October 28th, 1990
...I know that with God's help I can accomplish anything, but right now it seems as if I am so near, yet something or someone is taunting me and jeering at me, saying I will never reach it. I almost believe it. This gets so depressing, just even the thought of failing...
...I could surely use some directions. Should I become a professional violinist? Pianist? Artist? Veterinarian? Or a piano/violin teacher? Or something else? I don't know, but I know what I would like to be. I just don't know if that's what would be good for me. The money's not all that great, either, unless you make it big. Boy, I sure hope Joel Schoenhals does. because then I can say, "Yeah, I knew him once." Or maybe I would be right up there with him. Boy, that would be great! After all, my piano contest judge said I had the makings to master in music. He sure acted impressed. I was quite flattered with what he said. That reminds me: the other day, daddy asked if I was going to be a professional pianist or violinist. He actually didn't say anything against it. It was almost as if he wanted me to. Man, things are really weird these days. I don't know what's going on anymore, but one thing I do know: it's time to go to bed! It's 11:19! Good night!
...Oh, I wish (and pray) I could make it in piano or violin. But I also have to keep practicing. Oh, yuck. Anyway, I'm just a dreamer, and that's all I'll ever be...
...I really wish I could spend the rest of my life just making music, whether it be piano, jazz, violin, whatever! I enjoy it so much, and it's been a part of me for so long, I don't see how I could ever get tired of music! I wish (and pray, of course) I could figure out what I'm going to do the rest of my life... I don't know how to get an answer! Oh well...
...It's hard to believe I'm sixteen years old. And not one boyfriend! --yet. ...I want someone who could enjoy listening to a thunderstorm, just sit and listen. I'd like someone who enjoys classical music. I really love playing piano and violin. I mean, more than my friends at school could understand. It has so much more emotion to it, and with it I can express myself. I'm really glad I'm not like anyone else. It just makes life a little harder sometimes. When I was little, I wished I had been born in a different time frame. I still feel that way today...
...I don’t need to worry about my future plans. God knows what he wants me to do and he knows how to get me there. If I can believe that God created the heavens and the earth, and knows everything, then of course He can do whatever He wants with my life. Don’t ever underestimate His power...
Every decade or so, I like to go ahead and clean my desk. I find all sorts of things when I do, so it's a worthwhile task. We also cleaned the spare bedroom, and I came across my old diaries, dating as far back as 1990...
After waiting for a break in the weather, we loaded up the camera gear and headed just down the road to an old homestead cabin out on Mackey Lake Road. The woman who gave us permission to use her place was away at work, so we made ourselves at home in her overgrown front yard, amidst fireweed and dying petunias. From the window, an unattended Hemingway cat watched curiously as we laid the tracking and searched for a power outlet. Both outlets were occupied, so Jim decided to unplug one of the existing chords so that we could get going.
My job was to keep my makeup fresh and my fingers warm under cool temps and overcast skies. The bugs were only mildly annoying, but I put on some spray anyway so they would quit hovering around my every move.
Sitting on an old stump, I played through half a dozen fiddle tunes while the kinks were being worked out with the recording equipment. We stopped often, for airplanes and lawn mowers, and the occasional passing car. Meanwhile, a neighbor came home from work and got out of his truck to see what the heck was going on next door. As it turned out, we had cut the power to his trailer, and now his two pot pies were in the process of thawing out in his freezer. He didn't seem to mind too much. Instead, he dug out a disposable camera and began taking photos of me as I played jigs and reels.
In the window, the Hemingway cat was stealing the show now, climbing on the screen, knocking down fixtures, and chewing on the begonia. Finally, she settled into the scene and sat listening. I settled down a bit, too, and played a Scottish ballad for my feline audience, who gazed at me through the window with a warm smile. Then, with a yawn and an arching of back and tail, she slipped behind the curtain for her afternoon nap.
Raindrops grew from spittle to earnest sprinkles, forcing us to scramble for tarps and wrenches, pulling apart equipment in what was becoming a curtain of rain. What seemed like moments of work turned out to be four hours of filming. I'd say in all, we got roughly two minutes of usable footage.
Last night I played my usual fare at the local coffee shop, and did some more filming. Now there's talk of putting together some kind of documentary about the local musician and the direction of local music. Just an idea on the back burner for something in the future, so no promises on that one just yet. I think this was more about just getting used to being in front of a camera. It feels more like I'm on Candid Camera, though. I'm laughing at the notion that people in LA are looking this stuff. (Hope my technique was spot on, and that my bra strap wasn't showing.)
The next time I met with Jim Oltersdorf, it was under special lighting and the intense scrutiny of high definition cameras. It wasn't all that bad though; we recorded at his home after his wife cooked us a nice dinner of pork ribs and potatoes, and the atmosphere was quite comfortable. None of this would be used in the final cut anyway, he assured me. We were just checking out some camera angles and getting some ideas.
Has anyone here seen and heard themselves in high definition? I sure hadn't before yesterday. It's absolutely amazing what good lighting and some quality microphones will do to your self image. When I saw my own violin and the bow drawing across the strings, and I heard for the first time an accurate depiction of the sound that it makes after it leaves my ears, my jaw dropped. It was all so beautiful! I sat and listened for a while, thinking.
The violin is what the voice becomes when it joins with the trees. And this is why I love it.
I'm getting ready to start the next semester of teaching, but not before two whole weeks of nothing! The dead space on the calendar is absolutely thrilling: No camps. No cooking. No races (due to foot injury). No trips. No gigs. Two weeks of absolutely nothing.
And absolutely no creativity, either. I'm not sure where it went, but it's definitely gone. It's too bad, too, because I scheduled an art show in October, and so far I'm drawing a complete blank.
I asked George where my creativity could be.
"Did you check the trunk?"
"...No, but it looks like I left the headlights on."
Children's feet slapped past me as I walked down the trail. My steps--they passed like days, one after the other, until before I knew it, I was around the lake again, and right smack dab at the end of summer. Now all that remained of the children were echoes and footprints. I was alone against the sky, whose clouds still clung to the remnants of the day.
There have been sunsets since the beginning of sunshine, yet only one to commemorate the last day of summer camp, 2008. This was it.
Violinist Frank Almond tells the life story of the 1715 Lipinski Strad in his new recording, "A Violin's Life."
Emily Grossman is from Soldotna, Alaska. Biography
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