Bands Of America vs. Drum Corps International

One activity I look back on with nostalgia and remembered excitement. One activity I look back on with passion, longing, and tears.

I think it’s the difference between a high-school crush and a lifetime soulmate. They’re both desirable. They’re both positive experiences. And, until you experience the latter, the former seems to be the most amazing experience possible.

In High School band, we had a tradition. As we stood at attention, ready to dismiss, our band director would call out the various facets of our posture that we should remember. He would call, “feet!” We would answer, together! “Back!” Straight! “Shoulders!” Up! Back! Down! And the final call was, “Eyes!” Louder than any reply, we would shout, With Pride! It meant the beginning of an era, of a legend: our band hadn’t been worth anything two years before, and now we were winning competitions and making State Finals. We had pride in what we had become, and what future generations of Buckeye Bands would accomplish by building on our meager 30-member foundation.

I recall that being the most powerful experience in “oneness” with an ensemble… up until that point. In the Northern Aurora Drum and Bugle Corps, we had another tradition, one that transcended “Eyes With Pride” for me. At every corps dismissal, be it at camps, circled up after a show, or following rehearsal, the drum major or corps manager would call us up: “Corps — Ten-Hut!” We would snap to attention, horns snapping to shoulder-level, flags snapping straight, drumsticks snapping into position. The drum major would then call into the silence: “Corps! Dismissed!” and we would answer, “One!”

During every winter camp at NA, when potential new members would be attending, the corps manager would explain that this word referred not to a placement or a ranking, but a feeling of unity with our corpsmates. I refused to join in the response until the camp when I was officially signed as a member of Northern Aurora. At the dismissal of that camp, I answered the call as one member of a team, of a family. It was just as powerful then as it was through the two years I marched in NA, all the way through until our last dismissal at Division III Finals in Orlando, Florida in 1996.

My point? I don’t know. I cherish my time spent both in marching band and in drumcorps. But what still brings me passion, what stirs the fire, what makes me long to relive each and every moment, is drumcorps.

Wedding Obsession — er, Planning — Continues

This evening, on, I discovered something that disturbed me as I had not been disturbed since discovering the Tony Hawk Pro Skater Create-A-Skater mode.

The link said, “try on gowns on a model that looks like you!” I shrugged and clicked like the trained internet monkey that I am. After a few minutes of clicking and thinking, thinking and clicking, then a little gasping and rethinking and clicking again, I created VirtuaDiana. Fortunately or not, the gown sizes available required me to downsize VirtuaDiana from current actual size to projected wedding-day size. This will require a weight loss of 1.4 lbs per week from this week until the wedding day. It could happen.

(As a side note… I’ve noticed that VirtuaDiana’s breasteses are severely lacking. Her only choices, unfortunately, were small-med and med-large. The Create-A-Model designers failed to take into account those of us with a large build who count on our enormous hooters to balance us out.)

In related news, today I played Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix for 15 minutes in Diet Mode, and also discovered that pomegranate seeds a.) are a good snack, and b.) are a good carpet dye.

Wedding Planning Actually Begins

Finally, I’ve put money toward something. I bought Do-It-Yourself invitations online today. Seventy-five invitations with envelopes and 100 reply cards with envelopes cost me a little more than I’d wanted to pay for DIY invites, but $70 is still a decent price for some quality stuff. Fire up ye olde laser printer, and I’ll be set.

So, we’ve got the invitations covered. We’ve got Prout Chapel reserved. The University still hasn’t gotten back to us about the reception site. I still need to find a dress. We still need to find an officiant…

Well, at least we’ve gotten some stuff done…

Lung Cancer Sucks

I’m not a smoker. But I’d imagine that, as the average twenty-year-old smoker drags on his or her brand of choice, he’s not thinking of the good time he could be having in about 50 years: laying in a hospital bed, losing his hair, being inundated with various chemicals and drugs to sear away the cancer that usurps his lungs.

My grandmother is 70 years old, and she has lung cancer.

When I first heard, almost a month ago (?!), Aaron and I had just chosen a final wedding date. For a fleeting moment, I considered moving my wedding date up a few months, but thought better of it. After all, wouldn’t that be a vote of inconfidence in her ability to pull through? So I called her up in the hospital and told her that at least her hair will have grown back by May.

