOURS to tabulate the comments. But -- that was the fun part. So let me begin!

(And I'm often going to refer to respondents with the feminine pronouns because, let's face it guys, you're outside the standard deviation here. Both of you.)

Many women seemed to feel this was morbid or depressing. For some reason this came as a complete surprise; it's not depressing at all to me. I guess I should have asked "What could be written on a bumper sticker that summarizes your whole life?" but the gravestone epitaph seemed more expedient.

Aside from old favorites like "Beloved Wife and Mother" the most popular entry (with a few respondents) was the classic Key West tombstone "I told you I was sick".

The answers ranged from the silly ("Here lies Monica, happy only when liquid is flying out of her nose" "At least she got her rubber chicken!") to the breezy ("Whoo, She had a heck of a time!") to the sassy ("I'm not wearing any underwear").

Denial was big ("I can't be dead, I haven't finished all my projects", "I can't be dead, there's a sale going on!"), as was defiance (a couple of "I did it my way"s,). Occasionally it started looking like we were in various stages of grief, complete with anger ("She kicked ass and took names."), bargaining ("ok...Wait! I haven't been running yet today!"), acceptance ("it is now my time to fly", "I finally get a chance to slow down and smell the flowers", "It's Not a Matter of IF, It's a Matter of WHEN") and of course depression ('Think of me and try not to laugh"). But the comment thread was dotted with exuberance, too ("She danced like no one was watching", "She lived her life out loud").

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of the epitaphs referred to the Internet ("They Better Have Wi-Fi in Heaven", "AFK") and art ("She Crafted her Ass Off", "We couldn't pry the paintbrush from her hand", "So much fabric, so little time!" ).

Several women predicted the manner of their death ("She Shouldn't Have Blinked", "I TOLD you I thought the fish tasted funny", "Counting stitches and not looking where she was going") or alluded to their own familiar failings ("…creator of piles", "The Only Deadline She Didn't Miss" "She was even late to her own funeral" and so on).

There were some hilariously blunt ones:
"The End. Thank God."
"Come and gone. Your turn next."
"She's still watching you"
"here she is we found her"
"I have sellers remorse from my deal with the devil."
"We thought she'd never be gone"
"die, adjust or migrate"
"Too Late Old, Too Late Smart"
"Here's Imelda. She died here, and we buried her here."
"It was fun up to this point."
"hated chocolate-she died"

The comments section was besiged by delusions of adequacy ("a kid said he draws well", "She was a good one!", "She tried.")

Quite a few women want to include evocative or meaningful quotes from other people, such as Michaelangelo ("I saw the angel in the marble, and I carved until I set him free") to Maya Angelou ("I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel"), Lewis Carroll ("Curiouser and Curiouser"), Mark Twain ("She didn't know it was impossible so she did it") and John Lennon ("All You Need Is Love"). Sylvia Plath made an appearance in a poignant new context ("I listened to my heart saying its chant: I am, I am, I am...")

There were simple, lyrical entries like "She lived a life of love. And loved the life she lived" and "She will not rest beneath the earth, but fly free in the breeze." And entire verses showed up:

"Here she lies,
She made good pies.

"She lived out her long days
Content in her ways
And gathered flowers and roots
with mud on her boots.

"Her house was always a mess
But she always did her best
to make people smile
and find time once in awhile
to write.

"She had enough happiness to make her sweet,
enough trials to make her strong, enough sorrow to keep her human, enough hope to keep her soul awake.
" (Hi, Melissa!)

Always delightful and exciting are the blog entries from around the world, especially with their unique wording ("What a excitement if I get the lucky to win!") and their colorful entries like "El que quiere puede..." ("Anyone who wants to, can")

Many respondents could not think of anything to put on their markers. For these, Jingle had some sage advice: "Keep it simple. Keep it honest. Keep it confusing for future generations."

Side note: Mac fans are still mighty enthusiastic. Windows users (with one exception), not so much. (Jenny Heid? A PC? Really?) For the record: I maintain at this point that I still think BOTH operating systems suck, but I've switched my family back to the Mac and a lot of my headaches went away. Much less frustration and maintenance. (L'Helene, il n'y a jamais eu de meilleur moment pour l'├ęchange…)

Another side note: Even after like thirty occurrences, it still always startled me to read "Please enter me." I'm flattered, ladies, but I'm happily married. ;D

Several of my respondents are in the Bay Area, or even in San Jose. This is great news, especially since I'm teaching Photoshop here! Watch this space over the weekend as I fill out details for my classes, starting with a Dynamic Digital Collage class at Tangerine in Dublin next week, on the 22nd.

If you've come this far, you might want to hop over to my wife's blog and wish her happy birthday, since I spent an embarrassing amount of time on this giveaway when I should have been celebrating with her.

And if you've done that, and you're still paying attention, then you definitely deserve ANOTHER GIVEAWAY! No no, not by me, something even better. This very night my friend Jane, a Baltimore jeweler, painter and sculptress, launched her own blog giveaway for one of her unique and exquisitely-crafted necklaces, pictured here.

Drop my name in your comment and I'll cross my fingers for you!

Thanks for playing!

--Mike Jennings


  1. Geez Mike, I was bummed I didn't win, but what really hurt was finding out that being a "...creator of piles" is seen as a failure. I mean, my piles get completed, rotated, tossed, distributed, filed, donated, read, lent, recycled, & moved. You mean THERE ARE THOSE WHO JUST MAKE PILES AND DO NOTHING WITH THEM???:( Thanks for Jane's link. We recently moved to MD and I love reading Blogs of people in the area.

  2. Sorry, I meant "foibles". And I might have been projecting a little. :)

    Baltimore has an Etsy Street Team you might want to join. Jane can give you the details.

  3. Being that I have a morbid sense of humor (or so I am told) creating an epitaph didn't bother me in the least.I thoroughly enjoyed you sharing the other entries & completed lost it with the""Please enter me." I'm flattered..." I shall be grinning all day. Congrats to Trudy! (Be generous, give her at least week or so, she could have the flu.) May she enjoy her Photoshop Elements & her headstone.

  4. The please enter me comments had me falling out of my chair too! A good reminder to think out what you are typing and how it may sound before you post. I am excited to know you will be doing photo shop classes. I will looking forward to seeing your schedule.

  5. I won????? I cannot believe it:) I am jumping up and down with excitement, that is so great Mike.

    I love the tombstone, and will post a pic on my blog later today. I am so thrilled that I won.

    My PC uses windows Vista, and my email adress is

    Just let me know what else I have to do.

    Big wooly hugs to you, and happy belated birthday to your wife:)


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  7. Dang, I wish I had seen this. Oh well. I'll say it anyway. On my tombstone it would read "I'm not here, why the hell are you?" lol

  8. Awww... I wish I'd seen it too! Mine would say "Her claim to fame: married to the guy in the kilt!!!"