Monday, February 14, 2005

Wrapped up tight in creationism...

'Creationism' doesn't have a biblical connotation for me. I think of it as the fusion of creativity and perfectionism. I fused those puppies together about 40 years ago, and I've spent the last 10 years trying to blow-torch them apart. Reading this post by Communicatrix yesterday brought the subject front and center again.

This is how bad it was: I wouldn't even sing "Happy Birthday." When I was a kid attending other kids' birthday parties, I'd gather around the cake with all the other kids, but always made sure to stand at the back of the group where it wouldn't be obvious that I was lip-synching. It seems bizarre now, since most of those kids were my classmates...and we had singing class together every day for eight years. It was technically called "music class," but most of what the nun had us do was sing. I think that's where the shame of my singing voice developed. I was (am) an alto, which is totally cool with me because I'd rather be an alto than soprano. But it was the way Sister Mary A. would say, "You're an alto. Go sit on that side (of the classroom)." She always made the four of us in the alto section feel like outcasts. I guess she thought sopranos sounded much prettier in church.

But it wasn't just being an alto (because that didn't bother me). I was convinced that the only way I could carry a tune was in a Samsonite. Even as an adult, I never sang in church, and Glide's a church where pretty much anything goes. Hell, we used to have a loud, rowdy drunk who'd come to the 9 am service and often interject drunken remarks during the sermon. But still I kept quiet. Office gatherings to celebrate someone's birthday? Birthday gatherings at someone's home or a restaurant? It didn't matter how much I had to drink--when it came time to sing "Happy Birthday," I was lip-synching. And if complete lip-synching was too obvious, then I'd sing in a sort of barely-there whisper. I made Marilyn Monroe singing to JFK sound like a belter.

Then I fell in love with the boyfriend. I'd had musician friends for years--some of my oldest friends are musicians and singers!--but I never sang, or even hummed, in front of them. It was bad enough that the boyfriend could sing. What was worse (in terms of my singing phobia) was that his ex-wife is a singer. There was no fucking WAY I was gonna sing in front of him. So there we'd be, on long road trips, flipping radio stations or playing tapes or CD's, and I wouldn't so much as hum.

Finally, three or four years (years, not months) into our relationship, I screwed up my courage. As I've written here, it's a ritual in our house to bake birthday cakes the night before and have birthday cake for breakfast. It was his birthday. I was bundled up in my zebra-print robe on a cold December morning. The cake was on the table and I'd lit the candles. I climbed onto his lap, wrapped my arms around his neck and began to whisper-sing "Happy Birthday" into his ear. Needless to say, he was surprised. He immediately pulled away to look at me and said, "You have a nice voice!" Yeah, right. But that moment freed something inside of me. It broke loose one of the 'creationism' chains I'd felt so tightly wrapped around me my entire life.

I'm blessed to have a mate who's not only extremely creative himself, but encourages creativity in others in the most gracious and patient way. So whenever he hears me say, "I can't," it's immediately met with the response, "Yes, you can." "I can't (fill in the blank)...draw, sing, design a house, etc." "Yes, you can." And you know what? He's right.


Thank you, Blogger, for finally giving us pop-up comments.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a shame that it took so long for you to learn that you COULD sing. Singing is such a joy. I'm glad you've finally blown those 2 apart in your mind and found your voice!! ~lizardek

8:49 AM  
Blogger Katherine said...

. . . your creationism nightmare is ending as my darwinism nightmare is just begining :) . . . and you can do anything! (I just used my psychic powers to confirm that one :)

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Open up that throat and SING!!! Now-- do it. Cut loose-- no more holding back. Don't go whispering through life when you have so much to say and share!! ~bluepoppy

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good for you, marilyn!
i REALLY can't hold a tune, but i used to share a flat in vancouver with a wonderful girl who encouraged me to sing, saying sweetly: "when you sing, it means you're happy. and when you're happy, i'm happy.." i remember my year as her roommate as a time of great freedom, and a time of never feeling self-conscious about being just off-key me...
:-) lynn

4:02 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home