Archive | Music RSS feed for this section

Top of the World

8 Jun

Sunday was inspiring, Monday was a whirlwind, Tuesday is happening now.

I do believe I promised you a surprise, somewhere in there.

Before we get there, though, I have to tell you something fun.  The Monday Whirlwind saw fit to plop me down within driving distance from THE Melissa Williams.  As in, awesome blog-friend extraordinaire, known to the Twitterverse merely as @melissaiswrite.

We chatted for hours over a grande nonfat latte and an iced venti chai, and you know what?  She’s every bit as awesome in person.  Now I wish we lived closer.  Alas.  Maybe one day.  Hopefully.

So, the surprise!

In honor of Set #2 for the Creativity Workshop, in which I’m loosely basing my four short stories on songs about birds, I’ve decided to take YouTube by storm.  Hopefully, said storm will be a small one, more like dreary uninteresting drizzle, because I don’t quite care to get in trouble for using someone else’s material. (That said, Powers That Be: if you want me to take it down, no worries.  I’m a YouTube novice, and don’t care that much about having an account.  This is just for fun.  I can sing the song in the quiet of my own living room.) (Typed by my inner goody-goody.)

Powers That Be aside, you may have gathered: I covered a song.  It’s not perfect, I fumble over a couple of words, but hey.  It’s not touched up by auto-tune, which is saying something these days.  Plus, to perfect it would take away from my writing time, right?  Right.

So.  Click here to watch and listen to my cover of Patty Griffin’s “Top of the World.” I posted a version that works on iPhones as well as computers, so hopefully you guys can see it.

This is the song that’s inspiring my story this week.  Here are the lyrics, in case you want to read along.  Hope you enjoy it, even though it’s a terribly sad song.  I can never say enough about how incredible Patty Griffin’s songwriting is.

Top of the World

by Patty Griffin

I wish I was smarter / I wish I was stronger

I wish I’d loved Jesus / The way my wife does

I wish it had been easier / Instead of any longer

I wish I could have stood / where you would have been proud

That won’t happen now / That won’t happen now

There’s a whole lot of singing that’s never gonna be heard

Disappearing every day without so much as a word, somehow

Think I broke the wings off that little songbird

She’s never gonna fly to the top of the world, now

To the top of the world

I don’t have to answer / any of these questions

Don’t have no one to / teach me no lessons

I’d come home in the evenings / Sit in my chair

One night they called me for supper / But I never got up

I sat right there / in my chair

(chorus)

I wish I’d have known you / I wish I’d have shown you

All of the things I / held on the inside

I’d pretend to be sleeping / when you’d come in in the morning

To whisper goodbye and go to work in the rain and

I don’t know why / don’t know why

Everyone’s singing, we just want to be heard

Disappearing every day without so much as a word, somehow

Wanna grab ahold of that little songbird

Take her for a ride to the top of the world, right now

To the top of the world


[tweetmeme source= “olsonkayla” only_single=false]

A New Queen

8 May

Oy.  It is a dark and early morning, that’s for sure.  A loud one, too.

With two five-thirty a.m. text messages and a veritable R&B concert directly over our heads, I’m finding it a little bit difficult to do what people do on Saturday mornings (i.e. not wake up at five-thirty a.m.).

The text messages?  Totally understandable, and welcome even.  They were from my sweet mom, whose play¹ competes today.  She’ll be busy all day, wanted to know when we’d get to town (it’s a four-hour drive for us), et cetera.  Plus, I know she’s not the most dextrous texter — between her lofty texting ambitions and (probably) a ten-minute internal debate before bothering us so early, the texts are more endearing than they are a nuisance.

As for the music², I can’t say the same: this new queen on the block has just ousted her previous contenders people-who-drive-and-act-like-jerks-in-parking-lots, things-spelled-incorrectly-on-purpose-à-la-Kwik-Kutz-or-Sassy-Katz³, and pounding-bass-speakers-who-take-my-concentration-and-dangle-it-over-the-edge-of-a-cliff from their comfy, coveted spots on the Throne of Pet Peeves.  (Those three have shared the Throne so long its velvet has worn down in a few places.)  Technically, what’s happening today is the third pet peeve after it’s had about eight fully caffeinated espresso shots, therefore I’m counting it in a category that’s wholly other, and am convinced it supersedes the annoyance of a mere pounding bass.

