March 2006


We heard some jazz last night.  At the high school.  Yes, it was time for the spring jazz ensemble concert.  Evan isn't in jazz band this year due to the high incidence of AP classes and the associated load of homework but he had a number of buddies in the band and so we all went for the free entertainment.  It was, as always, very enjoyable.

I was struck as I always am by the fact that all these little white kids can play that sort of music without showing any emotion at all or even moving other than to play their instruments.  Why can't we suburbanites ever really get into the music?  Why can't we ever really rock the house?  Is it something about our lives or is it the way we raise the kids?  I think that all those teeny little mistakes in rhythm that we always hear at this level would probably dissappear if only the kids would let go and enjoy the experience.  If only they would give themselves up to it and sway a bit, I'll bet the music would really start to swing.  But they didn't and so the concert was merely good rather than being something they could have charged admission to.  Maybe some day.  I was at an ecuminical service once where a choir from the black side of town sang and those kids could rock the house!  We should take a lesson.

After the emotional trauma of the relationship breakup on Monday, Evan seems to be doing much better.  Good enough to sit with a crowd of his friends and enjoy himself.  And who was that he was sitting with?  I don't recall seeing her before.  Hmm…..

We ended up sitting behind a table full of the school band directors and so we had to behave ourselves.  The band is so big that I don't think any of them recognized me or Mel as having a kid in the band but you never know so we had to behave.

So, once again, we managed to find some quality entertainment for free.  Maybe we should write a book.

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Last night we all drove up to the church for a reunion of all the kids who had gone on mission trips to Mexico and Guatamala.  Apparently it takes about that long to get photos processed and put slide shows together. 

As with many things at the church, it took a bit longer than it needed to.  Participation in positions of leadership is usually awarded for reasons of enthusiasm rather than any ability to stick to a schedule.  It appears to be a strong tendency amongst musicians at our church to want to drag out songs from a reasonable three verses to an annoying repetition of the three punctuated by several extemporaneous prayers.  To my way of thinking, one could say a prayer at the beginning and that would suffice.  One could also play and sing the songs as written rather than improvising quite so much.  The man in charge was, I believe, in my camp since even though he didn't point at his watch, he did express a bit of impatient body language in subtle ways.  But teenagers playing guitars do not respond to subtlety.  We eventually got to the important part though which was to look at photos of our little angels doing stuff.

There was much painting done to judge from the photos.  There was also the mixing of concrete, occasional street-dramas, and caring for small children.  None of the participants regretted taking the spring breaks to go do these things.  Apparently a good time was had by all. 

We all sure had a good time seeing the photos.

Well, Evan decided Monday to put an end to his relationship with his girlfriend and he is none too happy about it.  He's balancing all those social things that kids his age have to balance and he has my sympathy.  I hope it all blows over fairly soon.

When one thinks of volunteering one's time, one thinks in terms of making sandwiches for the homeless or perhaps sorting clothing at a clothing bank.  One does not think of turning the lights off at the local stadium.  At least I don't.

And yet, as a way of offsetting the exhorbitant cost of participation in the Pride of Broken Arrow, we occasionally work off the cost by cleaning up the stadium after an event.  For minimum wage, Evan and his buddies (and actually Mel and I too) can show up after an event and pick up the trash.  It's worth it to me since, as the responsible adult, I do not actually bend over to pick anything up; I manage the affair.  I say "do this" and "do that".  And in the end, I am responsible for locking all the gates and turning off the big stadium lights which is pretty cool.

I got to go to the pressbox in order to do that since that's where the switches are.  It's the sort of thing that I've always kind of wanted to do but once done, I don't really want to do it again.  So last night, I showed up after some sort of soccer playoff game and had some boys go pick up trash.  Soccer is not a huge crowd-drawing thing in Oklahoma so the attendance (and therefore the trash load) was not large.  We finished up quickly.  But Cox Communications was there to broadcast the game on the local cable channel and they were definitely not finishing up quickly.

I did my making-the-rounds thing pulling on gate locks to make sure they were really locked.  Then I made my way back around to the front where Cox parked their box trucks filled with portable TV studio stuff (and festooned with their logos) to await their departure.  I found out that they travel with about 100 miles of cable; all of which has to be painstakingly coiled up by hand and stowed in the trucks.  I watched for what seemed like hours while a troop of guys carefully coiled up cables and stowed them in the trucks. 

