Quick: You’ve Graduated!

I’m not going to lie and say that I had no idea what to expect when I moved in to the University Center for my Freshman year at Columbia. I had expectations — I had huge expectations. I knew I was paying a huge amount of money to go to this school, and I expected them to deliver on every one of those expectations. That was my first lesson: don’t have too many expectations for the big things. Because it’ll probably turn out not how you were expecting at all, and be entirely different…but maybe, that’s what you need.

I wanted to write a big long mushy post highlighting some of the best parts of my college career, but in typical fashion with the rest of my life right now, I totally ran out of time. Plus, I have quite a few pages highlighting each semester already, so why should I make the final one be any different? Plus, the last five months have been so jam-packed with things (both really difficult and really wonderful), so I can’t short-change my last semester.

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Another Life Update: SP17 Edition

Because it’s been a minute since I did one of these, here’s a list of things that have happened in the last few months that I haven’t really been super public about:

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What You Haven’t Read about SXSW

Here’s what you haven’t read about my trip to Austin, TX for SXSW so far…

Last week, I had the pleasure of spending seven days in Austin, Texas. Not only was it great being in Austin, but it was also a pretty popular time to be there. South by Southwest (or SXSW) is the interactive, film, music, and comedy festival that completely takes over the city for almost two full weeks. As part of the completion of my interdisciplinary degree at Columbia College, I was able to attend the festival as part of the AEMMP Digital Distribution & Promotions Practicum course. For my project in class, I was able to incorporate something I was planning on doing down there, anyway. I got to write about all of the bands (good and bad) that I was able to catch, and it was published over on Atwood Magazine. If you’re interested in the music portion of my experience, click on the day-header for those ramblings. This post will serve more in the nitty-gritty of the trip, and what you won’t find on a publication. Thus, “What You Didn’t Read about SXSW Already”

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Year in Review: 2016

Wow, what a freakin year. As I went through pictures this time around, I found an astonishing amount of goofy selfies and embarrassing snapchat screenshots of my friends, so the fact that I was able to pull as many “normal” pictures as I’ve got in here is nothing short of a miracle. As I was writing this blog post last year, I knew there’d be a lot to talk about… but I never imagined to have the year shake out like it did. Anyway, here’s 2016 in somewhere around 6,000 words. Stay with us.

Taking in an overlook in Tennessee

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A Weekend Off

There’s a lot of things going on in my life: school, SGA, running, CARA, drum corps, and teaching at Downers Grove South on the weekends. I absolutely love it, I definitely wouldn’t have it any other way, because I like being busy. But like everyone, it’s nice to have some downtime every once in awhile. I’ve had days off here and there, but it’s been about two months since I had two full days off in a row. Which is why I was so beyond over-the-moon when I was able to get this one off.

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Word Vomit (II)

I’m kind of notorious for not keeping up with blogs. I started one my Sophomore year of high school, and I ended up just using it as an online database for my school research. Then the J-Term project lasted about a month – of course, that bad boy kind of had a set expiration date. But this one, I’ve actually successfully blogged at least once a week on for almost the whole semester (knock on wood.)

Maybe that’s kind of why I’ve got a little bit of writer’s block this week – I’ve got plenty I could post about, but instead, I’ve opted for the non-capitalizing-I posts and little blurbs of things on my tumblr, and 140-character-musings on Twitter. So I have been putting my thoughts the past week out there on the internet, but none of it seemed “worthy” or “lengthy” enough to make a full blog post about it, I guess. But wordpress keeps emailing me to get my post for the week up, so here we go, Word Vomit number two.

On Sunday evening, I got the chance to go to a secret show for the Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank – a band I worked with back in Minnesota. It was in Wicker Park here in Chicago, which is kind of known as the “hipster central.” The show took place in this guy’s apartment, they moved all the furniture out of his living room and set up a little area for both the Hobos and the band that opened up for them; a Chicago-area band called the Grasstronauts. It was really cool, not only get to catch up with a band that’s really good and that I like to think of as friends, but to be able to spend a Sunday evening listening to some great, free music in Wicker Park. Sure, I had to leave around 9:30 so I could finish a paper, and yeah, at least 85% of the audience around me was at least a little tipsy (if not, drunk,) but it was so great to just chill out for a little bit and listen to some live folk/bluegrass music. 

