Monday, June 29, 2009


Calming down doesn't mean getting over it. In fact, I think I'm actually worse off than I was yesterday, even if I'm not showing any outward signs of distress. My brain is functioning properly this morning, but that only means it can more accurately and efficiently process this situation. My stomach is boiling, I'm still dizzy, and I really don't even want to be alive right now. I don't want to talk to people or see anyone because I don't want to explain why I'm acting this way. I made a phone call last night in an attempt to make this right, but there is absolutely nothing I can do. It's over. It's over for the biggest bullshit reason I have ever heard. It's a reason that absolutely doesn't make sense, and it was even agreed that, were I anyone else, the decision would have been different. I should have been allowed to come into this year with a clean slate, but instead I had the entirety of last year working against me, and I hardly count that year as a fair evaluation. There are so many inconsistencies in this logic that it's absurd. I brought these up and received no answer, and I can only assume that that is because there is none. A piece of me has really died. So many things have been absolutely ruined for me. I'm never going to be able to go to another Pitt football game and enjoy it. I'm never going to be able to watch my friends play without wanting to break down and cry. Even being around the House, where I used to feel so safe and at home, is going to make me feel awkward, inferior, and out of place. I feel like my memories of this experience will be tainted forever. How can it be that I'm going out like this? How could I possibly consider my self an alum. That's not what happened. I didn't graduate. I've been cut. I've been cut for reasons that have nothing to do with my abilities as a drummer, and that's beyond comprehension right now, and I don't think it'll ever get to that point. I hope it doesn't because that means I'll have stopped making sense as well. Maybe my first hunch was right. Maybe people have just gotten tired of dealing with me. Why am I not given the same chance as everyone else? Why do people think it is better to completely strip me of my identity rather than give me that chance? If my performance aspect and memorization abilities are the subjects of concern, why would it be acceptable and encouraged to join another section in the band on an instrument that I can't even play, where the same things will be required of me? If Jack thinks I am capable of this, then there is no reason I should not be capable of doing it on the instrument that I already know. I keep wondering if Jack knows the whole story. No one's ever going to know what really happened, and I don't know how many times I'd be able to tell this story without crying or wanting to hurt someone. I'm glad I'm not the only person who thinks this is absolutely ridiculous. I'm glad that while I was on the phone last night, a friend of mine had to leave the room because she couldn't stand listening to what was coming from the other side. I'm really not okay. I'm not going to pretend to be okay for anyone. And I'm never going to forget this, and I'm never going to feel okay about how things turned out. I love this drumline. I will never stop loving it and what it stands for, but a lot of people are beginning to forget. I want to be involved in any way that I can, but no one has given me any option to stay involved other than Jack. From that I can only conclude that the staff just don't give a shit anymore. I'm not going to leave. I am going to stay involved in any way that I can, even if it only serves as a constant reminder to everyone of what happened. I hope they look me straight in the face on game day this fall and see the empty space they've left behind it. I hope they never forget this decision, but the worst part of this may be that not a single one of them is going to lose sleep over it. I hate being lied to. I hate not knowing what really happened in those meetings. I don't know how much more I can say. I'm honestly dying inside right now. I can't think about anything else. I can't concentrate on anything that I have to do. Drumline is what has always kept my life in balance. It was the center of my universe. Do you know what happens when the sun burns out? And I just can't help feeling that this shit always happens to me. I'm not saying I'm the only one. I'm saying that I'm the only one I know who constantly has to deal with the most random ass disasters and soul-crushing experiences. I'm getting a little tired of this. I have to wonder how this is good for me. How does this make sense? Why would God let this happen to me? I see no reason for this--no purpose. I wasn't exaggerating when I said that I have never felt worse in my entire life. I still want to march. If I can't march here at Pitt, I will try to march somewhere else, but do you know how amazing it felt to be part of that at this school? I love Pitt, and now I can't show it or express it in any way. I can't do the thing that I do best. I think I'm beginning to ramble again, and I'm sorry about that, but I'm attempting to get lost in the characters and keystrokes, and I'm almost there. But something in my head isn't letting me get away. I've got an anchor weighing down my conscious mind, and I'm sinking fast. This time I really am drowning, and the only people who have the ability to save me just told me that there's no more room in the boat and that they have to save their resources for more useful people on board. I'm floundering here in this ice cold water--ice cold like the turf at the practice field against my bare legs last season. The water is filling my lungs. There's no room for anything else.
I feel like the outside is mocking me. It looks so beautiful. This was supposed to be the best summer of my life. Now it doesn't feel like summer at all, and I don't feel like I belong anywhere. I've been thrown away. I see people smiling and going about their lives this morning, and I can't even attempt to smile back. I have nothing to smile about now. Everything I have looked forward to all winter has been annihilated. There is no hope in this situation for anything good to happen. And how do I explain this to my family? How do I explain it to all my friends who were planning on coming to games to see me this year? How can I ever chat about the good old days of Pitt Crew with the alumni without feeling out of place? How can I ever belong again? I don't want to go out like this. This is not the same as marching off the field on Senior Day and never being able to march because your time has already passed. This is just cruel. This is wrong on so many levels. I could understand cutting me if I completely sucked ass, but that's not what happened here, and I really don't want people to believe that. It's not so much what people think about me as what they think about the people in charge of this decision. People deserve the truth and not some bullshit excuse that makes it easier to explain. I can't ever be okay with something like this. It's like asking someone if he'd ever be okay with cold-blooded murder. All of this shit is making me not want to do anything ever again. Can you blame me? The only advice I've been given has been to give up. I'm basically being told that I'm not worth it. I entrusted my heart and soul to these people for 3 years--put them into every note that I played for them. This was my life. And it has ended in the worst way possible. If you think I am exaggerating, then you have no idea how much this has meant to me and has influenced my life and my every decision here at Pitt. I literally built my world around this identity. It's how I always define myself, and I don't have anything now. I can't just create a new identity for myself out of necessity. I'm not falling apart. I'm decaying from the inside out. I feel like I've lost all purpose here. I don't really see the point in trying for anything now. I'd feel so much better if I had been hit by a bus. Maybe then I'd be remembered differently. I'd be a martyr instead of that loser who got cut as a senior. I've given so much to this drumline. I feel like I have been forsaken and disowned. I just don;t know. Fuck.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Coming Out

