Emily Wright, in the midst of describing her preparing-for-an-audition practice routine, suggests “don’t ever get old, kids,” and I must say I agree. This shingles-recovery fatigue thing is a bitch. In the last few days I’ve felt at times what it must be like to be old. Almost no energy, finding it hard to move, wanting someone to wait on me (if only there were someone), alone, bored, worried. Sunday night I had dinner at my mother’s (which I cooked) and after dinner I sat at the head of the table, where my dad used to sit, my back hurting (oh, yeah, I threw it out on Sunday), feeling totally out of energy, not quite able to move, while other people cleared dishes and whatnot. This is how life must have felt for Dad most of the time, I thought. Monday and Tuesday and even this morning I felt like I might not ever recover, and my imagination went crazy.
Meanwhile, Emily is preparing (very thoroughly, it seems from her post) for an orchestra audition. She has my total sympathy. I hated preparing for orchestra auditions back before Mr. Greenhouse steered me into college teaching, and once I got a college job that was the end of my attempts to enter the full-time orchestra world, which didn’t feel like a good fit anyway. (Among other things, I love to talk and having a long-term gig where they pay you to talk about playing the cello is pretty sweet. And, for some strange reason, conductors don’t like members of the orchestra to talk a lot.)
The only time I ever developed any physical problems before middle age was preparing for orchestra auditions. I’d think I’d be doing everything right, taking breaks, etc., but I’d get a burning sensation in one of my trapezius muscles. Learning difficult orchestra parts in a short time, with the attendant I-need-to-get-a-job-because-I’m-a-broke-grad-student tension, was a killer. Meanwhile I was teaching other people how to play with minimal tension! Ah, life’s ironies.
Finally today I’m feeling better. I managed to walk the two blocks to the DePauw School of Music office–after which I needed to sit down. Then I went on to the Post Office, to Jerry’s Foreign Auto to pay Jerry for changing the oil in Mom’s car, then a few more blocks to 3-D Tire, where they’d put a new tire on my son’s car.
I drove home, rested for an hour, and then played the cello for 45 minutes or so. It felt good.
Emily tells us that after a break (involving a tennis ball, a heating pad, and a limited amount of cookies), she “then come[s] back and run[s] the whole set, at tempo, for the love of the thing. Why else do we do this, right?”
For the love of it, of course. That’s what I did today but didn’t do back in my orchestra audition-prep youth. As is often the case, Ms. Wright is, once again, right.