Music, education, and catharsis

Music and education have been prominent in the news of late and obviously education is truly on the front burner of my mind. It bothers me intensely that I might think or say that I am glad to have retired when I did because of all the insane bureaucracy (I accidentally had written bureaucrazy and maybe that is more appropriate). Going into a classroom and truly fearing for my professional life because of something simple I might say that was not with bad intentions would make me insane. Anyway, let’s talk music.

Music is a language, in my estimate, and also a very important part of life. Music and the Arts are things that have existed since before time and are necessary parts of life for most people. I would say all people, but I recognize that some have not realized the good that they bring for whatever reason and they actually need it even more than the rest of us.

The other day, I was working on a puzzle and literally broke down into tears. I really had not thought properly about the music I had put on, happy music, music of Snow Patrol, an interesting group with origins in Northern Ireland and Scotland. It makes me sing along, it makes me whistle. When I tried to sing this time, I realized that I was totally choked up and tears had started to flow in my eyes. Whether I like it or not, my upbringing where «Boys don’t cry» hit me up and it quelled almost to the point of flowing down my cheeks.

Music in my life marks time periods. Music, in my life, becomes a life marker. I still cannot help but thinking of painting our sons’ bedroom in our previous Deerfield abode on a day when the youngest was supposed to be napping but didn’t. He did nap long enough for me to open up a paint can and continue to try and finish up the painting of a bedroom. He ended up on my back  in a corduroy backpack while I painted and I am only sorry that this 80s event in my life was not caught on video and become viral, but viral was not yet a part of our lives.  The song? « We Built This City » by Jefferson Starship from 1985. It makes perfect sense as Michael was born in 1984.

The Song, « Run » by Snow Patrol is the song I was listening to and it brought 2020 and its aftereffects tumbling down on me. The Pandemic, its aftermath, the international, national, and personal crises that ensued, and then the subsequent seemingly icing on the cake when last November I found out that I had Mantle Cell Lymphoma. It is not enough to get older and have to deal with all sorts of things, but it is still important to be strong and a vibrant part of the family. My icing is a beautiful one, actually, as my lymphoma is indolent and apparently been in my system since at least 2019, and most probably earlier.

The song is poetry to me and even when I don’t look at or even think of the words, the music transcends and filters through my brain and becomes cathartic. I started reading the words and became even more emotional. I remembered.

I started this blog for catharsis…I would like to be able to say all that is on my mind, but I cannot.

I am seventy-one years old and Life is good.

Posted in Cancer, Catharsis, Life in general, Lymphoma, Mantle Cell Lymphoma, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

My Transistor Radio and other thoughts…


My mom, circa 1967 and Stanley Laskowski, her fiancé.


Sometimes, I feel as if I am a hoarder.

Swedish Death Cleaning (SDC) has been a mode in the past several years and yet I don’t yet feel as if I have done it properly. There is so much to attend to and so little time…am I really retired? Actually not, I am still pre-tired or pretired as I am still working as I have been since the age of 16…giving me, at the end of this year, 56 years of working. I still work for Oakton College, formerly known as Oakton Community College and tutor every now and then. For Oakton, I do five days of ESL Conversation Hours per week and one in French. I also teach an online French course periodically of Conversational French for Oakton.

The SDC has me opening up things like cabinets and inspecting the interiors before dumping and repurposing. The transistor radio, something given to me by Stanley Laskowski, if my memory serves me correctly, is probably fifty-five years or so old. It still works. Stanley was the Polish Stallion boyfriend/fiancé of my mom before he dumped her due to his jealousy of my mother when she was not with him. Anyone who knew my mother would understand that ‘cheating’ on him was not a possibility as it was not in her repertoire. He gave me the transistor radio for Christmas one year. Another reason he supposedly dumped my mother was fear that, as I graduated from high school, that he would have to pay for my college, another falsehood. My mother’s fascinating financial abilities had her taking the Social Security monies each month and banking them for me and my sister. I thus had enough money for four years at a state university and money left over to buy a manual transmission Ford Pinto in 1973. Stanley was an interesting person, usually very nice, but prone to jealousy. His first wife had passed away quite young. Stanley was born in Chicago, I believe, but went back to Poland for most of his youth and then returned to buy a bar and make a lot of money. He was one of the more important suitors of my mom in the years following the loss of my dad.