So many things don't make sense. This decision doesn't make sense. It contradicts the entire point of having a numbered system. If this were any other person, it would have been a different decision. I didn't come into this with a clean slate, and that isn't fair. You can't say that I'm so close and then not give me the chance. I can do this. I don't care what I have to do to show you that, but I can. Oh, so if my problem is performance related as you say, how is switching me to a random instrument that I don't know how to play going to help? If that were really the case then I shouldn't be in the band at all, right? Go ahead. Give me a random ass piece of music to memorize and play with you all standing an inch from my face. I don't care. I'll do it. You didn't even give me my paper back. You didn't give me the chance to come back next time. So I'm just not worth it to you? Psychologically better for me? Who are you to tell me what is best for me? If that's the way you want to look at it, then let me suffer. Bring it on. I want this chance. I can't believe that you'd say I'm not worth it.
Stand in front of me. Make faces at me. I don't care.
What the fuck am I supposed to do? This is how I've defined myself for half of my life. This is who I am and what I have always done. And being a part of this drumline has made who I am. And now it's gone. And here I go again crying hysterically. Senior year. I'm never going to march off the field with my class. No senior send off. No Pitt Bradford. Never being able to enjoy another football game. Never being able to go to the Crew House again. You say I am welcome and that I am always Crew, but would you really have given up on me if you thought that? How do you expect me to feel like I belong there ever again?
Why did you let me go through the entire camp if you didn't even think I could do it anyway? Why didn't you let me go last night with the others? Why didn't you tell me what I could do while we were playing? "2 plus?" What the fuck? That means if you get a little better, you'll make it. That's the level at which I play the music. If that's true, and I just need to work on some other things, that's great. But how am I supposed to do that. Why tell me that then? I'm ready to go right now. I play for this entire fucking city naked if I have to in order to stay. Whatever the fuck you want from me, I'll do it. Give me the fucking chance like you would anyone else. And what happened to the cymbal audition? I had no idea when it was happening. I was just going to go when they started calling people from the snare line, but they never seemed to do that. And no one came over to me about it like people have in the past, so I figured that things were going really well. Come on. I'll play in front of the entire staff and Jack and anyone else who fucking wants in on it.
You said you know what's going to happen anyway at the next camp so why bother? That's ridiculous. If you knew what was going to happen with anyone, then this system wouldn't exist. Why have it if you're not going to use it the way it should be used? You can't grade people on things that haven't happened yet.
Drumming is basically my life. It's the way I think about everything. I constantly hear rhythms in my head. Just let me finish out the camps like anyone else. I'm asking for fairness here--for what you would do to anyone else in this situation.
My head hurts so much right now. I mean it. This is the worst I have ever felt. I know I can fix this. What already? Do you want me to practice with people screaming in my face and shit? I'll do that too. It's not supposed to end this way. No one should have to deal with this kind of shit. I hate pulling this shit, but I'm going to say it: After all the fucking shit I went through last year, I deserve this chance. I sat on the freezing cold ground and watched all season long. I learned the first 3 shows by heart and gave up when I realized that I was never going to play no matter what. I played on the sidelines all the time. I came early and played every practice. I did everything I could. UCONN stand beats? I knew them. I wasn't the only one fucking up at times. Oh and what about ESPN the stand beat? I learned it. No one else did. There's no music for stand beats. Do you really think that I could play something once like 4 months beforehand and remember it? And some of them were never taught to me, even though I kept asking at band camp and several practices. You can't put this all on me. I'm doing what I can now and trying to show you, but you could have told me while we were playing that I needed to pay more attention to the performance aspect. A little reminder doesn't hurt. Instead, no one told me anything. This learning curve is exponential, and just as I could feel it rising, you tell me this shit.
