Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Sound of Regret

Everyone has regrets. Those who say they don't lack a conscience, in my opinion, because no one is batting a thousand in the judgement and life decisions arena (please pardon the mixed sports metaphor). Some people regret things they did, things they said. Others regret things they didn't do.

My top three regrets in life fall into the latter category and both have to do with music, my passion thanks to my high school band experience.

Anyone who knows me even a little knows I am a way-out-of-the-closet Band Geek (capital B, capital G). I dated a music major in college and hung out at the school of music so frequently that more than one professor thought I WAS a music major that they just hadn't had in their class yet.

I actually made an audition tape in high school to send to colleges because I was thinking seriously about music as a major. I wanted - and still want to this day - to be a band director. Auditioning with the likes of Matt Hickman (I'm lookin' at you, Aire-Gai) intimidated me and I ended up not sending the tapes. I majored in English because I didn't think I had the chops to get through the performance portion of the curriculum. I majored in English. Regret number one.

During my sophomore year in high school, I had my first experience with Drum Corps, International (DCI). I was smitten. All of the power of the so many brass instruments backed by some of the most amazing percussion you will ever hear. The precision, pageantry and artistry of what they did was astounding. I fell in love and followed The Phantom Regiment religiously. Our band director had hired one of their visual designers to write our drill.

I saw them end the season ranked second with their New World Symphony program. I wanted to be one of them. I sent away for the audition packet, received it and tossed it. I knew I had the marching skills, but again lacked confidence in my playing. I pitched the packet. Regret number 2.

All through high school, I knew I wanted to attend Ohio State. For one reason and one reason only. The Best Damn Band In The Land. In fact, a friend and I contemplated switching to tuba (damned the fact that I didn't yet have a firm grasp on reading bass clef) just so we had a shot at dotting the i one day. My bags were packed, I was ready to report early for marching band auditions. Again, my confidence failed me. I wanted it so badly that if I didn't make it, I would be absolutely crushed.

I went to summer sessions (an insanely and stupidly hard practice session for both current marching band members and those who want to try out). I went a few times, got ridiculously frustrated and convinced myself that I would have to be satisfied with the Spring and athletic bands, who take anyone (and still got to be under the direction of Dr. Jon Woods - eh!). In my 5 years at THE Ohio State University, I never auditioned. Regret number 3.

Last night I attended a Drum Corps show at a local high school, where at least two, if not all three, of my regrets collided. The Ohio State Pep Band did the Star Spangled Banner and then I watched as musicians not as talented as I was 20 years ago (and I wasn't, just trying to make a point here) got to march with a Corps. I could have made at least two of those Corps without blinking.

Coulda. Shoulda. Woulda.

My regret is strong enough that several times in the past few years I have seriously contemplated trying to talk my old trumpet instructor (now the Associate Dean at OSU's School of Music) to once again take me on as a pupil, get my chops in shape and go back to school to become a band director. If I started now, I could be done by the time Jack is ready to be in his marching band :) What I wouldn't give to write a drill, choose music and see 150 high school students come together to perform it and (most of them, anyway) enjoy it.

I've shared mine, Band Geek to the finish. What are your regrets? Something you've done or DIDN'T do?

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Things We Almost Forget

I've recently had a few incidents of what may be early-onset dementia. There have been brief glimpses of something that triggered a long forgotten memory. It's like mental whiplash.

This afternoon I saw a guy on a motorcycle. I've seen people on bikes probably every day for the last three months but for some reason, today's biker lead me down the "I wonder if I might like to ride on a motorcycle...?" path.

All of a sudden, and only for an instant, I flashed back 20 years. I was speeding across the Williamstown bridge in Jason Burfield's car. We may or may not have been going over 100. I can neither confirm or deny. I had that top-of-the-roller-coaster feeling - thrilling and intensely nauseous.

And - BOOM - I was back. In a millisecond I had had that memory and was back with my definitive answer: No, I would NOT like to ride on a motorcycle.

This is a memory that I had no idea was retained. A memory I literally hadn't thought about for 20 years. It was like it was on the verge of being forgotten until I saw the motorcycle and then it came slamming to the front of my brain. There have been several of these almost-forgotten memories lately, and I find it disconcerting.

Is it my age, the nostalgia for my teens and early 20s, that is yanking me headlong into these memories? Is there some kind of connection I am missing that links to the thing I am viewing and the memory and emotion that comes with it? Am I losing my mind?

I have no idea, but it is weird.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Some People Hate Tea

For those of you who have been following along, you may have realized I have some self-esteem issues. If I couldn't be the prettiest, then I was going to be the funniest and if I couldn't be that then I would try something else to make you like me.

I've always marveled at people who can be so authentically, sometimes outrageously, themselves and just go on about it without giving it a thought.

I've had extensive conversations with one friend in particular about this and while his advice was sage, I could never apply it.

There was no "Aha!" moment (sorry, Oprah). There was no life-altering epiphany. One day - and I can't even tell you what day it was - I just decided that some things aren't worth compromising. I've tried to be the nicest, the funniest, the most whatever, and there are people who still don't like me. As a recent FB post recently stated "I am just not some people's cup of tea and I am beginning to be OK with that." In fact, I've realized some people HATE tea. The tea doesn't take it personally. In fact, I think the tea probably says "OK, then, enjoy your coffee."

For a very long time I've been stuck in the teen angst years, just trying to fit in. Now, as I approach 40 faster than I'd like, it isn't about fitting in. It's about authentic friends for whom you'd do anything and who might even return that favor. The people who will always tell you the truth, even if it isn't popular or what you want to hear.

The friends I've had for decades and the friends that I see most frequently (not necessarily the same people) have made it safe for me to be me. They've seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly behavior, and they love me anyway. And made it OK for those who who may not even like me to have that opinion, too.

So now I find myself, in my late 30s, trying to be who and what I really am. Is this when most people find out? I feel like I may be coming late to this particular party, but I'm OK with that. I have a few more decades to evolve and get it right - for me.