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It is no secret that live music is my thing. Being in front of a musician doing their thing is electrifying and exciting. I have been attending concerts since before I was old enough to stand. My mother had me in the bass case of Dave Holland, named me after Thelonius Sphere Monk and dressed as purple velvet witch for the 1985 Grateful Dead Halloween show. She and many others have brought music to me. It’s my happy place.

With hundreds of shows under my belt, it seems that Michael Franti and Spearhead are the current winners in the smile department.

Pictured here with Michael at the Dave Matthews Band Caravan in Atlantic City this past weekend.

After a few, “It’s nice to see you again,” a guitar pick and numerous dancing in the front of a venue. I did it. I was in the front row for a Michael Franti performance and better yet, had a kind fellow concert goer take our picture. In case you had trouble deciphering it, that’s was pure happiness looks like. It’s embodied in a genuine smile. Not a posed smile or a fake smile or a no teeth smile. It’s just a grin. The kind of grin that arrives when you are near your musical genius crush.

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” ~ Billy Joel

One of the scariest differences between city life and country life (besides animal life, the dark and losing cell service) is drinking and driving.

After the recent death of Jackass’s Ryan Dunn, I have been even more sensitive that usual about drinking and getting behind the wheel. On any given night my friends and I are out in Kingston, or the surrounding area, you can watch someone drinking a number of drinks, leave the bar or restaurant, go into the parking lot, get into their car or truck, start the car and drive away. It puts a pit in my stomach every time.

My group of friends is fairly responsible, usually designating a driver. The DD usually stays sober or has a drink or two over a number of hours. This brings up an entirely different issue of how many drinks can you have and still be “fine” to drive, but at least someone is conscious of having to get everyone home safe.

One of my friends has been known to get behind the wheel and drive home. Often sighting, “I’m fine” or “It’s just a short way” or “Nothing is going to happen.” All the traditional ignorant responses to “Why did you drive home?” I am not sure if it’s belligerence, stupidity, fearlessness, a deceptive case of invincibility or a little of all of these factors, but I do know is it makes me incredibly sad. I wish this friend and anyone else in my immediate circle would just call me or get a cab or go to sleep in their car or walk or think clearly for one second – the very second that it takes to realize getting behind the wheel IS NOT A GOOD IDEA.

DWIs seems to be rampant in our area. I hear about them through my friends  in law enforcement, a friend of a friend of someone who got arrested or even first hand from a few of my acquaintances. I guess this means law enforcement is doing a good job. I think it could be better. I don’t blame the law enforcement all together though. I think it is all of our jobs to encourage others to not drink and drive. It is your job, just as much as mine, to take keys away from a friend, make up excuses to stall them in their tracks or not drink ourselves so we can safely drive when going out. I plan on having this very conversation with each one of my friends in the country. This is when the city wins. Public transportation.

Watching Jackass star Bam Margera grieve over his dear friend brought tears to my eyes. I never ever want to be in his shoes. Ever.

Recklessness is a species of crime and should be so regarded on our streets and highways.  ~ Marlen E. Pew

At 16 years old you are concerned about a lot of things – school, clubs, friends, drama, peer pressure, boys, and of course your image. If you had told me then that none of that would really matter I would not have believed you. In July of 1998 I was diagnosed with stage one ki-one non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. My family became a sponge for endless recommendations, consultations, diagnoses and information. It wasn’t just me who had cancer, WE had cancer. And the next three months of treatment, hair loss and illness happened to all of us. Without my mother Devi, my father Rob and my sister Ali and the rest of my family and friends, I would not be here today to tell the story of success.

I was treated at Schneider’s Children’s Hospital at Long Island Jewish in New Hyde Park, Long Island, New York. I got “dressed up” to go to the hospital. I reported to my friends and family on how I was doing. I shaved my head as it started to fall out. I made a pledge to help others with this disease. I committed to surviving. And yes, there were dark days, but I never let the idea of beating that disease leave my heart, mind or spirit for too long.

It has been two years since I was told that I never had to go to the oncologist EVER again. It’s been seven years since I was told I was “CURED.” It has been eight years since I joined Relay for Life and the recorded breaking Team Pixie Dust. And it was only this morning, when I woke up, that I appreciated the gift of another day. I am often heard saying I wouldn’t change a thing of my past, that surviving cancer is what has helped to define me as a person and made me the individual I am today.

With hope, dedication and Relay, I am assured that we will all be in a better place on day. I Relay because I join people around the world to celebrate those who have survived cancer, remember the people we’ve lost, and fight back by supporting the lifesaving mission of the American Cancer Society. This is my 8th year at Relay with Team Pixie Dust, graciously lead by the Gross family in memory of our friend, mother, sister and inspiration, Diane Gross. It has been an amazing journey and we are very excited to add another Relay tomorrow at Alvin P. William Memorial Park in Woodbridge, NJ. Please consider making a donation to the American Cancer Society through my Relay for Life page.

Cancer once defined me. I was the “girl who had cancer.” I was bald or had a wig. For years after, I was titled a “cancer survivor” and it was synonymous to my name and my identity. Today, twelve years later, people I know in this stage of my life may not even know that I had cancer. That I am an extreme advocate of early detection, fair treatment and continuous research. That I will always know what being different is like. That my scars are my battle wounds. That I am stronger than can ever be defined by a title or a disease.

“Don’t let nobody ever tell you that it couldn’t be done, Don’t let nobody ever tell you that we couldn’t be one, Don’t let nobody ever tell you that it shouldn’t be sung, Don’t let nobody ever tell you you’re the only one…” ~ Michael Franti

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