Using Chalk Outlines to Parallel Park in RI

I left the house early. My appointment was at 10, but traffic and parking can be a challenge. I found a spot about a half-mile from my destination–I have always objected to paying for parking if there is any alternative, and I hate parking garages. Not that I can’t afford six bucks to park–it’s the principle of the matter. I can walk. There was a time that I couldn’t. When I was finishing grad school, I ruptured my Achilles’ tendon playing basketball. It was the tail end of student teaching.

You don’t know joy until you’ve humped your student teaching supplies–and you can tell a student teacher a mile away because of the supplies–eight miles a day from the parking lot to the classroom. Crutches are fun for the first day when people give you the sad look and bring you coffee and gifts. After that, you’re about two days away from pinched nerves, numb fingers, and shoulders you think might have been your primary injury.

I never much thought about parking before that, with the exception of my mom’s continuous prayers for parking. She always prays for a good spot. I, myself, think the Almighty must have something more pressing to do than look for a parking spot for my mother at the grocery store–not that she hasn’t earned it with her goodness, but isn’t there cancer to cure? World peace to negotiate? I could never pray for a parking space.

Until I was on crutches. One day, I had to return library books to the college library. There were no handicapped spaces–they were filled with cars without handicapped stickers probably going to the ball game. I was forced to park in the student lot about twenty marathons away.  Eight hours later, as I hobbled to the library door, I saw a lady returning to her car without a handicapped sticker in the space I would have used.

“Ma’am,” I said. I’m not usually assertive–twenty books about dead people at five pounds each on one leg will do that to you, “That’s handicapped.” Many people will do things like litter and park in the handicapped spot because they feel they’ll never get caught. But when they do, they get shifty, embarrassed.

“Oh, um, there’s nowhere to park,” she tried to explain, unable to look me in the eye. Even if she wanted to, she couldn’t have seen over the stack of Schlesinger and McPherson.

“Yes there is. Over there. In the lot. You have to walk. Lucky you can. That’s where had to park because you are here. There are plenty of spaces left.” She looked like she wanted to be bitchy but I was being polite. And she was wrong. She slammed her door and zoomed away to look for another handicapped space I wasn’t guarding quite as well.

Yes, parking is an issue in Rhode Island. I didn’t mind today’s half-mile hike. Finding a space is a victory. As I walked, I analyzed Rhode Island parking. I took pictures. On first glance, it seems Rhode Islanders are leaving a respectful distance between cars. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is only because parallel parking is not part of the driving test here. No one knows how to do it. If you know how to parallel park, you simply line up the rear ends of the cars, and turn the wheel in. It may take a few reverses and wheel turns, but you can get into a space as long as it’s a foot or two longer than your car. I had a job once where half the staff meeting was spent watching one member arrive and try to parallel park every week. It’s a skill that’s next to impossible to witness in these parts.

Examine these spaces closely. A New Yorker would start slashing tires. You can fit eight Fiats and an RV in those spaces! This would never, ever fly in a city, where parking half a car length away means someone has to sleep at work because there are no spots near his home.

You see this extra space? A New Yorker would lift this car and move it to make space.

You see this extra space? A New Yorker would lift this car and move it to make space.

Unacceptable. If you can't parallel park in a reasonable distance, don't drive.

Unacceptable. If you can’t parallel park in a reasonable distance, don’t drive.

Stop this nonsense. Let’s hear your voice added to “Rhode Islander’s for Parking Reform.” There are so many parallel parking travesties we’re not even going to discuss the diagonal-parkers or those who park on the line so I need to exit through my sun roof. Which is tough, because I no longer have one. Maybe we need to put lines on parallel spaces, too. Maybe a chalk outline of a dead body or something–that’s a universal symbol Rhode Islander’s understand. If you can fit your cousin Vinny on the ground between two cars, you have used too much space. Be considerate. Let other people park too. There aren’t many of us here. I know we eat a lot of pasta, but There should be space for all of us.

 

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The Next Deplorable Trend in Fashion: Teen 101 Series

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 6.16.46 AMSagging. Butt cracks. Guys with skinny jeans that look like they got robbed from a second grader. Hundred-dollar ripped jeans. Sneakers that are venerated not played in. Chains on pants. Bright red hair. Micro micro micro minis. Shirts missing sleeves–maybe it was a half-price sale for one.

