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A Note: My name is Sara Bowden, and the following is a transcription of my tour journal from May 17th

to August 14th of 2016. I was a first year baritone and trombone member at the Cadets Drum and Bugle

Corps, having previously marched one year as a baritone player with the Boston Crusaders. To frame

2016, I must mention that a reality TV show captured our summer. You may view clips from the show,

which became “Clash of the Corps” at the following link:


I feel the need to clarify a few things. I wrote this when I was 18, having just finished my year of music

school as a music theory and music education double major. I have changed, and I went on to march with

the Cadets for two more years, acting as section leader the next year and horn sergeant in my final year.

No names have been changed, and I encourage questions and reactions to this transcriptions from anyone

interested. Everything is transcribed exactly. I have not omitted anything. The final word count is around

23,000 words, written at the end of every day. 2017 and 2018 journal transcriptions are forthcoming.

As a rookie, part of my responsibilities to the corps included my tour job as a field liner. There are two

crews on field lining: “skeleton” and “ropes.” I was on the ropes crew, meaning that a skeleton crew

would go the field and line the end zones, front and back sidelines, and the 50 yard line using tape

measures and a triangulation method so that the ropes crew could simply fill in the field. Usually, we

wake up around two hours before the rest of the corps to transform empty grass fields into up to three

complete football fields with hashes and four-four-step grid marks using only ropes and cans of spray


Our 2016 program was titled “Awakening.” It is split into different movements, which I often write about.

The opener is Appian Way, the second movement is Villa, the ballad is Turning, and the closer is Wine

Dark. If you would like, you may watch the show at the following link:


Thank you for reading. I hope this document is of some use to you.

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May 17

It’s not about awareness. Consciously fixing something takes legitimate focus and time.

This will be a long summer, but don’t cry.

I think this will be the only free time that I have to write in this book.

May 18

Scales and tunes began today.

Don’t forget to eat breakfast.

Learn your dots.

Travis is an intense biker motherfucker.

Memorize your shit.

Field lining was a fantastic way to describe today’s rehearsal: easier than expected, but hella wet.

If you don’t stretch, this body is going to give up on your gay ass.

“Why aren’t we in character, guys? You only have 89 days left.”

It’s nice that the showers work most well.

How many shoes can I use in one block?

May 19

I need to learn my dots because holy shit.

We ran a sweet and slow mile.

Please stretch more.

Don’t ever give up.

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*Fuckton of changes to the Appian Way Music that you should probably write down.

Currently I am doing the opposite of paying attention at the March-A-Thon free-evening.

Today my arms finally started hating me.

I took my shirt off for FREE.

I lined a field in lieu of eating lunch.

Is this decompressing or decomposing?

“What the FUCK is this drill?” - Travis

My legs hurt because I tried too hard. Also I did a headstand.

May 20

When is it good enough?

Sunburned again.

Hop, to the synth: “I wish I hadn’t proposed the rule change.”

Memorize everything.

Travis yelled at us for dirty horns.

Today, I decided that I would not be a band director.

We sang “All Star” by Smashmouth while running

Ensemble is amazing.

Get horn maintenance stuff from Riley.

Keep stretching. You felt better today.

Everyday, it gets better. We get better.

Don’t take how good this is for granted.

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I have found my home.

“This has to be the loudest thing in the history of GOD.” -Travis

I never thought that trombones would be my biggest problem.

I’m going to be a music theorist.

Am I human or am I Cadet?

May 21


We broke our first trombone today.

We did fucking P90X in the gym. Jeff Young makes me feel young.

We (the trombones) caused a tear in ensemble today because we were so loud that Kendall

couldn’t hear the metronome OR the battery.

Pre-show is gorgeous, and I get to stand still. I love seeing it unfold.

My favorite moment of the show is the last set of Appian Way. I’m on the end of the form and I

can see the hornlike step off together. I don’t feel like a rookie. This is my family.

It’s cold here, but my heart is on fire.

I’m still trying to memorize things.


May 22

I have to jazz run for general effect. Thanks, Blue Devils.

We started to haul ass in Villa today.

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I think people are getting a little tired. Still riding the high, even through the rain.


I was an example for good technique, though. Weird.

Travis likes making us hold our horns.

Keep stretching, practicing your scales, and memorizing all of your music. Rocky Point and

Bridge (Over Troubled Water) are good, but Lincolnshire is rough.

One hour sectional with Travis.

I would like for the rain to stop soon.


Presley left today. We have a baritone hole. Staff is very mad.

Our free block was taken away.

I would like some trail mix.

Apparently, I will be in the back of the bus.

I skip like a goddamn champ.

“No drama queens, please.”

May 23

I just want to smell nice.

The box called Hence “Texas” instead of his name.

I am a dance/visual soloist as of right now. I hope we keep the ballad the way that it is.

“Mama didn’t raise no bitch.” “Are you sure?”

Family dinner followed by a trip to Walmart.

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Cleaned water jug and wrote all my drill in.

Killed scales today.

Field lining got wrecked today.

Lonnie has started junior teching me. That was a big talk with Riley. The vibe got a little scary

today. Lonnie said he wanted to win DCI, and that’s a big taboo to say at the Cadets.

My back is hurting. Not in a “I need to do something about it” sense but in a “Day 6 is over”


We sprinted with Kendall. Running in the big pack gave me an anxiety/overstimulus attack. I got

very stressed and panicked.

May 24

Basics block kicked my ass. We did asterisk drill at 180 bpm and the direction changes

annihilated me. Bob, please come save us from your techs.


Peanut butter trail mix is saving my life.

Staging the ballad. This is the most abstract way that I’ve ever learned drill in a corps setting. It’s

like winterguard. ORGANIC.

We’re down to 9 hornlike girls. Ouch.

Lonnie back-talked Sam, and we had a meeting about perfection. Dot test soon.

It’s getting easier to hold the horn. Solid victory.

Let’s all scream about bugs now.

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Posture isn’t horrible, but it’s sad that I look better than most of the rookies. We gotta get

stronger as a section.

Mason gave us Little Hugs—with LESS sugar.

May 25

Field lining bullshit, episode 100,000. “What’s wrong, Mike Pfeil?”

I switched seat partners. Danny is my bus mate, and I feel much safer. AJ is a good friend, but I

was wary after the drunk FaceTime episode.

“Why is he like that?”

“I love how the visual staff talks to the battery like we’re special needs third graders.”

Still not done staging the ballad. It’s incredible, says the box. Gino is mildly miffed.

Everyone here wants all the knowledge in the world. I don’t know if there is significance to that,

but I found it to be surprising.

I am afraid that we will all look severely malnourished at the end of this. I am afraid that my

wright will drop too far below what is safe for me.

Things are looking up. Letter from home received. I hope everyone feels as well as they look.

Spooky spider mothers in my dorm and on my horn.

May 26

Why is it so? Why do I care? What do I care about?

I did my first breathing block. It was incredibly easy. I wish we pushed harder.

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Visual basics tend to kick our ass, which surprises me because our drill looks fine. Color me


Lonnie is going to get someone hurt.

Speaking of drill, I’m frustrated. I hope Lonnie leaves because his attitude is shitty and I don’t

think he wants to be here anyway.

We may finally finish the ballad tomorrow. Also, we got up to 69-89 in Villa. I’ll be damned if

this show isn’t on the field in entirety by next week.

I got a little fed up today.

There’s so much FUCKING RUNNING in Villa. Park and blow occurs, but I’ve never run this

much in my life. This is excellent. Conrad says we’re starting to look good. It made my day.

Second baritone lower split are hype. We never get to stand in the shade or shelter.

“Get smart or get big.”

Hop broadcast our ensemble to over 6,000 people live. 

I stopped hurting physically.

May 27

It must be nice.

History night was tonight. Video and slideshow. People really love this organization. It’s

inspiring. I hope to care that much about what I do someday. Why am I here? Why am I bad?

Morning block was rough but things go by fast when we play. Visual is hard because we are still

staging the ballad with Curtis.

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Field lining got absolutely shit on today. We have to use poker chips to line the field. No snack

for us. No warning, either.

I’m starting to really like my section.

I just want to be good. I don’t think I look good visually. I have a lot of time here and I want it to

mean something. What is this?

Villa is just running. I love performing this show. I feel like a badass. SCV had a free day and we


I heard someone crying in the hallway.

May 28

We held our trombones up for half an hour today, per Travis block.

Field lining is going to actually kill me. I fucking swear to god.

I ran into a glockenspiel today. What a wild ride. No one was harmed in my annual butt injury

that has to happen during move-ins.

We almost have the first three productions in their entirety on the field. Only 16 sets away. That

blows my mind. I love the ballad. I play a total of ten notes. What a time to be alive.

It was hot and humid and storm as fuck today. I want to leave the hellhole that is Pennsylvania.

I believe that Sonpar, myself, and Big Matt will be the only baritone vets from 2016 when we

age out.

Hop talk: where we met the entire staff, and it took 90 minutes. We don’t need sleep here at the


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My body doesn’t hurt. Two baritones holes now. Eddie has to do physical therapy. So many

people are breaking down. Hang tough. Stay alive out there.

May 29

It’s free-evening! Much excitement. I need alone time. It’s time to go into the woods once again.

We finished Villa finally. We can officially get through the first three movements with drill and

music. So incredible. The show is designed so well.

I love my section, but we argue a lot. I think so many people are here just to march, not to be a

Cadet. It’s incredibly frustrating, especially given how many amazing vets we have. Fuck their

attitudes. I’m here because I wanted to march here, not because I got cut at the Blue Devils/

another corps. Fuck that mentality.

I want to do some laundry and organize some things. I need to not play tonight. My face needs


Chili’s took forever, but there was so much FOOD. I donated fries to C-Pit. I sat with the

mellophones and Claire. It was a great time. Walmart silliness ensued afterward. Keaton is really


I’d rather walk away with friends and memories at the end of the day than a ring. It’s more than


Hop: “When your goal is to win, what do you take away if you lose?”

May 30

Don’t forget that the sun sets eventually, and it’s all worth waiting for.

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Quick entry as there is a datebook test tomorrow.

I am so sunburned. I want the sunshine to stop now.

Died our first full run of everything that we know. I was much less exhausted than I thought I

would be, and I had so much energy. I love performing this show.

Visual basics destroy me. Joe said I was the best rookie that he has ever seen, and that means the

world to me. It’s nice to know that the effort is not unnoticed. I love my vets.

I was in a collision today and got scraped up pretty bad. I was more mentally shaken up than

physically hurt. I hope people fill our holes soon. The drill is very scary at this point in time.

There are so many hurt people. Torn hamstrings and groins are the most common. I think there’s

ten people who are out or have to not fully participate. Vets blame this on lack of stretch time. I

don’t know what it is, but I feel fine, physically.

Everyone is excited. I’m excited. I miss seeing the stars. I want to wow people. I want this to be


May 31

Roughest day thus far, but we got better.

Fire drill got set off in the trainer’s room.

We got our asses beat today. Everyone was over it. I hope tomorrow is better. Field lining is

tomorrow. Fuck.

First dot test complete. I believe that I fared well. If not, so it goes.

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Drama continues at Club Cadet as tension mounts. I want people to stop getting hurt, and for

people to stop saying hurtful things. I’m so afraid I may give off a bad vibe on accident and then

people will dislike me based on a false impression.

Stretch after the run through felt so good. I was achieving new levels of flexibility. Mental note

to self to build in stretch time later in the season. I miss being on my own schedule.

Lack of sleep is probably the biggest issue. My face is so beat at the end of the day that all of my

scales and tunes have to be mental runs. I wish there was more time to practice.

I feel like I mess up too much.

June 1

“Drink some milk, and grow, will you? Your height is inconvenient.”

We learned show hair today and it’s unnecessary as fuck. I don’t understand why it’s so

complicated. Jenna, Cameron, and Christine are arguing about it. I broke all the rules because my

hair is too short. Mildly frustrating.

Started learning the closer. It’s going to be quite a haul. We did ensemble without a met, and we

didn’t die. I love my show. It’s incredible.

Morning began with field lining. Wearing flip flops was the best choice. ALWAYS WEAR FLIP

FLOPS. More people showed up and it was really quite nice.

I have a theory about my show. It’s about statues coming to life, but Daryl left the interpretation

to us. I think that the show is about depression. In the opener, the person with depression is

coming out of a low point, and feels good. Villa, the second movement, is a manic state—riding

high. It may possibly be the depressed person masking their feelings. In the ballad, the mask is

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removed—OR—the person thinks that they can be happy at last. Adonis turns around, and the

person realizes they can’t be happy, or that their depression takes hold once more. The closer is

about inner feelings; it is characteristically angry and full of emotion. This may be resentment

and anger—that one has to put on a mask, or realizing that this is the life they must lead. This

interpretation gave me the performance purpose I needed.