The only problem with the viability of my GE Transistor Radio was due to leaving the two AA batteries in and they corroded. I did a little scraping and put new batteries in and now manage a very tinny broadcast of this only AM radio. As an aside, I plugged in a set of wired Apple Air pods and they worked just fine. When I think how excited we were, back in the day, to use these. This was not my favorite transistor radio, I had a smaller one in a leather case that must have bitten the dust fifty years ago and a larger one with a better speaker that I paid for using money borrowed from my sister and paid back for weekly with my fifty cent allowance my mom gave me. 

It is snowing and it finally feels like winter and the snow was actually a welcome sight because the dreary and gloomy gray skies and rains were very depressing. I have shoveled once today or should I say, pushed the snow away and I am guessing that I shall do it again at the end of the day. The snow is light and easy to deal with because of the cold, temps in the twenties.

Not much else to say…meditation is probably in the books on this Saturday in January and maybe some work on the puzzle of Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria that I opened up yesterday…I am proud of myself that I already watered the plants…my pothos started having issues as it was not happy with my routine or lack thereof…

Posted in Life in general, Stanley Laskowski, Thoughts and philosophy, Transistor Radios | Leave a comment

The George Santos effect and Martin Luther King Day


I need the catharsis of writing down my thoughts.

Despite thinking about it and having subjects I would like to treat, as I sit down and start letting the words flow from the head through my fingertips, I have no idea where this is going.

Maybe that is good.

I have just come off of several days of posting George Santos photos with catchy expressions that make us aware of the lying and modification of truth that he has been involved in as he worked toward being a member of the House of Representatives. It amazes me, or maybe not, that he is getting away with it.

I remember back before the elections of 2016, when I was nervous about the outcome, that I always thought that the lies and truth modifications would catch up with the individuals. I was wrong. For whatever reason, lying seems to work for some people as they become covered with some sort of teflon that allows them to continue on. How they avoid criminal prosecution and prison is beyond me.

We are living in a strange time when that kind of lying is commonplace. For some reason, it is okay for some, and not for others. I know, deep down, that this is not a situation that will last forever. I know that at some point in time, as for other horrific times in history, people will look back and say, “How did that ever happen? How did those people get away with that?” I long, though, for that and I wonder how long it will take.

It is a time period when the news is nothing but depressing. It is a time when the clock seems to have turned backwards instead of moving forward. It is a time when it seems as if respect for others and their lives doesn’t seem very important to some factions of the population. It is especially bad when people perpetrate their negativity on others under the guise of religious beliefs.

I still believe in the basic goodness of humanity and long for it to blossom and become more evident than the hate that seems to grow out of every crack and crevice of our society.

Let’s leave my thoughts there, for the moment. The day is relatively warm for a winter day and the sun is shining. Tonight, we are going out to dinner with beautiful friends to celebrate a job change. I am looking forward to that. Sometimes, you just have to hold on to those small, wonderful moments to get through the tough ones.

WWMLKS?  What would Martin Luther King say?


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Thoughts on 2023

A gurglng British pitcher…apparently commonplace in most English homes…


The weather is gloomy. The skies are gray and there is little view of the sun. That is the way it has been for the past few days. The dark days have been brightened by the young, shining faces of the grandkids in our house, creating a beautiful chaos that brings great joy. It is tiring and yet it is rejuvenating.

I don’t even know where to go with the insanity of the times in which we live. The politics and craziness in the world is overwhelming. The crazy leaders, the false narratives that abound, even a politician in New York who made up his own history, falsified everything, denies that he is a fraud and even though raised a Roman Catholic, said that he was Jew-ish… When does this end and when will the insane people who fabricate realities to sell to the masses be prosecuted or at least shut down? How is it possible for liars to continue to get away with things and how is it possible for criminals to continually avoid being put in the slammer?

