I sat in line and auditioned for The Voice

Well, that happened!

One minute — or rather, several hours — I’m sitting in a room with a bunch of singing, happy, crazy, kooky, focused music lovers all hoping to be the next big talent on The Voice.

Then I sang! I sang a whole verse and a chorus.

Then I walked out, and I went home.

And that was it.

Several hours led up to one final moment that felt, well, anticlimactic.

But, hey, at least I can say I did it. And the experience was not what I expected at all.

 

When I signed up for The Voice auditions, I was given a time to come in. It was sometime in the early morning. I had to leave San Diego at the crack of dawn and drive right up there. I was SO scared that I was going to miss my time slot because the traffic was horrendous (thanks, LA!). However, once I finally found the spot, hastily parked my car, ran to the elevator, and inched closer to the top floor, what I found was an empty marquee outside of the building where hopefuls were sitting inside, waiting.

“I’m here for the 9:10 am, Group A? Can I go in this way?” I asked the security outside.

“Absolutely! Walk through the ropes and head in to check in.”

The ropes were empty! What was that about? I stepped inside and a large room with tables on one end of it was next. There were lines roped off in front of the tables, and no one was in line.

“Right this way” Another security told me, after she took a quick peak inside my purse.

I walked down the long and empty room and chose a table. The lady greeted me with a smile, scanned my ticket into the audition, and had me proceed into a hallway and into a next room.

Now this room. This is where they were keeping all of the people!

We were all lined up in chairs, about 20 or so to a row. They counted us out and had us seated immediately. This waiting area was STAGE ONE, as we all started to call it. Some of the “professionals” who had done this rodeo once or twice before, were letting us rookies know how it goes. “Oh, there will be another waiting area. They aren’t taking us in after this.”

Untitled

Okay, so here goes. I have to hurry up and wait. I brought snacks (white chocolate potato chips, to be exact!), water, and my iPad. But I forgot my headphones, so it was all silent apps and games for me. What felt like maybe an hour and half had passed, and they started picking up rows. Row by row they told people to stand, and row by row they disappeared into the next stage.

STAGE TWO.

Finally! Our row was ushered down a hallway and placed into a MUCH, BIGGER ROOM. A HUGE, INTENSE ROOM. FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH PEOPLE. There must have been over 1,000 people in this room alone. It was much louder than the previous room and it was much more intense. I could tell we would be waiting here for quite some time. There was a snack line in the corner that sold sandwiches, chips, coffee, water. I bought another water bottle and sat back down. I was now sitting next to a lovely, thin, and fashionable brunette who was in love with Grace Potter, and a young girl with small black braids who was with her mother. She was extremely quiet and seemed to hide herself behind her eyeglasses.

We all took turns talking about music, testing our audition song choices with others, listening to people sing. There were a few instruments, and a few singalongs erupted as a result. But for the most part, I sat still, checked my iPad, freaked out over my song choice, checked my iPad again, double checked the lyrics of my song choice so that I would not forget them, and then checked my makeup because oh yeah, I forgot I was wearing that and I am pretty sure I wiped my eyes about a million times right now!

This room was the worst.

At first it was really fun. Everybody was so excited! It felt like we were ALL going to be on the voice. Only a few people truly seemed nervous, at least in the group that I was surrounded by. Voices sang out loudly and clearly, filling up almost half the room with boasting renditions of Sia and Etta James alike. We took our photos next to huge The Voice posters. We people watched and even witnessed a girl who seemed to be on all sorts of adrenaline, dancing and frollicking around the entire room.

Then, an hour passed. And another. And another.

Now, those same boasting voices were ringing in my ears. Their notes intertwined with the people singing on the other side of the room, creating creepy and eerie dissonance that was slowly driving me mad. People kept asking me questions that I did not know the answer to. “Do you think they forgot about us?” “Do you think the producers went to lunch?” “Is Adam Levine here?” The frolicking girl was now full on raging, and had to be controlled by one of the shepherds of these musical sheep.

And then, as if the moment would never truly come, our rows were being selected. They lined us up at the back of the room in groups of ten. We stood there, all giddy and restless as we realized what was next! The next step was the producers! We were going to sing for The Voice!

Our groups of ten were marched down hallways, up stairs, around corners, and each was stopped outside of a small room. They gave us the rundown before we entered, and then when we walked in, we were left on our own. It was quiet and dark, and the chairs that we were to sit in and the spot that we were to stand at seemed hellishly far from the producer we were singing for. Five chairs on the left. Five chairs on the right. A few chairs in the back for parents. And a producer sitting all the way on the other side of the room staring at a laptop. That was it.

