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Confessions of a Middle-aged Singer.

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.



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.

The Circle Game, Unhinged.

Life have a funny way of coming around full circle.  (The most annoying thing about cliches is that they are true.)  Yes, life is funny; it is bittersweet and…it is also a touch unforgiving.

Thirty-two years ago, I was the proud recipient of a full life ahead of me.  I was cast as Mabel, the lead in Pirates of Penzance my senior year at New Trier High School.  I was accepted into the prestigious opera program at Carnegie-Mellon University and I had hopes of Broadway and beyond.  I was cute, rambunctious and shined like a, albeit rough, diamond.  And then…not so suddenly, over the course of thirty-two colorful years; I slowly blew it.

Yeah. The one in white.

I could say, “Wow…how the mighty have fallen.”  Actually, I think I have self-said that a few times.  I can even bet that a few people who hated me in high school probably still love saying that about me. Well, (insert throw-away laugh) so be it.

But I can’t say that I haven’t tried to put up the good fight.  In my early twenties, after some lost roaming years of searching to find myself, the dreams of being on the big stages seemed to slowly evaporate.  I wandered messily through my collegiate years, not quite able to find my place.  Even after my third or fourth school, after I squeaked out a BA in Theater “just to get done”, I still sang.  I continued vocal lessons. I kept up my acting chops being in a Chicago storefront theater for years, I made a half-living singing with some of the finest Chicago jazz musicians….I fell in love with the art of Cabaret.  I met some fabulously amazing people along he way.  Then, after getting married to a very supportive man and having three kids, I still kept my toes in the water and I made an album.  I continued on the relentless pursuit to do the thing that I was born and trained to do.  “I was never meant to work behind a desk,” I told myself.  “I’m convinced that was in God’s plan for me, otherwise he wouldn’t have given me a voice.” I said.  It was always a struggle, with many ups and downs, but I felt lucky enough to be one of the small percentage of the world that actually loved their job.  I faced adversity the entire time doing it; some passing judgement on me that I didn’t have a “real” job; I was wasting my time on a hobby; I was not prioritizing correctly.

Today I sat through a first performance of our local high school’s production of Pirates of Penzance. I have some home vocal students in the cast, including the girl playing my former role and my cousin playing The Pirate King.  I also have been honored with the task of doing a bit of vocal coaching for the cast.  The production is beautiful. This school is blessed to have a magnificent and talented man running their program. As the curtain rose, I was overwhelmed.  I was witnessing these amazing kids at the very start of their performing careers, singing with joy and pride. I was rushed with many emotions; the first one being pride. I was filled with nostalgia listening to the very notes I once sang.  I was inspired by the culmination of a team of musical directors, choreographers, crew and all of the people that can make such magic come alive.  And then, after the curtain closed, I felt something else very strong. I was sad to remember that I once held that in my hands and…where I am now.

Where am I now?  I am still eeking out a dwindling career in music.  I have a wonderful set of musicians that I am honored to make music with on a weekly basis.  I have scores of students who have enriched my life just by letting me vocally-guide them.

I think I am nearing the “those who can’t do anymore, teach” portion in my life.  But I can’t even do that right now.  Boo. I find myself in a low spot.  It’s a quiet depression because it’s easy to misunderstand, so I try to keep it to myself.  I have painful vocal nodes now.  I suffer to sing every note.  I struggle to teach the kids who need me and sing for the musicians that depend on me.  I work too much, I sing too much and I talk too much.  My body is feeling the effects of not taking good enough care of me.  I’m tired for the kind husband and beautiful children who need me and I am worn down for my own self, who needs me to keep on going.  I’m too busy for the friends who miss me and I can’t help but feel that I’ve made a mess of it all.  Life so far, fifty years later, has been filled with joyous memories of being a mom and a wife; a friend and a daughter; a mentor and a coach.  But still a mess, nonetheless.

How do I pull myself out of it?  That’s the million dollar question.

Career-wise, I am at a fork-roads.  Changes have to be made and soon.  I’m closing down my vocal studio until at the very least, I can heal my voice.  I am finishing up my resume to try to enter the corporate world.  I will fight tooth and nail to still keep singing a part of my world.

I can only take my memories and my experiences and push forward, hoping that everyday, I continue to try to be a good and loving person.  One who can lift others with song and strive to comfort all who I love.  Continue to make sure my kids are ok to go out into the world and maybe even help them learn from the mistakes that I have made.

