I got my dogs, Truffles and Remy, 2 years ago in Febuary. My mom literally just mentioned it out of the blue. We were out and about, for no reason in particular, and when we drove past Pet Co, she just randomly said “Hey, we should stop by Pet Co to get some stuff for the dogs!” My sister and I, thinking it was joke because my sister had been asking for a dog for nearly 8 years, never with with a yes, but only with a maybe, just laughed it off, but my dad agreed, and after a few minutes of convincing, we finally believed we were getting 2, 8 week old, 4 pound schnoodles. My sister and I were thrilled, and couldn’t wait for the day they were brought home. Finally, a week later, my dad hobbled into the kitchen carrying a large, gray crate. Bouncing with excitement, we all knelt on the floor, and my dad had just barely lifted the latch, when a tiny, furry, mass of black streaked across the room, and circled around to face us. Remy stared at us with big coal eyes, his pink tongue lolling out over his white “goatee”. He yipped at us for a while (we later called it “talking”), and finally started padding toward us. First, he sniffed around the kitchen, then, recognizing my dad from when he picked them up, placed his small paws on his knees and yipped at him some more. We were so caught up in Remy, we completely almost forgot about his sister. When I peeked into the crate, I saw a pair of fearful, deep brown eyes staring back at me. My mom delicately lifted the back of the crate, and I started coaxing Truffles out. She timidly stepped out, but froze the second she saw us. We let the dogs be for the rest of the evening, thinking we had gotten a bouncy, hyper schnoodle and a shy schnoodle. We had no idea what little Truffles would grow up to be. Today, she prances around the house, waking my parents up in the middle of the night, and jumping on my bed at 3am. Her brother does the same, but he has his own things, too. We’ve made silly names for every single one of them. When he balances his back against the back of the couch on his head, we say he is “crackering”. When he barks at us for no reason, he is “talking”. We are so happy we got our dogs, and they have made our lives a lot more enjoyable.
For some reason, when I hear “Jog up to the track and run three laps”, I groan and complain, but when the coach tells us to WALK three laps through the hallways, my friend Jane and I end up sprinting the majority of it, talking, and laughing. On the track, it’s all panting, gasping, and trying to ignore the burning in your lungs and calves. I don’t know if it’s the perfect temperature, the material I’m running on, or just the pure enjoyment of seeing my classmates bewildered faces as I race freely through the hall that makes me enjoy running inside more than I like running outside.
I am from potpourri
From dog toys and bones
I am from the tantalizing scent of baking pumpkin pie
I am from the wildflowers
The oak whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own
I’m from football night and overflowing laundry hampers
From mom and dad
I’m from lazy Saturdays and grocery Sundays
And from two little dogs
And though I’m from screaming and shouting
And evenings spent crying in my room
I’m from a loving family
I’m from laughing and smiling and chatting on the couch
From my stories about relatives
Great-grandfathers who could crush apples and uncles who rescued drowning horses
Intense blue and calm hazel eyes
I’m from under the blankets of my comfortable bed
I’m from home
November 9. The day members of Symphonic and Wind Ensemble Bands all around the school were dreading.The day of the District Band Auditions.
My leg bounces up and down as my mother and I drive into the parking lot. I think she’s lecturing me on why I shouldn’t be nervous, but I’m to busy being nervous to listen. Just yesterday, I had driven into the same parking lot, excited for the last day of the school week, my comfy boots clunking to the beat of the music blaring out of my headphones as I made my way to the glass double doors. Now when I looked at the parking lot, crammed with unfamiliar kids, my heart races and my mind swims with What If’s.
What if I have to go first?
What if I can’t find my friends?
What if I accidentally look at the wrong letter and play at the wrong time?
What if I mess up?
What if, what if, what if?
“-you think you did matters!” My mom finishes.
“Huh?” I blink. “Oh, yeah, thanks.” I give her a shaky smile and she beams at me. I grab all of my stuff and run to the doors on unsteady legs. Finally, after many stepped on toes, not-so-friendly words, and fiery glares from band members from visiting schools, I reach the cafeteria. The sound hits me like a sack of bricks. Tubas, trumpets, flutes, clarinets and more all blending together to make one huge, loud mass of complete and total chaos. I cringe and search the crowd for my friends. I spot my friend Olympia towards the edge of the cafeteria, practicing her music and taking a small break to chat with her saxophone buddies. I take a deep breath and walk towards them, trying to keep my flute case from slipping out of my sweaty fingers.
“Hey,” I force another nervous smile. Geez, I’m going to run out of those sooner or later.
“Hey!” she says cheerfully. “You nervous?”
“No, that’s not why my legs are shaking and I look like I’m going to pass out.” I respond, my voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Well, you better start warming up. Auditions start in a few minutes.”
I obediently unpack my flute and start to practice. Olympia playfully attempts to play my music, and half of me smiles, but the other half’s heart sinks when I realize that she’s almost as good as me. We laugh and joke and practice for awhile before the ugly screech of the microphone fills the cafeteria.
“Hello, students, welcome to the 2013 District Band Auditions!” A male voice drones from the speakers. “Blah blip diddy bloo dum dee…” I ignore the rest of his speech before he starts telling us our rooms. “Flutes will be in room 300, clarinets blah blah blah…” I gather up my music and my flute and start heading to my room. On my way, I see my friend Josh, a fellow flutist, sauntering down the hall. I jog to catch up to him.
“Hola,” I greet.
“Hey,” he frowns at the room numbers on the wall. “Where’s room 300?”
“Straight ahead,” I point at the room in front of us. “Do you think Vivian’s monitoring our room?”
He shrugs. “Dunno.”
We walk in silence for awhile, and I start to calm down. It’ll be just like when you play for Ms. Curtis, or for the band, I reassure myself. I’m deep in thought when slam into Josh who has stopped in front of me.
