I honestly don't know where this particular blog post is going to end up. I have had a humdinger of a year and I just might be going through a mid-life crisis of sorts. Actually, whether it has to do with my age, I don't honestly know, I just know that I seem to be at a major crossroads in my life and something has to be done about it, because I cannot continue to feel the way I have been and survive. It's that simple.
Much about 2014 was good. I did a lot of singing and getting back on stage, as always starting with the NAMM show in January with my dear friend and fellow diva Debby Holiday. As a wonderful bonus I also got to see my friend Mary there, with whom I used to work in Nashville at BMI. I honestly don't think either of us could tell you when the last time we saw each other before that was, so it was a real blessing to have even a short time together.
↓ Debby, me and Mary at NAMM in Anaheim. ↓
Next was a long, hot summer of "Chew On This," a musical/cabaret show-type vehicle starring and written by my good friend Gilmore Rizzo which featured bubble gum pop tunes from the 50's through the 70's. We revived this show from a few years ago at the French Market. This time we did a weekend of shows in Palm Springs in July and then a six week run at the NoHo Arts Center in August and September. The music was vocally challenging, the cast and band was full of wonderful people I enjoyed working and spending time with and Gilmore wrote me a part that truly showcased my strengths as a singer and comedic actor. As with any independently produced show, we had some bumps along the road, but overall, it was a wonderful experience and I am grateful for it. AND my friend Tiffany got to come in from Canada to see it! She also brought me a bag of Canadian goodies. My kinda friend.
↓ The cast of "Chew On This" in Palm Springs ↓
↓ l to r: Gilmore Rizzo, Barbara Shane, Jessica Buda and moi. ↓
After that I was invited to do a three song set at Oil Can Harry's for Lori Donato's Sunday Jam, which happens the second and third Sunday of every month. My long time friend and piano man extraordinaire Rob Bowers accompanied me on "Stuff Like That There," "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "I Keep It Hid." You can see the videos from that on my YouTube page.
↓ Flyer for Lori Donato's Sunday Jam ↓
Nursing a broken heart, I needed to keep myself busy and distracted after that. So, I booked a free vocal master class in November, which went aces (I plan to do another one soon) and followed it up with a webcast concert called "Christmas at Darci's," on Concert Window. The aforementioned Rob Bowers was my musical director and accompanist, my awesome friend Marie Pettit was my on-camera chat room moderator (and changed Christmas hats like Cher changes costumes in concert), her husband (also my awesome friend) Chris Gregson ran the camera, and we had a tiny handful of people in my living room to give it a "live" feel while everyone else across the country logged in to watch on their computers and other handy-dandy tech devices. It was so much fun and, I think, a smashing success. I'm very excited to do another one soon.
↓ Flyer for "Christmas at Darci's" ↓
↓ Me and Rob after the show. ↓
I also wrote , recorded and released a single for download on my website, "December Come Around." It was the first song I'd recorded in five years, the first Christmas song I've ever written and the first song I'd written without a co-writer since I lived in Nashville (so, we're talking at least 14 years, if not longer). I'm very proud of it and hope to pitch it this year (to Carrie Underwood or Jennifer Hudson, if a girl can dream). You can still get it on iTunes, if you missed it.
↓ Album cover for "December Come Around" ↓
Also, back in May I took a trip out to Fort Lauderdale to visit my dad and his wife and had a wonderful, relaxing time.
↓ Con mi Padre celebrating my birthday. ↓
My baby brother just got engaged (wedding coming up in May)...
↓ The Travster and my future seester-een-law, Laura. ↓
...and my cousin Jenny had her first baby in November... ↓
...oh, and I mustn't forget that I had my first trip to Disneyland ever, courtesy of Gilmore Rizzo. At Christmas, even! ↓
Sounds like a pretty good year, right? Lots of good, good stuff.
Well, in the midst of all that:
- I got my heart smashed to bits. I mentioned that in my last blog post.
- I lost several loyal students due to various reasons; one which I had to make the decision to drop because his mother made me hassle her for payment every month. Yuck. I cannot seem to keep enough students to survive, ever, even though I know I'm very good at what I do. Other friends of mine who are coaches have waiting lists...and for some reason I do not. I feel like I've tried lots of different things to get my name out there but nothing has worked. My students apparently don't tell anyone they're even taking voice lessons let alone who from, even while singing my praises to my face. So, word of mouth hasn't worked, either.
