family, memories, musings

“Little lady”– my big fat ass…

Yesterday, I went on because I felt like singing a few pop songs. SingSnap has gone through a major overhaul since December 2020. Adobe Flash was retired, so the owner of the site had to completely revamp the system. It’s still a bit wonky, so I don’t find myself wanting to participate there as much as I used to. Every day, they put up a list of “featured songs”. If you sing those songs, it’s more likely someone will watch or listen to your videos and leave comments. Of course, the whole song catalog is also open to those who pay for a membership. It’s just less likely that anyone will comment.

The new site has changed the way users can find the featured songs. It used to be that a person could just choose certain genres and see the lists of songs that way. Now, they’ve made it so you have to wade through many pages, and they don’t always put all of the available versions of a song up. So one of the featured songs may not be the best version available.

I had some trouble finding songs to do yesterday, which is unusual for me. I have eclectic tastes. But I did finally find a few selections. I sang a few songs, briefly finding myself irked that one commenter kept calling me “little lady”. I’m sure he meant no harm, but I find it grating when someone who doesn’t know me calls me cutesy pet names. At the same time, I was genuinely thankful for the comments he left, which were definitely positive, even if I haven’t been a “little lady” in many years.

I mean, if the guy knew me personally, I don’t think he’d see me as a “little lady”. I’m definitely not “little” or “dainty” in any sense of the word, unless you’re talking about my height, hands, ears, or feet, which are kind of “little” (especially my ears). I’m also not that ladylike. I typically use language that would make a truck driver blush. I also fart, belch, and take massive beer dumps in the mornings. Sorry… it’s the truth. So if that guy actually knew me, he’d probably think I’m not much of a “little lady”. However, I was born with a singing voice that sounds kind of sweet and feminine. Maybe that’s why some people (mostly men) on SingSnap call me things like “kiddo” (cringe) or whatever.

I was about to click off the site yesterday when I noticed a Gershwin duet that was open. I don’t often complete duets because I can’t bear to listen to off key singing if I’m not in a bar or something. Finding a good partner on SingSnap often involves listening to some pretty bad singing that, for me, is not pleasant to listen to. I was cursed with “absolute pitch“, which makes me unusually sensitive when things are off key. Some people have a condition called “misophonia” and can’t stand to listen to people chewing loudly or smacking their gum. I don’t know that I have “misophonia”, but I do know that bad singing is like nails on a chalkboard for me, so I can’t stand to search for talent on SingSnap. Just writing “nails on a chalkboard” makes me cringe and grind my teeth as I think about how that sounds!

However, there are some legitimately good singers on SingSnap, and I happened to find one yesterday on the first try. When I find someone who can sing well, I like to pair up. So that’s what I did… and, in fact, this duet was rather unusual, since it featured me on camera. I HATE being on video. I don’t like the way I look on camera, and most days, I don’t have on any makeup or even wear a bra. That was the case yesterday. I decided to do a video, though, because the guy who presented the male half of the duet had done such a charming job, reacting to the lyrics. It seemed wrong to just do audio.

Maybe I could have put on a bra and fixed my face and hair… but I decided to just put myself out there, as/is… I really enjoyed singing with this guy, Eric, although I couldn’t bear to practice the song until it was just right. I’ve also never heard the recorded version that featured Frank Sinatra and Natalie Cole, so I was winging it. I played the duet for Bill, who got visibly moved… but even though I wasn’t watching the video and cringing at the way I look on camera, I was mentally critiquing myself. It strikes me this morning that maybe I shouldn’t be doing so much of that. Incidentally, I used a screen shot of our duet as today’s featured photo, but it makes me cringe to look at it. I’m all flushed because it was hot and I was a bit sweaty. I do have an air conditioner in my office, but I don’t like to run it when I record things. It’s pretty loud.

But hell, I’ll bet most of the people watching the video wouldn’t be offended by it. I was having fun. No, it’s not perfect or ready for a record company, but it was a few minutes of me doing something that is healing for me and brings me joy. I was letting it all hang out, not so focused on self-critique. I was able to share it with my friend, Andrew, who is also on SingSnap. A few others viewed it and if they had negative comments, they kindly kept them to themselves.

So why am I so hypercritical of myself? I think I was trained to be hypercritical by growing up in a family system that was focused a lot on image and what other people think. Many problems were “swept under the rug” in the name of avoiding conflict. Conflict would inevitably arise anyway, often after people had been drinking… and well, I remember a lot of fights, especially within my immediate family. I don’t like fights today, and go out of my way to avoid them, because it takes me a long time to recover from them. I was criticized a lot, though, and I think I internalized much of the criticism.

