Journal entries by composer and pianist Laurie Conrad
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Recording Images and Still Trying to Heal: A Composer’s Journal Entries: June 27 - July 11, 2008
Friday, June 27
M. left for Germany & Luxembourg for nine days, a week with her brother Deon. I continue to make slow & indistinct progress. A stroll in the gardens each evening, a few minutes at the computer - & mainly the rest spent in the rented hospital bed in the upstairs tv room. Inactivity can be so wearing & dull, & one becomes sore & achy & inwardly a bit cranky from just lying around. Hopefully soon I can spend a bit more time sitting and walking; I feel like a very small child. Learning to eat & sit & walk again. I still can only eat some things - & in very small amounts...
My aide is here until noon, making beds & doing laundry. Friends will come at intervals this afternoon & Laurel is staying overnight tonight; Nanci stays over tomorrow night. Then Louise’s sister Jude & her husband Bob will be here for some days & nights, almost until M.’s return.
The recording last evening went very well. L. turned pages for Myra & occasionally the violist; Al turned pages for the violinist. The musicians were well prepared, in spite of the gap since the concert, & are just exquisite players. Lying on the couch, it was like being in a heaven realm for much of the recording session. Al was delighted because he never gets to sit with the musicians, he is always in a different room behind his machines. Laura & Myra know my music from Visions, Bill played in the String Quintet; only Suzanne was new to my music, & she caught on very quickly. The viola double stops in Dance were not perfect - they are very difficult; but it is the very nature of the piece that they be a bit primitive & out of tune, flat. I was very pleased throughout - & often could not imagine a more beautiful interpretation or better playing ... Just exquisite. Al will drop off the demo CD in a few days so I can listen & choose takes; when I am better we will edit the CD, which should take a few sessions.
I am inspired to record more of my pieces after I recover fully from these surgeries, make more CDs. If I could be playing or listening to or rehearsing my music every day - I would have the perfect life. Unfortunately, one must also take time to write the music: although that phase is also rewarding & inspiring, stretches one past oneself & the ordinary life ...
Monday, June 30
Jude & Bob arrived last night. They will stay until the end of the week, & tomorrow Carolyn & Louise’s other sister Beth will come to visit. A house full of McConnell’s ...
Al dropped off the demo of Images, the unedited version; will try to listen to it later today.
Tuesday, July 1
Carolyn & the children & Beth could not come today; was disappointed. I have not seen Beth since before Louise died ... Jude & Bob went looking at houses again today; kept me company the rest of the time. Two former meditators came by today; one now lives in Nevada, the other in Iowa.
Listened to the rough, unmixed CD Al dropped off. The balance between the instruments is somewhat off & some editing is needed, but on the whole the recording is excellent just as it is. When I am feeling better I will log it & scribble down the needed edits. Am walking with less pain today; still difficult to sit at the computer. Mainly still flat on my back. The days go by one by one. Today cooler & little sun. Perhaps a short walk in the garden later, we’ll see. The indoor plants are watered, the cats fed; rain has kept the gardens happy & all is well.
Thursday, July 3
Today Becky came by & read to me for an hour; Larry stopped in before work; Laurel; Louise’s sister Beth and her daughter Tess came up from Pennsylvania for the afternoon. Beth looks just the same; Tess is grown now, tall & beautiful. Rain, cooler today. We spoke some about Louise: Louise told Beth I was speaking French to her, in the hospital, just before she died. My beautiful singer, Louise. A flock of people for a few hours & now alone for a time. The doctor wants me to sit up & walk more - yet not exhaust myself. An uneasy balance to keep; almost any activity exhausts me. Two private e-mails to Jf got mistakenly sent out to everyone at WG; now I can only hope no one reads them ... Beth & I agreed that once one has seen angels or friends in their soul state, in other realms - all else here seems rather flat. Then we agreed that we must find that Beauty & Divinity here, on earth, while still in the body. Not an easy task.
And it is so difficult, not to compare the two.
Friday, July 4
Another beautiful day, sunny & cool. I have not been outside this entire week; when M. returns from Europe hopefully we will resume our evening stroll in the gardens. Until then, I am caught in the house - although now I am well enough to occasionally go down the stairs & walk around the kitchen & livingroom. Bob & Jude left today, & I will miss them. Had a very small piece of chocolate cake today, an experiment I will not quickly repeat.
No pain killers at all today; getting incrementally stronger each day. Many visitors & L. will stay overnight.
Sunday, July 6
JF stayed overnight last night; JB came & we watched old movies. Carolyn & the children are coming today, for a few hours; M. returns tonight from Europe. My aide made lunch & straightened up the house a bit; when I can go easily up & down the stairs by myself we will no longer need to hire an aide. For now they are scheduled for the entire coming week. I still can do very little but take short walks back & forth in the upstairs hall - & rest in bed. I was told it will take eight to ten weeks, or longer, to get back on my feet because of the two surgeries. Another lost summer.
I will not be able to begin playing the piano again until September or October... A week or two before the first surgery I had learned & memorized a new Chopin Impromptu & had begun two new Chopin Ballades. All those memorized notes will be gone by September; I will more or less have to begin again. Life - although always interesting - can also be so discouraging at times ....
Sarah & Chris will be back from England in a few days. Sarah wrote she will be here until October.
Monday, July 7
M. returned last night safe & sound, after dinner. JB was here & spent some hours with us. Today I woke before the aide arrived - scenes from my past filled my mind, happy scenes from when I taught piano at 113 and a half W. Buffalo Street. Then I walked a bit in the upstairs hallway, as the doctors have told me to do; thought about my life, about life in general: work, friends, periods of rest, periods of intensity, periods of dryness ... Illness & health ... genius & stupidity ... Alone & with others .... Noise & silence ... The inner & outer landscapes always changing, thoughts & events constantly shifting. Then there was a knock at the door; a past piano student of mine Kwan-Yu, with his wife & two children. I had last seen him thirty or so years ago, when I still lived at 113 and a half. His visit easily explained my thoughts on awaking ... I told them that they were always in my Heart & waved to the children through the window as they left. He has been in his home country all these years.
Friday, July 11
Pam & Serge dropped by the other evening & attempted to clip some of the topiary & watered the back garden. Last night M. &I walked to the corner, and the gardens are just magnificent. Huge sprays of colour everywhere, abundance & Beauty - like Paradise. Migdahlia was watering. Must call Dan & ask him to mow the lawns. Pam & Serge’s topiary efforts need a bit of work; wrote them to try again & have courage. The aides need to know when they are needed on the weekend; e-mailed M. for the schedule.
I can still sit at the computer for only very limited amounts of time; still feel as though I am floating between realms, not quite entirely back here yet. Interesting to hold the ability to climb up & down stairs as an important goal at my age - & yet an important goal it is, & something to dearly strive for. Once I can manage the stairs I will have no need for aides. Still get tired very easily; still mainly resting in bed. At the end of the day: a very difficult summer. Chris & Sarah dropped by - they will visit again & make me dinner on Monday. Tonight JB comes for some hours. M. will be at Windgarth; last night Laurel stayed with me & M. swam the lake with friends .... These periods of illness & injury & inactivity are so difficult for me - & yet I also know that during these times something deepens & something also transforms in us - & all becomes more transparent. Until we are all as clear as glass, these periods of hardship & pain & struggle will continue to punctuate our lives ... until that inner Light, our true Selves, shines purely & unbrokenly into the world ...
Rain today; cooler.