My blog / email writing about life in Maine with family while running an independent music company has become a quarterly event it seems.
Simply because I write about our life and we spend so much time living there’s not much time left for writing.
But hopefully this makes each edition of my tales that much more interesting.
Summer in Maine is a time for being outside.
So I switch from the torture machine at the Y:
To the torture machine I use outside:
The biggest problem with the switch is a simple matter of gravity.
I use clip-in bike shoes and when you stop riding on the bike at the Y….
You just stop. The bike is on a stand. No problem.
My first ride this summer outside – I forgot about gravity.
At the end of the first big hill on my route I stopped for a break and a quick drink.
Forgot to unclip my shoes because I hadn’t thought about that all winter.
For those of you old enough to remember “Laugh-In” I looked exactly like the guy on the tricycle – who stopped and fell right over.
It was a slow-motion kind of moment – where you think “Oh oh….”.
You realize you’re going to fall over….you can’t do anything about it….even as it seems to take forever.
Landed on a rather sizeable rock.
Ouch that hurt.
Think I might have even cracked a rib or two.
But it only hurt to cough….for about three weeks.
I’ve had a great summer of riding….hopefully we’ll have a nice autumn and I can keep it up. Great changing leaves on my ride as fall comes.
I’ll take photos.
In the meantime – we made the most of our local lake swimming hole.
Usually a late afternoon stop:
Maine has unique events that we can’t seem to get enough of.
Different farms open up their premises for visits.
Our first visit this summer was to the Glendarragh Lavender Farm.
26 acres along the St. George River and it’s chock full of different varieties of lavender:
I suspect it has the nicest aroma of any farm anywhere.
Our friends Lorrie and Patrick Costigan started growing lavender in 2007. Their drying barn on the property dates back to 1790.
In 2009 – they made it easy for us to get all the different kind of lavender products we could want – they opened a lavender store on Main St. in Camden.
It’s so nice to have a unique shop in town that has no duplicate anywhere. The magic of a small town in Midcoast Maine is we’re too small for most retail chains so walking down main street is like taking a stroll in the 1950’s or 60’s. Independent, interesting stores.
Such a pleasure.
Check out Glendarragh at www.mainelavenderstore.com
Our next farm stop was for wild Maine blueberries.
Every year on Maine Farm Day we head to our favorite blueberry farm to pick some berries and buy some extras.
I never remember the name….but I always recognize the sign:
We didn’t pick this year because it was raining….but they had been busy:
This basket didn’t last long in our hands:
Summer is also baseball time.
We’re big Portland Sea Dogs fans (Red Sox Double AA Team).
A great stadium with a “green monster” wall the exact size of the one at Fenway and a perfect place to spend a few incredibly inexpensive hours:
This particularly night was one of their “fireworks” evenings and after a very tense, close game – alas they lost. Unfortunately the Sea Dogs after a great season last year are mirroring their big brother team in last place this season.
But a true baseball fan – especially the New England variety – isn’t so hooked on success – it’s the game we enjoy.
The Sea Dogs always do a great fireworks show:
Mid-summer – it’s time for the “Lobster Festival”!
Music, carnival rides, crafts and a kid who’s discovered the joys of the “bungee jump ride”.
This year he did a flip for the first time:
Mom and dad prefer the Ferris wheel:
Always love the view – take notice of the second big tent:
The object of the “Lobster Fest” is of course Maine lobsters.
They serve a lot of them over the five days of the festival.
All in that big tent.
We visited on Sunday – the last day of the festival.
Here’s the count of lobsters served up to the point we were there and the latest batch coming out of the biggest lobster cooker anywhere:
It’s also been a wonderful year for music.
Remember the old commercial for that weird “hair” company?
Where the guy in the commercial says “I’m not only the CEO – I’m also a customer”
Well that pretty much describes me.
I run an independent music company.
Because I love music.
Especially singer-songwriters – that’s what our company is all about.
It all starts with the songs.
Ever had a difficult time buying presents for your significant other?
From my own experience – it’s tough.
There’s nothing like working extra hard to get something I think my wife will love….and then get the….”Oh that’s nice…..interesting…..what made you think of that?”
It never even gets out of the box, hangs around the living room for about six months and then straight into a closet or drawer – never to be seen again.