We were not asked anything about ourselves. Simply instructed to step onto the mark when our name was called and tell him what song we would be singing.

The shy girl with the glasses suddenly went into a soulful and stirring rendition of an Etta James’ song. She seemed to channel the soul of the songstress herself as she sung this piece well beyond her year.

The fashionable brunette did an energetic performance of a Grace Potter song, complete with her own flair and movement and bounce as she had fun with it.

One hopeful sang a traditional song in Chinese.

A skinny blonde with a hip t-shirt announced that she had just become a US citizen, and then sang Lady Marmalade.

It was my turn. I announced that I was singing “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz. I started off slow and low, trying my best to use my lower alto register to feature the tones of my voice. Then I took it up an octave and belted the chorus with what I hoped was fervor and passion fueling my notes.

After everyone sang, the producer asked Lady Marmalade to stay and sing another song, then he said to the rest of us, “Okay everyone, thank you so much, keep working on your craft and I hope you have a good day.”

It felt like it had only taken us five minutes to do all of that. I’m sure it was more, but in a sudden rush, it was over. Several hours for fifteen minutes or so.

We all looked just as confused as we exited. Some people immediately left and headed towards the parking garage downstairs. Some of us mumbled, “Wait, that’s it?” “So, we didn’t get it?” “So, is she going to be on the show?” “Will anyone contact us later?” More questions I did not know the answer to.

At first I felt upset. But then I reminded myself that I finally took this experience, and it was unlike any other experience I would ever have while auditioning for something. And if I can audition for The Voice and still feel like a great singer, then I can tackle a musical theater audition in San Diego, or a karaoke contest at my favorite local bar. I had sat through hours of the worst audition torture — anything after this should be a piece of cake.

But — I will never do it again. I don’t think I need to repeat that experience to get the full benefit of it. And I don’t think I’d ever win the lottery that is auditioning for The Voice.

But hey, I did it! And though it was tedious, it was fun.

15. Audition for a national talent show.

 

Advertisements

You Could Be Happy. Today.

One year and five months ago, I thought I would never be happy. I felt a loss that I never even knew was possible: the loss of “true love”. I remember growing up with overly emotional friends who swore on their entire lives that their significant other was “The One”, and when those relationships ended they went about their daily lives as if nothing truly mattered anymore. And while I was always a good shoulder to cry on, I wasn’t entirely sympathetic. I thought it was weak to put your happiness in the hands of another like that. It’s just a relationship, I thought. They’ll move on. I’ll never find myself in that situation.

Fast forward over ten years later, and there I was, sobbing into my pillow. My cell phone still in my hand, my fingers clinching it as if it was my very life force. I kept re-reading the texts — yes, texts! — over and over again. “I don’t want to be with you anymore. I’m with someone new.” And I kept repeating the same thing to myself, like a new mantra for my new single life: I will never be happy. I just lost my true love. I will never be happy.

I was right in that same place that I judged so many years before. I now understood how others felt when their relationships crashed right at their feet.

Even though I could relate, I still knew that I couldn’t put the blame entirely on the person who had broken my heart. I knew that I needed to find happiness on my own. I needed this like I needed air to breathe and water to drink and goals in life. Happiness needed to be a very important point on my agenda, and I needed to make this my priority, stat.

And at first, it was extremely difficult. I was so unhappy, I didn’t care about my appearance anymore. I looked like the breakup victim of a sappy rom-com, minus the whimsical happy ending or the serendipitous encounter with someone who would prove to be my saving grace, my prince charming to pull me out of my fog. No, this wasn’t a movie. This was just my life. My messy hair, dirty t-shirt, same socks from yesterday, old fast food bags strewn across my bedroom and my car, life. And no one was going to magically come and save me from it.

And no one was going to magically come and save me from it…..except myself.

It didn’t happen overnight. I remember glancing in the mirror one day and not recognizing myself. I had always heard this expression, but I never knew how true it could be until I was the one standing in front of my reflection, mouth turned up in horror. Gross! Who was this person? When did I get such huge bags under my eyes? Why was there a piece of paper in my hair? What was I doing? 

I started with the simplest part: my looks. I pouted my lips and put on a little lipstick. I added mascara to my teeny tiny lashes. I instantly felt better. And more importantly, I felt better for myself. I wasn’t primping for another terrible first date. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone. I just wanted to look at myself and feel better. Before I knew it, I was doing more. I was washing my clothes and setting out nice outfits. I was looking forward to the next day. I started getting up earlier and taking long slow sips of coffee as I sat at my desk, reflecting on all of the things I was going to accomplish that day.

