benchmarksblog

WHAT I LEARN FROM LIFTING & PLAYING

Category: PLAYING

REHEARSAL

When he sees me cart out my keyboard and all its related gear into the garden on hot, humid, Michigan summer afternoon, my Operations Manager asks me what I am doing.

 

I tell him that there is a wedding tomorrow and that the rehearsal for the ceremony is in 15 minutes.

 

“I didn’t think you of all people needed to rehearse,” he responds.

 

I want to tell him that I don’t need to rehearse.

 

But that I show up for these things because I remain critical and distrustful of some of the staff he has hired.

 

And that I would rather put in the extra time and have a beautiful event than have any miscommunication occur on the actual day itself.

 

Instead, I laugh and thank him for the compliment.

 

I’m really rehearsing staying silent on matters that warrant me saying nothing.

RASH

My left arm has been itching.

 

Not surprisingly, that itch developed into a nasty, red, bumpy rash because I couldn’t quit scratching.

 

After an extensive image search on Google, I freaked out, convinced that I had contracted scabies, bed bugs, leprosy or travelling herpes. Maybe even a combination of all four.

 

A quick picture of my arm and text to my doctor confirmed a possible diagnosis of scabies or spider bites. He called in a prescription to treat both. Just in case.

 

Because I also like second opinions, I sent the same picture to a pharmacist friend in New York, who told me that my doctor was wrong and that I had developed a heat rash.

 

I didn’t want to believe this second opinion. It seemed to be an unlikely thing for a guy born on the tropical island of Singapore to suddenly get heat rash for the first time in Detroit.

 

Nevertheless, I dutifully put on some Cortizone cream as the pharmacist instructed and went to bed.

 

The next morning, most of the inflammation had gone down.

 

More importantly, none of it had spread.

 

Indicating that it wasn’t scabies.

 

When my coach saw my arm later that day, he seconded the second opinion.

 

It’s apparently a common gym thing in the summer.

 

So now the face wipes I use after working out get used to clean my arms too.

 

And I bought a little fan that I use under the piano to keep myself dry and minimally sweaty at work.

 

The rash is nearly gone.

 

But my need to jump to the worst possible conclusion is probably still entirely intact.

SECOND RATE REJUVENATION

At a pharmaceutical company cocktail party, invited guests are treated to top shelf liquor, passed hors d’oeuvres, and a vivid Power Point presentation of a brand new model of laser wand that can be inserted into dry vaginas to induce self-lubrication once again.

 

“The rejuvenated vagina will also be tightened significantly,” I overhear the product representative say before encouraging everyone to take a closer look at the wand she has set up “strictly for external demonstration purposes only.”

 

When a server suggests that I ask if the laser wand will help rejuvenate my used up man cunt, I reply that it would be more helpful if it can tighten his own gaping mouth hole, which is constantly flapping due to the immense bullshit he is prone to uttering, and slack from the large quantities of big black dicks he is always putting in there.

 

I don’t think anymore about rejuvenation anymore until a few nights later.

 

An elderly gentleman falls out of his chair and lies convulsing on the floor behind me just as I start Georgia on my Mind.

 

Diners can stare, servers and managers can mill around in concern, but I have to keep with decorum by looking forward, so I continue to play as the paramedics arrive, wondering all the while if the man is having a heart attack, a seizure, a stroke, a choking situation, or is just simply drunk.

 

It is assessed that the man can be cleared to walk out to the ambulance with assistance and I hear the first few shuffles of feet, followed by the raspy cough of the patient demanding, “to speak to him … I have to speak to him now! Now … please!”

 

Out of the corner of my eye, I see him directing his path of motion towards me, where I sit at the piano halfway between the dining room and the door.

 

A paramedic is supporting his frail body but he wrenches himself free and

grabs onto the edge of the instrument.

 

I see and smell a dinner jacket covered with vomit.

 

He leans into my ear.

