January 31, 2009 - 11:20 AM
I was recently asked to reflect on a person who has had a large influence in my life. This is a common question in elementary writing courses, language classes, and self-improvement courses. My answer to the question has been the same since fifth grade. The most important people in my life certainly include my family and friends, but there is one person in particular who I always name as the most critical in my formative years. Diana was my teacher from 5th through 8th grades, and later was a writing mentor and is now a good friend. She helped me discover my love for writing. Her love for her students, and her genuine enthusiasm for our opinions and insights in literature and our own attempts at creative writing meant that I found my voice at a young age and have never since doubted that my words and ideas are worthy, and that I should express them without shame or self-censorship. She helped me discover the talents and interests that already existed in me, but seemed, at that stage, to possibly be silly or immature. I had already developed the common feeling that my best efforts might not be good enough, or that my ideas and art might bring down ridicule and misunderstanding.
Diana taught us to play with words. She took a group of middle school students and taught us to look at literature as more than just a series of comprehension questions, but as works of art full of beauty and potential. I remember when she showed us the Robin Williams film Dead Poets Society, and thinking that that was exactly what she had given us as her students: a passion for the poetry of things, the ability to live deeply and suck the marrow out of life, as Thoreau invites us to do. The beauty of a well-told story lies not just in the quality of the story on the surface, but in the innumerable implications that story has for our broader lives.
I was a reader basically from birth. I can remember my mom reading to me from a very early age, reading me children's books, then books like Call of the Wild (which she hated and I loved), and Lord of the Rings. She read to me until I was in middle school, and that ritual of reading before bedtime is something I've continued even in the midst of exams and homework and travels. Three years in a row I read more than 100 books per year. Some of the most important influences on my life have been authors and characters. Their status as fictional beings does not in any way lessen their centrality in my life.
Diana gave me something very important in relation to this love of literature. She helped me learn to understand it, to see it beyond the surface story. But she also helped me understand that authors are just people, imagining stories and writing them down. And so, for the first time in my life I envisioned myself as more than a reader: I had the idea that I could someday become a writer. After all that books have meant to me in my lifetime, I might become that sort of influence in other people's lives. That idea has stuck with me since fifth grade, and is an ultimate goal in my life. To be an author is to have influence far beyond the relationships of a single life. It is, in one sense, to be immortal.
Diana made us middle school students write poetry. But she made it happen gently. She brought in poetry that was accessible to us, and taught us to play with language. We did word games and conversation poetry. We had one class where she read a poem from each of the ten members of the class and we had to guess which classmate had written which poem. We learned voice and style and the playfulness of poetry. We also learned to value the trust that grew between us, and I have always felt most comfortable with my writing when I have people I can dialogue with: share writing, ideas, and the inevitable disappointments that come with writing creatively.
I am so very grateful that Diana was my teacher during this time, because I had another English class in sixth grade that could have squashed any artistic impulses if I had had that teacher alone. I remember very clearly writing the assigned poem about a color and what that color meant to me. I was excited, happy to be writing for a different teacher and confident I could do a good job. I wrote about blue, because my room has always been blue themed. I have blue eyes and what I imagine to be a blue identity: both sea and sky, both peace and joy. So I wrote about blue in that capacity. I received a B for that poem, with a single comment: "blue is a sad color. It cannot mean these happy things."
Now, I'm sure that teacher was rushed or grumpy or simply not imagining that her comment could shake me up like it did. But I was offended and hurt by that simple denial of my creative attempts. And, because I'd had Diana teaching me for two years, I realized for myself that that teacher was wrong. It's a poetic world out there, and I learned the reality of creative license and the pain of misunderstanding and criticism all in that one moment.
