Sunday, February 27, 2011

Do you like Show Choir? Why yes, I do. The Early Years

When I was little, I loved to dance and sing.  All the time.  I'm sure my relatives could tell you stories.  But I'm going to fast forward a little bit, starting with middle school.  I had a very strange sixth grade year, where I moved after the first nine weeks to a new school.  At the new school, the music/choir teacher was awesome!  That's actually where I started coming out of my shell.  She gave me my first solo.  It was the second verse of the song, "The Greatest Love of All."  This other little girl was singing "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid.  I decided after I heard that little girl sing it, I was obsessed with that song and movie.  It's still my favorite Disney movie to this day!  I walked in to Mrs. V. and said, "I want to sing 'Part of Your World.'" She said, "Ok."  Then, she said, "I actually like you better on this song!"  Wow, what a boost to a sixth grader's little ego!  So, for the last day of the year, the other little girl had already picked out a different solo, so, I got to sing "Part of Your World."
Then, the week before school started, my parents found a new house to rent, back in the first school's boundaries.  The first two weeks of school, they drove me back and forth.  Then, we moved.  In seventh and eighth grade, I learned the pollitics of teachers having favorites.  It sounds crazy at that age, but it was true.  We sang and danced in these grades for all of our shows.  This is also the first time I would meet the choreographer that also choreographed for the high school choirs. He also choreographed for a season for the dance team I was on in High School.  But I digress. 
My seventh grade year, I felt liked.  I felt almost like a favorite.  Then, I realized, I wasn't getting any of the big solos.  My eighth grade year, the whole grade new that the seventh graders were the favorites for the middle school. 
Other things were still going on with me personally.  I was very sick in the seventh grade with constant kidney infections.  This is when the figured out, the first surgury that was supposed to fix the problem didn't work.  I remember being in the cafeteria during the Christmas Show in seventh grade, and sitting with my head on the table.  A parent said, "Are you OK?"  I just answered, "I don't feel well."  I was really sick after that.  I had a repeat of the very same surgury I had when I was eleven, when between 7th and 8th grade.  Then, I started feeling better.
I started high school feeling like, this is my chance!  A new start!  Well, sure, ok.  The freshman girls choir sang and danced.  All freshman girls were shoved into the same choir, whatever the girl's singing abillity was.  That was an interesting year.  I was also on the Dance Team starting in my freshman year of high school all the way through my senior year.  My freshman year was the first time I was exposed to what real show choir was. I went to what was called a "Preview Night."  I was enthrawled from that moment on.  There were other choirs that existed that also danced.  There was a Women's choir and a Mixed Choir.  So, there were three choirs that sang and danced and there was a concert choir.  Well, the audition process started.  We were told to prepare a song.  We were also given a sheet to rank the choirs in order of which ones we wanted to be in. Well, I put the top mixed choir and the the concert choir in second, with the women's choir in third.  Well, I auditioned.  The big day came where the lists where posted.  We all ran down to the music hallway as soon as the last bell of the day rang! Some people were excited and running out of the hallway with huge smiles on their faces.  Some people were mad.  Some people were running out of the hallway sobbing.  So, I walked down the hallway slowly.  What did my future have in store for me?  I slowly start to look for my name on the list.  There are about 400 people who had audtioned for the choir spots. It took me a few minutes to find my name on the massive list.  There was my name.  Ok, what choir was linked to it?  The Women's Choir.  OK, I could deal with that.  I was going to sing and dance.  It wasn't what I had my heart set on, but I could deal. 
It was an interesting first semester to say the least.  The director for the choir went on maternity leave, and her sister directed us for the first semester of the school year.  The dresses that she picked out for us were tragic.  She also decided to go with the straight line method.  That's when all of the dresses make a straight line on stage. That also means since I was the shortest person in the choir, my dress was the shortest.  The tallest person's dress was the longest.  They were blue with white fringe that was zig-zagged.  I still have mine.  It leaves blue sequence every where I put it.  We survived the semester that included singing "We Are Santa's Elves."  Yes, a little bit traumatic.  The second semester started, and our teacher was back.  Some how, she managed to pick songs that made the dresses work.  Songs like "Romeo," "And All That Jazz" and a "Dream Girls" Medley were our competition songs for that season.  We went to Kings Island to compete with our follow students in the mixed choir.  We won.  We even got Grand Champion for the entire competition... which pissed off the other director of the mixed choir royally.  The two choirs were not even supposed to be competing against each other, but for some reason, the events got combined.  The women's choir was elated!
