sabers and memory

Light sabers.
For a show at the arena.
“Only ten dollas,” the barker cries.

Lightweight cardboard sabers in shades of pastel blue. No blinking LED lights as far as I can see.

I’m hopeful the salesman is also hawking imagination, too.

Hordes of children under the age of eight, a flock of superheroes wearing expressions of anticipation and glee. Guardians in tow, some hold gloved hands tightly, a look of sheer determination on their face as they approach the crowds. The carney holds my attention for just a moment longer and then I make a sharp right, descending underground.

It’s Saturday morning. At their age, I remember waking to the aroma of coffee and French toast (or pancakes), racing down the stairs to beat my brother to the prime space on the couch. We would vie for control of the television and the morning cartoon line-up a hodge podge of Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros., the escapades of a miming cat and mouse and the clever antics of Wile E. Coyote.

The train jerks forward.

It’s horn blaring as we enter the station. It’s not quite 11 AM, and the car and platforms are nearly deserted. The only sign of life are faces focused on a much smaller screen.

Tip Your Cup to the Devine

DAY 11: The Writer’s Happiness Challenge: Tip Your Cup

One of my favorite quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson is “This is my wish for you” where he shares his deepest desires for those he loves. It’s his sentiments that come to mind as I read and contemplate today’s writing exercise.

Write down the names of one to four people you love, respect, or adore. Then focusing on each person at a time, close your eyes, and visualize their complete and total success—the success THEY want, not the one you want for them. Imagine them achieving this success. Imagine the look on their face. Imagine the way they stand, the way they tell you or someone they love about how it happened, the way they move through the world. Now mentally with intention send them your very deepest wish for that success.

The exercise makes me think of my practice with sound healer Abigail Devine. Earlier in 2017, I was drawn to her energetic healing process. Through a series of sound healing vibrations and meditation exercises, Abby led me to not only forgive myself for past transgressions toward others but to also reconcile those of others toward me. It was a very profound experience.

The Writing Happiness Challenge is offered by @splendidmola, for more information click here.

The beginning of a powerful narrative

In 2016, after almost a decade of supporting advertising sales communications at AOL, I set off on a new adventure. It started with a two-month sojourn through Southeast Asia and ended with starting my own company, Modern Vintage Ink LLC. Two years later, and I am excited to share that I have fulfilled a lifetime dream of writing for a living.

I had no idea back then that I would have the gumption to go out on my own. I never considered myself suitable for freelancing or supporting a side hustle. Since striking out on my own I have learned that solopreneurship is about much more than exerting aggressive behavior, it’s also about channeling your enterprising skillset. It is about having a passion for what you do and finding ways to use your talent, creative or otherwise to help others with what they cannot.

In my work as a corporate ghostwriter, I work with individuals and small businesses on crafting their thought leadership narrative. Narrative messaging takes many shapes from blogs and articles to advertising and promotional copy, lead generation campaigns, speeches, and in some cases, wedding vows.

The path I have taken these last 18 months has been deeply enriching. I have learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses, areas where I excel and those that require additional support. I have learned that being a generalist affords me the space to activate my curiosity on a variety of topics from robotics to meditation to economic development.

As my business grows, I am enjoying the freedom to pursue projects and clients who are purposeful in their messaging. The one thing I enjoy most about working on my own is relishing in the finished project. Although not always published under my name, I walk away from each assignment feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment for helping my clients articulate and channel their voice.

You never know where your clients may manifest, so I have found that managing and maintaining solid relationships within your network is critical. I believe that if your values and intention align with those who need your help, anything is possible.

For those in need of a ghostwriter, you can review a portfolio of my work here: http://www.andreapreziotti.com.

Email: modernvintageinkllc@gmail.com

a crack in the wall

It’s been two weeks since I first sighted the drip in the ceiling. Eleven days. And where did the time go? As you can imagine, I’ve spent a lot of time waiting … waiting for people to call me back, waiting for roofers and their project managers to arrive, and then inspect the damage. Nine companies in all. That number may seem excessive but the second roofer noticed a sizable crack in one of the exterior walls that ran from the parapet to the seam of the building below and so I added concrete masons to the list, too. And so the waiting continues, this time for estimates of the work.

