Tag Archives: events

fresh from the garden…

…the famous Madison Square Garden in NYC, that is.

My life truly is a strange dichotomy at times. I’m just back from a weekend full of PBR–the NYC Invitational and the opening weekend of the 2011 season. For the first time, I brought my friends with me. You have to know the background to appreciate this. These are the people I attend Broadway shows with. People who have lunch with the mayor, are on a first name basis with celebrities and judges alike. The people who I go to high-priced fundraisers with…and I brought them to the bull rides, with interesting results.

They loved it!

No I don’t think they are going to be rabid fans, but they have come to enjoy and appreciate the sport, and perhaps now will stop teasing me for doing so.

I do have to say, the recent gorilla marketing of the PBR, particularly in the NY area, has brought the sport of bull riding to the masses and the city folks alike. It’s working too. I have never ever attended an event where every single ticket scalper that approached me outside the venue was looking to BUY tickets rather than sell them, which goes to prove, the bull riders and the toughest sport on dirt can hold their own in the toughest city on earth if they can sell out Madison Square Garden.

Let’s Buck!

sometimes you just need to say f*$% it!

I’ve always thought attitude can change everything. I blogged about it here in my Say I Won’t post about a bull rider who was told he wasn’t good enough to represent his country in the world cup and proved them all wrong, about how a challenge can make people rise to the occasion and achieve the incredible. But it works both ways…that same bull rider I had cited in that previous post let the mental and emotional stuff get to him later in the season, sending him into a slump that nearly cost him the world title. It didn’t though, because he regrouped and rose to meet the challenge just in the nick of time.

Now I am watching the same happen much closer to home, live and in person instead of through the television screen and it involves one of my best friends since 5th grade. You see there is this little local karaoke competition that my friend decided, on a lark and ┬ájust for fun, to try out for. She is a former professional singer who retired to have children, but who still loves a good night out of singing even if it is at a bar full of drunks screaming ‘Sweet Caroline’.

Here’s where my philosophy comes into play. It was supposed to be fun. It was a surprise she was able to get in the competition at all because she entered late and had to compete for a slot in the Wild Card competition based solely on audience votes. It should have been a no brainer, after all, she used to sing at sometimes 2 gigs a day on weekends and a few nights mid-week back in the day.

But this competition was different than her days in the band, because suddenly here were 3 judges critiquing her every note and holding up score cards. There was an audience here to vote for her, or not, based on their own loyalties to the competitors. All of this combined to create a stressful situation out of what should have been fun. Each week she’d get more nervous about her performance, which affected her voice. Songs I’d heard her belt out perfectly in her band, she struggled with here, on top of the technical issues happening in the competition such as songs being played in a different key than she’d requested.

Yes, she’d played famous clubs in Manhattan in the past, and this was only the backroom in a small Italian restaurant in Pleasantville, but her confidence was blown and that makes all the difference in the world.

So, let’s skip to the present. After over a dozen other competitors were cut, she made it to the final 9. She was going into what the judges liked to call ‘Bloody Thursday’ where 6 of the 9 contestants would be cut, leaving only 3 for the grand finale. She asked me what songs she should sing. We’d discussed song choices before. There were lists of songs and CDs all over her house from the weekly song choices, so I was familiar with them all. She never thought she’d make it this far and we didn’t think she’d make it through Bloody Thursday. The judges’ 3 favorites were pretty obvious at this point and we all expected them to take the 3 slots, with maybe a surprise upset taking the 3rd.

So I said this to my friend, verbatim…

“F*CK IT! You’re getting voted out this week anyway. Sing what you want.” I told her to do the 2 the songs I knew she’d been wanting to do the entire competition but was afraid to because quite honestly, they were risky choices. She agreed, in spite of all the people around her questioning her choices, or grimacing when she told them the songs, she stayed strong because as I’d said, she was on her way out anyway, so f*ck it!