I want everyone to be safe.

“Don’t march Cadets in the even years. It’s all kinds of fucked up.”

June 2

Field lining got shit on again today. Rest in pieces, dinner break. I’m over not being set up for


The Adonis is our prison guard, and we can’t properly escape. Conrad makes excellent teaching

analogies. I’m so impressed.

My period started, which was a nice way to begin the morning. It was kind of shitty weather

today—and I didn’t talk really at all until sectionals. I felt so removed.

Hop’s focus on today was that everything was, and is, a choice. Hop talks bother me because the

very analytical part of me agrees with and has previously considered all that he talks about. But

the humanist in me disagrees with every fiber of my being. I don’t know if I want to be right or

be compassionate. Hop is tearing my mind and heart from each other.

We learned a dance sequence today. I think success is so relative to perspective. The hornline

kids thought I was really good at dancing, but the colorguard looks at me like I’m just flailing

around. I don’t know. I feel good about what I do until someone says it isn’t good. It makes me

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doubt myself. I think I’ve lost the ability to know when I’m doing well (without feedback from

someone other than myself, I’m lost.)

I put on my uniform and shako today. I’ve lost weight since being fitted—two weeks ago. I’m

concerned for my health. I can’t survive on pasta for every meal.

I still haven’t wanted to go home yet. This isn’t real life. The more I think about what I’m doing,

the more I marginalize it. This is just band. I get out of this what I want, and I think I just want

more time to come to terms with the fact that I’m dropping my Ed major. I feel so inadequate,

like I would never do justice to being an educator. I think that theory is the route for me.

Everything is changing.

June 3

It’s almost time to leave, and I don’t know if things are fast or slow.

I am passive, and I don’t care enough to change it. I fluctuate between very present and very

passive. I don’t feel a need to change anything. I love me for who I am. But I don’t want to know

any more. I don’t like learning about who I am; I like keeping my head down and working hard. I

don’t know what I want.

It is 1:27 AM and Ines is finally here. Lonnie is done forever, but all the holes are filled. In

Travis’s words, we have upgraded.

Tonight, we put on half the super suits and then had an etiquette meeting. We walked in silence

until [redacted to preserve Cadet initiation tradition.] We had emotional moments with each of

our bigs. I can’t wait to stand with my brothers and sisters in front of the hornline. I’m starting to

love my hornline more and more every day. Trust the process.

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Show day tomorrow. I feel like I finally committed to the straight leg technique, despite the

heavy jacket. It is disgustingly difficult to move around in. I’m excited to lose my sense of

identity and just be the best cast member that I can possibly be. I love performing because I don’t

have to be anything other than whatever I am portraying.

I’m not sure if I like feeling nothing. It is, however, easy for me to remain in this mainframe for

long periods of time. Music helps me stay here, and I know it also has the potential to help me


I want to do music theory for the rest of my life. I would like to own a dog, and just understand

and learn about beautiful music for my entire life.

June 4

Really productive rehearsals today. Clarified and cleaned a TON of things before the community

performance. It was amazing! Flow was most definitely achieved.

Ines was here today. She is very funny, and called Trump the next Hitler. A fantastic first

impression. We jumped right into the drum break drill and she should be fine by next week.

What a fucking badass.

Root beer floats. Keaton and I had a long talk. I think everyone has an important story worth

sharing, and where he came from (Spirit of Atlanta and Bluecoats) is a huge element of what

defines him.

We did our first full uniform run of the first 75% of the show. It went by so quickly and I felt so

empowered throughout the entire experience. It was incredible. I just need to learn how to

breathe and max out the technique.

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Packing up Johnstown was a SHITSHOW.

I feel like we’re really getting into a good groove. Everyone knows how to rehearse well, and our

ensembles are so full of energy. I hop Bob returns soon because he knows that we need water

during rehearsal (his techs don’t give us water). Ben treats water like a reward, and we went 45

minutes without it during rehearsal. Gotta stay hydrated. I hope we get more water when we get

to Texas. We’re gonna need it.

June 5

Donuts, Starbucks and Walmart. Goodbye Johnstown, hello free day. My shoes and clothes got

soaked on the way to and from Walmart. RIP comfort. At this point, we’ve loaded the buses

(which were late) and will soon be on our way to the ‘Burgh.

Our bus bay has an air conditioner inside of it. So, we have no storage. I’m blown. Bummer.

We began Pittsburgh free day with a visit to Burgatory, which is a burger place that has veggie-

friendly options. What an incredible meal. We proceeded to explore an arts festival, where fried

oreos occurred. I then found a drum circle and we played with strangers. Then we found a dank

fountain and there were a fuckton of dogs. Then we went on a subway, up a giant hill in a trolley,

and then back to the bus. I am not hungry, but I will be once we get to Ada. Three hours between

me and sleeping in a lovely dorm room. See you soon, drum corps. Don’t forget what it’s like to

be free.

June 6

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Got back into the groove today. Field lining took a complete dick to the ass and had to line with a

singular line of measuring tape and maroon and gold paint. This process took two hours and ate

up my ability to have breakfast. Rest in peace ropes crew.

My dad arrived in Ada this evening. Apparently, he grilled out for the corps and Mike Pfeil loves

him. Add this to the list of Mike Pfeil Facts. I dislike him less now.

Letter from one of my former staff members at Boston. It seemed genuine, and so rarely do

people take the time to write a letter. There was no apology for what had happened in 2015, but

he admitted to missing talking to me. Fucking creep.

Still haven’t learned the new Wine Dark drill. Waiting on Daryl for that. We added body to Villa

and fixed the drum break in a five hour visual block where nothing else of note occurred.

Complete ass kicking in subs today. Travis must have been pissed as fuck because we held the

trombones for almost half an hour. He was merciless. There were no survivors: we went down

the line.

We officially pissed off the Queen of Ada, Ohio, and now we have to stop rehearsing one hour

early tomorrow. Let’s see if the Cadets can’t find some way to rehearse without metronomes or


Assisted Ines with trombone music and uniform fittings. All of the new baritones are here, and

our drill will no longer look like swiss cheese. They have saved us.

I want sleep and less time spent in sectionals at night (which are hard to make productive).

Running on four hours of sleep, and it took its toll on my body today.

There was a potentially deadly storm before ensemble that quite literally blew over. Death was

inevitable, as we witnessed multiple “blitz” (Ines’s word for lightning).

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June 7

Learned more of Wine Dark and got shit done because Bob returned. He is an excellent caption

head, and I like working with him. He took a field view of the run through like a VP judge. I’m

excited to hear his feedback.

Full run, no met (with the exception of Wine Dark) was this evening. It will be done so soon

Runs are going to make us strong—Villa seems relatively easy now.

There was supposed to be an “evening activity.” I don’t know what that means, but I am afraid,

because the stated “lights out” was at 1 AM after the evening activity. Oh well?

Dad came to rehearsal and took photos. The members really like him and were surprised to see

that he was indeed my dad. Wait until the action shots are uploaded—ready for the storm.

It’s oddly cold outside in Ada. It was cloudy all day, and my sunburns healed.

Down the line finally happened again. I may be removed from a part, pending how I play

tomorrow. Not much practice time happened, as I helped Ines with the euphonium music.

I do not know if I want to pursue the education aspect of my degree. I am surrounded by so many

excellent teachers, and I fear that I will not ever be as good. I also fear not being as good at

music theory, or being expected to play much better as a music theory major. It would free up my

schedule so that I could work more hours, and I would graduate early. But job prospects would

be fewer, and I would likely have to enter a graduate program immediately upon graduating. But

that does not bother me. I like the idea of finishing school early and starting to focus my studies.

Education isn’t too hard for me, but I feel as though it is not my calling. I am mostly just afraid

of relying primarily on theory, or changing my schedule right now. What would my future be?

Would I teach theory? Who would I be? Why can’t I decide?

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June 8

Changed all my classes just now. I am officially just a music theory major. The timeline is much


Admin team loved my seat partner photo with Dan. They also helped me decide on a class for

next semester. I will think of them when I take it. I’m not doing Green Brigade—fuck that.

Ines and I had a lovely free block. Dad went went to the store with us and we got some good

food—finally real food. A true breakthrough.

Dot test tomorrow. I know the dots but not the counts. Here’s to late night memorization projects.

Curtis was a dick today, and visual is getting rougher. They are hellbent on finishing this batboy

as soon as possible. We’re up to “jugs are up” in Wine Dark. God bless vocals. I wish I could yell

more on the field, but I am usually out of breath, especially in Wine Dark. The choreography is

incredible. Curtis is an ass but is great at what he does and how he does it.

Hop took away our free block, but staff revolted and graciously gave us time off. Everyone

needed that time off. Back at it again until next Sunday, I suppose. We leave here in so many

days. It is almost a week and a half from now. We are moving so quickly, but it is so slow at the

same time. Members have given up on us placing well. I won’t lose hope yet.

June 9

Today was a hard, but excellent day. We learned a lot more of Wine Dark and failed to have brass

sectionals because visual dominated our day today. There was a lot of movement and running in

the chunk we learned today, but it got us through the baritone feature. There isn’t much Wine

Dark left to learn.

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We met for a Hop talk in the union and the snares were playing in the ballroom, I think to annoy

students. Incredible.

Dot test rescheduled. I need to study more, as those dots are rough (it is top of Villa to Letter K).


We continue to be late to arc set and stack badly, which frustrates most of us. Ada is so far spread

out and it makes transitioning from rehearsal to meals difficult.

We ran through everything we knew in ensemble. No met, but we used a met in Wine Dark. I

was less tired than I assumed I would be. The uniform will make it harder, but I think the show

gives me so much performance energy. The ballad is certainly my favorite movement.

Curtis and Bob kick our asses, but there is still somehow a lack of expectations. Both of them are

moving very quickly, and I think it is so that the cleaning process can be longer than the learning

process. The box is somewhat hesitant to call people out. The vets are disappointed with Bob. I

just want my drill clean. Techs often mention “winning,” but it is not a stated goal of the corps. I

want to do well, and all I know is that the expectations placed on me in music block are so

different than the expectations from the visual staff. I hope things change.

June 10

Passed my second dot test. Easy peasy. Visual, however, was so rough today. Bob ripped my

asshole open for explaining a horn move quietly to Aaron while we were supposed to be at

standby. If Julian makes one more comment to me about not being in the form when I’m on my

dot, I’m going to get really upset. Also, today I fell because someone near me missed instructions

in basics block. I believe that it was well handled by both of us. But visual block was so quiet

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and uptight today. I think Bob cranked it a bit too far today. But I felt so good in basics. I think

I’m finally getting the technique; now I must apply it to the drill. It’s rough.

Jarrett has come to save our lives. We finally got better today. The way he cleans things is

fantastically efficient, especially when compared to other techs. God bless Texas band.

It’s starting to get hotter, which means more whining and less field lining. Almost no one showed

up today for their tour job.

Dad leaves today. He came and fed us on top of taking incredible pictures, as always. I need to

be more thankful for his presence in my life. Having other members tell me they’ve liked having

him around has made me really appreciate him.

Fixed our uniforms today. I love our new baritones. I can’t wait for everyone to be in the show

and playing next to me.

June 11

The monotony of our schedule is setting in. Visual blocks feel like forever, but then the day goes

by much more quickly after that block ends. It’s getting warmer as well.

I want everyone to stay safe. The drill is getting dangerous, and more people are getting ill or


Jarrett sectionals are the best part of my day. He is an incredible educator, and I have massive

respect for him as a human being and his approach to teaching.

I am resolving today to stop causing a ruckus on the field during visual block. Julian catches me

at bad moments. I will HENCEFORTH not have bad spacing, or talk unless spoken to. I’m tired

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of getting pissed at myself during block because I distract myself or fuck something up. I don’t

want Bob to know my name from the box. Also I refuse to fall down.

There is a proposed free block tomorrow evening. I hope George allows us to have an evening.

As of today, I still have not wanted to be home yet. Even though I have to say things carefully

and can’t always be pleased with myself, I am not at home. Every day I escape East Tennessee is

a great day. I miss my mountains, though.

June 12

Jeff Young should be caption head. That was the best visual block of my entire life. Also, he held

a conversation with members at lunch, and even did P90X abs with us after rehearsal. P90X

Yoga in the morning was an absolute godsend. My body felt so good.

Lots of changes happened today. Bari feature in Wine Dark 1 changed and everything is

different. Run and gun.