I am not a perfectionist about most things. I don’t keep an immaculate house, although contrary to what my ex landlady thinks, I’m not a filthy person, either. I don’t turn myself out dressed to the nines, nor do I put on a false persona of who I am. What you get is what you see, most of the time. But I can be a perfectionist about some things, like making music or writing blog posts. Even on a karaoke site, which is supposed to be fun, I can’t bear to put up recordings that aren’t close to being perfectly done. And I don’t do videos much, because I get too self-conscious about my looks and it throws me off. Putting up a duet video with me on camera was kind of a big deal. It was such a big deal that I shared the video on Facebook and tagged Andrew, who might be one of a few people I knew would appreciate it.

I grew up in a system where people were constantly telling me what was wrong about me and rarely offering positive feedback. My parents often disapproved of me for being loud, obnoxious, opinionated, and obstinate. My mom openly and very frankly told me that her friends didn’t want to hang out with her because I was such a terror. My dad would get angry with me for being outspoken about things. As I aged, we didn’t get along very well because he seemed to think I’m an asshole… and the feeling was mutual. At least I never slapped him or gave him enraged beatings when I got mad at him, though. I know he loved me, and I loved him, but he was very critical of me and didn’t seem to cherish me.

Other people would criticize me for all manner of reasons. I got bullied at school, and it wasn’t until we’d lived in Gloucester awhile before some of my peers started to accept me more. It was hurtful, and it made growing up difficult and painful, although I was fortunate enough to find some good people who were kind to me. Unfortunately, I also found “The Home of the Whopper“, a man who was kind and paid attention to me, but also showed me porn when I was about ten years old. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that a lot of people don’t like me. Even supposed loved ones don’t seem to like me that much. Or, at least that’s how it seems to me. There was a time when I would try to appease people who didn’t like me for who I am, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that those people would never understand or appreciate the effort. It’s not worth it in the long run to try to be someone I’m not, and frankly, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with who I authentically am.

The one person who cherishes me is my husband, Bill, which is a wonderful thing. But it would have been nice to have had that when I was growing up. Knowing how loving and kind Bill is makes me very protective of him and intolerant toward people who mistreat him. That’s why I was so angry at his daughters for so long. I understood on an intellectual level why they were so estranged. But the one contact he had from them, back in 2006, were awful letters that their mother forced them to write and practically dictated to them. In older daughter’s letter, she wrote that she wanted an “every day daddy”. She claimed that #3 was her “everyday daddy”, and he helped her when she was “stressed out”. We later discovered that her claim that #3 was a good dad to her was utterly false. It was just another one of Ex’s facades.

Really, what I wanted to tell older daughter was that I had an everyday daddy, and it was definitely not what it was cracked up to be. My father owned his own business and ran it out of our home. My mom also worked out of our house. Consequently, I had an unusual amount of time with both of my parents. They weren’t, and aren’t, bad people, but they always treated me like an imposition. My mom told me she hadn’t wanted me, and my dad was often disappointed in me. He didn’t protect me, either. My sisters treated me like I was incompetent or a brat, or they would chastise me for things like the way I laugh, my humor, or the way I looked. They didn’t appreciate me for who I am and told me so often. They made it clear that they wished I would change, even though I’m not a bad person. I’m just “different”, I guess… as we all are.

But what older daughter didn’t know is that she has a wonderful “everyday daddy”, and all she ever had to do was reach out to him, especially since she’s an adult now. Given a chance, Bill would have cherished his daughters and loved and protected them. He would have supported them in following their dreams and given them opportunities to grow. He is a wonderful dad and the best husband I could have ever asked for. He loves me for exactly who I am, and I’m pretty certain he loves his daughters in the same way. It’s too bad that only one of them recognizes that and is ready to accept what he can give them. But such is life.

Maybe I should just be grateful that my parents valued me enough to raise me to adulthood and support me enough that I was able to find the right partner in life. Because if they had just shitcanned me at 18, I’d probably be a completely different person. I probably never would have joined SingSnap, either, because I might not have ever learned to sing (I started in college) and I might not have had the time or the money to hang out online all the time. I might be waiting tables or struggling through community college… or maybe I would have had kids and be dealing with completely different problems.

I probably should just be happy to have Bill, instead of falling down this rabbit hole of self-absorption, ruminating about things I can’t change. I’m naturally kind of a free spirit, and people have told me that I shouldn’t be that way. But I can’t help it. So sometimes, I’ll record myself on camera with no bra or makeup and put it out to the masses. And people will think I’m loud, obnoxious, opinionated, or whatever else… Not everyone will like or appreciate what I do or who I am. But at least some people do… and I am fortunate enough to have one man who definitely does. I saw it in his eyes and heard it in his voice as he saw his “little lady” with a big fat ass singing braless and makeupless on SingSnap this morning. He definitely doesn’t expect me to be perfect… he loves me for being the mess I am and for sharing life with him.

complaints, condescending twatbags

“That’s Attila to you…”

Sorry about the picture… one of my other pet peeves is people who use single letters and numbers to communicate instead of actual words. It was just too perfect for this post.