Happy New Year! Had it already been four months since the dreaded breakup? I had to pinch myself. It seemed just yesterday that I was staining my pillows with salty tears and cruddy mascara. Now I was planning a New Year’s Eve party with my friends. I poured my heart into every little detail, because it made me giddy to think of how well the party plans were coming together.

I am not usually one for resolutions, but I could feel such positive change happening in me, and I didn’t want to lose that flame. I wanted to feed it and fuel it into a bright and passionate fire. So I made a very simple resolution that New Years: simply say yes more. Say yes to good things in life. Not for anyone else, but for myself.

The first thing I said “Yes” to was a trip to New York City. I had to use one of my credit cards to pay for part of the trip, but the rest I saved myself and a few short months later, I stood at the top of the Empire State Building and realized that I was seeing one of my dreams come to fruition. I had achieved this all on my own. And somehow, that made the dream taste even sweeter.

Summer came. The longer days and sunny skies made me feel a bit forlorn. I was doing a lot better post-breakup, but I was still very far from being happy on my own. I reflected on this, a lot, and decided to use my reflection for good. I could either sit around wishing I had someone to spend the sunny days with, wishing I had a partner to take silly bike rides with along the pier; wishing I had an adventurous love who wanted to try several new types of sushi at a hip restaurant on a balmy night, or I could wish I had a relaxing soul to sit with on my porch, staring out at the long and slow sunsets of San Diego; or … I could do those things anyway. Did I need someone to be with me in order to enjoy the summer sun? Did I need someone in order to feel happiness during what is possibly the most happiest time of the year?

One day after work, I sat in traffic on my way home. The same traffic I always sat in when I left work. The longer days made it seem surreal as cars honked and buzzed around one another, all in a rush to get nowhere fast. I glanced up ahead and saw the exit signs for Mission Bay. I realized something suddenly: everyday I took the same path home from work, and everyday I passed a place that many people come to visit for vacation, without even a second glance. And here I was sitting in traffic, again. Not today.

I veered my car off to the right and exited the busy highway. And then I pulled into Mission Bay, and I walked along the waterfront park. I found a spot on a bench and I pulled out a pen and a small amount of paper that I had found in my car. I started writing. I didn’t even know what I wanted to write, and it didn’t matter. Before long, I found myself writing why it was so important for me to be happy. Not to just try to be happy. But to want it, too.

I teetered like this for several months. I spent time reflecting alone with myself and my thoughts, no matter how deep or dark or scary those thoughts could get. I faced them in silent reverie. I armed myself with my optimism as my shield and my recent experiences as my sword and I faced my thoughts like mini battles with my psyche. When I wasn’t doing that, I was still saying “yes” to things that would make me happy. Yes, I will go to Vegas this weekend! Yes, I will attend that live music show. Yes, I’ll try out this first date.

Yes, I will make sure that I am happy. Yes, I will take responsibility for that, all on my own. Yes, I can do this.

One year and five months ago, I thought I would never be happy. But here I am, one year and five months later, smiling for no reason at all, invigorated with all the possibilities, at all of the things that I can say yes to, inspired by all of the reflections of the world around me, and hopeful that I can achieve anything, as long as I believe in myself. It might sound like the last cheesy lines of a fable or fairy tale, but the truth is a lot less magical than it all seems. In a fairy tale, someone comes along and they save you, instantly. What they never tell you is that in real life, it might take time. It might take one year and five months. And in real life, it’s up to you to save yourself. And yes, you can absolutely do that. Why not start … today?

4. Stand in the middle of Times Square

2014-04-20 20.23.12

Well I did it! This was originally going to be one of the last things I completed on my 30 Before 30 list, because I don’t travel often. But when the universe throws you some really huge clues to get on the ball and get out there and make it happen, you make it happen! And that’s exactly what I did, and it was so serendipitous, I think the universe actually aligned in order for me to make it to the Big Apple.

I wasn’t going to go to New York this year, mainly because I assumed I could not afford it. And while that is mostly true, I forgot about how you can make something happen if you just focus on it enough. It seems impossible one day, and then the next day, you’re on a train riding through the eastern United States on your way to Manhattan for the first time.

My friends approached me, around October 2013, about going to New York City. They were planning to attend a wedding in Washington DC and wanted to take a train to NYC once the wedding festivities were over; and I went along for the ride. But when they had first approached me, I immediately said “no.” I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford something like this for a very long time.

Then the holidays came, and I stressed over buying Christmas gifts while simultaneously and periodically checking my bank account as if money would just magically appear. I had been so stressed about presents that I failed to realize something: my bank had given me a credit increase on my credit line of $1000.