Free evening was excellent. I always enjoy my time off. I believe that it is well deserved. In

ways, Ada goes by slower than Johnstown. I think maintaining the same schedule is very

difficult for us. I really do not like the same routine.

Had nuggets and oreos. I just want normal person food. NOTE TO FUTURE SELF: bring extra

food on tour, your small anaemic body is failing you.

I like my jams and walking around with music playing from my backpack. I feel like a cool

teenTM. I think I will get more ear piercings. My job will not be in the public schools, so my

appearance no longer matters. I just have to be good at what I do. The task is simple.

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I think about how I defined myself in the Music in the Human Imagination class on the first day

of school. It is very different than who I am now. I don’t know what I have grown toward, but

I’m starting to take shape in the image of what I would like to be, or what feels right.

June 13

We ended up not playing a lot today. We had so much visual block, one with Jeff and one with

Curtis. I hope we can just finish out Wine Dark. I want to be able to say we have finished the

show. I think we will be close after tomorrow.

Field lining got fucked once again. We had to line the indoor sports complex. NOTE TO

FUTURE SELF: don’t use all the tape to line the indoor field. Break strips up.

Got all of our frustration out with morning P90X with Jeff. It was a low impact punch and

kicking exercise series, and Kayla and Matt started yelling three word phrases to align with the

punches. “Jugs are up.” “Go to Stand By.” “Grandma’s Pancakes.”

Afternoon/post run-through P90X with bars and Jeff was also an adventure. It was called

“Warrior,” and after the workout, Jeff, Riley, Ines, and I explored our tumbling abilities. Turns

out I’m a fucking gumby, and can kind of do a back handspring. I just have to refine my

technique. By August, that shit will be on lock, no doubt.

Ines and I are experiencing Nerds candy. Way too sweet. I got three boxes from the volunteers.


Study for your dot book test (174 of Villa to the end of Villa—good fuckin luck, bitch!)

I will see Boston soon. I have mixed feelings about this. Seeing Boston again will be similar to

meeting with an ex-lover. There are parts that I really miss. I miss my friends. But I know that I

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am in a better place for me now. I feel that I would be infinitely frustrated anywhere else. At

Cadets, I am mentally and physically engaged all day, and I love how hard it is. I am independent

and responsible for my mistakes. This pleases me. Accountability. I love it. It’s different. But this

is who I am and what I want, and where I want/need to be.

June 14

I don’t feel good about my abilities as a performer. I’m trying a lot, but I don’t think that I am

good enough. I think I try a moderate amount in relation to my colleagues, but there are probably

people who work a lot harder than I do. I realized today that I would not ever be satisfied with

the amount of work that I put into something until someone else verifies that it was good enough/

I am doing all that I can.

Stargazed yesterday evening with Tom. I now know how to find Draco and friends. It was a good

talk. I like learning more about the people around me and seeing them as people and not just

performers, or rookies, or vets.

I think we will finish the show tomorrow. I just want to clean things and not look wrong when I

go to my dot. Sam had a talk with me about getting in the form and having better awareness

when we check and adjust. Julian touched me, trying to get me to go to two steps off the yard

line. I’m not stupid, and I know I’m supposed to be two off. Step sizes are difficult and I am not

used to looking for people and not using field references in the drill. I don’t know if I’m doing

well or not. I have no concept of what the vets or other rookies think of me. Lack of information

makes this very stressful because I don’t know what to change or do differently.

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I want spring training to be over. I want to be on the road and remember that I am more than my

mistakes. It is very difficult for me to let things go, and it is also difficult for me to know that

people may think I am not good simply because of an error. My frustration comes from spending

such a large amount of time on something and still failing to be perfect at it. This wears at my

soul. Will I spend a lifetime on something, only ever to be mediocre at best after years of work?

Will my life mean nothing?

June 15

“The low brass sounds like a school bus on a Monday morning. No, scratch that. A train. A

goddamn train.” - Gino


totally gassed, but I completely and totally love my show. It feels like 30% first three movements

and 70% Wine Dark. But it will get so much easier.

Tomorrow begins the whirlwind. We have a fake EPL and on Friday, prom and a dot test.

Saturday, DCI broadcasts us and on Sunday, we begin the leaving process.

We woke up so late today. The weather was screwy, but we incorporated the two cake props

today. Getting on and off is horrifying. As of right now, I am on the top tier with Joe, Wes, and

AJ. It’s all starting to come together beautifully. I’m so excited for my first show. I want this so

bad. I know we work so hard, harder than anyone. This makes me feel fulfilled. I love working

this hard and with people all around me who do the same.

I love living in the moment and being able to spend my summer doing everything and also

nothing. This activity has no meaning outside of what I assign it. This is somehow therapeutic. It

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takes me all day to warm up to it, but I will miss being here when it is all over. Things are going

by so quickly. The days feel shorter, and almost the whole show is on. I can’t wait to clean, and I

can’t believe we have a week to clean—NOT learn—before our first show. This group is


Today, Jeff asked us what we are thankful for. I said that I was thankful that I am here. And I am.

I miss many things and people, but I am here.

June 16

I had a rough rehearsal day today. I don’t know why. I think I got frustrated with myself too

easily. It was difficult for me to receive as many comments as I did. I want to be doing this

correctly, and at all times. Frustration with myself inhibits my ability to perform. I need to get

better at letting things go. Have faith that you’ll improve.

I don’t want to be cut from any parts. This will mean more individual practice time. Keep


My second valve is fucking me over. I scrub it out as best I can, to no avail. I hope it stops

fucking up. Please.

We had fake EPL today. Low stress, lots of candy from the volunteers, and finally truly

appreciating field lining. Even if we gave up lunch to tape the turf again.

The weather was fantastic. Nice and cool, a little bit of rain during sectionals. I wish I had

appreciated it more. I don’t know when we leave here, but I want it to be sooner rather than later.

The dot test was moved to Saturday due to Prom being tomorrow evening. Owen is my prom

date. He is one of my friends. I need to be keeping better track of Ines; I want her to succeed

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with as little interference on my part as possible. Maybe someday I’ll lose my mother instinct,

but today is not that day.

The run through this evening felt easier, even though ensemble kind of gassed us. We work very

hard, and I appreciate how much the members give as well as the staff.

Boston had their Concert in the Park tonight. This is where I want to be, but I miss so many

wonderful people.

June 17

Prom was this evening, and it was very lit. I liked dancing with my friends. Claire is hanging

with Ines and me in our room. I want everyone to feel included and Claire is a really great human

dealing with some not so great humans. It is not ideal.

There is a dot test tomorrow and I have not studied at all yet. I am starting to enjoy visual much

more, and I am excited for tour to begin. I want that Walmart run bad. I am afraid I am the bearer

of transition visual staff that suck. I just want to be clean. Let’s rise above.

I think I am doing much better in runthroughs. I need to really focus at Y to the end and during J

of Wine Dark. The drill kicks my ass, but less so every day.

I just want to get out of Ada. There’s too much drama and windmills. I want to see my friends

perform. I’m getting very frustrated by being in Ada. Change of scenery will make things better.

Also, when we begin competing. That will help (or hurt) morale.

I don’t really know how I feel. I’m caught in the middle of a lot of things. I know things that I

shouldn’t, or, lack the ability to change. I am a rookie and I can’t change anything. I said the

same thing last year. This is why I think Joe got frustrated today. The members have little control

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over what we are taught. I have information that I shouldn’t. All I can do is boost morale and

self-clean the fuck out of my show. I just hope everyone realizes that we have to be our own

techs this summer. I’m so disappointed by my visual staff. I’m a rookie with no right to have an

opinion. I can only help in little ways, like smiling and doing my job.

June 18

Today was THE day. Visual block destroyed me, emotionally. The sunglasses broke and I didn’t

notice until they were completely irreparable. We did basics block for three hours while the other

half of the hornlike was inside learning choreography with Curtis. Bob ran exercises until he

could not think of any more.

I called field lining getting fucked again. And we will be again after this. At least the dot test is

tomorrow. God bless pushed back dot tests.

I finally was told to not play so loud. My triple tonguing is much better. I hope I won’t get cut.

Jarrett seems to have faith in us.

I got a scary-ass message on Facebook with words edited onto my body. Keep an eye out for me.

If I go missing, find Scott Davis on Facebook.

I thought about being at home. I don’t want to be scared anymore. I am anxious to get on the

road and see my friends and get away from the drama here. Everyone works hard, but people are

rubbing each other the wrong way. I just want changes in scenery and new faces and new things

to write in this book because it’s the same damn thing every day. It’s going to be done soon (cue

the color guard warm up song).

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June 19

Today was the last official day of spring training and it began with field lining. I felt better about

the creepy photo the more I talked to people about it—they offered to stay with me at shows, and

make sure no one messed with me.

Visual went by very quickly, and we’re finally starting to clean things. Bob let the fundamentals

crew from yesterday leave block early and we got an extra fifteen minutes at lunch.

We had our last sectional block by the fans, and Jarrett got serious work done. Not much of it

showed up in ensemble because we stumbled over horn moves, but it will come with time. I can

march and play the triple tongue when my horn works. I was in a mild collision this afternoon

that totaled my second valve. I couldn’t play after brass on the move, which meant my run was

open notes and visuals only. It was very frustrating for me. I hate not playing.

Ezekiel and Joel come and watched ensemble this evening. They were very positive and very

inspired. That was all that I wanted. I think this is going to be a truly defining show. The ballad

still gives me chills as a performer. I love performing my program.

We have a performance tomorrow, and after the fifth alteration, my uniform finally fits me.

Northing flew off my body in ensemble and shake stayed on delightfully well. At last.

Things have gone by so quickly. The days themselves move slowly (until brass ensemble), but I

cannot process that I have less than 2/3 left with this group. It is a risky year, and I feel so lucky

that I am part of that process. I am the beginning of a new Cadet generation. What a concept.

It’s the last evening in Ada, and Tom and I will look at the stars again. Wake up at 7.

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June 20

Show day happened. I think I’m going to love being on tour—rehearsals were paced perfectly

(even if field lining got shit on during snack #1). Warm up was great, and the show went by so

quickly. I felt like I blinked and was in Wine Dark.

At the end, I consciously thought “I can’t do this show right now” because the demand (physical,

mental, and playing) is incredibly high. John, the person from Black Gold filling a color guard

hole, brought up an excellent point—we have built up endurance over the past 34 days and it’s

insanely demanding to just jump in. It made me think about how much progress we’ve made and

how much we will make as we continue to go.

I felt almost ill at the end of that run-through and didn’t feel too great, but after seeing the

multicam that DCI filmed, I felt so much better about it. We had improved so much just from

yesterday evening’s ensemble. It was very calming.

Bob pissed me off today. I dislike it when a tech or the box talks to us during a rep—I am

distracted and it makes me lose a lot of focus. During a rep of Wine Dark, he said “Get behind

someone” almost every two seconds (the trumpets made it a vocal for their horn move

afterwards). It was incredibly disparaging and distracting for me and many others as well. I feel

like that was not the appropriate approach to take.

Getting dressed for the show was still stressful even though we were given 90 minutes Cleaning

the baritone took longer than it usually does. I’m back to struggling with show hair. I am

considering shaving the side of my head where my hair is too short to fit in my already awkward

bun. I think I need to grow up and just figure out how to deal with curly hair much more

efficiently. I hope we will be actually great soon.

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June 21

TOUR BEGINS. Solid last rehearsal, and I am ready to leave Ada. Food was decent today. I

can’t remember what we ate, though.

I realized that I have to find a job in August. Oops. Bands, please hire me.

Tony sent out a request for players at First Flight week and my trombone quartet accepted. I feel

so unprepared, but I am very excited that the band is getting back together. It’s time to visualize

scales before I go to sleep. I think that will help me in the fall. I am forgetting how to play


I can’t wait to performing knowing that my friends and family are watching at home as I play

next to these people who are all so very excellent.

Goodbye for a year, Ada. I will not miss the temperamental weather and medium length walk to

the stadium, or the same goddamn schedule every day. But I will miss these people and working

so hard every day. “My only goal for the season is that the new people come back.” -one of the


And if I wanted a ring, I would be at the Blue Devils. But Cadets take potential, and the Blue

Devils take talent. I think this is an important distinction, and I love that everyone here is willing

to work so hard for what they want. It is truly inspiring.

It gets easier now, but everything went by so quickly and I can’t process that we are a third of the

way through this process. Wowza.

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June 22

Today was a DAY. Rough, rough, ROUGH beginning this morning. The day began with field

lining in the rain with maroon and gold paint and not enough tape (now a true field lining

classic). Wake up was then delayed, twice, but I could not fall back asleep. Rough times.

