Up, up, and away!
I just got home from ClarinetFest in Orlando, and now just a few days later I'm back on the road- or on a plane, rather, again. This time I'm heading to Naples to do an in-service clinic for band directors. I love getting to talk about the clarinet with teachers, always hoping that I can help them to do a better job teaching their students. It's a quick trip- I get there late this evening, and will be home late tomorrow night. Travel always seems to be quite the experience lately…and this trip has been no different thus far.
Mournful guilting look…
…I'm trying to sleep here- do you mind?
I was able to have lunch with Dan before dashing home to change and gather my things. It was tough to leave the animals; Sophie has been so clingy with me since Coops died, and Shiva has only been with us a week- we are just starting to really bond (aka: she is jumping on my chest every two hours during the night for affection and a nap before she gets back to roaming around the house). Sophie gave me her usual mournful guilting look; Shiva gave me the "your suitcase is in the way of my nap" look.
The flights ended up being challenging- delay after delay in Atlanta due to weather, and the excitement of not knowing I'd actually have a seat on the overbooked flight until just a little while before we finally boarded. I was so grateful just to get on the plane, as my clinic is in the morning, and I'm already not going to get to the hotel until 11pm or so…way past this morning person's bedtime. I'm in a middle seat, so no napping…I always have a fear that I will wake up drooling on the shoulder of the person next to me. It could happen. Right now I'm sardined in between a large man taking up part of my space and a woman with incredibly strong perfume who keeps laughing loudly at something she's listening to. I'm pretty sure the aroma of alcohol is wafting from her amidst the flowery scent that is stinging my nose (yep- she just ordered a vodka). Oh, and the weather is bad, with the plane already buffeting around in the rough air. Lord. But hey- I have my Bose noise-cancelling earbuds, my phone to write with, a good book, and the flight isn't too long. Life is good.
As always, these opportunities, these adventures, are good for me, even when they are challenging – maybe especially so after this difficult summer. It's healthy to get away from the constant reminders and throw myself into my work, to constantly push myself out of my comfort zone. I can see how easy it is to become rigid, not wanting to do or try new things as I get older, and I have to be vigilant about fighting that tendency. The new semester begins soon, and it will be another very busy one, filled with new challenges; new students, recitals, tours, and learning lots of new music, as well as learning some new skills to help out in our department. I am coming into my sixteenth year at UAB as a new Full Professor, and I am so excited to grow into my role as senior faculty and serve the department. I'm fortunate to work in a career that I love with great people who are not only colleagues, but friends, too- I always feel like there are things to learn and ways to grow in our work atmosphere of support and encouragement, something I hope never changes.
Life is about to shift even more for us; as I become busier at school, Dan will retire on September first. I'm hoping we can find some meaningful ways to mark both his retirement and my promotion, as well as just finding a balance of our schedules so that we can have that ever-important together time. We've both always been workaholics, and it will be a different paradigm to have one of us moving at a much (deservedly) slower pace…though knowing my husband, he will be just as busy doing other things. We need something special just for us as we limp into the fall (literally and figuratively). I can hear Mom say, "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger." Yes, Ma'am.
As we soar through the dark skies, I'm going to remember to breathe, to laugh at the ridiculous stuff (delayed flights and Ms. Vodka next to me…). I'm going to focus on the job I came to do, getting to talk about two of the great loves of my life- clarinet and teaching. I'm also going to look forward to seeing my little family tomorrow night, crawling into bed with Dan next me, Sophie between us, and Shiva all over us. How grateful I am for the touchstone of Dan, our animals, and home. I can get through anything as long as I can go home to them.