Because the World Never Ceases to Amaze Me. Because You’re In It.

And I’m too lazy to write anything. But, I’m feeling sappy and nostalgic, so here’s a chat. Or a few. I’m just grateful some of you out there can take advantage of my waking hours. It’s nice feeling helpful. And in touch with the outside world. Just know that I love talking with you guys.

Also, sorry about all the brackets and vaguenesses.

ONE
Friend
: lol

  oh, here’s something else to get outraged about
  so you’ve heard about the verizon strike
 me: ok
 Friend: the company makes a profit of 108 billion a year.
they currently have a health plan that gives free care to their retirees, and their current employees get health care but have to pay copays.
they are on strike because the company wants each employee to contribute $20k a year for the health plan.
  this will save the company $1 billion. So they can make $109 billion a year instead.
  their top 5 executives make something like $525 million.
how freaking ridiculous is that?
 me: holy what
  okay, i like capitalism for all its good qualities
  but this
  THIS
  THIS
why??!!!??
Friend: i know.
  i’m thinking vancouver might be a good place to move to.
  i’ve heard it’s pretty.
 me: me, too
  maybe i’ll see what’s there in terms of grad schools
Friend: you can scope it out for us. cuz this country is too stoopid to survive. i read something today that half the reason the economy sucks so badly is that the majority of people don’t have money to spend, so they don’t. the few who do have money (the top 5%) have too much money to know what to do with.
  so no jobs, etc.
  fun, right?
well, now that i’ve gotten you all outraged, time for me to run. talk to ya later!
 me: jerk
  thanks a lot
  😉
***
TWO
me: hi
Bro-friend: Heya. You’re up late
 me: i am
  you’re up as usual
Bro-friend: Indeed.
me: i can’t sleep
  but i have to
 Bro-friend: Did you drink Mt Dew again?
me: a little
  🙂
  but i’ve had problems before that
 Bro-friend: Hmm.
 me: it’ll be fine
  i’ll get to sleep soon
Bro-friend: I’m going to exploit it first.
  Question:
me: yes
Bro-friend: From what you’ve read of the writing project, what do you think the impact would be, either good or bad, of inserting a section [here].
In this hypothetical section, the reader is privy to a long conversation with very little scene-setting [here].
me: do you want that kind of a shift?
 Bro-friend: Well, it’s coming one way or the other, question is does it belong there or after.
me: you’re building toward something. will the section continue that build or interrupt it in a way that may or may not work
  the description sounds incredibly intriguing
maybe keep [here] continuous
  OR break them up
  the effects of either would be very interesting
Bro-friend: I think they need to stay continuous but going from [here] has always seemed a bit quit to me.
  There’s an implied passage of time but for the reader its immediate.
  So advantage to moving up the mom talk is providing a time lapse.
 me: right
Bro-friend: Disadvantage is breaking up flow.
 me: but if it’s sans setting …
  right
Bro-friend: You were pretty exhausted by it though. This would at least provide a section where [something happens].
me: will readers see the conversation as part of the chronology?
  or an aside?
Bro-friend: I think it would fit the chronology. [And here’s why.]
 me: then picks back up with the next chapter?
[this] would definitely add a different perspective
 Bro-friend: This section ends with [this].
I guess you’d need to read it to provide a detailed opinion. I’m trying to keep a big picture view of where it belongs.
 me: that’s fine
 so with the new section we have a better understanding of [this]
i worry slightly about a gentle unrolling into the conclusion
 Bro-friend: Makes sense.
 me: but, like you say, i’ll have to read it
  it’s an interesting take
 Bro-friend: Here’s the thing –
 me: and i’m curious
 ok
Bro-friend: I’ve approached the project overall as two halves. First half is what you’ve read… [this]. Part two is supposed to be [that].
  This section [accomplishes this].
In reality this process was not A to B, but a gradual process taking place all through the events described in part one.
 me: ok, i understand
  i see your intent
  it can be very effective
Bro-friend: I think of part one as one long crescendo and you’re right that it would be disruptive to interrupt that.
 My idea for starting off part two though feels a little disjointed.
 This section is one element. There are [ . . . ] others. [Like these.]
And it all seems like a bit much to just through together.
  But I may be overthinking it
 me: well, it only makes sense that chaos builds proportionally [here]
  it may seem like a lot, but realistically, even in a narrative context, it sort of has to be
 imo
 Bro-friend: It’s a question of [this]
me: how much magic do you want to do?
Bro-friend: How do you mean?
me: well, i don’t know.
Bro-friend: I want the experience for the reader to be immersive and genuine, while also maintaing reasonable fidelity to actual events. I can fudge some of the chronology or find other ways to work around those problems if it makes the read more smooth for the reader.
  I ask a lot from the reader in keeping track of stuff already so it’s not so much a stretch
 me: i understand
 you pretty much answered your own question about how much magic you’d be willing to do
 Bro-friend: Just wanted to see if that’s what you meant. I get where you’re coming from. I’m not resolved on it one way or the other yet, but it’s good to talk it out. Thanks.
 me: glad you’re back to thinking about it some more
Bro-friend: It comes and goes.
 me: 🙂
***
THREE

