Have you ever known something was a bad decision before you made it? Have you ever done it anyway? My bad decision was the Air Force.
I like to refer to myself as one of those "hippie-dippy" non-conformist types. I'm not an activist, but I'm a vegetarian and a bit of a pacifist. So how did I land on the bright idea of enlisting? My motivation for this ill-advised venture was based on stability, a word I learned from my mother.
One of my reasons for leaving music school had been the unlikely prospect of paying off my massive student loans in my chosen profession of musical performance. The Air Force offered a unique opportunity to do just that. The voice teacher I was studying with at the time had some connections to the Falconaires Jazz Band, the official Air Force band. They were looking for a new singer and my voice teacher believed I was just what they were looking for. This was a full-time paying gig. Yes, I would have to go through basic training, a thought that terrified me (I can't do even a single push-up, and I have an annoying habit of crying when people yell at me), but the Air Force would help me pay for the remainder of my schooling. Plus I would have all the benefits of a military job. Stability.
So, I sent in my CD audition packet and waited for the phone call. It came! I was one of five vocalists that would move on to the live audition. Not only that, I was the youngest candidate. I was also the only candidate who didn't already come from a military background. I was intimidated, but excited. Here was a chance to prove that my musical education had not been a waste of two years and $60 thousand.
I knew it was a long shot, and there was a nagging little part of me (fuelled by my fear of basic training) that secretly wanted this to go poorly. I knew that I was up against some tough competition. I even knew one of the other girls auditioning. She had gone to the same university as I had and she was a legend there. With the odds against me, I knew that I needed a plan B. The six month grace period on my student loans was about to run out, and I couldn't afford the $500 monthly payments that would be heading my way. I knew it would be difficult for a college drop-out to find a job that would make enough to pay these monthly bills, so I faced the tough truth. I would have to go back to school.
Fall semester was about a month away. There wasn't time to apply to any schools, but I knew the university in my hometown of Podunk, Colorado wouldn't turn me away. So, I promised myself, "If I don't get this gig, I'll go straight to the office of admissions and enroll in fall semester."
Three hours later, I had been cut from the final rounds of auditions along with two other girls. I got in my car and drove down the highway straight to the college. I didn't even stop to change out of my audition clothes or grab my transcripts. Within five minutes of speaking to an advisor, I was enrolled. It didn't feel great, but I was proud of the fact that I had done something.
A couple of months later, I ran into a musician friend who used to play in the Falconaires. He told me that the group had been disbanded as a part of budget cuts. So that sure thing, stable job I almost had would have collapsed only a few months in...then I would have been a cadet, part of an organization I don't really believe in, fighting for someone else's cause and not utilizing my music degree to do it.
They say (and I'd love to know who they are), "Everything happens for a reason." I'm not sure if I entirely agree, but in this case, I'd have to say, there's definitely something to that...