I keep a travel bag packed, since I’m away so much. Toiletries never get unpacked, and anything else I need — Euros, British pounds, travel pillow, electrical adapter — all stay in the same drawer for easy access.
So returning home from NYC on Thursday, I loaded up the laundry baskets, and started transferring pills and toiletries and the like to the larger suitcase for international travel, because . . .
I leave Monday for Tangier, Morocco!
Going to a Mediterranean climate for a few days means a change of clothes. No raincoats or jackets for winter in NYC or Chicago. In fact, no heavier twill trousers. Here’s why:
Tangier will have highs in the 60s, and lows in the low 50s overnight, the entire time I’m there. And enough humidity that the climate will feel like April in Saint Louis.
So I’ve pulled some short-sleeve summer shirts, a few linen shirts, and the tan twills. Shoe decisions will come next.
(Lest I be foolish, I will pack a light rain-proof jacket, just in case!)
I rather impetuously booked passage to Tangier, “a Moroccan port on the Strait of Gibraltar, which has been a strategic gateway between Africa and Europe since Phoenician times” according to Wikipedia.
I leave on Monday, February 18, less than two weeks from now.
The trip will include a cooking class (of course!), a long day-trip to Casablanca, and plenty of tourist time in the Kasbah and the medina.
The return connection gives me a late afternoon/evening and an overnight in Madrid, Spain.
A year ago, I put aside some inheritance money to help me have an international holiday. The original plan, Bangkok and Saigon, was scrubbed when I took the Circus Harmony gig. But over this last weekend, I realized that I had a window of about a week that I could use for travel before my sabbatical ended. And Morocco has long been on the list. I chose Tangier because of the climate, the ocean, and the option to have a night in Spain. And Casablanca is a rapid-train excursion away.
This will be my first trip to Africa.
Cape Spartel, where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean.
Greetings to friends and family around the world. I write on the day of the winter solstice, and note with sadness that this world seems particularly darker than it did a year ago. I pray for light and truth to again be kindled in the hearts of those who lead, and who alone can set to the tone for this world.
May it be so.
Even with the death of my father in the waning days of 2017, my own 2018 has been significantly brighter than national and international news might allow!
Winter. A solo cabaret act. Loads of teaching and concert-going and the robust time of the year at the office. A quiet winter without any significant travel except for a quick trip to Naples, Florida to see Spencer go on as Prince Chulalongkorn in The King and I.
Spring. Begins with a trip to Moscow to discuss collaborations. Attend a concert in Tchaikowsky Hall. Tourist for full, long day in Moscow. Holy Week in London, with services at St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey. My former student sings Gerontius at King’s College Cambridge. Wrap up the school year with a sizable graduating class. Pack up and finish work on my father’s estate. A week in NYC, and confirmation of a budding relationship. Solo/ensemble contest brings solid results. Senior recitals with three voice students. Attend the Tony Awards. Celebrated the completion of 10 years at Webster University.
Summer. Begins with a week in Lincoln at a conference. Then to Vienna on the Messing Faculty Award for three weeks of research and curriculum development. Side trips to Stockholm and Florence. Allergies abound in Vienna! Wept copious tears at the sight of Michelangelo’s David. Start the new school year with days of meetings, and a robust new-student class. Yufei visits Saint Louis. Start work with Variety Children’s Choruses as the new conductor. Celebrate my 57th birthday with a day of museum visits in Vienna, and a screening of The Third Man at a kino.
Autumn. Auggie turns 8. Sabbatical begins in mid-October. Accept a gig with Circus Harmony as composer and music director for the big January show. Start traveling immediately. Chicago with Yufei. Toronto and Niagara Falls with my nephew Luke. Washington, D.C. (pandas!!) and NYC with Yufei. Chicago again. And Christmas at home in Lee’s Summit with my sisters. Attend multiple Circus Harmony classes and practices. Conduct a holiday concert with the Variety Children’s Choruses. Attend Joffrey Ballet and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Over the course of the year I’ve witnessed powerful live concert performances. Viewed some of the world’s greatest artworks. Learned more about cooking. Kept up the slow renovations on a 100+ year-old home. Enjoyed some stunning meals (Stockholm, Vienna, Chicago, NYC all were gastro-delight locations). Worshipped in grand and beautiful spaces. Composed some decent music. Shot loads and loads of photos (I’m starting to understand light much better). Whipped up homemade plum jam and blood orange marmalade. Taken various architectural tours. Read more books than the year before, and also a big chunk of the Bible. Extended my cufflink-buying spree with a dozen new pairs. Imparted lessons about singing, and about life, with students. Loved on my dog. Caught up with friends in far-flung places. Bought more new eyeglasses. Fallen in love.
Not a bad year indeed.
May 2019 bring us comfort and joy and challenges that we can together address.