Sunday, October 30, 2011

Some Traditions Die Hard

I wasn't going to do it.
I wasn't going to write a post about marching band - particularly Glasgow High School's marching band. I just wasn't going to do it. With the whole uniform debacle last year, emotions were just too high that I didn't feel I could appropriately and adequately express my feelings on the topic without sounding like an antiquated die hard. I didn't feel like I could express in written word how rich the tradition of the Glasgow Scottie Band marching in plaid kilts truly is. I didn't want to distort my own memories with the opinions of others who were in the thick of said debacle. And, others wrote blog posts to end all posts on the topic, so I couldn't justify my time doing so. But my passion has forced me to give in.

To be quite honest, my opinions on the topic wavered. I mean, I can see both sides - I'm not so narrow-minded to believe that perhaps the face of competitive marching band has changed so drastically that the Scottish uniform could genuinely be causing problems resulting in lowered scores. I'm perfectly aware that sometimes things have to change and traditions have to be modified. And truthfully, with the rocky era that was 2000-2010 in GHS marching band, dare I say perhaps the uniform had slightly been tarnished and the respect and admiration for the kilt had faded. So maybe it was time for a change. I could deal with that. And lo and behold, they win the state championship in class AA last year. Point taken.

*Let me first say this before I go any further - the uniforms alone did not win them the championship. The director worked his tail off getting the fundamental marching elements up to par and more importantly, taught the kids how to play like a chamber group on the least intimate settings of all music performance (a football field). Did the uniforms help? Possibly - there were a lot of body movements, leans, shifts, etc. that may or may not have been as effective in a kilt. Whatever the case, the entire quality of the band reached a new level in all areas - performance, attitude, presentation, and ahem, maybe even tradition. It seemed our answer to the call to attention (everyone say it together - PRIDE!) was back in full force, even without the kilts. I thoroughly commend everyone who played a part in last year's modification movement - I think it's safe to say that with a Governor's Cup on your shelf, it was a successful one.

However, with all that said, I sit here today with mixed emotions on the topic once again. Yesterday, I was carrying on with my regular Saturday activities when it dawned on me that the state band championships were being held right here in Bowling Green, at WKU, which meant that preliminary competitions were going on all over this region. After two seconds of internet searching, I found that the AA prelim was being held right down the road at Greenwood High. Glasgow marched in the 16th position. Out of 16 bands. At 3:15. Now if I know anything about anything, I know that 16th is a PRIME draw and not only did it suit my schedule (since I was just realizing all of this at lunch time) but it would all but guarantee them one of the top four spots in the finals competition. I had to go. It was my duty as a Glasgow High band alum.

Sparing the details of the day for the sake of a far too lengthy post, I went, paid the outrageous $10 to get in (to see 5 bands perform and hear the announcement of the top 4), and cheered with everyone as Glasgow was announced as a finalist band. I was almost as excited as I had been as a band member myself. I loved it. My pride was definitely in tact. I quickly convinced my overworked, non-former-band-member husband that he needed to accompany me to finals at WKU and he obliged.
We arrived at WKU in time to see the beginning of the class AA finals competition. We got excellent seats (much to the surprise of my husband who thought I was crazy when I told the ticket guy "I want the highest seats we can get.") The competition was stiff. Kind-of. I was a, confused I think. Marching band has changed. I mean some things stay the same: most all bands still work a rotating box into their drill; the show cycle of a stirring opener, a 'slow piece,' and building, crowd-engaging closer is still maintained; and impeccable musical balance and clean lines are still a direct goal. But so much else has changed: entering the field to a synthesized beat booming through on-field speakers was seemingly the norm. (Um, bagpipes anyone? ) The use of recorded voice-overs during the performance is really popular. Moveable props, lifts, banners, and outlandish color guard drill was almost an absolute. And the days of an on-field warm-up is over - no West Coast Warm-ups; no fight songs. From the second the pit crew drives up, the 'show' begins. It was odd, but I can take it, and in some cases I liked it.
Glasgow took the field at 7:30. They performed well. Their music was high-quality and high-difficulty. Check. Their marching was clean, intricate, and stylistic to the show. Check. The color guard was small, but delivered a story line VERY well. Check. Overall, it was a solid performance. One to certainly be proud of.

