The BIG 30 Project: #3 See Amanda Palmer Live, #4 Meet Someone I Admire, & #5 Play An Instrument In Public

This one’s a bit longer than normal because, as you can see from the title, I accomplished three dreams in one night.

Before I moved to Ireland back in 2011- wait. Shit, has it really been that long?

*maths*

Yeah. Ok. Wow.

Anyway, before I moved to Ireland in 2011, I tried to spend as much time with friends as I could before I left. One of those friends introduced me to the Dresden Dolls, though I didn’t know it at the time. The day I was introduced to the Dresden Dolls, she couldn’t remember the name of the band, but she loved the music and knowing my taste, figured I’d love it too.

She was right.

We listened to a bootlegged CD of a random collection of Dresden Dolls songs on a hot summer day in 2011 and that fall, before I flew off, my friend let me copy a bunch of her music so that I’d have something to listen to on the plane.

I can’t tell you how many times I listened to that list of songs. My daily listening mix was always a mixture of Dresden Dolls, David Bowie, and Florence and the Machine, with a little Beyonce thrown in. Eventually, it finally occurred to me that I should probably Google some of the lyrics to find more music by this band I liked so much.

This was my introduction to Amanda Palmer.

I’ll spare you the details of it all, but suffice it to say that I was really excited to find an artist like Amanda Palmer. She made the weird art world I was interested in, but too nervous to dip my toe into, accessible and I admired her honesty. I appreciated that she spoke her mind about things, even when I didn’t agree, and that she seemed to be a real person. Maybe that sounds strange, but it was that stuff that made me admire her. Not in a ‘You’re my hero!’ type of way, because I think that’s a bit of a cruel expectation to put on someone’s shoulders, but in a ‘AHHH! I totally want to have drinks and ridiculous discussions with this person’ kind of way.

As always happens when I discover a musician who’s work clicks with me, I really wanted to see her perform live. Last fall, as she toured with her book, The Art of Asking , I got my chance.

Despite a screwy financial situation, I made plans and booked tickets to make the six or so hour Greyhound trip to Toronto, where I was excited to cross two items off my wish list: See Amanda Palmer perform live and meet someone I admired.

At the time, I had no idea that I would also achieve a dream I’ve had since I was a kid.

When I was a kid, I was always a little in awe of people who could play musical instruments. My Grampa played guitar and harmonica and I used to dream that someday I’d play an instrument to. I took piano lessons, but that didn’t stick, and it wasn’t until university that I finally did get around to learning a musical instrument.

I’m not sure what it was or why I was able to stick with it better, but somewhere around 2009 I picked up an old guitar at Value Village for $25 and started teaching myself to play. I can’t read music, can’t write music, and there’s a lot about guitar I still don’t know, but I think I’ve done fairly well for someone who taught herself.

A little more than a year ago, I decided to teach myself another instrument I’d been pining for: ukulele.

I’d been curious about the ukulele for a while. It was an adorable instrument and it looked like fun, but I wasn’t sure where I’d even start to learn it. Of course, for those of you who know Amanda Palmer’s music, the song Ukulele Anthem convinced me to just go for it. Just get myself a ukulele and learn it.

“[ukulele] it is painfully simple…”

She’s right. It was painfully simple.

Thanks to a friend who happened to have one she was willing to sell for far less than it was worth, I got my hands on a ukulele during a part of my life where I NEEDED something fulfilling (flipping burgers at work just wasn’t doing it for me). In less than an hour, I taught myself how to play three songs and I’ve loved the instrument ever since.

Now, though I could play two different instruments, I didn’t (and still don’t) tend to play in front of people. I’m shy about it. I play them for myself and I love singing and playing but I get nervous in front of others and because I’m proud of my playing, I’m wary of having my hard work and fun criticized.

However, I found the ukulele such a forgiving instrument (you can make a mistake and someone it doesn’t seem as bad, I don’t know why, I’m not a scientist), so I was a little more ready to play around with it in front of people. Still, I didn’t play it in front of people.

Until November of 2014.

Not only did I get to see Amanda Palmer perform live, not only did I meet her, I played ukulele in front of her and everyone around me because she and her lovely road manager/badass musical person in her own right, Whitney Moses, asked.

After the show, my friend Catherine (who was kind enough to come with me and wait with me because she’s lovely like that) and I were waiting in line to meet Amanda and to get my ukulele signed. (Not the same ukulele I started with, I had left that one at home and picked up another in Toronto so that I could get a signed ukulele and potentially teach my Mum to play during the next summer.)

As we waited, Whitney came into the crowd and shouted out a question to see if anyone had a ukulele for Amanda to sign. I said I did and was immediately asked if I would play it because the sound guy for the venue went home and she and Amanda still wanted music.

So, despite never playing my uke in public before. 

Despite the fact that playing an instrument in front of people I know makes me want to vomit.

Despite the fact I was internally screaming.

I said yes. 

I couldn’t even remember how to play any one song in its entirety, so I just blended them all together, occasionally singing a little, and always strumming a happy little tune. 

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When I finally got to the front of the line, Amanda told me that she didn’t want to sign the ukulele because then I wouldn’t still be playing it. I gave her something a fellow fan had asked me to give her, as the girl I met couldn’t stay but still wanted her gift passed along, she signed my ukulele, I don’t remember what else I might have said. My brain was pretty busy making sure that I was awake and that this was real life.

What I do know, is that I asked if I could have a hug.

And I got a hug full of warmth, kindness and exhaustion.

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AFP: 
*snuggles into hug with a happy sigh* Comfy. I could sleep. *nestles*

Me: People say that a lot during hugs. *internally dying from joy overdose*

I don’t remember what else we said to each other. I do remember at one point during the hug, I was prepared to let go because I thought I’d probably taken enough time and Amanda didn’t let go, and it might sound stupid, but I felt really valued at that point. She didn’t have to hug me at all and not only did I get a hug, I got the kind of hug you get from friends you haven’t seen in years.

The hug ended.

I said ‘Thank You’ and literally shook with Adrenalin as Catherine and I left the venue.

It was a crazy and amazing night.

I realized three dreams and drop-kicked Fear in the face.

I’ll always be grateful to my friends Catherine and Lisa for letting me sleep on their couch those few days and to Amanda Palmer for valuing her fans and making sure we feel it.

Completed BIG 30 Items

#1. Postmark Tattoo

#2. Reupholster a Chair

#3. See Amanda Palmer Perform Live

#4. Meet Someone I Admire

#5. Play an Instrument in Public

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Posted on May 10, 2015, in The BIG 30 Project and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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