I stayed close to Diana throughout middle school. In high school we formed a writer's group with another friend of mine, when we would get together and write together, and share poetry we'd written or other poets we loved. Diana introduced me to Walt Whitman, Billy Collins, and Mary Oliver. Mary Oliver is my favorite poet, and has been for years. I memorized the first of her poems that Diana brought us as writing prompts. In fact, I have "Wild Geese" memorized in both English and a self-translation into Spanish.
Now that I have grown up and moved on to college I see Diana very rarely. I try to get together with her when I'm home in Colorado, visiting her at the high school where she works now, or going to dinner with her and my mom. I see her now, working with high schoolers the way she worked with me and my friends through middle school. She pours everything into her students, encouraging them to write responses to the assigned readings that she in turn takes time to respond to with depth and consideration. She encourages their writing and shares her own. And she allows the students to be who they are, somehow creating a safe place for art and ideas amid the chaos and discomfort of teenaged years. She was recently diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer, which was a terrifying experience for me, imagining my friend and mentor in fear and pain. But she is recovering and has found new meaning and self-confidence after that experience. She's working on a book now, which I cannot wait to see. She lives with such passion and depth, which has served as a continuous inspiration for me in my life.
Diana taught me to write, but, more importantly, she gave me a self-confidence I have never lost, and one that I still attribute back to her. Everything I will accomplish in my life-in writing as in everything else-is influenced by her. I hope she knows that. I hope she realizes that everything good I do in life comes from what she taught me.
What is it that you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
~ My favorite Mary Oliver line, from the poem "The Summer Day"
January 25, 2009 - 12:54 PM
I've never been much of a TV watcher. Not the kind that would watch a show every night, anyway. For many years (between my Scooby Doo years and recent changes in habit) I hardly watched at all. I sort of missed the Friends mania, have never seen an entire episode of Survivor, and occasionally discover some new cultural necessity. I contented myself with MASH and Seinfeld and generally preferred to be reading.
But I hit college and discovered some pretty wonderful new TV opportunities. So I'll take a break from describing my epic adventures at large in Eugene and the world, and instead give you the low-down on the incredibly average: the TV watching we all seem to do. Starting at the very best...
I had never seen a full episode of The Daily Show before freshman year. It became quite a ritual, actually. Five to twelve of us would cram ourselves into a dorm room to watch Jon Stewart's Daily Show and The Colbert Report every Monday through Thursday. Turns out that the news can be funny. Biting, somewhat horrifyingly mock-able at times, but very, very funny. I was getting really excited about politics at this point, attending College Democrats meetings every night, reading the news, and letting Eugene work its hippie ways into my soul. Some fake news about the real world made me awfully happy. Plus it was a ritual: every school night, from eleven to midnight.
TV watching on school nights was not allowed in my house growing up, by the way. We all go through some youthful rebellion when we leave for college. Mine was politically charged news TV. Go figure.
Anyway, I soon added Scrubs and the Office to my TV repertoire. That Thursday night tradition has continued for all of my three years of college. Last year it meant a mile-long walk from my apartment to a friend's house for use of their cable TV, but it's always been worth it. It's time with my friends, a chance to laugh myself sick for an hour, and a source for endless references and jokes. We've added 30 Rock this year, and Scrubs has moved to Tuesdays, but the tradition continues. TV isn't a solitary experience under these circumstances: it's something I look forward to, a chance for all of my friends to get together. Leah makes us cookies, Ben and I laugh until everyone else gets annoyed. We catch up on what's going on in our lives: now that we've moved out of the dorms we're not touching base every few hours.
Plus, as a sociologist I can say that there is a strong social feedback for knowing the right cultural references. I have a good mind for the dumb one-liners and show quotes. And when you've got a group that have seen all the same shows, the right reference at the right moment can take a roomful of people conversing normally and send half into hysterical laughter while those not "in the know" look awkward and confused.
I love that.
Last term I fell in love with a new show. Well, actually an old show. A failed show. Firefly was canceled halfway through its first season, leaving only fourteen episodes and a relatively small population of dedicated fans behind. They made a movie called Serenity as well, but most of the loose ends were left to the disappointed viewers' imaginations.