It’s starting to get light outside.

Sweet little birds are singing.  It’s impossible to tell whether they are trying to sing karaoke or drown out the noise.

Hey, wasn’t it just last week where I mused about the delight of not having much to rant about?  (Yes. Yes it was.)

On a brighter note (one not being melismatically forced down my ears) that’s totally unrelated to anything else in this post, Jen Lancaster’s book reading/Q&A/signing was a treat last night.  The excerpt she read was funny, as was the Q&A.  She then managed to stay personable and look genuinely thrilled to be there while she signed books for three hours (I know this because we got there late and were therefore relegated to Group H on a scale from A to I).  Tyra Banks would be so proud — Ms. Lancaster welcomed photos all night, and has perfected the whole find-the-light and smile-with-your-eyes thing they’re always trying to get contestants to do on Top Model.

I feel sufficiently unburdened by my loud morning, so I shall roll with it and get a head start on today.  Breakfast, latte, and packing, here I come.  Oh!  Before I forget, I should let all you #CreateWS people know, due to our weekend trip, my Sunday workshop post won’t be happening until laaaaaaate Sunday (which might actually turn into eaaaaarly Monday)(especially if my neighbor has anything to do with it).

PS: I’m experimenting with a Tweet button at the bottom — thanks, Linda! — not that I really expect you guys to go reTweeting this totally unhelpful little post.

¹She’s directing high schoolers in a one act play competition.  They made the state-level competition, which is a Big Deal in Texas because it takes stellar performances at three or four competitions in order to do what they’ve done.  I’m proud of her, and proud of her cast!

²(Noise.)

³Yes, it hurt to type that.  Hurts more to leave it in there and not delete it, knowing a good many of you may very well cringe upon reading it.

[tweetmeme source= “olsonkayla” only_single=false]

Writing Scenes That Resonate: What I’ve Learned From Patty Griffin’s Songwriting

19 Apr

Before the days of Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Britney, there were…well…people known more for singing and songwriting than weird outfits and wicked awesome dancing.  People like Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, Sheryl Crow, and Patty Griffin.  Since I am neither a wicked awesome dancer nor a clad-in-bubble-wrap-or-the-occasional-kermit-the-frog-outfit kind of girl, I relate more to this selection of performers than the first.

[Um, speaking of mid-nineties music, I must take a brief detour to tell you that “Gangsta’s Paradise” just blasted its way over the coffee shop speakers.  Huh.  I was under the impression that the Ubiquitous Powers That Be had made an unspoken pact to never again let this song meet airwaves.  Guess I was wrong.]

Most of you don’t know this about me, because I hardly blog about it, but music has always been a HUGE part of my life.  I sing, play piano and guitar, and write music.  If I wasn’t pursuing all things author/novels/writing, there’s a good chance I would be more focused on songwriting and performing.  Alas, ever since I decided to aim for master of one rather than jack of all, music has been relegated to hobby status.

That said, I thought it would be fun to combine my two worlds today and write about how music has affected my novel-writing life.  Though I could write about each of the artists I mentioned above, I’m just going to focus on Patty Griffin.  This is because she’s my favorite, and also because I went to her concert last week and have pretty pictures I can include.  Did I mention she’s my favorite?  (I read a rumor somewhere that some of you *ahem, Melissa* have never heard of her.  To this I say, “HERESY,” and also, “I have links for you later.  Check them out because she’s my favorite.”)

So.  Why is she my favorite, and how on earth am I going to marry this to something writing-related, you ask?

Patty Griffin’s songs are like little windows into the souls of people’s lives, poignant portaits of strangers.  She creates scenes with her songs, elicits emotion with just a smattering of well-chosen words, then sings them with conviction.  Her voice is authentic, never forced.  Being familiar with most of her writing has taught me a ton about conveying emotion, and that specific details make a scene resonate.  Patty’s songs inspire me to be more creative in which images I choose and the way I present them; that it’s not how many, but which, words are used.  Words that subtly hint at raw emotion, without being too terribly on-the-nose.

Rather than just tell you vague information, I decided to include specific examples for you.  Deep in the dumpster of YouTube, I waded for an hour (an hour, I tell you!) trying to decide which song I should focus on.  Then, I gave up.  All of her songs are good.