These are the fashions I deal with daily in school.

If you can’t beat them, join them.

“Miss–your sweater’s ripped.” I look down and feign surprise. Indeed it is. Truth is, I knew that. I laid out my clothes for the next day, not realizing that the seam had ripped out my entire left arm, leaving a gaping flapping sleeve. I was cold. I had two choices. Run with it, or wake my husband at dumb o’clock in the morning rummaging for another warm thing to wear.

I went with “run with it.” I figured that if I can be butt-cracked daily by sagging teens eight feet taller than me, I can wear even more bad fashion. Much better than creating a grumpy guy.

But then, I got an idea.

“I know, isn’t it cool?” I said. Puzzled looks…

“It’s the next great fashion. It’ll be bigger than leg warmers and teal.  You all ripped your pants and drew on them with Sharpie already–that’s old. This is new. The next thing. By the end of the week, I predict you’ll be ripping your sweaters, too. By Friday, they’ll be making these in China for the runway in New York.

I nodded and walked away, a group of freshmen looking at each other quizzically, one or two staring at a sleeve wondering if it should get ripped.

Only the two seniors stood in the back laughing .

[image: ultragross.blogspot.com]

 

Hoodies will get you extra points

I think that computers and start ups are the only fields where looking like crap scores you points. Actually, it seems to be a badge of honor. No one wears a suit jacket. The guy with the suit jacket sticks out. Everyone wears a hoodie.

I brought my one hoodie–my Grockit hoodie sent all the way from Silicon Valley, and tried to fit in. I may have to rewear it today, unlaundered and all. I think that the crumpled look will get me points with the judges.

Maybe our product will too. It solves a problem in education, one that no one has solved, the fact that entrepreneurs and teachers need to have a way to connect, getting good products to students and classes. The fact that entrepreneurs need feedback to develop these products. For too long, I’ve been looking at unused icons on old computer desktops. Products that students hate. I want these entrepreneurs and visionaries to give students products they love.

They can’t do that unless they meet teachers and teachers tell them what they need. Our creation, BetaMatch, solves that. It also solve some other problems, problems I hadn’t even anticipated. Like, how does investor know if a start up is legitimate? If kids would use it? If it is been proven in front of teachers? It came to my attention that this solves this problem too. If you had told me a year ago that I would be solving problems for venture capitalists, I would’ve laughed at you.

We came to the table with a very simple solution. It seems like it has grown into something more. Sort of like every problem, and every solution, in life. That is my lesson here today.

I never expected to get this far. It’s been a surprise. And fun. I met some inspirational people who are solving the problems of education. There are a lot to choose from. Win, lose, or draw, that’s all that matters. It’s why I came here.

I got to see the inner workings of Socratic Labs, an ed tech “accelerator,” a company that develops some of the EdTech companies you will come to know soon. I waited on the subway platform at 3AM, saw my friend Heather Who Never Sleeps, she sleeping now as I write. I hope she didn’t lose her superpowers.

I met inspirational mentors, like Doug, Ash, and Chris, who helped me add value to our new company.

I even got to meet my West Coast boss, Farb Nivi, who in addition to having done some pretty great things for education himself, is a much better musician than me. That carries a lot of weight in for me.

Most importantly of all, I worked with an amazing team. I got to meet visionaries. People whose companies you will see you soon. People whose companies my company may bring to you. It was synergistic–I loved watching people work together to solve the problems of education,often working together on each other’s products. I met some people who will become my friends. I learned a lot in the process.

That’s what it’s all about.

So now, let me go prepare for our pitches tonight. I have to take some extra time to crumple my hoodie just a bit more.

“Only Savants Have the Right Answer All the Time” (Chess: Part Two)

Chess Story Two: Chess and Improv

A student of mine, Karim, called to tell me some things about his acting career. Karim is not a student, technically. He’s three years away from 30. If he were still a student, he’d be in deep trouble. He called to tell me he had just conversed with a famous actor from my generation.

“I called you because you know who that is,” he said. I wasn’t sure how to interpret that. “Know who that is” because I know tons of stuff, or because I’m ancient, just like this legend.

Either way, I’m honored. When students include me on their short list for communicating major life events, I’ve succeeded in my job as a mentor. When someone makes me Call Numero Uno, that’s more than a metric–it’s beyond compare. I never take it for granted.

