Drums and Kings: Turning Forty

Gandalf by Ted Nasmith I have always been a book nerd.

A great example of what I mean is my first reaction to J.R.R Tolkien’s masterpiece The Lord of the Rings. I read the book that first time when I was around nine and while I loved it, my favorite moment was probably not the same as for other readers.

There is this wonderful chapter in the first book The Fellowship of the Rings called “The Bridge of Khazad-dum.” For those that don’t know or remember, this is the lowest point for the fellowship as they run to escape the dark of Moria, pursued by unspeakable evils. Yes, I worried about the heroes but really what made me sit up straight and take note was what Tolkien did in his writing and I had never seen anything like it before.

The orcs and goblins chasing our team were using drums but their drums were more than drums. They were speaking.

Doom, boom, doom, went the drums in the deep.

They are relentless, and obviously doing more than simply beating. They are screaming a warning, building to a crescendo over the course of the chapter until finally at the end Gandalf is lost and the drums then fade into the distance, leaving the fellowship and the readers all breathless.

But for me, I wasn’t breathless because of the action and the loss.

No…

I wanted to know how Tolkien did that.

Continue reading

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Falling Out of Step: A High School Marching Band Farewell

Last night I had a dream that my yard and driveway were taken over by a marching band. I can’t explain how it happened and why they chose my little house to park in front of and warm up their instruments by but there they were and they were everywhere; the sounds of the horns and percussion seemed to engulf every room.

I went to my front porch, now fully aware that I was in a dream, and watched transfixed as these high schoolers acted as if it was perfectly natural for the drum line to practice by my tree, the saxophones to tune each other on my sidewalk, the flutes to gossip while sitting on the edge of my porch, their feet dangling and kicking over the precipice. Even the color guard was there, stretching and practicing their throws and catches on the street in block formation.

In the dream I walked through the crowd of kids, feeling very much the adult, and found a surprised parent, I’m not certain why she was surprised, she just was. I asked what school is this? Why are they here? She didn’t answer my question, only asking a little hesitantly if it was okay.

I smiled and said it was great. And then I woke up. Continue reading

My March 2012 Update

Now that I am three months into this experiment that is my blog, I’ll like to give some updates on some of the things I have written about (I’ll probably do this from time to time).

Writing here has been an interesting experience for me, and I think I am a better writer for it, but really who am I to judge?

My update is in three parts.  

Part I: School Days…

I never considered myself popular when I was a teenager. Oh, I had some close friends, but pretty much that is where it stopped for me. I really didn’t need more. Strangely, this reality changed for me 20 years after graduating from high school and just over the last 5 or so days.

See, on Tuesday, I learned that my old high school was closing and merging with our arch rivals. On Wednesday, I realized it was definitely stirring some emotions, so I sat down and worked on an essay to explain my thoughts around it. Continue reading

The ending of a story… the beginning of a new one

All stories come to an end, and this is true for more than just books and movies. The hard fact is that it is also very true for each of the stages in our lives. Yet, I have always believed, a great sign of maturity is the realization and acceptance that such an ending has occurred for oneself. Because, endings happen all of the time, brothers and sisters of Wyoming, yes they do.

Since writing my editorial “The Fall of the Vikings”  (which can be found here) I have heard from a lot of people. (A lot, a lot of people.) And one of the most disappointing things that I have learned over the course of this experience is how many former alumni of both Rogers and Park can’t seem to let go of their past. These fellow alumni are fighting the consolidation, tooth and nail, as if someone is trying to take something away from them in the change. Continue reading

The Fall of the Vikings

Our time in high school haunts us. Some may brush off that idea (maybe pointing to college as more important), but a lot of who we develop into starts during those four years. We figure out things about ourselves then, to put it more simply, and later we fine tune it. Good or bad, that high school version of yourself still exists someplace inside your psyche, no matter how much you wish to deny it. Yes, the pimples are there still, but just under the surface now.

For me, I had a recurring dream that lasted for about five years after I graduated. In that dream, I am always in different locations (college classroom, my evening job, etc.) and my high school band director shows up in full marching band uniform (which is weird since he would never wear a uniform), screaming that there is an emergency and he is calling everyone back.

Recently, I have learned that my old school, Wyoming Park High School in Wyoming, Michigan, was going away. And upon hearing the news, I was flooded with memories around that old building. Remembering the days when I wore blue and white and proudly told kids from other schools that, yes, I was a Viking. Continue reading

I Don’t Get Football

For as long as I can remember, I never have understood this whole “football” thing. It’s one of the few things that are traditional “American” that I feel on the outside of (Another is Country music for those taking notes; I don’t get that either). And every year around the Super Bowl I have to pretend.

  • Did I watch it? Yes, of course. (No, I probably didn’t.)
  • Did you see that play? Oh, it was amazing (I don’t even know what teams were playing typically.)
  • And how about that touchdown? I jumped out of my seat when it happened (I can’t remember the last time I have jumped out of my seat. Maybe when I saw Paranormal Activity for the first time? I’m sorry, that got me; there was a demon in the house!).

Whatever the case, it is series of shams and lies I am guilty of; and given the chance I would rather watch an hour of the Puppy Bowl (More than an hour would be too much for anyone’s sanity). Continue reading