I love this show. It's a Sci-Fi Western. There's old-fashioned gunfights, amusing banter, and a really wonderful set of characters. I'm more than half in love with the main character, the captain of a smuggling ship. He's a Han Solo figure; the tough smuggler with a serious moral code and a tendency to get into trouble. The basic premise is that Earth's resources got used up, so we went out into the galaxy and "terra-formed" or "Earthified" a bunch of planets. And some (rather like the countries in our current world), ended up prosperous and developed, while others live on the edge of nothing, populated by desperate or backwards peoples either fighting for survival or existing just fine without much help from civilization. That's where the Wild West themes come in, how you can have both spaceships and horse chases in a single show.
The people who watch this show really truly love it. My friend who introduced it to me was seeing it for the fifth (or so) time. I immediately forced my friends into watching it, and now that other friends have come back from abroad I watched it through with them as well. I also strong-armed my friend from Colorado into watching with me. My friend Maddy and I would text Firefly quotes to each other randomly during the day, and now that she's abroad in Singapore I think of her every time we watch the show. Every single time.
Fourteen episodes run out pretty fast. This most recent adventure through the show only took us a week. And, like I said, the ends don't all get tied up.
Other popular shows in my life: Planet Earth (most beautiful documentary ever filmed), Arrested Development (wins the award for Most Awkward Humor), and Friends (best inter-character dialogue I've ever witnessed).
I do not watch Reality TV. I don't find it terribly interesting, and often am somewhat offended by the quality of the writing and the way people portray themselves. My newest vendetta is against the show The Biggest Loser. Some friends I hold in the highest regard enjoy the show and think it is inspirational, but in my opinion a show that makes money by humiliating obese people and putting it to film for an audience's idle consumption is more than inane, it's a sad commentary on the taste of American consumers. I take my fiction seriously, and do not appreciate when it's clumsily obscured by "real" people and situations, knowingly manipulated for the entertainment of the masses, Truman Show style. But I really don't want to get started down this road...
The point of all this is that I grew up a reader, not a TV viewer. Now that I'm into TV I can see how a show is crafted like a novel. I like to see characters put together and how a good writer can make the extraordinary believable and the ordinary hilarious. Maybe because I grew up on books, I have a hard time seeing the characters as actors playing roles. I see them, instead, as their characters, with their individual agendas and personalities. For that reason, when I fall in love with a show I tend to fall in love with characters, and am then confused when people start spouting facts about this actor's dating scandal or that actress's drug history. The lives of actors are slightly interesting, like I find the lives of novelists to be vaguely relevant, but only so far as a book cover will tell you. It is the story I love, and not the actors. With a few exceptions, I don't even see the actors for who they are, but instead see the characters as they have been imagined and then embodied. Film is fiction made visible to me.
Visible, quotable, and disseminated throughout my culture. When you know the shows like I do, they're waiting around every corner. And because I watch the shows with my friends, the context of each show is a group of people similarly involved in story lines and unfolding histories.
January 24, 2009 - 6:36 PM
For two years now I have been part of a student group at the Wesley Center. The Wesley Center is a campus outreach facet of the local United Methodist Churches in Eugene. We have a building next to the bookstore where we get together for meals and group discussions one night a week.
I hadn't planned on joining a church group while at college. I was raised in a Methodist church, but had never participated in youth group activities, instead choosing adult education classes and social justice groups. I love my home church in Colorado, but didn't look for a new church in Eugene. I was experimenting with lots of new patterns in college, living in the dorms and then in an apartment, living without my family close by and with new expectations of myself and plans for how to spend my time, including trying out life without structure to my faith.