It's lonely up thereKarim told me about his improv class.  I’d tried my hand at acting. I was terrible. I couldn’t project or transform. At least I’m spontaneous. It’s a gift in teaching.  In fact, the reason I wanted Karim to be a famous actor to begin with, advice I have given exactly once in my teaching career, was because he always had that spontaneous wit. I wondered why he’d need an improv class.

“Let me ask you this. You always have wit. Creativity. Something to say. Do you need improv class? Is it helpful, or a situation where you’ve either got the ideas or you don’t?”

I recorded his reply in my book of life’s lessons. This is what he said:  “Studying improv helps me to develop two or three scenarios for everything. It’s kind of like this–in life you have to have the moves ready before anyone else,” he explained.

“So, it’s like chess? Where if you don’t have the moves for every situation well in advance, you get slaughtered.” Chess has been coming up a lot lately.

“That’s exactly what it is. That’s the only perfect analogy,” he said. “I always think ten times faster than everyone, but this class helped me think twenty times faster than that. By the time you have something in mind, I’ve already planned what I’m going to say to that. Then when you actually say your piece, I have two or three more things on top of that. The first response I created is already old. I’ve already moved on.”

He took it one step further, making the connection to life–that’s what good teaching does. “Everyone should take an improv class. It helps you. It helps you plan strategy. It helps you think. It helps you have something to say. Let’s say a client throws you a curveball. Your mind is ready for it. You’ve got an answer,” he said.

“The answer doesn’t have to be right. You’d have to be some kind of savant genius to always have an answer that’s right. But you have to have an answer. If you’re able to have some sort of retort, you’re good. Then you throw the ball back at them and they have to say something back to you. It buys you time.  And by the time they answer, you got three more things to say. That’s what the improv class does for you. It helps in business. It helps in marketing. It helps in life. It would help you in the classroom.”

Plan three things ahead. The answer doesn’t have to be right. Be spontaneous. These are the things that help in business. In marketing. In life. 

I got off the phone inspired. Ready to go find an improv class so I, too, could be perfect in life. I might even apologize to the kid who was the lead in the play I wrecked in high school  because I was a sucky actor. Either way, I’m thinking deeply about those things that make learning real. Karim is right.

And that is why I teach. To have my lessons paid back in spades.

Carnegie Hall--the most coveted stage in the world

Carnegie Hall–the most coveted stage in the world

Incidentally, a school field trip to the theatre ignited the fire in Karim. The type that is being cut all over America in a tragic turn of testing over talent, where we’re losing our ability to recognize that the answer doesn’t always have to be right–that the ability to be flexible, spontaneous, focused, and apply what we’ve learned is the key to success.

Karim said he wouldn’t have attended the theatre without that school trip. “Seeing the lights, the stage, the people creating themselves into something else. It’s what we all try to do in life…in our little realms, our jobs, our identities, we’re all trying to create something of ourselves. This stage is just more formal.” For him, just as real.
 
[Here’s Karim Léon’s website. Any readers who are in The Biz? You should hire him.]

A Connecticut Yankee (still) Lives In Rhode Island (and you should, too)

Screen Shot 2012-12-30 at 9.50.19 PMYesterday morning seemed to be a good time to reflect about my twenty years in Rhode Island. I was driving to an appointment I inadvertently scheduled for next Saturday, making me seven days and ten minutes early, when all of a sudden a rusty-red truck cut me off, nearly knocking me into next week (which would have made me only ten minutes early for said appointment).

The truck felt the need to zip in front of me, avoiding me by a fraction of a micron, though there was not another car on the road, then proceeded to slow down to a half a mile an hour, take both lanes, and navigate a ninety-degree turn in just under fifteen minutes, sans blinker.

“Rhode Island drivers,”  I exclaimed, nodding my head.  Actually, I didn’t say that at all, and that wasn’t the gesture I made–I made the real one in my mind because I think such gestures, though deserved, lack class and dignity. But I did say the word out loud.

Rhode Island has such a unique little culture–once called Rogue Island by the other 12 colonies, it was so difficult in all matters of trade, intercourse, and politics, that Connecticut threatened to invade it and wipe it off the map.

