Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Road Comes to an End

Those were my thoughts as I drove to a friend's house on Friday night, where we would create a scrapbook to give to the director who is leaving the school due to recent budget cuts. As the four of us sat in the living room, organizing the album, we couldn't help but reminisce about the years we had spent with that director. It seems so long ago when I had my first rehearsal with her, trying to play something that sounded at least remotely like music. For five years she had taught my classmates and me. I began to think of all the wonderful moments created by the music program--joyful moments, crazy moments, angry moments, but wonderful moments. I'll never forget the night when my friends and I had to stay in a run-down hotel in Minneapolis after our flight from Florida (for a performance) was cancelled. I'll never forget those seemingly endless, muddy, mosquito-infested nights on the football field when our marching band would run through the show, trying to pefect it. I'll never forget summer school band, where I helped the enthusiastic middle school students rehearse for their concert. The music program has been a huge part of my life since middle school. I've met some incredible people through the program and it transformed me from the awkward, boring middle school student I was into a high school student with a social life. It's difficult to imagine that one of our directors, who basically raised us as musicians, will be leaving next year. I'm not afraid of change, but I am sentimental and she will be missed. What will my next two years in the program offer? They will, without doubt, be very different because of the budget cuts. However, the only direction in life is ahead and whatever happens next will happen next. The other two band directors will no longer be directly involved in the marching band. Because of the cut, they need to focus their energy on the curricular band program and the marching band simply will not fit into their busier schedule. We will have three entirely new marching band instructors this year, which is exciting in some ways but downright scary in others. I'm confident each of them will be qualified, but so much is still unkown about the situation that their is a lot of confusion. Only time will tell how the future of the program will turn out.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tales From Coloma

Tired, exhausted, and slightly irritable from traveling, I am back home from a weekend at my family's 50-acre plot of hunting land, otherwise known as Coloma. Forgive me if my writing is a bit crappy this time--I'm a bit sleepy and this blog is going to be a long one. Let's start from the beginning...

Saturday: I woke up at 7 am, which, for a Saturday, was a little early for my liking. After packing up the truck, my dad and I began the two-and-a-half-hour trek to the northwoods of Wisconsin, reasonably isolated from the hoopla of South Milwaukee. We ate at the Iron Skillet for breakfast on the way, which is what it is--good, greasy country food (my bowels would thank me later). As soon as we arrived at our base camp, or trailer, we unpacked and took the usual hike around the ATV trail. Things are so much more peaceful outside the city. It's away from the real world, and so real world problems are easily put away to be worried about later. Not that I hate the city, but it's a necessary and healthy thing to get away from it from time to time. Anyway, I later thought it would be a good idea to check on my ground blind, which was my single most important project to work on. Since the blind was a log structure, and logs settle, the logs of my ground blind, you guessed it, settled. I now had to crouch down quite a bit to fit inside. And since it would be nearly impossible to raise the roof, I did the only thing I could do, which was to dig down. To dig down a foot and a half. That was a process that took all of two days.

One of the things I failed to realize was that extensive digging results in shoulder pain and blisters, so I had that cross to bear. The rest of my day involved that type of manual labor, which is somehow strangely relaxing, mentally speaking.
Sunday: The morning started off with spontaneous excitement. As I stepped outside to take a morning leak, I was interrupted by the gobbling of turkeys. So I held my bladder and ran to my dad, ready to hunt. We donned our camouflage hunting gear and made our way to the pop-up ground blind next to the field. Now, hunting seems contradictary to my leftist ideals, but I find it (if done respectfully and responsibly) to be a natural way to connect with the outdoors. During the hunt, we spotted a coyotte (a rare sight) and a few hens, but shot nothing. Even spotting some wildlife, though, was more than worth it. Ready to work again, I spent the rest of the afternoon digging in my ground blind and lining sticks along the sand walls to prevent erosion. The work was tedious as hell, but it became finished and I can once again stand upright inside the blind. It's a bit spotty in this picture, but there it is--a beautiful log structure two years in the making.

Satisfied to have finished my project, I had a delicious steak for dinner with my dad and we unwinded with a bonfire on a crisp, starry night.
Monday: Probably the most uneventful day, I spent a lot of time reading and relaxing. After everything was packed, we headed out, deciding to stop by my parents' future retirement property on the way home. Taking a walk around the perimiter, we chatted with two different sets of neighbors for what seemed like hours. I hate small talk and I'm also terrible at it, so I found myself trying methodically to jingle my keys, except I had none so all I could do was dig in my pockets. Another thing about small talk is that the other person always keeps talking after you say, "Well, I should get going now". At times, the only way to escape small talk is to walk away slowly while saying goodbye, and that's what we eventually had to do. So we went back in the truck and took the scenic route home, which took us past some wetlands and a nice, green wind farm. And now I sit here, exhausted but revived, ready to put up with some hoopla.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another Self-Interview

Well, life has been chugging along quite nicely as of late and I have a few things to post about it. Since the whole self-interview thing worked well last time, I think I'll try it again. I enjoy talking to myself and I think it's a very important part of emotional wellness. So now, I'll just do it again on my blog.

