Sunday, March 28, 2010

Exciting Development on the Buzz Fest Song

My daughter and her singing partner have been awash in attention since their big Friday night splash at their high school's talent showcase, Buzz Fest. They covered the Marc Broussard song "Hope for Me Yet."
She posted a link to the video of her performance on Twitter. Who could have seen this coming?

Yes, Marc Broussard himself watched the video and wrote to her, saying "Extremely flattered that u guys chose my song to perform. It was GREAT!!! The crowd seemed to love it!!! Great job!"

How great is that? A total of seven exclamation points. She immediately called me, then her mother, then her singing partner. She said "I think I just screamed for 5 minutes straight in my car! I mean, that just happened!" Of course, Trent is freaking out a little, too.

She owns everything she has been able to find ever recorded by Marc Broussard, who executed a classy move with his note to her. He put a magnificent cap on a weekend she will always remember.

In between Friday night's performance and Sunday afternoon's bombshell tweet from the singer-songwriter, there was a Key Club formal. She reports that they got a lot of attention from friends and others who were quick to compliment their performance.

Of course, they didn't see Marc Broussard coming.

(By the way, Trent won first AND second place at Buzz Fest. He and my daughter took second, while the band he fronted later in the show earned first-place honors.)

The dynamic duo just made a weekend of it, accompanying one another to the dinner, dance and after-party. For two young people who are not linked romantically, they surely made the most of their time together. Maybe it's precisely because there was no lovey-dovey pressure that things worked out so well. They just relaxed and had a good time.

The last two or three days have been exhilirating for us, because our daughter seems to be finishing high school with a flourish. We've been emotional as we've witnessed these events, realizing that her childhood is rapidly coming to a close. In just a few short months, she will be leaving home.

It may take us a while to adjust...and to realize that there's hope for us yet.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Show Stopper

Weeks of work and worry culminated in a triumphant evening for my daughter and many of her friends. As a senior and a member of student council at Byrd High School, she has participated for weeks in the planning and production of the school's year-end talent showcase, Buzz Fest.
Not only did she schedule rehearsals and help coordinate them, she also wrote a skit, helped with costumes, conceptualized much of the show and performed on top of all that. (Click here to see her big moment, or see the video embedded below). For the past week, she was under enormous stress. She and the others wanted so badly for the show to be entertaining and well-run. Given the level of excitement in the room, I can say with confidence they succeeded.
Let's review my daughter's many personas during the show. There was the mean teacher who chased kids from their cars in the minutes before the opening bell...During a song and dance parody of current popular music, she appeared as the young singer with the "party" reputation, Ke$ha: ("The party don't start 'til I walk in...")
And she was in 80's-style workout gear for the closing dance extravaganza set to the song "Evacuate the Dance Floor."
But it was four minutes in the second act that left me teary-eyed and breathless. She calmly took the stage with one of her buddies to perform a song called "Hope for Me Yet," by Marc Broussard. I knew she was singing in the show, but she had not let anyone in her family hear her rehearsals. Before the show started, a couple of teachers approached me and asked if I had heard their arrangement of the song. I had not. There were subtle raises of eyebrows and little nods.
I knew the crew that had been hired to make the official DVD of the show and they had seen dress rehearal. Before the show, one of the guys walked up to me and said, "Isn't that your daughter singing the Marc Broussard song?" I said, "Yes."
He said, "Wow. Don't worry. I'll get a DVD burned for you quickly. You'll want to keep that." Despite all the build-up, I just wasn't prepared for the experience.
When they were finished, the ovation was ear-splitting. This was a show, but also a contest. A couple of the judges said to me afterward, "She sang so beautifully and effortlessly."
Everything you need to know about how she did can be summed up by the reaction of her usually reserved older brother, who just loathes having attention drawn to him in public settings. He stood up and shouted.
I was simply struck silent. After the show, I couldn't take five steps without someone from her adoring public stopping me to tell me they were just blown away. See, the thing is, with the exception of a lightly-attended community theater fundraiser, she has never really sung in public. Basically, nobody knew she could sing. She just dropped a big-note bomb on them and left them stunned.She has no aspirations to sing in college or anywhere else. She's content to be a one-hit wonder, like Gwynneth Paltrow or something.
That's fine with me. I'm finally breathing normally again.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Big, Crazy Plans

We had a nice talk with the better half of The Happy Couple this evening.

