I used to sing. I’ve always sang, since before I can remember, but I used to be good. I remember just before my sophomore year started, my mother and I visited my choir director and she asked me to sing for her; she said that my voice had matured a lot over the summer, and that I should expect many solos, which I got, for the next three years until I graduated. I was an alto, but I could sing anywhere from tenor 2 to soprano 1 (the latter being difficult, but possible). I had the supporting female role in the Spring Musical my sophomore and junior year, and the lead female role my senior year. Also my senior year, I was ranked the second best alto at Districts, only missing a perfect score because I was awful at sight-reading. I’m pretty sure my mother still had my scorecard on the refrigerator at home, even though it was almost eleven years ago. I also started an a capella group, along with a friend of mine, called the Husky Voices (our school mascot was the Husky, and the irony was that our voices were clear as a bell). We performed along with two college groups, and were told by many people in the audience that we actually sounded better than they did, I was honored!
When I joined the Navy, someone told the RDCs (Recruit Division Commanders) they had heard me singing and thought I would be a good ARCPO (Assistant Recruit Chief Petty Officer), so when our RCPO (Recruit Chief Petty Officer) got fired, our ARCPO took her spot, and I moved up to ARCPO. I called cadence for my division (945!) for most of boot camp, but I figured it would stop there. When I reported to ATT (Apprentice Technical Training), I somehow ended up calling again, and when I reported to my A School in San Diego, I was volunteered by my roommate to call cadence again. I didn’t mind it, I actually quite liked it, but I didn’t want to be the “look at me!” sailor, I found out really quickly that you don’t want to draw attention to yourself in the Navy, not like that, it appears ostentatious.
Even when I got in trouble and went on Restriction (oops…) my “extra duty” was to call cadence for the 50 State Flag Team, as I was the only one who was loud and clear enough to be heard by all members, even when they were standing in a row, marching single file. I even got to go to the Chargers game – while on restriction, mind you – in order to call cadence.
I remember one time, I was in the NMT (Naval Military Training) office talking to the LPOs (Leading Petty Officers) and somehow the subject of my singing came up, and one of them asked if I could sing “real” songs, not just cadence. I started singing “Think of Me” from Phantom of the Opera, and had everyone in that office staring at me, and many of the students from the next door lounge standing at the door as well. My LPO told me that he had a hard time distinguishing my voice from Amy Lee’s when I sang along with an Evanescence song, he said as soon as I graduated school I should try out to sing and act in his theater group, because they needed a strong female singer. I was that good.
I had suffered from strep throat multiple times a year since I was a kid, but I never had my tonsils removed because my pediatrician was convinced they would eventually do me some good as an adult. However, by the time I had gone through winter in Chicago – still calling cadence, by the way – they were constantly filled with pus (ew), took up most of the back of my throat (they touched when I stuck my tongue out), and when I was sick (yeah, the previous two were when I was feeling okay), they would bleed. I had had strep enough times that a little less than a year after I reported to my first ship, I was referred to ENT for a tonsillectomy. I was excited! I had a slight speech impediment that made it sound like I was swallowing my words, my throat was always hurting, and singing was getting harder, more painful. I thought for sure getting my tonsils removed would be a good thing.
And it was. I stopped getting sick, I could breathe better (I had obstructive sleep apnea from those damn things…), and my speech didn’t sound so… weird. Recovering was tough, I do not recommend getting your tonsils out as an adult! I lost 30 pounds because I couldn’t eat anything, and while I looked fabulous, I was freaking miserable. I did eventually recover though, but I found that I couldn’t sing very well anymore. I thought maybe I just needed time, or practice, or to quit smoking. I did all three and it’s now six years later and I still can’t sing. I’m so depressed. I watched the 2004 movie rendition of Phantom of the Opera last night, and I started crying because I knew I’d never sing the way I used to. I would give anything, I would take it all back, I would just deal with the sickness and the pain and the weird speech, if it meant that I could still sing. Getting my tonsils removed was medically right, but I’m absolutely miserable. I want my beautiful voice back! 😥 I don’t even have any really good recordings of me singing, so I sometimes wonder if my fiance even believes me, if anyone does, when I say I used to be a great singer.
I used to sing along with everything. I’d watch Phantom, or Chicago, or Disney movies, whatever, and I would belt out those tunes like it was nothing. Now all I can do is sit in silence while the tears spill over and remember all those wonderful times I sang, just for the joy it brought me. I feel like I’ve lost everything…