Aside from that, I had had a home church that accepted me as I was, without making any demands on my faith life that I couldn't meet. They welcomed my questions, encouraged my interests, and helped me move toward a life focused increasingly on working for human rights and ending injustices. I loved that church, and all the friends I'd left there. And I was afraid of looking for a new church: scared of entering churches that would demand fundamentalist belief of me, or would make claims to a Christian moral perspective that I do not share on issues of war, homosexuality, consumerism, and abortion. Being a liberal Christian, at least in Colorado, is to be permanently embattled by the conservative majority. And I did not want to have to fight that fight.
So I spent all of freshman year outside of a church home. And it was fine, although I often missed having my church as a moral imperative in my work for change and justice.
The first time I attended the Wesley Center I knew it would be part of the rest of my college life. Three friends and I went to a Welcome Back BBQ during the first week of my sophomore year. Everyone was kind and welcoming, and had a good perspective on the God aspect of things: as a positive presence rather than an overwhelming and demanding force. Plus the food was excellent. I was hooked.
Since that first BBQ I have been a regular member. Two friends often come with me, and I have become very close to other members of our Wednesday night get-togethers. We eat our meal and share time together. We have time to share stories, to talk about challenges or joys in our lives, and to spend some time away from the normal pressures of college life. Then we clean up the meal and move on to our group discussions. Warren, our pastor, facilitates all of this, from welcoming us the moment we leave to making sure the fair trade chocolate gets passed around. He is an incredibly kind and supportive presence in our lives: encouraging of our interests and a great source of strength and insight. Although he is our pastor, he rarely leads discussions or even participates very much. For the Wednesday night talks he helps us choose topics and lets the students take charge. During the discussions he lets us lead and speak, then encourages everyone to participate and clarifies points, especially in areas of Christian history and in questions concerning his first profession, which was a lawyer. His encouragement and support extends beyond Wednesday nights, and he is consistently available for those who need counseling or encouragement. That is a rare gift in the life of a college student far from home.
Many of my favorite Wednesday night topics have little to do with church, at least at the most overt levels. Last week we had a talk about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which two of our members have experienced after serving overseas. We also recently had a presentation in concert with the International Day of the Disabled Person, with two of our group members presenting on the rights and issues faced by the Disabled community in our city, our country, and abroad. Both these evenings' talks led to greater insight into the realities faced by those around me, as well as specifically leading me to better understanding some of my friends at the Wesley Center.
I recently led a Wednesday night talk about my class in prison. I presented on the philosophies of the Inside-Out Program, about the structure of the discussions and the insights I gained during the class. We studied literature but really learned from our classmates' experiences. I also talked about how that class impacted my understanding of dialogue between people from normally divided groups. The distance between honors college freshmen and incarcerated felons is assumed to be great enough that there should be no common ground. We not only found common ground, but I learned more from my Inside classmates than I have from many regular classes at the UO. As a Wesley Center group we discussed issues of violence and criminality, as well as the justice issues connected to incarcerating large numbers of our citizens.
I love every opportunity I get to discuss these interests and experiences. Especially with a group of peers that is willing to really think deeply about the issues raised, who contribute their own perspectives and insights, and who are excited to hear about each other's plans. It is also something wonderful to share questions of morality and justice with a group of people who share similar faith principles as me.
My favorite example of this was a Wednesday night I led on the topic of my experience volunteering on the border with No More Deaths, a humanitarian aid group that works with migrants in the desert outside of Tucson. I shared my thoughts on immigration issues, and on the Christian implications of hospitality and outreach on an international situation that sees 300 deaths on our border every summer. We talked about times we have been strangers in strange lands, and have received welcome, or not. We talked about Jesus' radical ideas on who was worthy to speak to, to share meals with, and to be considered a child of God. These ideas were revolutionary then, as they are subversive now. So often we Christians tend to focus on the truth of Jesus' acts, and forget to question of what they have to tell us about our own policies. There is no more apt allusion than Jesus' quote "I was a stranger and you welcomed me."