Then, auditions rolled around again.  Well, I learned my lesson from the year before. When I went in to audition, I had my little order of what choirs I wanted to be in written down.  I put the concert choir, the top mixed show choir, and then, the choir I was in before, the women's choir.  I knew, after being in the women's choir that had the same director as the concert choir, I had a very good chance that I would get into the concert choir.  That director was also really big on having a grasp on general theory and the abillity to sight read.  Well, I had really worked on those things, and also being a violinist helped with the theory.  Well, the audition happened, and I made the concert choir. 
Well, this choir was mostly known for singing, not for dancing.  We still had to learn some choreography for things like the opener for the Christmas show and Spring show. Also, we did a medley from a musical for our Spring show.  Well, the choice that year was "Phantom of the Opera." We had this stage that had a gigantic staircase down the center of it.  Well, each stair was about a thrid of my heighth.  From the beginning, I felt like I was going to trip and fall down the stairs.  So, I couldn't really enjoy singing the music due to fear of dying. I survived that year. 
Then, auditions rolled around again.  I used "Part of Your World" as my auditon piece.  I really wanted to be in that top mixed show choir!  The director told me he thought I sounded good.  He invited me to come to call backs. There were a lot of girls at call backs!  I tried my best.  I went down the day the list was posted.  I braced myself.  Next to my name, the Concert Choir. That was it.  No show choir! 
The next year, my senior year, continued on.  I still enjoyed every moment of that year.  We sang some amazing contest pieces. A few of them are still favorite pieces of mine to this day.  For the spring show, we sang a medley from "Rent."  It was such a fun medley!  The concert choir also closed the show that year, which was unheard of!  The top mixed show choir always closed the show.  I had a lot of fun that year. 
The thing that most of us figured out about the top mixed choir was, every girl was a size 2 except for one.  I had to say to myself: was the reason I wasn't picked for this choir my body type?  Here's the thing: I wasn't that big, I was just slightly over weight.  I was dancing and training with the dance team at least 8 to 10 hours a week.  I had a large trampoline in my back yard I was jumping on for a couple hours a week.  Why was I having so many issues with weight? I really beat myself up over this for years and still think about it to this day.  If I was a size 2, would I have been in that choir?  Also, my mother kept repeating something to me that she had heard the director say once. Each member that I pick for this choir music be able to be a star!  Was I not a star?  I knew I could sing, but did I not have star potential?  What kind of star quality were people looking for that I needed to create and cultivate within me?  I needed to find out, because I was moving on to get a bachelors in vocal performance in college.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Start of the Karaoke Monster

My parents gave me my first cassette tape karaoke machine when I was about twelve or thirteen.  They were trying really hard to support me in my music.  That little machine got a lot of use over the years!
In college, I started working for the Crazy Asian. (I'm serious. That's what people called him.) He owned the local Karaoke company.  He also owned a little diner down town that had karaoke on the weekends.  I had sung with his company prior to the diner.  But then, the diner became a more permanent weekend focus for a friend and me.  The C.A. started asking J. and I to start K.J.'ing the karaoke.  So, we did.  Then, he started paying us in diner gift certificates.  Well, J. and I quickly realized, this wasn't legal, and he said, "Oh, this is your training! After you learn how to K.J. here, I give you real jobs!"  That turned into one real gig for me and because J. wasn't 21 at the time, she got nothing.  The "real" gig turned into one of the worse nights of Karaoke ever.  You know, one of those nights when only four people sign up to sing repeatedly, and I was one of them!  So, the K.J.'ing didn't ever go anywhere.  After that dive closed, C.A.  bought/rented another space and made it 21 and over.  Friends and I would go to that one.  When his K.J. didn't show up, he'd look at me and say, "You K.J. or no karaoke."  I couple times I did.  One night, we all just got up and left after the third or fourth time.  He wasn't paying me.  He'd be like, "I'll give you free drinks!"  Ya, because my Diet Coke was that expensive.  The Crazy Asian did a lot things that weren't exactly legal. 