- When I did my Christmas webcast, I did it mostly with my Nashville and New York peeps in mind, because they're always squawking about how they miss hearing me sing or they wish they could make it to my shows but for where they live. I also thought this would be a great idea because people don't actually have to leave their homes and go anywhere, which in L.A. is a big deal. This saves them exorbitant parking fees, food/beverage requirements and travel time. Though I still feel it was a success overall, it was still really disheartening that the majority of people who logged in to watch were Californians and primarily not the people who are the loudest about wishing they could see me perform. Also, people complained that it was too complicated (it wasn't - if you can manage Facebook, you can manage Concert Window - my mother managed and if she can, anyone can). None of my extended family logged in.
- I sold exactly 13 downloads of my new single. That's One. Three. And not a single one to anyone who's said to me in the past, "Why don't you put some new music out?" "It's time for you to record something new." "Why don't you ever record anymore?" Not a single download to anyone in my family, save for my sister Mandi. It cost 99 cents. I know, I asked people to break the bank. *note sarcasm*
- I have completely lost the joy of singing because I cannot seem to recover my voice to its former range and strength due to years of fighting sinus infections that produced a violent cough that made me lose my voice. While I seem to have found a way to keep the cough at bay now, I don't have what I used to, I don't sound like I used to, my instrument is not nearly what it used to be, which was what made me unique, and it's now so much effort to produce sound that it's not an enjoyable thing to do anymore. I never know if I can count on my voice, so booking something like "Chew On This" was a terrifying leap of faith. I don't feel comfortable trying to book other gigs because I don't know if my voice will be there on that given day.
All of these are facts of what happened this year, all of which have led me to a place in which I'm asking myself, "What's the point?" Nothing I mentioned above is meant to lay a guilt trip on anyone personally (and I really mean that - okay at this moment I don't mean it for the heartbreaker, I kinda want him to choke on it), but I must wonder truly, what is the point of anything I try to do, when I can look back over the course of my entire life and career (if you can even call it a career) and feel like every attempt I've ever made at anything - music, work, relationships, certain friendships and business partnerships, et al - has failed miserably? When it seems like no one could possibly give less of a shit in supporting me? I have so many regrets I've lost count. So many "almosts" and "whatifs" and "couldashouldawouldas." A longtime friend of mine once said to me, "No one works harder than you and is more unsuccessful at it." He's right.
He's absolutely right.
I also had another longtime friend - who does not live here - tell me I've done nothing to get anywhere in my career. At which point I told him to stop effing talking if he wanted his nose to stay in the same place it is currently.
So, there's that, too. How many more of you think that about me, I wonder?
But more importantly, things aren't the point. I work from home, which I've wanted to do for years and I enjoy my work. It is a blessing. I live in a great apartment that I love. I have wonderful friends all over the country. I love my family and can't wait to be with them all in May. Can't beat the weather here in SoCal most of the time. I felt my heart open up for the first time in years, when I didn't think it was possible for that to ever happen again. I consider that a damned miracle, despite the beating it took afterward. My family and friends are all healthy, except my Mima who is suffering from dimentia, but she's had a good, long life and possesses the constitution of an ox so she'll probably still be around for a while. I have everything I need. I want for nothing that matters. My fridge is full. My bank account is not, but I can keep a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food on my table and the lights on...besides I don't care about being rich.
And yet, something is missing. Something is always missing. To the point where just about a week ago I was sitting on my bed, bawling my eyes out and asking no one listening, "Did I have a twin die in the womb that Mom never told me about or something? Why do I feel like a part of me is missing? Why do I feel so empty?" Indeed, why have I always felt so empty, no matter how good my life is or how spiritual I am at any given moment or where I've lived along the way? All the work I've done on myself the last few years to think positively and choose joy seems to work for a New York minute and then burns out like the end of a match. When I was growing up in an evangelical household, I don't recall ever truly feeling God's presence in my life or heart. Never once, no matter how much scripture I read and memorized or how often I prayed. I have never in my life experienced any lasting contentment, let alone happiness. I have always felt like I'm never good enough, smart enough, talented enough, pretty enough, thin enough, funny enough, spiritual enough, obedient enough, financially stable enough, sexy enough, interesting enough, worthy enough, worthy enough, worthy enough, worthy enough, worthy enough, worthy enough...............