I refuse to leave you with zero examples, and this post would go on until tomorrow if I included everything.  So, as brief as possible, here are three of my favorite examples of things I love about Patty’s songs:

1

Long black limousine / shiniest car I’ve ever seen / the backseat is nice and clean / she rides as quiet as a dream // Someone dug a hole six long feet in the ground / said goodbye to you, then I threw my roses down / ain’t nothin’ left at all in the end of bein’ proud / with me riding in this car and you flying through them clouds // I’ve had some time to think about you / and watch the sun sink like a stone / I’ve had some time to think about you / on the long ride home.

— “Long Ride Home,” from her album 1,000 Kisses

Another line from that song goes, “Forty years go by with someone layin’ in your bed / forty years of things you’ve seen and wish you’d never said / how hard would it have been to say some kinder words instead?” Details of the limousine and the roses and the hole in the ground all just kinda work together to make this sad story of someone who just lost their spouse; in verse 2 (the part quoted in this paragraph) she adds this whole story of regret into the mix, with one simple line.  Painful, and brilliant.

2

It’s not far / I can walk / down the block / to Table Talk / close my eyes / make the pies all day // Plastic cap / on my hair / used to mind / now I don’t care / used to mind / now I don’t care / cause I’m gray // Did I show you this picture of my nephew / taken at his big birthday surprise / at my sister’s house last Sunday / this is Monday and I’m makin’ pies

“Makin’ Pies,” also from 1,000 Kisses

This song has a distinct Eleanor Rigby feel to it: lonely.  The part about the plastic cap on her hair, how she used to mind but now doesn’t care?  Breaks my little heart every time.

3

Diamonds, roses / I need Moses / to part this sea of loneliness, cross this Red River of pain // I don’t / necessarily buy / any key to the future, or happiness but I / need a little place in the sun sometimes or I think I will die // and everywhere is somewhere and nowhere is near / everybody got somebody with their wine and their beer / and I’m just this tragic figure in the corner over here / go home to an empty apartment and call a best friend who is queer

— “Moses,” from Living With Ghosts

Talk about being surrounded by people, but alone, desperate for love and inclusion.

I could go on and on.  I won’t.  If you want to hear more of her stuff, I recommend these two albums (Living with Ghosts and 1,000 Kisses) — not a bad song on either of them. [PS: For some strange reason, 1,000 Kisses isn’t on I-Tunes.  Here’s a link to the album on Amazon, if you’re interested.  I think you can even listen to samples.]

Since I don’t want my hour-long YouTube dumpster dive to be in vain, here are links to two songs that relate to what I’ve told you about here.  First, “Long Ride Home,” which I quoted earlier; second, “Useless Desires,” another song about loneliness with particularly good use of imagery.  (Click here to see lyrics to that one.)

Anyway.  Maybe I’ll share one of my own songs with you guys one of these days.  Until then, happy writing (and listening)!


Back to Real Life

16 Nov

Never do I feel the wrath of Mondays more than when I have just returned from out of town.  Today is no different.

It’s already 2:35pm today, and I have absolutely nothing to show for it.  I woke up early, with the greatest of intentions.  The plan was to absolutely attack my manuscript, make up for the missed days of writing; to write joyfully, with discipline, fueled by sheer motivation (and coffee).  Instead, I caught up on all things blog- and reality-TV-related.  

The weekend was a great one, though.  Visiting my parents and the ranch where they live is sort of like traveling to another world, where work is just a dream and time is endless.  There are no deadlines; analytical thinking happens pretty much only when you are playing a vicious game of Clue¹.  There are cinnamon rolls and a bottomless pot of coffee (which tastes much better now that my mother has learned that two tablespoons of coffee does not an entire pot make).  

It’s beautiful, too.  There are trees, cows, wide open sky — which was pink when I woke up on Saturday — and the color green in abundance.  My dad and I took a long walk around the ranch in the morning, which was so peaceful.  At night, since there are no lights for miles, you can see a gazillion² stars. 

No wonder when I come back, it always takes a day to re-orient myself to life and writing, no matter how motivated I feel.  I hate the feeling of watching hours go by and having nothing productive to show for it, but I’ve learned not to despair over this.  It happens almost every time — after a day of dazed half-attentiveness, I usually come back strong, roaring and ready to go.  