Q: You aren't in tennis anymore, you lazy, out-of-shape degenerate! What are you doing to me?

A: Good God, calm down! Competative tennis didn't make me happy, I told you already! I'm having no regrets about my decision, which is good. I've been keeping somewhat active since I quit the team and I'm actually trying to jog every day after school.

Q: You quit tennis because you want to be with your vegetables, didn't you? If you say one more word about that damn garden, I'm going to...

A: I like my garden! It's been coming along compared to when I first mentioned it a few posts ago. I started a compost pile and I should have a nice, fertile mulch to work with in a few month's time. I've also started growing a few spices inside as well, which have begun to sprout. It's nice to be outside and work in the dirt, knowing my family will be spending a bit less on pesticice-ridden steroid vegetables from Pick 'N Save. Gardening is a perfectly manly activity in my opinion...

Q: Have you been writing a lot recently?

A: Besides this blog, not so much. I have been thinking of a few story ideas, though. One of them may be a keeper after a bit more planning, but we'll see.

Q: Are you studying for the AP exam as you should be?

A: Yes sir.

Q: And eating lots of fruit?

A: Yes.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Consumerism Kind of Sucks

Every now and then, an amazing, bizarre idea will pop into my mind. When I was thinking of WalMart, my favorite underregulated corporate giant, a funny idea came to mind. Wouldn't it just be great to pick up that red PA phone on the pole inside the store and announce something like: "Hello, and welcome to WalMart, where your overly materialistic needs will be taken care of. Buying some fish for dinner? Just make sure it gets tested for carbon monoxide poisoning! Or maybe buying that action figure your kid has been begging you for? It's a wonderful import from China that was put together by other kids his age!" I mean, really, do we really need all this stuff? If I were to keep track of all the plastic, paper, and materials that I go through every day, I'd feel a bit dizzy. It's a sad fact about our Western culture. We're too damn greedy and we want too much. And it's literally killing our environment. There was a time (well before I was born) that people actually had these magnificent things that were...hmm, what's the word...reusable. I want to go back! There's a show on tomorrow called The Human Footprint that shows exactly how much trash the average Western human produces in a lifetime. We've doomed ourselves to a society that wants everything to be cheap and convenient, no matter who else suffers from it. I'm guilty of it as much as anyone else. If we were all to give up something as simple as bottled water, think of how much plastic would be saved. I'm going to sound extremist here, but consumerism is a disease and we all need to realize there are things we don't need.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Doing What I Really Want

It's strange to think I'll actually have spare time after school for the next few months. I finished the awkward discussion with my tennis coach this afternoon, bittersweet but satisfied that I had made the decision to do what I really want. It would be irrational to quit tennis for the sole reason of being bad at it, because that is only one of the reasons. As much as I like to play tennis, competative tennis is not for me. Competatiave anything is not for me. I don't like how I get when I'm competative. Losing matches is fine with me, as long as I know I did my best and played a good game. But I was never gifted with athletic abilities and I seldom play a good game. Therefore, tennis season has been more stressful than relaxing as it should be. I could not let myself continue for another month doing something I don't enjoy, so I did what I had to and got it over with. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut again, "so it goes".

I still cannot let my lazy self get the better of me. I still need to do something. For once, I have the time to do environmental volunteer work, which I've wanted to do for awhile now. I'd be extremely happy to work at the Wehr Nature Center or the Urban Ecology Center, but I should keep other options open as well. I'm also growing enthusiastic about my organic vegetable garden (it sounds hilarious to say that, but those are words of truth). I'm doing some raking for compostable materials--mainly leaves, grass, and table scraps. By Memorial Day, things will be set up quite nicely.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Kurt Vonnegut and Speeches

A few days ago, as I sat in my English class, I wondered what exactly had caused me to choose to commemorate Kurt Vonnegut in my exam speech. Most of my classmates had chosen people they were very familiar with, people whose work they knew. I had picked Kurt Vonnegut at first without reason, just because I'd heard his books were interesting. I had never read any of them, but still I decided to commemorate him in my speech. What did I have in common with Kurt Vonnegut? I knew he fought in World War II, wrote a few books, but what else? As I would later find out, we have some striking similarities. It is strange how I basically pulled this person out of thin air to talk about, and he turns out to be the perfect choice. He is a writer and the themes he uses are themes which I have always wanted to portray in my own writing. He questions the system of "haves" and "have-nots" in our society. He jokes about cigarettes too. In the end, I did chose to tell my speech about him for a reason. I just didn't know it at first. Sometimes, as Vonnegut explained, things just happen and the "why" isn't revealed until much later. So it goes.