I promised that I would be pushing the proverbial envelope with regard to my music and songwriting career, and I am a keeper of promises!
This past Thursday was Halloween. I have not dressed up or gone out for a Halloween event in over a decade.
For Halloween 2013, I decided to dress in the personage of my alter ego. Essentially, I was working to shed my inhibitions and push my self far out of my comfort zone. Self-stretching, you might call it. It is character and confidence building, and it can even be fun!
I am a closet introvert and a complete homebody. I am paid by day to be an extrovert, and by the end of the day I am exhausted. Typically, I like to head home from work, drop my bags (carefully, of course…my laptop would otherwise be in pieces), immediately don pajamas, and settle in for a cozy evening of wine drinking and movie watching.
Did I mention I am a homebody? I can stay up late if I am cozy in my pajamas, but staying up late at an outside of the home venue is an entirely different story.
Nearly Wednesday since July, I have been pushing my self out of my introvert, comfort zone to perform at a local open mic at bar in downtown Lowell. I was completely out of my element at first, and I only knew one person. Yet, after multiple months, I feel like I have become part of a musical family of folk.
That being said, two nights of playing music out is not a regular habitude for me. But I wanted to go out in support of my musician friends, who had been planning a night of musical performance. I had not signed up to play because I figured my style of music might not befit a Halloween evening of performance. But one of the coordinators posted “where’s marieke in the lineup?” I was so touched, that I jumped at the chance.
Jumping meant that I had to figure out what to play, and fast. It also meant letting my alter ego out of her bag for a second night of performance. I could not just sit back and blend in with the crowd.
I decided that if I was truly going to go all out, I needed to choose songs that I would never dare to play. Musician friends had made suggestions of Joan Jett tunes, etc., but I was not sure I could really do it. I have never been a badass, and wailing is still something I am working on. I practiced for hours. Somehow, wailing while playing a ukulele seemed more humorous than badass, but I was determined.
Then, it was time to get dressed. My alter ego had to wear clothing I would never ever wear. I already had an outfit in mind—a revealing, black dress from Russia (revealing in my mind, at least); netted, black tights, boots, a wig of long, straight, jet black hair, and black lipstick (I have not worn makeup since my days of dance recitals when I was in elementary and middle school.
When I looked in the mirror, I did not recognize my self. I felt more than a bit foolish. But I was still determined, so I headed out. When I walked into the bar, people I knew walked right by me. I watched and listened to my friends perform, waiting and wondering if I would pull off my own performance.
Then, I headed up. The first song was one I knew well, “Tugboat” by Victor Vox. I gave my self permission to play one comfortable one. The second was a Cat Power tune, “Naked If I Want To.” It was a quieter one, and I could not really tell if anyone was listening. In hindsight, I probably should have chose differently. The third tune was the tune. Joan Jett “Do You Wanna Touch Me.”
A friend was kind enough to back me up for all three on the drums. I turned around, and he asked which one I wanted to do next. I told him in a reticent, questioning tone, the kind one uses to both ask and tell. He responded encouragingly and began banging out the rhythm.
“This last one’s for you, Kelly,” I called out. “So you better sing with me!”
Before I could think too deeply, I started strumming. I strummed for a minute, building up my nerve. Then, I just started belting out the tune, hoping everything would be ok.
It was so noisy in the bar, I wasn’t sure if anyone was singing along. But I made it through the entire tune. My wig fell off at the very end, and everyone burst out laughing. Pretty good ending. in my book.
People came up to me after and told me it was a great set. Even if they were just being nice, I was thrilled and grateful for their support and kind words. My alter ego has since willingly crawled back into her bag, but it was fun letting her out. Maybe, I will try to give her some air time more often.