I solved that problem
With tickets for her favorite artists in concert.
A triple win.
She loves the present and the artist – I love the artist – and get to go along to the show.
This summer she finally got the payoffs for her Valentine’s Day present and her birthday present.
Our 5th time seeing this guy together – nothing like a little “Steamroller Blues”:
Is there a better song than this?
We decided that this tour with a number of new songs from his new album was even better than the last time he came through Portland – how can a couple of Red Sox fans not love “Angels Of Fenway”:
A couple weeks later – it was the second payoff.
This time we had to travel to Boston and use some public transportation – the Green Line to Fenway Park:
Good news – bad news.
The good news – it was hard to get tickets – but we got in – and we were delighted – even though we were basically in the last row:
The bad news…..how is it that the largest guy in the stadium has the seat in front of me….and decides to stand up for the entire concert:
But no matter – it was a great night.
Can’t beat those songs – we love the “Piano Man”:
Speaking of songs.
That’s what Mishara Music specializes in.
I learned a long time ago that there are millions of great singers and musicians….but without great songs it’s basically a karaoke music world.
So we look for and sign great writers.
The challenge then for an indie music company – is how to connect the artists we have with the people that might love their music.
Love our radio play – but radio can’t play everything we have.
So we also love our steams on Spotify, Pandora etc and plays on Soundcloud.
But sometimes it’s best to go direct to our fans.
The best way to do that is give songs away – with no conditions.
Amazon has been a great partner in that.
In a number of different ways.
We’ve had six free song album samplers:
We’ve just recently starting doing individual song “sixpacks”:
Here’s our brand new “sixpack”:\
How do they do?
Through Amazon – Mishara Music has given away somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,300,000 free songs.
Feedback has been wonderful from the people that have downloaded free songs.
Here’s a sampling of the response:
Because of the response – more and more people keep downloading.
In the last week (Amazon changes the ranking hourly) I noticed at one point we had twelve positions on the Amazon Top 100 Free Album Chart:
And a few days later noticed that the songs from the latest “sixpack” were all inside the Top 30:
Here’s some links.
This link takes you to the Mishara digital page on Amazon – there are over 70 free song downloads there:
Wanna hear the music first?
All of the albums have YouTube Listening links – you can listen all the way through – just search YouTube for the artist and album name.
For example – here’s the YouTube Listening Channel for our latest release by Cass Dillon “Oregon Road”
Click on “Playlists” and you get a link that will play all the way through:
All our music is also on Soundcloud.
Here’s the two latest “sixpacks” as playlists on Soundcloud – just click on the link and start listening:
So it’s been a great music summer but today as I write this – is the first day of school here in Maine.
So we’ve been working hard to squeeze every last second of fun out of summer.
It was a very good weather summer here in Maine but it did rain from time to time.
A rainy day on a weekend?
A great day to head to the movies to see “Minions”
Of course – a new Minion was in order after the movie.
Had to be seat-belted in of course – Ethan is very insistent in that:
We had to have a “bring your Minion to work day”.
First he went to work with Kim at her office:
Then he took over my computer:
But maybe best of all – don’t know how he hasn’t had one for his first 9 years….Ethan finally got his first Pez:
The highlight of the summer is always the one week a year we get invited to join Kim’s Dad and Stepmother in the house they have for a week at Long Beach Island in New Jersey.
As soon as we arrive it’s off to the beach for Kim for her first beach walk:
I usually work during the mornings and head to join the family at the beach in the afternoon.
Beach and water? Check (I actually prefer swimming to hanging on the sand)
Umbrella? Check (I’m not a sun person)
Book? (The # 1 most important item for me on vacation) Check.
Ok, got everything I need:
We actually get up early every year and head to the beach to try and catch some sunrise photos.
Wasn’t the only one up early this year:
This past week was the Union County Fair.
I think we saw just about every parent we know with school age kids on the midway this year.
Ethan discovered the “YoYo” ride this year….over and over and over again:
The highlight of the fair for me is my annual caramel apple:
Three last photos for this post.
Yesterday was one last early morning walk on a Maine beach for Kim before school starts and signifies the change of season – even though it’s still officially summer for a while longer and we’ve got some fun things planned.