I seem to be the least worried of everyone, except my Memaw. I wonder sometimes if I shouldn’t be more concerned, considering her age and all. Mom says Memaw has good days and bad days. Tuesday was a bad day, and she was asleep when Mom came to visit. Thursday, however, was a good day, since Memaw was downstairs playing bingo when Mom called to check on her. 🙂

I refuse to be angry at Memaw, though. Sure, this cancer could be pinned down to her decades of smoking — but what will it help to blame the victim? I’d rather just go to the women’s cancer specialty shop and buy her a head scarf or three for her birthday.

Sweet Dreams are Made of These

You know how, before the first day of school, you would have those "I was at school and didn’t know what my classes were and it was the day of a test and I forgot my pants" dreams? This weekend, I had my first pre-wedding dream. Seven months till D-Day, and already I’m having them.

The wedding was out in the country, at someone’s house. We had to drive out there, and I think I had to go quickly from somewhere. Work or something. At any rate, I had to let my bridesmaids pack my bag and all my stuff, including dress, shoes, hair thingies, change of clothes, etc. Amy (my maid of honor) must have been meeting us later or something, because Mel (bridesmaid #2) was driving me out to the wedding site. We had a tender moment in the car, regarding how much I trusted the judgement of my closest friends, and that’s why I chose them all to join my in my special day.

When we got there, I had to go in the bathroom and change into my wedding garb. Instead of having one of my ladies come in with me, I had my mom help me out. I laid out all my stuff on the floor outside the bathroom door and came to some realizations: 1.) My dress was not pressed; 2.) All I had for hose were the knee-hi’s I wear to work; 3.) I had never gotten my dress altered.

I’ll stop the dream account there, because I distinctly remember some evil magical thing happening in the house, me having to carry my dress elsewhere, and two guests being turned into puppy dogs.


As a prelude, let me say that Krys did indeed get back to me. She’s going to law school at Akron U, and has a job lined up as a judicial attorney at the Court of Appeals after her graduation in May. She owns a house in Akron, and she’s still single. (No, she’s not looking, either, so stay your wild e-mail volleys.)

This made me think. Christy’s going to be a lawyer. (Sorry… I meant Krys. Old habits.) The fact made me reflect on how I’ve done so far, as compared to some of my old friends:

  • Krys is single, a homeowner, and (nearly) quite gainfully employed in a high-prestige profession.
  • Last I heard from Carolyn, my best friend from Middle School, she had just gotten married, was taking computer classes at the local community college, and worked as a secretary for an insurance company.
  • Mechelle from Florida got knocked up in 10th grade and quit school. At last contact, her two kids were in the custody of her aunt, and she was working at Burger King. (Of course, that was about ten years ago.)
  • Amy, my roommate from college, got her Bachelors in Biology and moved back to where she grew up in SW Ohio. She currently holds a managerial / administrative position at a genetics lab.

No, this isn’t meant to air everyone’s dirty laundry. It’s meant to set up a comparison. Look at me: I have my Bachelors degree, but am working in a completely unrelated field. I don’t have a car, so I take the taxi. Aaron and I rent a duplex. We’re engaged to be married in May. In some ways, I’ve ended up much better off than my friends have. In some ways, I’m far behind the pack.

In any case, it’s a measure of my self-esteem that I don’t need to look at my friends’ lives to know that I’m happy. I’m proud of my achievements, and I know my shortcomings, and I don’t dwell on either. There were days in my teens when I compared myself to everyone I knew and made myself miserable over it. Now it’s just an interesting exercise.

Who knew that me, Little Miss D-Minus In Algebra II, would get a job at a bank?

Did you know that, on, you can register as an alum of your elementary school? Serious. There is this one friend, Mechelle Dunphy, that I totally lost touch with back in middle school, and it occured to me that I might find her that way. Of course, It didn’t work. (Why would it actually work out the way I’d planned?) I did find another friend from further back, though: from 2nd Grade as opposed to 5th. I hadn’t talked to this friend since we were in high school, so I looked at her info. And since I don’t pay $3 a month, I could only see the first line of her bio:

"After wandering aimlessly from state to state, living in five or six rather strange…"

And that’s all I got. Aargh! So, of course I had to go to Google. After about ten minutes of searching, I finally found her in the law department at the University of Akron. At least, I assume it’s her… although many people could have the name "Christina Smith," I’m guessing that there are much fewer that also go by "Krys." I sent off an e-mail to the address I found, so we’ll see what happens.

