I donated to a political campaign for the first time in my life

Let’s start with scale: I attended a political fundraiser and wrote a check for $250.

Next, consider context: it was for someone I’ve known for longer than I can remember, among the closest of my family friends, who lived a few houses down from me when I was just a few months old.

Even still, I actually agonized a bit about the decision. Journalism is a thicket of rules and expectations and among the loudest is to stay objective in politics and distant from the money that feeds it. I was worried my donating would cloud the work I do as editorial director at niche publisher Technically Media. Here’s why I decided it was the right decision.

Continue reading I donated to a political campaign for the first time in my life

Sarah Palin likes Lee Ellen Pisauro

In an unexpected collision of various interests of mine, a political celebrity came across and shared the music video of a family friend.

Northwest New Jersey school teacher and mother of two Lee-Ellen Pisauro has spent a few years now sharing her experiences and emotions — particularly related to her youngest son, who has Down’s Syndrome — through music. Picking up a few gigs in local bars, then national awareness walks, working with friends to produce a CD and, most recently, sharing a music video for a particularly personal song.

We’re not sure how just yet, but somehow that video came within ear shot of former Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who shared it with her followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Then Politico went and picked that up.

Continue reading Sarah Palin likes Lee Ellen Pisauro

This has been a bad week

My mother died yesterday. I’m proud of the obituary I was able to write for her in our hometown newspaper.

It’s also available on the funeral parlor Web site, or you can read it below.

She was a good woman. It’s a shitty thing but everyone has shitty things happen to them.

NEWTON — Carol Wink, 51, died on Wednesday, June 17th at Morristown Memorial Hospital after complications related to a long fought illness.

The beloved wife, mother, sister and aunt was born in the Harding Park neighborhood of the Bronx on Sept. 1, 1957 to William and Geraldine (Howell) Dolan. After growing up in Plainview, Long Island, she moved with her family in 1986 to Sussex County, a rural paradise she came to love. She worked for 18 years as a devoted educator, teaching first and second grade and then reading comprehension at the Sparta Alpine School, where she was named Teacher of the Year in 2001.

Carol is survived by her loving husband, George, with whom she was two months shy of a 30th wedding anniversary; her daughter, Maureen; her son, Christopher; two loving sisters, Eileen and Nancy, and their husbands, Mike Lorio and Joe Cipollone; their children, Daniel and Cassie and Joseph and Matthew; two cherished sisters-in-law, Jeanie and Linda Wink; a strange looking dog and two cats, including her favorite, Milo.

Aside from education, her greatest passions came in the kitchen, using a library of cook books and a knack for experimentation and exploration to craft meals of exceptional regard that will be greatly missed by all, especially her eternally hungry son. The green thumb gardener was known for coaxing her husband into playing with dirt, mulch and plants on big, beautiful Sussex County weekends, as well as incorporating the fruits and vegetables she grew into her favorite meals. She will be remembered best for her passion, humor and eggplant rollatini.

Last August, she was thrilled to make her first trip across the pond, spending a week in London. She recently turned over her constant reading habits to planning a trip to California, showing her love for travel.

She is a 1979 Bachelor’s of Arts graduate from Hofstra University with a Master in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College and other post-graduate work from Centenary College of New Jersey. She was excited to return to the classroom this fall to use a recently completed Orton Gillingham Teacher Certificate from Farleigh Dickinson University to tutor students suffering with Dyslexia and other reading difficulties.

In September 2005, she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which she battled courageously, including a period of time during which she taught full-time and received regular chemotherapy treatments. Her weakened immune system left her unable to beat a lung inflammation that came in her final weeks.

Funeral services will be held 11 a.m. on Tuesday at the Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, 63 High Street, Newton. Interment will be held at Newton Cemetery. Visitation will be held on Monday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the funeral home. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, North Jersey Chapter, 14 Commerce Drive, Suite 301, Cranford, NJ 07016.

Obituaries: a newspaper staple that should find a way into community news sites

memorial-obitIt’s all about alternative revenue.

Newspapers, large and small, have served for generations as a gateway for providing information about the deaths of loved ones.

Without any real numbers to back this up, it sure seems that unlike things like job listings and other classifieds, obit profits haven’t been eaten away nearly as much.

When I look at highly targeted community Web sites — successful ones like Howard Owens’s The Batvian and My Missourian (read about if they are sustainable) — I don’t see them trying to do the same. Any site that has any meaningful geographic focus and critical mass of readership there needs to see this as an important monetization strategy.

Continue reading Obituaries: a newspaper staple that should find a way into community news sites

My grandfather waits: excerpt

george-wink-as-infant.jpgMy grandmother died on the Monday before Thanksgiving, November 2006, two months beyond my father’s parents celebrated 54 years marriage.

The thought of the weight of loneliness, left after a half century of practiced, dependent love, made me shiver one night, then a continent away, studying in Tokyo. I made an effort to call my grandfather more once I returned in December.

The conversations after her death were always the same. He’d answer my questions with as few words as possible, as if he was waiting for a bus. I guess he was waiting for a bus.

This is a short excerpt. To read the rest of this piece and other writing, go here.

