Sunday, October 11, 2009

Flying Solo

I love to sing. My voice and I have a rocky relationship, but we make peace the best we can because I can't live without music. It fills me.

My stake (group of about 10 large congregations) just started rehearsing for a production of Handel's Messiah. I love the Messiah.

I tried out for a solo. I wasn't planning on it. I hadn't even considered it. But at the suggestion of some friends, and with the support of my husband, I decided to go for it. Not because I want a solo, but because I wanted the experience of trying out. And it went well, considering that I'd only heard the song twice before. And that I'd never actually sung it before. And that my voice was shot from rehearsal.

It was a funny thing, but after I walked out of the audition, I was hit by a surprisingly pleasant wave of tingly shakiness. It was a weird sort of rush, a quiet little on-top-of-the-world feeling.

Auditions are generally hellish experiences for me. I can sing a solo or duet in church and be okay 75% of the time because I'm doing it as a service and to praise God, but auditioning isn't like that. It involves competing against other people. And it's something you volunteer for, not something you're asked to do. So at auditions, generally, I choke.

But this time, though it was far from perfect and my voice shook in places and was tight and tense, most of my notes were clear and true. My body didn't shake uncontrollably. I enjoyed the experience. I liked the sound of my voice. I liked that I could (mostly) sightread in front of a panel of judges. What a big step for me! What a good experience.

I'm much happier and better equipped to be an ensemble member than I am to be a soloist. I don't want the part--I want to enjoy singing the glorious choral numbers without feeling nauseous anticipation of a brief moment in spotlight. I just wanted to prove to myself that I can be spontaneous. That I'm not a prisoner of my perfectionism. That sharing doesn't have to be self-conscious.

I left with a good taste in my mouth and without embarrassment or shame. It wasn't that the judges responded positively to my performance, it was that the judge inside of me was pleased.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Only Qualification for Winning a Nobel Peace Prize: Have Good Intentions

Did you hear? President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The conservative media is up in arms (as demonstrated by this amusing opinion piece). Even the liberal media, who didn't even mention Obama on its list of likely winners, is surprised. And I'm irked.

I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised or even all that upset; after all, the Nobel Peace Prize became a joke to me when Jimmy Carter won it in 2002 and again when Al Gore won it in 2007 for his propagation of scientifically baseless global warming hysteria. Jimmy Carter, who practically aided and abetted the Soviets by rolling over and playing dead in the name of "tolerance." Jimmy Carter, arguably one of the worst presidents in U.S. history, and certainly one of the biggest idiots of all time. Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize. And Ronald Reagan did not. But that's another rant for another time.

So why am I irked? Not because I dislike President Obama or because I disagree with 90 percent of his platforms and policies or because I think he's sneaky. Just because I honestly don't think he's done anything to merit the award. This doesn't mean that the President may yet do something in his presidency or in his life to deserve it, because--who knows?--he may. But at this point, and most of the world agrees with me, all he's really done is given some stirring speeches and pitched some big ideas (nearly all of which, thank God, he has not been successful in strong-arming through congress. Yet.).

Despite President Obama's countless campaign promises, speeches, and congressional petitions,
  • We are still involved in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the end still years away
  • Guantanamo Bay is still open
  • There has been little significant reduction in global nuclear stockpiles since he took office
  • He launched deadly counter-terror strikes in Pakistan and Somalia
  • No laws reducing carbon emissions have been passed
  • Nationalized health care is still a pipe dream at this point
  • Relations with Muslim nations remain strained at best
I, for one, see most of those things as positives, but leftists, like those on the Peace Prize awarding committee, do not. Which is what makes the whole situation more perplexing: Obama was chosen, not based on what he has done, but based on what he might do. Which is yet another farcical interpretation of what the award stands for.