 

He whispers, “You’re a second rate pianist.”

 

The paramedic pulls him back into finishing the rest of his slow, painful journey out of the restaurant and onto the emergency room, as I begin to gag.

 

The lingering smell of partially digested beef wellington and the sting of purely wounded indignation are making my lips tighten.

 

More tight and rejuvenated than any laser wand could ever accomplish.

 

WAR MEMORIAL

I just played a bridal shower at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial.

The hostess said a brief hello when she arrived, but I was mostly ignored by a roomful of 40 women.

Until I played my last note, stood up, and put my jacket back on.

Then everyone clapped.

As I walked out, I was told multiple times how wonderful I sounded and what a good job I had done.

The war memorial is dedicated to the veterans of World War II.

But today, I’m going to remember that even when I think that no one hears me, someone is listening.

THE ANSWER

The wedding goes perfectly as planned.

 

I am relieved, but that’s not the exact moment I know that my prayers have been answered.

 

As she packs up her violin to leave, the 17 year old I rehearsed and performed together with for this event says to me, “Thank you so much for everything. I learnt so much from you and I hope we stay in touch.”

 

In a difficult situation, I asked to make no mistakes.

 

And instead, I received grace.

 

THE PRAYER

I never wanted to do this wedding.

 

Due to circumstances, the pianist I recommended for the gig, cancelled, and with no other options available to salvage a long-standing professional relationship with the client, I have no other choice but to fill in.

 

The wedding involves two singers and a violin player that the couple has chosen to include.

 

Which means I’ll be playing in many more key signatures than I ordinarily use.

 

Which makes me uncomfortable.

 

In 2 hours, I will be stepping into the Detroit Yacht Club, trusting that as always, I am supposed to be in the right place to sparkle bright, and that I am equipped to do so.

 

But first, I think I’ll practice this version of The Prayer in E-Flat with its direct modulation to A-Flat just one more time.

TRANSFIXED

We hosted a MTF transgender cocktail event this week.

 

And I was proud of the restaurant for taking such a visible and progressive stance on this social issue.

 

Until, the ladies arrived.

 

Behind their backs, the derisive comments from staff flowed.

 

The most ignorantly revealing to me was the suggestion that I put on a dress and join the party.

 

Sometimes, words do speak louder than actions.

40

He’s not that much older himself, I don’t think, so I’m confused when he says, “What a surprise to come out of the dining room to see someone so young playing all these old songs!”

 

I’m turning 40 next week and I don’t feel so young.

 

But I don’t feel so old either.

 

I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

 

BEAUTY & THE BEAST

 

My coach and I discussed the potential of bulking for the rest of this year before competing again next year.

 

I am very close to my target of 200lbs and in order to retain the benefits of those gains, we decided it would be best to keep this weight on for a while.

 

In other words, I’m going to look fat and pudgy for the next 8 months.

 

Already, I’ve been dealing with unkind comments such as, “have you stopped working out?” and “what happened to you?”

 

I was thinking how much more devastating my social life would become as I launched into a ten-minute medley of songs from Beauty & The Beast.

 

I’ve been playing this music more frequently ever since the live action movie version opened a few weeks ago.

 

It’s fun music and it puts me in a good mood.

 

Now, I’m playing it to remind myself that underneath it all, I know who I am, what I’m trying to accomplish, and most importantly, that I’m still a pretty, pretty princess.

THE VENTRILOQUIST

 

Terry Fater, the ventriloquist who won America’s Got Talent in 2008, came in for brunch.

 

I wanted to tell him how much his act meant to me, because it reminded me of a happy time, when I watched him on television with my late partner.

 

Those silly puppets always made us laugh.

 

But I kept my thoughts to myself, thinking that a performer on his down time wouldn’t want to have to entertain yet another fan.

 

When he left the restaurant, I realized I was the big dummy.

 

I put those words in my own mouth.

 

Letting someone know they are appreciated should be taken at every opportunity.