Wow, the music in this coffee shop is terrible.  (FYI.)

Guess I should try to use today’s last couple of hours wisely, huh?  Sigh.  Probably.  Yes, I should at least try to make myself focus on something.  At least now I have a blog post to show for today.  Hopefully I can add something to that (very short) list.  Happy writing to you all!

¹And we do get vicious.  All six of us play, and we are sneaky listeners, making notes of every single question every single person asks/answers…It’s not your average remember-how-we-played-this-when-we-were-six-years-old? game most people think of when they think of Clue.  Nope – we are much more freakishly detail oriented and competitive.  I won, by the way.

²Give or take a few.  Embarrassing story alert: there are so few lights around, on Saturday night, I was seriously concerned about a bright light blinking on the horizon.  To my relief, I was informed that the light was not, as I feared, aliens; nope, it was just your good ol’ AT&T cell phone tower.  Perhaps I’ve been watching too much V.

(Not Quite) Starstruck (But Almost)

13 Nov

Erin McCarley

You may not know who Erin McCarley is, but you should.

Last night, she took the stage (by storm) at a small venue in Dallas, and — whoa — she was SO. GOOD.  Like, way-better-than-we-expected-we’re-so-pleased-we-chose-to-see-her-over-the-competing-Regina-Spektor-concert good.

She’s like this firecracker mix of Fergie and Evangeline Lilly, and from the looks of her, you’d wonder if she’s just another gorgeous pop star whose voice is molded by that ubiquitous chisel known as autotune¹.  But…no.  Her voice is full of depth and texture, her lyrics are substantial, her song-writing and chords are creative.  

The venue wasn’t packed, but we liked it that way because the next time we see her, the secret will be out and we’ll probably have to use binoculars to see from so far away.  Her show, and the opening acts, were laid-back, warm, personal.  She poured out her soul only ten feet away from us, and afterwards, we got to chat with her for a bit.  She was as kind as she was talented, and carried on quite a bit of actual conversation with us.  

On this blog, I usually write about only one of my passions (writing) and leave the other (music) to kind of float along in the background.  Today, though, I feel so inspired to write some music, which is something I haven’t done in a long, long time.  My husband will probably be jumping for joy when he reads that last sentence, because he is Mr. Amazing-Talented-At-Everything-Sweetheart, and has been asking me for a while, “When are we going to play music together again?”

Soon.

Now…can I write a song and meet my 1,500 word writing goal² today?  (Um…that might be too ambitious for one afternoon.)  If you need a break from cleaning, writing, worrying, or anything else that ends with -ing, check out this, this, or this video of Erin McCarley³.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

¹Thanks to you, Andy Hildebrand and all you people at Antares Audio Technologies who created this particular chisel, we live in a world where we are surprised that our famous musicians can actually carry a tune.

²By the way, I didn’t list my word count today, because it hasn’t changed since the last time I posted.  I plan to fix that.

³None of these clips are from the Dallas concert, unfortunately.  All are live performances: #1 is an original song, called “Blue Suitcase;” #2 is a cover of “Dumb Dog” from the musical Annie; #3 is a cover of “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega.  Though all of her originals are fantastic, I included the covers because of their creativity — I mean, really, who covers Annie at a concert?  Plus, the beat-boxing guy on “Tom’s Diner” is pretty awesome.  His name is K.S. Rhoads, and he was one of the opening acts last night.

A Cornucopia of Strange References Here: Warning.

5 Nov

This morning, at 5:30am, I awoke with one thought:  what do you call those little metal things you stick into a hand-mixer?  You know, those detachable tools that do the actual mixing?  Turns out, the answer is pretty obvious – they’re called blades – but in the darkness and in my still-half-asleepedness, blades sounded too sharp and harsh.

It’s November 5th, and I’m a full day behind on my NaNo goals, despite my best intentions.  So, I woke up determined to spend as much as possible of this day playing the catch-up game (in other words, write at least 3200 words).  Hence, the thought about mixer blades, completely random though it is.  The image of the blades spinning in place, never colliding with each other, rotating in perfect harmony¹ – well, for some strange reason, I felt urged to pray for myself to have creativity and clear vision that work together as well as hand-mixer blades².  That’s the only way I’ll meet – and, hopefully, exceed – today’s goal.  Broken mixer blades equal chocolate cake batter that’s lumpy and uneven, and I have a feeling a clash of creativity and mental acuity leads to the same kind of writing.