My head is fucking spinning right now. I'm angry and hurt and feel completely lost and useless. I don't care what I have to do. I'll go to the band room every day for hours and hours and just play in front of random ass people. I'll come to your house and play. I don't care. Just don't throw me away. How would you feel if everything you are was suddenly taken from you? The whole situation worked out shittily last year because you never let me practice the exact thing with which I had trouble. How am I supposed to get over it if you never give me the chance? Freshman fun day would have been a great opportunity for that. High school band day. Fuck even just standing there in front of me after practice and letting me play shit for you over and over again would have worked better than just shoving me on the sidelines with a pad. I couldn't hear myself play anyway. I played all the shows on the pad and ended up playing them on the ground because that way I could feel the vibrations in my legs to know that I was playing them correctly. Dragonforce. That's another show that I knew. How can you say that I didn't know any of them? I never played them for you. I went through all of this shit and am finally getting over it, and this is what happens? What about the other two camps? This is seriously disturbing me. Fuck. What the fuck do I do with myself now? I can't handle this. I've just lost the biggest piece of myself. It'd honestly be better if people just pretended I never even existed. Then no one would have to do any explaining. And how am I going to explain this? It doesn't make sense to me at all. I'm so over it. Come on. Right now I swear to God. I can fucking do this. Just give me the same fucking chance you would anyone else. I promise you that I'm not just bullshitting. Fuck I can't deal with this right now. Why? Why the fuck? Everything in my fucking room. The Vic Firth poster. The postcards and photographs. All of my fucking clothes, really. The wall that I just painted over. The sticks everywhere. The clocks and books. Everything reminds me of drumline. All my hands want to do is play right now. But every time I pick up the sticks I want to scream at you. My insides just kill right now and I'm dizzy. Maybe it's just stupid of me to believe that people can change. If people didn't improve then what would be the point? You didn't even give me the paper back. No comments. Just basically don't come back ever. No middle step like show me next time that you can or else that's it. No warning. No chance for me to redeem myself. And last time I checked we had a week to learn shows, not five seconds in an audition room. I need to talk to someone about this. I can't just go out like this. This isn't right, and I know it. I deserve better than this. And I'm not afraid to say it this time. I'm making a decision. I'm making a decision to confront you about this because I think it's wrong. I'm calling you out. And to be honest, show music is totally different than what we do during the summer. No one's going to be in my face talking to me or fixing stuff when I'm on the field. There's no worry about losing focus there then. I'm a completely different person when I'm actually performing something. Just ask anyone who went to the Drag Show. Aren't you supposed to always check yourself when you practice? If you want me to treat everything the other way, then fine. Christ, just don't give up on me. Not yet. And I'm saying this too: Doing that's just not Crew.
I'll do whatever the fuck I have to. I can do this. I know. Let me come back. Let me show you. Don't think you can't be wrong. And don't assume that I'm going to fail. Get in my face. I'll get back in yours then. Yes, I'm pissed. I'm a lot of things right now. And maybe I'm not being as tactful as I should be, but this is a situation that calls for urgency. This is a situation where I need to be this way. Nobody ever gained anything from backing down. I've only come this far because I refused to, and that's not going to change. I'd end up regretting it if I didn't try. I'm not hopeless. I'm not useless. I refuse to believe it. Fuck anyone who tells me that. I need to do this. I need to show you for my own sake. Not doing so would be like putting a bullet through my brain.
I'm coming out of my shell to fight. And I'll win because I have sticks.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Crack in the Ice