Perhaps you find yourself in Rhode Island currently. You might be attending one of our excellent colleges like Brown, RISD, Bryant, Providence College, URI, Roger Williams, Johnson & Wales or RIC. Perhaps you are stationed in Newport at the Navy base. Maybe you’re thinking of moving your business here. I have a friend from Brooklyn who came to Rhode Island just because, and appears to be stuck forever.

So, in case you are driving through, not realizing Rhode Island is a bona fide state, and you get a flat tire, I’m here to help you consider the possibility of spending even more time in the Ocean State.  You can develop an appreciation for the “biggest little state in the union” and its culture while you are waiting for AAA. You know you want to live here forever. Here are some reasons to stay:

It’s cheap. Compared to Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts, you can afford a lot. A house that’s a half a million dollars in Massachusetts is sure to be a couple hundred thousand here. Many people commute to Boston from Northern Rhode Island as a result. We even have connections to the Boston commuter rail (the “T”), an Amtrack to New York, and a real honest-to-goodness airport where you will only be delayed sometimes, and when you are, there’ll be plenty of Dunkin Donuts coffee.

We have great food.   Federal Hill has some of the best restaurants in the country. I’m partial to little establishments tucked away in remote neighborhoods, but don’t be mistaken–we also have a list of heavy-hitters a mile long in the five-star department.  It’s just that, well, not many five-star chefs enjoy sharing their art with five-year olds who only eat noodles with butter, so I don’t get to these often. Guy Fieri has recognized the Rhode Island culinary scene–he’s been here twice!

In addition to restaurants, we have farmer’s markets, like the summertime market at Casey Farms in South County, which is more like an event than a market, showcasing food, music, and artisan crafts. South County is really Washington County but no one knows that–it got nicknamed “South County” because it’s–well, south of the other two counties, and it’s easier to spell on a form than “Washington.” Casey Farms has been active since 1750.  It now has a community supported agriculture program in addition to the farmer’s market.

There is a wintertime farmer’s market in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in what is called the Hope Artiste Village.  “Hope” is a motto of Rhode Island, as in “I hope I can find my way out of this place,” “I hope I can understand you people,” and “I hope I don’t lose a tire to a pothole.”

The Artiste village is really inspirational, though. This is an old mill converted into loft and artist space, where you will find everything from artisans and businesses to the New Harvest Coffee Roasters.  Just follow the hippies and sustainability people (you spot them easily because they carry their own canvas bags) and Brown students (you recognize them because the expression on their faces is a unique combination of pride at their intelligence mixed with sadness since they are about to spend the rest of their life paying student loans). It’s every Saturday morning. Incidentally, I used to live a few blocks up the street, but when I lived there, there were no hippies and Brown students, just people trying to steal my car.  Ironic twist of fate–the cool stuff comes when I leave.

You’ll save on gas.  This is because the state is only three feet wide by four feet long.  Local Rhode Islanders don’t see it this way, so you’ll have a decided advantage when immigrating. You’ll say, “Wow, I can get there in a half-hour.”  Driving a half hour or crossing one of the state’s three main bridges will cause a Rhode Islander to pack an overnight bag–no joke.  “Mainlanders” going over to Newport, a drive of twenty to forty minutes depending on the point of origin, often incur hotel fees, but if you come from any other state, you’ll jump up and down for joy at how little time it takes to get anywhere and how silly-short your commute will be.

Believe it or not, despite the size of Rhode Island, there are many drivers in this state that do not use highways, and prefer only to enjoy the scenic back roads. This gives you more space to cruise down 95 from pothole to frost heave, making your commute even shorter.  Beware, though–Rhode Island and Massachusetts have a long-standing feud from on who has the worst drivers. Blinkers are optional but middle fingers mandatory. If you have a good imagination, you can pretend you’re participating in one of those NASCAR adventure excursions without paying a dime. Be safe!

You won’t have to watch mobster movies anymore.  They say that Rhode Island corners the market on two things–mobstas and lobstas.  Both are true. If you’ve been watching too much reality TV or an excess of Godfather reruns, you’ll save time with your move to Little Rhody. Turn off your Goodfellas and Jersey Shore. Read a few days of the Providence Journal and your craving for these things will be satisfied.

You can visit all the important places from “Family Guy.” Although it might look like a cartoon, it’s real. The Big Blue Bug exists. I lived two miles from the Quahog Convenience Store. For real.