Beach walks are essential for her well being, No surprise when she gets photos like this:
As the sun starts to travel southward in the sky and our days in Maine are rapidly getting shorter – it’s a good time to post the opposite photo from Long Beach Island….this time the sun setting over the mainland….we spotted the sunset coming fast and actually ran as fast as we could to catch the last rays:
Isn’t that the way this summer has been?
It’s been the fastest summer I remember and it seems like we need to race to slow down…to appreciate what we have.
Especially when we look at the “real” world – it seems that the clowns have escaped from the Funhouse and we’re left watching them being covered 24 hours a day – day in day out.
Seems like this is where we need to build walls:
Finally, a photo wrap-up of summer in Maine 2014 / the Marcrescue blog “Life in Maine with an Eight Year Old & an Appreciation of Music”
A few notes before the attack of Maine summer photos:
1. If you’d like to make sure you receive this blog all the time – either sign up on the right hand side or if you’d prefer to receive via email – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. You’ll notice during my music notes that we’ve made it extremely easy to listen to the music via Soundcloud and Spotify – whichever you prefer. You’ll also notice no sales links. Yes sales are important and if someone wants to purchase any of our songs – they’re always available on iTunes & Amazon. The key to building our audience however is getting the music heard. Music has to heard to be appreciated.
In our family and in our community here in Maine everyone makes the most of it.
Not because the season is short and winter is just over the horizon…..we love winter as much as summer.
But because there’s a spirit here about living life and everyone we know has been out and about.
The last time I checked in with everyone – we had just passed this milestone:
Then summer took off like a rocket!
Are you ready……we’ve going to cover a lot of ground here and quickly.
It’s officially summer – how do we know? Because the people down the hill put out their annual summer sign…..which perhaps wasn’t written out exactly the way it was intended…..I sure don’t know any kids that play slowly…..but then again – it grabs your attention:
Gotta check the local swimming hole after a rainstorm:
Before you know it – “Coach Pitch” baseball is all over already and it’s time to get your end of season medal:
Harvest time for wild Maine blueberries – got to pick up our 10 pound box…..we freeze them and have all sorts of blueberry treats all winter:
Whew let’s take a breather & cool off – how about some Lemon Sorbet for Ethan and Coffee Heath Bar Crunch for dad on Father’s Day from Camden Cone:
Can’t beat Maine for summer camping:
Especially when you can take your morning camping coffee to the bench 20 yards away overlooking the ocean:
We take our eating seriously when we camp.
Some leftover beef brisket from the nearby BBQ place from the night before makes some mighty fine beef brisket hash for morning breakfast at the campsite – and yes it was every bit as good as it looks – not everything in Maine has to have lobster in it to be great:
But that said – Searsport Shores – our favorite ocean side campground takes eating seriously. Their Saturday night lobster bake makes it awfully tough to hike back to your campsite:
Fourth Of July…..bummer no fireworks…..rained out…..but how ’bout the nifty homemade popsicles that mom made:
Now let me take a moment here to say….during all of this…..work never stopped.
It never stops.
And some swell stuff happened this summer.
Chris Ross has spent the summer writing songs for his new album which he’ll begin recording shortly. He makes acoustic YouTube videos of each song when he’s finished writing them.
Can’t wait for the full band studio versions of these.
“You Can Have Mine”:
You can hear “Halfway To Wonderland” – Chris’ last album here on Soundcloud:
Or on Spotify:
One alternative to writing the new album….is spending the summer playing the new album at festivals.
That’s what Connor Garvey did.
Seemed to be a good plan.
Here’s where a partial list of where he played this summer:
Here’s how it went – one of those summers where you need to get an extra suitcase to take home the awards:
Wanna listen to both of Connor’s new albums…..easy to do…..just posted both new albums on Soundcloud & Spotify.
“Before The Meteors” – the live album that mirrors all the songs that are in the new studio album is here:
Also on Spotify:
The studio album “Meteors And Beating Hearts” is here on Soundcloud:
There’s another way to spend the summer – recording.
Both Ken Yates and Barnaby Bright have been spending time in the studio.
Ken has been recording some new songs and filmed one of the tracking sessions.
Here’s “Once More To The Lake”:
Here’s Ken’s last album “twenty-three” on Soundcloud:
And on Spotify:
Don’t have anything to share from the Barnaby Bright album recording sessions yet – but coming soon.
