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At the Risk of Offending

Emily Grossman

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Published: November 14, 2013 at 12:56 PM [UTC]

It's almost midnight as I step out of the hotel lobby into the raw night air. The streets are uncharacteristically quiet--much quieter than my next-door neighbors on the eighth floor, who probably don't know that I can hear every single word of their late-night conversation through the thin wall. No matter, I never sleep much anyway, and tonight's no different.

Ah, what should I write about? With shortened steps, I choose my footing carefully over the glazed snow pack. Earlier today, I'd probed Tammy's brain for writing topics as I drove the two of us up to Anchorage for symphony rehearsal. (I will play viola, and she will observe the conductor and meet with him tomorrow to discuss technique.) Some days, it seems almost impossible to write anything without hurting or offending someone somewhere. If I write about somebody, somebody else is offended that I didn't write about them, too. If I share good news, someone might think I'm bragging. If I share sad news, someone might think I'm throwing a pity party, and my parents start to worry about me. (Heaven forbid I should worry my parents!) If I tell a story, someone might get upset that I shared stuff about them. Or maybe I'll get the facts wrong.

"So, what should I write about?"

"You could write about my plumbing problems and how I ran into a grizzly bear on the way to the outhouse the other day," suggested Tammy. One of her neighbors recently rerouted the wetlands and can claim partial if not total responsibility for flooding dozens of homes in her area. Her entire neighborhood now had no running water, and many were seeking action. The Mayor was on the phone with her now, asking about her neighbor's recent suspicious construction activity. I turned down the volume on the radio and eavesdropped on the conversation, intrigued. Yes, this is all very interesting, but why write about septic problems?

What should I write about? I'd thought some more as we navigated through stop lights and crazy drivers on the unsanded streets. Tammy needed to buy clarinet reeds, and I wanted to check out the Christmas sheet music at the store in town. We made it without either of us getting killed, and I congratulated myself on my awesome driving skills. I don't think Tammy was so impressed, but she thanked me, nevertheless. The sales clerk, also a favorite musical colleague of ours, greeted us both with a warm, enthusiastic hug and lots of stories.

It would be ludicrous to write about deeply personal matters, since the entire world can read the internet. As juicy as they might be, you don't put your diaries out for everyone's feasting eyes. No, whatever I share needs to be edited for appropriateness. But then people will think I have my act together, and, of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

But why write at all, anyway?

After a quick bite in the hotel restaurant, we headed across the street to the PAC. The rehearsal began, and I sat in the back of the viola section, taking in my new view. If I wrote about how easy I thought the viola part is compared to the violin, people will expect me to play every note perfectly tomorrow, and I still have a lot of practice to do on the Vaughan Williams. If I write that I'm not too excited about this Brubeck piece just yet, then people will think I'm narrow-minded, and I'll hurt the feelings of whoever reeaally loves this Brubeck piece. And who knows, maybe it'll grow on me.

We took a break, and I went outside to chat with the other two members of my string trio, who I don't get to see much because of the distance. I'm thinking about telling them that I miss playing together, ever since our last wedding gig in August, and maybe we should go out after rehearsal just to hang and catch up. But I don't, so we don't, and so I have nothing really to write about. Maybe tomorrow.

The Vaughan Williams Suite for viola and orchestra leaves me with a melancholy aftertaste. Tammy would be staying at the concertmaster's house tonight. I would be heading up to the hotel room alone, with a lot of time on my hands and nothing to write about.

I don't know, maybe moose.

From Aaron Smith
Posted on November 14, 2013 at 3:23 PM
Always enjoy whatever you have to say! Gives me something to think about. Your writing has a way of painting the perfect picture.
From marjory lange
Posted on November 14, 2013 at 5:57 PM
If a person doesn't risk 'offending,' s/he can't be honest. Besides, an 'offense,' technically, has to be done with volition; expressing an opinion--your opinion--unless you deliberately attack someone with it, can't be an offense. Someone may disagree with what you say, but only in our litigious world is creating disagreement 'offensive.'

At the same time, love to hear more about moose...and sitting in the viola section...or at the end of the section (something I doubt you do much except on vla).

From Laurie Niles
Posted on November 15, 2013 at 4:19 PM
At the risk of making a really bad pun, is this this your Musical Moose? ;)
From rosenbaum gavriel
Posted on November 16, 2013 at 9:57 AM
Fiddler bugging him all sorts of shapes became nervous. If it interfering and intervening violin has no knowledge about the violin can do more harm than helping. The more so if it takes the authority of that see, and all double damage. I want to play, entered into the trauma. Suddenly I'm scared, or something threatens me, or will do terror, why I do not play, and begin to threaten: I'll take you to the violin. Threats of this kind I heard my late father, my older brother, my younger brother, two sons, and friendsI ask what you thin

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