Tag Archives: dreams

All I want for you is karaoke.

microphone set


Mine was MORE LIKE HER by Miranda Lambert.

That was my go-to karaoke song the summer after I turned 21. And it was so wrong.

I was a walking apology then. When that happens, when we forget that we don’t have to change to make someone want to be with us, we think the only way to ever have someone in our lives is to be different. Because I didn’t want to change, I was sad. I was reserved to the truth that clearly, the person I decided to be didn’t get to be good enough.


Months later, in the university health center, the receptionist leaned in and said a thing that I will never forget, that all the Good Little Kid parts of me will always wonder about:

“What did your mother say when you cut your hair like that?”

She didn’t know me. But again, she’d made me want to apologize for cutting my hair shorter than the boys. For wearing burnt red skinny cords and knee high boots.

I walked home and called my mother and asked her why short hair had to make me into the kind of girl people whisper about. I thought about telling her lies, all the things I would’ve said to that strange woman with a child of her own. It wouldn’t have solved anything.


When we’re young, we’re fearless. At seven years old, microphone in hand, I manned the left corner of the bar on a cold December Saturday. On either side, people two, three decades older than me nursed bottles of Budweiser and Heineken. It never occurred to me to be nervous.

Back then, my go-to karaoke song was much different: SILVER BELLS. It’s a song that, for so many years, brought me back to my grandmother. Before she was sick. Before she was gone. Before we stopped spending weekends in that red carpeted lodge with stone walls and a white piano.

It’s a song that falls somewhere between happy and nostalgic. It makes you think that you can only ever be happy in the midst of Manhattan on a snow-covered sidewalk with your red Starbucks cup in hand. Then, though, Starbucks was just a toddler in that town.


Some years later, I lost my bravery. My biggest fear as a college freshman was accidentally singing out loud in the community shower. Some girl down the hall walking in mid-chorus and shaking her head, whispering to the rest of the dorm.


We all lose our bravery.

We forget karaoke is the thing we do every day. We go to work singing our song, whatever it may be. We go to work happy, and excited, and energized, and overjoyed to do what it is we’re doing. And no one else is standing there pointing and laughing because we’re happy.

We think they are. We think they’re scanning our Facebook feed and making silent judgments. Or wondering how many hits our LinkedIn profile gets each month.

We wonder whether we’re doing the right thing, or whether we should be doing the thing that makes us want to wake up in the morning.

Let me tell ya: I have always believed it better to do the thing that makes us want to wake up in the morning.

But not everyone has had that.

All I want for you is karaoke. I want you to stand and sing your song. Wake up in the morning and do what makes you happy.

My seventh grade history teacher ruined my childhood dream.

gymnastics hershey beam awards medal

my first year of competitive gymnastics

When I was thirteen, perfection was just a misspelled word on a t-shirt from a gymnastics catalogue. Perfec10n, the shirt read.

Perfect 10.

I was obsessed with the way the phrase rolled off my tongue so easily. Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton? Now those were girls who knew how to work hard.

I thought that if I pointed my toes hard enough and stayed at the gym extra hours, working on stretches until my arms and legs were sore for at least two days straight, I could make it to the Olympics.

But then I went to seventh grade and my history teacher told this other girl that she was too old to be an Olympic gymnastic. And since we shared a birthday, I knew what that meant.

It didn’t matter anymore if I was short and skinny and ready to dedicate my whole life to being America’s next Shannon Miller. I was already too old.

I remember looking at her from across the classroom, my pulse skyrocketing as I thought quickly before he reached my desk in the back corner. What did I want to do with the rest of my life? I didn’t know. I didn’t even remember what I’d packed for lunch.

From then on, perfect was unattainable. Out of my control. Sure, I could spend 20 hours a week caked in chalk and sweat until I literally couldn’t smell myself anymore. But that wouldn’t be enough.

And so began the pattern of always being perpetually behind.

My coach would make us do five perfect beam routines in a row. No falls, not even a wobble. For some of the girls, cleaning up minor missteps on a dismount or over-rotations on a front tuck was easy. They’d focus and knock all five routines out in no time.

Me? I’d do one or two then fall. Two more and another fall.

And then, of course, I’d be late to the next event — uneven bars — which was, consequently, my worst event.

It was a cycle that drove me crazy. And I watched the rest of the girls master it, so why couldn’t I?

What I know now is that perfect’s just the accumulation of mistakes we make leading up to a self-determined ‘final destination.’ I was so busy being paranoid over the notion of “5 perfect beam routines in a row” that I couldn’t focus on the block of wood under my toes.

When USAG stopped handing out 10.0’s like candy, I’d already quit. Not because I wasn’t perfect, but because I couldn’t accept that fact. I drove myself (and my parents) crazy when I played mental games, reverting back to basic skill levels like a child forgetting how to walk and talk.

On those nights, I ran upstairs and jumped into the shower, because at least I didn’t have to think about how to wash my hair. But the truth was that all I needed — and all most of us need at one point or another — was to be shaken and reminded that perfect’s boring.

And really, perfect is a lie. USAG decided that for me. Not long after my seventh grade history teacher.

John Lennon is my homeboy.

Day 5 of the letter challenge – your dreams

To my dreams,

I think I decided to amass as many of you as possible when I was about sixteen. I asked one of my friends if it was possible to be an artist and an athlete.

“Look in the mirror,” she said. And there was my answer.

via weheartit.com

Since then, it’s been all about you. You are my reason for getting up in the morning, the most important incentive to throw off the covers and hop out of my bed.

My only apology is for not being able to give each of you adequate attention. For not sticking with one of you. You push me in a million little directions and try to force me into choosing. And I say “no.”

On any given day, I look in the mirror and say:

“I want to come one step closer to accomplishment today. I want to be a photographer, a lyricist, a novelist, an inspirational blogger, a follow-worthy tweeter.”

“You can do that,” I sometimes think.

On more than one occasion I’ve laughed at myself for my complete lack of normal thought processes. It doesn’t seem crazy to want to write song lyrics. If that’s what I wake up wanting to do, I’m going to do it.

You have nothing to worry about. I will not neglect you. I will not forget about you or push you to the back burner. I can’t sleep because I’m busy trying to reach you. I’m up all night thinking about you. You run through my mind all day like a cheesy pickup line.

And even though I don’t get everything done every day, I think about how long it will take to get to you. How close I am to being there. To taking a magic wand and flicking it at you, turning you into reality. I want to spin around with my eyes closed and see you come to life in front of me.

beatles t-shirt

I have always been a dreamer. John Lennon is my homeboy, my kindred spirit. It is not a matter of beginning. It is a matter of directing myself.


As for day 3 of #reverb10 – This is the moment I remember in most vivid detail.