I recently performed for the third time at my alma mater, the Spence School, where I went to Kindergarten-12th grade, and as usual, it was so awesome and was my best audience of the year. Each performance there has been better than the last, because the girls keep up with me online in between performances and know my music before I come perform it, so they’re really excited to hear it and I’m really excited to perform it for them.

I was a bit nervous about this performance because it was the first one consisting of my new dance-pop music and none of my old stuff, and I wasn’t sure how much they would like it, but a few weeks before the performances I spoke to some of the girls on facebook and they said they were keeping up with my new music and loved it, so that made me feel more confident.

The performance was not only tons of fun but also really boosted my confidence in the quality of my new music. It is really fuckin’ good. I worked hard on it and made it the best I could and it really paid off because people really enjoy it. Also, performing with tracks is a totally legit way to perform because people still really enjoy what they hear and they get to hear everything as I wrote it, with the same sounds and all the back up vocals, and I think that is really important. Every time I played a song the girls were dancing along and having a great time listening, and they really cheered loudly at the end of each one. I still get totally exhausted singing and doing minimal dancing when I perform a song, and I don’t quite know what to do about that. Run and sing on the treadmill like Fergie?

The only drawback of the show was that somehow the camera didn’t end up taping the show at all. Not one second. Which REALLY sucks because I was hoping to get SIX AWESOME youtube videos out of this performance that really could have helped my exposure and been an EXCELLENT resource to use for bookings. It is the PERFECT gig because it’s great sound, great lighting, and a REALLY large and enthusiastic audience who knows and really enjoys me and my stuff. It is SO LAME that the taping didn’t work OH MY GOD. Not to mention that it was a really special 35 minutes of my life that I REALLY would have liked to have on tape. GODDAMMIT! Oh well, next time. Barf. Will try to get some great video from the Dec 19th show, where of course the lighting will suck and therefore probably so will the video. Goddammit goddammit goddammmiiiiiiiiitttttt!

Whew. Anyway. Focus on the fuckin’ positive, right? I AM SO ANGRY. Ok. Here are the wonderful moments from the performance:

1. I didn’t chicken out about wearing weird stuff. I did the show in my bright pink wig, my new silver sequin jacket, my black sequin tank, my pink tights, and silver boots, and dramatic makeup. I was considering toning down my look for the audience and then realized–wait a minute, this is what I do, this is who I am, and my fans expect me to do it. So I did it up! And everyone was saying how much they liked my wig and outfit and asking where I got my clothes and shoes. Right decision made!

2. Had the fascinating realization that when 12 year old girls in middle school don’t know you and you’re an adult wearing weird things, the experience of them asking you about it is totally different than when you’re their 12 year old classmate wearing weird things. When I was 12 I would get really upset when people at school questioned what I was doing or wearing and didn’t get it. Today, I just told them I was dressed like that because I think it looks pretty and it makes me happy, and that was that. Realized I probably should have done that in middle school, too. Probably wouldn’t have worked though. That’s middle school for ya.

3. Before the performance I sat down on the floor with the girls in the front, joking like I was a student waiting for the assembly to start, and ended up chatting with a lot of them before the show. It was a nice way to break some ice and was also cool because I went on to blow them away with my show and they were all so excited to tell me how much they liked it afterwards.

4. I did a lot of new songs in the show, including “Friday Night Forever” and “Hold For Your Lovin'” which the girls really loved. Was great to hear that people are really liking my new stuff because I think it’s pretty great, too. The girls also insisted on singing Texas Boys a capella with me, which was really fun. Can’t believe I remembered all the words off the top of my head when I haven’t sang or listened to that song in at least 8 months. Was of course great to hear the girls singing along and knowing all the words.

5. When I performed “Dance Dance Dance” the girls sang along, and it was quite a funny thing to see these tiny 11 year olds singing “I don’t care what you think, gonna flip my hair and sip my drink!” I inserted the words “of juice!” after that phrase the first time I sang it. Very funny. One of the girls said that was her favorite song, which I love.

6. The girls chatted during my songs and at first I thought it was because they weren’t listening but when I asked what they were talking about, they said they were talking about how awesome I was. I told them to keep talking. Heeeeeeey!

