When Fine is Actually Amazing

You know how I was all like, “It’s a creativity tidal wave!  Out of control vibes of art-making and joy!  I poop poly-rhythms and eat submissions for breakfast!”  Well, yeah.  I guess I forgot that tidal waves are powerful tsunamis that can also erase everything in their path.  On Saturday my “creativity tidal wave” took out a) our computer and b) my confidence.

Image by Elise Orlowski

We were pretty well rehearsed, feeling good about the show, which was set for 9pm.  However, at 4pm, my so-called creativity tidal wave crashed into our computer, and sent it flying onto the floor, where the screen cracked, and with it, our sense of having our shit together.  We had five hours to figure out how to get to the songs on that computer, so we could play the show.  We despaired.  We laid face down on the bed.  Then we called for backup.  Our friend and frequent partner-in-crime, Joel Tarman, came to the rescue with a monitor and connector cables we could use, and my husband went into turbo mode, in which he doesn’t speak and becomes part machine.  At one point, when we realized we could salvage the show but it wouldn’t sound a whole lot like what we had rehearsed, I said to him, “Well, this is when we find out what kind of artists we are.  Do we give up because it’s not perfect, or do we play the show and keep it real for our friend’s opening, even if it’s a bit off?

Needless to say, we chose the latter, and it was … fine.  But this, like my friend and fellow artist Emily called it, is when “fine is actually amazing”, because it’s pretty much a miracle that we even played the show at all.  My husband Joel is a professional musician, so he was able to roll with the many changes in the set and improvise — he was relaxed and totally himself on stage.  And I sounded good, but I felt incredibly awkward in my body.  I just felt uncomfortable in my own skin up there, unsure of myself and not in the flow of my performance.  I shared this feeling afterwards with several other artists, who helped me see that sometimes performances just go that way, and that moment of feeling totally in your artist self often happens in rehearsal, rather than on stage.

The best part of the night was seeing the incredible artwork that John Felix Arnold III created.  It was powerful, dynamic, hard-hitting, and moving.  The show was centered around a sculpture that had a ritual aspect to it — a sculpture of a vespa sat on a circle of dirt, with bounganvilla branches beside it.  Viewers were invited take a part of the flower, think of someone you loved that you’d lost, hold out your hand, and drop a petal into the circle.  It was particularly poignant knowing that Felix had lost his friend Alex just last week, and Alex’s voice was in the sound piece playing on the airwaves before our performance.  So, all in all, it was an incredible night, even if I felt insecure about my performance, and shook up by the loss of our computer and the expenses incurred with replacing it.

I lamented to friends that I felt I’d lost some of my mojo and momentum, and my recording session for KQED’s Perspectives was that Tuesday morning.  My girls boosted me up, reminding me that reading my own writing is where I feel most myself, and I shouldn’t let a self-perceived failure mess with my ability to show up fully.  So, I went in to the studio yesterday, and it was a really fun experience.  I encourage all Bay Area writers to submit to their show and have the feeling that video may have killed the radio star, but you revived her, at least within yourself, for one day.

Hearing my own voice on the radio this morning was a thrill that few aspiring writers get to experience, and, for me, it was a big deal.  Here’s a link to the piece, if you want to hear my voice  and/or read what I wrote yourself: http://www.kqed.org/a/perspectives/R201207180735  There has been an overwhelmingly positive response by most listeners, and then, a few voices of negativity chimed in as well.  I am trying to swim in both the cold waters and the warm, inviting ones, knowing that just because everyone doesn’t resonate with my story does not mean I should stop telling it.

I continue to ride the tidal wave of creativity that is rolling through my life right now.  It is leading to some feelings that the waves are crashing over me and I might drown, but in the process of that, I might just learn to surf.

Image by Tony Heff

6 thoughts on “When Fine is Actually Amazing

  1. That was so cute, I loved your segment!! Haters gonna hate… they are just jealous of your story-telling skills. And you have a good radio voice. Sometimes I can’t stand the people on public radio, they need talking lessons. But I see a future in it for you….

    • Thank you Erin, so glad you enjoyed it! I think some folks feel really threatened by positive perspectives. They equate someone telling a triumphant story with being vain or self-centered. There is power in proclaiming good things, and there will always be people who resent that. Glad I’ve got you on my side!

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