In which the snare drum and I share some serious personal space

Plum, pineapple plum, pineapple plum plum plum, pineapple plum, pineapple pineapple pineapple…

That, my friends, would be the “fruit salad” version of the rhythmic motif from Ravel’s Bolero, a piece that I’ve somehow managed to make occupy a significant portion of my brain. The repeated rhythm has become both a constant companion in my day-to-day hummings AND a convenient metaphor for the way I’m running my life at the moment. No matter how much preparation I wish I had for a given day, and how much I try to dig my heels in the ground to give myself more time, the sun comes up and goes down with an annoying consistency. And when my body insists that I need to take a second to slow down and catch up with things, I end up having to rearrange things I had already rearranged once in the first place.

We’re ending our opening season concert in Eugene with Bolero tonight, and the chair I’m sitting in for this concert happens to be right in front of the principal oboe and principal flute of the orchestra. This is no biggie – in fact, I really like it when I get to sit there. Kelly and Kristen are solid, superb players, and it’s lovely to be in a part of the orchestra with such remarkable consistency. However, the maestro made a decision that since the snare drum is the central point of the piece, it should be in the central point of the orchestra, which means right in between Kelly and Kristen.

Which means right behind me. Thank goodness for sound shields – the part requires a 15 minute steady crescendo, so he gets pretty loud by the end of it. It’s like being in the midst of a sound cloud created by an arriving train.

Eugene weeks require a lot of driving from my end, and by day three of five, I was surprisingly beat. My muscles were sore, my fatigue level was high, my head hurt, my nose was stuffy. Most surprisingly, my appetite is cruddy – my foodie side almost never lets this happen. I’ve done this grind before, and I felt like I was keeping caught up fairly well in my lessons at home. Plus, the concert tonight is filled with music that’s very enjoyable and not the least bit stressful. So why was my body complaining so much?

After explaining my symptoms to my genius husband (who can be helpfully objective at the best times), he asked if I picked up a bug from one of my students.

I thought about the amount of students I had this week who came in complaining of a cold, or sinus infection, or hospitalization (for one of them), and I couldn’t believe I didn’t recognize my body telling me I was sick. It’s usually so good about ordering me to bed to recover – I never have any qualms about canceling all my teaching when I feel like this – but I suppose my mind knew I needed to do an abhorrent amount of driving this week and tried to push what my body was telling me off to the side.

Thanks to the good will of some friends of mine, I was able to stay down in Eugene today and catch up on things, without the three and a half hours I would have had to spend on the road. My to-do list is whittling down, and I’ll be able to get some practicing done this afternoon, for which my inner critic will be most grateful.

The best thing for me to do in this situation would be to be at home in bed all day, watching a Grey’s Anatomy marathon and conking out in between binges of orange juice. As a freelancer, however, sometimes that’s just not an option. It’s a wonderful life that I’ve chosen for myself, and I wouldn’t trade it in for all the 9-5 job security in the world, but it does come with its downsides. One of the biggies? Sometimes your time is not yours.

My immune system, however, like that snare drum, will keep ticking along, and I’ll be able to give the bug the boot in no time. Until then, I’ll rely on my next few gigs to keep me happy.

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