Monday, March 1, 2010

A small triumph, music by Billy Joel

I met a bunch of friends for karaoke on Friday. Although I love karaoke scenes - lively music, the chance to be silly, license to really stink up the place with no consequences - I have never actually sung karaoke by myself, without the safety of a friend to duet with. But I kinda got the feeling I should try it. Although I don't consider myself to be a shy person in normal circumstances, something about the thought of singing karaoke alone is almost paralyzing (quite a paradox for a girl with a hardcore fantasy of herself as a singer/songwriter, crooning to the crowds at the coffee shop open mic.)

As I stood there listening to people's renditions of popular songs of the 80's and 90's, I flipped through through the rolodex of personal advice I'd heard lately. I thought of The Happiness Project, in which she mentions the importance of "an atmosphere of growth," for happiness, which includes challenging yourself and pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. I thought of the radio interview I heard with one of my personal heroes, Dan Gottlieb, a talented psychologist who also happens to be wheelchair-bound. He was saying how too many of us are too afraid of failing at things, and that we should seriously consider our relationship to failure. I thought of how joyful he sounded when he talked about how good he's become at failing at things.

I noted that 25% of the people in the room were a part of my party, so I knew no matter what it would be a pretty gentle landing. And everybody was drinking, so it's not like anyone's powers of judgment or discernment were at their peak anyway. And lastly I thought, you know what? Fuck it. Just do it. So I did! And guess what happened?

Not a whole lot. I sang "Only the Good Die Young." I got kind of breathless and flushed. People sang along, it all went by in a rush, no one booed, people sipped their Schlitz cans, the emcee moved onto the next singer. My friends clapped me on the back, and Spangles in particular was like, really into it, but then that's kind of his job.

And as I resumed my spot in the dark, I felt good! It was a rush, and it's a great song, and it was over before I knew it, and it might've even felt like I had liftoff for a second or two.

The world kept turning, my friends continued their discussion of R--'s domesticated fox, people arrived and left, Tony the Bartender rang the "Birthday bell," the patrons laughed and danced and smoked like chimneys, taxis hurtled by outside, the Italian Market veggie stands sat under the aluminum awnings in their nighttime emptiness, the snow continued its slow incremental melt, traffic lights cycled through their jewel tones, revelers stumbled through the dark streets, the skyline looked on, sleepy but awake, and on the whole nothing was different.

Or was it?

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