memorialrainbow: (bell what's out there)
[personal profile] memorialrainbow
Starting this at work although I don't know how long this is going to take me. Yes, I mean the first job, not the second.

I don't know how to start this, really. Except maybe this. When I was a freshman at Miami, I became obsessed with the genesis of the musical Rent. One of the songs came to me last night while going through everything I'm about to talk about, and I didn't know why until I realized it applied to my situation.

So Rent is about all these artsy fartsy Bohemain types living in Alphabet City, and I wanted to be like them until I realized I wasn't and to stop faking it. The main dude's name is Roger, and of course he's dying of AIDS, and of course he wants to write one fantastic song before he goes out in a blaze of glory, k whatever. In the middle of the musical, one of the other main supporting characters says, essentially, "fuck this city, we're leaving and starting a restaurant in Santa Fe." In the movie, they dance on the subway to this song, and it's all fun and games and silly because people who live in NYC know: if you hate the city, you leave. That's it. We don't have time for your bullcrap.

It's not brought up again until a later recitative in Act 2, where Roger says he "sold my guitar and bought a car, it's true, I'm leaving now for Santa Fe." Why does Roger leave NYC for Santa Fe, and then magically come back to save the girl he loves from dying at the end because reasons?

I don't think Roger actually goes all the way to New Mexico. I think he would have loved NYC too much to leave, and besides, Bohemians don't have any money really and moving costs a fucking ton of money. Roger, you're an idiot. Someone was gonna pay you maybe $50 tops for your guitar. A car? With no credit? You can't even pay your power bill.

I think Santa Fe is a metaphor. A motif, if you will. I think that maybe Santa Fe is "getting high" or something, or maybe just going to Jersey. Santa Fe, "holy faith," getting away from the NYC bubble and the situation that plagues you for just long enough to see it from the outside, and then go back inside and do what you need to do (like save the girl). In this case, going to Jersey or Albany or Charlotte is like my Santa Fe.

But you can't stay in Santa Fe forever. You have to go back and tackle the matter at hand. You really don't want to leave, do you?

I had it all planned. I wanted to be able to stand on stage without a piano or a violin, be able to sing and hold peoples' attention, to be separate from that. I wanted to be bathed in luminescent light, to dance like I did at the Sidewalk Cafe before the cops showed up. I wanted people to pay attention to me and my dance and my lyrics and my song. I wanted to make that kind of music. But at the same time, I didn't know how I was going to keep it up forever.

Everybody else saw what I didn't see. That I was living a lie through my music. That I was creating fun music, yes. That the lyrical content still made it very solid. But it could easily turn into a facade if prompted, and was turning into one for the sake of nobody but myself.

I talked with one of my friends last night about my project concert. I knew that if I wanted it to get off the ground, I would have to get together a proposal before the 1st and send it in to them. There would be no guarantee that I would get in, since I had performed there before -- but I intended to make it completely different from before, when I just played piano for my friend.

I ran the idea of the concert by him and he said it, and I quote, sounded "gimmicky." I asked him how to fix it. He said I was overthinking it. I asked, sarcastically, if I should just "show up with a piano like I always do and play some shit." He said if it worked, then do it.

And I didn't want to. Because I didn't want to hide. I didn't want to be a singer-songwriter behind a piano. I didn't want to be that hip-hop violin girl. I didn't want to be used. I wanted to fit in, I wanted to be normal, to sing on stage just like everybody else. I wanted to play the game -- until I didn't. The reason I wasn't making any progress was because I didn't want to make progress. I wanted to play music my way, but that wasn't good enough for the music industry. They wanted to change me, to put me in a box, to label my music with a genre, and in order to do that, I had to step out from behind the piano and produce, or sing, or whatever. But stick me behind a piano, and I'm just like Vanessa Carlton or Alicia Keys. Give me a violin, and I'm Lindsey Sterling.

I thought I would have to get over myself, become someone I'm not. Until I remembered that people actually respond to my solo piano music the most. There's a reason it's the most viewed on YouTube. The boyfriends who sat and listened to me play in college. The recital I put my heart and soul into and then hated for years, because it's how my abusive ex met me and started idolizing me. It became his music, his song. Later playing for others at choir and downplaying my skills. The violin solos I played in Zanesville and felt guilty for, because I hadn't practiced. The concert in NYC that I did that nobody came to see because it snowed, and I felt awkward at, but it was still me. I was still proud of that show. The power that I felt in my fingers as I directed my friend's cabaret, and then her missing the cue on my song and cutting out the entire violin solo, but it's okay, I guess.

And I pictured myself, standing not in glowing clothes to hide my face, but in normal street clothes, playing the violin for everybody, and them all liking it just the same. And it made me realize I've been in Santa Fe way too damn long.

The thing about Santa Fe is this: you can remain there for a little while, get some perspective. But who actually wants to freaking live there? You can't live a lie. You can't participate in somebody else's illusion. I said earlier to my engineer that I refused to have him save me, as if me just moving in with him and staying with him would somehow ease more than my financial burden. I'm not your tool, and my piano, my violin, my skills, I choose whether or not I want to share them with you.

So maybe I will.

Maybe I will teach the girl who has nobody else how to listen for the right pitches, how to name them in a way that everybody else understands. Maybe I'll be able to tell her just how special she is, but that this gift is hers and hers alone. Maybe I'll give a voice to the woman who never thought she could sing again, yet wanted to. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get my engineer to go with me to the subway, where I'll play for passersby. Maybe we won't get arrested. Maybe I won't have someone steal my violin and smash it into a nearby pylon or toss it onto the tracks.

Maybe I'll wake up in the morning and go to my new job, and take a shower and look kind of sort of nice, and I'll make some videos with my Flip. Maybe I'll practice violin. Maybe I won't spend another day looking at Facebook wishing I was somebody else, or wishing that my music was a facade to hide behind. Maybe I'll enjoy being in Holland instead of wishing I was in Italy. Maybe I'll stay on the bus. Maybe I'll stay in this city you were locked in after all.

Maybe it makes sense now.

February 2017


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