In the downtime I’ve been poring over the condo by-laws to determine liabilities, the shared responsibility of cost, and what I, as a limited common element holder, am responsible for paying on my own. Next, I have to contact the insurance companies, my own and that of our building association to determine if our coverage will offset the cost. Then I get to analyze the requests and make a recommendation to my fellow owners of next steps. Sigh.

It feels like work because it is work. And if you are like me, where you believe in doing things by the book, so hopefully there won’t be a next time, you put in the effort when and where it’s needed. It’s a lot for one person to manage, and let’s be honest, is mentally exhausting.

Mentally exhausting. Sigh.

The irony is that I had planned to be on a mental vacation in sunny California these last few weeks, and instead found myself stranded in an overcast city with an albatross around my neck. These are first world problems, I realize. But I can’t help feeling cheated because I know I needed a break, a change of scenery and I didn’t get either. And because I wasn’t supposed to be here, I didn’t have anything else planned, so a lot of my time outside of my work assignments has been idle. I hate feeling as if I’m wasting time.

Luckily when you have an open canvas of time, you also have an opportunity to be spontaneous and say yes to the unexpected. Things like an extra ticket to see Hamilton: An American Musical, celebrating a friend’s birthday at a speakeasy on a snowy Saturday night, or meeting new friends for an afternoon lunch in Brighton Beach. Tomorrow I’ll be attending the Athena Film Festival to see the foreign film Soufra, and Sunday an old friend and I will catch up over lunch with a visit to a literary exhibit at The Morgan Library.

An unexpected staycation is the real vacation.

Your only challenge is to go in with an open mind

The radiating heat of the desert sun feels amazing on your skin until it doesn’t. A weathered cotton hat became my holy grail against the playa elements, the perfect complement to a creative armor of layered clothing and accessories. And by the end of my first Burn experience, I felt as spirited as Joan Wilder in the jungle.

When it comes to preparing for your Black Rock experience, be aware that everyone will have an opinion on what may aid in your survival in the desert. From hydration tablets to motorcycle goggles, edibles to combat boots. The information can be almost as overwhelming as the experience itself. And having survived one of the hottest Burns on record, my first-timer opinion is one should go into it with an open mind.

Black Rock City (BRC), population 70,000, is like no other place you’ve ever been or will visit again. You may balk at that number but consider that in 2016 Brooklyn’s population was 34 times larger (2.5M), and Staten Island 4.5x larger (468K). Like any other city you may choose to visit, Black Rock comes to life through its community, one that consists of engineers, artists, musicians, firefighters, dancers, healers, doctors, nurses, mothers, fathers, and kids. And all their alter egos.

I say alter ego because the desert allows you to embrace every version of YOU, whether that’s a steampunk goddess or a pirate. Whether you choose to wear a royal blue speedo and combat boots, head to toe vegan leather and a unicorn horn or faux fur and a lieutenant’s hat. In the vibrant words of Missy Elliott, the playa is the place to ‘get your freak on.’

When I think about my experience at Burning Man, I imagine it to be an opportunity to act out parallel lives in the same universe, where the desert is a clock that resets itself with every individual breath. Sounds trippy, right?

This idea of a clock isn’t as far-fetched as you might think, especially when you consider Black Rock City reset its grid system in 1999 (metaphors are everywhere on the playa) to represent the Wheel of Time. The irony, of course, is that any sense of time, or place, evaporates the first day you step onto the playa, allowing for the real adventure to begin.

