Christina Kotlar

Year of Rabbit 2023

Christina Kotlar

Christina's World

Jersey’s Own Music Dynasty

Yuri Turchyn

A week of watching the World Cup brought us to the table to write Christmas cards, a tradition I don’t think I will ever give up. The first snowfall continues into this late afternoon, and the gray light seems softer as we get closer to the winter solstice’s shortest day of the year. After another year of medical madness, we know we aren’t the only ones going through difficult times. There is little anyone can say to someone watching over a family member, friend, or loved one in sickness (short term) or illness (longer term) that may not turn out well.

All the things I thought took me away from what I should be doing turned out to be precisely what I needed to experience to overcome the obstacles and challenges of the medical and post-hospital system. The good doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists saved his life both times in the ICU, but many missteps nearly killed him. Each patient is more than a beating heart or breathing lungs to be saved; the whole person, mind, body, and spirit are at stake. If you succumb to only the authoritarian premise they know best, there could be no way back from where maintenance drugs and surgical procedures can take you. What’s the cost? Let’s say that Yuri is a candidate for the Medical Millionaires Club. I’m writing a book.

Looking back at the music and medical history Yuri and I have undergone, we find eerie similarities in our backgrounds and cultural and social experiences. We are independent- minded and confident of our talents, choosing to be a part of the Gig Economy. It can seem that we are always dancing on the edge, often depending on the economy’s direction. The precariousness of our work circumstances and livelihoods were held hostage long ago in economic settings orchestrated by Capitalism’s unbridled consumerism via private equity firms since the 1970s. Since then, corporations and private equity firms have quietly taken over the healthcare business, gutting it to the core, implementing bottom-line practices of high-priced pharma drugs, unnecessary tests, and specialists. At the same time, chronic illnesses remain for the long term to keep the industrial medical complex profitable.

C. Wright Mills notes in The Sociological Imagination that there’s the ability to understand the relationship between personal experience and wide social outcomes with insight into the influence of the person’s everyday routine on society and vice versa. In other words, How do social influences shape and dictate our lives? We are influenced (economic, political, and cultural) and make choices based on (fill in the blank), i.e., the economy forcing us to make a choice– get a job to pay the bills, support a family, independence and give up what you love the most for a fleeting moment of financial security. It’s been quite a ride.

How do you defend the music you play? Like most dedicated artists, Yuri is married to his music, and I am the “other woman.” I imagine him as the mycelia of his musician world. From the hours of our daily discussions, he, like Zelig, has played with many different musicians and genres. All these players, from years of live performances, session play in recording studios, and individual shows, have a musical DNA that is a “Jersey’s Own” unique sound. It’s a family unit tighter than any new-found family can be, and we are very grateful to all who remain a part of our family, far and wide.

Currently, Yuri is working towards getting his physical strength and endurance back. He’s starting to play his violin again. He’s organizing his vast body of work into a catalog and working on one or more compilation CDs that may be pressed on vinyl. We’re working on a music video with Pat Guadagno and Mary McCrink, a beautiful rendition of Bob Dylan’s Boots of Spanish Leather, where Yuri plays the strings so elegantly. I’m organizing his notebooks and letters, photos, and writings into an archive that ought to be saved for future generations that will continue “Jersey’s Own” musician dynasty. It’s here and now. And I’m writing about it.

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