Sunday 26 October 2008

We Got Some

Today I stood on the field in the carrier dome, for the last time, waiting to perform my final field show. Tears were finally beginning to dry on my face - tears of sorrow to leave this group, of love for everyone in it, and of pride for all they have accomplished this year. Trying to calm myself down, I watched the band that was currently performing. Colorguard flags whirled, brass wailed, woodwinds sang - and I wondered, what is this activity about?

It seems rather dull and almost ridiculous. How can anyone find meaning in a marching band drill? Creativity has no place in this art - you do what they tell you to, exactly how they tell you to do it. Perfection means being exactly the same as everyone else. You certainly can't put your own ideas and style into a show like this. No, the "spark", the chill you get on the field, the butterflies in your stomach, do not come from your drill packet or your sheet music or basic block with Hillman. That comes from the bus rides, the down time at rehearsal, the lunch breaks at band camp. It comes from the friendships you begin, the bonds you form, and the memories you create at band. I feel like that's the real activity here - you take these memories and this passion, and suddenly the dots on your drill chart mean a little bit more. The once dry, boring (and maybe confusing) sets and formations begin to take on a new meaning. Every set reminds you of a different joke, every song reminds you of a different memory.

When I watch other bands, I feel like I don't get to see everything in their show. I feel like between the well-dressed lines, the carefully tuned chords, there are inside jokes, good times, and close bonds. I don't see a show; I see a group like mine. And today, when I saw Mohonasen, I couldn't help but feel (if only for a second) that they should win. Not because they were any cleaner, louder, or sharper than us, but because I knew they had worked just as hard and they had become just as close to each other as our band had. Their smiles and their energy proved that they deserved to win it. While I probably would have prefered winning 1st by ourselves, I don't mind sharing so much. Our success this year has been incredible. We have achieved so much. For not one, but two bands to do that in a season only doubles my pride. This tie will be something to talk about for a while - it's the third in NYSFBC history. I think it's something to celebrate. We are still state champions (four times for my class!) and we should be proud, even if another band is bragging about the same thing in Long Island.

My marching band career has been incredible. We have been state champions four out of five years, and the only year we lost was our first year in a higher class. I have made a pretty obnoxious number of close friends and an even more obnoxious number of memories. I leave the field today with nothing but love for the band and all it's done for me. My only sorrow is that I won't be around to see Dave McVicker tear it up on his alto sax, Dan Matthews try out for Drum Major, or Scotty Meyers lead the drum line. This year our band was really young, but this only means that in a few years, they are going to make even more incredible things happen. While I won't be there, I know I'll be part of it. I know I had an impact on them, and I nurtured their love of marching band, and that might be even more incredible than all the joys I have personally experienced.

I didn't intend for this, but.... college essay?

Friday 24 October 2008

High School is NOT a Musical

Tonight, as I watched well-rounded cheerleaders, respectful jocks, beautiful nerds and ridiculously talented teenage composers sing, dance, and smile their way though high school (with, I admit, the greatest pleasure), I could not help but think, "This is such a lie."

I feel it is my duty - my responsibility - to warn any preteens who have been infatuated with this movie that high school is NOT a musical. I am a senior now, and I frequently have kids asking me questions about high school. This is what I have learned - at least, the important parts.

There are no Troy Boultons in high school. Or perhaps, there are Troy Boultons, but there is always much more wrong with them than his compulsive love for Gabriella, or his excessive talent, which forces him to choose between a full ride to Julliard or a full ride for basketball at AU. Any real-life Troy Boulton probably drinks heavily, deals drugs, cheats on his homework, or treats his girlfriend poorly.

Please, please, do not expect a male from your school to ask you to prom while standing on a table in the cafeteria, shouting in front of the whole school. This will never, ever happen. It is much more likely to be in a text message, or "Hey, my date backed out, do you have a dress?". Such romantic, outgoing things cannot be expected in high school. Or probably real life, I just haven't gotten to that part yet.

Also, there will be no waltzing at your prom. No one will know how. Your boyfriend or date will not ask you to teach them the week before. If I am mistaken, and this does happen, it will NOT be on the roof of your school, with flowers and trees surrounding you, in the pouring rain.

You will not fall in love with the perfect man (as we have already established, Troy Boulton does not exist) while acting the lead role in the musical. You will not sing a beautiful duet (breakin' free) or have the most romantic stage kiss ever.

If your basketball team does, in fact, win states, the after-party will not be in a rich kid's backyard, equipped with a DJ, and it will definitely not be completely clean. The entire school will not be there wearing only red and white, and your parents will not be mingling. There will most likely be a plethora of substances going around and the police may stop by for an appearance.

You will not end up with a free ride to Berkley (for basketball AND theatre), which happens to be 31.7 miles away from your girlfriend at Stanford (in the honors program, of course) (who also happens to be an extraodinary singer/actress).

Finally - this is the worst.
The student body will never simultaneously break into song and dance in the cafeteria.

Sorry to break the news.

Sunday 12 October 2008

Lots of Fun at Finnegans Wake

I was in the school library one day, searching for a book that would be able to capture my attention. I saw a cute little yellow book called "Dubliners", and thought it would be nice to read a novel that took place in Dublin. Couldn't hurt. Little did I know, this was no simple story - no novel, or chapter-book - this was James Joyce's collection of short stories, literary masterpieces that are college-level reading material. After reading the first one, becoming completely dumbfounded, sparknoting it, and then finally appreciating Joyce's literary genius, I went back to the library. I saw he had another work there: Finnegans Wake (1). It was rather large, but when it comes to literature I tend to be somewhat cocky, thinking I can handle anything.