These include my music kids.  My greatest wish for them is that they keep that shining light in their eyes, that light which twinkles with dreams and promises of happy and fulfilling times ahead.  It would indeed be everything, if life could only stay as happy as in the tender, brief stage moments, when we all held each other’s hands and took that final bow.


Too Sad To Title.

I really want to scream.

I wake up this morning, dragging myself out of bed. I’m yawny and blurry and dreading my 8:30am workout.  I roll over, grab my glasses and pick up my phone to see what I missed on social media. God forbid, I miss something important, since it’s been a whole four hours when I last tried to sleep. And then I see a text from one of my dear friends, to tell me that someone we love died last night.

Fuck.  Fucking fuck.  I can’t.  Shock is weird.  It’s like someone took out my brain and hung it on the ceiling right above my head and it’s throbbing.  I’m feeling so many things, but I don’t actually know one thing I’m feeling.  I can toss out the usual reactions: disbelief, shock, sadness.  I can’t think or type the right words to even describe what that feels like…I can only explain that it was more like I’m slouching on the side of my bed, with an elephant sitting on my chest and I just can’t find a breath to take.

First thoughts….first thoughts…it’s not real.  I think of his life partner. I think of his family.  I pray that he didn’t feel pain.  I angry-cry about him being too fucking YOUNG.  Warning: I’m going to spill the beans and share all the crazy shit that was going on in my head.  It’s embarrassing, but maybe something relatable. Or maybe it’s just thoughts that prove that I need professional help.  But it’s real, it’s raw and it’s the truth. And it all comes from me hoping that in our very last days, we know how much we are loved.

My mind is a Rolodex, flipping to the last time I talked to him. Flip, flip, flip…when was that? I just had an email exchange with him a week ago…two weeks ago…was it a month ago?  It could have been six.  It was business.  About a booking? Was I loving, responsive and kind?   Or was I curt, short and to the point?  Is that the last impression he got from me?  Did he know how much he meant to me?  Did I tell him how much he meant to me?  Fuck.  No, I didn’t. We, as humans, don’t do that all day, every day. It was business about a booking…it was…normal day stuff.

More thoughts are spewing: why didn’t I tell him how much he meant to me on one of the last times I saw him.  That time recently at a show.  When I saw him looking up at me,  smiling at me, watching me from off-stage. Why didn’t I scream out to him, “I love you and I am grateful for you in my life, my friend?”  He deserved to hear that every day.  We all do.   But we don’t think that every time we say goodbye to someone…that it might be the very last time.

I want time back.  I want the early days with my old pal, when we were jamming in his family room in the first band I was ever in, when I was in the best times of my life and I didn’t know it, and he was teaching me Chaka Khan tunes and we were drinking PBR; underage and unforgiving, I want to go back to that and take his face in my hands and say, thank you for being in my life.

And then when we re-connected through music in the last few years…he found out that, even though I’m an old Golden Girl now,  I’m still musically at it, kicking around on stages and still fighting the old gal fight.  He heard I was still singing, and he reached out to me with that beautifully gargantuan smile and said, “Hey.  Let’s do something with your music,” Then again, I should have taken his face in my hands and said thank you for again for still being in my life.

Recently, he hired me to sing in a place, and there was a random hole in the floor.  He quietly, yet deftly remembered that I am, and always will be, a ditz.  AKA: a girl who will always fall into holes.  He pointed down and said, “Heather, don’t fall in that hole.”  I walked past that hole in the floor without incident, turning back at him with a smirk on my face and simultaneously patting myself on my own back.  Then he pointed to a door in the back of the room and gave me a warning look. “Walk through here.  It’s cool behind there, but be careful.”  Obviously, I strutted through that door and I immediately fell way down into a much bigger hole.  But it was a fun fall, because I got to hear that old laugh.  It was lovely; ringing robust and true just like those good old days.

What now.  I feel too many things.  Mostly I feel so deeply sad for his amazing partner and his loved ones; all the people who will feel the loss every day.  I’m feeling again so much sadness for those who will now have to walk around everything and everyday without him.

