As the summer cools to autumn and I send my oldest daughter off to kindergarten each day, I'm reminded that the only constant is change. The time has gone quickly since she was kicking me (almost in rhythm) in utero as I reviewed concerts, and since then, she has been joined by two other siblings.

It's hard to take time to reflect when time is at such a premium in my life. And yet I have to pause — if only briefly — to say goodbye, because the season of my life spent working at the Deseret Morning News as a music critic is drawing to a close.

It's been a perfect job. Actually getting paid to go hear world-class artists has been a dream come true. I feel passionately about the arts, and I've been given a platform to support (and sometimes complain about) them.

Interviewing and talking with the leading musicians of our day is stimulating and interesting. The hours have been flexible, and most of them have been from home.

And the people I have worked with — particularly Scott Iwasaki — have been incredible.

I still occasionally pinch myself and ask, "Am I crazy for quitting?" But then the rest of my life gets busy, and I think, "I'll go crazy if I don't."

I think it's this last baby that has tipped the balance. He's a great baby, but when my "day" continues through the night and full force into the next day — with never a chance to recharge — it's a recipe for burnout.

My wonderful mother-in-law (no, that wasn't a typo) has been driving down from Ogden every Monday to watch the kids while I work. If I could arrange for, prepare for and conduct interviews exclusively on Monday, life would be great.

But the problem comes on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, when everybody returns the calls (or e-mails) I made on Monday. No matter how quiet it is when I answer the phone, that's ALWAYS the time one child decides to pinch the other — resulting in a loud wail and a rush on Mommy, which prompts the baby to cry. Meanwhile, I'm trying to act "professional" on the phone.

At night, instead of cleaning the house, hanging out with my husband or completing any number of unfinished projects after the kids go to bed, that's usually my time to catch-up on unfinished articles and unanswered e-mails (when I'm not out reviewing a concert).

All that other stuff gets pushed to the next day, where it gets squeezed into an already overstuffed schedule. And if I reviewed a concert, that means it was a late night (plus the baby got off schedule and woke up more than usual), so I have to keep it all up while sleep-deprived.

Being at near-maximum threshold stress so often loses its glamour pretty quickly. So, being literate enough to read the writing on the wall, I guess it's time to call it quits.

It's bittersweet. I had a sad lump in my throat as I read though the Utah Symphony's season schedule.

I fret about some of the locally produced series that I usually cover, such as the JazzSLC (formerly Jazz at the Sheraton) and Excellence in the Community concerts.

I'll miss having a soapbox when an issue I care about comes up.

And I can't imagine ever working for anybody as nice as Scott again. (Hey, I can't be accused of buttering up my boss because it's too late for that big promotion.)

And — worst of all — I'll have to start paying for concert tickets again!

I guess there are trade-offs for sanity.

It's been a good season, though, a wonderful season. I've always tried to speak both honestly and kindly, and I've always tried to keep my integrity as both critic and human.

I have no regrets (that I can think of) during my time here, but by the same token, I don't regret moving on. I expect that the next season — while less public — will have its own unique ups and downs.

Meanwhile, a few CD reviews I've already written may run after my last day at work (trying to head off confusion, here).

Thanks to all of you who have written in; I've loved hearing from you.

And — goodbye.

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