I should've been doing this all along....

I am one of the most sentimental people to ever walk the planet. Why would I, of all people, not be keeping a detailed log of every success, failure, emotion and heartbreak of this journey? Well now that I've figured this out, I'm going to start writing about it. Like, all the time. Here we go.

I'm doing this pretty cool thing in my life right now. The way most people see it, I'm making music and performing it. I'm a musician. Lots of people do it. Big freakin' deal, Natalie. You're not the second coming of Christ. Or John Lennon, who, along with three other musicians, is apparently bigger than Jesus. Yeah, okay, I know.

But, surprise! I think it's different. Wanna know why? I guess you do if you're still reading. Well, look. I have always written songs. I wrote my first song at 8 years old. It was called "I'm Grounded." Probably because I usually was. Grounded. I wrote horribly depressing and self indulgent songs through my embarrassing teenage angst years. I wrote even more depressing Lilith Fair type songs about heartbreak in my early twenties, before I realized that I should probably steer clear of the 21 year old pot heads who would break an anniversary dinner with you just to make it to their 87th Phish show (even just to hang out in "the lot" selling the famous Garlic Grilled Cheese, a hippie delicacy consisting of kraft singles and garlic salt).

But the inspiration for these songs is of little consequence, because no one heard these songs. In fact, no one even heard me sing for well over a decade. I've been singing since I was 2 years old, copying melodic a cappella phrases that my parents would challenge me to mimic from my car seat, the two of them soaking up my sheer elation in the rearview mirror. I even sang professionally for a stint as a child.

Something happened. Something made me stop. I mean, I never stopped singing. I never stopped writing. But I stopped doing these things in front of people. Friends, boyfriends, teachers, didn't even know I could do these things. I developed this irrational fear of performing, and the longer I held that fear, the greater it became. The thought of singing in front of people was literally the most terrifying thing in the world to me. So why should the people in my life even know that I had this ability? Then they'd just want proof. Better to keep it to myself. It became like this weird, demented, secret gift I carried within me. I knew it was there, and I would let it out, but only for myself to see. As I grew up, I taught myself how to sing in different ways. I discovered my chest voice, and then I learned how to mix my chest and head voice. I learned how to use vibrato in the right way. I practiced all of the calculated runs on 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill' until I was sure I didn't miss any of the notes. I developed my own way of singing that I felt conveyed my most intimate feelings far more personally than anything I ever spoke. This, of course, just inflated my irrational fear.

Then one day, my dad let it slip to one of my friends, a fabulous musician that I still have an immense respect for to this day, that I sing. And of course, since my dad is my dad, when he found out that this particular friend didn't even know about this part of me, he started gushing compliments about my former, less fearful self as my face turned a glorious shade of crimson and I tried to change the subject. Later, that friend asked me if what my dad said was true. Embarrassed, I stammered around an answer. My friend said something then that I will not ever forget. He said, "Natalie, if you have a talent like that and you don't take advantage of it, then that's just stupid."

Simple. Yeah, he was kind of being an ass. But I ruminated on that for a long time. I mean, a really, really long time. I played that conversation over and over again in my head. That seems crazy, I know, but you know what was more crazy? My completely ridiculous irrational fear of singing in front of any human being ever. Come on. Get a grip, Duke. That one sentence that my friend innocently muttered after a couple beers could have been taken any number of ways. To me though, that one simple statement encapsulated all of my fears, desires, dreams and passions. For as long as I can remember, all I've wanted to do, all I've truly loved; unconditionally, undyingly, truly loved is MUSIC. What kind of an idiot would I be if I denied myself a life FILLED with it?

I know I am not alone in this, as I've said. Plenty of other people love music. Plenty of other people feel it like I do, like it's what they are meant to do, who they are meant to be. Most of them just aren't masochistic enough to deny themselves that which they feel is the biggest part of who they are. And the ones that are, well, they probably don't have my friend there to tell them what an idiot they're being.

It's interesting that this blog post has ended up being what it is. Initially, I sat down to tell you about past shows and to vow that I will post more about future shows and other fun things happening in my musical life, and that I will try my best not to bore you with things only I think are interesting. It's possible that is exactly what I have done here, and if that is your perception then I apologize. I felt that this was a more important story to tell. Maybe more so for myself than for my readers.

So thank you, friends and family. Thanks for reading, thanks for listening, thanks for coming to my shows, and most importantly...thanks for telling me when I'm being stupid.