28 August 2011

The Artwork of Toronto Hotel Rooms, Part 3

It's my last day in Toronto. There's still plenty to do before I can head to the airport--one more G4 booth hang-out (10 a.m. to noon), one more panel--yet I already I feel that vague it's-all-over melancholy that's an inevitable part of any trip. Make no mistake, going home will be great--it always is (hint: there are cats there)--but part of me wouldn't exactly be devastated if I had to stay put for another day or two.

Maybe that's because this is the closest I ever get to taking a proper vacation. I've never been very good at vacations. I've never mastered the art of rest and relaxation. People who have will tell you that, yes, it truly is an art. I have no desire to sink my toes into a white-sand beach in Bermuda and quaff a rum-based drink while saying something like, "Now this is the life!" I've been to the European Union a few times. I've looked at their old-time buildings and sipped their strong coffee. They're doing some good things over there. But I do not have a try-and-stop-me need to return. If I go back, fine. If not: also fine.

A few years ago, when I was still going out on a lot of dates, the first or second thing a date would often say to describe herself would be this: "I just love to travel!!!!!!!!!!" And I would always think, Well, I don't, while using all of my powers of concentration--and I mean all of my powers--to mitigate the frown that was attempting to unfold across the lower half of my face. (Yes, I was a joy to go out on dates with, ladies.)

Whenever someone shows me photos of their travels--"Here's Linda and me outside the Louvre!!!!!"--or worse still, when he or she shows me the glossy brochures and/or websites of the places that they intend to travel to, I immediately start banging pots and pans together hoping that the din will eventually drive this person away.

Part of the problem is that I've traveled an awful lot over the last 10 years. At one point I logged enough frequent flier miles to routinely qualify for first-class seats on American Airlines. I also recently relocated from one city to another (and, to go a step further, one country to another), which makes me still feel a bit like a vacationer in my new city. Fact: I need a passport to get into, and out of, my new country. Also: I lived in New York for 15 years, which is so massive and diverse that I always felt a bit like a tourist there. Even after 15 years, I could still get lost there, could still find myself wandering around and scratching my head, could still discover streets and even entire neighbourhoods that I'd never seen before. You can live in New York City for your entire life and never quite take in the scope of the whole damn thing.

The second part of the problem, which isn't really a problem at all, is that I enjoy what I do for a living. I love my job and the people who I work with to such an extreme degree that I never really feel any desire to take a time-out from it or from them. I have no desire to stick pins into a voodoo doll that looks like my boss; I don't spend a lot of time saying things like: "Barry in Accounts is just about the biggest asshole I've ever met in my life." For me, work days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and suddenly it seems like it's always January and we're doing it all over again.

Also: as is evident from the last few days in Toronto, there is never a shortage of hotels or airports in my life. So there's always the feeling that I'm perpetually on vacation, even when, technically speaking, I'm not.

A few places I wouldn't mind being dragged to: the Mohonk Mountain House in the Catskills, because it's a big, shambling Overlook-like hotel, which is equal parts beautiful and creepy; Bruges, Belgium, mostly because I liked the Martin McDonagh movie an awful lot; and Copenhagen, Denmark because I was there once in the mid '90's and, of the few places I visited in Europe, Copenhagen is the one I want to return to, namely because 1. it was a bit mysterious, 2. it was filled with tall people, 3. Tivoli Gardens is the closest I will ever come to actually being inside Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.

Now before you start banging pots and pans in my direction, which you have every right to do after the hypocritical nature of the previous paragraph, here's today's selection of artwork, carefully selected from the gallery that is room 2011 here at the Marriott Residence Inn in downtown Toronto.

TODAY'S ARTWORK: A tall, skinny photograph of a rocky mountaintop piercing skeins of cloud cover. This rather tasteful black-and-white photo--which seems even more tasteful when juxtaposed with yesterday's completely hideous "Jazz Jambalaya" painting--hangs directly above the toilet in my room. Each time I have used the toilet this weekend, I have studied the photograph. I have two observations to share:

1. This looks like a place that The Lord of the Rings Gang would pass through on their way to Minas Tirith. Or,


Artwork score: 6 out of 10.

Artist: Unknown.

Can I remove said artwork from hotel room wall? Answer: This one came off the wall quite easily.


  1. I can appreciate your lack of desire to travel. Though the amount of travel I do for work is probably a fraction of what you do, still the few times a year I get on a plane leave me feeling like I get enough of that travel experience. And I'm not a sit-still-and-veg kinda person-- if I'm sitting still it's because there's a controller in my hand or I'm at a movie (and truth be told, I'm really not sitting all that still... sorry fellow movie patrons, I'm just fidgety). I really don't know how to have a vacation either, but like you I enjoy what I do for a living and I have great people in my life. I actually look forward to spending time at work with my coworkers...craziness, I know. (There is a bittersweet irony buried in there as I'm currently looking for a new job.)

    Enjoying the art theme, btw.

    Safe travels home...


    PS Mohonk looks awesome... If you like creepy-beautiful you might get a kick out of Chateau Lake Louise. I stayed there one night, forget why as I don't ski, and ended up befriending a young couple. We went exploring (the hotel is enormous) with the self-imposed challenge of genuinely creeping ourselves out. It worked, that place was creepy. (For some reason I've had this lifelong fascination with exploring an old mansion large enough to get lost in and totally creepy. With the right company, of course. Or at least a shotgun. But I digress.)

  2. Your writing is exceptional. I have been reading you're blog for a year now and feel like you pour you're soul into this webpage. Your insight is always brutally honest and, however cheesy this may sound, inspiring. I thank you sir for writing such a delightful blog!

  3. I would have to agree with ramenshinobi. You truly have a gift for writting. I have enjoyed all of your post and always look forward to more. I hope you write a book one day. Keep up the great work.