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Rocket Science Explained

I was in Orlando last week, but work has been too relentlessly overwhelming to get a chance to relate the tale. (There was off-duty time since I got back, yes, but that was usually spent sleeping like the dead or sitting slack-jawed in a haze of mental fatigue.)

My personal hell the eternal prison of endless torment to which I may one day be condemned if the religious Right has its way will not be so unlike Orlando, I’m sure. My god, if this is what people seek out for vacation and pleasure, our society is in more trouble than I thought. (And I was already worrying, trust me.) That place feels like the entire universe got gobbled up by a theme restaurant. The landscape is just a bleak, seemingly endless branded sprawl broken up by carefully planted shrubbery. In its way it's no more or less artificial than the landscape in New York, but I think that what bothered me the most is that New York is made and then left to evolve, and Orlando is carefully decorated and managed. New York is a built city, and Orlando is contrived.

(Before the e-mails come, I freely acknowledge that I didn't see any of the regular city, just the tourist sprawl between there and Disney World. In fact, I don't think I saw a single place where actual people live. I hear the city's nice, if you like Florida. )

But I survived. The highlights:

Pro

Nice weather this time of year: not too hot, not too cold.

Heated swimming pool at the hotel.

There for work, but blessedly out of the work-a-day office grind.

Got to see Mom and Dad for a while, which was swell.

Finally got to see Celebration, which was pretty but a bit creepy in the details. Compared to the area around it, though, it was an earthly paradise.

Very cool trip to the Kennedy Space Center. Fascinating, but that would be another post altogether. (Which I probably won't get around to writing. Sorry.)

Um, uh...that’s about it.

Con

Each meal was worse than the last. Seriously, after the most horrible lunch in the world eaten beneath a Saturn V rocket I didn't eat again until I left the state.

Logos, endless logos! Bigger than life! 3-D! Lit up! I swear, every last brick there is pushing some nationwide chain or another.

There was no real architecture, only pastiche and oversized set dressing.

I’m such a goddamn weakling I wrenched my shoulder from swimming too much.

Endless small talk with other nerds I barely know.

A terrifying earful of white-trash sob stories.

Too much unnecessary air conditioning. When it's not hot outside, all that fake air just feels clammy.

Southern accents, and not the rare charming kind.

The most synthetic hotel bedspread ever.

Got home to discover the third and final rejection letter about grad school. Oh joy, oh rapture.

April 1, 2004 10:17 PM
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