Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Ball of Focus

Today was a hellacious day. Wednesdays tend to be somewhat nonstop as it is; the only time I have between lessons is the time to get from one school to the next. On some Wednesdays (not today, thankfully), the only time I get for lunch is at 10:00 in the morning (it's either that or 5:00 in the afternoon, which no longer qualifies as "lunch"; never mind the fact that I would have passed out by then). By the time I'm finished teaching at 7:00 (sometimes later), I'm pretty much toast.

Now take that day, compress most of the lessons into two fewer hours, and add to that a trip to near-downtown Dallas at 5:00 in the afternoon. That was my day today after I got a call a few days ago from Bryan with 15th Street Jazz, wanting me to fill in for Chris on the West Village Starbucks gig. Normally, it wouldn't start till 8:00, but they were having a Toys for Tots drive tonight (with free drinks on top of that!) and those were the two hours that various merchants were doing it citywide, so they wanted it to be coordinated.

So how did I make it through this demanding day? Some would call it single-mindedness; some would call it tunnel vision. I prefer to say that today, I was a "ball of focus." From the moment I woke up (on the first ring of the second alarm clock), I moved purposefully from task to task, never thinking about the next one until the current one was over. I may have felt like a machine at times, but it got me through the day.

If the ball were represented as a picture, it probably would have some fire along the edges. I hope that nobody got scorched in its wake, though I probably did seem like I was ignoring a few peripheral people when I passed them on my way up to a school. It was nothing personal; I was just on my way to someplace and nothing else mattered at the moment.

So did the ball help me? It sure did in traffic. Even when the inevitable slowdowns occurred at the High Five construction zone (and a few other random times), I was cool as a cucumber. (Those of you who know me well are aware that this almost never, ever happens.) Certainly it helped that I was going against the flow of traffic, and I was able to allot a full hour for a trip that only took forty minutes door-to-door...but the fact that I didn't waste any energy getting mad at other drivers sure left me with plenty for the gig.

Oh, and the gig itself went OK; we weren't in the same back area where we usually play (the manager wanted us closer to the "action") so the acoustics were kinda funky (really hard to hear the bass). Also, our usual crowd of friends wasn't there, so we were basically playing for ourselves (though we did get some nods and smiles--and tips--from the regular clientele). As I told the guys, most of whom had never played for anything but the "home crowd" before, welcome to the wonderful world of wallpaper.

So maybe there's something to this "ball of focus" thing. I wouldn't want to always be that way, because my usual stop-and-smell-the-roses, take wonderful detours, fairly ADD-addled world is a lot of fun sometimes. Now I just have to figure out how to un-detach when playing a gig, because jazz, of course, is mostly about spontaneity and feeling...but hey, the focus worked for today, and that's all that counts right now.

BLEEDING GUMS GUTS MURPHY?? According to news reports this week, a man in Moldova sold one of his kidneys so he could afford to buy a saxophone.

...I just hope it was a Selmer Mark VI and not something awful.

(Thanks to Jazzy G for the alert.)

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