The End, Pt. 2

May 31, 2013

The End, Pt. 2

Well, that’s The End of High School.

Perhaps some will say that High School isn’t really over until we walk at graduation or take our diploma. But I can’t help but feel that it’s really…done. Because this next week will be filled with the formalities of graduation, it’s not actually school. As of yesterday at 9:59, we no longer had any obligations to attend a class at Gull Lake High School. If you ask me, it’s over.

But that’s okay. Because after 9:59, I spent the afternoon with some of the greatest people on the planet.

The Group

The trip we took to South Haven was a huge success. After setting up camp, we spent the afternoon having a blast on the coast of Lake Michigan. The sun was high, the sand was hot, the water was frigid, the times were good, and the chips were warm and greasy from laying out.

Feet

In general, there was a buzz of joy in the air. There was also quite a bit of sand flying in the air. But that was mostly due to the hole Logan decided to dig. He even brought shovels and everything. For some bizarre reason, he felt this intense desire to…dig a hole. I suppose he’s free to do whatever he wants, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t slightly odd. I’m trying not to see symbolism in the fact that a bunch of High School Seniors dug themselves a hole on their first day of break.

Logan

Anyway, when we weren’t helping Logan dig, we were chasing each other into the ice bath that was Lake Michigan. Or we were playing a rag-tag game of 500 (a game played with a football and points are given out to those that can catch it). Or we were taking walks down to the impressive pier that stretched proudly into Lake Michigan’s waters. Or we just…laid around.

Carly

Later, as the afternoon began succumbing to night, we moved camp to one of the grills located by the pier. Logan and Maxson fired up the grill and threw hot dogs, burgers, and pizzas on there for us all to eat. We had ourselves a little picnic. Storm clouds threatened to dampen the party’s mood, but there were very few things on Earth that could ruin the elation we felt.

Digging

Because we had finally done it. It doesn’t even seem real to me yet. But it’s true. It is all over. Every single class since the first one I took on our first day of High School, Freshman English, all the way to the last class I was in before we left, AP Literature. They’re over.

If I had to look at this blog as a story, I would say this is the climax. The moment of highest tension. The moment when that last bell rang at 9:59 and High School ended. The moment that I’ve marked as: The End. Of course, there’s still a little bit of resolution to get through.

In any case, a day at the beach with a great group of kids was the perfect way to end High School.

Zach

When I started this blog, I mentioned pretty frequently that I was scared of this moment. The End. But I think I’m okay. It’s not so bad. My time at the beach made it strikingly evident that I’d still have my friends. What more could I ask for?

Jacob

So, I’m looking forward.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

Forward

The End, Pt. 1

May 29, 2013

The End, Pt. 1

Today was my Last Full Day as a Gull Lake High Schooler. Tomorrow will be the Class of 2013’s Last Day as Gull Lake High Schoolers.

You know, a lot of the Seniors have been phrasing things like that lately. They say things like: “Today is our Last Monday!” or “This is our Last Full Week!” or “This is our Last Seminar!” So and and so forth…And it’s gotten me thinking about why we do that, why we phrase things like that.

I mean, we do the same thing in Track and Cross Country during hard workouts. In particular, Ben and I will analyze the number of repetitions we have left until the entire team gets a little math lesson. Say we’ve got a workout consisting of 400 repetitions. Say…10×400. After one, Ben and I might say something like: “Hey! After we do eight more…we’ll only have one left. So, we’re basically done.” Or after we do five, we’ll burst into Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi. Get it? Because we’re “half-way there”. Then at six, we might say: “We only have to do everything we’ve done over again…minus two!

Now, when it comes to hard workouts I can pinpoint the two reasons we do this. One: Simple math is a good way to get your mind off the pain of running. Two: When we look at the workout in a certain way…it doesn’t seem all that bad. Hard workouts are rough, and we can’t wait for them to be over. Because the best part of running is the satisfaction of being done.

But running isn’t quite like High School. I mean, I’m sure there are a few kids out there that are just itching to get out of here. But I’m sure there are also a few, myself included, that are kind of saddened by it. So, why would we mark each passing Last with loud pronouncements? With running, we just want it to be over. But do we really just want High School to be over?

