you are not my typewriter
{Monday, January 03, 2005 . I'm Home}

Sorry for the lack of a goodbye posting. On Monday (December 27th) I and 249 of my closest friends departed from O' Hare airport for LAX with the intent of marching in the 2005 Tournament of Roses Parade. We did it. Yesterday. I hope you all watched it.

Things that made the trip freaking awesome:

Spending extra time with Emily, other Emily Jessi, Kyle, Becky, Alex, Matt, Chad, Ethan (Chethan, as they are sometimes known), and all of the other glorious, glorious band nerds who made the week pleasurable.

Spending way too much money. I purchased, among myriad other things, "The World Won't Listen," by The Smiths and "A Ghost Is Born," by Wilco.

Expending so much energy that I feel about ready to die.

Costa Ricans. One of the other Rose Parade bands was from Costa Rica, and they stood outside our bus after the BandFest and gave us an impromptu concert - complete with bass drum flingin'. It was unbelievable. I have pictures, which will soon be up on my new buzznet account which will soon be linked to by my new blogger blog. But all in good time. Jessi gave one of the drummers her phone number. His name was Esteban. He couldn't really speak English, but he did manage to say, "I love you!" very emphatically before getting frustrated and giving up.

The Spanish language. Obviously, I was well aware before we arrived in California that LA is pretty much IN Mexico, but for some reason I was very surprised to see that almost every sign was in English AND Spanish. There were some neighborhoods where everything was strictly Spanish. Me dio un oportunidad para practicar mi Espanol, y yo decidi ir a Espana. Mas sobre ese mas tarde.

Of course, of course, of course, the parade itself. I thought it would suck, especially because I had such a miserable cold/flu thing that I was getting chills and lost my voice, but it actually didn't. Actually, it completely ruled. Twice over the course of the 5 ½ mile, 2 ½ hour march we got to stop. I don’t know if it was because a float broke down or what, but we got to stop. And it rocked. P-Funk, our illustrious band director, had told us that in the event of a stop, we would break rank and “meet and greet” the audience. The people were so nice! I got all sorts of offers of food and water. I had to decline, of course, because the food was invariably of animal origins and because I would have contaminated the water with my plague, but it’s the thought that counts. One of the stops was in front of a gay bar called “Encounters,” and our sole male color guard member was the proud recipient of a feathery crown. He, of course, claimed not to have realized that it was a gay bar. Whatever.

I cried twice. The first time: When we went past the section at the end of the first mile where 200+ Oswegoans were seated. I’d been fairly cynical up to that point about how special the parade was, but when we went past our Midwestern countrymen, I lost it. Man, so many people in our town have given so much money and sacrificed so much time and energy so that we could go on that trip. We owe them so much. The second time was toward the end of the parade. We were going under this overpass, and the sound was unbearable. It was pressing in on me from all sides. We sounded enormous. Of course, it was Battle Hymn. I wouldn’t have cried if it were any other song. Battle Hymn is the traditional parade song of the Oswego marching band. We’ve been playing it for years. It’s beautiful. It’s absolutely one of the most beautiful marching band arrangements ever written. At least to me. So I cried. I’ll miss you, OHS Marching Panthers.

But there was sort of a dark cloud hanging over all of our festivities. Unless you live under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard all about the horrible tragedy in Southern Asia/Eastern Africa. I can’t quite get it out of my head. I couldn’t really appreciate all the fun I was having with the knowledge of all the suffering that is happening over there. My God. The toll was 70,000 when last I read the paper. I’m sure it’s more, now. Entire islands, entire families and cultures simply wiped out. Gone. It’s impossible to fathom. As I always do when I hear about things like that, I try to imagine myself in that position. Not in the position of those who died, since I’m seventeen and can’t really imagine myself dying, but in the position of the survivors. I always do that when I think about the Holocaust. I think about if I were a young Jewish woman in, say, Poland at the time of the invasion. How would I escape? Where would I go? How would I try to save my family? What if I couldn’t? My answers are always optimistic – or as optimistic as one could be in that situation. I’m clever. I would hide. My family might die, and I would mourn their death, but I would make it. I would be strong. I would tough out the ghettos and the camps until the liberation. And I would move to the U.S or to Canada or to England or to Israel. It would be okay. But for some reason, as I try to imagine myself as a young Sri Lankan woman, I can’t be optimistic. I can’t see myself getting through that. As a European, I would have had options. I imagine. I would have had somewhere to go. But in Sri Lanka, with my whole family dead, my home destroyed, the homes of everyone I know destroyed, all the farmable land destroyed, no education, no job skills, no money, I don’t know what I would do. Where would I go? How would I eat? How on Earth could I rebuild my life after something like that? I don’t think I could. I don’t know how I would survive. And it tears my heart out to think of the people over there who are just waiting to die. I’m so sorry.

But how about that Spain, huh? That’s unbelievable. That tiny little European country – not particularly wealthy, not particularly powerful – giving what was it? Like, four times what we, America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, gave? (I’m just trying to remember what I read in the paper – I don’t quite remember the exact numbers.) Spain, I salute you. You are truly a benevolent people. This was the deciding factor, for me. I’m going to Spain. I’m going to go, one of these years, and spend a summer in Spain. I’ll already have had 5+ years of Spanish classes here in The States, so it shouldn’t take me that long to pick up the language. I could get a job. Or I could just be a street performer/panhandler. I don’t know. I’ll iron out the details later. But I’m going to Spain.

I took roughly 250 pictures over the course of the past week, but I'm still wrangling with buzznet and have yet to put them up. Until then, you cans stare at the one picture that I managed to get up.

Peace, Love, and a Very Happy New Year.

posted at 10:04 PM by Alison


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