Long Story Short…

We got second place.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? It’s ok, it’s why I’ve been gone for so long. It’s almost like I was away at Junior Corps again, except I had a husband, child and job. And a blog I never updated. You’d think I would because I had plenty to say about my experience marching again (at my age too!). But at the time, I felt if I wrote about it, people would find it and then shun me.

Justin and I decided to march Minnesota Brass, an all-ages corps, this summer. I immediately knew it was going to be a big commitment when I got the summer schedule. But we made arrangements for Jules – and sometimes Scully – and we plugged away. We learned the show on weekends and rehearsed every Wednesday night. Some weekends we had shows and rehearsals in and out of town. I’m pretty sure the entire month of June we were gone every weekend with Brass. It was exhausting. I was thankful for my alternative work schedule (re: Friday’s off) just so I could have a day to rest and recover before the weekend would start.

The lesson learned: It was fun doing it again, but there was a catch. After not marching since 1999 (although I stayed in the activity by teaching for many years afterwards) it’s not really different – I’m different. My body is different. I’m older. While I had the skills, my muscles were out of shape for it. This wasn’t running on the treadmill or doing the elliptical at the gym. This was using every muscle including my face. It was humbling but eventually I was able to say I could keep up with the younger members. Until my leg started aching.

Overuse injury and with three weeks left. That sucked.

You know what else sucked? Knowing that we didn’t look good. I’m talking the guard specifically. We were never called out individually by staff. It was very diplomatic and no one was picked on. And because of that, we were dirty. All season. We also were given work that 80% of the group could fumble through, 10% could do with ease and the last 10% couldn’t even manage to do the first 8 counts. So instead of taking certain elements out of the phrase to help give the entire group an opportunity to be successful, they’d just push on “cleaning” and defining checkpoints that would later change 4 or 5 times. It was frustrating! Then, the best part, the caption head would show up and and make the necessary changes the day of a show. So, had we made those changes days, not hours before a show, we would have been cleaner and more successful performing that section.

We also had a lot of guard members who were instructors at local schools. They chimed in a lot which undermined the staff on numerous occasions. These people felt the need to call out individuals on sections – a job that should have been left to staff. There’s a difference between helping and interfering.

Eventually, I got to the point of “I’m here for a job and that’s it.” I wasn’t going to quit but I also wasn’t going to allow others to tell me what to do. I also talked to staff and said at this point in the season (you know, with two weeks left), they should probably be calling us out.

(me doing my job)

And honestly, two people should have been cut from certain sections of the show. As an instructor, you have to make that call for the greater good and it wasn’t made. But this was Senior Corps, they take everyone. In my opinion, you don’t have to *use* everyone, all the time.

All that said, staff were easy going and fun to work with. They were very understanding of injuries, sicknesses, scheduling conflicts, etc. which took the pressure off. Compared to what I’ve dealt with in the past, they were Canadians while my past instructors were from North Korea. Members were fun, not drama-free (naturally) which always makes summer fun, and welcoming of people of all backgrounds. And gay. (Let’s tone the gayness down a bit. We get it.)

Last time: sunburns and “who cares, tan fat is better than white fat” attitude
This time: spf 75 with t-shirts covering me 90% of the time. Lesson learned.

Last time: single
This time: married with kid

Last time: all flag, all the time
This time: I got to spin rifle

Last time: 15 lbs. lost (both times)
This time: no weight loss, only inches

Last time: all-girl guard
This time: co-ed – might as well have been an all-girl guard, though.


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