It’s Monday morning. I had kind of a boring weekend. I meant to go out and do stuff, but it was rainy and chilly and I didn’t feel like venturing out. In retrospect, it would have been a good idea to go out and do something. I spend too much time at home. I guess I was just in the mood to be a homebody after last week’s big trip. Besides, Bill was tired after a long week at work. He needed the rest.

Anyway… although I was at home and probably could have done something constructive, I mostly hung out with Bill and talked. We also binge watched the third season of The Handmaid’s Tale. I’ve been watching it on my own on Hulu, but he hadn’t seen any of the new episodes. It’s probably a bad idea to binge watch that show because it usually gives me nightmares. I think The Handmaid’s Tale coupled with the news equals strange dreams.

While we were watching the show, I got a message from SingSnap. Some guy liked my recording of “Faded Love”. Awesome. I like to do old Patsy Cline songs sometimes. However, although he left me a very nice comment, he also broke one of my cardinal rules. He called me “hun”.

Dude… don’t call me hun!

I have ranted extensively about my dislike of cutesy pet names, particularly from strangers. I especially dislike “sweetie” and “hon” (or “hun”). Of course, I sometimes call Bill “sweetie”, but he’s my husband and he is actually a very sweet, kind person. He calls me “darling”, which doesn’t bother me at all. Why? Because we’re intimate. Despite my occasionally abrasive personality and general slovenliness, he still loves me. He knows me well enough to think of me as “darling”, despite everything that could easily turn him off about me. Therefore, he has the right to call me by a cute pet name. Strange guys on SingSnap don’t, and really shouldn’t. Seriously. It skeeves me out on several levels.

I have a lot of reasons for not liking pet names, particularly from strangers. Generally speaking, I find them condescending and diminishing. Aside from that, if you’d call a stranger “hun”, you’d call anyone hun, so it’s not even a real term of endearment. The guy also could have clicked on my profile and discovered my real name, which is Jenny. Now, if you get to know me and come up with a clever nickname for me, I wouldn’t necessarily object to that, as long as the nickname isn’t offensive. For instance, when I was in high school, there were some people who called me “genitalia” because my first and maiden names said together sounded vaguely like “genitalia”. Also, I say gross things sometimes. But I once had a boss who called me “Blossom”, short for “Gin Blossom” (the band), because my name is Jenny and I sing… and I probably also have a few gin blossoms, although he’s never referenced them.

I posted about this on Facebook, because I have friends who know all too well how I feel about this issue. One friend quipped that it didn’t immediately register with her that the guy was actually calling me “hon” and misspelling it. She wondered why he was calling me a Hun, which is defined thusly:

Hmm… calling someone a “hun” is not exactly a nice thing to do…

It occurred to me that I should respond to him by saying, “That’s Attila to you.” So I just did…

He probably won’t come back to read this. I haven’t checked out his open duets yet, because I don’t sing on the weekends. That’s my time with Bill. I probably should sing, though. It would keep me from bitching so much.

The guy who left the above comment, doesn’t know me from Adam. If he did get to know me, he’d quickly discover that I’m about as “sweet” as a turnip or an unripened radish. My personal flavor profile is definitely more bitter, sour, salty, and spicy than sweet. In fact, he could have called me Madame Bitterness and that would have been more accurate than “hun”. It also would have indicated that he actually knows me and, therefore, is qualified to bestow a name on me not given by my parents.

I can be nice. I can be kind. But few people would describe me as sweet, like honey. Not even Bill would. I asked him once if he thought I was “sweet”. His response was, “I think you have a sweet voice.” Fair enough. On the other hand, I probably am a bit like a Hun. Especially when I’m really pissed. Maybe my admirer was right to call me “hun” as opposed to “hon”, although he should have realized that Hun is a proper noun. Somehow, I don’t think he was thinking of warlike Asian people when he referred to me as “hun”.

On another note, the guy might have a nice voice, however, his comment, while basically complimentary, is kind of patronizing. I’m flattered that he likes how I sing “Faded Love”, but it’s poor form to pimp your recordings on someone else’s recordings. Also, I might find that I disagree that we should duet. He might not be as good as he thinks he is… or he might be as good as he thinks he is, but then try to tell me my business, which I don’t like.

Music is really something I do for fun, and to stay sane. I take it seriously, but not that seriously. If we were in Nashville making a real record, I might be more deferential… but this is SingSnap. I might also be more inclined to check him out if he’d asked me to listen to his stuff, rather than telling me to do it. I guess I’m stubborn like that… probably much like Attila the Hun was. Now, all I need to do is grow myself a dick and try to conquer the Romans and besiege Constantinople.