Monthly Archives: May 2016

An Anthem For Love


 Welcome to my twice-monthly feature about anthems, the songs that inspire us.  You can listen to the songs on my Spotify playlist, Carry A Watermelon Anthems. New Anthems will be posted here the 1st and 15th of each month. 

Today, enjoy the Anthem of my friend, former colleague, and one of the reason I love millennials, Vickie Bartkus.

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear…

I’ve heard the opening lines to my anthem more times than I can possibly count, but they still trigger goosebumps. This song is home for me, the same way a special quilt or mom’s home cooking is for others. I saw RENT on Broadway for the first time when I was 17 and it changed me. There is something so real, so raw, so unglamorous about that rock opera that spoke to me then and continues to speak to me almost twelve years later.

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee; in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife…

How do we measure our lives? Like most people, I know what it’s like to lose someone close to you. So I know we’re only given a few, measly years to share experiences, to build relationships, to blaze our trail. So what’s the ruler with which we measure our success?

I am lucky enough to have the kind of family and friends that love unconditionally, give of themselves often, and hold me up when I’m not strong enough to do so myself. On the days when I’ve struggled the most (and, Lord, have there been some of those), during the times when it’s been black and I could hardly see the light, my seasons of love gave me something to hold onto.

As I enter new phases of my life, I think I’ll keep following Jonathan Larson’s direction: “measure your life in love.” So far, it hasn’t failed me.



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Vickie Bartkus is  a daughter, a cousin, a niece, a friend, a teacher, and a self-proclaimed bibliophile. Her blood type may be Colombian (a joke her mom likes to make about her coffee addiction), but she’s  convinced her heart beats in time with my favorite songs. Follow her magnificent classroom mojo here.


Don’t forget to follow Carry A Watermelon Anthems on Spotify to hear Vickie’s anthem and a playlist of additional inspiring songs!

ANTHEM: Wrecking Ball


 Welcome to my twice-monthly feature about anthems, the songs that inspire us.  You can listen to the songs on my Spotify playlist, Carry A Watermelon Anthems. New Anthems will be posted here the 1st and 15th of each month. 


I was thrilled to be in the front row, but I can see the sadness and exhaustion in my eyes.

It was a bucket list moment: front row at the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on February 12, 2016.  My husband and I were the 16th and 17th people into the venue, a stroke of luck  I can only attribute to karma and possibly divine intervention of my cousin Harvey calling in a favor to the correct department in heaven. He’d passed away a month earlier from lymphoma, most likely caused by his first-responder work at the Pentagon on 9/11 .  He was only 49 years old, so I’d  been robbed of growing old with him. I was in pieces.

When Bruce started the strums of Wrecking Ball, I stood motionless for the first time in 2.5 hours, hands at my side, tears streaming down my cheeks. Breath came in gulps as I wept along with the lyrics.

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Life had taken a wrecking ball to my family and my heart.  Deaths of my uncle, my grandmother, and my cousin, along with other major life changes and some unmet  expectations, had left me tattered and raw. The image that described my life was a balloon floating into the sky, its ribbon trailing away, away, away. And there at the front of the stage, immersed in the throbbing music, I was momentarily anchored.  I wasn’t just signing along; I telling the world I wasn’t going anywhere.

Hold tight to your anger/Don’t fall to your fears…by this point in the song I was full-on screaming the lyrics through sobs.  When the last note ended,  I offered a quiet thank you to the band for their music. This was the song I’d listened to countless times in the car at full-blast, to convince myself it was going to be OK. For the first time in months, I started to believe it.


Thank you, Bruce and the E Street Band.

Upcoming Anthems:

May 15 = Vickie Bartkus, teacher extraordinaire with a heart of gold, a love of Idina Menzel and a hard-core Brooklyn accent

June 1 = Patricia Florio,  author, former court reporter, and a founding member of the Jersey Shore Writers