Paula Hyman will be contributing columns to each Wednesday starting next week. Here's the first installment. Welcome back to the real world. After eating, sleeping and breathing drum corps for three months, you wake up one morning and quickly realize that things are different. Without even noticing that you've just spent the night in a real bed, you instinctively look around your room expecting the floor to be covered with the sleeping bodies of your best friends -- and then it hits you. Tour is over.

Paula Hyman (center) with Dean Westman (right) and Jon Bilby, in Bristol, R.I., on Paula's birthday (also a Cadets' free day). Dean was the Cadets' brass caption head and Jon the visual caption head.
I know from personal experience how hard it can be to adjust to the "real world" after the summer. The first full day I was home, I got my pictures from tour developed. Looking at pictures brought back memories -- some of which had just happened a day or two earlier. Personally, that is really what helped me deal with the fact that it was time to be "normal" again. But honestly (and you can back me up on this if you've marched), I think that drum corps people are normal and everyone else in the world is missing out on the best experience ever, but we'll get into that more some other time. Once you are home, there are definitely some things you have to get used to. Everyone goes through some sort of withdrawal, so it's OK if you miss the summer -- it's normal! Let's take a look at some examples of things to get used to. Showering alone: When you come to your first camp, the thought of showering with other people – umm, that's just weird and maybe even a little scary. Now you think showering alone is weird and boring. Yep, it is. Sleeping in a bed: Probably the easiest thing to get used to, but still a big change from the floor or bus seat. It's nice to not wake up feeling like you've been hit by a truck because you got your butt kicked the day before. That's always a nice feeling. Your kitchen is no longer an 18-wheeler: Yes, that's right. Unless you still live at home with mom and dad, you'll actually have to go shopping and even cook for yourself. Hmm, weird. Dinkles are no longer a footwear option: I really hope you aren't wearing them right now. You no longer live on a bus: That's nice. Tan lines: People will look at you weird because of your sock tan, and that's OK. Last but not least: If you are in school and the teacher says "OK class, do we understand?", please refrain from yelling out "YES!" Well, that is all I have for now -- I am at work and have to start my day. This was just a little intro.
I'll explain my job and all kinds of good stuff next week, so be excited and STAY TUNED. Thanks for reading! Paula Hyman is a fourth-year member of the Cadets where she is the mellophone section leader. She is 20 years old and currently single. Originally from South Florida, Paula recently made the move to Allentown, Pa., to work for YEA!, the umbrella organization of the Cadets, Crossmen and the U.S. Scholastic Band Association. She ages out in 2006.