No, I think we phrase things in ways that make us feel best about the situation at hand. It’s all about perspective. It’s all about how we want to see things. It’s like Coach Hawkins said today in his end of the year speech: “There’s a silver lining in anything. You just need to see it.” So, with hard workouts…Ben and I look to The End. Ben and I mark each passing 400 with celebration. But with High School, we mark these Lasts as a sort of salute. We’re saying good-bye to all the great Mondays or Fridays or weeks or Seminars that we had at Gull Lake. We see The End coming and we pay homage to it by celebrating each little step that draws us closer.

So, I hope every Gull Lake Senior had a great Last Full Day of High School…despite the exams. I know I did. I got to spend one more day as Coach Portis’s student. I said good-bye to Mr. Belz. I got one last speech from Coach Hawkins. And I spent one Last Lunch with a group of people I truly treasure.

Tomorrow, it’ll really be The End. Tomorrow, it’ll all be over. Everything this Year of Lasts has been leading to: The Last Races, the Last Shows, the Last Tests, Days, Weekends, Meets, Practices, Dances, Banquets, Rehearsals…It’ll all converge.

I’ll walk the halls one Last Time.

And then I’ll go to South Haven for a day at the beach.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

Our Personal Therapist

May 23, 2013

So, I wrote a blog about my father.

And I wrote a blog about my sister.

And as I near the end of my High School career…I can’t help but notice there was one person I left out: My mother.

I think the reason I put this off so long is because it’s hard to describe the relationship between a mother and her kids. It’s easy to look at Dad and recognize him as a role model. He’s hilarious, he’s happy, and he seems to have it all together. It’s easy to look at Molly and know that she’s one of my best friends on this planet. And she always will be. But it’s hard to look at Mom and sum her up in one, quick swoop. I don’t say that to belittle the relationships that I’ve built with my other family members…but I’d be surprised if anyone could accurately describe the intricacies of motherhood.

Because mothers are so much to children. Life-givers. Care-takers. Wound-healers. The list goes on. Most apparent, however, is a mother’s ability to understand human nature. It just so happens that my mother also majored in psychology. So…I mean…that was kind of nice for Molly and I. She was like Our Personal Therapist. The public school system can get a little sticky at times, it’s nice to have someone to talk to. And Mom is always understanding. Sure, she could apply a little tough-love sometimes, but it never took long for us to realize that she was right. She was always right.

You know the funny thing? And I know, I just know I got this from my Dad: Sometimes, it would take me forever to realize I had an issue only Mom could solve. (Stupid pride.) I would be faced with a moral dilemma and it would worry me for days before there would just be some night that I’d look at her and think: You Idiot. There’s the solution right there.

And, without fail, the solution was right there.

She’s brilliant. She’s the taker of blurry photographs. She’s funny. She’s the inventor of the middle-aged-woman-friendly dance move: “The Margie” (which mostly just involves snapping your fingers to either side of your head.) She’s got great stories. She understands people better than I ever will. And she was always this constant support in my Life that I know I would be nowhere without.

As I go off to the college where she got her doctorate, I want to raise a glass to her and say: This one’s for you.

This one’s for the Track meets. The PAC shows. The Cross Country races. The Homecomings. The Destination Imaginations. The banquets. The books. The Proms. Everything. This one’s for you.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

Our Personal Therapist

Quotes

May 20, 2013

Quotes

You know, there’s something really chilling about a good quote. A nice, solid, thought-provoking line. I figure, people really enjoy good quotes. So, why not write a post about some of my favorites? Sentimental Seniors like myself eat this crap up. Don’t believe me? In AP Literature we do this thing called “Favorite Lines” where we share our favorite quotes from novels and poems we’ve read in class. There’s usually a fair amount of Seniors (myself included) quoting things like: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,/I took the one less traveled by.” How inspirational, right? And I’m not pointing any fingers, I pick some pretty cheesy lines too, like…

“The big show is inside my head.” – Kurt Vonnegut

That’s a quote from Breakfast of Champions. In context, the line is strictly speaking about one of the characters omniscient mental power over the situation at hand. The big show is literally inside his head…because he is essentially God. But I think it can be used to mean quite a bit more: That we all have the capacity to be creative and inventive. Perhaps that’s a pompous or arrogant thought. But I suppose that’s youth for you.