A small miracle has come out of that Wednesday night presentation. Several Wesley Center students will be accompanying me on a trip back to the border this Spring Break. We will be volunteering with No More Deaths for a week, providing migrants with First Aid, hiking food and water caches into the desert, bearing witness to their stories, and washing travel-weary feet. I am so excited to go back, and feel so blessed that I will be bringing my friends with me.
In addition to our Wednesday night meetings, we've developed several other subgroup activities. I recently became very interested in issues of local and organic food as a method for reducing our impact on the environment and on inequalities between nations. When I mentioned an interest in starting a garden, Warren had some good quality dirt delivered, and we tore out the backyard of our building and planted fava beans, lettuce, and spinach.
We also have a Bible study we have recently re-instated, which meets at 1st United Methodist Church after the services on Sunday. Warren leads these meetings, and it is a joy to discuss Biblical messages and history with someone who has the insight and background that he does.
We have also started a writers' group. We get together and drink tea and share writing projects. Four or five of us meet every week, and use that time to share our creative frustrations and successes. Participating in and facilitating these meetings has been a privilege and a real help for me in my own creative efforts. It's important for writers to have a community, just as it's important for people of faith to have a faith base.
That's what it comes down to. Community. A place, a meal. People who believe in each other. A pastor who cares for us deeply. Faith, enthusiasm, and support. Community.
And a blog...www.peaceuo.blogspot.com
Just in case you're interested.
January 20, 2009 - 7:55 PM
*Nerd alert* I simply couldn't help that cheesy Star Wars title.
But seriously now. Monday marks a historic change in our nation and in our world. It is a very rare thing that we can fully understand that we are living in a historical moment, that we can mark it down months in advance and plan to be there, schedule parties and get homework done ahead of time. I've been waiting for this political moment since I first came into any kind of political understanding.
Of course I'm talking about President-Elect Barack Obama. Everyone's talking about him. For one reason or another, we've all got opinions and forecasts about what this election will mean. We have ideas about the ending of an era or the beginning of something new, we have plans for change or fears for the future.
First, let me say that I have been a liberal for as long as I've known the difference. Which is to say not very long. I probably couldn't have defined the two camps for you before my junior year of high school. I just didn't get it. It all seemed a little like sports to me, with everyone cheering for some team that didn't really make any difference in their life, but was for some reason worthy of their time, money, and passion. While I still don't understand the sports mania, I have grown in political consciousness. I've come to see that everything in our society can be changed by politics. Whether those politics are a president mandating law and funding or a neighborhood demanding changes from any leader from the school board on up, our lives are run by politics. Our roads, our schools, our health, our opportunities and our economies are all mandated, at least in some part, by politicians. And they are elected by us: they are our representatives, the men and women who make the decisions so that we do not have to.
My decision to become political was fundamentally a religious one. I got into God, in the interpretation of progressive Christianity in my home church of St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and discovered that I had to become political as well. Because it's all about the same thing: it's about taking care of each other. It's about love and support and this radical form of challenging social norms in order to bring people together. And that means that I became both a Democrat and a dissenter in that same few-month period of time that I got into Christianity. During the last few years as I've attended church more or less I have not stopped being informed by the basic tenants of Christianity as I understand them: that we have to care for our neighbors, regardless of who they are. And that's why I am both a liberal and someone who has become dissatisfied by the Democrats, hopeful at receiving political messages and disappointed when I see the results.
I was an active member of the UO College Democrats for two years, including one year as recruitment co-chair. The Democrats are good people. They do good things as much as they can, and at least preach the right messages (usually). In the two elections I've been of-age to participate in I have voted a straight Democratic ticket. I was proud to work for Obama, and voted for him in my first presidential election.
