Thursday, April 14, 2016

How Great Thou Art

Last Sunday afternoon, my brother Frankie and I set out to explore. The only plan was to wander. To see where the path led. Okay, well the path obviously led us to coffee first, and then a bookstore and the park in Fort Greene.

Frankie suggested we check out Brooklyn Navy Yard. So on we went. The Yard was somewhere close by but we never quite saw it. We walked past the NYPD impound lot, a block-long buzzing grid of electrical wires that power the borough, and snapped a photo of John St. to share with Johnny.

We made a stop at Brooklyn Roasting to grab some beans, and then we saw it. The majestic Manhattan Bridge. I have to admit I never fully appreciated the beauty of this bridge until that very moment. The rays of the setting sun cast a beautiful, mesmerizing glow and I couldn't look away.

Leading up to the bridge I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness and peace. I was exactly where I needed to be and the sunshine warmed me on that chilly afternoon. I snapped a few selfies to capture the moment, then followed Frankie who was already a few steps ahead.


We stumbled on the small beach directly under the bridge, and in one of the busiest cities in the world somehow Frankie and I were the only ones there. It was ours for the taking. As I stood looking up in awe, Frankie headed towards the rocks.

I watched my little brother fearlessly climb to the top and then sit in a moment of reflection. This year has been challenging for many of us, yet somehow Frankie has found a way to navigate the rockiness with grace.


As the sun dropped lower in the sky it was time to journey on, and as we headed towards downtown Brooklyn, we received one final display.

There was something magical about that afternoon, and though I couldn't quite put my finger on it I felt extremely grateful. It wasn't until days later, when scrolling through my photos, that I noticed it. A small green circle of light. It first appeared when I saw the bridge, then in my selfies, as Frankie climbed the rocks, and then finally said goodbye with the setting sun.

Lens flare, a spec of dust, a fluke. No, I believe something greater was at work. A loved one (or ones) was with us that day. Right by our sides. Experiencing the wonder and beauty of it all. And when I think of the symbolism of a bridge, it becomes clear that no matter where we go, or where we are, we remain ever connected.

How great thou art.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Forgetting the Notes

In an attempt to rekindle my love of the flute (an instrument I started playing nearly 20 years ago) I recently joined a Middle Eastern ensemble class. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but figured I had nothing to lose.

Upon entering the classroom I quickly felt out of my element as my eyes darted around at the exotic instruments. I sat down and slowly assembled my flute. The same flute I've had since sixth grade. My metallic instrument shone brightly in sharp contrast to the intricately crafted wooden nay, kanun and ouds. 

But, with the first note I began.  

Many in the class had played with this ensemble before. I, on the other hand, was sight reading each piece. I was preoccupied with playing every note. On understanding how to create quarter tones. On counting each measure. On being perfect.

During one of our sessions my teacher glanced around. With our noses buried deep in the sheet music he shook his head and waved us to stop. “Forget the notes,” he said. “The soul of Middle Eastern music is found in the flourishes, the improvisations. It’s beauty comes from playing something the audience doesn't expect, but upon hearing is deeply moved. Learn the notes. Then forget them.”

I’ve loved each beautiful piece we’ve played, but the biggest gift from this class came in the form of my teacher’s words. I tend to approach life the same way I approached this class. I read each note and agonize over every measure, to do exactly what’s written. To strive for perfection.   

If I’ve learned anything thus far it’s that I don’t know anything. And in this new decade of my life it’s time to forget what’s written and start improvising. For that is where the real beauty and richness is found. 

If life is my audience then I will do my best to move its soul. 

MSU Band Camp Nerd

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tribute #26: Robbie Pratt

The first letter of our last name is not only part of our identity, but also plays a hand in our fate. That’s why I wonder how different my life would be if on that fateful day at Ellis Island the man checking my great grandfather’s papers had correctly spelled his last name with a “C” instead of a “Q.” One thing I know for certain is that I wouldn’t have had such a great locker buddy as Robbie Pratt.

One look at Robbie and there’s no denying he could beat you up — though I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t hurt a fly. He has such a positive energy and I always enjoyed seeing him throughout the day as we transitioned from class to class. Being greeted by a friendly hello every morning goes a long way, especially in high school.   

