Happiness is not a violin playing goat, but it is music

Today started off a little rough. I was worried I’d end up in urgent care because I’d had a migraine for between the last 3-5 days depending how you determine a migraine. My bus route is screwed up because of light rail construction, so my 25 minute bus ride now takes 35-40 minutes. Then I got a flu shot (thankfully I didn’t have to wait in line for 2 hours!).

I got into the office about 15 minutes later than usual and started talking to someone instead of just checking email and google reader, like I usually do. Still, I had a chance to read one blog before my 9:30 meeting. What blog did I pick? The King’s Singers blog, a random collection of the King’s Singers daily musings while on tour. Where did Paul run today? What does David think about the view from the hotel room? etc. Each of the guys has a day that they write and they write 1-3 paragraphs on a topic of their choice with or without pictures. (Sadly the RSS formatting is pathetic, i.e. non-existant, and the feed is such that you get the 25 most recent posts EVERY TIME THERE IS A NEW POST…but still I subscribe, which paid off today). So I clicked through to the post, to avoid the poor formatting, and saw a post from Paul.

‘Always live life to the full’, that’s my motto! Rather than spending a couple of relaxing days at home with my family, today I am in Minneapolis, speaking at the Music School Covocation at the University of Minnesota. I am of course extremely honoured to have been asked, and am delighted to speak with faculty members, students and members of the local community about my work with the KS, embracing the theme: ‘Engaging Audience and Community: A King’s Singer’s Perspective’. It’ll be a full day, coaching a massed choir, consisting of high school boys from the Twin Cities, and my presentation, followed by a reception. Then tonight, I’ll catch a flight at 2145, and arrive home at midday on Thursday, just in time for this week’s concerts in Chelmsford and Cambridge. I’m really looking forward to a quiet day at home on Sunday…..

WHAT? I jumped up. Minneapolis? Today? School of Music? That is literally a 10 minute walk away from my office. I typed school of music convocation umn into google. It started at 10. I ran to my 9:30 meeting. Then off across the mighty Mississippi to the School of Music.
It turns out that the Convocation is a big event. Last year’s speaker was Marin Alsop. This year the program included the department chair, a student speaker, the Graduate Student Trombone Quartet, Alexander Fiterstein (a new faculty member) on clarinet, and a massed choir including the University men’s chorus and several local high school men’s choirs. The massed choir had rehearsed with Paul beginning at 8am. I’d never heard Paul talk independent of the group or a group interview so that was fun and he got a chance to do some Q&A too.
I caught up with him afterwards. He was initially surprised to see me, but not really (“I should’ve known you’d be here.”) and we got a quick chance to tak before he was rushed off to chat with VIPs and I went back to being a CS student.
So that was fun and all…
Then I was late for my bus to choir. I’d been working in the lab and talking to Mikhil about papers that talk about the power of IM/Email/Social Media over face-to-face contact. I was looking for these because Paul was talking about this during his talk and the fact that people need to do studies to show the value of face-to-face contact. (I don’t think he knows my research area.) But I was late, so I was aiming for the 6pm bus, not the 5:30 or the 5:45 I’d planned. So I headed for the bus and popped in my headphones. My ipod was on shuffle and it was Paul’s voice with the King’s Singers on the most recent album that was playing as I waited at the bus stop. Then I looked down the street. No. Seriously? Yes. It was Paul, walking down the street, towards me. He stopped to talk. (Note: I did not stop him, he came up to me.)
I’d like to interject at this point to mention how WEIRD it is that I was listening to him sing on my ipod and he came up and talked to me. VERY STRANGE. So we talked about his day and what an hono(u)r it had been for him to come, about the fact that he hadn’t seen me around the school of music (because I’m studying computer science), about where I was headed (choir), about his crazy schedule (meeting the dean, coffee with Philip Brunelle – Paul: he’s the director of … me:I know who he is! I’m going to choir with him right now … Paul: he only got 2 hours sleep last night. he was in seattle.), about good choir directors, and about the hope that he could get some sleep on the plane (I am SO jealous of the flat beds in business class). All that in 10 minutes!
Then my bus came and he had to get back to the hotel for his 30 minutes of free time before heading to the airport to jet back to the UK. (He’d said earlier in the day that he wouldn’t hide me in his luggage so that I could go to the concerts this weekend.) So with a quick hug, we were off, me to choir and him to England (eventually). And now it’s almost 11pm and I should head to bed and wonder…when is the next time I will have a day that unexpected and surreal…in a good way?