I was impressed by Barack Obama early on. I read The Audacity of Hope before talks of a presidential run began. I had early confidence in his ability to win, in his ability to lead despite his age. Even because of it. And then I went abroad in March and saw what his presidency might mean for the world: the election of someone who was preaching change, who was outside the stereotype of the American president. The people I talked to in South America, from educated host family members to illiterate taxi drivers were excited about Obama. They were inspired by him. And my peers in the US were, too. Not universally, but in grand part. I've been an Obama girl from the very get-go.
That being said, it hasn't been a straight shot for me. I believe that it's time for our country to have a woman as president. It is time and it should happen soon. I also wish that John Edwards had been able to focus the debates more on the issues of poverty and hunger in our world and our society. I have been very disappointed in Obama's treatment of the issues of poverty as well as his take on environmental concerns, especially in regards to "clean coal."
But he's talking the right talk. He's talking health care, he's talking works projects to transfer the country to renewable energy and putting people back to work. He's talking about a downsized New Deal, which is what our country desperately needs.
And he talks compassion and inclusion, which is the best of what our country is capable of.
Obama's election is historic for the demographic shifts in the voting block. It's remarkable for the changes in campaign fund-raising that he caused, and that he did it so effectively. And, as has been remarked upon many times, his election is historic because he will be the first black president.
But really all that has been over-emphasized. His election is most significant to me because it marks a change from the reality of my entire political life to the possibility of something new. We, the people, have the opportunity to enter the political conversation in a new way. We worked to get the man elected; we should have our fair say. And he's talked inclusion. He's talked cooperation. He speaks as a man young enough to be an idealist, someone who believes that the United States has the capacity to be a force for positive change in the world.
As a young idealist, coming of age in a time when the US has, as a nation, largely been a source for war and destabilization in the world as I have seen it, this is a unique moment, a reason to hope. I believe that we are a people of good intentions and of good hearts, who are capable of caring for our neighbors both here and abroad. I believe we can be creative and accepting, that we can see people of all countries and religions as our equals if we try hard enough. But that kind of change goes beyond Discovery Channel specials or high school talks on political correctness. It goes beyond a black man in the White House. It means an end of self-serving wars. It means a change in global positions on international trade and aid. It means dialogue with others and considered, balanced responses to crises. It means an easing of our own self-involvement and a second look at war, free trade, health care, prisons, energy, education, and the military-industrial complex.
I don't know if all of this is even possible in today's world. I can't say if things have gone beyond the point where we can become the global equals of countries as they are, rather than countries as we would change them into being. But I do believe that we are entering a new era, a new opportunity. We could demand changes in this, the beginning of my adulthood, that could mean successive generations can grow up believing that their country is still the good guy, is still the one that cares for the sick, the hungry, the war-damaged and left out.
Tomorrow is the last day President George Bush is in the White House. I'll be celebrating that day. On Tuesday, President-Elect Barack Obama takes office, and life will continue on. I do not expect to see a dramatic or immediate change in the shape of my days. But my expectations of myself will change. And our collective potential will also change: broaden, deepen, demand more and, perhaps, yield true results.
Mr. Obama, good luck on Tuesday. I do not envy you the position. But I do challenge you to listen. We have work to do. The world is watching so we'd better get it right. I'll do my part if you also do yours. You've inherited a world of problems, Mr. President-to-be, but I think you can handle it-I think we'll follow you through these next few years and that these might be a tipping point. Things might change from here.
And you can bet I'll be calling with my opinion.
January 18, 2009 - 11:52 AM
This Friday six of my friends and I went out for an evening of Bluegrass music, featuring the Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, the Alder Street Allstars and the Blair Street Mugwumps at the Wow Hall. The real attraction was Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, who I had missed by mere moments when they opened for Flogging Molly on December 30th in Denver. The Big Damn Band is an awesome bluegrass combo of Reverend Peyton on guitar, his brother on drums, and his wife on the washboard. They are hilarious, incredibly talented, and larger than life.