“One loses everything when one loses one’s sense of humor.” – Ayn Rand

From Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. I absolutely love this quote. So much so, I made it my Senior quote. I just think it’s True. Really, really True. I’m firmly of the belief that laughter is mankind’s greatest ability. That satire is the perfect way to get a point across. That comedies are the best form of entertainment. That humor is what makes us human. Also along those lines…

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Don’t we all, Kurt.

“There is no safety to be found in a sword. A sword brings death, it does not give Life.” – Zac Gorman

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” – Edward Bulwer-Lytton

I put those together because I felt like they meshed well. I wholeheartedly agree with both of them. I’m a self-pronounced pacifist and while I do agree that we should fight for what we believe in, I don’t think violence is the way to go about it. Alright, that’s enough soapbox snootiness.

“And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS. So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way.” – Dr. Seuss

Of course, with my Last Monday of High School come and past…Dr. Seuss is coming to mind an awful lot. Especially Oh, the Places You’ll Go! I like this quote because not only does it tell us that we’re capable of great things…but that we have to work to achieve those great things. Dr. Seuss himself is telling us all to “get on our way”.

And as a member of Gull Lake’s Class of 2013, I think I’m ready to be on my way.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

Dinner of Champions

May 17, 2013

Dinner of Champions

Today, I ran my last competitive race ever. I ran a single mile at our Regional Track Meet. Come Monday, I’ll be turning in my uniform for the last time. I’ll be saying good-bye to the bold GL I’ve worn on my chest for four short years.

Ben and I both ran the mile. And we both got PRs. I got around 4:41-42. Ben got about 4:46-47. Our coaches form of “listen for the gun, look for the finish” timing is not an exact science. So, we were somewhere in that range.

Tonight, I went out for fast food. With four of the greatest guys I’ll ever know. Ben, Jeremy, and the two Sams, the Distance Squad.  Now that most of us are no longer running competitively, we feel absolutely no guilt about throwing a greasy burger and fries down our gullets. Not that I usually have an immense amount of guilt anyway…We had a Dinner of Champions. And it was so tasty.

While it’s great that I can be a fully satisfied, guilt-free customer at McDonald’s or Burger King…the taste of saturated fats is a little bittersweet. Because it’s all over. It’s really all over. Running was how I helped define myself throughout High School. I was Brian Wiegand. I ran Cross Country and Track. That’s what I did. And now…well, now what? What do kids do with the free time they get after school?

High School is really about to end. There’s less than 10 days of school left. That’s nothing. Nothing! Next week will hold my Last Monday, my Last Friday, and it will be my Last Full Week of School. See how I capitalized those? It means they’re important.

I think I’d like to offer some advice. Granted, I’m not some wise sage full of brilliant advice, and the tokens of knowledge I do think I have to offer…may be tokens of foolery. But I’ll give it a go.

Life is a high speed train. It zooms along the clock’s face endlessly and unceasingly. There are certain moments in it’s trek that it may slow down just enough, offer just a slim enough window, for you to jump aboard and take over for the conductor. This is a good thing to do. These windows are things such as tryouts, auditions, sign-ups, meetings, etc. Get on that train. Because things like Track, things like PAC, things like Cross Country. Those things are worth it. So unbelievably worth it that if I lived a million, trillion Lives…I’d go do something every single time. I’d go meet amazing people like Jeremy or Ben or Sam or Sam.

As I’ve said before: I think the success of a Life can be determined by how eager you are to tell someone about it on your death bed. Getting involved as much as you can is one way to make yourself excited about Life.

There’s nothing like the feeling of being on a team, being a part of something bigger than yourself, it’s absolutely glorious. That Dinner of Champions wasn’t great because of the Big Mac, it was great because of the people I was with.

Unfortunately, my days of High School extracurriculars are over. Cross Country has long since finished. PAC ended earlier this week. And now Track has vanished as well.