It’s easy to make friends here. You won’t have to memorize many names. If you forget one, you can call everyone “my friend.” All male names have only two conjugations–the “ie” conjugation “Vinnie, Joey, Ralphie, Nicky… ” and the slightly less common “o” conjugation “Dino, Rocco, Bruno, Vito.” This makes it very easy to bond quickly and remember everyone, which is important if you want people to like you.

If you do move to Rhode Island, however, the first thing you’ll want to do is get an accent coach. He can double as a translator for learning words like “kah,” and “bubbla” or when you are puzzled to discover a “cabinet” isn’t something that stores dishes, it’s something you drink. This is costly but essential to your successful integration to the state because Rosetta Stone’s Rhode Island course won’t be ready until 2014.

All in all, Rhode Island is a great place. There are a million things to do–hike the woods, go to the ocean for clams, eat the best food in the nation, pretend you’re in Venice, drop a couple hundred grand on a prestigious institution of higher learning, or pretend to be a mobsta. Prices are cheap, the economy is rebounding, commutes are short, and in a week or two, with hard work and a friendly attitude, you can meet most of its citizens.

If you get a chance, come visit. If you get lucky, stay!

[That is my public service announcement for Rhode Island, the only state smaller than Connecticut.  For more great info, visit my Learnist board “About Rhode Island”]

Failing at Music–Succeeding at Life: Part Two

 

Eastman Theatre
[image: akustiks.com]

I wanted to be a professional musician, but I did not have the chops. So I began my evil plan.

I had two choices for college. One was an Ivy League college that I didn’t exactly like and, as it turned out, didn’t exactly like me.  The second was the University of Rochester in upstate New York. It was filled with friendly people who let me stay with them for a weekend and drink–much better marketing.  And this school just so happened to have a music school attached to it—the Eastman School of Music.  It was a postern of fate.

Had I told anyone—a single soul—about my plan to attend the Eastman School of Music they’d have committed me on the spot.  Eastman was one of the Big Three. It required some element of musical preparation or training. But I was going to take it completely off guard.

In order to go to the Eastman School of Music, one had to apply, audition, and be accepted, which presumably meant it was necessary to be a master of at least some particular instrument. Those who went to Eastman not only started their training two years prior to conception, they practiced every day for twenty-six hours, forgoing even basic nutrition for music, which they considered sufficient nourishment for the soul.  They talked about Beethoven incessantly and threw birthday parties for Mozart instead of for themselves.  Their idea of a fraternity party was to get together at night and contemplate Brahms some more over a bowl of chips that had grown stale because everyone was too busy discussing Brahms  to actually eat them.

I, on the other hand, could neither read nor hand-write music—and as a result, I spent a great deal of my time cheating my way through like an illiterate person reading road signs.  Every once in a while, you get one very, very wrong.  “Sorry, chief—that said ‘one-way.’”

This wasn’t going to be easy—disguising myself as a musician and getting into what I still did not realize was the premiere classical conservatory in the nation. I would need a loophole, and that’s just what I found.  Rochester students could take music courses at Eastman.  What if I just registered for all the good music courses?  Eastman students were there, and the classes commingled.  I could take almost the same classes with the Future Musicians of America, join bands with them, discuss Brahms with them, scoff at the poor slobs majoring in pre-med, economics, and history, and be musically, intellectually, and socially superior to the entire universe.  And I wouldn’t even have to be properly trained—it was a win-win situation by any stretch of the imagination.

Thus, I registered for classes at the Eastman School of Music through the regular university. Totally legal. I studied all the theory I could muster and passed the exam through rote memorization, because that’s what academic people without “proper musical training” do.  Then—on the day of truth—I showed up for my audition.

I was playing what some would consider a challenging piece—Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto.  I couldn’t actually read the score, so I bought a record—the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir George Solti—and read alongside the record—sort of a closed caption for the musically impaired.   I practiced for the entire summer before on my borrowed clarinet, because I was neither good enough nor well-funded enough to own one, and went off to college.

Audition day. Imagine the panel of musical geniuses waiting to hear the next lead of the Boston Philharmonic. Imagine that they have just endured a thousand auditions—the next Yanni, the next Yo Yo Ma, next Chris Botti…and then…there…was me.