Now it’s the wee small hours.  What to do now?  Gradually all day,  I was checking Facebook, watching how so many people were grasping to mourn such a tragedy.  Share how much they loved this man by posting pictures and stories and dedications.  I did the same, trying to to connect and grieve together. There were so many loved ones, yearning helplessly to write to him and tell this magnificent person one more time how much they loved him…hoping so hard that he can hear all of us from up above.  It’s so desperate and yet so very needed for many of those left behind.  All so overwhelming and heartbreaking and scary and final.

I once had this kind friend in high school and he asked me to be in a band. He taught me things about music that I still sing out of my mouth today.  Lately, he found me again and I got to see that wide, electric smile and share some laughs and a great love for music.  Then, we lost him too soon and I wish I had more. I wish I did more.

Ferris nailed it: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Life is, indeed, gorgeous. It’s work.  It’s tiring, yet so rewarding.  It’s filled will so many layers and it is enveloped with all the different kinds of love.  It fills your heart and it breaks your heart and then it’s over way too soon.  My old friend, thank you for your friendship.  Heaven is jamming to your serious super-funk tonight and for always. How lucky are they up there? How lucky were we down here. XO MT.





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Fallopian Send-Off Countdown…and Go!

I just scheduled my appointment to get gutted.

This moment only took me four years.   But alas, I am here.  I have officially been put in a vaginal timeout by my Lady Doctor and there is no going back.  My last check-up a few weeks ago with him went a little something like this:

(Scene: Doctor’s office follow-up with results, after complete biopsy under the hood.)

Lady Doctor: Besides your endometriosis, your fibroid is growing.

Me: I’m an overachiever.

Lady Doctor: (Not amused.  I start to think: when you look up chee-chaws all day long, I guess humor slowly erodes away like lining of a vaginal cavity.)

Lady Doctor: Last year your fibroid was a lime.  Right now it’s an orange.  It’s time.

Me: Hm.  Ok.  Now, would you classify that as a clementine? I love those little guys.

Lady Doctor:  (Not amused.) Not at all.  The big one.  It’s time.

Me: That doesn’t sound apPEALing!

Lady Doctor: (Literally no expression.)

Me: K.



My Trunk Junk.

Friends, meet cervix.  Cervix, meet friends.  In 2 short months, all of these once-overactive baby maker tools will be Jack-the-Rippered out of me.  Sayanara, sweeties!

The saddest part is all the excuses I have made.  I can say that I put these shenanigans off because of “work”. I book our gigs months in advance and I don’t want to screw my musical partner out of months of work=valid.

I can say that I can’t afford to stop teaching and singing for two months=valid.

I can say that I don’t want to leave my students voice teacher-less in the heart of high school spring musical audition season=valid.

I can say that I am scared to get all the weird and non-glamorous side-effects I will adopt, after they rip out my woman bits=valid.

I can even say that I am not sure what I am going to do with myself for two months, because I literally have watched the absolute and complete entire collection of Netflix=VALID TO ME.  And also embarrassing.

But the real truth…the one that festers and bubbles…the one I dare not whisper to anyone, even sometimes to myself…is that I am dreading the pain=The most valid.

But it’s going to hurt me so badly.  Not so much from the relinquishment of my reproductive whozits and whatzits galore, but my actual BODY will pulse and vibrate with breath-taking pain from not being medicated.  I have to go off of my Humira 10 days before and I can’t start up again until 6 weeks after.  During that time, my rheumatoid arthritis will unleash from the very gates of the seventh circle of hell to attack every joint in my body.  It’s a dark place, brother.

I could be all Pollyanna and pretend that it will “not be as bad as I think”, but fuck glasshalffull.  I know it will suck hard, because it happened to me unexpectedly last year.  (Please refer to the past WOUND posts.  It wasn’t pretty.)  It freaking hurt.  I’d rather have 5 more babies, all popping out at the same time.  Oxycodin from my surgery will help, but eventually I will have to stop, to prevent me from being an addict looking for a fix in the parking lot of Mariano’s, Zumba and all the other popular mom-addict drug spots in the surrounding Lake County area.

But it’s time.  Now I have 51 days to really show my ovaries a rockin’ good time.  I’m taking them to Florida.  I am definitely not going to neglect them from any opportunity to enjoy a tall Tito’s and soda.  They can help me decorate my Cubbie Christmas tree this season.  I’m even going to dress them up in flapper sequins and let them sing with me at my big closeout NYE gig this year.  They will want for nothing…..these bitches will be spoiled, but they are going out in style, yo!







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