But it’s all just part of it, it’s just part of growing up and heading out. The good thing is, I get to go into the world knowing that I’m carrying with me a little bit of Coach Portis, of Mr. Nott, of Coach Flynn, of Coach Hawkins, of Mrs. Stahr, of Jeremy, of Ben, of the Sams. I’m a Gull Lake boy, through and trough. Which is kinda cool.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

The Home Stretch

April 9, 2013

The Home Stretch

Spring Break is over. It’s only Tuesday and it already seems like it’s been an eternity since I was in the Sunshine State’s pan handle. But now…oh, now we find ourselves in The Home Stretch.

If I’m doing my Math correctly, which I’m probably not, we have 35 school days left. From what I’ve heard, we get out on Thursday, May 30th. How about a little more Math? (I have no idea why I’m voluntarily doing Math. Heck, I get enough of it in Pre-Calc. Oh well, only 35 days left. I suppose I can handle a little more.)

So, 35 days. We spend about 6.8 hours in school every day. That’s 238 hours of school left. Or 14,280 minutes. Let’s take out passing time and lunch, shall we? 12,530 class-time minutes until the Seniors leaves Gull Lake High School. (Granted, I didn’t take into account the early-release day we have coming up. Or the half-day that we’re going to have. So…maybe it’s not that accurate. Gimme a break.)

Okay, well that’s all fine and dandy…But let’s take this a step further.

Let’s say that we truly attended school for 180 days every year of our schooling career. Obviously, that’s not true. We’ve had snow days, we’ve been sick, we’ve gone on vacation. Whatever. Just go with me. That means we’ve completed 98.50% of our time at Gull Lake Community Schools. For those of you who are Mathematically challenged like myself, we’ve got 1.50% of our schooling career left. (Until college, that is.)

Alright. That’s kinda nice to see all laid out…But let’s go one step further.

Keeping with the above assumption that we truly attended school 180 days each year, we’ve gone to school 2,305 times. Those measly 35 days we have left? Well, we’ve already attended 35 days of Gull Lake 65 times…If that makes sense. What we have left, we’ve already done 65 times (almost 66 times, truly). So, one more time is like…nothing.

There’s a million different ways to look at it. But the bottom line is that our Senior Year is rapidly approaching it’s close. The Year of Lasts will soon have it’s Last Day. There could very well be people walking the hallways of Gull Lake High School that I’ll only see for 35 more days. People that I’ve already spent 2,305 days with. People that I might never see again. It is the greatest Truth and greatest tragedy of anything that comes to a close: People that you may have once called friend become nothing more than memory.

But I suppose it’s nothing to worry ourselves over. Because it’s just part of Life. Nothing lasts forever. We’d be foolish to think anything to the contrary. Especially when we’re being stared in the face by the conclusion of the largest aspect of our Lives thus far.

35 days.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

A Letter From Me

March 17, 2013

A Letter From Me

Friday, Gull Lake High School finished out the 2nd Trimester. With the Seniors facing their final trimester in High School, there is a lot of talk about school ending. Heck, Spring Break’s only two weeks away and then we’ve only got a short 8 weeks left of school. Well, with all this talk of graduation, I’ve been reminded of something I’d almost completely forgotten about: Our 8th Grade letters.

At Gull Lake, every 8th Grader writes a letter to their Senior selves. At the end of this school year, the English teachers will start passing everyone’s letters back. Every envelope will contain something different. Some kids put money in theirs. Some kids put pictures. Some put unopened letters from their friends. But everyone will have a letter from their 8th Grade selves.

For the Life of me, I can’t remember what I wrote in my letter or any of the letters I wrote to my friends. I suppose I’ll find out soon enough.

Anyway, as I think about what 8th Grade Brian will tell me, I also find myself thinking about what I would tell him. If I could somehow write a response to 8th Grade Brian…What would I say? I think this is where mankind’s fear of the unknown really shows it’s true colors. See, if I said anything to 8th Grade Brian, I don’t think I would tell him to change some past event. I’m pretty happy with how things are now and I wouldn’t dare risk changing it to something unknown by telling past me not to do something…Of course, now we’re getting into the more Sci-Fi, time paradox sort of time travel, while this question was originally posed to be a mere hypothetical.