So, now that we have that out of the way: my word count isn’t dreadful, but it will be if I miss another day.  

That said, I’m totally loving writing this book.  Interesting images and scenes keep popping up from nowhere, and I’m discovering a lot of new things about these characters.  Like I wrote the other day, I’m surprised to find I like them so much.  I want to describe how I feel, but I think J.C. Hart said it perfectly in her November 5 post:

I’m spending a lot of time not even consciously considering the next steps it will take. I’m sure that it’s all simmering below the surface, but it’s lovely that I don’t have to spend time deliberating over what will happen next. I’ve got complete faith in myself, and in the story.

Which is a really strange but beautiful place to be in. Maybe it means I’ve finally hit a point in my writing where I can trust myself enough to loosen the reins a little.

Yes.  This is exactly how I feel.  I know the direction the story is about to take, but right now I’m letting myself sink fully into each scene as it happens, not worrying too much about the specifics of what’s next.  It is nice to have some idea of what comes next, though, because it helps me write more layered scenes and dialogue.  J.C. is right, it is a strange and beautiful place to be.

I told my husband yesterday how much I’m enjoying my characters, right before I told him I felt sorry for them – they have no idea what’s about to happen to them, and their pretty little worlds are going to get completely obliterated by unfortunate circumstances.  It might get ugly, but I’m twiddling my fingers like the scheming puppeteer that I am³.

Happy writing today!  How are you doing with your goals this week?  …And I don’t just mean word-count-goals, I mean the substance of those words — how is your story shaping up?  Surprises, no surprises?  Obstacles?  Do share, even if you’re not partaking in the madness of November.

(PS: Wow.  After re-reading this post, I am curious to see what will come out in my novel today.  Just saying.  Not often you read about mixer blades, wedding singing, scheming puppeteers, and goatherds in the same post.)

NaNoMeter: 4920 down / 45,080 to go

¹Fun Side Note:  Writing perfect harmony brought back laughable flashbacks of singing in a wedding one time.  The florist for my wedding recruited my husband and me – two weeks before her wedding – to sing a duet in her wedding ceremony.  The song was full of horribly cheesetastic lyrics such as “He made the sun, he made the moon | to harmonize in perfect tune | one can’t move without the other, they just have to be together | And that is how I know it’s true – you’re for me, and I’m for you…”  Since we were engaged at the time, we kept getting asked if we were going to sing this song TO EACH OTHER in our wedding.  It was hard enough keeping a straight face while singing the thing, and near impossible to keep a straight face (and be polite) when answering, “No freakin’ way.  Ever.”

²Except at 5:30am it looked more like, “I pray for creativity and clear vision that work together as well as those little metal thingies that you stick in a hand mixer when you make chocolate cake.”  Eloquent, right?    

³When I use the term scheming puppeteer, do you also get images of Julie Andrews singing “High on a hill was a lonely goatherd” with the Von Trapp family?  No?  Oh.  That must just be me.  I’m soooooo menacing, with these instincts that lead me directly from scheming to yodeling in less than a heartbeat.  Oy.

Good Day, Sunshine

24 Oct

What a week, you guys.

This is the first time in a very long time that I know exactly how I spent my days for an entire week.  It was one of those make-the-most-of-every-moment weeks, one of those wow…I-feel-like-I-did-something-great weeks.

So, this morning, I did what everyone should do when they’ve worked hard: I rested hard.  Well, except my definition of rest is sleeping until 9:00am, putting on my super-cute apron, and whipping up a fluffy batch of lemon-ricotta-buttermilk pancakes for breakfast.  That’s restful, right?  As is enjoying them with my husband over a French press and the last of my cherry-pistachio biscotti.  Okay, I’d better stop, because I’m starting to get hungry again…

Official Update #5 of the Oktoberzest Project is another pleasant one to deliver:  1333 words for yesterday.  That brings my five-day total to 6,183 words added to the manuscript.  I’d say this has been a fruitful project, and it’s definitely helped that you guys have been so encouraging along the way.  A huge thank you to everyone who’s commented and left such kind words for me to find on my writing breaks!!

