Friday, August 31, 2007

This One Time? At Band Camp?

Sorry for the long stretch between posts. You parents out there already knew what I've learned in the past few weeks: any schedule you try to keep is immediately thrown out the window by Her Highness the New Spawn. Sheesh. Our friend Marie, also a new mom, told us that "It took me two days to empty my dishwasher!" I laughed at the time. Not laughing so much anymore.

True, there have been other things consuming our time as well. They both fall in the glorious Band Camp column, and really, what could be juicier? Well, as it turns out neither of these tales are particularly juicy, but what the hell...they bear telling anyway.

Miss Tessmacher got a call in early August to come to Blue Lake and work with the flute folks attending adult band camp. Egads, even TYPING that I'm filled with a sort of pity: "adult band camp." I guess it comes from being a professional musician, but the thought of deliberately attending a camp as an adult makes me feel all squidgy in my bottom. But, the women who were there were geniune and earnest, so who am I to cast stones? At first Tess wasn't sure at all that she could accept the gig, but after lamenting that her entire career is going down the toilet since she's turning away gigs left & right, I offered up the following: take the gig, Roslyn & I will accompany you & the two of us can hang out while you do your thing. We worked out the details, the most important of which was that Tess would never be "on" for more than an hour & a half at a time, and so off to West Michigan we went. Earlier this summer I wrote a post about my BLFAC experiences, and so I was looking forward to visiting this place of such importance after a 23-year absence. Being the well-documented nostalgic guy that I am, I expected to walk onto the campus and feel quite overwhelmed with past memories. Y'know what? Not so much. I guess the passage of time had really taken its toll, because even while I was looking around at these immediately familiar surroundings, I felt instead a profound indifference. Weird. I met the first great love of my life at this camp, and instead of replaying sappy scenes of teenage love in my head, I just sort of walked around with Roz & read my book. In the evenings we went back to our hotel in nearby Whitehall and watched bad TV. Tess got some professional confidence back, she made a little dough, and I learned that as long as I have an adequate supply of 1) milk, 2) diapers, and 3) patience, I can handle my new daughter all by myself. That was VERY reassuring, inasmuch as I'll be spending some long hours with her while Tess is off doing other gigs, notably the Traverse Symphony. Ah, Blue Lake...I remember thee fondly, but thine hold on my affections has waned like the setting sun.

The OTHER camp started the week after we returned from BLFAC, and this time it was mine. I've been working with my friend Mike Kaufman at his marching band camp for (dare I type it?) 15 years. Shit. That is a LONG. ASS. TIME. Mike is the band director at Grand Ledge, and he typically hired MSU marchers for his staff. The year I started work on my Master's, MSU switched from trimesters to semesters, and Mike suddenly found that his staff was embroiled in their OWN camp during the same week. He cold-called my band director, the always-affable Ken Bloomquist, and solicited advice about percussion instructors. I don't know why Ken coughed up my name, but he made history for me that summer of 1993. I went mostly because I needed the dough...what I didn't realize is that that high school camp would become one of the longest-lasting and most important aspects of my life. See, that first year...well, I met my wife. Now, before you get the wrong idea and assume that the camp staff was always involved in free-swapping sexual escapades, I should point out that Tess wasn't staff that first summer. In point of fact...she was an incoming junior. At Grand Ledge. (Pause for the sharp intake of breath from the audience...) Okay, before you make the assumption that I'm some lascivious, ogling, dirty old man...uh...oh. Wait. I AM a lascivious, ogling, dirty old man! But, never mind. At the time, Tess only saw me as the mullet-haird, Kiss-t-shirted "old" percussion instructor. (I should point out that, despite her prodigious flute skillz, Tess was actually in MY section because she eschewed the girly flutes for the keyboard-heavy pit.) And, of course, I didn't see anything beddable about Tess, either: she was the Chuck Taylor-wearing, non-leg-shaving lesbian who had a quirky sense of humor. Hmmm. How times change. By the time I ran into Tess a few years later, as a now MUCH more eligible (and beddable!) college sophomore, those early years of contact served me well. Heh.

Anyway...yeah. Band camp. I'm 99.9% sure that this past summer was my last year at this camp, and I'm good with that as well. There's a bit more nostalgia for Kimball Camp (the southern-Michigan locale Mike always hauled us off to for the Grand Ledge camp) than there is for Blue Lake, but I think that's only because the one is much more recent in my experience. And, frankly, Blue Lake represents my first love...the experimentation of those teenage years, the awkwardness of feelings that are so new you barely know what to do with them. Kimball Camp represents the first meeting of my lifelong love...everything that's good and true and right in my life. My spouse, my partner, my friend, my lovah...and, our fabulous new babe. Thank you, Mike Kaufman, for unwittingly giving me my life. I owe ya big time.


Blogger Steph said...

I have been desperately scouting for procrastination fodder for the past half hour and I am SO happy you have finally posted again!!

I was such a loser at music camp. I was quiet and nerdy and no one ever showed the remotest interest in hooking up with me except for, inevitably, the most excruciatingly geeky boy there. Like, sweaty, desperate, pocket protector geeky. HE would pursue me, dog-like, for the whole week, in such a fashion that everyone in the entire camp, counselor and camper alike, would eventually learn about his crush and then tease me about it. And then, at the end of the week, there'd be a dance and I'd spend half of it hiding in the girl's restroom to avoid getting asked to dance by the boy whilst knowing all the boys I was actually interested in were dancing with cute, fun, outgoing girls who didn't have my weird social problems.

It really makes me laugh to know Tess as well as I do and know that she is married to someone who refers to her as "lovah."

12:43 PM  
Blogger L*I*S*A said...

Such a musical entry this time around. Glad that all went well.

Tell your 'lovah' that I said hi and big kisses for Roz.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Suze said...

I can totally identify with Steph on the camp romance front. I was way to scrawny and geeky and shy and unattractive to even entertain the notion...anyway, it's cool that you had the chance to spend that quality time with Roz while Tess was doing her thang. It's important for mamas to have work opportunities even early on, and it's equally important for papas to learn that they are capable of taking care of a wee one by themselves. I don't know you and Tess personally, but I know plenty of couples where the mom simply doesn't trust the dad to take care of their baby because the mom's so used to doing everything. You guys don't seem like that, and it's a really good thing.

And I know it's still hard right now, but trust me, it will get better. And if your dishwasher stays full of dishes for 3 days, that's okay.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is band camp anything like the movie really? Heehee

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2:54 PM  

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