It’s when I left the south that I realized how naïve people are about it, sometimes exposing in themselves their own prejudices. It’s not uncommon for someone to make the following comments after I tell them where I am from: “I bet you are really glad you got out of there”, or “what the hell is wrong with everybody down there?” – this is usually in reference to some crazy politician. Just remember San Francisco, South Carolina may have Nikki Haley, but we have Leeland Yee. I even had a well-educated Californian ask me how it is that I got into Yale being from there.
(An aside: I just attended my nieces high school graduation - the same high school I graduated from. Her senior class of barely 200 students has over $9.8 million in college scholarships.)
At any rate, I just spent a week back home and it has prompted me to set a few things straight. I live in California and I love it, but I also love the south. I am not naïve about its history, nor am I naïve about the fact that some people in the south still need to get their heads out of their collective asses, but it is a beautiful place, with great people and amazing traditions.
Here are just a few things that I love. . .
That’s all for now.
Oh, and "It's great to be a Gator Hater"
Every family has it's triumphs and tragedies. Mine, in my opinion, has had more than its fair share of the latter. But there is also plenty to be thankful for, and that is where the choice lies: the age old question about the glass and the level of its contents.
With graduation season in full swing there are a lot of posts featuring inspirational speeches by one dignitary or another. I watched a YouTube video of Naval Admiral William H. McRaven giving the commencement speech at the University of Texas. He offers the graduates a list of life lessons he learned while in Basic Seal Training. While all of it is fantastic advice it's the last bit of advice that stuck with me.
You see, in the last several years me and my siblings have lost a father and another set of "second parents", all to fairly horrible medical issues and all of them a long road to the end. Then, over the last year I have probably spent a total of two months helping my mother go through the process of getting a lung transplant. (More on this later as it may take up multiple blog posts) That's just my immediate family, and just the last several years. If I include my extended family, the list is both spectacular and daunting:
At the end of Admiral McRaven's speech he references "the bell". A brass bell that stands in the center of the compound at navy seal training camp. You may remember this bell from the movie G. I. Jane. The bell is placed there as a way out, a way to end all the suffering and get you out of there. In short, it's there for those that want to quit. His advice to graduates is "If you want to change the world, don't ever ever ring the bell."
Now, my family is not out to change the world or anything, but we have certainly been blessed with a stand up and fight attitude when it comes to dealing with the crap that gets thrown our way. I can proudly say that I can't think of a single person in my family that has "wrung the bell". It's not who we are. Not because we haven't thought about it, but because we have made the choice to keep going, to fight the battle until the bitter end, to walk past the proverbial bell and not even recognize its presence.
I'm proud of us, the ones who've been diagnosed, and the ones who have cared for them. It's not something everyone does well.
All that said, we could seriously use a break . . .
Why this? Why build a website that is for all intensive purposes just my own personal outlet?
Honestly, I'm not entirely sure. Over the past few months I've realized more and more that I have a lot to say about a lot of things and gradually came to the conclusion that I needed some type of public forum, whether people read it or not. I also caught the blog bug a little bit last year when I wrote a couple of entries for the Community School of Music and Arts where I have worked for the past 12 years.
In addition to a blog I wanted a place where my students could go to get information about performances and lessons, and my family can see where I've been. So, I just decided to lump it all into one place.
You will find a lot of topics here as my life seems to be filled with a wide variety of things:
I'm quite sure nothing I have to say will be backed up by science or receive a million hits but I hope you enjoy something, and thanks for indulging me.
I am a musician, teacher, non-profit program director, transplanted southerner, cancer survivor and college football fan. And will probably write about all of it.