When I was living in the Chicago Suburb, the group of people that I started hanging out with from work liked to karaoke also.  We started going to this little restaurant that had karaoke on Sunday nights.  The K.J.'s there followed the "rules of karaoke" which I really appreciated, and they had some rules of their own that not all karoake places follow. 
Rule #1.  There's an order to the singers.  All singers and K.J.'s will follow this order.  All new singers will be added to the end of the round.  K.J.'s shouldn't be letting their friends sing just as much as they want because they feel like it.
Rule #2.  Be kind to all singers, no matter how good or bad.  As H. would say, "It's the spirit of Karaoke!" 
Rule #3.  Watch your language.  Keep it appropriate even if the song doesn't.  (Not all places follow this rule.  Sometimes I don't even follow this rule!) 
Rule #4. Do not use a fake name so you can sing more.  (I'm serious. People do this.)
Rule #5 Do not bring your drink up with you! Sound equipment is very expensive!
I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting, but I'll leave it at those for now.
We had a really good time going as a group to this little restaurant and singing.  Then, I bought my own karaoke machine with it's own little screen.  We started having our own karaoke parties that included some DDR too.  Those are definitely some great memories!
Then, I moved to Indiana and started hanging out with my sister more. My sister and I started to go to Karaoke at a little bar inside the motel, The Econo Lodge. We actually probably started going there way before when I was in college or visiting from the suburbs.  We had been frequenting this little place for years.  Then, one day we showed up, and they were having a private party.  We also found out they were under new management.  We tried to follow the couple that ran the karaoke to their new places.  But they got creepier and seedier, so, we started going to a couple other places.  At first, we were going to Uncle E's, (I think that's what it was called.) which was a Lesbian bar.  But we always got to sing a ton there, the K.J. was really nice, and I didn't mind not being hit on by old men.  We also started going to The Office Lounge, which is a haunt for the locals.  The Office Lounge was always busy.  People were usually kind and supportive of all the the singers.  They also have a good dinner menu.  When we started going there, it was usually fun.  The only nights I didn't like were when the college kids would come.  They were usually loud and obnoxious.  It was always somebody's twenty-first birthday!
Karaoke became a relatively cheap and easy outlet to sing.  I started trying to find places in Indianapolis that I felt comfortable karaokeing with.  I also re-connected with some college friends who like to sing also.  So, they would go along with me and my karaoke obsession.  I think my sister actually came up with going to Nippers to sing.  Her friends used to go there and thought it was a great place.  This place was always busy.  I also didn't always feel comfortable singing.  I know that doesn't make since, but it was something about the crowd or atmosphere. 
My group of friends and I started trying Olly's.  It was a gay bar/ diner down town.  There were always a ton of singers. It was always extremely smokey.  I'm not much for crowded and smokey.  We tried that for a while.  They also had karaoke on weird nights for people with jobs, Wednesdays and Sundays. 
Then, we heard of this place really close to where I lived.  My friend B. and I went to check out this place called Buckets.  They had a great crowd, and Dr. Phil was the K.J. He is a very nice man and really enjoys what he does.   You could tell that while he was doing his job!  Dr. Phil's wife also assisted him sometimes.  He created are real group of people that really just enjoyed karaoke.  He had karoake at the bowling ally bar Wednesdays and Fridays, and then, he was at Buckets on Saturdays.  B. and I would go to one of Dr. Phil's shows at least once a week. We did this for almost a year, taking little breaks here and there.  Then, the bowling ally bar stopped having him, so, we stopped going there.  We continued to go to Buckets for a while. 
One day, I got a text from Dr. Phil's wife that said, "We learned as of 2pm today that Buckets will be closing for business after tonight."  B. and I had gone the week before and the air conditioner wasn't working.  It was very strange.  Our server, the one who had become a friend, kept apologizing to us for the inconvienence.  The night Buckets was closing it's doors forever, I went with some friends.  The second I walked in the door, the server ran up to me and said, "We are closing down karaoke after these singers.  Do you still want your drinks?"  I was shocked!  It was only 10:30pm at the latest!  We said "No", and we left. 