I helped fix a horn facing, which was exciting. Visual blocks are getting nicer, but I wish we had

more time for fundamentals, especially jazz run. Woof.

Brass is alright. I have yet to get back into the feature. I just want to play. It’s very frustrating for

me. I feel like I am inadequate at times.

We had a three hour long uniform top ensemble and I was dead set on pushing myself until I

passed out. This, unfortunately, did not happen, and we chunked through the entire show. We

proceeded to learn to get onto the field (still don’t know how to get off yet) and everything went

mostly smoothly. I place my stand/bari and leave.

Sectionals kept me out late, which frustrated me because I wanted to call home. I feel horrifically

guilty about how little I talk to my family, to the point of being ill. My stress levels are

ridiculously high. I don’t understand why. I’m just as easily putting on a very cold, unaffected

exterior as I am breaking down into tears. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

Tried to pre-EPL. I hope that can at least go smoothly tomorrow.

The weather in Knightstown is ridiculously shitty. I do not appreciate the humidity and tiny

stadium, as I know it will only be worse when we return in August. This is all going by so

quickly. I don’t know how to cope with the rapid passage of time.

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June 23

First show day over. I felt like we rehearsed for so long today. It was a very different ball game.

I saw so many people that I care about. It was fantastic.

We were in third and visual tanked us. We got spanked in visual scores. Everyone is frustrated,

and it comes through in how we perform on the field. At least audience members and judges are

acknowledging that our show is incredibly difficult. I loved performing it and seeing that the

crowd was actually clapping for us.

I like show days—A LOT, but I want to be better at visual. I think that is the largest source of

frustration for me at this point in time.

Noah and David and I met up and had some good times. I was so happy to see that everyone was

all in one piece. It made me very excited for the fall semester. Going home is now an exciting

prospect. I will have so much time in the fall. Who knows what will happen? I miss Texas and

Melissa and Juan and David and Noah and all the dumb shit we get ourselves into. Seeing a lot

of people that I love reminded me that there is a light at the end of this third place drum corps


June 24

Today began with a field lining obligation, as is becoming more frequent now that we are on the

road. I need to start sleeping near the field liners to help them all wake up.

Hop spoke to us for half an hour about “doing our job.” This was an incredibly important talk, as

people are starting to not trust the process and rehearsals get looser and looser. I find myself

wanting rehearsals to be a bit more in control at times. Visual was a good block; Bob prefaced it

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with telling us it would be difficult because we have to build up enough endurance to finish our

show. Apparently major changes are coming to Wine Dark because crowd reaction died during

the closer because Wine Dark is hard as fuck and we still can’t do it. I struggle with it just in

rehearsal and when the uniform is on, it is nearly impossible to achieve my maximum potential.

We got a lot stronger today because we ensembles for two hours in halves and then did a full run

in full uniform. I hate it so much but I know we get much better each time we do this. I trust the


Travis complimented my playing in both features that I was cut from, which irks me. Jarrett says

I can get back in as soon as I can perform it perfectly the first time. R I P

We did half an hour of 3 to 5 jazz run in an attempt by the visual program to get us to have

consistent technique across the board. I could see my shadow more today and I am pleased with

how I look. I got told that my legs are TOO straight. I couldn’t believe it.

We are in the process of learning how to be a first rep drum corps and it is slowly starting to

create layers within the corps (we’re finally figuring out who the ticks are). In other news, field

lining will get fucked over after 6 hours on the bus with 0 floor time. I’m becoming a fucking

badass at EPL.

June 25

Today I peed on a tree in Wisconsin. It was a very hard day. I got 0 floor time because of field

lining, which made the day that much harder. George bitched us out at the gate (and I write this

now because I’m frustrated) for knocking buckles, telling us that we aren’t getting any better by

doing that before the show. I don’t know what happened, but visual warmup was 8 minutes lon

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and felt extremely rushed. Brass was fast as well, and we were very pushed for time by the time

we got to the gate, which stresses everyone out. Then our synth wouldn’t work and we stood in

the pre-show setup for what felt like 10 minutes, waiting for the synth to plug in. My show was

not the best. I struggle a lot with Wine Dark. Everyone is starting to get frustrated with the

general effect of our show. Ben and I are both asking what happened? What did I sign up for?

What are the Cadets becoming? And it sure as shit is not entirely our fault/lack of member effort,

as George put it. We bust our asses. I don’t know how we can get stronger when the closer is

repetitive and generally impossible. I want this to be badass, to be a statement. It says a lot that

someone who commits as much as Ben does is not fully in the game. I don’t know what this is.

I will see Melissa tomorrow and we will try to celebrate her birthday a day late. I miss her dearly

and I am so sad that I can’t be with her on her birthday.

Saw former instructor. It was alright. Nothing horrific happened, and I got to vent about ticks and

shitty visual stuff. The attitude this year sucks. I can either dwell on that or try to turn it around. I

did that for myself once before.

June 26

ZADITE. Today after morning block was absolutely fantastic. The show/warmup was straight

fire. I felt like I wasn’t tired. I could give it my all. Everyone around me was hype, and the staff

was proud of us after the show. Our warmup was incredibly focused, and I was very hyped by it.


Morning was not so hot. No floor time yet again (thanks field lining—the fields were even pre-

lined! Why did I not get sleep????), and a near breakdown at breakfast because I felt so anxious.

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I called a friend who helped me through it and they reminded me that I see Melissa today. That

was also a huge hype—even though she only got to see our ballad and closer. I loved performing

for her and her family that was there.

Morning visual was scary because Bob got severely dehydrated (dehydration=heart attack???)

and almost had a weird heart attack condition thing. They took him to the hospital on a stretcher

and in an ambulance, but we were still rehearsing through visual block as he seized and moaned

in the stands. It was very macabre. I did not focus well after that happened. We just turned away

from him and kept repping. I wanted to scream because it felt so wrong.

I don’t know what to do. Days like today remind me why I’m here, doing this all summer, but it

is so hard to be away from my friends and my life. If I saw Melissa, SJ, and my family every

day, this would be so much easier.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and you will get there. I can’t wait to start school up

again next fall and make meals for the people I care about and not eat shitty truck food and take

care of myself and my people and truly heal.

June 27

CHANGE EVERYTHING DAY. Wine Dark was put on an operating table and absolutely got

hacked to pieces. Great changes were made to the grid section and the first/second baritones got

a nice little pentatonic run! My drill got SO MUCH easier! However, we will perform the “old”

show tomorrow evening. Hopefully for the last time.

We spent a whole lot of time on the bus, and Hop had asked us to share our thoughts with him

via personal emails. As I was lining fields with half of the ropes crew, I shared some thoughts on

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accountability. Hope then proceeded to volunteer to show up to field lining and even forwarded

my email to Kendall, Matt, and Eric. I am really glad I worded things the way that I did because

my email was viewed by so many important vets. I am glad things will change.

We had a 45 minute ensemble tonight and I felt great all day, honestly. We are staying here for 3

days and 2 nights, which means EPL will be lovely. I am looking forward to another day of hard


The corps is on an upswing. I hope the positive energy continues into the rest of the season. I

think everyone really truly wants to get better, and I think it has to do with having a fantastic

show yesterday. I know we can’t have great shows every time, but it really makes a difference in

rehearsal attitude when we do well. We pushed our staff today. I am glad I’m here. See ya


June 28

We fixed field lining today. Matt and Eric absolutely laid down the hammer and even personally

thanked me for letting them know about it. I was so excited to help.

Rehearsals were lit. The changes in Wine Dark will help us so much. It was great to know we are

performing old Wine Dark for the last time this evening.

I accidentally slept on the way to the show and was very blown until I listened to some music. It

is an official preshow hype routine. Music gets me going.

I saw my old crew after a second FANTASTIC show, and also met David’s dad, who gave me

food and talked to me about Phantom Regiment while Sam Dima talked to the other Phantom

euphs—Buicks! Looking forward to Allentown on Thursday.

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Bus interview round 2. One of the members interviewed is outright racist and has a lot of shit to

say about the last corps he marched. The brass bus heckled him accordingly—welcome to the

East Coast. Brass bus is fucking wild, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

June 29

“Can you not prance around like a fucking pony?” - Travis. Last full rehearsal day in FUCK???,

Pennsylvania. It was stupid cold and I wore a jacket for most of the day. We “fixed” Wine Dark,

and it is so much easier than our old closer. Everyone can achieve it, and the grid still exists.

There is some challenging body and an odd count structure, but it is SO, SOOOOO much better.

I’m hype for Allentown tomorrow. Strap in, bitches, here we are.

Today I totaled my baritone. I mean absolutely fucked it up. I was taking off my jacket and was

kind of unconscious and dropped my horn on its bell while I was at standby. Stevie B is not here

to fix it, so I am using the alternate horn for tomorrow’s performance. I haven’t gotten my

asshole ripped open over it yet, but it’s coming.

The food chef guy left and now we’re eating better. We had Kebabs for dinner??? and they have

Nutella ! ! regularly at the sandwich line. God. Fucking. Bless.

I experienced Sheets today. It is like a gas station but classier and Pennsylvanian. I got Reese’s

Pieces and everyone got mad about how to pronounce it. Autobots roll out. Sheets is good.

I pre-EPL’d, and it helped a lot. I didn’t do jack shit during EPL. I loaded everything and went on

my way. The last three days have been suspiciously easy. I fear for the coming week, especially

when we get to Florida. I am ready to die. Fuck the cold, but fuck Florida even more. I am very

afraid. “Never have I ever” with bus lights was odd but on brand for brass bus.

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June 30

“That’s not good enough. That’s not loud enough.” - Gino. Today was a really rough last day of

June. Field lining got floor time! But was then really pushed for time at breakfast before the

MUSIC IS COOL campers got here. We spent forever and a day on a shitty grass field with

younger kids. Great times were had.

We had to walk from the housing site at Raub middle to the J Birney Crum stadium, so about

half a mile with all of our equipment. Carry a trombone and a baritone and a water jug and a

backpack half a mile. Yeah… We got FUCKED during EPL because of the distance. It was not

enough time and we ended up having a three minute long visual warm up. Ensemble went too

long because we had to chunk through the new Wine Dark, which killed Tom because he got hit

by a tuba and almost lost a tooth. Rip the 20 count move. It was better in the show tonight.

Holy fuck, those showers. Those showers were worse than the wolf school showers. The city of

Allentown needs to figure hot water out. Merciful christ. My hands turned white because it was

so cold. I screamed and ran through the showers as an act of self-hatred.

The show, despite not being set up for success, was again straight fire. Our GE score went up

because Wine Dark makes sense now, and tomorrow, we’ll add the costume changes in the

guard. I trust this process a bit more now.

Today was very stressful, but EPL is finally over, and I just wish for more floor time. The next

day is a show day, and I hope it will be better. Fingers are crossed that I live to see tomorrow.

July 1

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A rough start to July drum corps. The weather shat on us today and so did the staff. We

eventually were rained out of BRASS STADIUM and took shelter for an hour while working on

Tanglewood music. Ensemble occurred and we added counts to the ballad for some reason

(colorguard costume change, I think) and then did a full run for the alumni, who gave us bright

gold hats. It was very sweet of them, but I couldn’t focus because we weren’t fed properly.

The show got cancelled right as we were about to set up twos. The weather was terrifying, and I

was upset that we weren’t able to perform this evening’s changes. I thought we earned our show


Tom gave me Garfield Water, which is really strong alcohol mixed with Gatorade. I highly

appreciate it. There is a lot of it. I am excited by how long this could last me. Bless the vets.

We have a show and a parade tomorrow, and the holiday weekend begins. I don’t think we have a

straight up rehearsal day until the 7th. Tanglewood is before that, I think. Tanglewood will last

me through the whole summer. It will be a fantastic day. Just be careful.

I think we are getting dinner from a fucking rest stop. That’s some Cadet shit right here.

July 2

Parade of death in nowheresville, Massachusetts. It took three hours, and we went back to the

housing site to have ensemble… after marching a parade… which field lining had to prepare the

fields for, so RIP eating food today. I’m looking forward to the fourth of July activities. Parades

aren’t too terrible until you run out of water. That was one of the worst things I’ve ever done in

my entire life.

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Had another short EP-HELL and got everything done at the last minute yet again. The bus ride to

Boston College was ridiculously long, and we got lost as fuck, leading to a very short warmup

and a rather rushed show. The energy was still there, which I appreciated. I love the maturity in

performance with this group. No matter what, we always bring it on the field.