So, all time paradoxes aside, what sort of advice would you give past you? I think I’d tell 8th Grade Brian that if he didn’t Live the next four years exactly as I just did…I’d kick his butt. I’d tell him to just go with the flow because sometimes the current will be fast and sometimes the current will be slow, but all rivers lead to the ocean. I’d tell him to relax and to not be so anxious. I’d tell him that everything will work out exactly as it’s supposed to and all he can do is smile about it. I’d tell him that all anybody can ever ask of him is his best…but that he better always try to try his best.

And so, here I sit…eagerly awaiting a letter from Middle School me…wondering what sort of advice he’ll have.

I just hope 8th Grade Brian isn’t as much of an Idiot as I remember him being.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

Thick snowflakes fell from a black, quilted sky. The air was cold and still, there wasn’t even a whisper of wind. The snow seemed to muffle all the sounds of Life at Gull Lake High School. That silence came as a stark contrast to the rowdy gymnasium that I’d just left.

I’d spent the whole Basketball game sitting with the most musical kids at our school…the Pep-Band.

That’s where I always sit. Personally, I think that’s the best place to be at a Basketball game. Maybe I think that because a lot of my friends are Band Geeks, which means I can usually find a home amongst the many bleachers full of brass, woodwind, and (insert name of another kind of instrument). But it’s not just the people that makes sitting with the Pep-Band special. It’s the Music.

Every so often, in mid conversation, everyone around me will suddenly pull their instruments up and a rendition of “Thriller” or “The Final Countdown” is suddenly filling the air around me. And that makes me smile. It’s almost like being in a musical…Sort of.

Anyway, that’s not the only kind of Music that makes the Pep-Band section the best. Every so often, Ms. Latham will instruct Ben or Joy to play some music from these huge speakers at the top of the bleachers. And it’s always a song groovy enough to make the whole section dance. Ben and Joy both have really good taste in Music and they make it a point to play only the best parts of the catchiest songs.

And that’s where I spend my Basketball games. Sitting with the Pep-Band, talking to some Band Geeks, listening to some good Music, and occasionally watching the intensity of the Basketball game that’s unfolding below.

I’m like a Pep-Band Groupie.

So, there are two big reasons I’m writing this post.

1.) To talk about the best place to sit at Basketball games.

2.) To talk about an Epiphany that I had as I was leaving last Friday’s Basketball game.

See, I had to leave early because I was taking the SAT on Saturday. As I was leaving the gym, the noise of the crowd and the game was almost overwhelming. The second I reached the outside, though…silence. Complete silence. It was snowing that night and the flakes of snow that fell were the fattest I’ve ever seen. It was as if the snow caused everything to stop. I didn’t hear the passing of cars on the road. I didn’t hear the sound of the cheers from the gym. I barely heard the sound of my own breathing.

I walked through this comforting silence. I walked through it and thought about what I had to do the next day. The SAT was just another reminder that I’d be leaving Gull Lake soon. And, with that on my mind, I turned back to the school. Just to get another good look at it.

And…it was beautiful. I don’t even care how silly that sounds. How could a building be beautiful? I haven’t a clue. I have no idea. But it was. I suppose the more I think about it…The more it makes sense. Why wouldn’t I feel an attachment to Gull Lake High School?

That was where I became who I am today. That’s where I met Coach Portis and Coach Hawkins and Coach Flynn. That’s where I met Mr. Nott. That’s where I learned. That’s where I laughed. That’s where I read the Call Board, telling me that I’d received my first role in a play as Jason. That’s where I spent countless hours with countless people who I would call nothing less than: “Friend.” That was where I became me.

It was a good couple of minutes before I turned my back on the school and made my way through the heavy snow to my car.

Of course, there will soon come a day that I won’t be sitting with the Pep-Band anymore. And there will soon come a day that I won’t be able to call Gull Lake my High School. But that day isn’t today. And that day isn’t tomorrow.

And I’m grateful for that.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

My Epiphanies as a Pep-Band Groupie

Loud Music

January 24, 2013

Loud Music

You know what’s the best way to listen to Music?

