Ken in Kansas wrote about my sabbatical the other “Seems like it’s been a good one.”
My response: “You know me.Not nearly enough of the planned work accomplished, but I’ve been happily occupied.Still too many books to read, too many musical ideas swimming around my head that need to get on paper, too many journals stacked up.And too much stuff in the house that I had intended to tidy and purge.
And then I start thinking.
In the last year, trips to Austria and Sweden and Italy and Russia and Spain and Morocco and Canada. GOOD LORD!
My official statement about sabbatical projects: “engage in professional development and personal enrichment and creative activities.”
In the last five months:
music director/composer for Circus Harmony
Variety Children’s Charity chorus conductor (prepping now for a concert with Sting)
two NASM-related trips to Washington, D.C.
a handful of cooking classes at Kitchen Conservatory and Missouri Botanical Garden
successfully kept/keeping sourdough starter alive
two trips to Chicago
Thanksgiving in NYC
and three more NYC trips, with shows including The Prom, The Choirboy, Superhero, Kiss Me Kate, and Merrily We Roll Along
major curriculum revisions signed, sealed, delivered at Webster
NASM HEADS report finished at Webster
talk and dinner with Jamie Bernstein, daughter of Leonard Bernstein
pandas at the National Zoo!
two house-party singing performances with Dr. Ruth Price
lyrics written for a new super-song based on my visit to Saint Andrew’s Church, Tangier
visits to the Saint Louis Art Museum, Campbell House, the Missouri Botanical Garden
all sorts of new pairs of spectacles
service on the Faculty Research Grants committee at Webster
advocacy consulting with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
Crossroads Hospice volunteer training
several books read . . . .
lots of new music learned and ready to be taught
hundreds of voice lessons at home
taxes finished and filed
Vienna curriculum meeting in NYC, and follow-up report and planning
three senior voice students coached and managed through college musical theatre auditions
shepherded four high school students to top ratings at District solo/ensemble contest
lunches with alumni and friends
successfully passed an annual physical
got scolded by my dental technician
worshipped at St. Thomas Fifth Avenue, St. Mary the Virgin Times Square, St. James Cathedral Chicago, Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral Kansas City, and Washington National Cathedral
blogged daily, and wrote in my journal almost daily
lived and loved and left, and am single again.
This is not a bad list at all! Professional development? Yup. Personal enrichment and creativity? You bet!!
While I was removed from the daily scrum at Webster, I never truly left the fray. As I said to a friend the other day, “my role and duties at Webster pervade who I am at this point in my life. I can’t talk away from thinking about the bigger picture, and all that entails.” And I don’t mind that all.
But I am indeed grateful for some time away from the scrum!
Some photos from sabbatical:
The official Christmas 2018 portrait.
Arriving at the Tangier airport.
That’s us waving.
This would be me. Just staring at the water.
Four theatre marquees in a row on 45th.
Notice how the tall buildings do not cast a shadow north of Columbus Circle.
A full day! 11,415 steps, according to the iPhone. That’s 3.6 miles of walking. I believe it, based on how my feet feel Monday evening.
Looking west from my hotel room window, morning and late afternoon:
And looking north on 8th Avenue:
Yufei and I had drinks at The Aviary at the Mandarin Hotel on Columbus Circle. And we had some incredibly good Iberico ham.
From my walk back to the hotel tonight:
8th Ave across the street from my hotel.
Four theatre marquees in a row on 45th.
I took Jennifer Johnson Cano to lunch on Monday, and also spent a couple of glorious hours at the New York City Public Library performing arts branch at Lincoln Center. Walking across Lincoln Center plaza with Jennifer felt like something out of a movie. And I had drinks and a nosh with my former student Jordan Parente Monday evening.
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.