I gave David the Garfield Water. He needed it more than I did. I’m struggling, and I don’t even

have other kids to worry about—I don’t know how he’s managing as a section leader at

Phantom. I don’t know if I could ever be a section leader like the excellent ones here. Riley is so

perfect all of the time, and I don’t think I could ever be good enough.

I talked to Kait and saw Larry. Kait needed a morale boost because Boston is having a hard

summer. I deeply considered going back to Boston after the summer ends. The people are my

first home and first love, and I feel estranged. This turned into a rather nihilistic conversation

about how I view myself and how I don’t have feelings, and I drove myself into shutting down.

The less I think about myself, the better. If I think about what’s happening to me, I shut down. I

don’t know what I am, but I do things, and it seems very pointless at times.

July 3

The day began with yet another field lining adventure. They were supposed to bus us to the field,

but of course no one came through. We walked ten minutes to a locked stadium, and waited for

someone on admin to rescue us. We got back in time to barely eat something, pack, and go to

laundry. I was completely alone in the shower, and it was surreal. It was so dishearteningly quiet.

Laundry went well. Rhys allowed me to share his washer, because the rookies clean the bus

before they get to wash their clothes. NOTE TO FUTURE SELF: help the rookies out during

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laundry. Pay it forward. Rookies have to clean the bus, and somehow I was able to convinced the

laundromat owner to lend me her brooms so I could sweep the bus. I cleaned the fuck out of that


Ensemble was quick and painful, as always, and we made our way to the show. The show was

weird (B E A N P O T) because of wind, fireworks occurring during the show, not being able to

hear ANYTHING on the field, and god knows what else. George was not happy, but we had too

many good shows in a row for us to have yet another good show. Apparently, we’ve won music

ensemble three nights in a row, so that was a shock to me. Visual is killing us score wise, but

apparently Marc Sylvester is coming soon to destroy our asses. I don’t know if I am excited or

worried or scared. I want to be clean, but at what cost? Let’s see how millennial Cadets act…

I watched Boston’s show. I worry about their ability to make finals this year. It’s not the

members fault, it never is. I hope things go their way. You’re in my thoughts, Giants.

July 4

Today began poorly. I was late to get my uniform off of the truck, and I felt very guilty for a very

long time. The Bristol parade wasn’t horrible, but I do not believe in “good” parades. They

bought us ice cream and we made our way to what was supposed to be our rehearsal site. It was a

long drive and I felt disgusting after waking up. I barely ate anything for lunch, and there were

no restrooms which was an issue for us female-bodied people. So I just bled all over myself for

three hours. We relocated rehearsal sites and learned a new closer tag in brass rehearsal. I am

excited to put it on the field tomorrow and perform! Yes, low brass!

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The second parade was not as rough because it got cooler as we went. Everyone was just very

tired and waterlogged. Then to cap off what had been a rough day for admin (and us, because

people were loosing shakos, plumes, gloves, everything), Mike Pfeil dropped us off for free

block in an industrial park that had a fireworks show in the evening. The only issue? NO FOOD.

There was no food to be found. Eventually, we walked two miles to a gas station and made a

rather sad dinner there. Bonus, no feminine hygiene products available for purchase. I was

extremely blown until having a long talk with Claire, Daniel Regalado, and Nick Franck, all of

whom I hold in high esteem. It made me extremely excited for upcoming seasons, especially

because ew are going to define this millennial generation of Cadets. I want to know what I can

do, how I can help be the solution to the problems we are facing (apathy, bad rookie-vet

dynamic). I think the right people will leave. We can make Cadets the Cadets again!

July 5

The morning was rough. I assumed field lining would be pushed back due to bad weather, but we

lined in the rain and got the day started. Visual block was really rough because of the wet grass.

People kept falling down, and it got pretty dangerous.

I’ve lost my watch, so time seems to move faster now, but that block was straight up deadly. We

tried “massaging” the back passthrough of the DNA set and it worked until we ensembles it (and

I died/fell along with the mass of other people). We got a lot better visually today, but it really

truly exhausted us.

Music block was fine and we haven’t put the new tag in the show yet (I’m sure it will be a

project for our free time tomorrow). My personal favorite part of the day was Zabo lining field as

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we destroyed the Rhode Island grass. His field lining form is: one hand back in a claw, tongue

out, and as low to the ground as possible. A LEGEND.

EP-Hell was especially interesting today because I was accidentally rooming with Ben, and they

were doing room checks to make sure that no one roomed with someone of the opposite sex.

Oops. SOOOO, I sprinted to our room as soon as ensemble ended and got all of my stuff out of

our room. Who needs to eat when you can avoid getting kicked off of tour because no one

thought to organize room assignments for the members and allowed them to just pick rooms? I

enjoyed an otherwise relaxed EPL and ample show warmup time.

Visual warmup was interrupted by a cop who told us we couldn’t be in the parking lot of a bank

to warm up. LOL. The show was apparently high energy, but I had the roughest show I’ve had to

date. I was physically drained and still a little blown from the negative rehearsal vibe today. I’m

glad to be leaving the northeast (FUCKING FINALLY).

Hype for Tanglewood tomorrow and some floor time and a free day!!!

July 6

I was too sick to write anything after Tanglewood, so I’m writing this on the 7th. It was a

combination of dehydration and really terrible cramps. I wanted to lay down and die. I actually

wanted to die rather than exist in this pain. I threw up at a rest stop. I have no idea why I got so


During the day was fine; I spent a lot of time with Kait, which was nice. We started the day in

subs and did down the line. Volume down the line. As in, play an Ab3 as loud as you possibly

can. It was a really weird subs block. We rehearsed some more while the other corps actually

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walked around Tanglewood, so that fucking sucked honestly. My friends from Boston and

Phantom watched me rehearse. I hate this.

We ate off of Boston’s food truck, and OH MY GOD REAL FOOD!!!! We had another rehearsal,

and then a masterclass with the Boston Pops Brass and Mike Martin and John Mackey. They

answered bandos’ questions, and I just took a nap. I wish they’d talked about being a great

musician/composer instead of DCI.

Our standstill onstage performance run of the show began poorly because the tubas missed their

entrance and the trombones had a rough time recovering from that error—half of us came in. The

rest of the show went swimmingly. I was happy to be performing on that stage as a Cadet.


1812 was, according to audience members, better than 2015. Joe and I just kept laughing (we

were in the offstage choir that surrounded the pavilion, so we didn’t play until the last minute of

the piece—less for me to memorize!) at all the bullshit going down onstage—mostly horrific

timing and poorly executed releases. It was not nearly as much of a free day as 2015, but I got to

see so many friends and hear an incredible medley of all four corps’ songs from the Boston Pops


July 7

Sully, Gino, and Kristi came back today. We got wrecked, but in a good way. Etiquette was crazy

good today (I think because Sully’s reputation for wrecking students precedes him). Even field

lining was extra careful this morning; Sully pulled up to the school, backed a Mercedes Benz

into a handicap spot and immediately unbuttoned his shirt. He’s a character, cursing at us, but I

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get the vibe he already cares about us more than our other caption head. RIP Bob, I don’t know

what’s going to happen. Visual just got ramped up because now we have two caption heads. I’m

starting to get excited again.

The music push continues, as JP also arrived today. We got even louder, and the bari line is

completely burying the high brass. I’m so proud of my boys and the three other girls and myself,

even. I’ve never played this loud in my life.

Reflecting on the past few days, I think I was in a slump because I wasn’t getting better (or at

least didn’t feel like I was). Today, I felt how strong I am and was able to push even harder.

Having everyone around me be as equally determined helped, too. Things are changing around

here. They tightened uniform etiquette as well (Cadet mode until dismissed after the show). I

need to get better about keeping a straight face. I break in terms of eye contact easily because

I’m so distracted and my eyes are drawn to colorful things at showsites. The moral of today was

that the slump is over, and it’s time to start the ass kicking process. Watch out.

July 8

“I sweat too much today to have a bad show tonight.” The day was real rough—South Carolina

was HELLA hot. My dad was waiting outside the bus when I got off; he brought Gatorade and

his cameras! Everyone was so thankful. I am so thankful for my family. I would like to make it a

goal to stay in touch more and be more present even while I’m here.

They intentionally kicked our ass today; George took 15 minutes of EPL to tell us that we gave

up during ensemble (specifically the battery for some reason). This group of people takes harsh

criticism very well. We were able to move past a “bad” ensemble and had a fantastic, high

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energy show. It was a home show of sorts because we are in the Deep South, and seeing my dad

on the sideline taking photos was really cool. I had fun performing, even if my body/chops were

exhausted. I feel like we’re really starting to turn things around.

Post show, I saw Collin while we were trying to grab some Pokemon Go catches. Apparently

someone has gotten in trouble at Crossmen for playing the game? Odd. I ran into Hermes as

well. I talked about how I wanted to stay at Cadets, and how I want future hornlines to be very

strong. It’s the little things that keep you going. I think I need to do a better job of seeing the

light at the end of the tunnel. It’s over soon.

July 9

Today was not as bad as yesterday—though still a grass field—but I think I overexerted myself,

because I had endurance problems in the show. It’s that or dehydration issues. I don’t really

know what’s going on, but I need to figure it out soon because I can’t keep dying in shows.

I was able to visit with Matt Carstensen for a bit—he misses marching and won’t be able to

march for a bit due to some family troubles. He misses doing band so much, and I really miss his

perspective and our long chats.

JP really tightened down the screws today. I don’t think I said a word during rehearsal today—I

talked more in show warmup, which is to say none. Today was good from an etiquette


SUPER RIP field lining—we were on time in the morning, but skeleton crew really fucked us

and we had to line a third field at lunch, which ended up resulting in ten minutes to eat because

JP likes to start subs early.

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I don’t have much to report from today other than that it was a typical day. Die on the bus ride

(pass out), get no floor time, line 3 fields (two grass, sometimes three grass, and one turf),

prepare for a show, get my ass beat, eat shitty food, rush through EPL, sit on the bus forever,

perform my ass off, try to see friends, get on the bus and hope we get fed, don’t get fed and eat

saltines for dinner, and wait for the next day to begin. I don’t know if I like spring training more

than tour or not. Field lining is putting a damper on things—mostly my body. It would help if

everyone showed up. I feel like I complain here a lot. There are good moments, certainly, but

right now, it’s rough. I put on a tough kid face and deal with it, but tour is 100% where I

personally start to stall out. Almost there, kid.

July 10

Today is the Disney free day, and I write to you from the one and only EPCOT park. I am across

the river from Britain and I am on the same side as the giant globe thing. It rained, and my shoes

are drying in the sun to my right. Florida isn’t so bad right now. Wait until tomorrow, though.

Today began with laundry, and this round, I split my machine with Joe. We were done

ridiculously early, and we had time to have breakfast at IHOP with Alec. We discussed Bob’s

decision to leave and our collective excitement that Sully would be running our visual program.

We’re going to be clean as hell. Can’t wait.

A woman in the gas station expressed interest in my group that went with me to Circle K, and

went so fat as to return with the laundromat with us to ask more questions and see our buses. It

was quite the spectacle to witness, I imagine. We are an odd sight.

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Then began chaos. Fake show hair, and we were ready to go parade through the Disney parks. It

was ridiculously hot outside and it didn’t cease being disgustingly humid until the parade was

over and a torrential downpour ensued. We thought we were going to have to not go into the

park, but we were let in, luckily.

I had dinner in Japan (Ines went to Germany to laugh at American perceptions of Germany) with

the pokemon go squad, and then I broke off to be an introvert. I conclude with: everything is

going alright. The free day was well-placed, as my body needed a break (RIP Wine Dark last

night). It’s abut a month left now, and I’ll see my family in Kentucky. The light at the end shines


July 11

We’re still in the hell that is Florida. Woke up to no field lining, but still re-lined the field (RIP)

during stretch. Visual block was chill, and Sully is beginning to gt a little testy. We’re moving

slowly because we are learning how a new process works (minus one?). I like it a lot, but it’s

making me nervous. It’s July and we don’t have a ton of time left.

Brass blocks are going better for me every day. I’m progressing (what feels like FINALLY), and

I think I’m going to be put back in on some parts. Who knows. They’re re-pacing the show soon

so that we can achieve Wine Dark. Bless.

Ensemble was the easiest it has been in the last few days. We’ve stopped having full runs, I

think, because they realized we are in Florida and we wilt if we do the full run and then have a

show later that night. JP gave me a serious compliment, and it meant a lot to me. I want to

impress the staff, in a very positive way.

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The show was fine, save a near GATOR ATTACK during subs brass warm up in the swamp. We

got eaten alive by mosquitos as well. I pushed through Wine Dark like I never have before, and I

played the hell out of Letter Y to the end. I have set my new standard. It’ll be easier to achieve

once we’re out of Florida hell and have made the right pacing changes. I look forward to it.

