Cellotastrophe

This has been one of the worst years of my life for personal catastrophes.

You’ve heard about the ankle and all those struggles. I’ve managed to keep pretty focused and positive about that and it’s paid off. I ran 4 miles this week without significant pain the next day!

No, I’m talking about CATASTROPHES. Like major traumatic events that you will remember forever, where you experienced shock and don’t remember everything that happened and when you try, it’s painful.

I have a few events like that in my life; my father’s death and the phone call that announced that, a car accident where I wasn’t driving when I was in 9th grade and we rolled, and my first car accident that happened two months ago when I was driving my son and my friend’s five year old to a party.

That was the car-tastrophe. I stopped at a 4-way intersection and pulled out in front of an oncoming car. I was t-boned. Actually, the side of the car where my son was sitting took the hit, a mother’s nightmare. I replayed over and over again why I hadn’t seen the oncoming car when I thought I’d done multiple head-checks, mulled over the fact that the street to my right was on a diagonal, that there was a hill that made it hard to judge how fast people were coming, and wondered whether the other car was going too fast.

But it just boils down to an accident. Accidents are inherently tragic; you are flawed, you make a split-second bad choice that you pay for.

Fortunately, in the instance of the cartastrophe, we are all okay, the other driver is fine, and my insurance covered everything except my deductible. I was shaky driving for a while, but now am back to normal except that I am more cautious in some ways. That’s a good thing.

This weekend, a second major accident in far too short of a time occurred: the Cellotastophe. I tripped in the dark stepping out of the pit for a local Nutcracker production. I had my cello in hand as I never leave it alone; it was built out of lovely maple and pine in the 1850’s in the Mirecourt area in France. I’ve had it since I was 17 and it really feels like an extension of my soul.

Other musicians claim they heard me fall (thunk!) and then a horrible noise (crunch). I just felt my feet go out from under me (there was a small step I misjudged) and then I saw grotesque splinters and pieces of my cello. I thought I’d fallen on it and said some horrible things, words that aren’t part of my daily vocabulary, but also some nasty things to people who were just trying to be helpful.

All I could think was that this poor instrument had survived intact from Tchaikovsky’s time until December 2012;  through multiple wars and overseas trips, only to be destroyed by Calamity Jane in a pit in Daveport, Iowa. How sad.

Fortunately, I didn’t total it. Today Jennifer Becker, a fine instrument repair person from St. Paul, told me she thinks she can rebuild the splinters and we won’t have to replace the ribbing (the side of the cello). I realized after getting home that the top and back are intact and there are no apparent cracks. This is slightly miraculous, but it’s also due to the fact that the glue they use on instruments is highly flexible and made to come apart easily so that when repairs need to be done, the top can come off. This saved my cello as the top didn’t absorb the impact when it hit the floor.

I’m sore and have some minor bruising as if I’d taken a spill on my bike.  I’m okay, but in many ways, I would have rather cracked my rib instead of my cello’s. I had a lot of self-doubts driving home after the accident: Why am I so accident prone? Where is my focus and my brain in those instances? Do I have a “klutz” gene? After all, the word AMY is in CALAMITY. Think about it. But the reality is that I’m a single-mom, working several jobs and burning a candle at both ends. Being over-tired often leads to disaster.

Warning, these pictures are hard to look at, even for my non-musician friends. As one said, “This is just wrong.”

ImageMy dad called me “Grace” growing up and many of my close friends still use that. Does that make me FEEL clumsy? Who knows. I think I don’t have a good sense of balance. Time to do yoga. Time to strengthen my weak ankle some more.

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A good friend just stopped by with Molly’s cupcakes as I was finishing this. She knows me well enough to understand that no words or even kind thoughts will change the fact that there is a gaping hole in my cello. She just brought over these delicious cupcakes, just as another brought me chocolate covered cranberries this afternoon and cheered me up over some tea. 2012 may have been fairly catastrophic for me, but there is chocolate, friendship and more cathartic exercise in the future. There is no use looking back on what I should have/could have done. Moving forward, with a little help from my friends. And cupcakes.

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