I wasn't moved. They even played one of my all-time favorite pieces, 'Nessun Dorma' from Puccini's Turandot (that I performed with the wind ensemble at WKU under Dr. John Carmichael - GLORY! - and was played at our wedding) and while impressive in it's own right, I was still somewhat unmoved. (Video above. Check out my mad skills videoing from an iPhone.)

But again, I just wasn't moved. Perhaps it was because it was quite chilly sitting in those stands (my poor parents endured 4 years of such torture). Maybe it was because I had developed a migraine during the afternoon. It could have been because the lovely people behind us wouldn't quit talking. Or maybe...maybe I missed the kilts.

For those of you who don't understand the history of the GHS band, our uniform was a full, 12-piece traditional Scottish uniform, complete with sporans made from real horse hair and 100% wool tartan and kilt. With 70-100 people in such attire, it commanded attention, if anything because it was so different. It sparkled under the lights of a stadium. It. Was. Awesome.
Left - First time I put on the uniform for competition; Right - Final time getting ready for competition
But the uniform alone wasn't the point. It was the history behind every single kilt - each person that ever wore it - each performance that ever took place in that kilt - every place those kilts had been - all of that was carried down from generation to generation in a single garment.

When the decision came down that Glasgow could not be considered a competitive marching band in today's environment because of the distraction of the sporan movement, the way the kilt hid knee movement and body delay, and because the limitations of range of movement the kilt held, it caused quite a stir. It was subsequently announced that the band would still march parades and perform at events in the Scottish uniform, so it wasn't like they were putting all of the kilts on Ebay or something, but it was still a drastic change. Like I said above, I get it. Honestly, that uniform was designed for marching in a parade setting, not running from the 20 yard line to the 50 in eight counts. I get it.

BUT, I do think the new, 'standard' uniform could have been designed so much better. I cried when I first saw it. It's black. It's dull. It has very little semblance to the former uniform. It looks like Adair County's uniform without the reflective 'A' triangle on the crossbelt. It looks like a uniform for any 'ole run-of-the-mill band. Not Glasgow.
Formerly when Glasgow took the field, there was NO QUESTION who it was. Oh, plaid kilts? That's GLASGOW. Love it or hate it, it was part of our legacy. Our claim to fame. Not only did we sound great and march great, we were unforgettable. People who had never seen us before would go away from seeing us perform talking about us and write us letters about our performance. It didn't matter if we didn't peform at top condition - we were GLASGOW and we looked GOOD. Recognizable. Authentic. Unimitated. Take all that away, and it's like putting the New York Yankees in solid white uniforms with no pin stripes, or sending the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders on to the field in tennis shoes and t-shirts instead of their boots and tied scarf tops. Sure, the Yankees may still win the pennant, and the Cowboys' Cheerleaders will still do their infamous kickline with razor-sharp precision, but it's just not the same. It's not tradition.

That's not the case anymore, but it didn't have to be that way. The new uniform could have been designed with respect to the new way of doing things, allowing the band to be more flexible in pants, but with stand-out features that stirred similar emotions as the plaid kilts did. There is very little plaid on the uniform. Plaid could have been infused ALL OVER the jacket - the sleeves, tails on the jacket, an attached tartan on the back, something.  Who said they had to wear those crazy hats with plumes - what was wrong with the balmorals? I'm sure those were not affecting the scores. And for crying out loud, what went with the spats? If you're wanting to draw attention to your impeccable marching, put WHITE spats between those black pants and black shoes and there you have it, all the while paying homage to a former piece of the old uniform. Something that screams GLASGOW, but allows for all the flexibility of a standard uniform. Oh, and please, please, why not put the field commander in the full Scottish ensemble?  She was in a prom dress last night and it made NO sense to me. SO sad.
Top - State Finals 1995; Bottom - State Finals 2011