The whole Barnaby Bright fan universe is anxiously waiting to hear the studio versions of the songs they’ve been playing on tour breaks all summer.
Including this gem – “Just The Same” – recorded last year at WNRN in Charlottesville:
“The Longest Day” their last album can be heard in it’s entirety on Soundcloud:
I’ve been very busy all summer preparing new releases for this fall. More about that in a moment.
I’ve always been a believer in contributing to society in one way or another. Many might remember that I volunteered on a mountain search and rescue team for over 20 years while living in California.
Now in Maine I’ve found a new way to help….using my knowledge and long association with the music industry….I’m involved with our beautiful local historical opera house.
Built in 1894 and totally restored in the 1990’s…..I find myself during the Camden Opera House’s 120th anniversary….on the town board of directors.
Something I can do to help…..but unfortunately…..even after years and years in the music business…..I still can’t figure out which photographer is taking the photo…..arghhhh:
The Camden Opera House is such a great place for artists to perform…..lo and behold here’s Barnaby Bright playing there this summer:
As a special encore – Becky and Nathan stepped away from the mic’s – because the acoustics are so great….and sang at the front of the stage joined by special guest Liz Longley….what a great night:
This being Maine one can’t go too long without mentioning lobster again. As always we had a great time at our annual local “Lobster Fest”.
Here’s something you probably haven’t seen before unless you live in Maine.
The lobster trap race at the festival.
How many times can you make it back and forth across the harbor running on the lobster traps without falling in?
If you’re a kid most likely your favorite part of Lobster Fest is the bungee jump attraction…..where you get to dream of being some sort of superhero while you’re flying in the harness:
We always end our day at the festival riding the ferris wheel:
You cannot believe how many lobsters they serve during the five days of the Lobster Festival….here’s the count near the end of the last day – that’a a lot of lobsters:
It was also a great summer for gardens……here’s the first of many batches of cherry tomatoes:
At the end of the summer we get a carton of heirloom tomatoes from our favorite vendor at our local farmers market:
Lo and behold – they magically (with a lot of hard work by Kim) turn into the best sauce I’ve ever had in my life. It’s gonna be a wonderful winter:
But we’re not there yet.
First a little mini-golf…..and this time Mom got the hole-in-one:
Next up a day trip to Portland to check out the Jason Spooner Band performing at the Old Port Festival (they were great as always – as is the new album “Chemical”).
Just across from the stage we found this fence along the harbor (there’s always a cool discovery every time we got to Portland) – next time we’re bringing a lock.
If you look closely every lock has a message written on it. And they’re locked there by the people that put them there. So there they stay. Totally cool. What a great idea:
On the way back from Portland we’re legally required to stop at LL Bean’s Flagship store.
It’s open 24 hours a day / 365 days a year.
You meet the nicest people there at 3am:
Summer time for us is not just about eating…..although it might seem that way.
The town library sponsors summer movies in the amphitheater next to the library.
Bring a camp chair and a blanket:
Our local Bay Chamber Orchestra takes over downtown for an afternoon and dispatches classical players to storefronts, street corners and shops to perform for us. I caught this great duo at Zoot Coffee:
Of course there’s the beach.
A good place to catch up on Harry Potter:
And contemplate the beauty of nature (credit report here – many of the artistic photos in this post including this one were taken by my wife Kim. Every time I see one of her photos like this – the first words out of my mouth are “I’m stealing this one for the blog”):
Had to get in some hiking:
One of the sessions at summer day camp is theatre….there’s nothing like hearing your kid singing “Kids” from Bye Bye Birdie….”Kid’s? Whatsa matter with all these kids today?…..Why can’t they be like we were – perfect in every way….” (they even designed their own costumes):
Of course after a hard afternoon of summer theatre – it’s time to cool off with a Sno-Kone at River Ducks:
As we seem to be back at food again……how ’bout some fresh Maine raspberries….so sweet:
Another trip to Portland to see the Sea Dogs (Red Sox Double AA Farm Team) win in the bottom of the 10th:
What a surprise on the way down to Portland…….an annual gathering of VW campers of all ages…..all stopped at a rest stop to say goodbye to each other until next year’s meeting.
I had one identical to the beige one just to the right of center (arrow pointing at it) back in the 1980’s.
I never should have sold it.
