Tuesday, August 26, 2008

American Idle: The Sunscreen Corollary

American Idol; American Idle. See what I did there?

I should start from the beginning.

Do you remember that Baz Lurhmann song from the late 90s? It was a commencement speech he put to music, and it opened with the line: "Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of '99: wear sunscreen." He went on to espouse all the things you "need" to do in life, like live in New York once (check), live in California once (someday), and most importantly: do one thing every day that scares you.

If I may nerd out for just a brief interlude, that last line resounds in my head at least once per day, typically when I am doing something frightening, like flying US Air, or reaching under the sink for dishwasher detergent. (There was once a mouse under there, y'all. I was traumatized.)

Most days I ponder that sage advice, and admittedly I feel a small sense of accomplishment when I face down my fears, however inconsequential, and come out unscathed, primed to fight another day. It follows then, that when presented with seemingly insurmountable tasks, I head towards the challenge, steeling myself for whatever I might face. I give you: The Suncreen Corollary. The single driving force in your blog-mistress's world, as, well - many things scare me on a daily basis. Yet, thanks to my quaint theory, I always force myself to move. To get on with it. To give my fear the stink-eye and be done with it. Because I believe, thanks to The Suncreen Corollary, that somehow, facing down fear is making me stronger. More formidable.

To sum up: fear is my bitch, really.

You can be absolutely certain then, that I wouldn't have bothered to waste 14 hours of my precious life on an American Idol longshot, if the very idea of it didn't scare the bejesus out of me.

And so, Tina and I went, guns blazing, into the infinite abyss that is the American Idol audition process.

Internet, I beg you, if you ever deign to try-out, please, PRAY GOD, do not sing any of the following:
  1. I Have Nothing by Whitney Houston. If I heard one more diva warble "Dooonnnn'tttt. Maaakkkkeee. Meeeeee. CLOOOOOOOOSSSEEEEE ONE MORE DOOR!" I would have kidnapped dainty little Seacrest and held him for ransom. My ears are still bleeding, for the love of Pete.
  2. Anything by Alicia Keys, but particularly No One. Dudes, I can't even stand to hear Alicia shreik "NO ONE NO ONE NO ONNNNNNNNNNEEEEEEEEE".
  3. The Dreamgirls soundtrack. You can't imagine how many chicks were alone at a crossroads or telling me they weren't going.

The deal is, producers line up at 12 tables across the floor of the arena, and they see people in sections. If you are auditioning, you wait until your section is called (everyone was assigned a seat at registration). This gives you ample time (oh, 12 hours) to check out your competition. It's terribly interesting, and also incredibly boring, if this is possible. Auditioners approach the tables in groups of four, and each sing a cappella for 30 - 60 seconds.

The truth is, the producers know what they want. If you're crazy (hello puppet lady), well, we'll see you in the next round. If you are insanely talented, you are by no means guaranteed a spot. It depends on your look, your vibe, your charisma. Many times during the day the crowd angrily booed producers for cutting legitimate singers. But what can you do? It's a television show. It's a casting call, so you better be damn irresitible, lest you be cut.

Which brings me to my audition, at 5 PM. As I stood on the floor, my heart thudded loudly in my chest, and my palms started to sweat. Breathe, I told myself. Steel yourself.

And that's precisely what I did. I smiled at the young blonde producer and I began to sing. I chose "Take Me Or Leave Me" from Rent, because I work it out in the shower. My voice sounded strong and clear in my ears, and when I was done, I was proud of the performance I'd given.

Once our foursome finished, the kind-looking talent scout motioned for us to approach the table.

"You all look beautiful, and you all have great voices," she began in a clipped English accent. "You and you (HV and Tina) have great voices, but I think your performances were a bit too theatrical, and that's really not what we're looking for this season on the show."

Too theatrical?!? Moi? Old HV? That's shocking.

And with that, she cut us loose, and we went off with the rest of the "non-winners".

I mainly felt relieved to be heading home, and pleased that I'd conquered another one of my fears. And the feedback wasn't bad; I could live with "too theatrical".

The next morning, though, I awoke feeling vaguely disappointed. It was my last shot at AI, and it didn't work out. It's not that I thought I was going to be the next Fantasia Barrino. It's just... well, sometimes it's disheartening when you have to let a dream (however improbable) die. But isn't that what it's all about? Letting go of some of the old fantasies, and making room for some of the newer, more updated ones? I am sure there is totally a reality television show out there for me, like one about an adorable blonde girl who loves Queens and waxes poetic about life and 90s music and American Idol auditions?

On to the next thing.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Oh, and...

I don't get Twilight. There, I put it out there. Why all the fuss?