“Sarah!” A familiar voice squeals.
I look up and see a giddy Vivian running toward me. I smile, happy to know she’s here. She hugs me, squeezing the air out of my lungs.
“Hi! I didn’t know you were monitoring this room.” I grin.
“Have you two signed in?” She asks, gesturing to Josh and me.
“Ladies first,” he steps back and smiles goofily, making me laugh, which eases my nerves.
I sign in and trace my finger along the line to the letter assigned to me. R. That’s not bad. Not first, not last. I take a seat and chat with Vivian, Josh, and a few other flute friends until one of the monitors walks to the front of the room and begins to speak. She explains how we are supposed to act, and in what order we are supposed to perform. And finally, she tells us what we are going to be playing. I am pleasantly surprised; all of the easiest parts of the easiest etudes. Vivian returns to her monitors seat and starts to fiddle with her boots.
The first person plays, and my nerves jump again. She’s amazing! How am I supposed to beat that? What if everyone else sounds like that? What if I’m the worst? My knee stars bouncing again, and Josh raises an eyebrow at me. I try to stop it, but even when I straighten it, it still shakes. I lean forward and press my hand onto my knee, but that just makes my whole body shake, my head quickly bobbing up and down, and my teeth clicking. Josh and Val, one of my other friends, both smile and stifle laughter. I smile, too, grateful I’m not stuck here with a bunch of random people I don’t know.
Before I know it, O has played, P is at the playing chair, and because Q is absent, I am at the ready chair. P’s performance goes by too quickly, and soon she is walking back to her seat, and the announcer is calling my letter to the playing chair. I take another deep breath to pull myself together, and walk to the playing chair with my chin up. I sit down and exhale, flipping to my scale page. The first scale is C major, which is the easiest scale I have learned. I inhale, and play the first note. It’s clear and pretty, and the rest of my scale comes out perfectly. I smile to myself and move on to the F major scale. I sing the notes in my head. F, G, A, B flat- I stop. I have no clue why. The scale sounded fine, I got the right notes, I was ready to play C. I sigh and start again, not really thinking, pondering over that one mistake. I finish the F major, then the E major, then I turn to the etude. I test my first note; not bad, it’s pretty good for a seventh grader. I start, still wondering how my mistake on the F major will effect my score. When I am almost halfway through, I realize that I am breathing way too much. Almost every measure. But I can’t hold my breath as long as I normally can, for some reason, I always get short of breath when I’m nervous.
When I am done, and the announcer instructs me to go back to my seat, I stand and walk back, my heart still beating. Josh high-fives me softly so we don’t make a scene and Val gives me a thumbs up. I smile, not knowing how well I did. All of that was instinct, and I’m afraid that instinct isn’t good enough. The rest of the performances drag on, and there is a short break between round 1 and 2. I hang out with Vivian for awhile, then we head back to the room. Round 2 is a bit harder than round 1, but my nerves are, once again, calm. I play, and wait, and finally when we are finished, I leap up and run to the door. Vivian runs with me, and we stretch out our stiff legs and shoulders.
We meet up with a few other friends, and we all talk and help clean up as we wait for results. About half an hour after the auditions, a boy from a different school comes running into the room, telling us that the results are up. Still laughing and goofing around, we walk to the cafeteria and are greeted by a huge mob accumulated around several sheets of paper taped to the wall. Vivian and I walk towards it, wondering if it’s worth it to just bull-doze our way through.
I see Josh sitting at a table with a few other people and when he sees me, he yells something, but I can’t hear him over the crowd. He yells again, this time, louder, so I can hear him much more clearly.
“YOU MADE IT TO DISTRICT!”
My face breaks into a wide grin, and I turn and run to the board, and sure enough, placed 14th out of 44 is me. I squeal with delight. I didn’t advance, but I made District, which is pretty good for a seventh grader. Vivian gives me a high-five and we talk and joke some more before it’s time for me to leave. I learned a lot from this experience, whether it be as small as a way to stay confident during a performance, to what I might want to do in college. Even though I spent more than half of my time worrying and shaking, the rest was fun, and I can’t wait for next year!
As you read in one of my recent posts, I’m not a huge fan of reading. Music is a different story! Reading tells a story, but music tells a story in an interesting way. Anyone who rides my bus knows that they can find me sitting alone in a seat, staring out the window with my headphones in. Sure, I look like I’m a lonely, sad girl, but listening to music makes me happy, and the scenery on the other side of the window makes it even better. There was one day when I forgot my headphones at home, and I was bored out of my mind! I tried to read, but, of course, I wasn’t satisfied. When I finally arrived at school, my friends started teasing me with mock sympathy, saying how awful it must have been. I laughed because I knew it was true. Bottom line, I love music, and feel lost without it.
Beneath the dead eyes
Through the growing darkness
Past the deep secrets
Behind the nightmares
Under all the tears
There is light
Lots of people talk about how reading makes them feel like they are in a whole different world… me? Not as much. When I read, I’m just looking at sheets of paper with black words on them, and instead of “savoring every page”, I’ll get bored and skip a bunch of paragraphs. It’s not special. It’s not magical. It’s just reading, and to me, it gets boring. Though I’m not a huge fan of reading, sometimes, I find a book that I really enjoy. There were a few books that I read for hours on end, but only because there was always suspense. I like fast paced, exciting books, something that keeps you on the edge of your seat, dying to know what happens next. Books with 5 page long conversations just make me want to skip it all, and I always end up missing something important. Now, I’m not saying reading is awful and boring, and you shouldn’t do it. That’s just my opinion. Some of you might read all the time, and love it. So read on! Don’t let my opinions hold you back!
Photo Credit: Kasaa via Compfight