• DRINK TO THE LASSES: Notes from a Woman's College Womb
    DRINK TO THE LASSES: Notes from a Woman's College Womb
    by Mary Beth Ellis
  • Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers
    Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers
    Random House Trade Paperbacks
This area does not yet contain any content.
Tuesday
Oct042011

Mary Beth Ellis at Ohio State University with The Best Damn Band in the Land:  WTF?

Why are so many posts on Blonde Champagne suddenly about Ohio State's Marching Band?  We fear change.  Also snare drums.

1.  Remain calm.

2.  I don't understand this any more than you do.

Blonde Champagne reflects my life.  It always has, whether that life is occupied with liveblogging the Closing Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, escaping from a benefits-rich, will-to-live-robbing position as a tech writer at an engineering firm, or plunging into a cost-benefit analysis of federal funding for the Wild Burro Advisory Board. And as of late, my life has been awash in marching drills, trumpet solos, and drum major hat plumes.  The contents of the bottling here will naturally follow.

What did we do to deserve this?

Here's where my life was in January of 2011 as I undertook a writing residency in northern Michigan: I was eight weeks past burying my father after watching him battle a particularly nasty and fast-moving form of cancer, five weeks past some emergency surgery of my own, and, when asked for my street address, had no idea what to answer, for my husband and I had bounced from DC to Oklahoma to Ohio to Alabama after he lost his job. 

The Catholic brother college I dearly loved as my own had turned off into a theological weed patch, shattering my heart and placing my "Play Like a Champion Today" tee shirts into storage. 

The patch of Colorado I'd turned to since the age of six the center of all that is good, green, and Western-saddled was destroyed in a forest fire.

The space shuttle program I'd dreamed about since childhood and was once a part of was shutting down. 

Also I was out of Schnapps.  Nearly all of my emotional anchors had been rendered shipwreck debris in the space of about eighteen months, and now... I was in Michigan... in an area so remote the GPS declined to acknowledge its existence.... in January.

I was writing an article about the recently completed college bowl season, flailing around online for a random reference to football culture, and awaiting the meteors. The meteors arrived in the form of a video of Script Ohio.

I saw a former enemy, a school of which I was a hater (and I do mean hater, like, with an "8" and fourteen R's:  H8RRRRRRRRRRRRRR) forming the letters of my home state with devastating purpose and clarity at a time when I was desperately unmoored, and it somehow simultaneously broke me and sewed me back together all at once.  You don't go through something like that and then just wander into the kitchen to heat up a Hot Pocket.

The video viewing party became an essay.  The essay became a phone call to the Band's current Drum Major, Jason Stuckert.  The phone call became conversation lasting three hours.  The party and essay and the phone call became a book. 

It's not you.  It's this band.

But isn't your first book, Drink to the Lasses, about attending the University of Notre Dame's all-women sister school?  Why not just write about Notre Dame's band?

For the same reason you don't carry around pictures in your wallet of family members who have suddenly decided to make a living selling couch cushions made from the pelts of baby penguins and orphaned unicorns.  I can't be around that *#&%, yo.

So... you hate Notre Dame now?

No.  I love it and I miss it terribly.  I hope it comes back someday. 

...Look, a squirrel!

Why should we bother reading the book when you're spillin' here for free, word slut?

The blog is not the book.  The blog is the notes for the book.  It's highly likely that certain phrases, observations, or entire paragraphs will find their way from Blonde Champagne into the final product, but this space functions as my grey matter playground, where I think out what I've seen, who I've met, and exactly how much therapy might be necessary at the other end of it.  Many details and observations which are dear to me won't survive the winnowing process into the book; the site, then, will also function as a Home for Editor-Rejected Deep Sousaphone-Related Thoughts.

I also like to keep my good and faithful The Readers updated on the project; they have been most generous with their support, whether spiritual, click-based, or material.  I am privileged to watch, hear, and in general experience this Band in a way the vast majority of them never will.  They want to know "what's acting," as Paul Revere would say, and I appreciate the feedback my readers offer as I perform this dauntingly massive creative and mental sifitng process.  Besides, I'm here; they're not-- they can let me know how effective I am at describing what I see, feel, and stumble over.  And... like it or not, Miss Belle, they will.

This site allows me to hold up an immediate mirror to the emotional upshot which I and those around me experience when the Band performs or rehearses. "You have no idea what I see," I told them when I introduced myself in the early fall.  They cannot see what I see, for they are having an entirely different experience; they are busy creating the moment.  They deserve to know, before the season is done, the intense emotional energy they evoke in those who see and hear them.

While the book itself won't be a straight narrative, the story unfolding on Blonde Champagne pretty much is.  The posts are best read in context with one another, so start with January 2011 and move forward.

(Also I do write about other things here.)

(On occasion.)

When's the book coming out?

You know what needs to happen first?  Many complex, industry-insider publishing hoop jumping obstacle courses, such as actually writing it.

  

GETTIN' OUR LEGAL ON: Mary Beth Ellis and BlondeChampagne.com are not in any way officially affiliated with Ohio State University, the Ohio State University Marching Band, the OSU Alumni Band, or the OSU Athletic Band. 

But you know they totally wish they were.