My grandfather waits

By Christopher Wink | Mar 18, 2008

george-wink-graduation.jpg

My grandmother died on the Monday before Thanksgiving, November 2006, two months beyond my father’s parents celebrated 54 years marriage.The thought of the weight of loneliness, left after a half century of practiced, dependent love, made me shiver one night, then a continent away, studying in Tokyo. I made an effort to call my grandfather more once I returned in December.

The conversations after her death were always the same. He’d answer my questions with as few words as possible, as if he was waiting for a bus. I guess he was waiting for a bus.

“I don’t know anymore, Christopher,” he’d tell me. “I just don’t feel well anymore.”

“It’s okay, grandpa,” I’d answer. “I’ll talk to you soon.”

Maybe he wanted to say more. Maybe he didn’t. I never knew how to offer to help shoulder his burden. We so rarely know how to help shoulder another’s burden. We so rarely know how to shoulder our own.

My grandmother, his wife, had died, quietly, though troublingly near the beginning of the holiday season. It may have been the only time she was ever a burden. The burden of death is a particularly heavy one.

My grandfather was born Oct. 26, 1923 in Cambria Heights, then a safe, working class neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. My grandmother shared her birth with that of the year 1928, welcomed into the world on Jan. 1. They met a church social and were married at St. Albans the Martyr Episcopal Church in a leafy stretch of Turin Drive in Jamaica, Queens on Sept. 20, 1952.

My grandfather’s courtship of a single-mother divorcee is unknown to me. Similarly, all I know of most of their marriage is that they decorated the living room of their Levitt-style home in 1973, with all of that year’s fashionable colors, styles and comforts and never got around to changing it.

I know casual stories of his past, though their veracity is unquestioned enough to merit more scrupulous investigation. In the Second World War, before meeting my grandmother, he sat in a watchtower on some island in the Pacific Ocean, listening to Tokyo Rose and firing his issued firearm just once, to see how it sounded one clear and boring night. In 1963, he purchased a handful of .22 rifles, and took to brandishing them on his front steps, race riots plaguing the country, and two black communities – a suburban one to his east and a quickly changing Queens not far west – surrounding the home he had made.

What I know best, though, is how terrified he was after my grandmother’s death. He was never a great man outside of 15 Windsor Street in Hicksville. Those types you have read before, no picture in the newspaper, no great accolades, nor speeches in his honor. Just a small family and a woman with whom, for whatever reason, he spent the better portion of the last 54 years of his life. Before her death, he was smilingly oblivious, immersed most in maps, and history, stamps and coupons. He tended to repeat himself, but was coherent and kind enough that it was charming. After her death, too much was missing from his eyes, like he was removed, sitting on a bench, waiting for a bus that was already late.
By March he was dead, found by my aunt, turned over and gone in the bed of the home he had made with a woman who had already left.

“I don’t know anymore, Christopher,” he’d tell me. “I just don’t feel well anymore.”

As if that bus was four months late.

April waits for May

By Christopher Wink | June 15, 2007

She was named after the fourth month. Not for when she was born, but of a time of warmth and beginnings for her parents who thought both had now since died. Interestingly, it was her name’s temporal successor – a month that, among other things, signaled the annual return from school of the boy she loved – that was always her favorite. It is in this way that April was always waiting for May.

She was young and he was everything to her. He was strange and, anyone would say, had no business being everything to anyone, most certainly not to her. Perhaps there is irresponsibility in truth. Of course there is. There is nothing less interested in hurt feelings. But truth hadn’t the power to stop what youth can feel for slightly older youth. So, he remained what she wanted most of all.

Time rode on swift wings.

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Greetings from Abroad: a first e-mail from study abroad

By Christopher Wink | Jul 12, 2005 | First email from Ghana

Date: Tue 12 Jul 12:27:32 EDT 2005
From: Christopher Wink | Add To Address Book | This is Spam
Subject: Greetings from Abroad
To: Family

All:

Sound the trumpeters for I have come to announce my arrival. I am here at the University of Ghana in Legon outside of Accra, and all is well.  I am sorry for not writing earlier, however international calling is somewhat sketchy and internet access is inconvenient, time consuming, and altogether nauseating.

That being said, I don’t know how often I will write, so I better do things real swell now.

The airplane ride was … long.  But it did get me a stamp from Germany and a visa and stamp from Ghana in my passport, the first such signs of an experienced travel I have encountered.

Continue reading Greetings from Abroad: a first e-mail from study abroad

Fatherly Advice (NPR submission: 5/20/07)

By Christopher Wink | May 20, 2007 | NPR submission

It is too rare what I have, two spectacularly loving parents who coincidentally love each other as well. Still, understanding that I also someday want to be a competent father with strong arms and too much advice, I particularly idolize my own father in a way that everyone should have the privilege to do.

Because he is always muttering advice like clean up your own mess and never drive behind a car with a mattress on its roof. Advice like treat secretaries, custodians and garbage men with respect because they do the hard work. Advice like wear your seatbelt, and don’t be afraid to use a band-aid if it hurts.

I grew up in northwest New Jersey, a gentle swath of rural America that is only now being discovered by the faceless, suburban sprawl of family-style chain restaurants and one-stop shopping. I was freckle-faced, loved my mother’s cooking and posed for Norman Rockwell paintings.

Continue reading Fatherly Advice (NPR submission: 5/20/07)