One. Thousand. Dollars. Imagine what someone could get done with that kind of money!

Though I use the term “money” loosely. I knew what it truly translated to was not a dollar sign but debt. But I thought about it for a good week or so and realized: New York City was worth the debt. So I finished up my Christmas shopping with ease and then I spent the rest of that “credit” on my flight to Washington DC and then returning home to San Diego, CA.

And I regret nothing!

New York City was, in many ways, exactly how I expected it to be. And then in other ways, nothing how I had imagined it at all. A few friends warned me that this city would wear me down over time. That the hustle and bustle and energy of the city was too much for a non-native to handle for extended periods of time. But I knew in my heart that New York was a part of me. Everything I had ever learned about New York City, everything I had ever read about what to expect, or anytime I had watched a movie or a television show based around the culture of this iconic city, I knew one simple thing: I knew I belonged there!

Mindy-2

Just look at that metal grate. She looks like she’s in a fancy 100-story prison!

My friends and I took turns seeking out our favorite spots and landmarks while in the Big Apple. Some of them we all agreed on: The Empire State building was a must (though I have to admit, I’m not sure why Dr. Mindy Lahiri loves it so much — it was iconic, sure, but beautiful? Well I thought it was a bit rough around the edges.); Central Park was a delightful distraction for one day, and the Statue of Liberty was definitely on all of our must-see lists.

Times Square turned out to be the very first thing we did there, our very first night in New York City.

2014-04-20 2022

I’m glad that we got it out-of-the-way first, because that was the part of the trip I didn’t expect. It was marvelous and iconic and beautiful, but it was also industrial and heavily marketed and flooded with both tourists and busy business goers on their way home perhaps after working in one of those lit-up buildings. It was seething with people who were snapping photos with loved ones or grumbling under their breath about how they hated Times Square and weren’t sure exactly why they decided to walk through it that night.

My guess? No matter how much a native might “hate” it, they know it’s still a part of their striking city. And that in itself makes it something they secretly cannot do without.

4LMPeRkBjl4V-aPMMLPktm8p01bZxfUwIM9UMNoH0tc

This Coney Island Mermaid Pilsner is now my favorite beer ever. Which is big, considering I don’t really drink beer.

I spent the rest of my trip taking in the atmosphere of New York, from eating at the Spotted Pig to bar hopping with hipsters in Greenwich Village, to sipping on a Coney Island beer at The White Horse Tavern. I relished in my conversations with New Yorkers — who were mostly transplants to the city but still called this hectic place home. I met business owners and bartenders, Brazilian tourists with fancy cigarettes and Broadway babies who frequented cabaret bars. I bumped into celebrities walking their dogs on midnight strolls and I ordered food at a restaurant where I could not pronounce anything on the menu. To say that this trip was glorious, would be an understatement.

I know New York won’t always be so impressive to me. I was starstruck during my four days there, and some of the glitz and appeal might wear off if I ever lived there someday. But despite that, I knew, from the moment I stood in that brightly lit, bustling square in the heart of Lower Manhattan, that I was in my element. New York City was my happy place.

And as for my 30 Before 30 List? I’ve never felt so much more invigorated before. One down, a few more to go.

4. Stand in the middle of Times Square

This is inspired by 30 Before 30. This is my list.

 

My 30 before 30 list (I’m still adding to it daily!)2014-04-20 20.23.12

1. Visit a historical landmark and castle in Ireland.

2. Write and finish a novel.

3. Work out consistently for at least a month.

4. Stand in the middle of Times Square.

5. Hike to Pickett Butte Lookout in Oregon.

6. Run a half marathon.

7. Go camping.

8. Have a fluent conversation in Spanish.

9. Drink nothing but water for at least a month.

10. Learn how to snowboard.

11. Go horseback riding.

12. Take piano lessons.

13. Volunteer with a charity.2015-07-25 12

14. Visit a museum a month!

15. Audition for a national talent show.

16. Record an album of my own music.

17. Fill up a photo album with photos from my 35mm camera.

18. Pay off at least two credit cards.

19. Learn to be happy on my own.

20. Face my arachnophobia.

21. Throw a fabulous party!

22. Officially start my own company.

23.  Learn the art of meditation.

24. Learn a new kind of dance. Tango? Samba? Waltz??

25.  Take a kickboxing or boxing class.

26. Take a trip somewhere — anywhere — solo.

27. Stop drinking soda.

28. Buy another flute (and play it!)

29. Get back to my natural hair.

30. Watch more sunrises.