Robbie, thanks for teaching me that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Though you are a bad ass in your own right, you are also one of the kindest people I remember from Holt High. I hope you’re doing great, and from the look of it you are.

Today's Musical Selection >

A Good Soul Through and Through

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tribute #25: Laura Russell Mikrut

The sign approaching Holt, Michigan reads, A Friendly Place to Live. Growing up in this small town made me long to live somewhere more glamorous, like in cities of lights or ones that never sleep. Yet, once I ventured beyond Holt I gained a whole new appreciation for the Friendly Place and the people, like Laura Russell Mikrut, it brought up.  

What makes Laura such an interesting person is that behind her sweet demeanor lives a biting sense of humor. I think that's the best combo to have in a friend. Someone who can be caring and help you through the hard times, and then make you laugh at the craziness of life. Laura seems to have mastered the art of both.

Laura, thanks for brightening my day with your posts. Your hilarious observations often bring a smile to my face. It looks like you're doing marvelous and loving life. You should know that six out of six Quasarano kids highly endorse your awesomeness.

Today's Musical Selection > 

Brains + Beauty

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tribute #24: Leyna Kasparek

With both of us attending MSU and The Creative Circus, one would think that Leyna and I would have bumped into each other more often, but we've probably only had the opportunity to hang out a handful of times. However, in those few times I feel I got a true sense of Leyna's character. 

Some people have a natural brightness and Leyna is one of them. She greets everyone with a smile and is a true optimist. I get the impression that Leyna is a rock to many and that no matter how high her friends fly, she's there to encourage them to soar higher and catch them if they need her.

Leyna, thanks for being a great example of the power of optimism. It's not always easy to look on the bright side of things, but it seems to come naturally to you. I hope that you're doing great and I find it very fitting that you ended up in the Sunshine State. 

Today's Musical Selection > 

Leyna's Light Shines Bright

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Running Toward Ourselves

One spring day we found ourselves under the budding trees of Hawk Island. Wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, black track pants and my old running shoes she began. As I glanced down at my watch and marked the seconds I knew this was the start of something bigger than both of us. This was the start of my mom’s commitment to running and more importantly herself.

That was one year ago today and I couldn’t be more proud of just how far she’s come. My mom's competed in two 5k races and weathered the summer heat, windy fall, and bitter winter. I know she will credit me for helping her get started, but I can't take credit for anything past marking that first minute. It is her strength alone that has carried her to today.

My mom quickly became aware of the love/hate relationship that runners feel toward their sport and a few months ago she asked me if it ever gets easy. Without even giving the question much thought I replied with a simple, “No.” Though the answer came easily, the question remained on my mind. If it never gets easy why do I continue to literally pound the pavement? 

I run because with each step I take, though never easy, it does get easier. I know I will never perfect the art of running, but that doesn't discourage my attempt to. In this and so many ways running has provided me with a model for life. It has taught me that the best way to move forward is to have one foot on the ground while the other kicks toward the heavens. It has taught me that impossibilities are simply unmet goals and that sometimes pain truly is a prerequisite to joy.

Oh, and as I continue on the journey of discovering who I am, running helps me get there just a bit faster. 

Mary Katherine - Runner of the Year

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tribute #23: Michael Potts

My sister Nancy and I are only three years apart, but when we were in high school it seemed like a lot more. I remember Nancy's friends coming over after play rehearsals and being in awe of just how cool they were. Though some of their faces and names have slipped my mind, I'll always remember the funniest of the bunch. Then again, it's hard to forget a person like Mike Potts.

When Mike was over at our house, he'd let my little brothers try to tackle him, endured my dad's corny jokes and made us all laugh. He's the type of guy that everyone wants to be around as he makes situations more fun with his unique personality and outlook. I'm pretty sure I haven't seen Mike in over a decade, but the lasting impression he made on me is a testament of his character.

Mike, thanks for making Nancy's little sister feel like she could hang with the cool kids. You truly are one of the funniest people I've met and I know that no matter what life throws at you, it's no match for your grit.  

 Today's Musical Selection >

Winning Everyone Over