She went into last Thursday night, Bloody Thursday, armed with that attitude, a great new dress, and her 2 favorite songs and guess what? She took first place last week by a good margin. The audience was silent and speechless for the first time that night during her 2nd song, an obscure piece from the Broadway show Wicked that most in that room had never heard, and she received a standing ovation from both the audience and for the first time, the judges, along with 3 perfect scores.

Why? Because she said f*ck it and didn’t let the competition get to her. Much like life, you can’t let the stress of those who judge us get us down. And more importantly, we can’t judge ourselves because we can be our own worst enemy. When your internal chatter starts to get to you, remember, aren’t we really here to enjoy ourselves? So just say f*ck it!

For those wondering how this story ends, I don’t know yet. The final 3 compete Friday Nov. 12 at 8PM at Ciro’s in Pleasantville, NY. If you’re in the area, stop by. Admission is free.

NOVEMBER 13th UPDATE–Donna took first place in the finals!!


all the world’s a stage…

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players” ~Shakespeare

Yes, the great bard was correct. The world–life–is a stage and at times I wish the contracts would expire for some of the bit players in my own life so I can either kill off their character or hold an open call and recast them–but I digress…

Today I’m here to talk about my own personal stage appearance and what it’s doing to me. Like sand through an hourglass, the moment of my live appearance at Lady Jane’s Salon Romance Reading Series at Madame X in New York City grows nearer. And in anticipation I find myself unable to sleep. I lay awake at night tossing and turning, my mind spinning in that zone between sleeping and waking where problems seem insurmountable, and where everything appears to be a problem.

This really makes no sense to me. I was a tour guide for 7 years at one of the hottest sites during the 90s, where reporters, museum curators, British royalty, American royalty (ie: former and sitting US presidents, Rockefellers, Astors, and Martha Stewart) and US Secret Service agents were an everyday reality. To each and every one, during hurricanes and sweltering heat alike, through fainting guests and helicopters landing in front of us, I delivered my 2 hour tour flawlessly.

More recently I was thrown into the position of acting auctioneer for a local not-for-profit, where I had to sell the completely intangible the week the stock market crashed, and I did it, and then outdid the sum raised the following year.

I was both active member president and sustainer president of my local chapter of the Junior League and addressed large groups at monthly meetings. Hell, I host a romance radio show and sleep deprived and in the middle of a hotel lobby, conducted 27 interviews over a 3 day period.

Speaking has never been a problem for me. More like shutting me up is the issue. So what’s with the no sleeping? After all, it really is (as Warhol said) literally only 15 minutes of fame I must endure. All I need do is walk into Madame Xs, and then take the stage for a mere quarter of an hour and read from my own book the words I wrote and have rehearsed in advance. Then, afterwards, sit back, order a glass of wine and relax while I watch 3 of my fellow authors do the same.

I’m ready. I selected, printed out, timed and practiced aloud the scene I’m reading. I have my outfit chosen, right down to the boots. My bag is packed with my books and swag, easels, signs and banners, pens and markers, business cards and (just in case because you never know) double-stick tape.

Perhaps it’s my fear that instead of having a Sally Field moment (“They like me. They really like me.”) I’ll instead say thank you to a room full of people (or worse, empty of people) very happy to see me leave that stage. Who knows.

In any case, if you’re in the tri-state area and can make it into Manhattan on Monday, September 6th, 7 pm, it promises to be a fun night. Admission to the reading is either one gently-used romance novel or $5 (which goes to benefit a local women’s charity), drink specials are $5 (just about unheard of for NYC), and there will be giveaways, a raffle, books for sale and to win, and of course, readings by 4 local authors.

I hope to see you there, and if not, should there be a photo taken during the reading where my mouth is closed and my eyes are open, I’ll post pics of the action here afterward.

Cat

Lady Jane’s Salon Romance Series
Mon, Sept 6th 7-9 PM
Madame X
94 Houston St, NY, NY 10012
212-539-0808

Cowgirl in the City