Andy Dittrich
I received a great e-mail from Meredith Collman, and I felt that there was no real way for me to answer any sort of question, but it is just too profound to not be read by other people. So this is the "straight-from-e-mail" version.

"I'm here to tell you how drum corps ruined my life. We hear so many stories about how much we all love, crave and bleed drum corps. But here's another side that only the few, deeply ridiculous people think of.^ "I marched one season of junior corps (playing soprano) and the next summer marched soprano at a senior corps. Switching from junior to senior is a whole other article in
itself! Oh man. "Anyway, as I survived this summer, all of my feelings of hatred (OK -- that's kinda strong -- um -- animosity?) surfaced in my heart and brought up tons of emotions. Drum corps ruined my life many ways. "The way I think of is all the heartache. I sit and watch a show and just cry. I watch IPTV's (Iowa Public Television) finals showing and all the dramatic stuff they do about the behind the scenes stuff just makes me cry. It BREAKS MY HEART to see all of that footage and know, "I once did that; that was the best part of my life, hands down; I can't do it now"; My heart just HURTS so bad. Just as bad as breaking up with a boyfriend of over a year! Am I seriously the only one that feels this way? I can hardly watch footage due to my emotions. But there's nothing else I want to do than watch drum corps. "Drum corps ruined my life because no one else understands it. It's not like a passion for reading or cars or something that you can mention it in an open forum, and everyone understands why you could possibly have a passion for it. When I tell my non-drum corps friends about drum corps, I know they only want to understand, but their distorted view of it only diminishes the amazingness of the activity, and it hurts me to see the activity in that way. "Drum corps ruined my life because I cannot express my love for it, I cannot express "THAT" feeling, I cannot express how good it feels to get my butt kicked in that way, I can not express how much it changed me. I cannot do any of it justice. I can't get those feelings again, and it hurts. "Drum corps is the most amazing thing I ever even imagined in my life. The biggest dream I had, fulfilled. Remember that first time you put on your Superman outfit and put on that show and you thought to yourself, 'I didn't think I could do it, here I am?' I remember watching IPTV shows since 1995, thinking, 'These people are just superheroes,' that they weren't normal teen-agers like myself. 'I'm not cool enough, not worthy enough.' And yet, I DID do it. And now I sit around and try to remember. Try to smell, taste, hear it all again. But nothing will EVER do it justice. "Drum corps ruined my life."

Drum corps can deeply affect people in so many different ways, and a passion can be expressed in so many different ways. Pain, joy, sadness, anger, they all come out when us as former members, current members, staff and fans get involved in drum corps. For Meredith, the expression of her passion has changed, as it will for everyone, upon her transition from corps member to corps alum. It is difficult, and drum corps can definitely spoil you.

Project: Oskee Wow Wow! Wisconsin @ Illinois, 5 p.m., Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. Make sure to get a hello in if you are around! Next week, I swear I'll write. But look for a special feature (not really "Project") in the next couple of weeks. Want a hint? Buy something ... Andy Dittrich is the center snare drummer for Capital Sound, and is a fifth-year member of the corps. He attends the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is studying English.