Thunder and lightning in the darkness of Houston, site of my latest professional escapades…and I can’t sleep.
The AC is running mad in my Marriott room, a temporary abode that seems to spread across the country. Still, the covers are too thick and it feels as if someone lit a fire under the bed. I toss the bedspread around, looking for a pocket of cool air. I rotate the 16 pillows they put on the bed, looking for one where the heat has completely dissipated and I can rest my head on it without taking on more thermal energy.
I speculate that in the heart of this storm, the atmosphere is thicker and the humidity is too saturated to properly take heat from anything. The television has long been turned off and still I lie, awake. Hours go by and I am kept awake by the tune in my head, some annoying Norah Jones blues rift that I can’t remember hearing. I am also kept awake by the anxiety of the ever approaching dawn. I wrestle with the possibility that it’s too late to sleep — that I’m better off staying awake for another hour or two and then just going straight to work.
Wait. What? No…
Stuck in Houston is no place to be, not during any time of year. Particularly depressing is being here on the vernal equinox, the cusp of my birthday season. I hear the flowers are in full bloom but it’s not like I see the light of day from where I am. In here it’s a war room of nerds and executives that run the world with their corporate expense accounts. That and Texas freeways are empty, soul-less stretches of tollways and concrete that are 2nd to sucking only compared to the LA basin. They say nature abhors a vacuum but I’m still trying to figure out what this place is filled with besides empty hotel lots and corporate parks off of freeways that never made sense to anyone but the locals.
Luckily there are a lot of trees and the tex-mex isn’t all that bad here. Your stomach builds immunity to toxins more rapidly than you’d think and with the right amounts of bourbon in your gut, things are almost passable.
I exagerate, of course, readers. Things are not quite that grim. Plus: mileage!
The problem is that now, in the morning, I’m alone in the office. It’s not my office, you understand, but that doesn’t matter. For me, usually alone is a good place where sounds are not heard and new ones are invented. But today there are things to be done and dammit, I don’t want to do all this crap myself.
Where the hell is everybody?
At first I thought that what was keeping them all away was a combination of flu and hanta virus with a dash of anthrax, but no. Apparently all of my co-workers in this remote location just outside of north Houston are stuck, either in a holding pattern burning fuel at 10,000 ft or on a taxiway at the airport because all the computers at IAH are down.
I’m not talking down, like the printers don’t work or they can’t ping Google. I mean the tower is out. Gone. Struck by lightning and had anything with a computer chip in it simple fizzle and turn into a very expensive paper weight. They’re tagging luggage with pencil and paper.
Did you get that? Pencil and paper.
Am I getting through to you? I can’t imagine that a tower getting struck by lightning is a typical occurrence, but at least it warrants a contingency plan, no? And how are they communicating with the airplanes up at 10k? Carrier Pigeons? I heard a particularly loud CRACK this morning…I imagine that’s what a flock of pigeons being vaporized by the madness sounds like.
Needless to say, the day goes by far too slowly for pleasure. It’s bad enough to have Oracle database problems at 7 in the morning … but being alone to fix it is a stretch to ask of any man.
Shit. This madness is being thrust upon me but who cares? You don’t want to hear about it. But I must handle it.
And that’s validation, readers. We’re all seeking validation for the things we do, be it paying student loans, doing your job correctly, behaving as a part of some kind of society or some other form of growing up. We’re all seeking validation. People are fourteen-year-old teenagers who are either faking whatever maturity and control that they can get away with or else they simply don’t know any better. Either way, it’s all bullshit. There is no control unless you know it, just like there is no surrender unless you accept it.
… and ‘round and ‘round we go.
Headquarters, Tomball Parkway in Houston, TX — March 2007