It seems we see less and less of them these days. Together now for four years, they're getting older and busier. My son and his long-time love interest are both full-time college students. He's working two jobs and she's waiting tables at a nearby Mexican place. That's where we saw her, which wasn't a surprise at all since we chose to eat there knowing she was working.

It's our only real chance to get reliable intel on our son's activities. He's elusive and circumspect, which is not unsual for a 20-year-old guy. I remember, at his age, thinking it was really nobody's business what I was up to.

So, what did we learn? They have Big Plans for adventure this summer. There are trips to music festivals on the agenda, but some of the operational details appear, in our view, to be suspect. For instance: One is in southern California and another is in upstate New York. That's breathtakingly ambitious; but how they plan to get there, where they plan to stay and most importantly how they plan to pay for it all remain a mystery.

His two closest male friends are heavily involved in the "planning" that has been hatched. Let's be honest here, our son's girlfriend is the brains of the operation, and she's scratching her head about all this. She hopes to be on the New York trip. For California, the guys are on their own. That actually scares me a little, even moreso because he's making noise about borrowing my vehicle for the drive. He has a cool car which actually is several years newer than mine, but he wants my SUV. I'm not sure about all that. In his fancy sports car, I'll look like a mid-life cliche, to be sure.

I respect his desire for adventure. Heck, I encourage it. He's 20, after all. He needs to live a little (a lot, if he can) before real-world adult responsibilities kick in. I mean, he doesn't want it to come up, but they're 20 and they've been together for four years. At some point, you start considering the next step. Know what I'm saying here?

That's not on the table now. At this juncture, it's about making it to summer and then making it through summer. If the Big Plans come together, they could account for lifelong memories. Maybe someday he will tell us all about it. That is, when he decides it's some of our business.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

We're Going to Miss Them

As we said so long to the beautiful beachfront condo, the ladies posed for a farewell photo.I would like to say the trip home was uneventful, but that's simply not true. At our first gasoline stop, somewhere east of Pensacola, one of our young drivers locked her keys in her vehicle. This caused a considerable delay while we waited for a locksmith to arrive.Her explanation for "How could this happen?" was plausible. She was driving her mother's car. The car she usually drives has keypad entry, so she has a habit of leaving the keys inside the vehicle. She was a good sport about it, which is a good thing because she endured her share of grief from her buddies.
The delay provided an opportunity for a brief drivers' meeting. We discussed the route home and decided to drive through south Louisiana instead of going northward through Mississippi and across the northern part of the state. While that added an hour or so of drive time, it prevented us from driving directly into the setting sun.
The timing was thrown off a little by the locksmith issue, so the lead vehicle (me) made a command decision to turn north on one of the old highways so the sun would be on our left late in the day and not be shining right into our eyes. This provided a chance to pass through little towns like Cheneyville.

And for reasons only they can truly understand, the people in my van were fascinated by our brief trip through Bunkie. Apparently, they had encountered a group of girls from there during one of their outings and found the Avoyelles Parish ladies to be hauty.
Everything you need to know about the collective attitude of this crowd can be summed up by an unsolicted statement made by one of them as we drove along the old road. A red-tail hawk flew ahead of us while an egret blanc was perched in some water along the side of the road. She said, "It's nice to get off the interstate for a while. You really get to see Louisiana."
We made it home a little late but safe and happy. Their parents picked them up and we had a brief closing ceremony in our front yard.
A week ago I knew a couple of my fellow travelers rather well; some of them were just acquaintances, friends of my daughter. Others, I had only met once or twice before. Now, I'm in love with every one of them. I would adopt them if their parents would let me.
We're going to miss them. It was a week I believe none of us will ever forget.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Making the Most of the Last Night

(Destin, FL) - Last night, as we were making departure plans, my wife and I looked at one another and she said "Where is everybody?" At any given evening moment during the week, there would be two or three girls nearby. This time, they were nowhere in sight. Realizing, I suppose, that it would be their last night together, they had all jammed into one room.

