Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Failed Icebreakers

Think back to your first day of College.  You're in a new place with new people, ready to show the world who's boss.  Ready to experience new things, write your own story, and live a life that you can call your own.

When I first started LSU, I was terrified of all the new people.  At the time, like everyone else, I was still figuring out who I was and super, super awkward.  I had somehow convinced myself that every time that I met someone new, that was the most meaningful interaction that I'd ever have with them.  You can't undo first impressions... right?

Wrong.  I found out pretty quickly that these people would eventually accept me even if I didn't make the best first impression.  As a result, I became more secure in who I am.  Happy story.

Fast forward 7 years & when time came for me to start over again at Belmont, I started having classes and meeting strangers.  I thought: "Now Hays, you've already done this once.  You shouldn't be awkward this time around.  Just relax and be yourself."  Easy enough, right?  False.

Just as awkward as the 1st time around, if not more so. I'd try to talk to my classmates, only to realize that I had little to nothing in common with them.  At least when I started LSU, the other people were my age.

Here are just a few of my failed icebreakers:

"Cool binder.  It looks like a Trapper Keeper... Wait, 'What's a Trapper Keeper'?  It's like a binder, but way awesomer (Insert blank stare from classmate)"

"Yeah, my night was pretty crazy too.  My wife & I stayed up til midnight, watching 'Top Chef' on Bravo.  I think that I actually fell asleep before the elimination..."

"Y'all are like the Breakfast club.  (again, blank stares)"
"Nah, you guys go ahead to eat.  I packed some sandwiches for lunch... No, I'm not kidding.  They're right here."
"No, I don't think that I've ever purchased a Katy Perry album."
"Does anyone else think that the Dean looks like Mr. Belding?... You know, the principal from... Nevermind (sigh)"

"I can name all of the characters from Nickelodeon's 'Doug' and their color.  Wanna hear?"

Classmate: "How old are you again?"
Me: "24.  Almost 25"
Classmate:  "That's cool.  My theory professor's 25"
Me: "Oh... Cool..."

Me:  "You ever just wake up & your back aches?"
Classmate:  "No, my Dad used to have problems like that all the time.  He had surgery."
Me:  "Yeah, me neither..."

So, there's that.  I'm super awkward.  Big surprise.  It's ok, because just like before, they'll come around... right?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Audition Day...

So, today is my first day to do stuff "officially" as a Belmont Student.  As of 5:15 today, I'll be auditioning on drumset for one of the 20-30 some-odd small groups here at Belmont.  After today, there'll be a cut and call-back auditions are tomorrow.  Assuming that I make that cut, I'll audition then and be placed in a group.

Needless to say, I'm super nervous about the whole process.  It's my first time to go "toe-to-toe" with some of these great musicians and see how we stack up.  Pretty intimidating.

It's been strangely humbling to walk around the halls here.  To listen to everyone else in the other practice rooms and to hear how good they are.  It's scary to walk by a room, hear someone playing stuff that I've never heard of and then to look and see that they're only 19 years old... Woof.

But, as humbling as it is (and it should be), it's actually pretty reassuring too.  I mean, I auditioned just like them.  And just like them, I got accepted to this school, to play drums, just like them.  So, I suppose that I can pull my own weight as well. In the words of my father-in-law: I Belong.

It's not going to do me any good to speculate and to wax hypothetical about who can play what until we get in the classes and start playing together.  Start taking lessons.  Start meeting people and playing in new groups.

That is super exciting.

So, I'll keep you updated.  By the time most of you find out that this blog exists, the auditions will be over and I'll be placed (or not) in an ensemble.

It's time to get real and put up or shut up.  Bring it, Belmont.


I made the first round of auditions and will be competing again today at 1 and 6 for a spot in the groups.

2nd Update:

I made a group!!!  I'm in Jazzmin, which is supposed to be a really great group that tours and records, so, that's exciting.  Either way, it's an honor just to have been selected for any group.  Super big deal.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

5th Week...

Hey Y'all.