I think I needed that this week more than I thought. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff lately – producing for a podcast, working at Chicago Kernel and the radio department, full time student – scratch that, full time honor student – and working on applications for Student Government and to get into certain classes for next year. I’ve got a lot on my plate, true, it’s not as much as others, but it’s still a lot. I do get to take time for myself, but it’s usually falling asleep in the middle of a movie with my room mates, or getting up super early to go for a run, or falling asleep after getting two minutes into a How I Met Your Mother episode. I get time, but I also don’t. My idea of “time off” is scrolling through tumblr, or campaigning and making cookies (true, I got to eat those cookies, but it also sort of counts as campaigning if it gets you votes, right?) I hadn’t taken time out specifically for me in almost a week, and going to that little show gave me the two hours of music I enjoy by myself. I didn’t have to worry about impressing anyone too much and I didn’t have to network as much as possible. Just showing up for this event I knew I would enjoy was networking enough, and it turned out to be a very smart move. Music is powerful in that way. I started my week off right, and I got finished with my Expanded Field Notes once I got back to my dorm – after cleaning the bathroom, of course.

Speaking of those field notes…somehow, I got an A on those. I looked over those 1700+ words and didn’t even proof read, because I knew it was just going to be terrible. I guess I’m just really astounded that I even had the chance to get an A, let alone actually receive one. So that’s cool.

Hmm..that’s all I seem to have time for. I’ve got group meetings and an interview for the rest of the day, and I’d rather finish my ethics paper (or get at least somewhat closer to completing it) before I get off work in seven minutes. 

Assignment: Ticket To A New Life

Trying to pinpoint a specific time that something blew your mind is tricky. Picking an event or activity or simply just a thing that blew your mind is easier. Figuring out the specificities – that’s where it gets tricky. Recently, my Writing and Rhetoric II class had a workshop on brainstorming topics to write about. We all learned that we may have more stories to share than we think we do, and for me, it was no different. The first question we had to answer was ‘Think of a time where your mind was blown. A time your whole world changed.’ The first instance that came to my mind was November 30th, 2012. My first real drum corps experience.

I was seventeen years old. A Senior in high school. I was also working both a part-time job and an internship. Based out of small-town-Nothern Minnesota. Not too many life experiences under my belt. But all of that was about to change. I had been dreaming of that weekend for almost two years, in fact, I still dream of it to this day. That weekend was my audition to march with Spirit of Atlanta’s color guard – a World Class Drum and Bugle Corps. I drove myself down to Eagan, Minnesota (a four hour trip.) Duffel bag and rifle in the trunk, backpack by my side, and a fully charged iPod. The alarm went off on Friday, November 30th, 2012 at 3:30am. I landed in Atlanta, Georgia around 10:30 that morning. After getting lost in the outskirts of the city with a friend that goes to school there for the majority of the day, I got back to the airport and boarded the shuttle to camp.

That weekend flew by – full of the spinning of flags, throwing of guns, and my best attempts at dancing gracefully. I got back to my small town on a Tuesday night with my mind anywhere but the math test I had to make up that week. All I could think about was the people I met; how driven and focused they are. How passionate they are about something that they realize they’re probably never going to be able to do once the drum corps experience is over.

Drum corps is like the olympics of marching band, except it happens every year for most people. You go through an audition process throughout the winter, and then, if the corps likes what they see, you get a contract. Then you fundraise to pay tour fees, and move in usually around mid-late May. Spring training lasts for about four weeks, and then you tour around the country for about two months. During Spring Training (commonly known as “all-days”,) you learn the show. This is a time that people learn a lot about themselves and their limits, being outside and physically active for sixteen-plus hours a day does that. Tour is like all days, just the scenery is different, and sometimes the days a little bit shorter.

The whole drum corps experience has been a mind-blowing and life-changing experience for me. Not only have I learned about myself and one of my favorite art forms, but I’ve learned a lot about people. Living with about 175 other people for three months in strange conditions really helps you appreciate the small things – like a sunset on the way to a show, or a gym that doesn’t smell like dirty feet.

Drum corps has taught me more than I can even put into words. One of the things I’ve learned is how important it is to keep in touch with those that you’re not sure if you’ll see again, and seizing the opportunities you do get to catch up. I got to spend the turn from 2013 to 2014 with my “drum corps family.” It was kind of crazy to think about how much had changed in just over a year. Not only had I pursued both of my dreams, but I was spending New Years in a house full of people who support me, no matter if it has to do with this weird activity we all love, or my professional goals. What’s still mind-blowing is that it only took one plane ticket to change my life.