Your blog-mistress is utterly drained. It seems that perhaps I do have a problem, in that I cannot stop making plans, or generating ideas, or undertaking ambitious recycling campaigns, or auditioning for American Idol , or traveling, or being generally awesome all day long. It takes its toll on a gal. Honestly.

So I will tell you now that after this week, I am going to start taking naps, perhaps.

What's that? You would like to hear about American Idol? Lo, I believe contractually I cannot yet spill the beans that I am the next American Idol, a bewitching hybrid of Kelly Clarkson and Daughtry and Fantasia, all rolled into a big bundle of mind-blowing talent, dawg. At least that is what Paula told me. What's that? You are not buying my story? Meh. You will see it when it airs, and be dazzled.

Or, actually, registration was yesterday, and the audition is tomorrow. I am really just accompanying the uber-talented Tiny Tina (who is my cousin, in case you wanted to know, because I just spent 13 hours trying to link to the post about her, and I couldn't find it and holy shit I am too tired for this enough), singing a little ditty myself, then stalking Seacrest to lift him off the ground in a giant bear hug. And then I will go home, and 15 years from now I will still be telling my kids that I auditioned for the show once, before I was too old, and that I was robbed! Robbed! And then they will roll their eyes and sigh and tell me for the love of God to get over it already.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Survivor Woman

This week in things HomeValley has survived:
  • Turbulence on a flight to South Carolina. Likely the worst I have experienced in terms of longevity. My stomach ached from fear, so I put my head in my hands and breathed. Luckily, my seatmate, a kindly older man, took pity on me, assuring me that it was only rough air and that of course we'd be fine. He was a pilot, he said, and the plane was designed to withstand a lot more. Words I tell myself all the time whilst flying, but nice to hear from an expert nonetheless.
  • Career soul-searching. A good opportunity came up for a tiny bit more money, but I ultimately decided I am very happy where I am, and that J and I will stick to "the plan", thankyouverymuch. I made the right decision; just waiting for the fallout. I suppose I'll survive that too.
  • Running into J's "ex-girlfriend" (term used loosely) on our street on Friday night. I had just gotten out of the shower, pulled my hair back, and thrown on sweats. Completely au naturel, J's ex, "Shelly", casually mentioned that she had just moved in to that house, three doors down from ours. I am not sure who should feel more awkward, the newlyweds, or the ex that just moved next to the newlyweds? Regardless, after the initial meeting, I ran into Shelly three additional times. Only one of those times was I wearing workout clothes, sweating profusely from my bike ride. Oh, also, I was sporting those ginormous black sunglasses that blind senior citizens wear (what? they protect my baby blues!). So, obviously, point HomeValley.

Must start my day of meetings. Also, I hate the Today Show.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Night Before: A Glass Case of Emotion

I keep trying to write an eloquent post about the night before our wedding, but I am incapable. I start prattling on about nothing and fumbling with metaphors, and then I get annoyed with myself and shut Blogger in a huff, resigned to come back later.

But it never works. I am now resigned to put it out there, rambling and all, for public consumption. Because I just can't keep it to myself anymore.

So, what did it feel like the night before? Well, it was as if a massive tsunami of emotion struck us down, only more intense. I can't describe it. One moment we were having a perfectly normal rehearsal dinner; the next, we were puddles.

Turns out? Getting married is a big fucking deal.

J tried to toast our closest friends and family, but couldn't finish. I tried to rescue him, but failed miserably as the lump in my throat nearly choked me. I am never so emotional in public. It startled me. It also frightened my mother, who thankfully rescued us both by saying a few eloquent words about families being united. J and I drank our margaritas, clutching each other tightly.

Thwarted by rehearsal dinner toasts, the happy couple poses for a quick post-tears pic.

Much later, I made it back to the honeymoon suite, alone. J had left a small journal (made in Indonesia) on our bed, as well as a small gift box. In the journal, he wrote a long letter about our lives together, stressing that the best was yet to come. In the box, he placed a lovely necklace that was made in South Africa. Both presents were meant to symbolize the places we will visit together. It was perfect.

I washed my face and got ready for bed. I lay there, alone, unbelieving. It is so strange when something you have envisioned all your life comes to fruition. It is so odd to join your life with another person's. It is wonderful and exhilirating and frightening and bizarre. I held onto the journal, and drifted off to sleep.

I woke the next morning at 5. I watched a spectacularly bad movie on Showtime starring Ryan Reynolds. I felt vaguely nauseated. The lump in my throat hadn't dissipated at all throughout the night. I felt out of control. I wondered how I would get through the day without sobbing.

Grace and I had a massage scheduled at 10; my mother and Koos joined us as well. The four of us were led to our separate rooms throughout a serene, quiet garden, and soon, my troubles began melting away. My tension evaporated, and by the time we met up again in the locker room over paper cups of champagne, I felt like me again. I felt excited, back in control.

I was ready to marry J.