Waiting for Rain

Brevard, day 1,697,629. Dear Diary; It’s almost raining outside.  It’s been almost raining all day.  If I go outside without an umbrella it starts to spit.  If I run inside to grab my umbrella it stops. I feel like an old man.  My neck aches all the time from sleeping on a crappy mattress and sitting on crappy chairs.  I’m going to go eat my prunes and yell at those kids to get off my lawn. I’m building my calendar for the next year.  NCCU starts the day after I get (completely) done in Brevard.  No rest for the weary.  And I guess that means I need to write my syllabus.  Bleh, work....

Home, or a Reasonable Facsimile Thereof

I went to Greensboro on Tuesday to get an apartment and deal with some paperwork at school, and a surprising thing happened:  I got an apartment and dealt with the paperwork. And now it’s done. And then another surprising thing happened: I felt like I was home. Just to set the record straight, I don’t like Greensboro.  I don’t dislike it either, but it struck me as a vanilla sort of place when I moved in, and hasn’t really done much to change that opinion.  Downtown is nice, but not great, and there are only about 3 blocks of it.  There are good places to go, things to do and see, but only on Thurs-Sat night.  It’s a place that thinks much more of itself than it is, and that kind of grates on me, after having lived in much larger places that refer to themselves as small-town America.  It’s just a place that hasn’t quite come to grips with itself. So it was a weird feeling to pull into town, see the familiar dive bars, coffee or bead shops, middle-class college students trying their hardest to look disaffected and counter-culture as they wear brand name shoes…  it just felt like home. The apartment I’m moving into is a sweet deal.  The house is owned by Ben, who bought it a couple years ago.  It’s got hardwood floors throughout, two working fireplaces, garage space for storage, lots of room for toys (Ben has plenty of toys, let me assure you), and the previous owners had an extensive herb garden, and a fig tree.  I think I’ll learn how to...

Oh Brother, Why Art Thou?

I joined the Brevard Community Band while I’m here for the summer.  It’s a lot of fun.  I remember being told a few years ago by one of my colleagues that as a professional I should under NO CIRCUMSTANCES play in a community band.  In a way, he had a point; don’t give it away for free if you expect to get paid for it.  However, my thought at the time, and I still think this is right; getting to know people is more important than holding out for ONLY the paid gigs.  So, the result is that I joined a community band in Grand Rapids, and I’ve joined one here.  I’ve already met people who’ve impacted me.  Though not in any way I would have guessed. In Grand Rapids I ended up meeting other young professionals, band directors, and even college music teacher who just wanted an outlet.  I got adjunct teaching positions, poker night, friends, and even a very awkward date out of it. In Brevard, I just want to play and hang.  At my first rehearsal I met and shook hands with the tuba section.  They all seemed like great people.  They were social, gregarious, and generally competent on their instruments.  I’ve seen much worse.  But really, the vibe of the whole band was community and enjoyment, which is a rare thing in professional music circles, so I enjoyed it. At the end of rehearsal I got to talking horns with one of the guys.  I noticed he had some funky device bolted to the front of his tuba.  It was a bike bell with a...

Bonfire of the Double Reeds

I grew up in the woods, and sometimes I forget that what I know is not what everyone else knows.  I also forget that my patience and love for the woods is rare, especially among people who are passionate about something else entirely. Last Sunday night the double reed studios requested a bonfire to hold a meet-n-greet for all the high school and college bassoon and oboe players.  It was a great idea, and it came off so very well.  But the joyous inexperience of some of the younger students made me laugh. It had rained in the afternoon, so everything was  wet.  Again, Brevard is a rain forest, so when I say wet, it was wet like a rain forest is wet.  With rain.  And trying to start a fire with wet wood sucks.  Fortunately, one of the older students had bought dry wood, and even went to the trouble of setting up a teepee style fire.  He handed me a lighter and offered to let me do the honors. I had do some work to get the fire in shape to light, so I conscripted two high school boys who boasted about being boy scouts but who were largely unaccustomed to the woods.  One confessed after a few minutes that he was gay, and just liked to scout boys.  And then he laughed.  The other boy got quiet.  I had to laugh too. After I got some wet kindling to start, I blew on it to keep it hot and growing.  I had one little lick of flame which I fed and blew on, hunkered down in...

An Unlikely Road

This morning I awoke and made two pots of coffee to share with friends.  We chose a vehicle and set off for the Blue Ridge Parkway. The parkway is one of the curiosities of national park planning.  For all its rolling beauty and grand views, it’s a spear that runs clear through the heart of Appalachia along the most unlikely of routes.  It rides the crest of the hills from Northern Virginia south through North Carolina to Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  It’s a wonder, if not for it’s engineering, then for its audacity. We climbed the mountainside in Sara’s trusty Toyota, and headed south on the parkway until a scenic lookout appeared.  We let the sun rise on our faces and enjoyed crisp air for the first time in weeks perhaps.  We munched on cheese and apples and conversation was sparse but joyful.  I took a nap on the grass. We headed north for a while, and came across an Inn, complete with the obligatory gift shop.  We sat in rocking chairs on the porch for a while, taking in a spectacular view of the east, and again the conversation was thin but joyful.  There just wasn’t that much that needed to be said.  The scene did all the talking. We spend more than three hours sitting, doing short drives, sitting some more, and just enjoying the unlikely road. And how did I end up in this corner of the globe?  I followed an unlikely road.  I’ve talked (whined) to my friends a lot about it lately.  But perhaps I should let my conversation be sparse and...