The group even has it’s own t-shirts:
Kim’s told me getting another one is now on our bucket list.
That’s a good addition.
Better get crackin’ on some new music if I’m going to get Kim her camper.
I fell in love with a song called “Rain” a number of years ago by an artist named Meggan Waltman.
Almost had the opportunity to release it….but stuff happened and never did get it out.
So I just obsessed about the song for years.
After Mishara Music (www.misharamusic.com) was established as a label……I went looking for Meggan.
Phone disconnected, no Facebook, no Twitter, no search results.
Zip, nadda, nothin.
Bummed I was.
One day out of the blue……an email in my inbox.
“Hi Marc, It’s Meggan….I’m back doing music again”.
Oh Happy Day.
Turns out she’d moved to Japan for a number of years.
That’s why I couldn’t find her.
So – this time I didn’t hesitate.
Didn’t pass “Go”.
Didn’t collect “$200”.
Got a Meggan Waltman EP titled “Nomad” out in record time.
A digital release to start.
8 tracks from 3 different recording sessions over a period of years.
“Rain” is the first track.
And I want everyone to hear it.
So it’s free download.
No email required, no registration required.
Nothing like that.
Just click, download and enjoy:
Wanna hear the entire EP?
“Rain” will also be included in the next Mishara Music Free Song Sampler on Amazon.
This will be edition # 6.
You can get all five of the previous samplers anytime on Amazon.
Over 50 totally free songs by Mishara artists and friends of the label.
Here’s a number for you.
That’s how many free songs have been downloaded off of the Mishara Free Song Samplers on Amazon.
I’m looking forward to 2 million.
The passion here is sharing great music.
A songwriter (with a degree in English no less)
With songs the likes of I’ve never heard before.:
You’ll meet her in the next blog post.
In the meantime.
The sky is changing – the seasons are changing – it’s getting darker earlier:
But the cycle of life is always a surprise.
What’s new becomes old….becomes new again.
Ethan found our old antique dial phone (from the 1930’s) and insisted we hook it up for him.
He makes all his calls on it.
(He only has 3 numbers he can call – his dad, his mom and his nana).
No smart phone this…but so totally cool:
And of course we end where we started:
Life in Maine with a 7 year old – don’t need much, a little music & a lot of imagination & family – the Marcrescue blog
Life & Summer in Maine in photos, Caitlin Canty – a great way to listen, Don’t Go In The Basement & Music Conventions – the Marcrescue blog
During the summer there are two radio / record business conventions that I attend every year
Published: July 28, 2012
One night she stayed up all night translating a Latin text into English for a college paper. At 4 a.m. she e-mailed her professor saying she would deliver it in person. During the all-nighter, Ms. Seelig took Ephedra, a stimulant diet drug that had been banned by the Food and Drug Administration three years earlier, and had a few beers. When she felt sick, she called Poison Control for help, and spoke very clearly, a recording of the call shows. She arrived by ambulance at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, long regarded as one of the most troubled hospitals in the city, at 11:05 a.m. on May 30, 2007, conscious and alert but complaining of vomiting and dizziness.
She was given a sedative that put her into a deep sleep, and her wrists were tied to the bed. None of her friends or relatives knew that she was there, and medical records show no measurements of her vital signs for hours that afternoon, suggesting that she was left unattended by the medical staff.
By that evening she was brain damaged and on life support, with little hope of recovering. She died six days later.
Ms. Seelig’s case brings to mind the death of Libby Zion, an 18-year-old Bennington College freshman who died in 1984, eight hours after being admitted to New York Hospital, where she had been sedated and tied down. Ms. Zion’s death led to changes in the training of young doctors across the country, in a campaign led by her father, Sidney Zion, a well-connected New York writer.
But Ms. Seelig’s grieving parents, Warren Seelig and Sherrie Gibson, carried on their crusade in private — and without the satisfaction of knowing that her death had changed the way medicine was practiced.
How could a 22-year-old woman die so abruptly? How could a youthful misstep have had such disastrous consequences? Those are questions the Seeligs still struggle to answer after five years. Because their daughter was alone at the hospital, they are left with only a sketchy record of her treatment and no way to know what she felt during her final hours. Her mother and her estate sued Wyckoff Hospital and staff members who had treated Ms. Seelig for malpractice, but they lost after an emotionally grueling four-week trial in the spring.