A few nights ago, the Pittsburgh Penguins captured the Cup and claimed for the city's inhabitants the right to annihilate their livers and any inanimate objects within staggering distance. We congregated in the Crew House, cooked out and kegged quite sufficiently, and all that transpired before the drop of the puck, accompanied by the soothing sounds of inadequate vocals and the clicking of colored keys on plastic guitars. We laughed through the evening, and following the second period and the several shots of the rechristened "Goalshlager" I had consumed, I seemed perfectly inebriated, much to the joy of my fellow intoxicated. So I continued to descend into the depths of drunkenness. The game ended, and the subsequent celebratory rampage through the streets of Oakland is all rather hazy to me, though I do remember refusing to return to the calm of the Crew House. I also remember offering something that didn't belong to me, assuming rather foolishly that what is shared is shared fully. The permeating anger and uncertainty bombarded my brain, breaking down the barrier between my conscious mind and its deepest fears. Everything came out that night. I cannot say that I was not myself that night, for I was. All of those things that worry me in little ways throughout each day descended upon me at once that evening, and I was in no state to cope with the situation. Luckily, I have friends that know me well enough that they know exactly what to do when such spontaneously shitty scenarios present themselves.
I cannot promise that such a situation will never occur again. I can't even promise that I will try to fix things because that would require accurate knowledge of the issue to be remedied. I have this feeling that there is no such issue--that these are merely the stresses of the life I have chosen to lead. In choosing such a life, I must come to expect a maelstrom every now and then, and it means a lot to who I am that I have been able to weather the storms I have encountered to this point. I've learned to swim with the best of them, and I don't need saving. I'm not asking anyone to pull me out of the water as I flail about, breaths away from drowning: All I ask is that you help me back into the boat when I'm done.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I spent last night drumming on the bar of the Crew House basement, not the first and last time for such an occurrence, but this session in particular will stand out in my mind as different from the others. I surprised people last night. I surprised myself. I was calm. I was okay. And it was absolutely amazing.

