Posted by: PD Warrior | June 27, 2007

Fame And Misfortune

I’m no stranger to fame in my community. Ever since I can remember, people have been coming up to me saying “hey, I know you!” Usually it was because of my music. I am a classically trained pianist. I started playing the piano when I was 4 years old. By the time I was 14 I had spent 2 summers studying at Chautauqua Institution on scholarships.  By the time I turned 16 I was playing semi-professionally in churches, restaurants, wedding receptions etc.

Then I went to college…

Again I studied music, but my experience wasn’t the greatest. That’s not to say I didn’t learn a lot, because I did. What I learned however had more to do with “real life” than anything else.

I learned:

  •  I hate polotics
  • I absolutely despise racism

Music was no longer fun, it was political. To move forward in music school didn’t necessarily require skill or talent; it required money and connections to the right people. I found that I was no longer playing music for the sake of music. I watched some of the best musicians I have ever met fail because they didn’t know the right people.

Then came the racism. While I was living on campus I met someone extraordinary – a girl from the Dominican Republic. We were never involved romantically, but we did form a bond between us like I have never experienced before. We went everywhere together. Soon the rumors started. Here I was, this pasty white-boy, hanging out with a very pretty black/hispanic girl. “Certainly we couldn’t be up to anything good!”

I heard the rumors but I didn’t care. (20 years later I still don’t care what people think, I would do it all again) Actually I found them quite flattering; she really was quite beautiful.

What really got me was when my piano teacher/acedemic-advisor took me aside and told me he had heard the rumors and had been watching me. He felt I needed to stick to “my own kind.” I started to explain that our relationship was only one of close friendship, but changed my mind and kept my mouth shut. It really wasn’t any of his business. Besides, society really needs to get over this whole racial discrimination thing.

Oh, and one more thing…the irony of it all- my advisor was a black man.

After that I quit music school and became a nurse. (I still keep in contact with my good friend)

Now the fame has turned away from music and crossing racial barriers, to Parkinson’s Disease

Ever since I started speaking to groups about PD I have gained a new kind of fame. People that didn’t even attend any of my presentations are now talking about it…


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