7. Got the girls to do a big “Heeeeeeeeeeeey!” with me, which was funny. The girls also made a big banner with my name on it to hold up which was sweet.

8. At the end of the show the girls asked where Socrates was, to which I replied, “Well you know that’s funny, I mean, it’s funny that you ask, because the thing about Socrates is, well, he’s…he’s dead, haha,” quoting the line from Annie Hall when she says that about her grandma when Alvy asks about her. I then explained that that was a joke from Annie Hall which no one in that room has ever heard of BECAUSE THEY WERE ALL BORN IN THE MID TO LATE 90’s.

9. After the show the girls all took my business card and then ran over to me to have me autograph each one. I gotta say, I LOVE signing autographs! It is SO FUN! Hope to do a lot more of it in the future. Plus the nice thing is, hopefully since I signed all those cards they hung on to them and used them to look me up on the web! (A lot of them did–I’ve got a LOT of pending facebook friend requests from the girls and the song plays on my page are way up today. Yay!)

10. A couple of the girls asked if I would come and watch their choir rehearsal, which I did, and they sang the song they were working on for me there. I could tell it meant a lot to them and I was really happy to watch.

11. A lot of the girls were really excited to see me and were telling me that they were my biggest fans and they wanted hugs and to keep in touch and everything. Love that! It’s so cool to be on the other end of the fan love, cuz I know how I feel about the people I’m a big fan of, so it’s really cool to think I have people who feel that way about me. Hooray!

All in all it was a great success and a great experience and next time I will do everything in my power to capture it on film NO MATTER WHAT and share it here! The teacher who books the assemblies said she’d definitely like to have me back, so I’m already looking forward to next year’s performance! Gotta get in on the upper school assembly too, and should look into other school performance opportunities out there in case they exist! 🙂

So, there are a lot of people of whom I am a huge fan. And I think it would be fascinating to read a long, heartfelt, personal email they wrote to a friend. I just wrote an email like that, and as I was writing it, it helped me cheer up from the crappy mood I was in. I think this letter contains a lot of helpful advice, and I often find myself doling out this advice to friends who appreciate hearing it, so I thought, why not give it a wider audience (by about 10 people) and put it on this blog. I hope it goes viral because I think it could cheer a lot of people up. Feel free to pass it on to your friends.

The Letter:

Hey girl, thanks so much for that beautiful email. I’m going to put it in my “nice things people have said to me” folder in gmail, but really it deserves its own folder entitled “life affirming, validating things people have said to me that help to put things in perspective and stop me from forgetting that I do matter to some people even if I forget it a lot” but I already have too many gmail folders and that title is too long, LOL. Anyway it was really really helpful and wonderful to read everything you said because I didn’t have the greatest birthday yesterday. It really wasn’t bad as birthdays go at all, and a lot of the reason it wasn’t the best was my fault that I could have corrected, but I just feel like I’ve been on a bullet train this whole month with not a second to stop and plan and prepare for the shit that’s important to me. Ugh. So I never asked people to hang out with me at night on my birthday, so I did the parade alone and got soaked to the bone in the rain and was freezing when I got to my friend’s party, and spent most of that party drying my costume with a hair dryer, then fell asleep before I could get to the party I wanted to go to, partially because I didn’t want to go to it alone, even though I really really wanted to go to it, and now I’m all upset that I’m already 26 and I didn’t go to that party and all my gay friends are moving out of the city and blah blah blah. So I’m glad that I give off this veneer of everything being great, but rest assured, I think it’s physically impossible for us to show everything that’s going on inside on the surface, so everything always looks simpler from outside. Don’t ever think you’re the only one going through some shit, and don’t ever think your shit is ever the worst, because it never can be. With all the horrific things that go on in this world, the fact that we have time and the ability to pity ourselves for our stupid little failures is a fucking miracle, LOL. I am laughing at myself right now for actually being sad about my stupid, meaningless, first world, upper middle class, well-educated problems. Fuck me, I am so lucky. And so are you. And so is everyone who isn’t in a war or a North Korean work camp or a Calcutta brothel right now. At least you are free to pity yourself in private, for god’s sake. What a bunch of idiots we are. Anyway.

I was able to cash the check, and seriously, don’t even worry about the whole thing! Money is just money. It comes and goes and we make it and spend it and lose it and it appears and it will never matter as much as friends and wellbeing.