A college education is supposed to stress the importance of integrating concepts across the disciplines, and upon developing the skills necessary to do so, one may discover that concepts outside of academia can be related in a similar fashion. Hell, you can mix and match sometimes.
A few days ago, I was firsts rummaging--then searching--for a poem I had written freshman year. This poem is the closest I have ever come. And now it might just be that the time for its relevance has passed, but it's a feeling I will never forget, and rightly so.
Performance Anxiety

My pride is more than a medal or a moment,
Though fleeting as a summer shower, alleviating
the pangs of this sweltering soul. Flickering,
it burns in the presence of the very oxygen that flows
through my veins. I stand stripped
of my pride, humility
allowing me to breathe deeply
and purely.
Yet how I wish that fire were in me, engulfing
every iota of doubt, abolishing
the last infinitesimal strand of self-deprecation, unleashing
from the cold, cavernous den of my inner being
radiant confidence
How I envision these reins of subconscious,
self-induced restriction growing gossamer enough
to facilitate the escape
of my manacled will. And how
I long for such days when my hands belong
to me again. I long for this as I once longed for death.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Learning to Listen

Silence is definitely something that can be heard, and right now my silence is trying to tell me something, but it's been so long since I've used this language, forcing myself to vocalize at every turn, thinking it will help me overcome some mysterious social barrier between myself and the rest of the world. I want my ears to soak in the nothingness, relay its message directly to my brain so I don't have to worry about the meaning becoming lost in translation. No one else can interpret my silence, and that's the way it should be. These words are silent too and are meant to be. But again, my silence is not a void.
Alone in this room, far from lonely but not quite sedated and content, I let my books, my walls, the inaudible bass beat of my heart that conducts the rhythm like lightning through my hands, flood me. I'm drowning so comfortably, jubilantly suffocating on matters that matter, on anti-matter with more substance than all of this. My body is blending now, my lungs filling, outside becoming inside. I no longer need eyes.
Before we had music and language and cars and the streets they drive upon, we had silence, whose own musicality sufficed for generations as bearing meaning, as constituting the everyday everything of our predecessors. A great new medium emerged as the voice grew impatient, an adolescent breaking the rules and setting its own terms, feeling abandoned by his parents and rebelling as loudly and vehemently as possible. The silence submitted, realizing that each child must have his day, must pass through such a period, must become grown. But the silence still cried at the loss of his meaning to the human condition. Thrown into the nursing home and forgotten, this silence threatens senility, and who can blame it, when all the respect we pay is squeezed into Christmas cards?
So I'd like to volunteer. Silence, I'll spend time with you. You have so many stories, so much to share. You are my richest of elders, and I long to give back to you all that you have sacrificed in order that I may integrate into society. There is no substitute for what you have given me--the inaudible, intangible, only-intelligible-to-me voice of my being. I desire connection with you, and it is precisely because of this that I have come to understand your most treacherous sacrifice. So let's commiserate. We'll leave our verbiage at the door.

My favorite game

Sweating, summer succulence is playing a game with me. Did I create this music or did it create me, make me who I am (not today) but right now? Txt message interrupted. Neglected while I uncover the words, remove some gym socks, broken pens, and half-filled notebooks, until my word is naked, ready to be bathed (in)visible ink. The rest hide themselves in books and bury their heads, vain enough to think they're too beautiful to be just like the rest. Bolder, they say. Italics. Anything else but normality. It's okay. Don't be afraid of something simple, I say. Jagged is comprehensible precisely because of smooth. Conjoined twins. thoracopagus, just like me. Indivisible, one lexicon under God, with dictionary and thesaurus for all. Yes, let's pledge mindlessly. Throw out the meaning but retain the words and tell me how it remains beautiful to you, this noose holding onto the body after the door has dropped. My head is music, words, and meaning most of all. My favorite game.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Play the music, not the instrument.

Fuck. My Life!

When I first started doing research in the fall term of my sophomore year, I had these grand expectations that I would spend my entire undergraduate research career in that same lab. However, several weeks into this experience, I began to loathe the people with whom I worked, and going to the lab was a terrifying and psychologically draining experience for me. I did not feel that I was truly involved in the project, as I was merely running gels and PCR's for other researchers in the lab, though I did have to kill a bunch of mice and slice their brains apart. Although I enjoyed the technical parts of the lab, I wasn't extremely passionate about what I was doing. Adding that to my social experience in the lab, I made the decision that research wasn't really for me, but I decided to pursue a different aspect of neuroscientific research--one that combined my fascination with the human brain with my love of linguistics. As I become more involved in the lab and accept new responsibilities, I'm realizing that I enjoy what I'm doing a great deal. I still want to be a doctor, but now I have the option of becoming and MD/PHD to consider. Aside from the financial and logistic problems I'd have to work out regarding my other plans in life, I'm a little worried that I would be spending my entire life in the lab instead of treating patients. If the time were divided evenly, there would be no dilemma here. Of course the information session for students interested in this option is being held at a time when I have class. Things can never be easy, can they? I'm sort of rambling, but when something upsets the balance in my head--a balance created this time by my own certainty in what I plan to accomplish after graduating from Pitt--it takes a while for me to be alright again. Actually, I'm not really okay until I have it figured out again. Even if the final decision is rendered oxymoronic by adjoining the modifier "temporary", my mind will be able to focus on other things while processing the decision in the background. I'd really like some help with this one.