Today’s the day I have to play.  Mozart and Mendelssohn and Respighi and Sibelius.  And Ravel.  That damn Ravel.

The rain drifts and drips on the windshield, the wipers beat.  I worry as I drive from the South Shore to the North Shore.   My left thumb rubs against the steering wheel, and I wince.  I have a blister right at the edge of my thumbnail from practicing the Ravel.

Traffic accidents and construction, one slowdown after another.  Half of me’s upset at the time the trip is taking.  The other half of me is eagerly mentally composing an apologetic email to the orchestra personnel manager, saying “I really tried to get there, and I apologize for canceling, but I’m still stuck on the highway…”  I fantasize about getting in just a little fender bender, not enough to hurt anything, but enough to make it impossible for me to audition.

I’m feeling defeated by a couple of the excerpts–important and/or difficult bits of orchestra pieces where the clarinet is featured–even after a month of practice.  I can play all the notes, just not quite fast enough, and this week I got really stuck and somehow made one of my excerpts (starts with the letter R) worse.  Twelve notes in the beat, repeat, repeat, repeat.  Going down to do laundry, my fingers working those twelve notes.  Shutting my eyes to go to sleep, but those twelve notes won’t quiet down and go out of my head.

The auditions are being held in a church.  I warm up, see if the 12 notes have miraculously evened out or speeded up.  They haven’t.  I hate going into an audition or performance with anything out of my control.  I walk into the sanctuary and take my place at the stand. I play Mozart, Mendelssohn, Respighi.  “Very nice,” says the conductor.  He doesn’t make me play Ravel.

I leave the sanctuary happy and head south.  Ravel’s twelve notes slip out of my head.  When I get home, I’ll put a Band-Aid on my thumb.