July 12

Today will henceforth be known as Bee Hell Day. Sully had us have visual block on a field with

three different species of bees/wasps/deadly animals. I was quite stressed about getting stung

after one landed on my bell and I watched it destroy another, smaller bee. It was brutal. I kept

dodging bees after that; there are two kinds of people: Bee Dodgers and Bee Destroyers. It was

straight up deadly out there.

Brass got cut short because EPL is long, as we are staying at the show site. Ensemble went

quickly and was not of note, other than I got my first comment from Sully today. “Don’t run up

onto the stage, you look like a mess.” Conrad says that will be changed. For now, I jazz split on

the ramp instead of running up front. Nothing much changed other than some dots in Villa and

count structure in Wine Dark (at F of Turning). We were told to back it down because people

keep sticking out. I hope we make the right design choices, and soon. We are VERY gassed at

Letter W of Wine Dark. Rough times.

I fantasize about returning to UNT, sitting in Winspear, in the air conditioning. It is cool and

dark, I am with my friends. I can feel the texture of a paper program in my hands. Concert

announcements play, and offstage clapping begins. Corporon walks onstage. Downbeat. Bliss.

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Our warmup was so long today, and I was afraid that we would be tired once we finally got to

perform. However, we had a fantastic show (and a surprise encore… thanks for letting us know,

Mike). I can’t pinpoint what makes us have good/bad shows. They seem to be getting

consistently better. Cleaned the buses, and now chilling in the air conditioning for another night.

July 13

You thought we were done with Bee Hell? You thought wrong. We started putting the new

ending in, and it’s much harder. I have a set that is twelve steps away and I have to get there in

six counts. So thank you Daryl? We got through about ten charts in three hours, which is

hellishly slow, but these dots are nails—and we know what to look for in the drill. I get to coast

behind Blue during what is (as of now) the Maestoso. After that, all hell breaks loose. It better

look cool, because it sucks right now.

EPL was great because we are headed to a beach free day. We had a noteworthy lunch—ciabatta

bread sandwiches with nothing on them and trail mix—and decent showers. There’s a nasty 12

hour bus ride coming out of Florida, unfortunately. No floor time for the entire corps. I hope we

make the right design choices. The point gap is getting much smaller. Also, just try not to talk in

uniform because it never seems to go well when you do.

The weird knee thing came back. It cannot be felt when I march, but when I sit down or stand for

long periods of time, I feel the inability to lock my knee. We are a month away from finals, and I

hope everything will be okay. I don’t want to not finish the season.

Something isn’t working anymore. Maybe it’s temporary. Who knows. But no matter what, I

promised always and committed to this.

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July 14

Today was a really hard day. It began alright, with field lining ending early plus a lift from the

stadium on the gator. Breakfast and all the other meals were the best parts about today. Morning

visual wasn’t even that bad—save the rushed drill learning process and some ridiculous step

sizes. It was when the rain began that all things went to shit. We took cover, tried to absorb 3

massive music changes, and then we were back outside. We went two hours over to recover lost

rain time, and they took out a break between Brass Stadium and ensemble. What was supposed

to be a twelve hour day became a thirteen hour day. Schedule and logistical nightmare.

Today, things just kept piling up. I think I realized how dire our circumstance was when people

started ticking on Remington exercises in subs…and then Sully’s laptop died during block, so we

couldn’t learn the connecting drill from M to N (grid) in Wine Dark. The staff was super on edge

today as well, I’m sure because they’re under a metric fuckton of pressure to get this working by

tomorrow’s show. Everyone got cranky because the staff was panicking, and there was a ton of

shit talk on the field level today. How vets and rookies handled the day’s challenges was just

unacceptable. I was most disappointed in my fellow members. Incredibly proud, but so lost as to

why people were treating each other so poorly. I am looking forward to not lining any field

tomorrow morning. Knock on wood.

July 15

Today was stressful because yesterday was a fuckton of changes and we had the pressure of a

show in the evening to push us over the edge. Everyone was getting upset with themselves and

seemed to take it out on others. For the first time, I really wanted to go to subs during visual. JP

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likes me, I think, because he wished me a good show. I like the way he runs subs. This is likely

because I have yet to tick in front of him, by sheer luck. But visual today: Daryl ripped me in

front of the hornlike because I missed a cover down. I think I have issues with seeing the form,

because I am often called out for not being in the form. I don’t know how to fix it other than by

being in a better drill spot… And not marching baritone… At Cadets… (oops/yikes)

The show had a weird vibe, I think because we were so focused on nailing the multitude of

changes. Thankfully, I didn’t see/hear anyone miss them, but apparently a few people still

missed. I am proud of myself today because I think I said less stupid things. I am learning when

to speak and when to be silent quite well. I want everything to be alright. I suppose it will be

eventually and that I must be patient.

July 16

Home show hype! I got to see Cheryl, Jim, Seth, and Dad. Seth even got to meet JP. Rehearsal

was incredibly efficient, and I had high energy all day. The brass specifically was rehearsing well


The show was odd. I was fighting hard, but it felt really strange. Gino said it was the best brass

show of the year, but George told us we look weak and tired. I don’t know what I can personally

do to make it better. I feel anxious—I want to make the surge now. I know we have so much time

left in the season, but I’m getting antsy. What can we fix from a GE standpoint? What’s in and

out of my control as a performer? Am I costing the corps points? I don’t know if I should stress

about it or not. I just want high energy, high achievement shows to be our norm. “How good can

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we be on August 13th?” I don’t know what to do. I have so few responsibilities but so much to

think about at the same time.

July 17

Today began with field lining getting shit on. No on woke us up, and we had to line during

breakfast while it rained. We eventually got to eat, though, so that was good. Rehearsals were

fire, we deep cleaned like 2 pages as is now the norm in Sully block. Subs were excellent; JP is

gone and now it’s Jarrett time all the time. He told us to prepare to get 6th tonight. We apparently

aren’t achieving our show. I just don’t know what I can personally do to fix this. I play as best I

can and do my best visually, but people do weird shit in shows! I don’t understand. I just want

consistency. People re starting to blow up at one another as well; there was big drama in the

group chat about a horn stack. We’re breaking down. I don’t know what’s in my hands and what

isn’t. I keep giving it all that I’ve got, and it’s not enough. Frustration. I shared some special

brownies with David and Noah. Scott is having quite the summer with SCV, and I hope it turns

around for him. I can’t wait for August. Not to be fine. Not to be done. To begin the next chapter.

To work, to live with Melissa, have family dinners, enjoy sleeping in a real bed and eating well.

July 18

Today was an emotional rollercoaster. I got a really sweet compliment from Jeff during ensemble

about my lift, so that was cool. But in the same rehearsal, I got bitched out by a vet for trying to

help set up a form. It really hurt me. I got so upset that Noah had to calm me down after the

show. It made me appreciate my friends even more. But I’m doubting my time here more and

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more. I love the staff but the membership wears on me. But is it worth leaving? Won’t I just

encounter the same problems elsewhere? Why does every drum corps have the same issues? We

run so differently and we’re from all over the world. What causes us all to act the same way? It’s

hard for me; I get so much performance purpose from the people around me. It’s hard to perform

well when I am upset with them. I don’t know how Matt Carstensen did it. What the fuck is

wrong with people… Also, I have resolved to study my dots more often because we need

refreshers. I hope to clean my own house well enough.

July 19

I’m writing this a day behind because I needed total floor time. We stayed the night in Broken

Arrow and I wanted extra sleep. NOTE TO FUTURE SELF: Broken Arrow is AMAZING. What

an incredible housing/show site. Jesus Christ. I can’t believe it’s a public school.

Hop made us watch clips of “The Pursuit of Happiness” and it really made me think about what

I’m doing here. Ian TOTALED Keith during stretch because he hit a pressure point on Keith’s


We changed the whole ballad and we were mentally and physically fucked y the time we hit

ensemble rehearsal. However, Laymon came to ensemble and we had a long conversation

afterward. I cannot believe the connections I have made through marching arts. It is incredible,

honestly. So many changes were made, and I think they are the right ones. It’s so close to San

Antonio; time is both crawling and flying by. We did a run-through and it felt ridiculously easy

compared to performing in uniform. I had steam coming off my head. Yay, Oklahoma.

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July 20

It was Broken Arrow show day, and we started with Mike Pfeil bringing Starbucks McDonalds

straight black coffee for field lining as a way of apologizing for our lives being a living hell

every morning. We were mildly blown because we were promised Starbucks, but I said thank

you to Mike, and he seemed appreciative. Visual get better process continues and we cleaned a

fuckton of shit today. Brass was great, as we added in those ballad chords and got to rehearse

inside Broken Arrow’s cafeteria with Jarrett. Brass stadium was stressful because we didn’t learn

a ton of things correctly in visual block. Ensemble was mostly ballad and Wine Dark and then we

got the hell outside. Wes died in sectionals (sleeping) and we only found out because Jarrett did

the thing where he had us repeat back what he said and Wes kinda fell over in response. EPL

sucked because we fail to communicate as a drum corps, but I was able to make my way to a

Casey’s and buy a 5 hour energy as a way to punish myself. Alan and Dan both saw my show,

and I didn’t get to see Diane for Jacob even though Blue Knights was here. I was really able to

live out my life philosophy (spend each second well) and focus up for the show. It was a step in

maturing as a performer.

July 21

We have arrived in the motherland: Denton, Texas. Chris saw my show!!! Trenton also came—it

was good to be home in Texas for a little bit. It refreshed my soul and made me more excited for

next fall. Reed and Jeff were also in my lot. Texas tour is going swimmingly. Shocker, it was

hellishly hot today, but it still wasn’t as bad as Florida. Tony sent out audition information

(August 23rd/24th) and it will be published on August 1st. Mildly stressed, but I’m going to

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practice my butt off for these auditions. Take. No. Prisoners. I’m ready to work. Let’s kill these

scales and tunes. I don’t care if it kills me, I want an A on that jury. It’s happening, and that’s a

promise. Today, the visual staff lit into our asses. It was much more aggressive than it usually is,

which is why I felt an aversion to visual block today. Subs with Jarrett felt like going to church. I

love subs. Richard also has me on the train of just worrying about myself and it has really helped

me with my patience levels. San Antonio is SO soon and from then on, it’s easy. I contacted my

third cousin today—he’s marching in the Scouts colorguard! I’ll meet him in person eventually.

How odd—marching arts talent runs in the family? We are Houston-bound. This is starting to go

by faster. The gaps are closing, and we are starting to get competitively hungry. More and more I

see myself returning here. The performance rush is overwhelming and undeniable—it’s like a

drug, even though I hate that metaphor. This is trying, but it is making me very strong.

July 22

I’m writing this two days late, but we stained in Houston and had BlueBell ice cream. Rehearsal

was good—less hot than anticipated and not as long a day as the day before. As always, we

began with a field lining debacle, and we rode in a van to the rehearsal site, which was not where

we slept. Fire ants abound. I saved a trombone from the truck because my section is still failing

to properly keep track of their own equipment. EP Hell was especially rough because our bags

were thrown under random buses and we had to search for them. They kicked our asses in brass

stadium, but the rehearsal was not of much note. The show gets almost 0 crowd reaction. People

are probably sitting on their hands. Peopled clapped more for Kobe’s solo in “Kashmir” during

encore than for our opening hit. It’s extremely discouraging that my show is not exciting.

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Met with Scott, and it was his home show, so Ma Taylor was there. Our food truck broke and we

were all given a single chicken wing… so Scott’s dad went and got me saltine crackers. I was

thankful. My frustration is how we treat our warmup lots. It is exceedingly unprofessional, I

think partly because the techs inspire a rehearsal-like environment by giving comments in the lot.

I stepped off late because I was so distracted… I continue to be disappointed with myself. I think

the show is designed to be not performable, not humanly possible. Judges and more importantly

the audience does not entirely understand what we’re doing. I hope we fix their (and our)

attitudes soon.

July 23

It is San Antonio regional day, and we rehearsed a fuckton. Visual block destroyed us. We were

just blown about having to do so much on such an important day. All else in rehearsal was fine—

it was what happened in warmup halves that got me angry. A vet called out my show hair and I

pushed back. I said that I couldn’t help it now, and that I wanted to focus on my show. That was a

mistake. “Don’t give me that shit, rookie ass bitch.” I thought I was making a lot of progress in

standing up for myself, and that I was refusing to let myself be walked over. Our vets are just as

valuable as the rookies. I am tired of being treated like I am less than. Perhaps it is all in my


The show itself was a high energy, high achievement run—it sucked to be 5th, if I can be honest.

