Summer Break: Sun, Fun, & Warped Tour X 2

by sharanpaul1

The first year of college was busy, making Summer seem long and boring.  I looked forward to resting my brain, which had worked so hard for two semesters, but I viewed Summer with trepidation.  Returning to my former life of cooking, cleaning, being Mom and Grandma, no longer appealed to me.  College gave me a taste of learning, of success in doing so well, and social connections I was unwilling to give up for three months.  I realized I simply did not want to relax and spend the lazy days of Summer doing nothing.  I wanted to do what all college kids do on Summer break.  Have fun!  So, I turned to my social network (my family) to plan a Summer any student would love.

Just as specific goals are set for the school year, goals must be set for Summer as well.  There was a lot to accomplish in the three months of vacation, and when I looked at it from that perspective, Summer did not seem so long and boring anymore.  Ethan and I had so much luck with growing flowers last year, we decided to grow our own vegetables this year.  Rachel, rising rockstar that she is, convinced me that two days at Warped Tour is better than one.  In addition to their Summer goals, I took the advice of Professor K. and determined to write a weekly blog about my experiences in college as a senior citizen.  While it seemed simple enough, none of the goals was as easy as they sounded in the planning stage.

Gardening involves more than planting a seed.  Before you even start, the ground has to be tilled, prepared, and planted.  Then you wait.  Gardens have to be watered daily, after the sun goes down and the mosquitoes come out,  during the dry, hot Summer.  Then you wait.  Apparently, however, the weeds need very little water to grow and take over a garden quickly.  Removing the weeds from the garden is full-time work.  No sooner than you finish one row, weeds are growing back in the previous row.  When the seeds we so lovingly planted started to sprout small, green plants, the wildlife targeted our garden as their midnight party stop.  Within the span of a few days, the deer ate all the leaves off my maple saplings, the ground hogs ate all my peppers–plant and all–and the rabbits devoured the tiny tomato plants.  We bought assorted repellents, a pellet gun, and planted again.  And we waited some more.  Gardening was time-consuming, and very hard work.

At times, being exhausted and sunburned is just what the doctor ordered.  Rachel was thrilled to attend an all day music festival called Warped Tour, this year as an artist.  We had attended Warped Tour every year since she was nine years old and it was her dream to be able to perform there one day.  It was amazing!  Five stages with nonstop music, in every genre you could think of, from 11:00 a.m. till 11:00 p.m. at night.  We saw our old friends, blessthefall, Memphis Mayfire, Mayday Parade, Sleeping With Sirens, All Time Low, Phone Calls From Home, and more!  We met new friends in Yellowcard, Transit, The Used, and Emily’s Army.  Warped Tour serves as a showcase for many bands just starting out, as well as a valuable marketing tool for established bands with new recordings.  Some of the best known musicians in the world perform there.  And now, my Rachel, at seventeen years old, was right there with them.  The time, money, and heartache expended for a musician to get to this place, is totally forgotten in that 2.24 minutes on stage.  To Rachel, it was like making the Dean’s List of the music world.  And I know how incredible that feels!  There is not a drug or drink in the world that can compare to the feeling of a crowd of people clapping for you….or a Professor who thinks you could write a book that people would read.  We ended the long day, both of us sunburned, ready for a cool shower and a good night’s sleep.  Because tomorrow we would travel to Pittsburgh and do it all again!

In helping someone else, you are helping yourself.  The second day of Warped Tour made me wonder what I was thinking when I agreed to volunteer at the Kleen Kanteen tent.  Kleen Kanteen is a company that sells stainless steel water bottles to cut back on the use of plastic and the harmful BPA it contains.  They provide free water to concertgoers throughout the long, hot days preventing the serious effects of dehydration.  It is a great company and a worthy organization to volunteer our time to.  I never considered volunteering at Warped Tour until Rachel brought it up.  She told me that she did not want to be the person who never helps anyone else.  I was so touched, not to mention surprised that she actually listened to me in the past about being a responsible citizen, that I knew I just had to volunteer also.  It was even more amazing than attending Warped Tour for fun.  Throughout the day, many young people stopping by for water, thanked me.  The kids appreciated that the water was free, it was filtered and safe to drink, and mentioned that we were so nice to work hard all day for them.  Kleen Kanteen may have had two volunteers for the day, but Rachel and I were the real winners.  We left feeling satisfied that we made a difference.  We had helped other people.

Even though I do not look like I am almost sixty years old, I am almost sixty years old.  And it was never more apparent than the week after Warped Tour X Two.  Every joint in my body ached.  I had assorted cuts and bruises with no idea of how they got there.  I was sleep-deprived and even my scalp was sunburned.  Rachel, much younger than I, described the same conditions.  It was the best time ever!  I absolutely cannot wait till next Summer’s Warped Tour!

And that was just July.  August is shaping up to be even more intense.