Asked what her daughter’s biggest mistake might have been, Ms. Gibson said it was being young, carefree, adventurous and trusting.
“She had a wonderful innocent quality about her,” said her friend Erin Durant, an aspiring songwriter who worked as a waitress with Ms. Seelig. “I don’t mean that in a naïve way — that’s a terrible word to use, innocent, but she was very, like, kind but real.”
SABRINA was the younger of two sisters, and when she was little, her family lived in Philadelphia, where her parents taught at the University of the Arts. When she was 11, they moved to Rockland, Maine, a lobster town and artists’ colony. She and her sister, Ashley, went skinny-dipping in the granite quarries. Their mother designed and sold clothing. Their father taught art and made ethereal sculptural forms that have been installed at places like the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the new American Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia.
When she was 13, she wanted to start an ice cream stand. Her father helped her build it, and they named it Lulu’s, after their dog. The stand became a real business, a local phenomenon, and her sister still runs it today, with a small altar to Sabrina. “It has an authenticity about it, and Sabrina loved that kind of thing,” Mr. Seelig said. “She is an old soul,” he added, speaking of his younger daughter, still, in the present tense.
As a teenager, she directed plays, and her best friend, Caitlin FitzGerald, now an actress, starred in them. She graduated from high school a year early, in 2001, and took time off to travel before spending two years at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., attracted by its reputation for creativity. Then, restless again, she moved to New York, where her sister was in art school.
Ms. Seelig found an apartment at 70 St. Nicholas Avenue, five blocks from Wyckoff Hospital, and filled it with inspirational quotations from literature, shells from Maine and two paintings by her sister — “the only ones she ever liked,” Ashley said, adding, “It was, like, extremely bohemian, like, oh, come on.”
She drank Earl Grey tea with steamed milk, and wore flowing thrift-shop dresses.
Ms. Durant took her to the office of The Brooklyn Rail, a free, nonprofit journal of arts and politics based in Greenpoint, in a building just over the Pulaski Bridge from Long Island City, Queens, on a street so desolate it belongs in film noir. For Ms. Seelig, it was a sanctuary, almost like going home.
The Rail’s publisher, Phong Bui, would let her visit in the middle of the night, after a shift as a waitress, so she could have a quiet place to write. “She would bring a bottle of wine or make coffee, depending on her mood,” he said.
To David Varno, then The Rail’s production editor, now getting a master’s degree in creative writing at Columbia, it felt like a salon. “We would read books, talk about Walter Benjamin’s ‘Illuminations,’ Dore Ashton’s ‘New York School,’ ” Mr. Varno said.
He went to her apartment for a couple of parties and saw her for the first time surrounded by her friends from Hampshire College, worldly, sophisticated and promising.
“They were all wearing these kind of fancy party dresses,” he said. “I felt almost out of my element, but also happy to see that side of her, to see her in a more festive atmosphere.”
Waiting on tables at the Pink Pony, on the Lower East Side, she met a regular customer, Jan Baracz, a Poland-born artist who was 25 years older than she was, and they started dating.
ON May 29, the day after Memorial Day, Ms. Seelig worked the dinner shift at Tree, a new restaurant in the East Village started by Colm Clancy, an Irish immigrant who had talked her into working for him.
She told Mr. Baracz that she could not see him because she had to go home to Bushwick to write her Latin paper. When her roommate, Colin Barry, left for work around 8 a.m. the next day, she was still at the kitchen table, papers spread out around her.
About 10:45 a.m., she called 911.
“I, I, I think I’m poisoned,” she says on the recording of the call, which was provided to her parents after her death.
“I think after taking Ephedra, I looked online but I took Valerian, which is maybe poison, but I am having a hard time,” she went on. Valerian is an herbal sleep remedy, which some toxicologists believe is a kind of placebo, with no medicinal qualities.
She added, “I’ve been vomiting for the past while, and my limbs feel heavy.”
She hesitated only when asked her age. “Ah, 20-, 22, 23, no!” she cried. To her family, her confusion was understandable. Her birthday was two weeks away, on June 15.
The dispatcher asked if her door was unlocked, and she said she would go downstairs and unlock it.
When the ambulance did not come right away, she called the health department’s Poison Control Center.