Since then, I may have gone to karaoke a couple times with my sister to The Office Lounge.  I didn't really find it enjoyable though.  They have new young K.J.'s that bring in new young customers.  The kind of customers that drive me away. 
I'll just stay home and karaoke for now.

Welcome to Indianapolis...

My first weekend in Indianapolis, I spent with my niece E, cleaning and arranging.  Then, I drove her back up to school.  My first day at work was Halloween.  Now, in the other office I worked in, Halloween was a HUGE deal.  We dressed up and had a pitch in, which they did for me before I left the previous Thursday.  I went to work wearing an orange shirt and a cute cow/frankenstein Halloween pin.  (A little kitchy for me, but it was a green cow...) My new coworkers acted like it wasn't a fun/special day. It was just a normal work day!  Plus, the new boss and wife were on vacation, so, we were down people.  I spent the day a bit bummed that nobody cared it was Halloween.  After work, I went over to the church for the YSA Family Home evening.  Nobody informed me about what time it started, so, I got there the time it did in my old group.  Well, I was a half hour late.  They had already had a measly lesson and were playing a game that involved running around inside of a set of chairs.  I felt so awkward.  After they got bored with the chair game, they played volley ball.  (Later, Volley Ball became the vain of my existance, but I'll get to that.)  I soon learned that volley ball was about all this branch did for FHE.  In the branch I had came from, Volley Ball wasn't a game related to the FHE lessons, and therefore, was never played at FHE.  We had little games every once in a while on the weekends.  We even had a black light Wally Ball night.  But we had a very creative and inventive group, and rarely played the same games or had the same activities twice within a few months.  Now, I really don't want to sound negative about the group of local Indy YSA's.  But at the time, I needed more than I was getting.  Within the first month, I became inactive due to lack of friendships or feeling included.  I know for most, this is not a "real" reason to stop going to church. But for me, friendship and community are what I needed.  I wasn't receiving that.  I guy that I still communicate with and am friends with his wife made a wierd comment to me the time I did decide to attend.  He said, "You are very inactive." He did this with a smile on his face, and shook my hand.  I don't know why he decided to make that statement at that moment, but he did.  I remember the final straw happened in Relief Society.   The Relief Society President was handing out the new manual for the year, and she said, "Who needs the new manual?"  I raised my hand, right in front of her face. She didn't even look at me or offer me one.  For some reason, that just made me heart broken.  I look back on it now and think, maybe she was just ridiculously blind or something, trying to give her the benefit of the doubt.  That day, it was like it was the end of the world!  I remember calling M. and telling her what happened, just bawling my eyes out.  She kept encouraging me to find other social outlets.  Find a new club or church, find a gym, start attending a YMCA/YWCA. Do something else aside from attending this church that upset me all the time.  I was trying to explain to her, good Mormon girls don't just give up on the church due to social inactivity.  She kept telling me, again, it takes two years to cultivate relationships and make a social group in a new location. 
Then, the inevitable happened. The Branch found out I knew something about music.  After that, they kept giving me music callings.  First it was just directing music as a substitute for different meetings.  (The funny thing was, in my old ward, even though I worked at a music store, they never thought to ask me to do anything musical.  I even sang in the choir once, yet, it didn't occur to them to ask. As soon as they figured it out, I was moving on.) Then, I was told I was going to get a music calling as Relief Society Music Director. Then, someone else was called. I was still subbing all the time for Sacrament meeting because the other people were sick of doing it.  That's when attending church became more of a "requirement." 
The other thing was, there were cliques involved in the branch.  This is not a slam against the people.  This is just the truth.  It just happens when there are different ages and stages of life involved.  It creates certain groups of people.  There was the younger age group that were still in college.  There was the middle to upper age group that were the young professionals that were simply not married yet.  Both groups centered their activities on the South side of town.  I was not close to them at all.  When I did hang out with the younger group, I left the activity feeling unfulfilled by doing things that weren't at my maturity level or interest.  Also, the conversations held in this group were not what I was interested in.  I wasn't "boy crazy," which were 90% of the conversations in this group. 
