Saturday, October 27, 2007

Act III: Chaos strikes, following the two acts of foreshadowing

What a month! What a week, even!

I'm almost through, but not quite. Still ONE more concert and ONE more test. I was doing well until this week, when little things started to fall apart. It was rather like having someone shoot a squirt gun at your sand castle, gradually making it disintegrate.

I made the decision to put off one of the examinations. Well, I didn't really make the decision; there simply wasn't enough time in the month to accomplish it along with everything else. Luckily, it's a take-home one, which I have no doubts about being able to pass the first time. Still, it was a disappointing realization that my beautiful and highly organized plan was starting to fray at the edges.

The decay came to a head on Thursday, when I spent 9 hours in a row playing my trombone. It's not physically fatiguing (trombone almost never is for me), but it was a serious drain on my mental sharpness. Having to pay attention for that long, especially if part of it is a recording session that involves tedious repetition, is a headache.

I flopped into my computer chair at home after 10:00 pm and checked my email. A message from my academic adviser; I wonder what she has to say? I should have waited to open it. The message was her saying that I had failed three-quarters of the History examination and that I would have one last chance to retake it. "Be sure to wait until you feel ready," she says (un)helpfully.

I frowned, and read the rest of my emails. Phone bill due. Gig opportunity. University announcements. I opened the web browser, still frowning. The oddest sensation of a bee, buzzing somewhere in the back-right quadrant of my skull. I start proceeding down the line of my friend's blogs. Oh, Minx has a new post. [buzz] A nice long one, too; those are always really good. [buzz] I start reading the post. The first sentence loops in my mind. I start reading again. [I have to retake the history exam] What's she writing about? Something about high heels? [buzz exam] I lost my place and started reading again. [exam again buzz]

Then I realize that my eyes aren't focused on the screen anymore. They're looking towards a glass of water just to the left of the monitor. They aren't focused ON the glass, but just drifted left of the screen, like a car with poor alignment heading slowly but surely towards the highway median.

Without belaboring the point any further, it was a bad night for me. I was unable to do any other studying for the first half of my trombone exam, scheduled for 8 AM the next morning. I was unable to do anything at all, really, except turn the reality over and over in my brain. I went to bed by 10:45, and I stared at the ceiling until 2 AM. Unlike other nights, when I'm actively trying to tell myself "I need to sleep", this night was just me running mental laps. I had no idea what time it was. I just kept on thinking. I was in bed, motionless, but my thoughts were busy pacing the room.

Eventually, I woke up. I thought about the failed exam.... and wasn't mad. I didn't emote anything. "Very odd!" I thought. "This was such a big deal last night." I took a shower and thought about the failed exam. Still nothing. "Weird," I thought.

The trombone exam went well. Questions were asked that I could immediately gather all knowledge about and pour out an essay extempore. I remember thinking, "Gosh, this must be how it's supposed to work for all the other stuff I'm supposed to know!"

Then the Friday night concert. Today I finished the last of the projects for the trumpet professor. Tomorrow is another concert. Monday is the last test.

And then, seemingly some four years late (but in fact two days early), October will *finally* end.

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