It's strange how "y'all" almost sounds weird to me now. When I come back, I'm going to probably sound way different. Most of the people I work with aren't even English speakers. And the few that do speak English are from either Canada, New York, or California. Basically, I'm going to come back sounding like an ESL kid. (Sigh) Oh well, I'm sure once I get back to the lower 48, I'll pick my accent back up... Hopefully. Speaking with a Filipino/Romanian/Indonesian/French Canadian/Baton rougian accent is harder than it sounds, and not nearly as fun. It kind of just sounds like mumbles, where "s" sounds are traded for "F" sounds and every word sounds like a questions... Yeah, crazy.

Other than my linguistic confusion, things are just kind of puttering along. Same story, different day. It's the kind of job that makes this sort of thing hard. You see, normal blogs have the exciting parts of someone's day. When you have a job like mine, you don't really get a lot of excitement to write about. Which, in turn, makes this a very boring read for you. Sorry.

Actually, I bet if I think really hard I can come up with some highlights... Ah yes. Here's a few:

Exciting Events this week:
  1. Learned how to know if a light blub is dead. If it's on the ground, broken: it'd probably dead.
  2. Peeled an orange without getting winded!! 3 of you will understand what a big deal that is for me, and laugh. The rest of you, I'm sorry. Just rejoice blindly.
  3. Felt even less safe in the event of an emergency than I already do. We do these little "emergency drills" for the crew about once a week. Every time we do, I become more sure of this fact: If the M.S. Ryndam ever hits an iceberg and has to abandon ship, we are all screwed. Every last one of us. (that is not an official statement of Holland America and is in no way an opinion expressed by the head office in Seattle) But just between you and me? We're screwed.
  4. I ran 3 1/2 miles in about 40 minutes... or 45. And I don't care if that's a "good time." So don't bother telling me if it isn't. Let me dream.
  5. I had the first bit of fun playing music here in a long time last night in the crow's nest. This deserves an explanation.
Every night that we're not in the Vermeer lounge playing for a broadway show, we're in the night club-esque venue on the Ryndam, called the Crow's Nest. Most nights, the way it works is as follows: we play crappy instrumental song, maria (our singer) picks a great vocal tune and the crowd kind of warms up, then we play another crappy instrumental tune (i.e. harbor lights, killing me softly, tie a yellow ribbon) and the energy is sucked out of the room. It sucks. Well, last night, our Musical Director (who normally calls the tunes we play) was out for the last crow's nest set. So Maria and I sat down and made our own set list that included the following:

September - Earth, Wind, And Fire
Superstition - Stevie Wonder
Think, Respect - Aretha Franklin
Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton (Yes, ring band. I actually played wonderful tonight. It was great, we shoud do it sometime on sundays)
And lots of other fun tunes.

It was sooooo much fun. People clapped and cheered. There were lots of awkward white people dancing. The actually asked us to do more when we were done. I think that if every crow's nest set was like that, I'd be alot happier. Oh well, I suppose you can't win 'em all.

Wow, I was actually able to come up with some stuff to say. Imagine that...

I love and miss you all very much. I hate to beg, but please call sometime. It gets lonely up here, and when people call or text it's usually one of, if not the only, highlight of my day. If you do want to call, you an reach me almost any time on wednesdays or thursdays. I'm always in port on those days. If you call and I don't answer, leave a message. I promise I'll call back.

Hopefully, I'll talk to you soon. You guys rock. Every last one of you. Cheers.

- B

Monday, July 9, 2007

Ah, Alaska

Hello again. I hope all is well with you, as it is with me.

For those of you who don't know, I'm now sitting in the hallway outside of the internet room on crew deck "B" onboard the M.S. Ryndam, sailing North from Vancouver, Canada to Ketchikan, Alaska. For those who do know, I'm sorry to waste your time with old, meaningless information, such as mu whereabouts.

Sadly, there's not much new to report. I mean, it's a cool job and all, don't get me wrong. It's just fairly repetitive. Not much new happens to write about. Actually, I just thought of something. Awesome.

Happy July 4th! I, like you, realize that today is not july 4th, and it's surely not going to be july 4th when you read this sometime in the future. But, we all experienced it last week, and I'd like to tell you about mine... with pictures.

I celebrated my independence day in Haines, Alaska. It's kind of your typical small town U.S.A. type place. Really filled with old fashioned town pride and the whole bit. The day was marked with several high points, one of which being the town parade. Hence the picture. I don't know if you can see this, but the picture is really quite an oddity, in and of itself. Here we have a tiny child, on a four wheeler, being pulled by a truck. The only thing more impressive than an ATV driver under the age of 10 is an ATV driver being pulled by a truck... under the age of ten. So what if it's not an actual float. She threw some of those orange tootsie rolls, and those are totally sweet.

