A Glockenspiel and Cake

How fun is this?!

I am a planner. I thrive on schedules and budgets and tend to hyperventilate whenever I see a display of organizational tools and new office supplies. I am also a researcher. Whenever I travel, I love researching all the possibilities for exploration in whichever chosen destination as well as studying into the history of a place (a.k.a. colorful citizens and scandalous events). The best part though, is the planning out of the details of the flights and hotels and the restaurants and the tours and then dreaming about it before it even happens. I remember reading about a study researching this phenomenon of planning vacations which apparently proves that my experience is true (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/18/how-vacations-affect-your-happiness/). Like other inalienable rights, I found the study so odd when I read it because it seems like such a redundant and self-evident thing. But, I suppose it never hurts to have a study support one’s neuroses.

Given all this joy and excitement connected to planning, it’s surprising then that I actually went on a trip last week with very little planning…and most of it done in the two days prior to leaving. Amazingly, everything fell together easily, as though I were the center of the Universe. Even with all the planning I’ve done for previous trips, nothing worked this well…even though sometimes I truly believed I was the center of the Universe.

The day after I arrived, I went to visit the department within the university which was the purpose for the trip. I felt a little awkward about it because for the first time, I hadn’t called ahead to make arrangements and set an appointment. Instead, I decided that I would be open to whatever exciting things would unfold during this visit.

When I arrived at the department’s door at the end of the long hallway, I saw the above sign and the child’s version of a glockenspiel and instantly started giggling. I picked up the mallet and proceeded to play whatever came to mind, ending with a minor descending 3rd to call for help. A student magically appeared…I wondered if this wasn’t a genie-like instrument. I introduced myself and explained why I was there and apologized for not calling ahead. She opened the door, motioning me in and exclaimed, “Oh, come on in! Everyone will be so excited to meet you! And, it’s our boss’ birthday today and we’re all eating cake and celebrating!”

I was so surprised at her welcoming invitation, but felt very embarrassed that I’d arrived during such an occasion, so I thanked her for her hospitality and then explained that I didn’t want to intrude and would return another day. She grabbed my hand and insisted on leading me to the back room. She introduced me and everyone there repeated her excited welcome leaving me completely astounded. Someone served me a massive slice of carrot cake (the only cake I like) and then they invited me to also help myself to the table’s contents: homemade enchiladas, Spanish rice, queso panela (yum!), freshly chopped cilantro (excellent!) and green sauce (my favorite!). It was heavenly.

Ninety minutes later, after much laughter, delicious food and excellent conversation, I had signed the boss’ birthday card and made six new friends. Although planning definitely has its perks and can bring much happiness due to anticipation, the adventure and pleasure of such unexpected parties is even better…especially one involving a glockenspiel and cake.

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