A New Year

A year ago I reconnected with someone from my distant (childhood) past. She posted about having a word for the year and trying to use it to better herself, to use it as an inspiration for the coming year. The word was kintsugi. A Japanese technique of repairing broken pottery using a gold lacquer in such a way as to not hide the cracks but to emphasize them; the pottery becomes more a work of art due to its scars. As applied to ourselves, the word is a metaphor for the repairing of broken lives and fixing the cracks we live with. Her post resonated with me and I replied very candidly and honestly. So began a yearlong relationship discussing personal and private things openly and without reservation. I am reminded of the closeness and intimate sharing in a relationship that sadly, I was missing. It has benefited me and, I can only hope, herself as well. I had a phone case made to remind me daily of the concept and, hopefully, help me in repairing some broken pieces in my life. The screensaver is, of course, Grace.


Grace is a 15 year old singer who won America’s Got Talent 2 years ago and was a big part of my year. I saw her audition show when I watched a ‘reaction’ type video a little over a year ago.  I’ve followed her career and her first set of concerts in support of her EP released as part of the AGT deal. Then 40 shows opening for Imagine Dragons all summer. I don’t think I’ve followed a performer like this since The Beatles. Her poise, wisdom, and presence is as baffling as her lyrics are startling and sometimes profound. Her voice can be sweet and raspy at the same time and provoke an emotional response that I certainly didn’t expect. From what I read from other people online, I am not alone. And yes, I understand how this all could be perceived as inappropriate. I thought about this and concluded that as a parent, if I had a daughter, Grace would be my ideal. If I had a sister, again, no one would be more perfect than she is. And if I was a 15 year old boy  I don’t think there would be a girl more perfect than Grace. It is taking all these feelings together and the way her voice pierces my emotions that made me a fan. I know how creepy it all may sound – I know it wasn’t – but it was a fun year and it is time to move on.

As the year closes I am taking stock of some of the things that stand out and gave me pause. A quote from the Dalai Lama who said the more we focus on ourselves the less happy we are able to become. Sori’s secrets shirt that says maybe its your secrets that are making you sick. The way the universe or god or spirit or whatever it is uses coincidence to emphasize and nudge us one way or the other. If we will listen. It’s what got me to watch the show Joan of Arcadia from beginning to still watching season 2 as of now. What if God was one of us? Most episodes do conclude with some type of revelatory message. One where Joan sees the far reaching effects of her actions, like ripples on a pond. Large and small, intended and unexpected as well. I have seen in my own family the ripples that actions can cause. They can affect others in ways we would never anticipate.

So for the coming year I will have a new word to remind me of this and guide me. Ripples. I will be mindful of not focusing on my needs as much, trying to be more helping and understanding of others and being aware that what I do or don’t do has consequences and does affect others. The word ripples will remind me of this

Guess I need a new phone case.


Showdown in Beckley


The game began so long ago we’d forgotten we were playing
The dealers dealt the cards to us
We played our hands as given

A game would end, a new begin; the deck was never ending
We’d discard, we’d draw, we’d keep our score
And promise to remember

The years would pass and players leave; new ones would take their place
We’d win, we’d lose, we’d fold and raise,
And you and I our separate ways.

The stakes are high, the wine is chill, the game this time’s in Beckley
The dealers watch  you play your hands
As cards are played and plans are made

Win or lose, we never knew; but the dealers watched us play.
Though now we play at different tables
From far away they watch us still

And as the game winds down in Beckley, and the dealers game as well
As Bob peers over his glasses at Dill; and Dill who wears a grin
He utters that dreaded word I’ve heard,
And signifies the game is done,
Another to begin.

Paul Kantner

It has been 2 years since Paul passed. At the time I was surprised at how much it affected me. It was 2 or 3 weeks before I could even listen to his music.
In the late sixties, Jefferson Airplane, Grace Slick; I loved the music, the culture. But then in 1971 Paul released the “Blows Against the Empire” album. It was science fiction, a concept album, and he had assembled a remarkable group of talent to make it happen. It was then I realized that it was Paul’s music the whole time that I loved. I followed him over the years, KBC band, Jefferson Starship in its various forms, and saw him many times when he came to New York. I spoke to him briefly at one show. His music became the soundtrack to my life.  He was talented, fearless, gentle, and had a very singular sense of humor. He loved his coffee at Cafe Trieste and sometimes could be found quietly visiting the Porziuncola Nuova across the street, saying a rosary to the Blessed Mother.  I could go on.
After his passing, the first thing I did listen to was on YouTube. I had never seen this performance before. It was the Contemporary Youth Orchestra performance in Cleveland 2011. Sketches of China. One of my favorites from years before. As I watched the children perform I started to tear up. Cathy Richardson sings ‘you don’t even know what this man feels like’ and it cuts to Paul on guitar; how could they have known I thought. I imagined Paul ascending and being conducted into heaven, back into eternity, with this as a soundtrack. And these innocent talented children playing and clapping along, creating this wonderful performance, not knowing that one day soon it would be viewed the way  I did. They have their lives stretching out before them with all the possibilities that could mean. “For they dwell in the house of tomorrow”,  which Paul,  …..and I,  can never enter.
Paul’s death, more than any others in my life, attached itself to my own mortality. I can’t explain it. Maybe I saw him as more of a contemporary with myself, as something of a kindred spirit. Maybe I felt some kind of connection to him. Maybe I just loved the man.
Still tear up.