I'll say it again, I am so very proud to be a Glasgow High School alumni band member whether they're wearing kilts or jeans and t-shirts. But the tradition is lacking. The visual ambience is sorely disappointing. I'll go as far to say that last night's show possibly would have been better with the Scottish uniforms. But whatever the case, I'll always support the Scottie Band and their new budding tradition of being a consistent championship-winning band. They certainly have the talent for it. In the meantime, I will always be so thankful for the memories of my experience of marching in the kilts. And I will try not to be sad those championships are being won in a uniform that just anyone could wear.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Tech-Savvy God

I was cruising Twitter on my phone during lunch the other day and stumbled on a retweet by someone that led me to Lil' Light O’ Mine, a website with a new blog. The post I was directed to was a beautiful, touching infertility story (of all things.)

Okay, you’ve got my attention.

Then today, a new post about waiting and God’s timing in EVERYTHING.

Um, is someone recording my life and saying, “here, Cissy, here’s some hope, a little strength, and a dab of comfort for you to know that you’re not alone in your struggles?”

Already a blessing, this blog and subsequent website popped up out of ‘nowhere’ essentially (as most blogs do, I suppose) on a day when I needed renewal so desperately that I actually avoided my usual outlets for motivation and couldn’t find any solace in my go-to readings; a day when I was questioning my motives and had concerns about blogging altogether (more to come on that); a day when I needed something NEW to speak to my heart when I was all but slamming the door on God’s promises. He knew how to reach me, how to permeate my hardening heart in a relatable way, even if it was via social media. He reached down to my then unknowing mind and spoke through someone else’s words to reach my heart and draw me close to Him. It’s not that this hasn’t happened before – God loves to show up in unexpected ways in my life. Heck, I met my wonderful, precious husband online, so I know that God isn’t scared of technology. But I am so thankful He did it again, when I was wounded, crushed, and losing grip on the knot I have tied and re-tied at the end of my rope. So thankful.

Friday, October 21, 2011

True Colors

I won't go into another dissertation about how much I love all-things-fall - everyone is well aware. But I have to say, it's possible that my love of fall goes beyond just the aesthetics maybe because I'm an October baby (today's October baby as a matter of fact) or maybe just because it's a 'nature' that people refer to. Whatever the case, I had a bit of an epiphany.

When I was getting my hair done the other day, my stylist, who is of course aware of our bout with infertility kept apologetically asking questions and saying, "I'm sorry" as I was updating her on the last few weeks. It dawned on me that I had an opportunity here - I can wallow and go on and on about how upsetting this battle is sometimes, or I can honor the truth that God's plan is where our hearts are and choose to admit the pain, but talk about the joys of our journey instead of the not yet reached destination. I have long known the sermons, adages, and even cliche's that spawn from the premise of character - that it's what we are when we're under pressure that makes us who we are.

Hmmm. Much like the trees that are changing...the colors the beautiful, vibrant, elaborate colors of the trees that are revealed in autumn are actually the TRUE color of the leaves - it's the process of photosynthesis that causes the green color of leaves in spring and summer, but small amounts of the reds, yellows, etc. were present in the leaves all along.

I know everyone already knows that, but it never dawned on me that maybe my love for the revelation of the true colors in fall is just a reflection of my own longing to be as true to what God wants to reveal as my true colors as I possibly can. I would like one day to be considered as beautiful for my true colors as the trees are for theirs. What an honor that would be - and what a ton of work on my part to get there. But, with every choice to be honest and transparent that I have, I can slowly work my way there - God's doing the rest.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Peanut M&M's, please