The second group, the upper age group or the group that was composed of "young professionals," often did things that I would be interested in.  There were two issues.  Issue one was, I wasn't always invited in this groups excersions. Issue number two was, when I was invited,  it would be an activity that I would love to do, but didn't have the money to participate at the time.  I remember when they all went  to see "Stomp," and I wasn't invited.  Then, they all made this huge "Stomp" like presentation for a talent show, and I wansn't invited to do that.  That was when I had the realization, I wasn't really included at all in the church cliques. 
So, I started going to visit my sister every other or third weekend to be social.  Not that I don't love my sister, because I do.  But I am a social person, and she help create the social outlet that I needed. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Move To Indianapolis

When I found out there was a position open in Indianapolis, I was conflicted.  I was just getting to a good point in the suburbs. A good balance of friends, job, and personal time.  The other side of the coin was, being closer to my family.  When I was living in the suburbs, I was making the trip to Indiana every four to five weeks.  My parents are older, and I wanted to spend time with them.  I was also going more and more in debt from living in that area.  When I first found out, a coworker and I went to lunch together.  As soon as I told her that the company had made me an offer she knew immediately I was going to take it.  I was still in the thinking process, but she just knew.  I decided I should move.  I was going to have to start over again.  Some tiny snafus happened in the process.  The woman who was leaving the company still had to sell her house.  Well, that was going to take forever.  The other thing that happened was another person was hired because she was a family member.  (I really like her, and still talk with her to this day.)  So, all the sudden, I wasn't really needed after I was offered the position.  The third and final problem was, aside from the fact that I had no money to move, I had just resigned my lease at my apartment complex.  I would have to do a buyout with them.  Well, my boss up there was awesome, and did a lot of speaking on my behalf, with the company and with my apartment complex.  He got the company to pay for part of my buyout and payments for my buyout that I could afford.  He also helped me get a moving truck. 
The moving party was huge!  People showed up from church that I wasn't even sure they knew who I was, all of the Young Single Adults came, and all of the new friends I had made over the last year and a half.  I had also used a lds type facebook to help me out.  I contacted a girl on there from Indy that seemed very out going, and told her that I was moving into the area and may need help.  She replied and said, sure, people are willing to help. Things were started to work themselves out to get me moved.  The woman who was supposed to be leaving the position finally gave a final date.  So, we set a final date for the move. 
On the way, I had to stop at my parents to go to the bank get a cashiers check. They helped me out a little bit with the money to pay the new apartments.  I also stopped and picked my niece E. up from her university for some back up help.  She's also extremely organized! 
When we got to the apartments, there were three guys from the church that I had never met before.  One of them ended up being related to one of my sister's friends.  As soon as the moving truck got there, we got everything unloaded.  While unloading, I met my upstairs neighbor.  She ended up being a great neighbor the whole five years I lived in that apartment! My old boss, his wife, and daughter said their goodbyes, and left.  I think he was really sad to say goodbye to me.  Then E. and I started the unpacking and arranging process.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Time in the Chicago Suburb

I was in a far west suburb of Chicago for my internship and about a year after that.  I moved to do my internship on January 2004.  It was a rough move.  The six months before that, I felt like a bit of a transient.  I was living with my sister in one city, yet traveling back and forth to school to stay with some friends.  I was applying for jobs that entire time, but not having any success in finding one.  Then, for the fall semester, I stayed with these friends for the semester.  So, for most of this time, most of my belongings were in storage.  So, I took one car load up with me.  I sent one car load with my parents.  The rest stayed in storage.  The apartment complex had a bunch of weird rules about not moving in the front door due to recent renovation.  So, I got myself there, got my key, and started moving into the back door.  Luckilly, my patio door happened to be on that side of the building.  The thing is, I did this by myself.  I moved in my futon mattress, sans the frame and a large 24 inch T.V. (This was before the nice, skinny flat screens.)  Then, I realized, I had no lights! I also didn't have a shower curtain.  So, I went on the search for Target.  I think I went the wrong direction and found what most would call "The Ghetto Target."  I had a Target card and no money, so, I bought a ton of apartment supplies on credit.  I did end up with one purple popason chair and a bright colored shower curtain with the rest of the bathroom necessities to match it.  That was Friday, and I was starting my internship on Monday.
