Lying awake during one of the long wakeful stretches I had last night, I finally realised something. I’m somewhat shutting down overall. It’s a temporary thing, but it’s what’s happening in order to maintain basic services. I also finally talked to HRH about something that I’d figured out earlier, namely that I’m being immensely stressed by a set of circumstances from which there doesn’t appear to be any alternative other than trashing the whole plan, which is stressful in a different way. (And I did it in casual fashion, too, while we were making dinner on Sunday, instead of actually sitting down and talking about it face to face, which would have been its own kind of stress.)
Saturday morning I had my cello lesson, and it began beautifully. I did a smooth, beautiful tonalization sequence of arpeggios, and it was really even and balanced and in tune and soft and there are lots of other pretty words I could use to describe it because it was almost perfect. My teacher asked me how I felt about it and I kind of shrugged and said, “It was nice. I liked it.” (Which was an understatement, because I had been amazed at how smooth and effortless it had been, but it was a warm-up and I hadn’t been paying very close attention when I did it.) She said, “Well, I have goosebumps! That was beautiful!” And she was partly kidding, and partly not. But then everything started to go downhill, until it hit the usual point about two-thirds of the way through the lesson where it can’t get any worse and I start to freeze up because nothing I do works and I waver between abject misery and anger. I know what happens: my teacher starts pointing out things we need to fix and I try to keep it all in my mind, and the more I try to think about everything (bring the left elbow forward a degree more when shifting up and crossing a string, wrap the bow around the string by moving the right elbow forward or back, pronate hands, caterpillars, tunnels) the worse I play. Adding more things to the list of things I need to constantly check clogs up my brain and I start dropping basic things I’ve already internalized. It’s part of the learning process, but not a part I especially enjoy.
My teacher has an analogy for this: It’s like the drive shaft on a set of train wheels. At first it feels like you’re moving forward, but then the drive shaft starts going through the second half of the cycle and the illusion of going backward is created, even though the overall unit is still moving forward. And if I think about it I’m doing things now that I couldn’t do two months ago. But that doesn’t particularly comfort me at the two-thirds point of the lesson. My teacher told me as I was packing up to remember the tonalization, though, and to remind myself frequently that I have the wherewithal to make that beautiful sound.
It’s also rather frustrating because I’ve been spending so much practise time on the orchestra music and not paying attention to my lesson stuff, and as a result when I played the Lee that I’d played well a month ago it was awful and we had to spend time addressing the problems there. The plan for two spring/early summer concerts has been dropped (not directly related to how poorly I’m doing, but rather to people not all being available) and so I don’t need to worry about having it ready until a month after the original deadline, which after this past lesson is a good thing.
Saturday night we had dinner at Ceri and Scott’s house, where we met Scott’s brother and sister in law who are terrific people. After dinner a few more people showed up for a Rock Band party, although I spent most of my time upstairs by the fire knitting, which was delightful and relaxing and exactly what I needed.
Sunday morning the boy had his Pagan playgroup where they cut out a circle divided into sections to make up the Wheel of the Year, and drew pictures in each section to indicate what holiday or season it indicated. It took him longer to cut out his circle than any of the other kids, but I don’t think he’s ever used scissors for more than making random decorative cuts on scraps of paper. In some of the sections he scribbled random shapes, but in others he drew very specific and recognisable things: a tree for Beltaine, the sun for summer solstice, a loaf of bread and corn on the cob for Lughnassadh, autumn leaves for the autumn equinox, a pumpkin for Samhain. He drew a Christmas tree-shaped scribble for Yule (but in red instead of green), and he coloured the entire Imbolc wedge red and told me it was fire. Ostara was a blue scribble that is the Easter Bunny, apparently. The other topic of discussion was gods and goddesses, and when the facilitator asked who knew what a god or goddess was his hand shot up into the air along with his gods-sister’s, who fortunately was the one called on to explain. While she was talking he turned to me and said, “They’re statues!” Which is a logical answer from him because in our house we do have an inordinate amount of divine statuary, but would have by necessity initiated a discussion regarding representations versus the real thing that probably wouldn’t have been easily understandable for kids. We’ll work on that at home.
All in all, apart from the comfort of Saturday night, the weekend was… well, it’s over. Maybe my sleep patterns will settle into something better than three broken hours a night, and other things will improve as a result.