It really, really sucked. I sat with Melissa and Juan in the lot and got to hear about their summers.

I worry about Boston making finals. I met Devin, my third cousin. He is very kind and I really

hope his summer takes a turn for the better. Bobo and I interacted through the bus window. It

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made me more excited for the fall. We returned to the housing site and I talked to Riley and Tom

for multiple hours. Tom thinks he is watching the demise of the Cadets. I am hopeful that we

figure it out next year. I talk about next year differently to different people, but I know in my

heart of hearts that I will come back if I know I could help. There’s too much turmoil for vets not

to come back. Maybe I can’t help. But it will pain me if I don’t try. Who knows what will

become of us.

July 24

Writing to you from a laundromat in San Antonio, post free day. We spent four hours in rehearsal

this morning, as the music staff got the ending music to the hornline. The drill is getting put on

tomorrow. I really don’t like the new ending music. It is an almost comical copy-paste of Appian

Way; plus, the modulation is displeasing. Most everyone else seemed to enjoy it, so perhaps it

will grow on me. From rehearsal, we walked back to shower and pack our laundry. We rode on a

bus without A/C to the Riverwalk (a.k.a. Hell). I walked around with Tom for a while. I do not

know what we even specifically talk about when we talk, but we both achieve flow state when

talking to one another. I’m sad he’s aging out. I was avoiding someone mostly, but I eventually

forced myself to meet with him. I felt that I needed to make myself do that so that I could heal.

Still no apology for last summer. He paid for my meal because I pretended to go the bathroom

and left instead. I did not miss butt-in-seat. We travelled even further, and roasted Mike Pfiel on

Facebook for our A/C not working on the brass bus. It was 102 degrees. But all is well, because

we were headed to laundry anyway. Everyone just got naked. Texas is a lawless place. I will

smell nice for about a week or so, which is enough to keep me going for the last 20 days here.

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I’m not sure how I feel about it. I think I’ll come away from the summer much more appreciative

of the life I have. There will be a lot to do, but I am ready to return to Texas. I want nothing more

than to be my very best. Make decisions from the heart and use your head to make it happen.

July 25

“Guys, I wrote a song for us today. It’s called… This is Texas and it’s warm outside here!” Merry

Christmas in July, we have a new closer and a tornado as our presents. The drill took a long time

to learn, even though it is so much easier than the old closer. I have princess drill and I can melt

peoples’ faces off. We end in a badass company front—I end next to Josh Heckler and Jay. San

Antonio treated us well—we had nice weather and ate well. Until ensemble—then the actual

storm began. We would do a rep and then look at the storm coming from backfield and it would

be much closer. And much darker. It got the point that Gino said, “Hope, when do you want them

off the field?” And then a tornado siren went off. We loaded everything extremely quickly and I

helped prop crew load the stage. We couldn’t take shelter immediately because we had to clear

the field. By then, the wind was so strong that I could barely stand. Then the lightning began.

And the rain. And the green clouds. I was taking photos of the storm when we had to evacuate to

the bathrooms under the stadium. I was stranded in a shitty stadium bathroom for two hours. At

least I got to talk to my friends for a while. We are currently in a weird EPL and I don’t know

what to do with my life. I saw Bobo twice today and she was kind enough to bring me some

food. Every time I see someone from school, I get more excited for the fall. I made a to-do list

for when I return home. I’m beyond ready to be done with band. It seems like it has been a short

summer, but I know it has been incredibly long.

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July 26

Last day in Texas. We had a (mostly) full rehearsal day, because Mike let us into the pool. And

we have a 10 hour drive to Mississippi. Mostly that. Field lining got uber fucked and lined

during stretch (and missed some of visual block). A short lunch later, sectionals with JP were in

full swing. We played 1a by age group: Sonpar and I are the only 18 year olds. Woof. We started

ensemble early because of a rainstorm quickly approaching (like yesterday but worse). To

everyone’s surprise, we didn’t have to stop ensemble. The light drizzle felt cool and it was

actually enjoyable. We did a full run and I super went on autopilot—not that I ticked, but the

motions of the show were very familiar. Afterward, I EPL’d quickly and went with Ben and Dan

to a gas station to hit up some Blue Bell ice cream. It was a ridiculously long walk on the way

there because we went by road. Realizing we only had 15 minutes left until BIS and were a bit

under two miles away, we started to make shortcuts on the way back. This included a detour

through a horse pasture. I pet the horse. We continued sprinting. We got back with five minutes

to spare and had some victory gloats. I’m looking forward to getting some good bus sleep and

being one day closer to getting to go home. I miss it all.

July 27

Mississippi happened today. Field lining got HELLA fucked because we painted the wrong field

first. We got to ear, but we were late to rehearsal again. We finally had full brass line rehearsal in

brass, which was neat, and then we got wrecked for having bad first reps in brass stadium.

Ensemble was shorter than it was been the last few days, but still kinda shitty—production and

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wine dark chunks for reps. It was oddly cloudy today. I hope the nice weather holds when we go

to Chattanooga tomorrow. The EPL today was ridiculous. We didn’t get any “chill” time. I feel

like right now is the first time I have sat down all day. Ian’s pants ripped at the beginning of the

show (hiss) and the show tore when we hit the new ending. I was mildly blown, especially when

a trombone ended up on the ground/left on the sideline. RIP. post show cheered me up, and Dan

and I went to the gas station. A man asked for $15, and I refused, but Dan said yes. He pumped

the man’s gas, and the man offered him drugs in exchange. Dan said no, and we got the HELL

out of there. Hop talked to us about deciding to be what we want to be—we closed a lot of point

gaps tonight. August awaits.

July 28

This is three days late, but we rehearsed in Chattanooga today. It was mostly rainy and shitty all

day, but field lining was honestly impressively bad. The crews were split in half and the stadium

had no football field lines—it was a soccer stadium. Here comes the stream of consciousness of

what I remember. My aunt and uncle came along with dad; I love seeing my family. Ben is super

done with this season. We had a long chat about what was fulfilling and what wasn’t. We think

this year is a transition year for the Cadets and we lost the luck of the draw. Craig bitched me out

for having an unachievable drill set in Appian Way. Tension off the field was honestly upsetting.

Rais-Semble was great until we did a run on wet turf and a ton of people fucking ate shit. We had

brass in the Chattanooga Farmer’s Market and it made me realize just how good we are. I don’t

think we could be working any harder than we are now. Everyone is fighting all the time to do

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the right thing. I just don’t know what to do, or what more I can do as a member. Onward to Red

Bank and then Nashville, home of ME.

July 29

H O M E S H O W H Y P E. We woke up in Red Bank, I skipped breakfast to get more sleep,

and we made our way to Vanderbilt Stadium. Go ‘Dores. We had ridiculously fast paced

rehearsals because we went on 3rd tonight and didn’t have much time. The staff really pushed us.

But before the day began, Ian told us the story of the wildest and most stock Nashville

experience he’d ever had. There was a fight over drug money in a McDonald’s at 10 AM, and I

got to witness the exact moment that it dawned on Ian that the world is not a nice place.

Ultimately, EPL came and went and we were rather pressed for time. It was cool to shower in the

football lockers, though. The show itself was very meaningful as it was the stadium I saw my

first DCI show in. I was ready to inspire the good children of Tennessee. The audience sat on

their hands. I don’t get it. Why does this keep happening? We went and had coffee after the show

(finally) and I briefly saw some Maryville kids. Dreams are worth protecting. I need to delineate

my specific path to achieving them.

July 30

It’s a regional day! We started with a decent amount of floor time and even field lined at a

reasonable time in the morning. Rehearsal was fast-paced, as Craig wanted to fix the trombones

today (and we did). It shit stormed on us at the end of visual, and we had subs with JP. Ensemble

was fast and rough because of the second impending doom storm, but we ended up receiving an

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extra 15 minutes. Hop bought the field liners Dairy Queen. Worth it. The show warmup was

visually average and musically above average. This carried over into our performance, which felt

extremely gratifying. I loved every second that I was on the field. There wasn’t a single moment

of give up on that field. People finally stood up. For a long time. STANDING O, BABY.

Everyone felt amazing about that run. And then we got 5th. It feels like we are spinning our

wheels as members. We fight the good fight. No one gives up. I don’t know what more I can do.

It’s not really in my control, either. Who knows what the season will bring. Who knows what

next year will.

July 31

Today was certainly a day. It was what I would describe as the worst day mentally until our show

was rained out and we got to talk to the Blue Devils for an hour while we took shelter. I don’t

know what specifically made today bad—Julian and Craig being our only visual staff, Collin

running ensemble, Ryan cutting people from the trombone feature, the general shithole that was

our housing site in North Carolina, or painting the field incorrectly and having to give up stretch

to fix a mistake that wasn’t mine—but today was kind of fucked up. Then we had a discouraging

lot because everyone was concerning about the oncoming storm. I was downright afraid for that

show. I am, in truth, glad we did not go on the field. Currently we are the last corps left in the lot.

After talking to the Blue Devils, I learned and realized that the lack of sleep we receive

significantly impacts our performance, especially because our ticks and blow ups are so

inconsistent. I find it also odd how I learned to prioritize sleeping over eating meals and 1) how

fucked up that is and 2) how fucked up it is that I readily accepted that as a normal sacrifice. I

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think that everyone is so ready to be home. Today was so mutual in that feeling, throughout the

entire ensemble. We fought but there just wasn’t any passion. I feel like a weird robot. Help.

August 1

Rehearsal day in Navy Stadium, Maryland. The rain continued to follow us. I didn’t feel as bad

as I felt yesterday. Everyone is feeling real rough, though. We changed the ending again, this

time with cheesy horn moves. We also added a Super Mario jump and plume antics before the

accel. in Wine Dark. I don’t know what the focus of rehearsal is anymore. We have started doing

pointless reps. I feel like we waste a lot of energy. We did a full run today and it was mostly fine,

but there is still a large part of the show that lacks clarity (at least from my point of view). I feel

odd about it because the staff will say a rep got better but I will have not tried any harder or

changed anything. We are grinding to a halt, slowly but surely. Wind studies audition music came

out toady and I got extremely stressed. The music seems easier than last year, but I don’t know if

that’s because I know my studio or if it is actually easier. I want to grind or die on that audition

music until I’m happy with how I sound. Real life is starting. Shit.

August 2

Today, the unimaginable happened. My bra came undone during a rep, in front of a stadium full

of Music Is Cool campers. I was not exposed, but I was so terrified. It was a train wreck, but

happened during the drum break so there wasn’t a horn move that would have ended it all for me.

I super lucked out. Ines helped me fix my wardrobe malfunction. Logistics otherwise were a big

mess, as they now always seem to be—we were in Navy Stadium day two, plus a clinic for the

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kiddos. We still managed to justify a seven AM wakeup and six hours of rehearsal. We got one-

pointed by SCV again but we’re somehow three points away from BD? This is a super weird

season of DCI. The tenths are really present in visual; we were so close in music and general

effect (oddly). Is it just not showing up? Are we too tired to execute? What’s happening? We

work so hard, and I feel like we just aren’t seeing the results. What are we even doing… I am

really burning out. It’s past time. I’m ready to be home.

August 3

Another rehearsal day. The end is nigh. Field lining got super wrecked—Craig stopped rehearsal

until we got back from lining an impromptu extra field for the battery. Visual block was

subsequently productive but tense. I felt this was unfair, as our lateness was admin’s mistake, not

ours. A quick lunch later and we were in brass fulls. A man paid $100 to hear us play “Rocky

Point”—he said, “I want to feel it.” It was a cool moment. The trombones then proceeded to get

wrecked during brass ensemble because we still aren’t nailing Appian Way excerpts. The

trumpets got it even worse, though, because apparently they got nailed on the tapes for poor

tuning on the field brass tape. We sound just as good as anyone from the box, but field brass

judges are going the town on us. Ensemble was kind of rough00it was about high reps of hard

chunks before the run. I don’t remember most of my runthrough, but I remember it being the

worst physical pain I’ve been in this season. My knees will be gone by the time I’m thirty. I am

thankful we just did laundry because our bodies are completely destroyed right now and I don’t

know how we’re going to get through these last few rehearsal days. Fighting to the end doesn’t

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have to mean destroying ourselves until we can’t perform anymore, which is what I fear will be

our fate.

August 4

“I’m not mad, just disappointed.” -Gino. I’m tired of inconsistent ticks. I’m tired of being

blamed for bad shows. I don’t get how it isn’t blatantly obvious that lack of sleep is seriously

handicapping us. How can George say “We just can’t seem to get a show right” when the

hornlike has the most effective lot we’ve had all season? What the HELL can I do differently?