The Poison Control operator, a woman, told her to sit down and wait for the ambulance.
Ms. Seelig: When will they come?
Poison Control: When did you call them?
Ms. Seelig: I don’t know. A while ago.
The operator, who seemed to be putting her off, asked if she could call a friend.
Ms. Seelig: I can, I did; they didn’t answer.
Poison Control: Your mom?
Ms. Seelig: No. My mom is in a different state. I don’t think it will help.
Poison Control, dismissively: Well maybe you could just talk to her for right now until the ambulance comes.
Ms. Seelig: O.K.
Poison Control: O.K. All right. Bye.
As the woman hung up and the line clicked, Sabrina could still be heard saying, “But help …”
THE missed calls are part of the legacy of guilt and regret.
Before going to the hospital, Ms. Seelig called Mr. Baracz and a friend, Rebecca Green, but they did not pick up. She left no messages.
“Sometimes I think I have vibes,” her mother said. “But I definitely had no vibes that morning or that day that anything was wrong. It just came out of the blue.”
None of her friends had any inkling that anything was wrong until that night, when Ms. Seelig was supposed to host a dinner party. That afternoon, Mr. Baracz began calling about the menu. When she did not answer by 6 p.m., he sent a friend, Joanna Spinks, who lived around the corner, to look for her. The door to her apartment was unlocked and her laptop was on her bed, showing the Poison Control Web site. By calling 311, Mr. Baracz tracked her down at Wyckoff.
Ms. Spinks got to the hospital first, around 8 p.m., and then was joined by Ms. Green. They found Ms. Seelig in a small bed with a curtain around it. “She was there unconscious with all the tubes in her,” Ms. Spinks said.
Her face looked normal, as if she were sleeping. “We were cutting up, like ‘Earth to Sabrina,’ ” at her bedside, Ms. Green said, aghast at the memory.
Quickly, the guests from the canceled dinner party converged on the hospital.
Mr. Baracz, now 53, remembers asking a nurse what had happened. “You know what happened,” she replied.
“Every hour they gave us a new explanation of what was happening,” Ms. Green said. “When she was still asleep at 5 a.m., we knew something was wrong.”
Mr. Baracz called Ms. Seelig’s mother, who remembers being told by hospital staff that she should not rush to New York, that her daughter would come out of it by morning. Ignoring that advice, she and Mr. Seelig drove two hours to the airport in Portland that night and got to the hospital Thursday morning, where they were told that a constellation of specialists was being consulted.
Frustrated by a lack of clarity, Ms. Seelig’s parents had her transferred to the Weill Cornell campus of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan that evening; there, doctors tried a cooling therapy. Her friends held hands and sang. But it was too late. On June 4, 2007, Sabrina Seelig was declared brain-dead, and she was taken off life support the next day.
Ms. Seelig was an organ donor, so by the time of the autopsy, her body had already been carved up. The medical examiner concluded that she had died of “water intoxication,” which usually means becoming overloaded with water without enough salt.
NO one is left to tell what Ms. Seelig was thinking or feeling before she died. The medical record, a jumble of handwritten notes, offers the only insight into her death. It came out over four weeks in May this year, at the trial for malpractice.
In 2007, when Ms. Seelig was a patient, the state ordered Wyckoff to hire a management consultant to improve its governance and finances. Five years later, it is still struggling. The Brooklyn district attorney has been investigating allegations of mismanagement. A three-month investigation by The New York Times, the results of which were published in March, found a history of insider dealing and positions being given to people with political ties. The hospital officials involved denied any wrongdoing. The hospital does not carry malpractice insurance.
In a pretrial deposition, an emergency-room doctor, Dali Mardach, remembered asking Ms. Seelig, “What’s a nice-looking girl like you doing in Brooklyn?”
Dr. Mardach gave her two anti-nausea drugs, Phenergan and Tigan, which experts said can be sedating. As Ms. Seelig thrashed on the stretcher, Dr. Mardach ordered two doses of Ativan, a strong sedative, given intravenously at 1:15 and 1:45 p.m., for a total of four milligrams. She also ordered wrist restraints so that Ms. Seelig would not rip out her IV or hurt herself.
