The next day, fresh off the latest therapy session, I wake up rational, and just chockful of peter piper purpose! In fact, I feel so Miss Perkypie confident, I dive right into the car and drive myself to the bookstore. With absolutely no driving problems. Nosirree, bobber. Every move I make is decisively decisive.
Once I’m in the store, I canter through the aisles like a show pony wearing a gorgeous hi-feathered pink hat. Whoa, slow down there, Liz. Time to research. Subject? The Art of Psychotherapy. After all, knowledge is power, power means control, and control means, I’m the leader. Always. In every situation.
I buy four books, make it back home safely, and spend the rest of the afternoon reading, reading and reading. One book is especially helpful: The Heart of Psychotherapy: A Journey into the Mind and Office of the Therapist at Work, by George Weinberg. Easy to comprehend. Best of all, the insight it spouts, makes me feel like I could be Superman to Pens inner Freud. I know! I'll use ex-ray vision to see into her mind, to read the tricky dicky questions she'll ask to trap me! Then, I'll literally freeze her with my answers! Aren’t I clever?
On the other hand, should I really feel as if I’m Superman about to go to war? “Yes, you freakin’ moron. You’re ABOUT to get shot down in cold blood. Unless . . . you do the shooting first. He he he . . . I don’t feel so good all of a sudden. The cliche, sweating bullets comes to mind.
As the week passes on by, I begin to notice a few blips on the professional career radar. One occurs while I’m practicing the Mozart Piano Concerto in D minor. Usually I can play the piece practically blind-folded, but now I stutter through it like my hands are tied together. And sometimes, when I come to the end of the piece, I forget what I just played. Instead, I think, gee what a beautiful concerto, I wonder who wrote it? So I look at the cover. Holy cow, there’s a message written on it! From the great master himself, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He wrote, and I quote, “You, madam, are an idiot!”
More blips occur during piano lessons, like blanking out at inconvenient moments, so that the simple basics of music theory slip beyond my comprehension. In other words, I can’t remember how many sharps or flats are in what key signature. I don't know the scale of a piece a student is playing, or what note he’s butchering over and over. When I speak to students about the life of composers like Mr. Mozart, I forget where the man was born, or what he wrote. As for the three mega composers whose last names are thusly, Brahms, Beethoven, and Bach? Now they’re Benny, Beavis, and Butthead. And wasn’t Bach the one who had 100 children, 10,000 grandchildren, 100,000 grandchildren, and not one could read a note of music?
As I sit and ponder these worrisome problems, I’m blindsided by a flashback.
Time: Early 1980’s
Location: Recital Hall. Seated elegantly or slatternly depending on your viewpoint, at a Bosendorfer grand playing Chopin’s Funeral March in front of an eight-student master class. All the other students are anxiously waiting their turn of the screw, and probably aren’t listening to me at all. However, Dr. P, as always, stands ready to pounce on the overall performance of the piece. That’s the way he is. Nice enough guy, but terribly neurotic and very finicky. Without warning, I switch to a major key, and the Funeral March becomes A March Into Zion.
“STOP! STOP! STOP! Miss ET, what in the name of all that is holy are you doing? This isn’t the First Baptist Church of Heaven.”
In a fog, I look out over the miniscule audience of little people all cloaked in dark shadows, and eek out, “Um, I don’t know. It . . . I . . . it’s a bit of a memory slip, I guess.”
“A LITTLE! You changed the whole damn piece. You just murdered Chopin. Which is hard to do seeing as he is already dead. Are you alright?”
“Sure . . . I mean, no.” I clear my throat, feeling my spirit detach from my body. “I-I don’t feel so good today, Dr. P. I’m sorry.”
“Well, for God’s sakes why didn’t you say something before you marched us all into the Twilight Zone! Go home.” He clears his throat and yells, “NEXT!”
Damn, I'd forgotten about all those master classes that ended in disaster for me. Sigh. I need to concentrate on the present. Can't teach like this. It's getting downright embarrassing. Should I practice more? Maybe reread my music theory and history books? Argh! Well, I’ll bring it up to Pen. She should have the answers.
“Riiight, Lizzie. Keep tellin’ yourself that, hon. And then guess what? There’ll be lots and lots of questions she’s gonna wish she never asked. Book it, Dano!”