I know it’s Saturday, but well, I will have a chunk of time this evening to work, so I’m going to extend the Project for (at least) one more day.

On an unrelated note, I leave you to ponder the awesomeness of this little anecdote:

Riding out my you-can-do-it momentum, I tried something new last night: a cycling class at the gym.  I tried to sneak in unnoticed, but unfortunately, that didn’t work out so well.  The instructor, middle-aged Gary who sounds like the Saturday Night Live announcer, said “You must be neeeeew!” and proceeded to single me out for the rest of the class.  Oy.  The awesomeness came in mid-workout, when the newest (ridiculous) Shakira song¹ started to blast through the speakers, and Gary says, “Let me hear all you she-wolves out there hooooooooowl!”  

Some people did howl.  Some of these people were he-wolves.

That is all.  Oh yeah, and I am extremely sore today, due to the pressure I felt to stick out the entire class and actually do well, since Gary kept correcting me and telling me to “Puuuush harderrrrr!” from the front of the room.

¹”There’s a she-wolf in your closet / Open up and set her free / [insert a limp ow-oooooo here!]”…um, you can hear it here if you’ve never heard it.

Melodymakers

1 Oct

In honor of my not getting to sing at last night’s Ben Folds concert¹, I hereby declare today Music Thursday.

What is Music Thursday, you ask?  Well, my friends, today I’m diverting from my usual posts about writing (and the occasional posts about cats and bad drivers) to talk a bit about – what else? – music.  Obviously.

First on the list: My incredibly wonderful husband and I are facing a dilemma, and I want your opinions.  It turns out two of our new favorite musical artists are playing concerts in Dallas in November – on the same day.  If you had to make the choice, based on the live performance videos linked to their names, which concert would you see?

The lovely, eccentric, brimming with creativity Regina Spektor?

or

The fresh, up-and-coming, catchy-yet-not-cliché Erin McCarley?

Like I said, click on their names and it should take you to a video, if you’re not familiar with their music.  If you want to help us make this difficult decision, please leave me a comment about it!  The bright side to this dilemma is that we’d be spending two weeks’ grocery money if they played on different nights.  So there’s that.

Now that I’ve mentioned two major artists, I thought I’d feature some less-known local talent from the town where I live.  After all, it is Music Thursday, and you don’t have to be famous to make great music.

First up: Darcy, a group made up of guys who are as nice as they are talented².  Check out their latest video here.  If you like what you see and want to hear more, they released their first album on I-Tunes today, called The Brighterside.

Also: Ashley Gatta.  She’s got a quirky timbre to her voice, and is a local singer-songwriter.  I like her stuff – click here to see her perform her song “Ain’t Nobody.”   Ashley’s album, Forget Subtlety, is available on I-tunes; also, here’s a link to her MySpace page.

Thanks for taking a break from my regularly scheduled thoughts on writing with me!  I kind of went link-crazy today, but hey – that’s what happens when I come thisclose to performing on-stage with Ben Folds and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.  Which means?  It probably won’t happen again.

Remember to give me your thoughts on the whole Regina v. Erin debate, if you are so inclined.  

One final thought: while I was writing this post, my husband randomly started singing Britney Spears’ “Oops!…I Did It Again” while slaving away at his computer work.  To embarrass myself here more than I may have embarrassed him, let it be known that when that video came out, I spent hours trying to copy the dance from her video.  This wouldn’t be nearly as hilarious if I was coordinated.  There are many things I am – a writer, a singer, an organized Post-It note lover, and much more.  A dancer, I am not. 

¹Fortunately, for them, they were healthy and therefore got to have an incredible experience.  Unfortunately for me, I wanted to fulfill my duty as alternate backup singer and instead, made a grocery list.  

²I guess the “they’re as nice as they are talented” only works if you think they’ve got talent.  They’re definitely nice.  Just thought I should clarify that, lest you be of the opinion that they stink.

I Am Not Regina Spektor, and other thoughts on Rejection

13 Sep

I did what I said I wouldn’t:  I got my hopes up.

Because, seriously?  How amazing would it have been to sing with Ben Folds, with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, at the Meyerson Theater?  How incredible would it have felt to sing the Regina Spektor part on the (self-proclaimed ‘disturbed and bouncy’) song “You Don’t Know Me” in front of 2,062 people?  