This post is one of a seven-part series reflection on my personal experience at Burning Man: Radical Ritual. Part one, Stoking the Fire was published on Thrive Global.  Photo credit: @pixabay

how to manage a rainstorm in your living room

The weather this winter has been odd. Sleet, snow, ice. Below freezing temperatures, high winds, then it’s sunny at sixty degrees and mild. This weekend was hardly an exception to this new rule, as it brought on heavy wind and rain. Rain, I love the sound of droplets hitting the fire escape. It brings back memories of kettle drums playing at the Shirley Heights BBQ in Antigua. Dreaming of Antigua in my Sunday morning sleep-in, I was roused awake by the drip-drip-splat of raindrops coming through the ceiling falling onto my hardwood floors. That is never a pleasant sound. And certainly not when you’re planning to leave on a flight to Los Angeles in 72 hours.

The water dripping in the living room came through a light fixture. I unscrewed the bulb, removed the covering and was doused with debris-filled water as if the roof were a colicky baby, vomiting. I shut off the fuses and moved all the furniture out of the way.  The leak in the bedroom came later in the afternoon. I’ve been playing phone tag with the contractor so the hole from the original leak is still open and visible. In that moment, I realize that I’ve lived with a hole in my ceiling for a year (c. 12/2016).

Where on earth does the time go? But I digress…  

I call Kinga to let her know I have to postpone a visit to sunny California. Then I cancel my flight. This makes me sad, as I was really looking forward to girl time in warmer weather where I would not have to wear a jacket.

When I check the local forecast, I see this week is set to be milder than most. A perfect time for roofers to come and assess the problem. With no time to waste, I start my research for reputable roofing companies. I ask for recommendations on Facebook, NextDoor, and Brownstoner.  I scour the forums for advice on flat roof repair, the debate of patching vs. a full tear off and replacement, the number of estimates to collect before making a decision. I compare the recommendations to reviews on Yelp and Google Local.

I am the queen of spreadsheets especially when it comes to collecting content ideas and data. And so I do what I do best and create a master project plan. Then I start calling folks to schedule site visits and gather estimates.

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the bittersweet truth of my sorrow

i almost forgot. but then, on the way home from a late yoga class, crossing the street admiring the barren trees casting shadows on the sidewalk everything flooded back. i remembered it was this night.

i wish i could tell my friends, those who are just now experiencing the loss of a parent that every year gets easier, but that would be a lie. it doesn’t feel right to say such things; that’s not quite how it goes. as we get older time dulls the pain, it feels less raw.  and every year that passes brings a different shade to the melancholia.

whether we like it or not, time marches on.

it’s been 18 years for me. when she first passed, i could not imagine making it through 18 days let alone 18 years. 18 years is a lifetime: from child to adult, old enough to vote and make your own decisions.

i sometimes think about what it would be like if i had chosen a different life one that included children. one of them might be close to that age now. instead, i’ve had cats, and i’ve cultivated a group of close-knit friends, who I know would have loved her (like they love me). i wish they had met her, had known my mom.

just like i wish my brother’s children, my nieces and nephew had known her; it pains me to think that they’ll never know their grandmother, either. they’ll never hear her laugh or receive chocolate chip cookies in care packages while away at school. they’ll never lean over her shoulder as she pencils in crossword puzzles, discovering her curlicue doodles in the margins. they’ll never reach for her hand while beachcombing by the sea, or feel her warm, welcoming embrace. all the things that i miss every. single. day.

this year mom would have been 89. if dad had lived, he would be 93. when i was younger, i had high hopes that they would be alive to see all that i would accomplish. i think about all those moments now, all the moments yet to come … in my soul, i know she was there through it all, that they have always been there, that they are here now.

it’s in those moments that i feel the most despair. i can feel my heart sink, the sucker punch to my gut, the tears welling up. i would give anything to hear their voices and hug them one more time. it’s all i will ever want, to hold them fiercely close, to listen to her heartbeat and feel it thumping against mine.

In memoriam:  Lucia Adelaide Barca Preziotti (b. 9/19/28 – d. 1/23/00) 

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take bold risks with determination

DAY 10: The Writer’s Happiness Challenge: Audacity

I don’t know that I necessarily understand this next writing exercise. It reads more like a meditation than a contemplative path toward writing happiness. So rather than read it again, I’m going rogue and interpreting it from a selfish point of view.