The whole evening was really fun. I love going to concerts, and hadn't ever been to a bluegrass concert before. The two opening bands were both very good, especially the Blair Street Mugwumps, who had a great combination of obscure instruments and an awesome off-beat vibe. They also had antique-looking microphones, which adds some real style points to the whole event. The crowd was so funky, too, with an interesting variety of people from straight-laced middle age couples to shirtless drunk dudes screaming and dancing without shirts on. Lots of overalls and funny hats were also in evidence. Maybe that's just bluegrass, or maybe that's bluegrass in Eugene. Regardless, it hit my expectations of a bluegrass concert scene pretty much dead-center. And had me dancing and laughing for four whole hours of great music.
It's wonderful to have the opportunity to take a break from the weekly routine every once in a while, to listen to some new music in a new place, to see offbeat people acting crazy in their hats and bad facial hair, and to dance around to bluegrass and wish you'd devoted some serious time to the study of the banjo or bass clarinet.
The Big Damn Band was simply amazing. Reverend Peyton is a huge man with a gigantic beard. He's an incredibly talented guitar player, especially with finger-picking that allows him to play both lead guitar and the base line at the same time. They're hilarious, formidable, and completely lovable as a group. And bluegrass is inherently lovable: it's a hand-clapping, foot-stamping kind of music. It was so, so fun.
About halfway through the concert my friends and I decided that this needed to be a regular part of our lives. So the new plan is to go to see live music once every two weeks. That means bluegrass, rock, jazz, beat poetry (well, maybe I'm the only one that would count that), and classical. I'm hoping that it might mean trips up to Portland and Seattle to see the big concerts, and that this new music quest might also take us to coffee shops for local artists, jazz clubs, and the University of Oregon's Beall Hall for symphony concerts. As far as I'm concerned, this is an equal-opportunity resolution. Music event once every two weeks. No excuses, no exclusions.
I was a musician in high school. I played trumpet and French horn in the concert band and in the marching band. I played in small ensembles and in the pit orchestra. I was on the leadership team for marching band and was first horn my senior year. Band at my high school was something that could and did consume all available time, eating away at non-band friendships and activities. Efforts to continue my interests in academics and literature (both reading and writing) meant I was one seriously busy kid for those four years. You could disappear into the band crowd. You dated band kids. You hung out in the band room before school. You went on band trips. Music was a constant in my life, something that I practiced at home and identified with in school and my high school social life (all of this was somehow much less nerdy when I was living it then it sounds when I'm writing it).
I wanted more freedom in college. I was done being a slave to a band teacher's approval, or being responsible for the musical accomplishments of six or seven fellow high schoolers. I decided to spend first semester of my freshman year at college without any kind of music: without band, lessons, or a horn to practice on. The other musicians out there know that putting down a horn for four months basically means you'll practically be starting over when you pick it up again: the knowledge is there but the chops won't be. But I hit college running, with the unbelievable luxury of structuring my own time and interests. I had whole new realms of activities and pursuits, and my time was my own.
That being said, I miss making music. Listening to my ipod nearly every hour of the day does not make up for my lack of personal musical creation. I tried to learn guitar multiple times and have thus far not mastered the whole strumming thing. I've also been working on harmonica, which will totally count for musical instrument playing if I can ever get the hang of it.
But I think getting back into a groove of going out to see music, to hang with musicians and people who love music, would be good for me. It's not the same, really, but I've moved on from my high school music passion. So aside from the opportunity to discover new bands and have something to look forward to once every couple of weeks, I think the consistent presence of music in my weeks will be good for me. It'll be an adventure, a goal, a social event, a therapy session.
Especially if there's some banjo or screaming guitar in there, too.
Go ahead and pass me some of "Mama's Fried Potatoes."
PS: If you haven't checked this band out, you should really hop on YouTube and give them a chance. Here's a pretty good YouTube song, although it takes a while for them to get playing:
There's no video evidence that I've found, but Washboard Breezy did actually light her washboard on fire during the encore song on Friday night. Impressive? To say the very least.