Wednesday, December 9, 2015

14. Sing Sara B. song at Karaoke with Friends - CHECK.

Pre-concert notes:

It's just under three hours until my appointment with destiny otherwise known as my first public karaoke performance. I wasn't so worried about it when I put it on my 40/40 list more than a year ago, but in recent months I have really got myself worked up about having to go through with it.

I've dissected my reasons for the freak out. I can actually carry a tune. I sing at church. I sing in my car, and I sing in the shower. And in all of those places, I'm amazing. (wink wink) I sing all the time. I love music. I am uplifted by it and my life is enriched by it. But generally never sing for an audience (except Cadence and whomever else may ride in my car with me.)

I know myself well enough to know that I WANT to be a great performer, but that when the moment comes, I'm likely to get shy, sing softly, and wow no one.

I have been practicing for months. In my car. And again, in the car singing with Sara Bareilles, I sound amazing. But best I can tell, Sara B. will not be there tonight, so I have to go it alone.

A dear group of friends has scoped out the karaoke bar (and insisted that I follow through with this event) and they are looking so forward to the evening. I am trying hard to catch their enthusiasm. This list item is reminding me just how far I have to go in the “take oneself less seriously” department. Oh my, I still have so, so far to go.

And so tonight is just one more baby step in that direction. I'm going to be BRAVE and sing Sara Bareilles's song of the same word. Because the lyrics. Have you read the lyrics? They're amazing.

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody's lack of love
Or you can start speaking up

Nothing's gonna hurt you the way that words do
And they settle 'neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins

But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Everybody's been there, everybody's been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don't run, stop holding your tongue

Maybe there's a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out

Honestly I wanna see you be brave
Innocence, your history of silence
Won't do you any good
Did you think it would?

Let your words be anything but empty
Why don't you tell them the truth?
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out

Did Sara write this one for me? She captured so beautifully the ways I have struggled. I have held my tongue. I have lived in a cage of my own creation. I do have a history of silence. And yet, in this my 40th year, I summoned the courage to let the light in in ways I never thought I could and I am thriving.

That's why it was so important that for this first selection, I chose to sing this particular song. For my second selection, I chose Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance with Somebody. This song has been a part of my life's soundtrack for nearly 30 years, so there wasn't as much practicing to be done. The words would come easier, and since I'm no Whitney Houston, I didn't feel any pressure to live up to her performance.


It is true what is said about anticipation of dreaded events. The anticipation is almost always worse than the actual thing one is dreading. Such was the case with #14 on the 40/40 list.

I jzhujed my hair, borrowed my daughter's glitter eye shadow, applied a temporary tattoo that read “Love rewards the brave,” and put on an outfit I feel comfortable in. When I arrived at Timothy's Irish Pub, two of my friends were getting acquainted.

This 40/40 celebration has reinforced time and again what an amazing tribe of friends I have. And the karaoke event was the latest indication. One writer friend, one church friend, and four girl scout friends plus one of their friends made up my entourage for the evening. One friend bought me a fancy drink and the other took the lead in getting me signed up for my performances.

Because I was a karaoke newbie, I did not have to go first, thank goodness. This was helpful because watching others sing gave me confidence that I did not need to be great at it to get through it. My heart raced and I could feel my legs shaking—partially from the chill in the pub but mostly from nerves.

This venue became its own character in the story of the evening. It was cold, dark, and smoky. Once the music started playing, it was loud too. To say that my table's worth of friends “classed up the joint” doesn't begin to describe how out of place we were, and yet this evening it didn't seem to matter. My friend, Greg, who was sitting next to me sent me the funniest texts throughout the evening, since the music was so loud it was hard to carry on conversation.

“Oh my word what. is. this. Music.” What this music was was a lot of death metal and stuff that made Sara Bareilles and Whitney Houston selections very out of place. 

I heard my name and was called to the stage. I walked to the microphone, took it from its stand and stood in the dark waiting for the lyrics to load on the screen and the music to start. I practiced yoga on that stage. I breathed and tried to relax the tension I felt throughout my body.

My entourage cheered for me and even the strangers at the other table got into my act. I was shy and scared and messed up throughout the first song, but as I heard myself sing and recognize that no amount of practicing was ever going to result in me sounding amazing like Sara Bareilles, I gave up and owned sounding okay. There were several silent places where I lost track of the music, but then when I caught up, I threw caution to the wind. I started dancing, gesturing, and embracing my not-so-great singing. I remembered thinking, “I sound terrible, but I don't care. I'm doing this thing and soon the song will be over and I'll be able to cross it off the list.”

When the song ended, I curtsied like I had in dance recitals thirty years ago, replaced the mic on the stand and rejoined my tribe who were beaming. They scooped me up in hugs and “great jobs.” Even the strangers at the next table shouted congratulations to me.

I sat back down in my seat, sipped my red solo cup of water, and waited for my heart rate to slow. I was relieved it was over, but also a little bit exhilarated. But mostly relieved. 

Another text from Greg: “I want to record this dude and make him my alarm...I would never oversleep again.”

We spent the evening cheering on all the other performers including some among our group. And then I heard, “Well, she's not a virgin anymore, let's welcome Julie back to the stage.” I returned to the stage a little braver and sure that I could tackle the lyrics of I Wanna Dance with Somebody better than I had my first song
I started dancing to the music immediately and had a lot more fun with this song. Again, it was such a departure from the other song choices. I projected better and even looked at the audience more.

During the second verse my friends came up on stage and danced and provided back up singing, which added to my confidence and my performance quality.

The song ended, I curtsied again and stepped off the stage. This time I was elated. I'd gotten the hang of this singing badly in public and #14 was officially off the list. 

I started making my way toward the door around 11:00, but then a stretch of good songs began playing and my friends and I just kept singing along to the music and dancing. 

Half an hour later, I headed out the door with two friends. We stood in the dark parking lot. We talked about the 40/40 list and how it was almost complete. We also talked about writing because that's what we do and who we are. While we stood there, a man came out of the pub and approached me. “I wanted to let you know there's someone inside that would like to meet you if you're interested. If not, no problem.”

I looked at my friends, laughed, and said, “Well, that's lovely, but I don't think so. Thank you.”
The messenger was gracious, and returned into the warm, smoky cave. I looked at my friends somewhat in disbelief and thought, “Well, this just made my blog post much more interesting.” I was flattered, but knew there was no way a successful match could originate from Timothy's. I thought as this was happening, there is not a single person in that pub who would want to discuss Millard Fillmore, the next president on my reading list. I'm looking for people who are interested in talking about the presidents.

Days later I am still relieved this activity is over, but also reflecting on just how much FUN I had. My friends made the evening very special. I was impressed and delighted by the way they loved me by befriending each other. It was really wonderful to witness and be a part of. It was also good for me to be out of my comfort zone too.

Unlike Trapeze, I really do think I would do karaoke again, and next time I would not approach it with so much trepidation. 
The next morning this text arrived from Renee: “So fun last night! You are now OFFICIALLY a Rock Star!!! 

Fluffed hair and temp tattoo, "Love rewards the brave."

Greg and me

Waiting nervously on stage.

Blurry, but proof that I was on stage.

Renee and me

The whole group


  1. Sounds like a success. Scary, yes but it seems as if you had a good time.

  2. Sounds like a success. Scary, yes but it seems as if you had a good time.