Much of the trial was a blur of technical detail. There was conflicting testimony as to whether Ms. Seelig was ever given oxygen. Her first blood test, which showed she was low on salt, was compromised; another test was not performed for hours. She was put in the care of a junior physician in training, Sameer Kaul, who found that she was “barely arousable.” Dr. Mardach and the nurse, Joyce Smith, disagreed about which of them had found her when she crashed.
Most telling, all the witnesses agreed that there were no new vital signs entered in her chart for more than three hours, from 2:35 to 6:10 p.m., when she was found in a holding or overflow area with a racing heartbeat and foaming at the mouth. Ms. Smith said she had been watching Ms. Seelig’s cardiac monitor constantly, so there was no need to write down her vital signs.
The plaintiffs’ expert, Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor, argued that Ms. Seelig had been ignored while she suffered an agonizing death of hypoxia, or lack of oxygen, which if she were awake would have led to a feeling of being “suffocated,” from the combined effects of the sedative drugs she had been given.
The defense argued that she had had a heart attack brought on by taking at least three Ephedra pills and whatever other drugs she might have taken. (The chart notes that she was “known” to take Focalin, an attention-deficit disorder drug commonly abused by college students to study.)
Late in the trial, as the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Alan Fuchsberg, realized that it was going badly, he tried to suggest that the low salt level cited by the medical examiner should have been urgently treated, but a defense objection was sustained.
Dr. Johnson-Arbor stood alone against three defense experts, one for Dr. Mardach, one for the nurse and one for the hospital and its intern, Dr. Kaul. She was hugely pregnant; they were all middle-aged men in suits.
In his closing, the hospital’s lawyer, Michael B. Lehrman, blamed Ms. Seelig for bringing about her own death with whatever cocktail of drugs she had taken. “You heard how confused she was,” he said. “She couldn’t even say her age. She was already in the process at that point of dying.”
After a day and a half of deliberations, the jury of four men and two women returned its verdict: Wyckoff and the individuals working there had not been negligent.
The jury did not seem to identify with Ms. Seelig.
One juror, Marat Leychik, 23, an unemployed graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice who lives with his parents in Coney Island, said he had never had to use any stimulants, not even caffeine, to write a paper. “She, in my opinion, overexerted herself,” he said.
Another juror, Irene Katzos, 39, a homemaker turned breadwinner from Bay Ridge, said that unlike Ms. Seelig she was “not artsy.” When the Poison Control call was played, Ms. Katzos saw tears streaming down the face of Ms. Seelig’s father, who was hearing the recording for the first time. “I swore I would never look over there again,” she said.
After the trial, Dr. Eric D. Manheimer, former medical director of Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan, where he oversaw one of the busiest and most highly regarded emergency rooms in the country, reviewed Ms. Seelig’s chart at the request of The Times and concluded that she had not been properly monitored.
As a precaution, doctors should have put a tube in her airway to keep her from breathing her own vomit and stomach acid and to provide oxygen, he said. And they should have moved her to intensive care. Her low salt could have been an additional “metabolic cause of stupor and coma,” he said.
“It’s not rocket science,” Dr. Manheimer said. “Once your mental status is going down, you don’t know when the person is going to stop breathing.”
Ms. Seelig’s parents are left with a July 2007 letter of condolence from Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, then New York City’s health commissioner, whose office turned over the Poison Control recording.
“I wept after hearing the recording,” Dr. Frieden, now head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote.
“As a parent, physician and fellow human being, I was deeply disturbed by the interaction of the Poison Control Center with your daughter,” he wrote. Dr. Frieden said that the person who took the call “no longer works for the Poison Control Center,” and that he was working on better coordination with 911.
For Mr. Seelig and Ms. Gibson, the letter serves as evidence that their daughter’s death did matter to someone, and made some difference.
Asked what lesson might be taught by Sabrina’s death, Ms. Gibson said there was one. “No one should go to a hospital without someone with you — no one,” she said. “Don’t go unless somebody at least knows you’re there.”
A version of this article appeared in print on July 29, 2012, on page 1 of the National edition with the headline: The Short Life and Lonely Death of Sabrina Seelig.
A striking letter, a tribute, graduation, summer baseball, camping, music & it’s hot!!! – the Marcrescue blog
A Bert retrospective / great radio to hear real artistic new music & the best cheesesteak! – The marcrescue blog
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