After the blizzard this weekend, my heater decided to break. Sometimes my apartment is cold to begin with, even when the heat is working, but it was abnormally cold on Sunday morning. My roommate and I were notified that the heat is officially broken and could not be fixed until Monday, despite the artic tundra that was blowing outside.
OK, I thought as I put on another pair of pants and rolled myself like a burrito into my blanket. No big deal, the heat was broke; we had hot water, life moves on. But it was pretty cold. My roommate decided she couldn't handle it and opted to drive 30 minutes home and stay with her parents. My friend, Kelly, offered her futon, but I was content in my burrito state of warmth. I didn't want to move. Personally, I'd rather be cold than hot. I have tons of clothes to put on to keep me warm, and when it's hot there's really nothing you can do about it but sweat. My landlord came by to tell me that the empty first floor apartment's heat was working (apparently there are two heating systems in my building and only one broke), and I was welcome to sleep downstairs. I didn't want to sleep on the floor, even if that meant heat, and besides, what was it going to be, some kind of slumber party with my neighbors? So I decided to stay in the artic blast of an apartment for one simple reason: I've been colder with less clothing on and didn't have the option of a hot shower. Yes, in drum corps I have survived worse conditions, and am alive and well to speak of it today. Those cold retreats the first few shows of the year had to be worse than my heatless apartment. My uniform provided absolutely no protection from Wisconsin's chilly summer nights. If I could stand there for at least 30 minutes, I was positive that I could endure a heatless night. In retreat line before beginning to march out, we would all hug each other from the back to try and keep warm. It worked sometimes. I jumped around a lot to try and stay warm. At one point I remember looking over to one of my Cavalier friends and saying, "I think icicles are going to form on my belly chain and sequins." He just laughed inside of his long sleeves and pants. While at home passing time until I would stop accepting phone calls and other distractions to lie down and watch "Desperate Housewives," I decided to straighten my hair and take a hot shower. The flat iron to make my hair straight normally makes my whole bathroom extremely warm. On tour, I have no innovative ways to keep me warm. I was lucky if the showers were warm. We all have been there. The bus rolls up to a new school and you begin praying that the showers are nice and warm, since the school looks new, but once practice is over, to your dismay the showers are freezing. Normally, I could tell the shower temperature from the screams from the guys' shower room. The worst was when there was no COLD water in the showers. You can take a shower in borderline boiling water. Again, I'd rather be cold than hot. I don't complain much. I just deal with what's thrown at me, like in drum corps. My apartment didn't have heat, so what? I wasn't going to shrivel up and die. I make the best of the situation because it is my only situation. I don't have any options. I couldn't go home, since home is three hours away. Sure, I could have walked four blocks to Kelly's apartment, but that meant freezing all the way there. I didn't mind staying at my apartment. I couldn't change what each day of my summer brought me. We have no say what chunks of the show we run, and unfortunately, we have no control over the number of reps either. I could complain about the cold showers but I don't think that was going to fix anything; at least I wasn't going to smell. Sure, sometimes the food wasn't all that great (sorry Genevieve), and if we did complain, we just made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and moved on. It's a quality we all develop. It's why many people that marched can bring the lessons learned from drum corps into their lives, and succeed 110% of the time. Drum corps vets simply make the best of what they are given, and adapt quickly without complaints, because why waste the energy? Sometimes complaining is warranted, no doubt. In 2000, when we started practicing with a major gas leak behind us and we started to get sick, we complained, but for our health, not because we were practicing. When the back of the bus never cleaned up their mess, I complained because I hated living in a dirty bus. But these are exceptions -- in general, we don't complain -- instead we offer suggestions. Time after time on tour, things don't go according to plan; you have to be flexible and realize there's not much you can do about traffic, bus breakdowns or the weather. You become an adaptable person with few complaints about a situation that is out of your control. I couldn't do anything about my broken heat but adapt. Becky Novac currently lives in Hoboken, N.J., and works for Universal McCann in New York City as an assistant media planner. She is 22 years old and a recent graduate from Penn State University where she majored in journalism and psychology. Becky marched with the Bluecoats in 2000, 2002 and 2004 as a member of the color guard.