The first week was mildly rough.  The first day of work, I made it.  I met all of my new coworkers, and I started learning my responsibilities.  When I got home, I was exhausted from being on my feet all day long.
The second day, I go out to my little Hyandai Elantra, and it won't start!  I have a minor freak out.  I start searching the phone book for the phone number of my new company, but I can't find it!  I dial 411, and the operator can't find it!  I know this place exists, because I've already been there once!  Some how, the operator finally finds it when she realizes, I'm looking for a company and not a person.  I get through to my company.  By now, they are worried about me, because I haven't shown up yet. My boss was so nice and kind to me.  He sent his wife to come to my apartment and pick me up. 
As the week goes on, things get better, but my feet get worse! I remember calling my really good friend M. by the third or fourth day, just about in tears because I was in so much pain.  She just kept saying, "It will get better! You'll get used to it!"  My thoughts were, was I really going to be stuck doing physical labor at this job forever?!  This isn't what I signed up for!  But I needed the credits to finish my degree for my internship, so, I kept going. 
The internship did get better, and I received more responsibilities than the physical labor.  The loneliness started to get to me.  I was calling M. on a daily basis.  She had words of wisdom that I truly believe.  It takes one to two years to get fully adjusted socially into a city.  I started filling my time doing things I shouldn't have, like shopping.  I wanted to get a cat or pick up my cat from my sister's, but there was a hefty pet fee for the apartment complex.  My dad convinced me to buy a video game console.  I went out and bought the PS2 with "The Simpson's Hit and Run" game, because that seemed to be what all of my friends where talking about at the time.  I played that game for hours, but that got boring too.  I wasn't going to a church.  I wasn't participating in any music activities.  I was bored and lonely, which is a bad combination.  Then, finally, a couple people at work asked me to hang out with them.  Even though they had been nice to me since day one of my internship, I was too shy at the time to say, "Hey, want to do something?"  So, K. and S. quickly became friends.  At one point, we found out a local resturaunt had Karaoke on Sunday nights, so, we all started going. 
S. K. also introduced me to a game called D.D. R. or Dance Dance Revolution.  This game involves a dance pad with arrows that connects directly to the PS2.  I became obsessed with this game!  We would have whole nights where a group would get together and play the game at someone's house.  Not only was this fun, but it was physical activity!  I started loosing weight.  I lost 40lbs in six months from playing DDR and maybe some of the swimming I was doing at the aparment complex pool. 
The ladies at work the were mothers worried about me like I was one of their own.  We would all even do ladies night with the coworkers and go to dinner together.
I also started going back to the LDS church.  I met new people there and had another group to hang out with.  I was getting closer to my two year point, when the position in Indiana opened up in my company.  Then, I had to make a decision.  Was I going to stay in this place where I was finally making friends but falling more and more financially in debt by the day, or was I going to move to Indiana where my living expenses would be cheaper and I would be closer to my relatives? 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Struggle to Get my Voice Back

So, my life went on.  When I finally got the call for my kidney, I was 21 years old and in college.  I was having the worst semester ever in college.  I was failing most of my academic music classes like theory, history, and midi.  I was passing my business classes, which seems crazy to me now.  The moment I got the call, I went to school, went to my theory class to see all of my friends, and to also find out I had failed that exam.  Since the whole class was buzzing about me, the teacher said, "You probably wish you hadn't come to pick this up!"  Gee, thanks.  Then, I walked over to the next building and withdrew from school.  Now that I think about it, this was probably not a smart move. The kidney could have dissappeared or not worked.  I hear these stories all the time on shows like "ER" and "Greys Anatomy."  The thing is, the kidney did work and still works to this day.  (Go Kidney!)  I had been on this list for about a year and eight months, which was about the normal waiting period at that time.  I was on a peritoneal dialysis machine called the Night Cycler which, woke my roomates up with it's beeping more than me.  (Knock, knock, knock.  "YOU'RE BEEPING!"  "Oh, Sorry!" Snore...)