Zankoku na Tenchi no Southpark

So, I found this fun Southpark Character Generator on the web from surfing off of one of Aaron’s favorite anime message boards. Now, after trying to make a Southpark character that looks like me, I understand why people think Donna Davies and I look alike. No matter how hard I tried to make me, I ended up making Donna. Nothing against either of us… it’s just how it worked out.

The entire point of going there, though, was to create one of my favorite anime characters, Ayanami Rei from Evangelion. This required only minimal post-Flash Photoshop touch-ups (I added the red stripes and Eva 00 on the plugsuit, and the interfaces on her head). If you want to know why this is funny, you need to watch Evangelion.

Despite All My Rage, I Am Still Just A Rat In A Maze

Frustration, thy name is Corn Maze.

If you ever have the opportunity to partake in a corn maze… and if you have the choice between "hard" (90 minutes to finish) and "easy" (30 minutes to finish), don’t be brave. Choose the easy maze. Don’t say, "I want to get my seven bucks’ worth out of this corn maze!" T’will only end in frustration and many wrong turns.

Aaron and I went to the Fallen Timbers Corn Maze with our friend Kris H., after getting some yummy kettle corn and teriyaki beef jerky at the Grand Rapids Apple Butter Festival. (What can I say – it was our day to do bizarre Autumn activities out in the boonies.) We probably shouldn’t have done the corn maze after walking around for a couple hours looking at crafts and colonial re-enactments, but hey. At any rate, we did well for the first 2/3 of the maze, switching off leaders every time one of us led the trio into a dead end. Then we got caught in the hard part in the lower right quadrant of the maze. We were prepared to a.) cheat and cut through the rows of corn to just get to the car and leave, b.) wait until the maze organizers sent out the guides for us, or c.) camp out and make our own Society in the corn. I believe Kris plucked a corn stalk and dubbed Aaron a Knight Of The Corn, and dubbed me Princess Of The Corn (although I don’t think that’s how one actually becomes a princess). We did manage to get out without breaking any rules of the maze, though – we ended up backtracking a bit and finding the spot where the hard maze intersected the eazy maze. This led to the exit bridge, where a nice guide called down directions to the stairs of the bridge.

All in all… I’m never doing another corn maze again anytime soon.


When I was seven years old, I never doubted what was taught to me. I had a Heavenly Father who loved me and wanted me to be happy. If I prayed to Him, he could watch over my friends and loved ones, or bless our food, or make my headache go away. And someday, if I was good, I would go up to Heaven and be with my family Forever.

When I was twelve, I was a young woman of faith and integrity. I knew, as any faithful Mormon youth would, that the Church was true, that Jesus was the Christ, that the Book of Mormon was a true record of His visit to the Americas, that Joseph Smith was a Prophet, and that the president of the Church was a Prophet on earth in these latter-days.

When I was seventeen, I never failed to believe in and act upon what I knew was right. I recognized that many of my peers found my beliefs strange and different, and I thrived on that. Although I began to skip meetings and services, I still knew in my heart that the Church was true.

When I was in college, I began to open my mind to other ideas. I learned about Sociology and the history of the concept of religion. I learned about other belief systems. I roomed with an agnostic who completed her conversion to atheism during the very years I knew her. I stepped back from what I had known all my life. I realized that I didn’t truly believe it anymore. Maybe I never truly did.

Now, at the age of 26, I’ve come to an uncomfortable discovery: I’m ready to believe in something again.

The place that Church and Religion held in my life has not yet been filled with something meaningful. Don’t mistake me to mean that I’m actively seeking a Christian congregation to go join. Or Jewish, or Buddhist, or Islamic, or Wiccan, or Druid. I’m ready to find what I know is right, and true, and good. Maybe God exists. Maybe He actually watches us. (Maybe we’re His bowl of sea monkeys that He stirs up every millenium or three.) Maybe God is only a concept for a Unity that we as humans cannot physically comprehend. Maybe there is a Tao, or a Force, or some other universal power of which we are all part. Maybe we each have much more mental power than we realize. Maybe, when we pray, we make our own prayers a reality, due to our sheer force of undoubting belief. Maybe when we die, we’ll each wink out of existence and into oblivion and the impossibly profound concept of non-existence.

I don’t know.

I don’t pretend to have the answers. Diana’s Manual of Spiritual Consciousness doesn’t exist — and if it did, it would only apply to me, and me alone. You would have to determine what applied to you, and adapt the knowledge to your own beliefs. I don’t hold the answers.

…But once I figure something out, I’ll let you know.