When it’s loud.

Music, in general, is great. I can tap my foot to just about anything and I’m not sure there’s a genre that I can honestly say I hate. I can jam out to rock. I can bob my head to alternative. I can sing along to pop. I can strum my imaginary guitar to country. I can access my inner thug to rap. I can lose control to techno. I can relax to folk. I can clap to bluegrass…It’s Music.

But no matter what kind of Music it is…It’s always best when it’s at a decibel that shakes you to your core.

I love Loud Music.

Maybe that’s just the teenager in me saying that. Isn’t that a curious phenomenon? Here I am so sure that Loud Music is really the best…But I doubt I’ll think that when I’m older. Well, maybe I’m stereotyping.

I mean, my parents know how to rock it out.

Maybe I will enjoy Loud Music no matter what my age is.

Anyway, I’m going to try and get to the reason I wanted to write this post. I want to talk about those certain spectacular moments in Life that can never be recreated. Certain moments that are so unbelievably perfect because of their spontaneity that they could only ever occur once. I recently experienced one of these moments…And it was all thanks to very, very Loud Music.

It was late. Really late. I can’t remember what time it was exactly, but it doesn’t matter. It was cold, too. Really cold. I can’t remember how cold it was exactly, but it doesn’t matter. I was over at Brady’s house. We were over at Brady’s house; there was a bunch of us. And we were going to see Django: Unchained. (Great movie, by the way.)

So, we all piled into Brady’s van…There’s something you have to understand about Brady’s van…It’s huge. Like, huge. I don’t know how else to put it. It’s about a half foot shy of being as long as a short bus. It’s a Short-Short-Bus. Anyway, we were all in Brady’s Short-Short-Bus, ready to hit the road. As we left the neighborhood, Brady cranked up the Music. It was loud. It was earsplitting. It was other-worldly.

And that’s really when it started to happen. The Short-Short-Bus was packed full of the people I’ve spent my entire childhood with and we were all laughing and joking and talking and enjoying the Music…And I realized that I wouldn’t have this forever. I realized that I had to cherish these moments. I realized the clock was ticking.

I realized, once again, that I am a Senior. And this is a Year of Lasts.

So…I did the only thing that seemed right in that moment…I began to sing. No matter what came on the local pop station, I sang along as best I could. Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, whoever. It didn’t matter. I didn’t just sing, either, I got into it. I was rockin’ out. It wasn’t long before the car was full of Ben’s great voice mixed with everyone else’s subpar attempts at singing.

I can’t even describe the elation I felt, I really can’t. Moments like that can’t be described. Moments like that can’t be recreated. While that’s a shame, it’s also for the best.

Because Loud Music probably wouldn’t be special if we listened to it that way all the time.

Moments like the one I experienced on that cold night are special because they only occur every so often.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

The Rapid Approach of Opening Night

In the year 2013…On February 1st…At 8:00 PM…In the Gull Lake Middle School Cafetorium…The Gull Lake Performing Arts Company will perform their rendition of Twelve Angry Jurors for the first time. It’ll be our Opening Night.

In the year 2013. On February 2nd. At 8:00 PM. In the Gull Lake Middle School Cafetorium. The Gull Lake Performing Arts Company will perform their rendition of Twelve Angry Jurors for the second time.

In the year 2013. On February 3rd. At 2:00. In the Gull Lake Middle School Cafetorium. The Gull Lake Performing Arts Company will perform their rendition of Twelve Angry Jurors for the last time.

For three nights, we’ll perform Twelve Angry Jurors. For three nights, we’ll show the community what we’ve been working on for the past couple weeks.

And then it’ll be over.

Senior Year is a Year of Lasts. I’ve already experienced my last Cross Country Season. Soon, I’ll be performing in my last PAC show. Of course, this kind of event makes me think about my past years of PAC. I still remember Freshman Year when we performed Smoking Lesson. My very first year of PAC. I was a scared Props Crew member that looked with awe upon the big Senior Kendall Jennings. She was like a celebrity. Oh, Kendall Jennings! The lead! The Senior!

