The Freedom To Fail

I love karaoke.  My first experience with it was probably playing with some friend’s karaoke machine.  I’ve done karaoke at parties and bars over the years.  Just this Spring I went with some friends from college to a bar at an undiscloseable location.  I sang a few different songs and enjoyed watching them perform the songs they chose (I really wish I could show y’all an awesome YouTube vid of that but it’s top secret).  I know I sang “Magic Man” and I think I also sang “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll.”  I sang “Queen of My Doublewide Trailer” in an affected twang because one of the friends said she didn’t like country, so I had to dedicate it to her.  I don’t remember all of the songs we all sang, but it was a fun night and since I was pregnant and couldn’t partake in libations, it was additionally fun to watch the silliness while being contact-drunk due to the placebic affects of group activities.  Shirley Temples and Roy Rogerseseseses (how DOES one pluralize this?) were the only drinks I consumed that night, though I still had a friend keep an eye on my drinks every time I went to the bathroom, which was a lot cause I was pregnant.

I think I can sing.  Aside from the occasional rude sibling or jealous classmate, most of my life all I’ve gotten is compliments on my singing abilities.  A simple syllogism:

I sing.
People tell me I sing well.
I must sing well.

Of course, this could also be a false.  People could be lying to me.

Tell me if I can’t sing.  I can take it.  I promise!  I would, after all, prefer one night of crying myself to sleep on my pillow rather than a lifetime of inadvertently busting eardrums with my inharmonious warbling.

I had so much confidence in my singing abilities, in fact, that when I first entered college I did it on a vocal music scholarship and a dream of becoming a classically trained musician like Alicia Keys, only without the natural rhythm of a black woman.  Sorry, folks, it’s a true stereotype. I’m so stereotypically white, I don’t even have biorhythm.

Which is why I can’t dance.  I love to dance.  I’ve tried to dance my whole life.  I joined the cheerleading squad with my best friend when I was 12.  I joined the pre or junior drill team (think show-girl line dancing, but with slightly less slutty costumes) in 9th grade.  I kept hoping maybe I’d grow into the rhythm thing.  My moves were technically correct (sometimes) but lacked flair because I had to concentrate so hard to remember them and my timing was horribly off.

I gave up on my dreams of being a classically trained musician because I realized I was too lazy for that and because I let life get in the way of my dreams.  I gave up on my dreams of being a dancer of any kind because I just really don’t have it in me.  Even a job stripping is a bit ambitious at this point, even if the local strip joints would totally hire a cellulite-and-stretch-mark-adorned sag-boobed mother of two.

I have other talents, I suppose.  Acting, drawing, painting, but…well…not so much on a professional level.  The paintings I tried to sell to a local gallery were rejected.  The only one the gallery owner loved had, unfortunately, aquired a rip in the canvas that I lacked my mother’s talent for concealing, and the owner also mentioned that it had looked unfinished.  It was a painting of various shapes that, when one looks closely, actually build AAA (my maiden initials).  I wasn’t sure how much MORE finished it could possibly have been.  And it was my least favorite of all of my paintings, all of which I did in sophomore year of college.

“I don’t paint anymore.” Allie said to Lon in, “The Notebook.”  The same is true for me.  I haven’t lost my love for it.  I just lost the passion for it, like she did.  Although, unlike her story, I don’t blame my choice in lovers for that.  I just don’t have the drive for it anymore and I’m not sure why.  I keep thinking I should purchase art supplies and get back into it, but then I have babies that get into things.

I remember my mother painting when I was a kid.  She still does paint from time to time.  I think I got my artistic talents from her.  She has all the same passions for all the arts, but I don’t know if she’s tried acting or dancing.  I know my biological father also has a passion for the arts, but I prefer not to be affiliated with him and am annoyed when I learn I have things in common with him.  Then again, we are not the sum of our parents’ whole parts, we are half of both parents, so as long as we get the good halves of our parents maybe we should just embrace those commonalities rather than reject them.

Another thing trait I can trace down the branches to roots in my family tree is the fact that I can write, so far as I’ve been told.  It was an elementary school teacher that first encouraged me to keep a journal and write every day, though I didn’t take her seriously enough at the time.  I wonder if she’s still out there in the world.  If she ever stumbled across this blog and figured out that I was a former student, would she be proud that I’d kept writing or appalled at the subject matter?

I did keep writing, though not every day.  I’ve written several hundred poems, most of which are scattered in my office at present, waiting to be retyped, shredded, or perhaps framed or scrapbooked.  I have written short stories over the years, some of which I’ve kept, some of which I’ve actually seriously considered attempting to publish.  Essays and technical documents are also things I am qualified at and skilled in writing, but do not prefer to.  I have started novels, but then, hasn’t everyone?  I’ve even written scriptish type thingies, though I’m convinced I’m a hack in that department.  I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why one recent writing professor preferred my attempts at scriptwriting to my attempts at poetry or stories.

Blog readers, family members, friends, professors, are all these people under the same umbrella of people compelled or obligated to flatter?  While some of the people from the other three categories fit into the first category, there are some strangers in the first category.  Strangers aren’t obligated to tell you they like your writing if they don’t like it, are they?  But my confidence in my writing abilities only goes so far, as I have yet to be brave enough to carpet bomb (as my friend Bryce would say) publishers with my work in attempt at publication.  I’ve had fourteen poems rejected this year, but that was from two magazines.  Perhaps it’s easier to send things in to college magazines (both Rants And Raves [go to page 144 of the .pdf that links to to find out about WOSC’s creative arts mag] and Applause [links to facebook page for UAFS creative arts mag] have published my work) and the occasional online submission form for literary magazines than to actively and aggressively pursue my own future success in the writing world?

What am I afraid of?  Why not go up on stage in a karaoke bar and let myself pretend to have rhythm while I sing the words to someone else’s song, even if maybe the audience isn’t digging it and even if maybe I look like a seizure patient and sound like a feral cat?  Why not set up a studio and paint and draw and sketch, even if the only art critics who sing my praises are the fruits of my own labors?  Why not attend open mic nights around my community to sing, recite poetry, even perhaps a monologue or two?  Why not get back on that proverbial horse called The Arts, even if (as an aunt’s horse once did) sudden torrential downpour forces the horse to run back into the barn so fast that I whap my head on the roof?

Gwen Stefani–They’re all waiting for your hot track! What you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting for!??

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