I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Posts tagged ‘waiting’

Trust me; I’m a Pianist – The Final Countdown

In two days, I’ll be packing up the car with my gear, Red Rocket, and the first and greatest cheer crew I’ve ever had – my parents – to go to Augusta for my first half-iron distance triathlon. For those of you sane enough not to know what that entails, I get to swim 1.2 miles in a river, ride 56 miles on a bike, then run 13.1 miles. This is going to take me all. day.

It’s taken countless hours and a disturbing percentage of my salary to get to this point. And I’m pretty stoked about it. Which is weird.

“But Lady J,” you start. “Why would it be weird for you to look forward to something you chose to do?”

Excellent question.

This is triathlon number five. I was BEYOND terrified for triathlons 1-3. #4 was a bit better and I distinctly remember feeling odd that I didn’t feel terrified. Probably because I wrote it down. Number 5? I’m not saying I think it’s going to go perfectly, but I think I’m gonna have a damn good time. From the get go, baby.

I’ve maintained that piano performance and triathlon are totes the same. The preparation. The nerves. The ridiculousness of the task at hand. Imma be real with y’all – while I might not literally fear for my life when I’m on stage as I may have in the water or on the bike course, swimming, biking, and running seem like much more reasonable requests to make of someone than asking her to memorize thousands of notes in a specific order to be played at a specific time in a specific way. That being said, as I’ve prepared for both types of events, the problems I’ve encountered don’t lie in my body. My arms, legs, feet – fingers – work just fine, praise God. It’s about putting the hours in to allay the fears that I am not good enough or that I don’t deserve a place on the stage or on the course.

Less than 100 hours remain between Augusta and me. Coachie and pretty much everyone else on earth are saying that this is the time that jacks with people the most. Questioning if you’ve sufficiently trained. Intimidated by people you’ve never met with more experience, strength, speed, or all three. I think I’m calmer now than I’ve ever been in my whole life. What’s gonna happen is gonna happen, man. Don’t get it twisted – I’m not saying that I won’t be nervous on Sunday. I just know that it’s my time. My time to show myself what I’m made of. My time to put myself to the test. My time to celebrate the physical health with which I’ve been blessed. However it ends, it will be my time to decide how to move forward to continue growth.

I’ve been getting ready for this all my life.

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Answer: Everything that kills me makes me feel alive. Recital Report, Part I

Question: Why the hell am I here again?

I asked myself this as I pulled up to my performance venue after a hectic morning. I had anticipated feeling panicked, but at about two hours before show time I just wanted a nap. Music is cool, but naps are better, right? Alas, I would feel guilty drinking later if I didn’t play first. Onward!

I met with the owner and worked out some final details. A local university student was there with her professor, checking out pianos. “Fantastic,” I thought. “People who know what they are doing. I bet that feels good.” I tried to shut everything out and settle myself.

Dress? Check. Playing shoes? Check. Diva shoes for the after party? Check. Confidence? Uh. This face stared back at me in the mirror:

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Oh, dear. Maybe we can get some confidence from upgrading that face. My makeup application took me 5 whole minutes. That’s 10x longer than normal. You know this must be a BFD. Next came the dress, pearls, and shoes. I giggled. “I’m cute. Still tired, but cute.” I checked my watch. 45 minutes to go. By now, the others had cleared out of the hall and I could warm up.

I adjusted the bench how I like it and started playing through my favorite (read: most terrifying) sections of each piece slowly. Heh. “This Steinway D shole is purty!” Soon after I had begun, one of my cousins popped her head in. Polite pianistzilla that I am, I gave her a hug and asked if she would wait outside for me until 1:45. She was cool. “Hey, could you keep others out for me too?” “Sure!” she says.

I start playing again. I hear another person. “Gah!” Oh yay, it’s 3M! Happy to see her, I ask her to go away, too. 🙂 My mom and aunt then came in (cousin you are REALLY sucking at this) and my mother tried to attack me. “Ermahgerd lemme see how beautiful you are!” Thankfully, my aunt shuffled her away. I got about 2 more minutes in before I went to go hide and check myself out one last time.

I had wanted to minimize my contact with people before I went on the stage. However, as there was only one bathroom, it became a bit of a reunion area. “I’m so excited!” “Are you ready?” “Good luck!” Everyone please SHUT. UP. I smiled and hugged, of course, and in retrospect, that is probably what I needed. I managed to hide, eat a Bonk Breaker (hey, endurance is endurance) and await 2 PM. I checked my watch. 1:53. As I sat in a room by myself, I repeated the command from Philippians 4:6 to be anxious for nothing. I thanked God for my family and for music and the opportunity to bring them together today. “Uh. What are you gonna do if when you make a mistake?” I asked myself. “Keep going. No big deal,” I replied. Keep breathing. Have fun. Think happy thoughts. Did Jesus really die on a cross for me to whine about Chopin? No, probs. Chill out.

I came out at 2 and told owner dude I was ready. I turned my head and saw my Dad TOTALLY not in the performance hall. “Waaaaaaaaiiiiit!” I asked him to wait 5 more minutes. I wrangled my father, who was giving directions to a turned around family member. Real talk? When my huge family of Caribbean descent is involved, starting an event 5 minutes late is like starting an hour early. I couldn’t be mad.

No, seriously. I couldn’t be mad. I had a job to do. They are clapping for me!

Separation Anxiety: On Winding Down

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about something low-stress, like dropping your kid off at day care for the first time or saying farewell to your military spouse before s(he) deploys. This is SERIOUS. As my recital approaches, I am finding that I have had to spend more time away from the piano than I would like. I had planned for this, as this is not my first rodeo, but it is unsettling nonetheless.

Incidentally, today was also my rest day for my triathlon training. No playing. No biking. No swimming. No running. Um. What else is there? Aside from descend into self-sabotaging, paralyzing thoughts of what could go wrong. Hah! I didn’t do that either, actually. I suppose I must be maturing because I feel very matter-of-fact about my performance. I know I cannot cram any more details into my head. It is what it is.

So why is this pulling away so uncomfortable?

I think it is the waiting. I wish I could fast forward to 4 PM on Saturday when I should be having my first glass of champagne. Before that, I have to welcome family into town, ensure that I sleep and eat well, finish printing programs, get dat recital day pedi, and wait backstage without losing my mind and keeping my heart rate down for about 30 minutes until show time.

Moreover, the approach of any event is the time in which friends and family are in my face like so:

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I know they mean well, and because people aren’t usually comfortable with anything less than a sunny disposition, I try to reply as such:

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I don’t feel like I will know I’m ready until I sit at the piano on recital day and play E flat with my RH 2. Or maybe I’ll know when I play the final B octave with lefty.

What I do know is that this – the discomfort, the waiting – this is how real women are made.

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