This book did not even start with a complete sentence. It begins in the middle of the sentence - and ends in the middle of the same sentence. It has no structure, no plot, and really, no conventional English. It's about a dream; or a wake; or death; or who even knows? Did Joyce even know? Was he pulling a John Lennon; "Let's write something with no answer to drive the puzzle solvers insane"?

Thank God, I did not check Finnegan's Wake out. Had I actually attempted to read it at that age, I may have caused myself such serious mental damage that I would not be able to compose these wonderful blogs for you today. However, since I learned about this book, I have had a goal to read it someday. Not only to make it through, as in, to simply scan every word of it, but to read and comprehend it.

Some goals must be achieved early, or else they will never be reached. A few of my life goals I should begin to pursue now; however, this is not one of them. I believe that I should let myself and my reading habits mature before I proceed with this dream. Perhaps while I'm in college I'll give it a go. I hope it is, and it should be, a long, intense journey for me. I've never been good at casual reading - I either neglect reading, or I go all-out.

This seems like the type of goal I would set for myself and then, after torturing myself and stressing over it, I would just throw it away and feel extremely relieved. I hope that, years from now, that is not the case.

(1) Yes, Finnegans, not "Finnegan's". Plural, no ownership. This has always severely bothered me.

Wednesday 8 October 2008

The Bitch Went Nuts

The bitch went nuts, y'all.
But everyone said she might.
Holy fucking shit. Seriously now.
Now they want more.
They're at my door with torches. Scores and scores.
You would have thought I'd scorned them all.
They've got a doll of me, they're burnin'.
-Ben Folds

The actual idea of this song (which was actually recommended by my awesome band teacher) has nothing to do with what I'm going to write about. But lately I feel like I am a bitch... who is going nuts.

If you ask some of my friends, I think they would tell you I've been a bit moody lately and I'm not sure why. Tiny, minuscule events set me off like a she-devil. Someone broke into the kickass Halloween Food Locker that James and I created, and I am doing everything I can to settle this score. "Shut up" seems to be my answer to every question I am asked. Disagreements on political issues are not pretty. Today the subject of abortion really got me going, I couldn't even stop - and it was with my sweet, good-intentioned friend Katie. Don't even bring up Sarah Palin.

What is the reason for this madness? I assure you it is not PMS or anything related. Perhaps it's personal problems, or family issues of some sort? None that I am aware of. Quarrels with friends? Nope. Sadly, I don't think I even know why I am going nuts.

Fall is my favorite season. Life seems like a beautiful, blissful movie. However, it's also ridiculously busy - not only for myself, but my friends as well. I think the combination of my stress with their stress is driving me crazy. Not to say that my friends "dump" their problems on me (if anything, I do that to them), but just having that stress in the atmosphere, that tension, could make anyone snap. To be completely honest, competition has a small role in my madness. Having really intelligent, successful friends can be nice ...and also depressing. Several times a day I feel extremely insufficient.

Of course, the natural thing to do in times of plummeting self-esteem is to... You guessed it! Bully, bitch, make fun of people. It's all in good fun, deep down I really love these people (1). I think they know it too; I don't think my bitchiness makes them question that. As long as I still have friends, I don't really see too much of a problem with this habit.

This is probably a problem. That is - the fact that I do not see a problem in my voltile ways. It may be beneficial to calm down, to control myself a bit more. I feel like with this temper comes slight sociopathic tendencies... this is cannot be good. I should probably work on being a bit less self-centered. I am startlingly okay with all this, though. I am getting by. There is that light at the end of the tunnell that is college next year, and once I get there I'll be good to go. Or at least I'll have a batch of fresh, new problems to occupy myself with.

In the meantime, I would advise you to do one of to things: either stay away from me, or if you're feeling brave, tell me to stop being such a bitch.
I might listen.

(1) Except Kyle, who broke my face, and Greg, who stole my Gatorade. These grudges are worth holding.

Monday 6 October 2008

Don't Freak Out: What I Don't Like About DMB

Disclaimer: I love Dave. DMB is in my top three favorite bands, which rotate. I think they are the best musicians and performers...ever.

Every rose has its thorns. Every high has a low. Every band has something - a song, a chord, a line- that you don't especially like. I love Dave Matthews Band, but I have some issues with them too.

First off, I hate the song "Captain". Whenever I get it stuck in my head, the rest of the day is horrible. I just really, really, do not like it.

"Say Goodbye". This is really an awesome song - a great one to sing along to, and Carter totally kicks ass in it. However, I'm not too big on the actual idea represented here. If you've heard it, you probably know that it's about an affair: But tommorrow go back to your man, I'm back to my world and were back to being friends. Call me old fashioned, but I'm not a huge fan of cheating. In some way, this song is beautiful and romantic... but part of it just bothers me.

When I was younger, the lyrics of Tripping Billies bothered me slightly. Eat, Drink, and be marry, for tomorrow we die. Part of me was frightened by the bluntless of this; at ten years old, I wasn't really yet aware that I would die at some point. Later, the "carpe diem" idea of the song began to bother me slightly - as a catholic school kid, I wasn't taught to "live it up", or to have fun before you die. The idea seemed sinful to me. If you're going to die tomorrow, you shouldn't be partying - you should probably be praying that you don't burn in hell.

Now that I think of it, most DMB songs that bothered me did so because of my catholic background. Now I'm a bit different - perhaps more open-minded, a more independent thinker. However, those old habits die hard, and although I find nothing wrong with songs like Pig or Tripping Billies now, the catholic school girl buried inside my head is still confused and unsure about the ideas in these songs.

I guess the moral of the story is... Dave Matthews and catholic school girls do not mix.