Twenty years later, I am truly remorseful for the sorrow I inflicted on these men and I include them in my daily prayers.  I ask the Lord for forgiveness and to make their lives better in some subtle way.  If I were Jewish, I’d track them all down on Yom Kippur and beg them to accept my apology outright, because after hearing me, they were never quite the same.  I’m convinced that I took a little piece of music from each and every one of their souls and trampled on it like Marilyn Manson at a Boston Pops concert.

At the end of what they must have thought was a Candid Camera prank or a CIA torture training mission (miraculously cut short because God Himself sped down into that hallowed hall, and broke my clarinet in half), all the men could do was look straight ahead, pause, and say, “So, you like Sir George Solti.”

I steeped myself in everything Eastman. I laughed at the Beethoven jokes; I walked laps around the Gilded-Age auditorium. I went to concerts.  I breathed in the stale air of the practice rooms.  Even though it took me a 45 minute ride on the blue bus, I took a work-study job at the Sibley Music Library, where I began cataloguing music scores for less money than I would have made in a prison laundry, getting highly indignant—alongside the other Brahms lovers—when people misalphabetized the Russian version of Shostakovich  and put Von Weber under “w.”

After that, it took me exactly two weeks to flunk entirely out of the music program, which I still did not realize was the best program in the nation.  I called my former band director who had inspired me to tell him I was struggling at Eastman and I feared I most probably would not succeed.

“YOU DID WHAT?” He didn’t sound impressed.  And so I came clean. I divulged the whole story—of my sneaking onto the “Eastman” rosters under cover of darkness, of my torturing the great musicians on the panel taking musical years off their lives. How I got a 40 on my first assignment, major scales, and a 20 on minor scales, and that was only because the infinitely good Dr. Harrison said, “You didn’t earn that 20—but I can see that you tried really hard.”

In the end, the stress got me sick.  I was sick for a solid month. I shuffled back and forth to health services.  I commiserated with my yet-to-be-premed friends, with whom I now spoke since Brahms was giving me the cold shoulder, and I plugged through the rest of first semester before finally admitting I was not musician material.

The discipline of “proper training” made music seem more like another aspect of calculus than the soul and essence of life.  It became a self-torture I couldn’t stop—a train wreck—the part of a mountain climb where it seems that the summit is right around the corner, but when you pass the next tree, you see the ridgeline open up and reveal it to be so far in the distance that you’re not sure you want to press on.  When you ultimately decide to continue and you arrive at the next point where you thought the summit would be, it turns out to be an illusion once again.  I was left with the sinking feeling of defeat and disappointment, where the thing I thought I loved—the passion in my soul, turned out to be one giant red herring.

I didn’t even get into the lowest of piano courses—the one everyone takes.  My audition turned out to be surprisingly similar to my clarinet audition.  The professor said, “Very good,” when I played the Mozart, and then, “Read this,” handing me some Chopin that looked like Chinese Braille.  Game over.

I was forced to finish that semester in clarinet.  I continued to travel over to Eastman to study with my personal graduate student, Michelle, who was undoubtedly in trouble for something and had to redeem herself by teaching me.  I sincerely hope she is not working in a sub-par elementary music program soon to be cut.  She was an angel.  She made me feel good.

I played one semester in the River Campus Symphonic Wind Ensemble, being too ignorant to know that it was an entire year commitment until my conductor found me and said, “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?”  By that time I supposed the loss of one more third clarinet was probably a blessing to everyone.

I sang Gospel during the rest of my tenure at school—one of two white people in that group.  Gospel I could handle—no music reading, a history of musical improvisation, and fun group of people with a conductor, Dr. Alvin Parris, who demonstrated that music was a gift from heaven channeled through people regardless of “proper training.”  In this group, I learned some technical skills, and had the experience of being the only person of another race in a large overpowering majority—I experienced the smallest sampling of the struggles with which my choir members lived constantly, the subtle infusion of racism that permeated their very existence, from which I could escape but they could not.  That was a gift I carry with me to this day.

I left music behind with a better understanding of the timeless cliché, “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.”

Today, music has returned to my life. I see the beauty, joy, and patterns in nature.  I pick up my guitar and write, sing, and play on my terms.  I write satire, folk, and other pieces of no particular consequence that will never be produced for the betterment of humanity.  I have sung a roast or two, and I freestyle with my students when directly challenged. I always win.

And I am grateful for my failure. I am happy with my music.  Once again, it brings me great joy.