Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Love is Watching Someone Die


For one who watches with too little rest
A body rousing fitfully to its pain
- The nerves like dull burns where the sheet has pressed -
Subsiding to dementia yet again;
For one who snatches what repose he can,
Exhausted by the fretful reflexes
Jerked from the torpor of a dying man,
Sleep is a fear, invaded as it is
By coil on coil of ominous narrative
In which specific isolated streaks, 
Bright as tattoos, of inks that seem to live,
Shift through elusive patterns. Once in those weeks
You dreamt of your dying friend hung crucified
In his front room, against the mantelpiece;
Yet it was Christmas, when you went outside
The shoppers bustled, bells rang without cease,
You smelt a sharp excitement on the air, 
Crude itch of evergreen. But you returned
To find him still nailed up, mute suffered
Lost in a trance of pain, toward whom you yearned.
When you woke up, you could not reconcile
The two conflicting scenes, indoors and out.
But it was Christmas. And parochial school
Accounted for the Dying God no doubt.

Now since his death you've lost the wish for sleep,
In which you might mislay the wound of feeling:
Drugged you drag grief from room to room and weep,
Preserving it from closure, from a healing
Into the novelty of glazed pink flesh.
We hear you stumble vision-ward above,
Keeping the edges open, bloody, fresh.

Wound, no - the heart, His Heart, broken with love.

An unfamiliar ticking makes you look
Down your left side where, suddenly apparent
Like a bright plate from an anatomy book
- In its snug housing, under the transparent
Planes of swept muscle and the barreled bone - 
The heart glows, and you feel the holy heat:
The heart of hearts transplanted to your own
Losing rich purple drops with every beat. 
Yet even as it does your vision alters,
The hallucination lighted through the skin
Begins to deaden (though still bleeding), falters, 
And hardens to its evident origin
- A red heart from a cheap religious card, 
Too smooth, too glossy, too securely cased!

Stopped in a crouch, you wearily regard
Each drop dilute into the waiting waste.

-Thom Gunn
The Man with Night Sweats 

Today's Musical Selection >

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tribute #11: Angelica Madero

“Life is too important to be taken seriously” is one of my favorite quotes. I can bust out my irreverent side every now and then, but the majority of the time I make rationale, calculated decisions. I strive to be more spontaneous, to not worry about tomorrow, and to just have fun. One of my mentors in this pursuit is Angelica Madero.

I met Angie through my friend Courtney, and she quickly became a weekend staple on our futon at 286 5th Ave. I’ll always have fond memories of us venturing across the Manhattan bridge, flashbulbs flashing through the darkness taking mandatory backseat cab pictures. No matter what the night held, we knew we’d have fun.

In addition to her carefree side, Angie is a strong, passionate woman, driven by her love of family. Although the youngest of 4 girls, she often times fills the caretaker role, looking out for others needs and wants before her own. She never does this begrudgingly. Angie treats her friends like family and is the most amazing best friend to one of my favorite people- Courtney Rohlk.  

Angie, thank you for encouraging me to be more spontaneous. I will never forget our America’s Next Top Model photo shoot at Montauk. Totally out of character for me, I had so much fun working those fierce poses on the beach. You bring out the best in people, and I can’t help but take life less seriously when I’m with you. 

Montauk's Next Top Model

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tribute #10: Jonique Hewitt

Anyone who attended The Creative Circus would probably agree that the art directors worked just a bit harder than the writers. Ok, a lot harder. They were the ones camped out in the computer lab while us writers slept soundly in our beds dreaming up headlines. I had a lot of respect for the art directors, especially Jonique Hewitt.

When panel time rolled around Jonique was a staple in the lab. She worked on campaigns until she got them right, and wouldn't settle unless they were. I'm sure she was extremely tired and stressed, but she always had a great, positive attitude. In the end, her hard work paid off with a gig in the Big Apple.

Jonique, thanks for being a listening ear. I always felt that you understood exactly where I was coming from with my ad rants. I think the last time we saw each other was on the B train which seems appropriate as from ATL to NYC we were on the same track. I hope in the future our paths cross again. (All puns intended.)

Stylish City Girl

Friday, September 17, 2010

Death & Wisdom

My favorite movie characters tend to be of the wise old teacher variety. Obi Wan from Star Wars and Rafiki from The Lion King are definitely two of my favorites. I guess it’s only natural then that the bird I’m drawn to the most is an owl. 

In early folklore owls represented wisdom and possessed powers of prophecy, traits I definitely respect. Oh yeah, owls are also associated with -thunderclap- death! Maybe it’s my Italian heritage, but I tend to be a bit superstitious. I used to be afraid to embrace my love of owls. I thought maybe it would bring on bad luck, or possibly even death. As irrational as that sounds I think it was simply the manifestation of my deeper fear of death.

Now that owls are considered kitsch, and on everything, I’ve lightened up on my ominous view of them. I have swung the pendulum back to seeing them as the wise creatures they are. However, that got my thinking about the middle ground. There is a vast range between wisdom and death. Death is the ultimate mystery, and no one here on earth, no matter how wise, can fully grasp it. 

Though I’ve just dipped my toe into the ocean of reflecting on death and dying I’m excited to venture out a bit more from shore. I invite you to come in with me. The water's fine.  