Pretty amazing, I bet.  

There is about a 99.5% chance I won’t get to find out how it feels, though, because I was not one of the three girls chosen.  I am an alternate.  It’s still cool to be an alternate, don’t get me wrong¹ — but what are the chances a girl will get sick or break her leg or whatever?  

I’m trying, really trying, not to get more bent out of shape over this than I should.  I should know from past experience that when I get passed over for something, which happens to me more often than not, it truly is for the best.

I’ve been thinking how my life would be different, had I gotten everything I ever wanted.  That life, that person I would be, is not the same as the person I am today. 

If I had gotten everything I tried for, I would have been a popular girl in high school, who got all the scholarships she applied for instead of none.  With that scholarship money, I would have gone to a different university instead of moving to this place that has totally shaped me.  

Let’s just say I ended up here, anyway, though.  I would have married the 100% wrong guy for me, instead of the sweetest man on earth who popped into my life a few years later.  I would have been working some corporate political job that is not me in the slightest.  I would have been promoted to a manager at places like Chick-Fil-A and the bank and Starbucks.  Then, I would have been tempted to stick around and be Important at places I didn’t want to be.  Oh, yeah, and I would have made it onto American Idol, where I’d be the focus of television cameras for a year and sucked into a, well, sucky and consuming contract that works out not-so-much in my favor.

Looking at it that way, that is not the life I want.  But, looking back, those are all things I was disappointed I didn’t get, when I got passed over in favor of someone else. 

Flaws and failures and all, I’d rather be this person.  This girl, who is married to a kind, thoughtful sweetheart who encourages me to pursue my passions.  This girl, who knows she has something to offer the world even though – so far – the world has generally overlooked her.  This girl, who is determined to write a novel that will, one day, change the world, even if it only changes the world of one person.  This girl, who knows that when the time comes and someone notices, she’ll appreciate it a thousand times more than she would have if she always got every single thing she ever dreamed of attaining.

So, why do I still get bent out of shape when things don’t happen like I hope they will?  Probably because they’re awesome opportunities like singing on stage with Ben Folds in front of thousands, and because it hurts my pride.

I think these experiences are part of why I love outcasts, why I root for the underdog, why I write about the people who have great things to offer, but need to stop believing what the world tells them is true.  I write these things, because I know them all too well.  I guess that’s the little bit of sweet that comes from bittersweet rejection – the ability to be where I’ve ended up, writing about things I know with truth and authority, hoping it will inspire people to believe in themselves despite discouraging circumstances.

—–

¹Except the part where one girl who got a spot sang horrendously out of tune, and another girl sang the bass note (instead of the alto note…) on her entire audition.  I’m a little bitter, because not only did I take the time to perfect my part, I got it in by the deadline, too.  I will force myself to stop this rant before I cry again, like (most of) yesterday.

Poor Mr. Cat

4 Sep

It’s Friday, finally, not that it’s been a restful one by any stretch of the imagination.

Half of this week was great, the other half was not so great.  I know I told you on Monday I planned to really dig my heels in and work hard on my writing.  For two of those days, my plan worked wonders and I wrote like a mad woman (a mad woman who wrote not only quantity, but quality).  As for the other two days, well, life got in the way again.

Some days it’s just so hard to focus.  I’ve had a smattering of other things demanding my concentration this week, which took some time away from writing.  Also, poor Mr. Remy the Cat, I had to take him to the vet this morning because I accidentally clunked his head on a doorknob while picking him up.  I cried a lot because I thought I’d given him a concussion.  He was a good kitty at the vet, until the doctor stuck a thermometer in a place that sounds clearly like a cat screaming and hissing (Rather violently, I might add.  The hissing, I mean, not the sticking of the thermometer.).

Fortunately, Mr. Cat does not have a concussion, and he’s acting normal, so I feel much better.  Much, much better.

Now, it’s off to Kansas to visit my husband’s family, and I wanted to squeeze in a post before we set out on our eight-hour drive.  We’ll be listening to some Ben Folds, some Regina Spektor, some Erin McCarley, and some Sandra McCracken on our drive.  And, hopefully, we’ll find several Starbucks stores on our way so we can have lattes, too.

Y’all have a great weekend.