I'm not sure what was going on in there, but a brief glimpsse revealed snacking, talking and lying around on top of one another.Who knows how late they stayed awake in there? To me, it's notweworthy that we have spent a week on the Florida gulf coast during spring break with 14 bright, attractive young women who have outgoing personalities; but they all have been together with us every evening. There was no fuss about it, either.
And so, on the last morning, there is peace in the condo.A school of dolphins is swimming by about 25 yards off shore.It's like they are giving us a farewell parade.
There's still time to squeeze in one more beach morning before we reassemble the Great Big Convoy and head west.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Photo Op With the Entourage

(Destin, FL)- We have been stared at in awe by many parents over the course of this trip. The comment most often heard is some version of "Wow. You have your hands full." Herding 14 girls garners attention, but it reached its peak tonight as we rolled onto the beach for sunset photos.Think about it. You're sitting on the beach, minding your own business, when this parade rolls by. It would be almost impossible to not stare.We waded out to a little island formed by the ebbing tide and shot until the sun went down. There are hundreds of frames on multiple cameras, girls arranged in what seemed like dozens of combinations.
One big group shot:
The younger set:
The older group: A reflective moment...
The dramatic....
And the candid...
One of the ladies was overheard on a phone call saying "I love these people." It's easy to believe she's sincere. Just take a look. Or, if you prefer a different kind of affirmation, several have proclaimed this week "the best spring break EVER."
Too bad it's almost over.

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A Balanced Diet

(Destin, FL) - Over the last week, we have eaten many meals together. We made a commitment to cook in the condo and with a couple of exceptions, we kept it. There was an impressive amount of between-meal snacking, as well. Pounds and pounds of grapes were consumed. There was some salad along the way. But the prize, the guilty pleasure of the week: Nutter Butters!Feeding 16 at a time wasn't as challenging as you might think. We just prepared mass quantities of fajitas, baked ravioli or sandwiches.
It was suggested that on the last night, we have "breakfast at dinner," and so we rolled out a chocolate chip pancake assembly line.There were three skillets on the stove, an electric griddle, bacon broiling in the oven and two kinds of syrup heating up in the microwave. There were moments of intensity, but everybody got fed and they all seemed happy about it.
The issue, as the evening wore on, was that the entire assembly experienced a sugar rush. I mean seriously, as if they weren't active enough already.
The evil master plan involved inevitable sugar crash a little later. Maybe they will sleep through the night.

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March Madness or Pigskin Prowess?

(Destin, FL) - Our last full day on the beach is the first full day of the NCAA basketball tournament, and I was conflicted. Basketball or beach? I reached what I thought was an elegant compromise with myself by opening the sliding doors of my bedroom while turning the games on TV with the volume muted.

Soothed by the sound of the surf gently yet relentlessly slapping the shore, I drifted off to sleep.
Having surrendered to slumber, I was roused by a noise riding in on the wind: Laughing. Screaming. Although coming from some distance away, I knew it instantly.
Our girls.
Something was up.
They found a football with boys attached to it.I sprung into action. It was vital to send a message that there are adults attached to these girls and we've got our eyes on them.

Plus, who wants to miss a good football game? There was the requisite intensity.They might have come up spitting sand, but they did so with smiles on their faces.

The rules were suspended, it seemed. There were trick plays, forward passes that would never be allowed by a self-respecting refereee and exhortations that would certainly draw flags for excessive celebration.

It's not clear who won, but they did work up a sweat out there and they seemed to have a lot of fun doing it.

And they all came back to the condo without the football or the boys.

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Take Out the Papers and the Trash

(Destin, FL) - Put a group of more than a dozen young women under one roof for a week, and what do you get? A mess!They were advised in advance to "pack light," and it's possible from their perspectives they actually did. I shudder to think how the place would looked if they had packed heavy.While one of our travelers has expressed personal satisfaction in staying organized and relatively neat, it's just a lost cause. They might not have brought as much stuff with them as they were inclined to, but they are accumulating more. All the newfound treasures find their way to horizontal surfaces such as countertops and floors.The bags! The shoes! The Make-up! It never stops.The sheer volume of trash we have generated would induce nightsweats in your average environmentalist. Honestly, I have felt pangs of guilt over the amount of paper and plastic we have sent down the garbage chute, knowing full well much of it was recyclable.
To be fair, the girls have pitched in like troopers to help keep the place relatively clean, although "tidy" is just a pipe dream. The best part about all this has been the hilarity. Any given moment has been an opportunity for laughter, even taking out the garbage. We seem to have found our happy place.

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