Lolita was a Slut, King Lear was an Ass, and Mr. Darcy was a Narcissist. (there. i said it.)

Over three hundred (324 to be exact) people have taken a look at this blog since its inception a week ago. Woah. Yes, my mother and close friends account for a lot of those hits, but I’m guessing more than half of those came from my friends sharing, linking, and posting. I think it’s because you believe in me, but I also think it’s because you believe in the message. Thanks.

In addition to starting this blog I’ve done a few new things this week, and have also thought about getting back into some things I used to do.  And I’m not thinking easy or safe things. I’m going to go back to singing lessons.

My friend Alan and I started singing lessons last spring. It was something I’d wanted to do for a while, and so did he, so we teamed up to do it together. I stopped for a whole slew of reasons (I could list them here, but want to avoid this turning into a rant…), but Alan continued his weekly lessons and now, in addition to singing, he’s playing the piano. Go Alan.

We chose Dan Comstock http://www.dcomstock.com/ as our teacher because he came highly recommended, but specifically because I’d heard he can teach anyone—absolutely anyone—how to sing. Dan doesn’t take this as a testament to his skills, but to the fact that really, anyone can sing. We all have a voice and he shows us how to unleash it.

In college a voice teacher told me to “hang it up,” and we spent my lessons driving in my car and singing (I was slightly better there than in her office) and gossiping at Friendly’s over Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Sundaes. I got full credit for the class and handed out programs at the performance. I felt like a loser. Why couldn’t I sing?

I don’t think I was born with the voice of an angel, but she set me up for failure by picking my song for me. The theme that semester was show tunes, and she chose “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Jesus Christ Superstar for me, a beginner. It’s a beautiful song—I can see that now—but I had little chance of being able to hit those high notes (um…the first “love”….I don’t think so.)

The words and the message are beautiful, but I was twenty years old. And Mary Magdalene? I won’t go into a lengthy discourse here about Mary Magdalene, but lets just say that even with the show tunes theme she could have let me sing “Tomorrow” from Annie or “Hopelessly Devoted to You” from Grease. Regardless, it didn’t matter what I sang or didn’t sing. She told me I was a lost cause when it came to singing, and for sixteen years I believed her.

I struggled with writing in high school. I struggled so much that when I got to college I had to take a somewhat remedial Rhetoric class to help me learn how to express myself in writing. I’d fought a losing battle in high school English classes, unsure of how to regurgitate in writing what the teacher talked about in class. I didn’t understand the point, wondered why my opinion didn’t count.  What if I though Lolita was a slut? What if I thought King Lear was an ass? What if I thought Mr. Darcy was a narcissist? Didn’t matter.

In the college Rhetoric class I was finally able to have an opinion, and it turned out my writing, when I could put an “I” in my essays—wasn’t half bad. It turned out I had a voice, it just needed an appropriate venue.

So I’ll go back to singing, and learning to use that voice will no doubt support my other voice, my current writing endeavors. Doing what scares you will take you to the next dot on your personal map; being afraid to make the next dot will lead you to burning a hole in your plan. My favorite Steve Jobs’ quote lately:

“…you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

What do you do that scares you? What would you like to do that you think you can’t? Do you think you can’t run a mile? Go to graduate school? Learn a foreign language? Take a solo road trip? Bake a cake? Cook dinner for twenty? Have a dog? Love someone? How are you connecting your dots?

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4 thoughts on “Lolita was a Slut, King Lear was an Ass, and Mr. Darcy was a Narcissist. (there. i said it.)

  1. As a teacher myself, it made me cringe & feel sad that ANY teacher would ever tell a student to “hang it up.” I am also so grateful that even 16 years later you are able to find your voice and use it for good. What a grand talent you share with us! Thank you!

  2. Thanks for being one of the good ones, Lisa. I had some terrific teachers too, and MUST get some of those stories written. Thanks (on behalf of all the kids whose lives are improved by wonderful teachers) for fighting the good fight.

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