The Bigger Picture, The Write Life

In Memoriam

David T. Samuels
August 4, 1952–May 27, 2013

Dave at work in the art gallery located in NYC's Limelight Shops (http://www.limelightshops.com/) with a familiar guest.
Dave at work in the art gallery located in NYC’s Limelight Shops (http://www.limelightshops.com/) with a familiar guest.

The majority of you probably have never heard of Dave, but if you’ve read my posts over the past year, as well as Walking Tall, you’ve felt his impact on my writing.

Dave and I met a little over two and a half years ago via a mutual friend. At the time I took the meeting as a little more than a casual introduction, but when the relationship with that friend hit a momentary rough patch, Dave parceled out insights that helped me work through the transition with our mutual friend. Within a few months my relationship with the friend was back on the right track and my own friendship with Dave developed from there.

Dave shared with me that his life was in transition. We talked about his imminent return to Canada to tend to his mother in Toronto. I likened the angst Dave felt over the direction his life was taking to the way I felt over leaving L.A. years before. We both saw our exoduses from New York and L.A. as unexpected and accepted them as having some greater purpose in our lives.

Dave’s assimilation into life in Toronto went smoothly. He picked up the mantle of caring for his mother and brother (who had special needs) with aplomb. The move to Toronto proved to be a boon to Dave in another way, it helped lessen the severity of Dave’s respiratory issues.

Once I decided to self-publish Walking Tall, Dave’s excitement knew no bounds. He celebrated all the milestones with me along the way—the development of cover concepts, cover photo selection, arriving at a final title page design, venue choice, and the like. When I picked up the first bound and printed proof of my book for the launch party, I rushed a copy off to him.

You can imagine my shock and dismay when he gingerly informed me of copious errors that jumped out at him in the text. I was devastated. Friends and I had graciously combed through at least half a million times, but still mistakes slipped by. With the launch party a few days away, Dave talked me off the ledge and ever so casually revealed that he was an English major in college and offered to pore through the proof one last time.

I accepted his offer, and over the following week Dave scrutinized all 272 pages to within an inch of their lives. I couldn’t help but notice how respectful he was with of the text and took care not to add his distinctive cheeky sense of humor to the work. Lord knows if he hadn’t, every other paragraph would’ve been hysterically funny. Dave and I walked me through the edits for hours at a time, and when all was said and done Walking Tall made its debut online and at the launch party with relatively few blemishes and my reputation still intact.

Dave saw his gesture as no big deal, but in no uncertain terms he saved my ass. And in doing so, he taught me a very important lesson about to become a better proofreader of my own work. And I made it a priority to let him know how much I appreciated his efforts.

2013 began as a year of challenges for Dave with the passing of his brother Stephen and intensified respiratory issues. It’s weird how life works out, just a couple weeks ago a few of Dave’s good friends visited him in Toronto. He was elated to have them visit, despite the limitations of needing Oxygen. That was the last time he saw them.

Just last week, after several days of testing, Dave phoned me in tears to tell me of his approval for a lung transplant. He felt an overwhelming sense of relief and renewed optimism about his condition. And when I spoke with him yesterday, I had no inkling that it would be the last time I’d do so. I woke to an email from his account sent by cousin announcing his death.

Although, the total amount of time I spent in face-to-face interaction with Dave probably totals less than twenty-four hours, the impact he’s had on me will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Thanks to Dave’s unbridled love of life and wicked sense of humor, I know that he wouldn’t want to be sad over his passing. And with that in mind, one quote comes to mind—

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
—Dr. Seuss

P.S.

Any typos or grammatical errors present in this post exist solely to ruffle Dave’s angel wings. Anything less would be disappointing.

All the World's a Stage

The Rite of Spring: Christmas Auditions 2013 (Part 1)

Well, it’s springtime again. The weather has gotten a little warmer, once barren trees have sprouted new signs of life, and I returned to New York for my annual audition for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. One of my friends, a resident New Yorker, went so far as to dub me a New York icon. I hope that doesn’t mean I’ve outlived my usefulness in the City That Never Sleeps.

The Bigger Picture

Expectations—They’ll Getcha Every Time

Oprah Winfrey interviews Chelsea Handler

Sandra, a not so well-known but dear friend of mine tossed out this pearl of wisdom over dinner a few weeks ago, “expectations are preplanned disappointments”. The adage made perfect sense to me as a litany of instances where my own pre- and ill-conceived notions of how a situation should unfold (or how someone should behave) ended with me getting the short of the stick. So I put forth the effort to change my modus operandi.

The Bigger Picture

The Crash of 2013

It’s predictable, almost inevitable. After living in New York for almost three months, performing in over one-hundred shows, and moving at the speed of a downhill slalom racer, there’s always a crash. Sometimes it manifests itself as abject exhaustion or a post-Christmas coma when I return to the real world of Orlando. Other times the crash shows up in the form of a mild depression, a fixation on “what’s next in my life,” musings over my purpose in life, or more often than not a fluid combination of the four.

The Bigger Picture

Blog Ketchup

I’ve found myself tossing and turning in bed at night wondering what’s next in my life, or simply lying there bug-eyed wide awake until 4:00 or 6:00 a.m. only to wake around noon. It began sometime during the last week of the show’s run and has only taken a day or two off since then. Maybe it’s a new manifestation of my post-Christmas exhaustion or the emotional crash of leaving behind the sensory stimulation of New York. In any event, I figured since I’m awake I’d try my hand at a blog post; but not before I tend to a little catching up. I’ve got a few things to share with you (in no particular order).