me: Friendy, i’m talking about marching band memories with someone

  can i recount the time [this happened]?
 Friendy: of course!
  when did [this happen]?
 me: i always think [it] did
  10th grade. azalea festival
 Friendy: hmm
  I don’t remember [it]
  I did get mad at Mr. Rood
 and it was my 15th birthday
  and Myron Hall squashed a toad in his marching shoes
  but I don’t remember [that]
 me: okay
  good thing i didn’t tell it, then
 Friendy: that guy who played trombone threw up before we went on the field
 me: oh yes, that
 you have different memories than i
 Friendy: that’s because we were on different sides of the field!
  weren’t we?
  I was by Mike what’s-his-name
 now I have Trooper Salute in my head
 me: excellent
Friendy: yeah, that was last year
  they were all over the news 🙂
  the channel 4 news, that is
 me: it’s impressive
 Friendy: i don’t really think they’re all that good….
 me: oh?
 Friendy: but hey, they won
  they’re okay
 me: standards have gone down?
 Friendy: oh yeah
 me: that’s just too bad
 Friendy: well, they’re not terrible
 me: so, we were better, then
 Friendy: way, way better
  they’re adequate
 me: SWEET
 Friendy: but nothing special 🙂
  we were pretty special
 me: indeed
 sigh. the memories

Middleburg High School Band in 1991 Is Better than Yo-Yo Ma at the 2009 Inauguration

It must have been 30 degrees outside, maybe colder. The wind was blowing, the ground was muddy from a freezing rain the night before and earlier in the day. We cut the tips off our white gloves so we could cover the fingerholes properly on our instruments.

The air was cold. It was dense and soundwaves traveled a little more quickly. The air was humid, and maybe it was like tapping on a full glass of water as opposed to an empty or half-full glass. Our sound was thuddy, but so was everyone else’s. Our goal was to make thuddy sound good.

We had preliminaries in the early afternoon. It was almost a joke, preliminaries. We were still kind of coasting on our victory at the Azalea Festival in Palatka a couple of months before, and we’d pretty much won every other contest since. We needed to score in the top 10 to make the finals. Or something like that. For our other contests, we placed first in prelims and only had to defend the position in the finals. For the Kingdom of the Sun festival, we placed second or third in the prelims. It wasn’t first, that’s all I remember. We had real competition. I was a little scared.

I chuckled that day, Kingdom of the Sun. It was overcast and cold and completely miserable. Sometimes we sat on the bleachers to watch some of the other bands. Some school marched to the Simpons theme. The dance team carried around huge cardboard cutouts that looked like clouds. The bleachers were cold.

Our marching band uniforms were red jackets that fastened at the neck, white pants, white shoes, white gloves and white Aussie hats. We also wore ruffled dickies. Mr. Ball, our band director, emphasized white shirts and white underwear for the uniforms. I saw occasional stripes and print patterns while standing in various formations.

Mr. Ball was against black pants and shoes. White was a huge risk: it was easier to detect missteps and not-so-sharp marching, but when everyone marched on point, stepping exactly at the same time to the beat, it looked fantastic. Marching band was a visual as well as an aural experience.

We waited for the evening for the finals to begin. It had begun drizzling. We warmed up in the parking lot, marking time, playing scales. Whole notes, B-flat concert. Played the big hits in “Georgia” and “Tennessee Waltz” and “Precious Lord.” Whenever we didn’t play, we kept blowing warm air through our instruments.

We marched and played our hearts out. We were known more for our musicality than our marching, so we knew we had to step up our playing. Plus, we had an advantage being at around 130 members, where the The Big Red Machine (or whatever the heck they were called) were around 180, or even bigger. More people to keep in tune. They didn’t sound nearly as warm and rich and full during their warmups.

During our show, I marched right by a field judge. He talked into his handheld recorder. We kicked up some mud, and we kneeled with confidence onto that soft football field at the right time during “Precious Lord.” Our show had kind of a patriotic theme, and maybe it was the Gulf war, and maybe we were good ol’ Southern kids, but our music really, really pleased the crowd.

Our sound was crisp and musically appealing and nostalgic and religious. I just about cried when the drum majors cued our last note, which I marveled was in perfect tune. After horns-down, we held our instruments and stood at attention and breathed hard, exhausted from the past ten minutes. We waited for our drumline to cadence our exit.

We left everything on the field.

We were the underdogs that day, the Broncos. We were used to winning and didn’t know how we would fight our way back to first place. The Big Red Machine (they had gross, cream-colored pants and white shoes, but they also had red jackets) had a pretty long history of being a great marching band. They were the favorites; they led going into the finals. They were definitely bigger. They were better marchers.

But we were better musicians. Our music cut right through the cold, humid, floppy air, in tune, on beat, the way a concert band would sound in an insulated and controlled environment. Except we slammed the audience with a massive wall of sound. We pushed back the bleachers with our fortissimos, and we surprised everyone with our pianissimos, and the audience, with even our competition’s band parents, went wild.

We, at a modest 130 members, stood at attention next to the massive and pretty obnoxious Machine of flirbity-7 googolplex on the field as they announced the results. We won. Our drumline played as we marched off with smiles that would not quit. We got to the buses and went wild. We hugged and hooted and congratulated the other bands. Joel Agcon asked me to homecoming.

There was no way I would be sleeping on the ride back to Middleburg.