Then, in my Sophomore Year, we performed Small Actors and it was my first time ever performing in a play. To say that I was nervous is an understatement. I still remember the first thing I said to Sarah (the “Big Senior Lead” that year) when we stepped on stage. See, the opening scene was this busy High School hallway, so Sarah and I had a moment where we would just talk casually to each other as other students noisily walked past.

“I feel like I’m gonna throw up,” I chuckled.

“Don’t do that,” Sarah smiled.

Luckily, I didn’t.

And then there was my Junior Year, with Mr. Nott’s play: Dune Shadow. The Home Shows that year had a lot of weight placed on them. Seeing as it was Mr. Nott’s last year Directing a PAC show, there was a huge gathering of alumni in the audience. They were all there to celebrate a man who had touched the Lives of countless budding thespians. Well…that was a fair amount of pressure. But, like the year before, I did not throw up. In all seriousness, it was a great show weekend and I had a blast honoring Mr. Nott with his very own play.

And now there’s this year. We’ve only got a handful of rehearsals left…And then it’ll be Opening Night. It’s getting pretty close to the wire and there’s still certainly a lot of work that needs to be done on our play if it’s going to be successful. But if there’s one thing that Mr Nott taught us, it was that theatre is a problem solving exercise. It wouldn’t be live theatre if everything went off without a hitch.

So, it’s time to buckle down. It’s time to work hard to make something that we’re all proud of.

It’s time to…get a little angry.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

The Beginning of Endings

November 8, 2012

Senior Year is the Year of Lasts.

Just last night, I said “Good-Bye” to Gull Lake Cross Country, a Team I’ve been with for four years. It was the Beginning of Endings.

Every year, after the season has ended, the Gull Lake Cross Country Team hosts a Banquet. During this Banquet we eat good food, we listen to the Coaches thank everyone for a great season, and then the coaches give a speech for each and every runner on the team. Every athlete gets their moment in the spotlight. It’s…it’s pretty great. And, as an added bonus, all the Seniors receive a special trinket…a Senior Gift, if you will.

Last night was my 4th and final Cross Country Banquet. It was my last official event as a Gull Lake Cross Country runner. It was the last time I’ll ever hear a speech from Coach Portis about my Cross Country season. It was the last time I’d ever sit and joke with my Teammates as we wait eagerly for the Banquet to start. It was the last time I’d ever watch a Cross Country slide show as I chow down on a variety of homemade grub. It was the last time I’d ever experience a Banquet.

But it was a good one. It was a good last Banquet. It was an awesome last Banquet. It was great to see Sam B. awarded “Practice Makes Perfect” and MVP. And I was filled with jittery butterflies as Jeremy delivered a heartfelt speech to Coach Portis on how much he meant to us. And, because our Team followed a Tribal theme this year, we gave Coach Portis a Chief’s Staff…feathers and all.  And I felt tears well up in my eyes as Coach Flynn almost started crying when she awarded Elizabeth and I the Lindsey Cornelius Sportsmanship Award. And it was exciting to be recognized as part of the State Team for the first time in my Life. And…and…and…it was all brilliant.

My Senior Gift, I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of. Maybe that’s a foolish, youthful thing to say. But I can’t possibly see how I could forget the past four years of being a runner on the Gull Lake Cross Country Team. I don’t see why I would ever get rid of my Harry Potter bobble head. Yes, Coach Portis gifted me a Harry Potter bobble head. His reasoning, as he so kindly put, was because I was a PAC and a Chemistry Wizard. (Which is particularly funny because we always say that Mr. Portis is a Chemistry Wizard and that he’s teaching us magic tricks and potion making in AP Chemistry.)

All the Senior Gifts, really, we’re pretty great. Zach, the former soccer player, got a toy soccer ball. Sneaky Sam S. received an Invisibility Cloak disguised as a Gull Lake blanket. Jori received a charm necklace with a lithographed picture of Kellogg Forest on it. Ben received a few gifts, but the most memorable (if you ask me) were the fake mustaches. And Jeremy was given a statue of Atlas…because sometimes Jeremy thinks he has to carry the world upon his shoulders, sometimes he thinks that he really needs to be there for his Team and that any fault of his makes him lesser in our eyes. Of course…that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Jeremy could never fall from grace in our eyes. He’s Cross Country royalty. Perhaps Coach should have gotten him a copy of Atlas Shrugged. Because he doesn’t always need to carry the world. We’re all right there beside him to help.

