Now Available in Tampa

We’ve been in Tampa for two days now, and it’s definitely a southern “new” city. The conference hotel, like the Jungian archetypal conference hotel, is located near nothing of great significance, and extorts its residents for meals, coffee, etc. As the faculty spouse, I have studiously avoided the conference, opting instead for the vacation-ritual of meals punctuated by not much else (at lunch yesterday, we actually heard people leaving the place talking about where they would go for dinner). Our time here has been spent with our friends Carol and Mrak and their son Tony. Yesterday’s big outing was to the aquarium, where I saw the biggest fish I’d ever seen, some cool sharks, and so forth. We tried to take pictures. The day before we went to the Tampa power plant, which creates a bunch of warm water (used for cooling) that attracts manatees. Unfortunately, we did not see any and all we got out of it was a plastic souvenir. It was one of those “make your own souvenir” things where you give a machine a dollar and it injects plastic into a mould. Oh, how mighty DIY has fallen! Anyway, it was fun and we are slowly warming to our plastic manatee, who needs a little trimming and still has that “freshly burnt plastic” smell. I fear he may not survive the trip back to the cold north, however.

Our last two before coming to Tampa were also relatively uneventful, though we did drop down to Sarasota for an afternoon/evening. On the way, we also picked up another six Cds from a store where you can listen to them beforehand, so we did a little better. The new Thievery Corporation is great.

Back to Sarasota. Our colleague David Crowley is restoring a house down there and so we took advantage of the coincidence to have a very nice dinner at a fish place (Carrie had grouper, the same species as the shark-sized fish I would see at the aquarium two days later) and enjoy excellent conversation. David’s house is an old Florida house but it is located in a neighborhood that is rapidly going upscale, which means that there are McMansions with gates and BMWs parked in the driveway right next to, well, old Florida houses. But then real estate seems like the biggest industry in the parts of Florida we saw. If it’s not actually the biggest, it is surely the biggest in our imagination of the place.

Tomorrow we get up at the crack of dawn to make sure we’re at the airport on time for our departure back home to Montreal via Chicago. You know we’re not going to be late.

The trip as a whole was restful in the way that vacations are restful, though much of my life (and work) in Montreal is still present to me. Perhaps that’s because I took work with; perhaps it’s because I haven’t been away long enough. Either way, I got the vacation I deserved – except that I’ve obviously got a thing or two to learn about tanning. I’m excited to go home and get back to my (still relatively new) life, even though I know it will kick my ass for the next six weeks.