Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Star is Born

I TOTALLY want to be a singer. I love singing and I sing all the time – in the shower, in the car, at my desk, just randomly walking down the street, (OK, not that one but I really want to do that someday) etc., etc. The problem being of course is that I can’t really sing. I mean, I’m not horrendously terrible, but I would definitely be one of those poor souls shamelessly mocked if I ever tried out for American Idol. The mean one would probably tell me I can’t sing and I’m fat. The most complementary thing I can say about my singing voice is that I generally don’t get booed if I’m karaoking. Mind you, those people are all really drunk so I’m not sure they are a reliable indicator of my singing abilities.

My lovely daughter shares my love and desire for the performing arts and also longs to be a singer. If desire would meet talent, she would be headlining broadway musicals by now. Unfortunately, talent and desire are not mutually inclusive. That hasn’t stopped her from trying, however.

She auditioned for quite a prominent youth musical theatre group last year and was accepted. She was one of the youngest people in the company that was mostly derived of kids in grade 11, 12 and first year university (she was in grade nine). I can be reasonably assured that her enthusiasm and acting abilities secured her a space in this group, not the singing. They were hopeful they could teach her to sing. And failing that, well… part is too small right? Yeah, tell that to the kids who land in the chorus every production.

My darling daughter decided not to audition again this year citing her desire to concentrate on school and improve her grades. The time commitment was too much, she told me. Well, it’s November and so far ‘J’ has not done a spectacular job of even showing up for school half the time so that argument doesn’t hold water with me anymore. I suspect her opting out of the theatre company had more to do with the fact that she did not have a lead role in the productions than it did improving her GPA. She is, after all, a star!!

And, she kind of is. I know most mothers say this, but honest to god my child is one of the most unique human beings I have ever met in my entire life. Just the fact that I know her makes me more interesting, never mind that I actually gave birth to this person. There are many things that make her unique and not the least of which is her burning desire to perform for people. For years and years she had absolutely no fear whatsoever - it was truly amazing what she was able/willing to do at a very young age. At twelve years old and with only 15 minutes notice she gave the eulogy at my grandmother’s funeral in front of 300 people, and it was good. Regrettably if not predictably, the usual teenage insecurities have been creeping their way into her psyche for the last few years and have managed to slowly whittle away at her fearlessness. Fortunately, her desire for performing is much stronger than her insecurities. She still jumps at every opportunity to be a part of anything that involves an audience. It’s just that now she is nervous about it.

But, as mentioned earlier the not being able to sing thing a problem since most of the opportunities for performance at her age are musicals. But lucky for J the music teacher at her high school understands her, and knows how strong her desire to star in a musical is. This woman has been teaching my daughter to sing for the last few weeks, on her own time and for free, so J can have a lead role in her high school production of a Christmas Carol. She stars as Tiny Tim (this is funny ‘cause my girl is a wee one) and the production runs December 8, 9 & 10th.

I’m somewhere between scared to death for her and busting with pride because she is not willing to let a tiny thing like not being a great singer stand in her way of singing in a musical, complete with her very own solo for a whole song. This production is performing for the entire school at an assembly. Can you imagine doing such a thing unless you were some freaky Whitney Houston protégé type? Doesn’t the very thought of it make you want to go stick your head in the oven? I guess not if you’re J. It’s her dream and she’s doing it, and screw all y’all that say she shouldn’t.

I’m scared because high school kids can be serious assholes, and if J bites it they will make fun of her for the next two and a half years. It is totally amazing to me that she is willing to take the risk and follow through with what she is so passionate about, regardless of the consequences. Not that I’m assuming she’ll bite it, she might blow the doors off the place, but the potential for disaster is definitely there and she knows it.

I’m seriously jealous of her. I’m certainly not what you would call a shrinking violet, but I don’t have anywhere near the capacity to put myself out there like J does. I don’t even advertise this stupid blog so no one is even reading this. Well, maybe one person (hi Keely!). There are many things I would love to do and I find so many reasons why I can’t do them – I can’t afford it, I don’t have the time, I don’t have the talent, etc., etc. My daughter’s life will be so much more fulfilling because of her strength of character and burning desire to be what she wants to be. She is content (and very proud most of the time) to let her freak flag fly. That is a fantastic and very rare trait in a person.

But, at least I can live vicariously. I will be front row centre all three nights of her musical ready to marvel at her accomplishment wishing it was me!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Merry Christmas! Whether you like it or not.

It’s getting to be that time of year again. You know what I’m talking about – the time of year you try to balance seeing your family/co-workers against what you actually want to be doing during the holidays. You know what would be really great? If you could sign up for Christmas gatherings buffet style. I could take a decent helping of Sister-in-Law with a side of crazy (but always entertaining) Aunt, followed by just a smidge of Mother for dessert. But, hmmmm……I think this year I’m going to pass on the Cousin. The Cousin always seems to give me gas.

Workplace gatherings also apply. While I’m all for having drinks with the marketing department, I could really do without that woman from my office who sits in the corner mentally counting how many Cosmo’s I’ve had. We never invite her to join us any other time of the year, why are we obligated to do it now? The birth of Christ? That was 2000 years ago. I’m not sure how that event means I have to hang out with someone who thinks a pink jacket complements red slacks and has bunch of tiny gnome figurines on her desk.

Last year I was invited to a Christmas party for government secretaries. Most of these women I had never met. Government buildings are scattered all over this city, so our communications are largely over email. Out of sheer curiosity I went. They all seemed nice enough in cyber-secretary land, so I thought I would check out what they were like in person. You know what I found out? They are all SIXTY YEARS OLD! I sat at the table participating in forced conversation all the while thinking, “Is this my fate? Am I really going to still be doing this job in 30 years?” These women could remember where they were when Kennedy was shot for crying out loud. It was the most depressing day of my life.

Yet, ‘tis the season and all that shit so I have to suck it up and hang out with people who I have spent almost the entire year avoiding. Now, I don’t want to sound like a big scrooge here because I LOVE Christmas. I go all crazy with the decorations, parties, gift buying, charitable giving, etc., etc., but the mandated involvement of people who are not really in my life any other time of the year is always a little odd to me. Oh well. I guess I always have the token drunken brawl that will inevitably break out somewhere to look forward to. Hey, maybe this year it will happen at the government secretary’s party! That would be AWESOME.