Getting Even Deeper #indeep

July 8th, 2014 by Terra | Filed under In Deep, Talking with Other Authors.

The conversation keeps coming in celebration of the release of In Deep! To wrap things up for today, here are two tales that will pull at all your strings (literally and figuratively) from authors Jessica Martinez and Bethany Chase.

Jessica Martinez is the author of Kiss, Kill Vanish (a super intense thriller coming in October), The Vow, The Space Between Us, and Virtuosity, and she also happens to be a gifted violinist:

The Job: Concertmaster of the South Bend, Indiana Symphony Orchestra

Why I Should Not Have Been Hired: Where to start?

1. I hadn’t actually played the violin for about six years. (Long story made very short, I have a freakish autoimmune thing that affects my hands. It suddenly went into remission, and for reasons unknown I said, “I think I used to play the violin! How about I audition to be concertmaster of a professional symphony?!”)

2. I didn’t have a music degree. Not technically required, but everyone else in the orchestra DID have one. I just didn’t know that. Because I didn’t know anything. Because I was an English major who should’ve been applying for a job checking hand stamps at Chuck E Cheese and not sight reading Mahler Symphonies at full speed.

3. I’ve always sucked as an orchestral player. Please believe me when I say that I’m not being modest. Back when violin was my career, I was a soloist. I mean, I’d always had to play in orchestras, and I’d even been concertmaster of non-professional orchestras (youth orchestra, college symphony) BUT I auditioned into those positions on my skill as a soloist. I knew full well I was a lousy orchestral player, and I’m pretty sure every conductor I ever worked with realized this too, as evidenced by their repeated head-palming during rehearsals. Why am I such a bad orchestral player? I blame the good ear I’ve always used as a crutch. I blame that one year of Suzuki violin. I blame my mom for dropping me on my head when I was a baby. Whatever. It’s HARD. Orchestral playing is like brain surgery at a hundred miles an hour with a bomb strapped to your chest. Also, professional orchestras only have one or two rehearsals with new music before they perform, which is nothing like youth or college orchestras. There. Those are my excuses.

Why I Did Get Hired:

1. The universe wanted to teach me about humiliation.

2. I audition well.

3. The sight reading passage for the audition was unusually easy—AND I NEVER SAY THAT.

4. Everybody else auditioning must’ve been hungover/drunk/stoned/high/asleep. Seriously.

A Humiliating Start:

1. First rehearsal. I’m introduced. I stand up and nod modestly while the orchestra members applaud. I notice that they are real grown-ups (I’m 24, looking 15). I sit down and look for the nearest trash can in case I need to vomit.

2. The orchestra starts reading the first piece. The string section isn’t supposed to come in for about a minute, so I’m counting measures and sweating bullets.

3. I COME IN AT THE WRONG TIME, AND THE ENTIRE STRING SECTION FOLLOWS ME BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO DO—FOLLOW THE CONCERTMASTER, EVEN IF SHE’S AN IDIOT CHILD-CONCERTMASTER!!!

4. The conductor stops the train wreck and looks at me. Everybody is looking at me, but he really looks at me. Then he looks at his music and closes his eyes for a few seconds and every musician there knows exactly what he’s thinking: “What. Have. I. Hired.”

How It Played Out

1. I made a fool out of myself for an entire year. Too many stories to tell, really. I can shudder for about an hour if I start thinking about them all at once.

2. I studied the music and listened to every single piece we played for hours before rehearsals. I signed CDs out of the library, and bought CDs that the library didn’t carry.

3. Anxiety. Ulcer. Cry myself to sleep on my husband’s shoulder. Repeat.

4. I made friends. People have a hard time hating someone for incompetence when the person doesn’t seem to be horrible otherwise. But don’t get me wrong, they still thought I was a complete moron.

Silver Lining

1. Before I was even hired, there was a symphony fundraising auction and one of the items up for grabs was a concert given by the concertmaster and the conductor. (The conductor was a pianist.) So basically, some seriously rich people threw a big party and I got to come give a concert for their guests. I don’t know or even care whether they enjoyed it, but it was the highlight of my year. For one whole night, I got to actually do what I know how to do and not feel like a complete screw-up. The concertmaster and I had this singular moment at the end of the performance where he looked at me and nodded, and I could tell that for once, he didn’t regret I’d ever been born. It was beautiful.

2. When we got married, my husband didn’t really know I played the violin. I mean, he knew, but he didn’t know. How do you explain an entire lifetime of defining experiences when you can barely pick up your instrument anymore? Before we got married I think I showed him some videos of a pre-puberty Jessica playing with a symphony, and that was the extent of it. Anyway, that year my classical music virgin husband went to every single symphony concert by himself and bragged to the complete strangers sitting all around him that he was the concertmaster’s husband. He was there beaming at that private concert where I got to do my thing, and he was on his feet clapping the night of my last concert when I was presented with flowers. So, yeah.

Worth it.

The take home message: I will endure a year of soul-altering humiliation in exchange for positive attention from a boy. Yikes. Never mind. There is no take home message.

 

Bethany Chase is the author of The One That Got Away (a smart romantic story coming in March 2015 about a young female architect who is happy in work and love and thinks she’s nailed the blueprint to the perfect life, until a heartbreaking old flame waltzes back into town—and hires her to renovate his new house, with her life getting a bit of renovation as well), and also has a wicked sense of style.

My junior year of high school, I was dating simply the best boy in the world. His name was Jesse, and like Charlie in IN DEEP, he was cute, kind, loving, supportive, and crazy about me. And like Brynn, I crushed him.

He was a talented actor, good enough to get into the summer program at the Royal Academy of Art, so off he went to London while I did the summer show in our hometown community theater. He promised to write. He promised to call me. He only had one particular request for me in return: “Don’t fall in love with Chris while I’m gone, OK?”

Chris was his best friend. I barely knew him when the summer started, because I went to a different school from the two of them, and Jess and I had been pretty tucked away in our own little ecosphere since we’d gotten together the fall before. But plays create camaraderie in a uniquely intense way, and before I recognized what was happening, I was addicted to Chris’s snarky wit and the endless loops of joking that we’d fall into. The long talks we’d have in quiet corners at post-rehearsal hangouts, while everybody else snuck suspicious and hostile glances our way.

The first time he kissed me, on a warm, clingy summer afternoon, I knew it was wrong. I also knew I didn’t want to stop. I was telling myself the things cheaters have been telling themselves since the beginning of time: “I didn’t ask for this. I don’t want to feel this way, but I can’t help it.” I spent a lot of time lying in my bed, staring at my ceiling and stressing about what I was going to do, but the truth was, part of me loved it.

I loved the attention, and the drama of it all. I was high on the feeling of being wanted by not just one but two amazing guys, to the point that one of them was willing to destroy his closest friendship to be with me. I loved the feeling of doing something forbidden, even though it was forbidden for the very good reasons of being dishonest and cruel. Like Brynn, I made other people’s lives be all about me, to the point that looking out for their feelings became less important than indulging the ego trip I was on. By the time the dust settled, I had hurt both of them, badly. And I had finally started to realize how crappily I was behaving, and lost a little respect for myself when the weight of that came down to roost. Thankfully, I stopped short of deliberately manipulating anyone, but I will always wish that I had handled the situation more carefully than I did.

Thanks to *all* my friends who helped roll out this new book about competition and getting in over your head, both here and on Twitter at #indeep. I will look forward to all the thoughts and comments that keep coming in!

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