This has been a really strange week.
First of all, welcome to yesterday, the most humiliating day of my life. No, really. Really, really. I mean, there were some times in college where I did some significantly ridiculous and humiliating things, and some times in the years after, now that you mention it (and why did you have to? Do you hate me that much? What have I ever done to you? HUH?????) but the vast majority of those were related to too much beer. Now that I'm depressingly (wink, wink. Joke.) sober most of the time, my idiocies are totally traceable to my allegedly rational actions, and what a bleepity bleep bummer THAT is. Blah. Who needs it? Accountability BLOWS.
And speaking of that, I so blew my piano recital song today. I choked worse than John Edwards in the Cheney debate. It SUCKED SO HARD. And the thing is, I TOTALLY KNEW THE DAMNED SONG. I knew that song better than I know SO MANY things. I played it and played it all week, and was all, "let EARTH reCEIVE her KING" and whatnot for days. It actually sounded great this morning, and I thought it would go swell. But sitting up on a stage in front of all these staring eyes...I flipped the HELL out. And I've never felt that way before, exactly. I acted (poorly) and sang (less poorly, but still...) my way through TWO ENTIRE plays in my senior year of high school, and two in my junior year. Me. I had bad hair, no fashion sense, and was fairly ungraceful, and I sang on a stage for two hours and made it through. Now, I'm supposed to be a teeny bit more together, and I flipped OUT over one little tiny song. I was so pissed off. I was mad at the situation - not myself, really - because I don't know what else I could have done to prepare. My hands learned it, and my brain knew it, and it quite simply fell apart. Okay, so maybe I was a little bit mad at myself, but it was more frustration that what had worked so well in one venue - and it just sounded LOVELY this morning on the big piano upstairs - could fall apart in fifteen minutes. Of course my
purveyor of musical doom teacher told me after that that's why she listens to us ahead of time, because she knew I could play it even though I freaked out, and I guess that's what your final grade is based on.
"I can't tell you beforehand that that's going to happen," she said. "But it happens. Every time. It'll get easier." Right. This is her (bad cell phone shot):
This is her, I should say, at the scene of the crime. See, I'd be mad at her, and make a crack about how "blonde pianists tell dirty lies" or something, but she's also left-handed, and the cachet of being a left-handed person tends to trump my rage at totally competent blonde pianists who tell me shit like "It'll get easier." (She really is very nice, as well as annoyingly talented, and I can't imagine anything worse for a pro musician than dealing with a room full of 16 adult beginners and their attendant control issues and insecurities. So I shouldn't be using her as a device for my (in my own mind, anyway) ironically humourous ramblings. Really.)
Actually, it was kind of scary, because I really had learned the scales and knew the song really, really well. We worked on my inability to take my fingers off of keys after I've played notes, and I actually got kind of adept at lifting them up with a teeny little flourish, even, so I felt all powerful for a minute. But in the last ten minutes before we went downstairs for the performance (in a totally different room where we'd never played before, I might add, which was somewhat nervewracking for some reason) I started f'ing up the song in new ways. I mean, I started making mistakes I'd never dreamed of making. My fingers started banging keys that made no sense whatsoever, like my freaking MUSCLES had melted or something, or I was having a panic-induced seizure. And I thought, "Oh God, I can't leave this room having screwed up my last run-through," because I am a person for whom patterns are very important. If I keep doing it well, I'll keep doing it well. If I messed it up the last time, I'll probably mess it up again. I just have to do it right, so I can move forward with the correct process in mind. I'm sounding like a lunatic at this point, I know. I don't exactly know how to explain it. It's just that I knew, if I left the practice room and the last time I played it was wrong, once I got on stage, I'd do it wrong. I don't pretend to understand the psychology of it, or the neurology, or more appropriately, the bordering-on-pathology-neurosis...but I knew it wouldn't work. And I didn't really have time to nail it one last time before we left the lab, and what I feared would happen when I faced a brand new, big, bad, for-real piano, happened.
I went on second and so I had to sit through another 45 minutes of passable performances before I could get out. I did not cry, which I realized to my horror was a FRIGHTENING possibility. And at the end, I went up to the teacher and asked her if I could stick around and play it right on the stage, so my last memory of this experience wasn't abject failure. She was good with it. She really is a pro - and I know, regardless of the piano thing, that teaching anything is difficult. Dealing with personalities and issues and questions and problems NONSTOP is wearing, and I admire other people who roll with it in a competent way. And she seemed to think it was no big deal. But the thing was, I knew that it should have worked out a different way, even if it didn't, and my frustration with that type of situation is unfortunately hardwired into my DNA, I'm kind of stuck with it, whether I know the reasons why or not.
Today I'm over it, mostly. I went and spent too much money at Whole Foods and went through the dangerous doors of Ulta too, which is a bad idea when retail therapy is in order. I bought some flowers, which always perks me up, and because yes, I did TRY. Used to be that wasn't always a given, and progress is better than inertia in my little corner of the world. I'm still bothered that it happened the way it did, though. It really sucks when you actually DO work at something and still screw it up. The stuff I slack off on and delay and procrastinate about - that stuff I kind of deserve to blow in the last inning, but somehow I usually manage to pull it off. This is way harder, and I haven't blown it off. And I'm really kind of tired of learning lessons about persistence at this point. That sounds petulant but it's just true. It's like, I KNOW. I know that good things don't come easy (I have a master's degree in that topic alone) and that you have to WORK for stuff and blahblahblah. So next time I work at something and want it to go well, it had better. And that is all.