Monthly Archives: January 2010

#2: Karaoke – Hot Mess Personified. Friendship Personified.

January 24, 2010

The evening started off fabulously.  A dessert bar.  Not on the 30×30 but it should be, because really, what a brilliant concept.  A way to assert your grown-up-ness:  “I’m almost 30, and I’m gonna eat a cupcake for dinner. No wait, I’m gonna eat TWO.” A good friend and a good chat. And then: karaoke.

Wait, what?

No, no, no. I’m a planner. Karaoke is on my list and I’m a-gonna curate the shit out of how it happens.  The perfect song.  The perfect people to bear witness. The perfect outfit.  I will not have just come from work and only have five hours of sleep and feel generally icky.

Oh, John Lennon.  Life IS what happens while you’re busy making other plans.

For many, karaoke is not a challenge. But I’m painfully shy.  I don’t like the sound of my voice, I don’t like people looking at me – I hate being the center of attention. I’m a peripheral girl.  I like the edges. And I reallyreallyreally can’t sing.

My two friends, both karaoke pros, weren’t forcing me to participate. They were simply creating an opportunity.  I could have just enjoyed their talents and saved myself for the perfect moment.  But why?  Why am I always waiting? Like sex, the first time will probably suck, so why not get it over with?

So.  I sang in public for the first time. An oxymoron:  mortifying triumph.  I sang “American Girl” by Tom Petty, a song I’m fucking brilliant at wailing in my car with the volume cranked to eleven, but that I pretty much annihilated, failing to sing a quarter of it due to confusion over the lyrical and melodic progression.

Oops.

My audience for this momentous failure was the bored Korean bartender, two drunkish girls (clearly tourists), and a dude who wandered in alone and was chatting up the tipsy ladies, perhaps hoping to score a threeway?   Even one of my friends had left to catch her train. No one was paying attention to my glorious entry into the public sphere.  No one was documenting for posterity that I OVERCAME A FEAR.  I ALLOWED MYSELF TO BE HUMILIATED.

If a chick sings in an empty bar, does she make a noise – or actually risk embarrassment?

I have a deep-rooted desire for perfection, which I equate with planning (ahem, control), because how can it be perfect if it’s just thrown together?  (Oh universe, how often you prove me wrong on this score, and yet I stubbornly cling to my need to plan.  Though I’d argue that anticipation is half the fun.)  But my need to so rigidly organize things and have them live up to a predetermined mental script is a bad habit.  Doesn’t give life room to breathe.  It’s a constant uphill battle of disappointment and self-loathing.

I had a vision of the perfect first karaoke experience. Perfect takes work. You need to plan perfect.  On the other hand…

Perfect is boring. There’s no wiggle room. There’s…less laughter.

This was perfect, so perfect, in its own way. Its very lameness makes it brilliant. Sad, empty bar. Amusing potential ménage a trois. Two friends who inexplicably support my goals and push me toward them even as I try to blow it off for the impossible perfectly controlled moment.  These are two strong, beautiful, unembarrassed women.  They can sing.  I shared an imperfect but tremendously special moment with them.  An unexpected, unplanned, entirely in-the-moment moment.

Maybe planning is overrated.

Maybe.

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30×30: The List

30×30:  30 Things To Do Before I Turn 30 (in no particular order)

1. Read at Mortified

2. Sing karaoke Done. Ish.

3. Run a marathon

4. Take a class at the trapeze school

5. Get a tattoo (x2)

6. Go to a shooting range

7. Get published

8. Learn the Single Ladies Dance (or to tap)

9. Go to Europe, preferably England, preferably involving surfing in Cornwall (ok, it was Thailand, but the point was TRAVEL!)

10. Read the Complete Poetry and Prose of Walt Whitman (1,369 pages)

11. Travel the Midwest: Cleveland, Chicago, Minneapolis

12. Write a 10 minute play every month in 2010

13. Go to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC FAILFAILFAIL

14. Learn to play the guitar (not the Guitar Hero kind)

15. Take a photography class

16. Join the Dramatists Guild

17. Swim with a dolphin: Ish? Elephant?

18. Ride in a hot air balloon

19. Go skydiving

20. Dance. All. Night. Long. (rave or club-style)

21. Start a blog You’re looking at it, dude.

22. Read 100 books

23. Get a National Parks Passport stamp for every NYC area location (26-ish)

24. Attempt yoga for real; I mean meditation.

25. Buy a really really expensive bottle of something to celebrate a special occasion (or an ordinary day, Paul     Giamatti-Sideways style)

26. Eat something I never, ever, EVER thought I’d eat

27. Write myself a one-person show and have at least an informal reading of it

28. Go see monster trucks

29. Try a winter sport (skiing or snowboarding)

30. Mystery activity that I’m not ready for my mother to know about

Categories: 30x30 | 10 Comments

Mission Intro: 30×30

The 30×30 should be trademarked to friend of friend now just friend Rob Roan.  The concept is straightforward: I’ve made a list of 30 experiences I want to have before I turn 30. It’s a list designed to a) embarrass myself; b) challenge myself physically; and c) unlazify (definition: to make unlazy) myself.

For two years I’ve been running in a circle, an evil holding pattern of WAITING FOR THINGS TO CHANGE.  I will turn 30 in less than eight months, and this…this is not where I thought I’d be. I should be moving along a specific path:  I should have babies, I should have a successful career (or have “a” career), I should have a solid group of go-to friends. I should be better traveled. I should be more comfortable in New York. I should a lot of things.  Instead I am floundering for a sense of self, purpose, joy, fulfillment.

So at this crossroads of decade-dom, I’m trying to control what I can control, and leave the rest to the universe to sort out.  All I can control is my fear of – basically everything that is new or different or untried or unfamiliar or makes me vulnerable to pain or humiliation or heartbreak or disappointment.  I CAN do things I never thought I’d do.  Anything is, in fact, possible. I can grow. Change. Accomplish.

That’s right. I’m going Oprah on my own ass.

Circles are symbols of wholeness, perfection, unity. The completeness of a circle resonates with me. Unfortunately, running in circles is frustrating, tedious, futile. Also, it’s safe and predictable, which is partly why I’m stuck. But I think there are ramps – you know, like at the Guggenheim – so we can spiral up to the next circle and drive ourselves crazy anew.  The ramps are self-awareness, new perspective, change. And that’s what I’m trying to achieve.  I just want to see what’s happening on the floor above me.

Accomplishing the items on this list will not necessarily change me. But it will keep me hopeful that I can change. This year I will test my own boundaries, face my own shortcomings, be really imperfect and okay with that because at least I’m trying. I’m not waiting anymore.  Your life may be moving in the direction you want it. Mine needs a jumpstart.  And I’m the only one who can do that.

Now I can look Seneca in the eye when he yells, “Begin at once to live!” Check. I’m beginning. I’m adding action verbs to my life.

What’s that, Socrates?  “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I’m examining, I’m poking, I’m prodding, I’m ootching – I’m blogging!

Sometimes you have to let go of the should’s and deal with the are’s. You gotta figure out which should’s are worth fighting for and when you should just embrace the is’s. And if what you should be doing is living rather than waiting for life to start, than you should make it happen for yourself.

Yes, yes. I know. Kill yourself, Dr. Phil.

I give you: my blog. #21 on my 30×30, where I will document these activities, as well as share other random DEEP PHILOSOPHICAL THOUGHTS. Or fluff and nonsense. Hope it changes your life the way “New Slang” changed Zach Braff’s in Garden State. Or, you know, at least keeps you mildly entertained for five minutes.

Categories: 30x30 | 5 Comments

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