Today's Musical Selection >

Life's a Hoot

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tribute #9: Courtney Vanderbilt

There was one thing I was sure of in high school. I was going to an out-of-state college. In the end I did end up going miles away from home, 10 miles to be exact. Determined to still get the “college experience” I lived in the dorms my freshman year, and it was in Wonders Hall that I met Courtney Vanderbilt, though at the time she was still Courtney Smith.

I liked Courtney the second I met her. She was friendly, outgoing and warm. She also had a quiet confidence that I really admired. Courtney was truly a ray of light my freshman year, and as I got to know her it became clear that she drew strength from God and family- particularly her mother Marsha.

After college Courtney and I lost touch, but thanks to Facebook, reconnected. I was able to virtually celebrate her accomplishments- a Master’s degree, a happy marriage, but I also got a window into her hardships. When I learned Courtney lost her mother my mind raced back to freshman year and all the wonderful stories I had heard about her mother.

During times of loss it’s easy to lose faith, to be mad at God, to question why. Though I know losing her mother was probably the most difficult thing Courtney has ever faced, her faith never once faltered. She continues to draw strength from God and family.

Courtney, thank you for providing me with an example of living faith. You inspire me with your devotion. I am saddened that your mother is not physically with us, but to borrow a sentiment from one of my favorite songs, “She lives in you.”

Today's Musical Selection > 

Courtney shines light everywhere she goes

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tribute #8: Norm Grey

I have no clue when or why I decided to pursue a career in advertising, and to be honest I’m still trying to figure that out. At any rate, it’s the path I’ve been on for the past decade and one that led me to The Creative Circus in Atlanta, Georgia. Norm Grey is one of the founders of the Circus, but it wasn’t there that I first met him. It was on a snowy night back at Michigan State.

I learned that someone from the Creative Circus (an advertising portfolio school) was coming to speak, and figured I should hear what they had to say. I remember it was in the middle of winter and that particular night was one best spent inside watching TV. Unlike my typical behavior I actually forced myself out the door, and I’m very fortunate I did.

I’m not sure who I was expecting to meet that night, but Norm was the last person I envisioned. He was both gentle and kind. Not the typical in your face, fast talking ad guy one would expect. He wore a baseball cap with an embroidered circus ball on it and spoke with his hands. Norm didn’t romanticize a career in advertising; he was clear about the pluses and minuses of choosing such a path. I think he even mentioned God.

Norm Grey is a legend. He has touched thousands of lives through his work and teachings. He taught me a great deal about advertising, but the most beneficial lesson I learned from Norm was how to be a better person. It’s easy to get caught up in our careers, especially in advertising, and to be defined by our job title. However, like Norm, I don’t want to be remembered for the number of awards I’ve won, but for the number of lives I’ve touched. Like Norm, I want to lead a spiritual life- not encroaching my beliefs on others, but inspiring through example. Like Norm, I want to leave this world a better place.

Norm, thank you for showing me the ropes. Though I’m not sure how long I'll stay in this crazy industry, I know that for now it’s the path I’m meant to be on. You inspire me to use my talents and I thank God the ad world has you. 

Norm at my Circus Graduation

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tribute #7: Anna Grace Irons Brennecke

Those who have ventured to live in a new city are probably all too familiar with craigslist whether for finding a place, a roommate, or both. It’s a crapshoot at best. However, when it works out, it tends to work out in a way that’s easy to chalk up to fate. With over 8 million people in NYC my friend Kiki could have ended up with a number of crazies, but was fortunate enough to live with Anna Grace Irons Brennecke.
I only hung out with Anna a few times, but from the beginning I could tell she had a great outlook on life, not to mention a really cool style. Anna’s one of those girls that you’d see on the subway and think, “she totally belongs in this city with her effortless, unique style.” As Kiki and I have both left the city, chances are I may not run into Anna again, but I believe there are no chance encounters in life.
Anna, thanks for being such a good friend and roommate to Kiki. You prove that it’s possible to be both a free spirit, and really down to earth.  

Today's Musical Selection 

Kiki & Anna

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rot & Regeneration

Have you ever read your horoscope and been eerily amazed at how accurate it is?
I give you my horoscope from last week taken from
Each one of us is a blend of life and death. In the most literal sense, our bodies always contain old cells that are dying and new cells that are emerging as replacements. From a more metaphorical perspective, our familiar ways of seeing and thinking and feeling are constantly atrophying, even as fresh modes emerge. Both losing and winning are woven into every day; sinking down and rising up; shrinking and expanding. In any given phase of our lives, one or the other polarity is usually more pronounced. But for you in the foreseeable future, Aquarius, they will be evenly balanced. Welcome to the Season of Rot and Regeneration.

This horoscope hit home, as just last week I cast my blog about celebrating life and death out into the universe. More than that though it got me to reflect on Rot and Regeneration.

Autumn is upon us which makes me think ahead to the beautiful changing colors and the leaves that will soon fall. I've observed that some leaves are trailblazers, tailspinning happily to the ground, while other leaves cling to the branch, afraid to fall.

I am more of a clinger than a trailblazer. I tend to mull over the prospect of change instead of spontaneously letting go. I tend to hang onto the safe branch. This past year I have made a conscious effort to trust in the power of change. I have done better at letting go. This year I have found the faith to detach a bit sooner.

It's important to remember that each of us deals with change and loss in our own time. We should never try to talk someone off the branch. They will come to terms with what's before them in good time. However, we should all remember that it's the fall that spurs new growth.

In the end, when we reach our ultimate end, I like to believe we all find the faith to fall. 

Trust the fall