This is the next high point of the day, the mud volleyball tournament. Rednecks + Mud = fun for all. Overall, it was really just that. A bunch of hicks from the boonies of Alaska, just hanging out, playing some mud volleyball. Most of the people were cool, and really nice. However, there were a couple of people playing volleyball that were really intense... like really intense. Like "smear mud on your face and let out a Braveheart-style yell to intimidate your opponents" intense. Woah. You know how much I like loud, annoying people... wait, did I say like? Hmm. Moving on.

Lastly, there was a huge bar-b-que in the town park, for pretty much everyone that lived within walking/driving/crusing distance. Complete with fun-jump, local desert bake-off, a pie-eating competition, and used book sale. Very fun, very wholesome. The only thing missing was Kate :)

*The rest of you, shut up. You'd miss her too if you were me, so keep your mouths shut

Overall, it was a fun, family friendly way to celebrate the day that George Washington Carver, Teddy Roosevelt, and Colin Powell defeated the Germans to win our independence. Or at least that's what I thought. Apparently none of those guys were there, and it was England. Whatever... I'm not a historologist or anything.

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it, which is to say, not much. Just kidding. This is fun. It's like writing a letter to all your best friends with no response... or interest. Ouch. Just kidding.

Anyone who wants to call, I welcome it. I get homesick sometimes, you know? Thanks for your concern.

Anyways, this is over now. I'm off to watch my new pat metheny DVD, "The Way Up." Cody, we're gonna watch it when I get back.

Talk to you soon,


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Do Juneau the way to San Jose?

Get it? Juneau?

Ah, humor.

If you couldn't tell by my incredibly witty subject line, I'm in the thriving metropolis of Juneau, Alaska. It actually is one of the bigger port towns we go to, and it's also the capitol city of Alaska... I think.

Not much new happening here, to be honest. I'm sitting outside of the "Silver Bow Cafe" in Juneau eating a peanut butter "Silver Bow Cookie" that I had to buy in order to access their free wireless Internet. The internet's slow and the coo
kie is mediocre at best, but it's only 99 cents. However you look at it folks, that's a steal.

I'm on the phone right now with my boo, Kate. God, it's good to hear her voice. Miss you, Darlin :)

That's us. The HAL Cats. I'm in the back, wearing green. I know, I know, I look confused. I probably don't know where I am in the music, or I don't know where I am in life. Perhaps both. Who knows? I don't, that's for sure.

Here we are, playing for the "Sail Away" party in Vancouver on Sunday. When these people get on, they're greeted by us playing such great tunes as "Tie A Yellow Ribbon", "Harbor Lights", "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You", "Top of the World", and "Where the Boys Are." Yep, they're all pretty lame. We have tunes like "Superstition" or "September", but we never play them. Why not? I dunnno. It makes me oh so sad, though.

Also, Hi Mrs. Steph. Hope all's well. Talk to you soon.

Unruly passengers beware this man: Traffic Director Brandon Hays. In case of an emergency, don't even think about pushing, shoving, or raising your voice. Not on my watch. No sir. This outfit is not just a life jacket and sweet vest that I wear during all drills and emergency functions. No, this is much more. This is power. This is authority. This means that when the ship's sinking, and there's smoke in the air, fire in your eyes, and all hope seems lost I, and I alone (along with 30 others) am your only true beacon of hope an direction. I am the one speaking these words of comfort to you in your time of need: "Right this way sir/ma'am. Your lifeboat is on the Lower Promenade (or deck 6, for those not nautically fluent). Remain calm, everything is going to be alright." I'm a natural.

The name "Brandon" translates literally to "Beacon Light." I try to think about that every time i wear this vest.

that whole bit was completely ridiculous, wasn't it? Man, working on a ship 7 days a week does something to your head... whatever.

Signing off,

Traffic Director Brandon Hays

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ship Life

Hello again.

I've missed you all. How have I been, you ask? Splendid, how nice of you to ask. Yourself? Really? Sorry to hear that. Perhaps you should see a doctor, or a specialist of some kind. Either way. Good luck.