Meanwhile, across the world in Europe, of all places, a war continues to be waged in which a huge superpower is performing so poorly that what I had thought would be a short invasion like maybe, that of Czechoslovakia, is now almost a year in length. The destruction and chaos this war has produced boggles the mind. Once again, an evil ruler who has his own narrative is at the forefront of the struggle and his own people, for the most part, have no real understanding of what is taking place.

I pity the poor Russian people who in 1917 thought that they had finally gotten rid of an oppressive government only to find that it was alive and morphing into different forms. I am saddened for the Ukrainian people who had found a better way to live and are now under siege because of a mad ruler in a neighboring country. At this point, they are fighting for more than just the country, they are also fighting to manage and live what they believe is their true destiny.

Surprisingly, I have hope. I realize that although things change, as they French proverb goes, they always remain the same. Things are no worse now than they ever have been, it is just a reconstituted version. Human beings have not changed. There are good ones and bad ones. Unfortunately, in the age of the Internet, we hear more information.

Hope, hope, hope, a four letter word that we need to hang on to as we all do our best to remain vigilant and work toward maintaining our democratic ideals.

Happy 2023!

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“Ça va bien aller” and Forgiveness via Louise Penny and her recent book: A World of Curiosities

The Christmas tree is up, as of December 16th and decorated on December 17th.


“Ça va bien aller” means it is going to be okay.

I have been struggling with forgiveness for some time now.

I know rationally why I need to forgive and I also know that clearly, an inability to forgive is detrimental to my health and certainly not anything of good for anyone having anything to do with me.

I was gifted with a background in Roman Catholicism and yet I cannot take solace from it in a traditional way since I have issues with the institution. I realize that I had always had issues with the institution, even going back to my childhood and yet I was in denial. As a great ‘Cafeteria Catholic’ who would pick and choose what I could believe in and ditch the rest, for years I went through the motions. I must give tribute to my own children for my finally seeing the light. Despite the fact that I am not a believer, I do take solace from bits and pieces of other religions, and bits and pieces of what I call ‘Good Catholicism  that help me find a meaning to my life. I am also thankful for my study of French literature, existentialism, and the Theatre of the absurd, for giving me added fodder for my thoughts and philosophy.

Every so often, it seems that something happens that makes me wonder about the meaning of life and who is in charge, if anyone or any entity. Periodically, in my reading, which is mostly fiction, I encounter things that confirm and help me reset a direction of life. There are also mini signs and omens that occur somewhat often.

My struggle with forgiveness goes back a bit. I do buy into the idea, but the reality is that it is hard for me to let go. I tend to hold a grudge. I am not sure I am all that different from other people. There have been times in my life when the struggle has been particularly hard. 

Today, I said to myself that I had to finish the latest Louise Penny book, the most recent in the Armand Gamache series, “A World of Curiosities.” I must admit that for  over half of the book, I had a feeling of discomfort, that was inexplicable. Since forcing myself through the first book, since everyone seemed to tout it, I have been solidly hooked on the Louise Penny series. This book was leaving me cold and I could not explain it or why. Toward the end of my reading, my discomfort and lack of total interest immediately changed and I was fired up to find out where it was going and what was happening. 

It went into forgiveness. The lack of forgiveness was quite clear, it has been omnipresent in all of the novels, yet not an overwhelming omnipresence. It came to a head in this novel and it did so in such a way that for once I am totally sold on the idea of finally letting go. It is fiction, and I am clear about that, but I feel that somehow, Louise Penny has managed to help me finally conquer a demon of my own, and just doing so by writing a book of fiction. Reading it was an omen.

Thank you, Louise Penny. I wonder if you know how much influence you have and also how strangely timely my reading of this book happens to be.

Posted in Inspector Gamache, Life in general, Literature, Louise Penny, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment