I woke up at 3:30, and immediately jumped out of bed and into the shower. I was too excited and nervous to be tired, and sang some scales in the shower, as well as my audition song a few times (“Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell). I sounded okay–my voice wasn’t doing bad for very little sleep.
I got dressed, packed my stuff, and headed out to the hall. It was four in the morning, and there were a ton of people running around. Some of them looked wet, all of them looked panicked. I gathered that it was pouring with rain. I, as usual, had no umbrella. I saw my friends as they were huddling into a taxi, and wished them good luck. The front desk was out of coffee, and I considered weeping a little, but realized it would mess up my makeup. So I just packed up and drove to the venue.
I arrived before 4:30, and the line was huge. It was all very organized, with people directing everyone to the end of the line. It was absolutely pouring with rain. And cold. It was June–mid-June–and it couldn’t have been 60*. I had a thin hoodie, but it was immediately soaked. There were two girls–twins, it turned out, who looked startlingly like the Sister, Sister sisters who shared their umbrella with me. They were really nice, and some of my line buddies. There were a bunch of people–a rather plain-faced girl and her husband, who it turned out were LDS and had driven down together from Maine, and had been sleeping in their car, a tall, skinny, beautiful blonde in heels, a chubby blonde girl with her mom, both of whom were careful to make sure their umbrellas didn’t cover anybody else (so as to sabotage any possible good hair by anyone but her, I guess?). Mostly, people were really nice.
The line periodically moved, and sometimes a golf cart would drive by with a camera and people would scream and throw up their hands and stuff. I tried to hide, so if you see bright red hair on TV hiding from the camera–that might be me. We played word games and movie games and trivia games. It was so cold and so rainy that I was shivering and shaking all morning. I began searching for bigger, bulkier guys who I could try to flirt to share an umbrella and body heat with. I found the perfect umbrella buddy after a bit–he was about my height, and kind of muscle-y, so I held the umbrella (that was my best offer–I’ll hold the umbrella if I can stand under it) and I stole as much warmth as I could.
They began letting people in at about 7 or 8 and security was checking people’s bags. The first thing that I did when I got through was get coffee. Best. Coffee. Ever. A day like that makes you wonder if the Word of Wisdom would really want to exclude “hot drinks” when they might be the only thing that sustains you on a freezing cold audition day.
The stadium was a football stadium, and mostly outdoors, which meant that since they were filming, they wanted everyone in their seats, and most people didn’t want to go back into the rain. My seat was right next to a guy who sounded just like Rick Astley, and who, much to my delight, was actually going to audition with “Never Gonna Give You Up”. It was pure happiness. He also let me know that my hair dye was running, right down my face, so I kind of looked terrifying. Nevertheless, he shared his umbrella with me in our seats, and when my shivering got really bad he gave me his leather coat to wear. I might have loved him a bit then, although I can’t remember his name. There were two girls in front of us with T-shirts that said something like “I’m with stupid” each pointing to the other, and there were cameras walking around that filmed them doing absolutely ridiculous stuff. If you see that, I am right behind them.
There was a guy with a microphone who was teaching everyone the words to “When I Grow Up” by the Pussycat Dolls, which was the group song. Finally, they got cameras set up and began taping group shots. They had everyone say lame stuff like “Hello Boston!” and other equally inane things, and singing the group song. Some people got really annoyed in the crowd, but I figured that it was for TV and they have to do stuff that is going to seem lame–probably on TV too–but what do you do with 15,000 people? Seriously? The wave? (hahaha… look to the Orlando auditions for that…)
Ryan Seacrest showed up and welcomed everyone out and wished everyone luck. He stayed for a bit while they filmed the group stuff. The rumor was that he had just flown in from LA, and right after he left he was flying right back. Crazy.
While all of this was going on, people were setting up booth/tents on the other side of the stadium. They gave everyone the rundown on how the auditions would work, and began auditioning people. First up were the people who had won radio contests/Disney contests/etc. that made them more special. And then it was a first come-first serve, where the ‘first-come’ people were the people who had registered first.
After watching for awhile, I found my friends from the hotel and we wandered around, got more coffee and some food, sat around and shot the breeze, practiced for each other, and basically just enjoyed our company. Because I was planning on driving back as soon as I was done, and Liza had kind of hooked up with one of the guys, she traded seats with me so that I could go first. So, at about 4:00pm they called my (new) section, and we lined up to walk around the track to where the 12ish booths were set up, with two producers in each. We handed them the release forms (that give them permission to humiliate us all over the universe), and walked around. They had us line up in groups of four; my four included me and three other girls. One of them was a cute 16 year old (who thought that I was about 18, for which I loved her). When our line came to the front of the line, we walked to the booth we were directed to. There were two producers in each booth; ours had a woman and an older looking man.
When it was time for our group to audition, we all stepped forward, and then each auditioned individually. I was the third in our group to go. The audition materials had specified that we should prepare a 15-30 second audition piece; I shortened mine to about 45 seconds. I sang, and the man generally didn’t look at me, and the woman looked interested. When I finished what I had rehearsed, they hadn’t stopped me, so I kept singing (I should have stopped, I think). And, I missed the second note in that part. I recovered, but I knew then that it was over.
Sure enough, when all of us had gone, the judges whispered to each other for a minute, and then called us all forward and said something along the lines of, “Thank you all for coming out. Unfortunately, you are not what we are looking for this season of American Idol.” And we all walked out and went home.
I walked out with mixed feelings–first of all, I was still on a lack of sleep/lack of food/so cold all day/too much coffee adrenaline high that made me kind of jittery and feel out of sorts anyway. I had totally expected to not go any further, but of course I had hoped that more would come of it. So I was disappointed. Mostly I was freaking out because I couldn’t find my car and I wanted to go home to my babies. But then, I was also so proud of myself for doing it, for going all by myself to do something big and scary and difficult.
The high lasted for days. I was the girl singing in the grocery store because you know what? My voice is pretty good–could be great if I got lessons or whatever–and what do I care if people in Safeway think I’m weird? I was the talk of the water-cooler at my client for being ‘that auditor who tried out for American Idol’. Oh, also, I lost 5 pounds while I was gone–which I think was exclusively due to the cold.
I want my kids to grow up and try for things they want. I don’t want fear to hold me or them back from anything. It’s hard and it’s scary and it’s way easier to sit down and do nothing, and just dream about it and sing in the car and in the shower, but I don’t want to be that person. I want to be the person who wants something and tries. And when I fail, I can walk away knowing that I failed–not that I didn’t find out or try or ever know. I tried and it didn’t work out this time, and maybe it will next time.
And so, I decided to try out again.