Here goes nothing.

I'm packing for a gig tonight - that's not unusual. But what is unusual is the fact that if everything goes according to plan (that means if all the contracts that are still pending because of scheduling conflicts work themselves out, which they should) I will only be in my apartment for between 4 - 6 weeks during the next twelve months. For sure, I won't be back here for four months starting tomorrow, so that's what I'm trying to pack for this evening. Not to mention I will sublet my apartment while I'm away, so I have to get the apartment ready for it's new inhabitants, while making sure I have everything I need for the next couple of seasons and countries.

Here's my method for long term packing - i.e.; living out of a suitcase for a year. First of all, most of the clothes I've purchased over the last couple of years have been in neutral colors. So most of the stuff I bring in my suitcases can be worn in any season, and layered and worn together. Speaking of layering, most of my pants are jeans (ah the pleasures of not working in an office) and they are all tapered and ankle length so I can wear them tucked into boots in the winter and fall, and with sandals and flats in the spring and summer. I have two big suitcases, each of which I make sure comes in under 50 pounds so I won't get any overage charges (although the fact that most airlines are charging for checked baggage makes me want to scream). I have one of those little scales that you attach to the handle of your suitcase and lift it up to see how heavy it is, and I travel everywhere with that ingenious little device. Then I pack a carry-on suitcase full of all the heavy stuff - all my shoes and scores and electronic items - and since they don't generally weigh those, I can keep my checked bags, full mostly of clothes, under the limit that way. I put my computer, my iphone and ipod, my kindle, and my wallet and passport in my extra large handbag (I never buy a new handbag unless it's large enough to fit a score and / or laptop), and I'm on my way. For this particularly long trip away, I'm having my mom send a box of more summery stuff to me in St Louis that I can then bring with me to Europe, since I don't come home between any of it.

Then I have to make sure my apartment is clean and ready for guests, and that all the stuff I don't want them to use is put away. I have to clean out the fridge and freezer of pretty much everything, and make sure a few of my friends and neighbors have my keys in case of emergency. I have to either get my mail forwarded to my parents house, or give my friend Will who lives in my building my mail key so he can keep it and sort it. I have to make sure the doormen and the landlords know who my subletters are and when they're coming, and leave the subletters a long note about living in my place (example - this remote controls the channels, while this one controls the volume).

Worst of all, I have to say goodbye to my friends and family, just when they got used to having me around. I have to say, "okay - see you in four months - if you're around for those two weeks I'll be in town." I have to say goodbye to my freshly painted apartment and my houseplants and my funky piano. I have to say goodbye to my doorman who always comments on the weather, and goodbye to my favorite neighborhood pizza place that has the whole wheat crust I like.

But I'm excited. There is not a single town I'm slated to go to that I'm not really eager to spend time in. I get to sing and work and learn and play and goof off and laugh and probably cry a little bit too. I will take pictures, and write, and learn music, and meet new people and see lots of old friends. And I'll be something that I've learned never to take for granted; busy. Life is good. I'm ready.