Can I do anything? My phone is dead and I can’t charge it or the portable until we get to the

housing site. We have a rehearsal day and I guess it’s time to clean the same old shit that we

always get clean and then blow up in the show. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels. How can I

not be frustrated? I feel like 45% of mistakes that are “mine” are my actual own fault while the

other 55% is due to inconsistencies around me that cause me to make errors. I feel like I”m in

some sort of weird hell. I have so much to look forward to and I feel like I’m stuck here. I

haven’t found a redeeming quality in these last few days; we are marginally getting better and

our shows feel like they are getting weaker and weaker, not stronger. I don’t want more time. I

want us to be smarter, to figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it faster. Allentown is in two

days. I remember feeling very differently at this point last year. I don’t feel like I’m going to

miss this at all. A lot of people argue and fight. There’s so much tension. I just silently observe

the world falling apart around me. I can’t do a thing but wait it out.

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August 5

Today was not bad at all. We had a rehearsal day and shared our housing with Cadets2 ( which

meant a nice early lunch between our two visual blocks). We got to watch their ensemble and

runthrough; they are quite good! We were lucky enough to get to hand them their member hats. It

was a sweet moment. The morning was questionable for me because I woke up completely alone

on the bus with a dead phone. No one woke me up to let me know that we’d arrived at the

housing site. I went inside the school and tried to find everyone, but I couldn’t. I found an outlet

and learned that field lining was meeting at 8 AM. I set up my mattress in a bathroom and went

to sleep. I kept waking up to roaches crawling all over me, so I moved into the hallway. Nick

Franck walked by me at 7:30 and told me that we’d been sent the wrong time. It was fortunate

that I was sleeping where I was. Craig announced that he would return next year as caption head

and we rode that high all day. Subs were fun and I found myself smiling a lot. Ensemble and the

run were enjoyable and I even had time to sit down and work on my audition music for the fall.

It isn’t as bad as I thought. I am so happy. We are currently in a Hop talk. Allentown is tomorrow.

Things are looking up. The journey is coming to a close and we are pushing. I am back on board.

It’s time to end all the bullshit, let’s go.

August 6

A baritone player caused a collision in the DNA passthrough, and other than that moment of

panic, I had a good Allentown. We did end up fourth but I stopped giving a shit two weeks ago.

We’re fighting a general effect war, and it’s really a bummer. We do well in captions we (and the

hornline) have control over, but general effect kills us all. I don’t even know. We are on a six

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hour ride to Buffalo, where we have another show day tomorrow. Then we have Massilon before

rehearsal days and then finals sequence. The passage of time is strange. Feel like i have a month

left. I have been doing this so intensely and for so long that it’s hard to imagine real life. Brass is

getting so consistent. I don’t think there’s anything else we can do. I won’t give up. I fight until

the end, knowing that this show is the hardest show available this summer. It’s just frustrating to

not be given credit for it all. I don’t know what we can do. All I do is keep going. I was helping

Ines walk back to the bus because her ankle got turned around and I kept thinking about the

corps song lyrics. I am where I am and see what I see because of everyone I’ve spent this

summer with. Those who came before. That means more to me than a placement. As long as I’m

here, I’ll be okay. At some point. I just have to decide to not give up.

August 7

Today was fast. Everything just happened really quickly. We went on third, so we had a “short”

day, meaning that we have a two hour visual block and that was our longest block. It went by

oddly quickly. My favorite thing about today was JP having us “play” our feelings; no one had

picked up their trombone, so I picked up my trombone and played “Low Rider.” Everyone

laughed and I felt that it lightened the general mood. Contrast this with our show later, when an

audience member yelled, “Get rid of the trombones” before our show (I got a lot of support on

social media for that one). The show was weird. I was ridiculously self aware the whole time and

through of chunks as rehearsal chunks and not show performances. I think this was due to a

weird warmup lot and a delay because the gates to the stadium wouldn’t open. We have no visual

warmup and a more than complete brass warmup. It was a whole lot of hurry up and wait. I think

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it is important to acknowledge that the days are starting to move faster. Also, Julian stood in for

Victor at the pass through and got hit. So, I don’t even know. But I’m ready for it to end. Also


August 8

I think we passed Vanguard and we got our sign back from one of their buses. No idea what we

took in brass, but the fight is on. You could tell me that we have 4 days left or 4 months left and

it would feel like the same amount of time. We line our last fields tomorrow and we’re staying in

hotels. Craig blocks excite me, but I am tired of the grind. Only a few more days of tolerating the

staff waiting for us to make mistakes so they can jump on us. Brass is exciting because we are

doing so well. I had a good show because I viewed it as a chance to pour my heart out onto the

field. It gave me a lot of energy and it helped that it was generally a good show. It’s time to move

on, and end this journey. This is the last chapter. This is how this ends. “My dream is for you to

not give up.” I’m not giving up and I’m going to finish this. I hope I get something out of this

season. I want a reason to come back. I want everyone to be okay. Return home safe, friends.

August 9

Second to last rehearsal day and it began with the final episode of field lining: Ropes crew

edition. The three friends in Knightstown took a long time to line (we didn’t get stretch but it was

alright because Kendall got me coffee) but it felt so good to finish those fields. I threw a paint

can into a corn field as hard as I could. It was cathartic. Visual block with Craig was centered

around the ballad because we hadn’t ever cleaned it, but then we realized we had officially gone

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set to set, taping it, through the whole show, which is kind of incredible! We then warmed up in

fulls and went to subs, where we went through the dumb chord change at the end. Then we had

trombone stadium and JP repped us so hard. Not at all enjoyable. Brass stadium wrecked us, too,

and people got kicked off the field for being asshats. The brass bus made its return and we got an

extended snack so we could move things back. Ensemble started and I felt very numb. I wasn’t

having bad reps/wasn’t distracted , and I was doing fine, but I felt so numb. I couldn’t feel. We

did a runthrough and I don’t remember it. It took speaking with Cameron about music ed and our

passions to get me to really “wake up” again. I still feel pretty empty. The thousand yard stare is

very real. It isn’t bad. It is like a calm feeling of detachment, but slightly more negative and

terrifying. I could rehearse like this. I think I am alright. Things are happening to me. What do I


August 10

I am writing from a desk, by some miracle. Hotel night #3, coming at you. Today was our last

official rehearsal day and we refused to let rain weather stop us. We got it, and we made the

necessary final tweaks (mostly applying extra counts so that the audience has time to clap and

react). Ensemble was great but Gino didn’t say much to the brass, which had us worried. The

rain storm hit at lunch and we took shelter on the buses until master JP set up sectionals in the

choir room. Today was not hype, but it didn’t feel like a grind. Apparently more rain is coming.

The next few days are going to be quite rainy. I am not looking forward to it. We had one of our

last few Hop talks and Hop asked us to reflect upon what we had learned this summer. In my

group, I said that I had learned which aspects of drum corps were healthy to apply to my life at

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home, and which were not. I spoike about “holy moments” and transcendence. Things are finally

winding down. The bees are leaving, and I have a guaranteed warm shower in the evening… The

end is so soon. Three shots left and then it will be over. I really don’t know how I feel about it.

Mostly relief, but I think I wish I had more time to reflect on all of this. It amazes me how I can

still learn things about myself even though I am in rehearsal more than I am not. David and the

rest of Phantom are very sick, and I fear that they may not make it to finals. I see Melissa

tomorrow, and many of my friends might have their last show tomorrow. I hate the competitive

component of this.

August 11

I can’t write not, I have to sleep. I have a lot to say. The day kind of blew, to be honest. The run

was good but not great, ensemble taxed us as it always does, and we warmed up so far away

from the park. We went from 4:30 PM to 2:30 AM without food, and I had to get up at 7:30 for

field lining, so I tried desperately to sleep on the bus while starving. It always scares me when I

see people sleeping on the way to shows. Our bodies are so broken that it isn’t even funny.

Scott’s kindness overwhelmed me; he stole me food from the SCV food truck. I feel that I have

changed, and not necessarily for the good. I believe it was the role we were forced into as rookies

this year. The promo for the reality television show came out and it was pretty far off from what

it’s actually like to march, and I am so ashamed to be part of this. I hope that show isn’t nearly as

bad as its commercials are. They compared DCI to the Olympics. Ridiculous. Josh, Claire, and I

cried on the bus to the hotel because of how wrecked we are in terms of lack of sleep and show

design. I’m not even disappointed in the results, I just get so upset that we worked so hard for

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this and keep getting completely shafted. The end is here and I’ll be on a plane home sooner than

I’m ready to be. I am resilient. Wake up and keep fighting, you’re so close.

August 12

It’s semis and we are in 6th. We moved to 6th. On semifinals. I un-ironically punched a wall

because I don’t know how else to process what I feel. I did not go to watch the age-out

ceremony. That and after I punched the wall, I applied to be on leadership next year. I was the

first one. I think I did this because I hate myself on some level. After our excellent show, Nick

and I went to the gas station and then just talked for a while. I cried on the field because I was so

proud of Boston—we’d just gotten the news about them making finals. I cried for Scouts as well.

I felt everything for all of my friends, and nothing for myself. I don’t like how Craig heckles us

in the lot. Everyone is very on edge. Today was the last day in Knightstown because we are

anticipating rain tomorrow and will be rehearsing in an indoor stadium. We sleep in the

auditorium tonight. I’ll be missing my hotel bed. This is a ridiculous year for DCI. I don’t know

what to make of it. I need a redemption year after this. I want another shot with another year.

This show is just too much. I’m ready to be home, mostly because I need to process everything

that was this summer. What I’ll tell people. How I actually feel. I am ready. There are many

people I’ll miss but some that I won’t. I hope the right people come back. The best people are the

ones who never seem to come back. I’m ready to kick some ass this semester. I’m not leaving the

activity on this note. Try and catch me giving up. I am close, but I cannot. I want this to go well

tomorrow more than I’ve wanted anything.

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August 13

I have been thinking about how to start this entry since May 17th. I am on a bus to the indoor

rehearsal facility. The first thing that I have to say is that I have changed. I am thankful for this

opportunity, because it guided me to what I love (music theory, weirdly enough). And it taught

me that if I absolutely love something, I will fight for it. I learned how to protect my dreams. I

am an old soul and I am destined to make a lot of change. I am ready to stand on the same field

as all of my friends. I am ready to get back at it with a renewed intensity. This has been a

ridiculously long and taxing summer. Remember what it felt like to come off of that field.

Remember what Gino said (drum corps just stops, and then you go home) and remember how

proud George was. Remember setting the retreat block and standing on that field with everyone

you love. Remember the anger that you felt. What it’s like to be sixth place for the first time

since the 1990’s. To pour your soul and all of your summer into a product and to be completely

invisible. To have to clean the bus and do inventory at 2:30 AM and then be woken up at 7:30

AM for banquet. Remember how far you’ve come and how much you accomplished. Remember

long bust rides and getting to sit with Danny. Remember the brass bus antics. Remember feeling

less home than last year, but more fulfilled. Remember how much you wanted to be on that field

again, with another show and another show. Remember your killer instinct. Remember everyone

who’s returning and everyone who cannot. The fire is still there, and we will be incredible. We

are incredible and no score can take that away from me and my people.

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August 14

Delta flight 431: Indianapolis, 8:06 PM. It rained. A lot. We threw out trash and loaded up amid a

monsoon and made our way to banquet. I really enjoyed banquet and the visual caption gave me

a distinguished service award. The bears got Travis, Jarrett, JP, and Conrad bathrobes as our staff

gift. We got to the airport and I spent a ton of time just chilling and catching up with all my

Boston peeps on the flight to Atlanta. The man next to me on the flight recognized my jacket and

we talked about band until I fell asleep mid conversations. Oops. I chilled with Wes for a good

while and now I have about two hours until my summer travels end for real. I am excited for next

year. This was such a tough year to march Cadets, and I got through it with but a few scratches. It

is time to turn the page. The next few days will be an organizational nightmare for me. I want to

just focus on getting everything done these next few days and to not stress about what’s not in

my control. I will do what I can, and that is all. There is a lot to be proud of, and I am very lucky

to just be part of the Cadets, I think. We end up places for certain reason, and I think this is what

I needed to help myself believe in my abilities the way that others do. I feel renewed already and

I haven’t even had my day off yet. I think it’s hard to return from being all out all the time and

then have the pace change like that. But I am ridiculously excited for the next semester, and

enthusiasm is, in fact, the greatest asset in the world.

August 15

Happy birthday. It’s over now.

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