Thursday, July 22, 2010

Six Weeks

Well, at long, long last, a decision. Teriann and I will be moving back to Phoenix — home sweet home — on August 31.

I was bursting with anticipation, but now I'm overflowing with mixed feelings. To be sure, I'll be elated to be home. There are too many people I haven't seen in too long, and I'm eager to get on the right side of our cash-flow. Here's an unlikely statement: I can't wait to start working. But there are people who I'll dearly miss here in London. And let's face it, leaving the most vibrant, culturally rich — in a word, best — city in the world (I feel no remorse in calling it so) is bound to be difficult. We are bracing ourselves for reverse culture shock.

In fact, if there's one challenge ahead that truly worries me (and mind you there are no shortages of challenges), it's to find a way to avoid merely existing. I want to keep pushing — from a career point of view as well as artistically and personally — and I want nothing more than to bask in the comfort of home without losing sight — or reach — of this.

And another minor event occurred since I wrote here last: I graduated from the Royal College of Music. Below are fellow composers Franco (Mexican), Camilo (Columbian), Huw (Australian), and some lousy American.



On the steps between the College and the Royal Albert Hall.



So now when people ask me why I'm in London, I can no longer say I'm studying. Now I'm just plain old unemployed.

This new prospect of a time limit, however, has lit a fire under us: we've been tearing around London making sure we see everything we want to before we no longer have the opportunity to stroll into one of the world's great museums for free.

One highlight was the Wallace Collection, a hidden gem of a place. One part stately old house, two parts museum, we especially liked the room full of paintings by Canaletto and this emerald green room. Expect our living area to look like this in the coming years!



And today we had a terrific day seeing two essentials: the Museum of London and the galleries of the British Library.

The latter holds everything from the earliest known sources of the New Testament to Beatles lyrics scrawled on the back of birthday cards in one relatively small space. It's worth a trip to London just to see the contents of that room. And the Museum of London details the story of the city from prehistory to the Great Fire of 1666 with astonishing depth and interest (the newly opened recent-history exhibits leave much to be desired — if you're visiting, plan to spend the bulk of your time on the first floor).

Despite all the history and tradition though, there's always something new, something happening. In Trafalgar Square, for instance, statues occupy three plinths in the square, but the fourth plinth changes every so often. At the moment, it's a gigantic ship in a bottle.



What a city, eh?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Waiting

It's hard to know which Sondheim lyric to believe. In A Little Night Music, he tells us it's "bad for the heart." And yet, Mrs. Lovett persuades Sweeney Todd that "good things come to those who can... wait."

A pall of uncertainty about jobs (or the lack thereof) has been hanging over my head for uncomfortably long now. Do pardon my silence here, as I have had other fingernails to gnaw.

Life has trundled on, however. Teriann and I took a fantastic trip to Slovenia to celebrate our second anniversary (more on that soon, of course) and this weekend was an excellent Fourth of July weekend. We spent Saturday night with the flatmates (the usual shenanigans ensued, of course) and Sunday evening at the Abbey with Graeme and other assorted Americans (mostly clergy, but one gentleman who builds sets for West End musicals).

And I graduate on Friday, a milestone that does not seem nearly as significant as I would have guessed. My last one felt like an event, a rite of passage; this feels more like a ceremony.

I sincerely hope that I have better news to report when I write here again. This blog has somewhat unexpectedly turned into a litany of travel blurbs rather than what I intended: a place to air my esoteric and ponderous views about music, culture, and whatever else happens to pop in my mind. Recent topics that have been spared this prolonged scrutiny include the world-cup-vuvuzela-madness (I'm completely hooked — Teriann and I are talking about going to the 2014 Cup in Rio), my layman's theory of time (it's really just movement, whether it's light or gravity or walking), and the 1-year anniversary of Adam's trip to visit us (I miss you, bro... I'll never watch Wimbledon the same).

In the meantime, then, here's to looking ahead.

101 Hits the Road Part Two: Wales

Months ago, everyone in our house was gathered around the TV (lazying around on a Sunday, no doubt) when a travel show had a program on about a new sport gaining popularity in Wales: coasteering. Unanimously, we decided we had to go try it, and we finally got it organized for the last weekend of May.

We stayed in the pretty little town of Betws-y-Coed,



which, despite the above photo (taken in the morning) is quite a bit livelier than other small, primarily tourist-oriented towns we've been through. The forest around the town makes it seem even smaller — it's essentially one main drag — but even out in the Welsh forest there was a minibus taxi available to take the 9 of us around for a night out in neighboring towns.

Unfortunately, we don't yet have the photos of coasteering itself. Digital cameras have made us completely helpless at converting our disposable, waterproof camera (which uses an ancient artifact known as film) into photographs viewable by the naked eye or indeed, the computer. So for the moment, suffice it to say that it was both terrifying and brilliant, and that I'll post pictures and such here when I get them.

We also visited a ruined castle (Wales is positively littered with them) and took a really enjoyable walk around a lake in the mountains behind town.




And, like our other May journey, it was made unforgettable by our incredible flatties. I've started to worry about missing these folks when we get back to the states.



Have a look at the facebook album here.