Enough with the pleasantries. You didn't come here to ask how I was, did you you? You want the details, the meat, the scandal, eh? I knew you would. But, since I'm running short of scandal and the only meat on the ship is usually found in the Filipino crew lounge drenched in soy sauce and surrounded by vegetables and rice, all I have for you now is details. Here they are.

I am playing drums with a group on board the ship called the "HAL Cats."
"HAL" = "Holland America Line"
"Cat" = Either a mammal in the feline class or a slang term for musician. Origin thought to be in New Orleans

We are the house band for all evening activities that take place here, in the "Vermeer Lounge." This can range from anything to guest entertainers to cast-presented Broadway shows. So far I've had to play for one cast production and one guest entertainer. The way it works is that every day we'll meet at about 1 or so to have a one hour rehearsal of music that we've neither seen nor heard before. With guest musicians that we've never met. Yippee. Sometimes this is cool. For example: 2 nights ago we had a guy come in to play the Banjo. It was great. We all kinda sucked the first show, but the second show was awesome. So an average day will look like this:

1:00 - 2:00: Rehearsal
6:45 - 7:45: Show
8:30 - 9:30: Show
10:30 - 11:30: Evening music in the piano bar upstairs

In the evenings, sometimes we'll go to the "Crow's Nest" (located above) and play some dance music-type stuff. Yep, that's every bit as fun as it sounds.

The musicians here are very good. I mean, not quite as good as the Ring band, but who is, really? The only difference between the HAL Cats and the ring band is that here we know more than 5 songs... just kidding. We just go back and forth between the only two songs in our repertoire, Fergie's "Glamorous" and "Wonderful Tonight".

Speaking of the Ring band: Cody, Chase, Brady, Sarah, Bald Guy, and Keyboard Player, I miss you all. I will see you soon.

Alright. That's about it. I'm gonna go run. That's right, run. Actually, today on the "Charles Ochello Running Plan to Greatness", I've got to stretch, walk 30, then stretch again (Thanks Mr. Charlie)

I'll talk to you all soon.

B Hays, a.k.a. "HAL Cat 6"

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bienvenidos al Alaska!

Hello All.

First: Little known fact, Spanish is in fact the national language of Alaska/Western Canada. As I recently found out, there is a constant struggle for supreme and ultimate linguistic power in this area between Spanish-speakers and English-speakers. This struggle is giving rise to a kind of underground "civil war" between opposing grammar and phonetically based militias.

Second: That was a lie.

Third: For those who don't know, I am in Alaska right now. That is not a lie. In a hotel. It's nice... A little too nice, actually... Whatever.

I have been in Alaska for a couple of hours now and it's already been an interesting day. I ate a meal on a plane (a disgusting but strangely filling turkey sub and some french onion sun chips), 5 bags of pretzels ( pretzels never get old. period.), watched 1 1/2 full length feature films ("The Astronaut Farmer" and the first half of "Wild Hogs"), 3
1/2 episodes of season 3 of ABC's "Lost", ran half way across the denver airport, and generated conversation with complete and total strangers all day long. And still had time for a 2 hour nap. Eat it, "busy "people... just kidding. Now, pictures.

<--- This is from my seat on the airplane... Actually, I was sitting in the middle seat. I had to reach over this guy with a foul demeanor and even fouler B.O. to take this and several others pictures on my flight. The things you do for art... Moving right along.

<--- Different picture, same plane, same wing, same state of the Union, same guy to lean over, same B.O... woof

That's about it. Tomorrow they pick me up from here at around noon (3 p.m. your time... wherever you are) so be thinking about me as I begin my summer. I have working webcam, so don't call me, skype me... it'll be fun, I promise.

Drop me a line at brandonthedrummer@gmail.com every once in a while. I'll read it. And smile. And probably reply :) Super.

This "blogging" business could be either very often or very "sparatic" (spelling?), so you'll just have to check every day for new posts. It's your burden to bear, not mine. Speaking of bears, I hope I see some bears. I hear the Kodiac bear is the most powerful of bears and lives in alaska. He's kin to the polar bear, and the brown bear. Ah, I love bears. But, I digress.

Talk to you soon.

B Hays