It was the Beginning of Endings. The clock is slowly ticking down to the end of my High School career and things like my last Cross Country Banquet only make it more apparent. But at least I’ll always have the memories. I’ll always have the knowledge that I shed blood, sweat, and tears for something so much bigger than myself. I worked for a Team and for Coaches that I can’t imagine ever forgetting. I’ll always have that Harry Potter bobble head.

And I’ll always remember the day that I met Coach Portis…back when I was in Middle School. He saw me wearing a Cross Country sweatshirt and he said: “Oh, Cross Country! You’ll be coming out for the High School Team, right?”

And I smiled.

And I nodded.

And I’m so glad I did.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

Today was the first meet of the 2012 Cross Country Season. My last Season.

Today was My Last First Cross Country Meet. And that really saddens me.

See, the thing is, I love my extra-curriculars. (Most of them.) Especially Cross Country. And I’ve been a part of the Gull Lake Cross Country Team since the first day of Summer before my Freshman year. On the guys Team, we often refer to each other as “Brother”. And, really, that couldn’t be closer to the truth. I’m a lucky kid, because I get two families: My biological family and my Cross Country family. I’ve spent more time with the Cross Country Team than any other group in all my years of schooling. At the very least, I spend about 2 hours a day with them at practice. Then, there are team dinners. Hang outs. Potlucks. Camps. Meets. Invitationals. Parties. School. And this goes on almost year round. If you’ll permit me to do some very loose math…this is in no way guaranteed accurate, but a good estimate (I believe) is that I’ve spent about 3,000 hours with the Cross Country guys, in 4 years. In fact, that number sounds a little small to me. That’s the equivalent of hanging out for 125 days.

There’s so much to love about Cross Country. The Head Coach is absolutely brilliant. Coach Portis has taught me incalculable amounts about the value of hard work. He’s taught me about strength of body, mind, and heart. He’s taught me how to fight. He’s taught me Life lessons that I’m not entirely sure I could find anywhere else. There’s just some things that your family, your friends, or your parents can’t teach you. Everyone needs a Coach Portis. Everyone needs a Life changer.

Every day, Coach Portis exponentially makes the world a better place. Each school year, he gets a new batch of kids on the Cross Country Team and in his Chemistry class. He doesn’t fail to touch and enhance the Life of each one of those kids. Pupils of his, armed with his lessons, step out into the world and work (maybe not always in the most obvious ways) to make it a better place. How could they not after being taught by someone like Coach Portis? Rumor has it, the world was a little bit brighter the day Coach Portis decided to teach High Schoolers.

The point is, how could I not miss Cross Country? Today was the start of the end. I can’t help but feel this weight in my stomach, knowing that it will come to an end eventually. Someday, I will have to say good-bye to the Cross Country Team. Someday, I will have to say good-bye to Coach Portis. Sure, I could still see a few of them after High School. I’ll probably go to a few meets to cheer them on. But it’s not the same. The fact of the matter is: Come this November, I’ll be running my last Cross Country race ever.

Maybe I shouldn’t dwell on it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the ride. And I will enjoy this last Season. I’ll enjoy the hell out of it. It’s going to be the best Season ever. It’s just…

Senior year is a year of Lasts. My Last Meet. My Last First Day of School. My Last Cross Country Camp. My Last Cross Country Season. My Last PAC Play. My Last Track Season. My Last Last Day of School. My Last Festival of the Senses. My Last Christmas Vacation. My Last Spring Break. My Last…Everything. It stinks that Cross Country has to be one of the first to go.

In the end, I love Cross Country. I’ve loved it since I showed up for my first day of Summer practices. I’ve loved it since Coach Portis saw me wearing a Middle School Cross Country sweatshirt after school one day, when I was meeting my Sister at the High School, and he said: “Oh, Cross Country! You’ll be coming out for the High School Team, right?” And I smiled and nodded.

I’ve loved and will love every last second of being on the Team.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)