Saturday, June 2, 2012

Pre-performance terrors

Yes, I know that I've done 38 commencements like tomorrow's before. Many of them in a gymnasium. Yes, I know I've played the processional for I-can't-begin-to-count-how-many weddings. I've even done huge processionals for 1,000-plus graduates in the same service.

I'm still freaking out about it.

Partially because that's what I always do. Partially because this year's is a year where my disability is worse than ever. I must confess, I did play the service music on an organ the other day, and everything went just fine, even with no pedal use. (Depressing, as always, when I tried to use the pedals. Maybe it'll work tomorrow, I try to reassure myself. I expect to be depressed again when I try, and go to the already-planned-for plan B. Which, frankly, is actually plan A.)

But I'm feeling completely drained. Just walking around the house, usually not that big a deal, is a big deal today. I successfully adventured to Kinko's to xerox some music, I made it just fine to the store to pick up dinner and cookies for the techies tomorrow—I always bring the techies cookies. They're always very helpful to me, I like thanking them. But if I thought there was any way I could bail out of this, I would. Of course I can't, and honestly, there's no way that I ever would—I'd rise up out of the grave just to play one last service. But on some level, I sure do wish it would just happen without me. It would break my heart if it did. But still... I just want to hide and let if all just be over.

This is very unusual for me. I get a case of nerves before every show, no matter what it is, especially when I'm the one who starts it. Yeah, the clock "starts" this show, but still, the prelude and processional are entirely on me.

I conduct (and even play the cymbals on) the recessional. But I only have ordinary performance nerves about that. Because the benediction cues me to start. Something else "pushes the 'launch' button."

Performance nerves and a constant adrenaline jag is pushing all of my "M.S. symptom" buttons. Am I going to survive the processional? I always have. Do I truly believe that tomorrow is going to be any different? No. I played the processional without pedals last year, too, and everything was just fine. To everyone but me. But, I perform for them, and everything is wonderful when they're happy. That's what's important. But still...

As of this moment: it's about 24 hours plus 15 minutes until liftoff. Ten-ish minutes later, after the prelude/processional/national anthem are over, I go backstage and sink into blessed, blessed, relief. I wait I have no idea how long until the diplomas are all handed out, head back to the pit, wait for the benediction, and away we go with the recessional—the easiest part of the show, because I don't have to worry about anything.

My favorite part of the show. Can't come soon enough.


Judy at Peace Be With You said...

It's called Commencement for a good reason. It's the start of a new life for them as well as for you. Good luck.

nicole said...

I remember those jitters too.

Gail said...

and WOW! I so understand your nerves and also I applaud you as hard as I can "BRAVO"!!!
Love Gail