Two months ago I made a pact with myself. I had just recently been very sick. I live with a bum immune system and it can be a pretty tough and often misunderstood. I was diagnosed with some pretty nasty stuff, including IBS. I was basically bitch-slapped into that by a severe amount of anxiety. I take horrible care of me and I am also a stressball. It was a long Covid year(s), I have a sick family member, I wasn’t working my day job anymore…I needed a break to heal up, re-group and re-charge. I decided that I would commit myself to a 365 daily blog challenge. I love to write my feelings. And eat my feelings. And write them.
Six days into it, my world turned even more upside down. The close sick family member took a really bad turn and life changed again. Sleepless nights, stress, exhaustion, fright, helplessness…all of it knocked me down. Suddenly, sharing my words, thoughts and feelings felt too private. I was desperately and unequivocally sad. I stopped blogging. Quitter, quitter chicken dinner.
My dream last night was so unnerving, that I woke up with my fingers practically typing in mid-air. I needed to get this out. It was so real. I’m not going to go to much into it, but it was a common Heather nightmare dream theme of me onstage forgetting lyrics, wearing an outfit that made me look like an encased sausage, and it was ripping, everyone hated me and someone with Buddy Holly glasses was in my band.
Seriously, WTF. I know it stems from me struggling to fit into the molds that people want to fit me in.
Can you be more….rock
Can you be more…country
Can you be more…
Dude. I AM more.
I am not blowing smoke up my own ass. An accountant knows he’s good with numbers, a carpenter knows his way around his tools and a history teacher knows freaking history. I HATE to have to sell myself. Sometimes I’m just tired of having to list my bullet points as to why you should hire me. Just, listen.
I think it’s kind of hard to find singers that can do multi-genres. I know this…singers like us, it’s our superpower. In a set, I can sing Fleetwood Mac, Adele, Billie Holiday, Rusted Root, Janis Joplin, The Foos, Miranda Lambert and The fucking Who. I mean, they may not be great performances, but I make them my own and it should be good enough. And the most important thing is that I play with some incredible musicians. THEY make me sound good. Sometimes the person booking may not even get that far, because they can’t see past the way I look, to realize that one person is singing all of that.
The pickle that I am in is that I am stuck in middle-aged female singer limbo. It’s a thing.
I’m too old to be that hot young cutie and I’m too young to be the old, respected legend. I’m simply a 52 year old chubby housewife wife who can sang.
Ok, Heather, slow your roll. I was never totally that hot young cutie. I was always maybe a little adorable, but always chunky. It was ok because my voice gave me a hall pass. I also landed me a hot husband. Cute enough, dammit.
Truthfully, my whole life, I have experienced other people having more of a problem with my weight than I do. And that makes me feel like I have to run around all the time and apologize for it. Hard cracking nut. It’s like: I don’t want to go into battle, but everyone thinks I need to go into battle, but then I’m fine not going to battle, but I can see people disappointed I’m not going into battle, so fuck it. (Going into battle.)
This has been happening to me forever. The stuff when I was young almost hurts too much to talk about. In college, I was playing with my band at the very legendary (in my mind) Tulagi’s in Boulder. I was on a break, chugging a beer at the bar, when a friend came up to me and said, “Can I tell you? You shouldn’t drink beer, you’re getting kinda… I am not the only one who thinks so. So sad, Heath. Don’t do it. You’re so pretty. ” *Blink Blink*.
Yes, that guy was a ska-douchebag. But also, yes, that shit stuck with me. It hurt badly enough that I am writing about it 38 years later. I might also add that I have always been a magnet for people telling me stuff to my face that one shouldn’t say to anyone’s face. I must shoot out some weird aura. I always hated that about me.
A college boyfriend broke up with me once after a time of separation. I left school early and when he came home for the summer, he turned like a bad melon. I will never forget this because he was swinging on a hammock and I was standing in front of him, crying and asking him why he was dumping me: “You know…”(waves hand up and down me)
“No, I don’t know…what?!”
“You know. The…the…” (waves hand up and down me again)
It took me a few minutes until I horrifically figured out what he meant.
“Because I GAINED SOME WEIGHT?”
Voila: Ska-douchebag number two.
It just kind of kept on happening. Someone in the late eighties tried to compliment me. They told me I looked like Belinda Carlisle. BITCHIN’!, I thought. ”…you know, before she lost the weight”.
Yes, you can make this shit up, but I don’t have to, because it did actually happen.
Most recent battle story:
First of all, 1/4 of my Facebook requests are from trainers or people selling weight loss supplements. Jesus weeps. Do you know how offensive that is? Leave me and my chubby cheek profile picture alone. A couple of years ago, I was encouraged to lose weight and I was totally game. I was feeling like crap. Online somewhere on my social media, there was an old promo shot. I used to love it…that photo was plastered so many different times for years in the Chicago Tribune, The Sun Times; multiple media platforms where I was written about and reviewed for hard work in my career that I was really proud of. Someone said, “let’s get you looking like this again”.
THAT PICTURE WAS TAKEN 15 YEARS AGO. Honestly, I don’t blame them or think badly of them. I got what they were trying to put down. But I was really upset. I didn’t show it. I choked down my tears and nodded and faked super enthusiasm. “Yes! Let’s do it!” It did work for a bit as a motivational tool. Every time I ran on the treadmill and every time I thought about putting something naughty in my mouth, I thought about that picture. I lost almost 40 pounds in less than three months. I looked gooooodddd, damn skippy. And I felt fabulous. But…I still didn’t look like that picture. I’ll NEVER look like that picture again. Holy hell, I didn’t even look like that picture when I took that picture.
But all of this, ALL OF THIS, is bearable, except when it prevents me from doing the job that I love. I know that sometimes I don’t get hired because of the way I look. I see younger girls who are super adorable yes, but I’m just as good and it doesn’t.even.matter.
I get it I get it I get it. It IS about the customer and what they want, and the fans and what they want, but my God, it should also be about musicians being GOOD.
I could go back to acting right now and get a shit ton of roles because I can fit molds, play a character, plenty of work for the middle-aged. The only problem with me doing that Is that on most good days, I’ve misplaced my keys and my wallet, so I’m clearly too fucking old to memorize any lines.
People think this job is a party, but it’s hard work. It’s YEARS of hard work. I am so damn proud of myself to still be sticking around, and so proud of all my musician friends who do not give up on performing. It is WHAT WE DO. In the end, I know I’m super blessed. I’m surrounded by my beautiful family and amazing friends…and a music family of incredibly talented, loving and insanely gifted musicians that don’t give a fuck what I look like. I probably won’t be Freda or a Mavis, but I’ll keep on keepin’ on, until someone gets the hook. It’s not over when the fat lady sings.