I spent the rest of my sememster living in my parents' home.  I also spent most of that time not singing at all.  I remember right after the transplant, a group of doctors standing around my bed and demanding that I sing for them, you know, two days after surgury.  It doesn't matter that they just put you out for a full day and stuck tubes down your throat while you were sleeping to keep you alive.  So, I put on my best surgury smile, and attempted to sing, "Part of Your World" from the Little Mermaid.  I squeaked out, "Look at this stuff..." and coughed, "Isn't it neat?"  Then, I realized my vocal chords just weren't going to work.  My voice was shaky.  I just about started to cry.  "Then, I tried to get through another line, "Wouldn't you think my collection's complete?"  I just about died of embarassment.  I just felt like, these doctors have to know that singing two days after surgury is not the greatest idea!  I'm still healing!  Especially, since the first 24 hours, I wasn't allowed to drink anything.  All fluid intake had to be through an IV.  Dry, tube damaged vocal chords are not easy to manage.  From that moment on, it took me some time to gain my confidence back and start singing again.
Then, the "Millenium" happened, and Y2K didn't.  That weekend, I moved back into my apartment with my sorority sisters.  I started singing again with the help of my voice professor.  Her family, being medical professionals, and she having been through some medical issues, understood.  She worked with me. Then, more side effects of the medicine started to happen, the weight gain and the thinning of the hair.  In an industry that's based on your image, those are two things that are hard to work through.  I had long beautiful blonde hair before the surgury. Then, it started thinning out.  So, I kept cutting it shorter and shorter.  I also started dying it lighter and lighter.  Imuno suppressants do weird things to the body.  I tried to work out to control the weight gain, but the side effect called "Moon Face" from the prednisone, made me look heavier. I kept on singing through it all. 
Sometime within college, I discovered karaoke, which is fun.  But during college, I was still involved with two to three choirs until my last year. I was in the Concert Choir for five years.  I was in the womens group that did classical repetoire and some show choir music for two years.  Then, my very last semester, the director decided he didn't want me in the group I had already been in for my entire college career.  He wanted me to be in the "Community Choir" group.  I joined Steel Drum Class for my last semester.  Let me just say, that class was awesome!  And I probably learned more in that group than I ever would have in the "Community Choir!"  I also prepared a Junior Recital and a Senior Recital.  Those were actually fun!  I sang with a church choir, where I was a paid musician and also expected to provide "Special Music" every other month.  I made it through college.  I had to do a six month internship to complete my major.  So, I got an internship with the company I work for now.  It was in the Chicago Area.  I had survived college!  I recieved a lot of performance opportunities through that experience.

What it means to be a Non-Professional Singer

A Non-Professional Singer is a person who enjoys singing and has maybe had some training in the vocal area.  The Non-Professional Singer may do Karaoke, Community Theaters or Choirs, and Church choirs.  The Non-Professional Singer is actually a pretty good singer, just couldn't take the time out of life to do things like audition for Broadway, audition for American Idol, and/or make their own CD to start shopping around to record companies. 
I am a Non-Professional Singer.  I love singing and directing the little choir I created with my friend. I love singing karaoke.  I still direct the music for church services.  I still sing "special music" for church services.  I love going to show choir competitions during show choir season.
I went to college to be a singer and studied music.
I also have many health issues.  One that was discovered when I was eleven that would eventually lead to a kidney transplant.   In my late teens early twenties my health was at its worse. A councelor at the medical center looked me in the face and told me I wasn't allowed to live my dream and become a "Professional Singer."  I had to have insurance to live. She was just very matter of fact. Within a two minute conversation, my dreams were crushed!  Did this person realize she had accomplished that?! Of course, this person for her job probably crushes dreams on a daily basis!
So, I went back to college and changed my major to a music major that could get a job: Music Business. In fact, the advisor of that major called me while I was still in the hospital from my transplant to check on me.  See, the music business majors would go on a trip to California every year to attend NAMM (The International Music Products Association) conference. He knew the only thing keeping me from going was a kidney.  From that moment on, I knew that music business was where I was supposed to be.
I currently work for a large sheet music company where, I have insurance.  Not exactly what I had in mind when I started college, but I enjoy it most days.  I sing on the side.  My largest endeavor is the community show choir I started with a friend in January of 2010. 
My question is, how does one fulfil the need to do something that was a life long dream?  When a single person turns around and demolishes all of your dreams and aspirations, life does go on. 
This blog will be about my life going on...