That one time I ruined an Eminem song ...

Do not invite me out to karaoke night. Just don’t. I will probably tell you no. If I do go, it will only be as an observer, not a participant. Why? Simple: I don’t karaoke. For reasons.

In its most basic form, karaoke is designed for people who are terrible at singing but are not aware of their awfulness. I know I am not capable of carrying a tune. As much as I love singing, I’m more of a joyful noise than a pleasant noise. So, I choose to abstain from karaoke. Always.

Well, almost always.

There is a park next to the campgrounds where we camped for the Fourth of July weekend with a bandstand for concerts and other special events. On that Thursday, they hosted a karaoke night; Annie and I took the kids down to enjoy the evening. We told Christian we’d reward him if he sang Katy Perry’s Firework. Lucky for him, the karaoke DJ didn’t have that song. We found an alternative: Missy Elliott’s Work It. He declined. Annie and I offered to pay him $50 to perform it. He still refused. I even said I would sing an equally embarrassing song if he did Work It. Still no.

Then JJ found a song in the DJ’s songbook, and his eyes lit up like fireworks. I made a decision in that moment to defy my normal objections to karaoke. I walked over to the DJ’s booth, wrote my name on a slip of paper with the sing number, returned to our spot in the park and awaited my turn. When my turn came, I stepped on stage, grabbed the microphone, and performed. I even violated rules six and eight of the Rules for Karaoke that are totally made up but actually exist.

Since I am cognizant of my feeble singing skills, I chose a rap song – an Oscar winner. Eminem’s Lose Yourself. And I killed it. Not in a “did an amazing job” kind of way, but more like experiencing a disturbing crime scene from the movie Se7en. Christian told me I ruined the song forever.

So why did I break away from my karaoke-free tradition?

1. JJ really wanted me to do that one song.
2. I wanted to prove to my kids that it’s OK to make a fool of yourself.
3. Christian needed to see me brave enough to do something potentially embarrassing.

Just like that, I participated in karaoke. Just don't ask me to do it again. I'll probably say no. Side note: I didn't hear the cheering. I wasn't aware it happened until I watched the video later.


Where Did the Summer Go? (Summer Vibes)

It’s been a wonderful, terrible, and weird summer. After my last blog post, we went camping for the Fourth of July – it’s our annual summer getaway weekend. A minute, we’re doing back to school shopping and getting the kids ready for another year of teachers, bell schedules, and homework. It’s like I went to bed after the holiday and woke up halfway through August.

I didn’t sleep for a month and a half, yet it almost feels like it. These last few weeks have been a blur, nonstop activity and heartbreak and controlled chaos. Between my day job, farm work, and weekends doing rodeo with the kids, I’ve barely had a moment to slow down and just be.

We’ve also had a rough couple months. Grieving from recent deaths in the family, enduring professional rejection, and helping horses recover from injury while rearranging the budget to accommodate veterinary bills.

Between the flurry of loss and the frenetic pace of maintaining the farm and family, I’ve been in an odd funk. It’s a sensation similar to anxiety but not quite the same thing. I feel precariously balanced between hope and dread. It’s an emotion I can’t define and can barley explain. The closest word I can find to define my emotional state is melancholy, and even that seems underwhelming for the full spectrum of where my heart and mind lingers.

At the same time, I feel this vibe. Like I can’t be broken even when I am broken. Like everything is going to be OK even when it’s not OK. Like the sun still shines bright on the rainiest day.

Music has always provided therapeutic relief for me. The lyrics and melodies and rhythms giving a voice to emotions I'm inadequately prepared to speak for myself. For this season of my life, I’ve compiled a soundtrack to carry me through. These songs are my summer vibe.

123456 by Fitz and The Tantrums

Burn the House Down by AJR

Here With Me by Marshmello and CHVRCHES

Tongues by Joywave and KOPPS

Sticks and Stones by Kings Kaleidoscope

These songs are eager. Determined. Gleeful. Energetic. All traits I don’t possess myself. Or at least without considerable effort. They also radiate an attitude I’m pursuing. A relentless and defiant optimism against discouraging odds. An outlook that breathes deep during moments of failure, tragedy, and misfortune. A drive to persevere when all conventional logic says quit. A head held high even when burdened by an unbearable weight.

Maybe it’s a middle finger to the world. Maybe it’s a belief in love even after being burned by love lost. Maybe it’s the whimsical blend of EDM, pop, and indie/alternative that inspires a wistful smile in the depths of my soul. Whatever it is, these songs lift my spirits whether I’m in tears of joy or tears of grief. You’ll have to excuse me if I indulge when I hear them. If these tunes come on the radio or show up in a Spotify playlist, I’m cranking up the volume and singing along.