Something in me is desperately broken and I have to figure out what it is, or as I said, I will not survive. Don't worry, I'm not suicidal or anything like that, but I do worry that if I cannot make my way out of the level of despair I've been in lately, I will give up entirely. I will just beach myself on my couch and never get back up again and people in lab coats will have to break down my door and drag my comatose ass away to the funny farm where I will spend the rest of my days staring out a window and drooling on myself (should this happen, call my sister Jodianne to make arrangements for Pickle, please. Appreesh).
↓ DangerPickleKitty ↓
I visited a psychic the other day, one whom I've seen several times, the wonderful Tysa Goodrich. You know when you've found a good one when you leave feeling like you've had a life coaching session instead of just "having your cards read" (note: if you're one of those who thinks psychics are a joke or of the devil, you can cram it - frankly, I'm not really in a place to be tolerant of your closed-minded, fear-mongering nonsense at the moment). In discussing some of these feelings I'm having currently, she had some amazing insights for me regarding the work I need to do on myself to get out of my crud. She brought up abandonment issues, confidence issues, self-love/hate issues, addiction issues, etc., etc., all of which I have been keenly aware for years and thought I had worked through.
Apparently I haven't.
She said, "I feel like something in you has died. When I see you in your younger years, your late teens and early 20's, you had such a fire in your belly. You were fearless and gung ho. But now...it's like someone or something just snuffed you out. And you've been this way a long, long time. You have a very wounded, lonely little girl inside of you and you need to deal with her or nothing's going to change. And my God, you're expectations are so low!"
This of course, made me burst into tears because I knew she was right. I'm so used to feeling like a failure that I have absolutely lowered my expectations in every aspect, thinking I'll be ecstatic if just one teensy little thing ever goes right but if I dare dream for more it'll tear a hole in the time-space continuum and destroy the universe entirely. My dreams have been small for a very long time. They basically consist of: 1) survive, 2) survive and 3) survive. And I have put a happy face band-aid on for so long, trying to force myself to choose happiness and feel good just because I was SAYING I was happy and I felt good. It didn't work when Jesus was my band-aid and it's not working now.
FOLKS, THERE IS NO BAND-AID.
That is not to say that you can't change your life when you change your thoughts. Amazing things have happened as a result of my deciding that I would no longer live by Murphy's Law and actively participate in hating myself. Definite blessings have followed, more so than in any other time of my life.
However, I simply think I am at a point where I have to dig deeper, down to the junk, the mess, the sludge and bile and acidic goop, walk into the shit storm, look the dragon in the eye and slay that hideous bitch once and for all. I need to see a professional who can help me do that and possibly find a spiritual teacher to work in tandem. Likewise, I need to learn more about being an empath, which I've suspected I am for years, but Tysa confirmed for me recently (I like to joke that it's the least useful and most annoying of the sensitive gifts, just sucking up other peoples' emotions. Why can't I just see dead people? I can do something with that. ). It has much bearing on my inability to let things go like others can, I think particularly when it comes to romance.
All that said...you may be thinking, "What a Debbie Downer," or "What an ungrateful bitch," or "She ought to try having cancer." Yup to all of it and so sorry to make you feel uncomfortable. But my journey is my journey and my pain is my pain and it affects me uniquely and I'm not apologizing for it. I'm very, very weary of pretending it doesn't exist. I hate it and I want it soothed, healed, dispersed, obliterated. Okay...that's not realistic. Life is what it is and there will always be bumps in the road. I'm just trying to keep from driving entirely off the cliff at the moment, because that's what it feels like.
In closing (yes, I hear your sighs of relief)...this year is going to be a lot of work for me. And I'm going to be documenting much of it here. It's honestly my last attempt to make something of myself and my life - meaning to feel good about it and myself and be content in it and with myself - before choosing to pack up and move back home to little old Johnstown where I will shrivel up and die alone with my cat. If you choose to follow along on my journey, thank you. Maybe it can be of help to you.