I finally rode the elevator up to the press box, turned off the stadium lights with the crazy-looking little key, and was about to set the alarm when two coaches appeared.  Both of us were surprised to see the other but I was relieved to find some school officials (who were actually on the payroll and therefore responsible for making sure this was done correctly) to help set the alarm.  The alarm was duly set and we rode down to find that the cable guys were still busy coiling and packing.  Thankfully, the coaches let me off the hook and said they'd stay until this was done.

Evan finally got so bored he went out to the truck and listened to his iPod.  So, I got to do something new last night.  Hopefully, I won't have to do it very often. 

Erin has been active in the arts lately.  She's made two overnight trips to sing with the school choir and has gotten two awards.

The first award was a citywide thing in which teachers at each school nominate one kid whom they believe is the most accomplished overall in the arts.  Erin won that before at the elementary level and this year was nominated in the middle school.  Apparently it was unanimous when the staff voted or so the principal told us.  We all went to the ceremony recently downtown in which we were seated at tables with actual place cards.  No meal was served though – just candlelit tables.  There were snacks afterwards but everybody was just milling around by then.  Two or three kids sang but it was mostlly just speechmaking and award awarding.  It was very cool; but of course we're parents and we're biased.  We could attend this sort of thing forever.

The other thing is associated with the Reflections program where kids are encouraged to get creative outside of the normal homework system.  Each kid can write a story or poem, compose music, or do some art project and submit it via the PTA system.  Winners are chosen and awards are given at the local and state level.  Again, Erin won last year due to the fact that she composed a short piece of music and there were very few such entries that hers stood out.  This year, she wrote a poem which has been singled out.  We are to go to the ceremony in OKC soon.

Much going on these days.

  • Slowly but steadily looking for a car for Evan to drive.
  • Trying to get Evan trained for lifeguarding this summer.
  • Evan interviewing for lifeguard jobs.
  • ACT prep.
  • Eagle Scout project.
  • Erin's trip to OKC for Reflections award.
  • Selling Andy's ham radio gear on Ebay.
  • Mel's breast cancer reconstruction and recovery.
  • Marching band fundraising jobs.
  • Open house at the University of Arkansas to recruit children of alums.

Insanity can't be very far away.

So Erin got back Saturday afternoon around 3:30 and Evan rolled up at around 10:45 pm.  In both cases, we parents were waiting as the busses rolled up to the curb and we all anxiously scanned the windows looking for our little darlings.  Were we somehow worried that they might not be there?  As if concerned that they would have been left at the last rest stop; perhaps having taken too long in the restroom and the bus then left?  Or are we just glad to have them back?  Who knows; I just know that I and Mel were scanning the windows like crazy people and then waving at the children who we paying us no mind whatever – simply grabbing their stuff and trudging up the aisle to the door.

Both kids apparently had a good time and each went through a bit of withdrawal when they moved from a busload of constant stimulation by their friends to a relatively quiet minivan with their parents.  Both were pretty subdued (or perhaps just exhausted) and didn't really start to talk about the trips until the next day.  Both told stories of making sandwiches for homeless people, buying souvenirs on the way home, how annoying some kids are, and other things.  Evan told a story of riding a bus in Mexico which sounded like a demolition derby.  Apparently the bus driver took out some guy's mirror from his car and very nearly annihilated a street vendor's cart.  This little vignette came complete with the street vendor shaking his fist at them as they rounded the corner.  Then there was the story of the tire exploding on the bus.  Good times, good times.

We got a card from Erin on Thursday that told the story for her:

"Trip summary: 

  1. Monday:  Made 1022 sandwiches. 
  2. Tuesday: I almost died in the kitchen. 
  3. Worked at a thrift store, bought a vase, a hat, and something 4 aunt linda."

The "dying in the kitchen" thing was apparently due to the heat. 

So, all in all, they enjoyed themselves.  Evan's group took a sojourn to the beach at Padre Island but since it was about 65 degrees at the time, there wasn't much swimming.  Many got in the water but few actaully stayed in the water.  For Erin's part, they went to the Houston Galleria to ice skate and spend money. 

So now it's back to school for them. 

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