Damn girl, I am so glad we had that walk in Central Park!!! Of course I remember it too, and I’m so glad it was so helpful to you. As you know I care so much about you and I really sympathize with where you’re at emotionally right now and I’m so glad and grateful I was able to help. That’s the only comfort you have when a friend is not feeling well, is being able to help, and I want to help as much as I can! I’m glad you’re feeling a little better now, and please trust that things will continue to improve if you keep working at it. Life is one big mindfuck after liberal arts college and we just have to take it one day at a time and do the best we can with it. We have to remember to forget about the idea of “success” and whether we have it or not, and just do what makes us happy and take care of ourselves and our friends. Everything else is pretty well out of our hands anyway, isn’t it?

You really ought to start loving yourself the way other people love you. 🙂 You are beautiful and wonderful and loving and caring and creative and talented and interesting, and you always have been. There is nothing in you to hate. And there are so many things about you that other people would love to have. From stupid superficial crap like looks to more important things like family and friends and education and opportunities. I prolly talked to you about the whole “The Secret” message of remembering to be grateful and express gratitude for all the things you have rather than fixating on what you don’t have. Start with the basics like the fact that you have a normal body that functions properly and allows you the freedom of being self sufficient and independent, and don’t forget all the other things that are going well, like the fact that you’re not isolated and you can choose what you want to do with your life and you live in a free country and you’re a citizen of another free country and you know what your options are and you’re not being forced to spend your time killing or oppressing others, etc etc etc. Once you start thinking about it you’ll see there are an infinite amount of things to be grateful for. Every single thing you have, there are lots of people out there who don’t have it. No matter how bad you feel mentally, gratitude can help that, and you still have a lot to be grateful for. If nothing else, this sadness will teach you to be grateful for happiness, and not take it for granted, and do whatever you have to do to find happiness and keep it. Also, something I try to remind myself of is that happiness is not dependent upon other things. It’s its own thing. No matter what you have or what you’re doing or where you are, you’re either happy or you’re not. Things and people and places can’t make you happy if you’re not. And you can be happy without things and places and people. You have to figure out how to cultivate happiness for happiness’ sake. Also living in the moment is helpful. Most people are sad because they’re regretting the past or dreading the future, but if you forget about that and focus on the present, the present usually isn’t that bad. I dunno, maybe also try to think of things thusly: if life is making you sad, it’s probably just because you’re missing the joke. Find the humor in every situation and you’ll see this is really just one long, absurdist, alt-comedy play with too many characters and poor staging that doesn’t allow for everyone to have a good perspective from which to view the lunacy such that it becomes funny. And in the end, there is no message and no meaning anyway. Just a chance to play your part to the best of your ability and wear the most feathers out of everyone on the stage.

So last night I was at the Jonas Sees In Color record release party and spoke with one of the women I know through Women In Music (if you’re a woman in music in any capacity in NYC, join this group!! It’s awesome!!) and learned an interesting tidbit from our conversation.

She spoke about something called “upstreaming,” which is when an artist on a small indie label is sort of “promoted” or “upstreamed” into being on the major label affiliated with the minor due to hitting a certain number of sales. I’d think that number would be in the hundreds of thousands of albums, but she said it was only in the low tens of thousands. That may sound like a lot of cd’s for an indie artist to sell, but it’s not unattainable if the music is good, the artist is constantly performing and growing their fan base, and the music is being marketed properly. So the take-home message for me was: don’t be afraid of getting “stuck” on a smaller label, especially because smaller indie labels are usually more passionate about and dedicated to their artists, and will help them a lot in the beginning of their career, and every young artist needs that. Then, if the music does well enough, a bigger label with more muscle and money will sometimes take you on to reach higher levels of success.

This reminds me of the bottom line I always try to remember: if you can make money, you’re golden. If you have nothing else going for you but that you make money, you have everything going for you, because at the end of the day, labels want to make money, and they’ll go with the artists that make money. So the key is to figure out how to make money, because then you will get the support and help you need, because people will recognize that they can make money by being part of your team.

Money might be the root of all evil, but it’s also the route to all success, hahaha. Then it’s your job to keep the evil at bay while enjoying your success.

And now back to work.