A little story:
Sunday after church, Michael and I ran errands. One of our stops was at Target, and on the list to buy were autumn peanut M&M's.
*Allow me to interject that these M&M's go in a candy dish on our side table in the living room. I made the cardinal sin of putting both plain AND peanut M&M's in said dish because sometimes I like a little more chocolate than peanut, but not Michael - he wants all peanut. Every time I would dig around in the dish for a peanut M&M, I would hear some comment from him like, "Honey, why would you put plain M&M's if you wanted peanut ones?" or "Looking for a peanut one, babe?" (Clearly he doesn't understand my method.) So after a few weeks of this madness, and an empty candy dish, I was determined to purchase ONLY peanut M&M's.
Back to Sunday...
I looked for the candy at Target and they were either out, or I just couldn't find them and asked Michael to remind me to get them at Kroger. We had a whole conversation about peanut M&M's. So, at our grocery run, I made sure to scour the candy aisle for the Peanut M&M's. We're standing among all of the Halloween candy in the seasonal aisle, Michael manning the cart, and sensing that I was struggling, my dear sweet husband asked,
(you know what's coming...)
"What are you looking for?"
Without hesitation or any obvious control, I practically shout, "I'm looking for PEANUT M&M's!" right there in the middle of the grocery store.

I think it's sufficient to say that I'm a little edgy these days. And it's about to get worse because I just took my first dose of Clomid.

That's right. We're off to the races and officially part of the Infertility Drug Club. My doctor's appointment today was 3 hours long, complete with an overview of the lovely past 10 weeks of roller coaster recovery from surgery, blood work, a meeting with the dietician (who completely sold us on Juice Plus), and three prescriptions. I got my money's worth today. And I still love my doctor - she's a-w-e-s-o-m-e.

So, hopefully this new journey with a little white pill leads us to a wonderful reward. I'm still very aware of the chances that the Clomid won't work (believe me) but at the same time, I've got to stay positive. God has blessed us with so much, and we both certainly feel that we were led to this decision.

And since this lovely little pill is notorious for causing mood swings, it looks as though we're going to have to get used to more peanut M&M incidents.

Poor Michael.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just Smile

Since my last post was...well, rather grim, I thought I would share a couple of videos that have made me smile over the past few days. It's been another rough week. But instead of further brooding about it, I decided laughter would be the best medicine, at least for now (I go back to the doctor next Tuesday) so until then, I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

This first one was posted on MSN the other night and Michael and I are still laughing about it. This dog could DEFINITELY be part of our family, as we've had more than similar experiences with our own dogs.

And these little girls featured on the Ellen show on Wednesday are just too precious for words. I wish I could bottle the joy and enthusiasm of little Sophia Grace. Just priceless. Be sure to watch when the cameras pan to their parents.

How can you NOT smile?!
Have a GREAT weekend!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7...

I no longer recognize the day of October 5. I apologize to any of you who celebrate a birthday on this day, as I learned today that it is the most popular birthday in America (due to it's correlation with New Year's Eve), but as far as my calendars go, it will no longer be recognized as a day. I haven't quite figured out how that's going to work, but I'll think of something by 10-5-12 because I refuse to endure the pain that October 5 inevitably seems to bring. You see, for the last three years running, October 5 has unfailingly been one of the most painful days of our year, for whatever reason. For the sake of others, I don't want to go into detail, but trust me when I say if you had walked in my shoes on these days in 2009, 2010, and today, you would agree. I'm hoping that the whole "things come in 3's" adage applies here because I'm done with the dark October 5 omen in my life.
Since I won't go into detail and since my best expression is through music anyway, below are two songs that sum up my feelings. The first is Josh Groban's "Remember When it Rained" and oddly enough, this song came on when I pulled into my garage this afternoon (where I then sat and sobbed.) It is one of my all-time favorite songs and a go-to piece when I take time to sit at the piano. I'm not sure if the 'person' he's speaking of is a girl, but to me, it's a cry to God. Whatever the case, it's cathartic and definitely reflects the pain I feel so deeply.
The second song is my light - the force that keeps me going. It's Chris Tomlin's "I Lift My Hands" and it not only represents my praise and gratitude for God's mercy in my life but also my soul's surrender that it's His plan, His timing, His will I seek.

I ask that those of you who are praying for me (us) please continue to do so.

The End

My incessant need for closure has led me to post a final farewell to this blog. Blogging was a whole new concept for me when I logged on l...