Choose one quality of someone you admire that you’d like to emulate or bring more of into your life. 

I choose audacity, followed by tenacity. The willingness to take bold risks, with determinedness. I’ve been practicing the part about being bold in this part of my adult life but sometimes I let things and situations get the best of me. So, that’s where the persistence part comes in handy.

As for folks who I admire that have both qualities, there are some known (Lady Gaga, Katharine Hepburn, Taraji Henson) and not so known (Lulu, Suzie, Gabriele, Sharon, Anne).

The Writing Happiness Challenge is offered by @splendidmola, for more information click here.

Choosing Kindness for Myself, for Others 

DAY 9: The Writer’s Happiness Challenge: Remembering Kindness

In today’s exercise, @splendidmola asks us to reflect on the last few days, remembering any small kindnesses performed by yourself or for yourself. Now set the timer for (5) minutes and write them down.  

Consciously Choosing Kindness for Myself, for Others

  • Sending cards to loved ones in celebration of their birth or as encouragement
  • Treating a friend to a movie or dinner
  • Giving back to the community with donated goods and time
  • Being good to myself by practicing yoga and meditation
  • Exercising self-care measures with massage and eastern therapies
  • Going to bed early
  • Assisting a disabled woman in need at a public bathroom
  • Being kind to myself on my mom’s anniversary
  • Smiling
  • Snuggling with Finn

The Writing Happiness Challenge is offered by @splendidmola, for more information click here.

Photo Credit: @pixabay, reneebigelow

Giving Back to the Community is the Greatest Gift of All

In 2017, Americans spent $130.6 trillion (!) on goods and services. That’s a lot of money. As consumers lean toward increased consumption of fast-goods, a new social movement is underway to save durable goods from the landfill. The Buy Nothing Project is a spend-less community effort practiced world-wide that encourages participants to “Buy Nothing, Give Freely, Share Creatively.” It takes the ‘one person’s trash, another person’s treasure’ to another level, engaging the community to ask for what they need and give to others what they don’t.

As the concept of purging has become a hot topic, I decided to give Buy Nothing a try. I was intrigued by the idea of recycling used goods, and building a community around sustainability. I love brownstone living, but since moving to North Park Slope, it’s been a challenge getting to know my neighbors. As a single woman with no children or a dog, the opportunities for meeting new people is limited to yoga classes and grocery shopping. But as a member of Buy Nothing BoCoCa, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know its members while exploring Park Slope and its surrounding neighborhoods: Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens.

The process of purging can be daunting, but once you get started, it feels fantastic. Kind of like a new diet but with faster results. I started with my closet, tackling the section filled with clothing I hadn’t touched in years, some still with tags attached. I then moved to the extra ‘baggage’ from my childhood home, objects I’d kept out of obligation, most of which were just collecting dust. And soon I was posting everything from books to promotional apparel from former employers, kitchen accessories, inherited furniture that no longer matched my tastes or aesthetic, and an excess of decorations, souvenirs, and gifts.

It was liberating to cleanse my home, both literally and figuratively. Purging not only rids your space of unnecessary clutter but your mind, too. The exercise itself comes with a new perspective on shopping. Online shopping in particular, with their dash buttons and voice assistants, makes it too easy to blindly click and purchase. Now that I’ve rid myself of things I no longer need, I find myself rethinking my wish list and considering what I bring into my space (and if I really need it). The process also has me thinking about items I’ve saved to my shopping cart and most importantly, if the group will be able to provide them instead.

The best part of participating in the Buy Nothing project is the giving and receiving benefits of belonging to the larger community.

The Buy Nothing Project operates in five of the seven continents, find a local group or learn how to start your own.  

Note: This post first appeared on Medium as part of the January 2018 edition of From Bridges to the Parks, an NYC real estate newsletter published by Gabriele Sewtz.