I spent a week in Phoenix, Arizona - home of ... well, from what I could tell, not much at all. Apparently, the area is known for golf courses, spas and desert, I guess. Did you know that Phoenix is the 5th largest city in the US?! I found this incredible, especially since after 7 days in the downtown core I could probably have counted the locals I saw there on...well, I wouldn't have lost count in my head. It's a veritable ghost town. I'm pretty sure there was an apocalypse but no one's talking about it. At least Hamilton's downtown is bustling. Sure, it's bustling full of derelicts and mangy layabouts, but at least they're there.
We did venture out to the surrounding Scottsdale and Sedona - for shopping and the obligatory cactus picture. Standing in the middle of the 'desert', I was struck by how silent it was. I don't think I've experienced that type of quiet before, not even at the cottage in the dead of night or after a joke bombs. It was calming.
I was attending The Special Event - a conference for the event planning industry. It was my first professional conference and business trip and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was pretty inspiring and informative. There were also lots of parties and galas to attend and way too many happy hour cocktails. Party planners know how to party. They are also extremely territorial about their places in line at the bar - I got the evil eye on more than one occasion.Tidbits of the Week:
- Phoenician (?) locals took me out to the local haunts including a gay bar with a lively drag queen show and we discussed the reasons why lesbians don't hit on me. No conclusion reached.
- While at yet another cocktail hour in the lobby, we were treated to a display of Phoenix's finest as they pinned and arrested a guy. We had watched him chase and terrorize this 14 year old dance troupe in velour tracksuits and kick some guy's luggage...it was a weird scene.
- We dined at this restaurant straight out of Goodfellas and were served steaks bigger than my head. I'm not kidding. The portly American next to us ordered the $150 shrimp/steak combo and we unabashedly stared agape as he nearly finished it all. I have to commend the Phoenix emergency services as the ambulance arrived no more than 5 minutes after his heart gave out. Our doggie bag was the size of a standard carry-on.
- I met a cabbie who told me his name was Romeo Trump. I believed it and proceeded to go on and on about how he had the perfect stage name. For what? I'm not sure. But in my 2am "research buzz" I know that I kept saying, "Power Love, baby! That's the dream. Power Love!"
- I took in the Body Worlds exhibit that I missed the last time it was in Toronto. It's nauseating. It probably wasn't ideal for me to go on an empty stomach, but I'm sure I involuntarily dry-heaved a couple times. The smoker's lung compared to a coal miner's lung was interesting, I guess and made my lungs feel better about themselves. To erase the images, I went into the kids' section of the science centre and laid on a bed on nails. That was really fun actually and there's something so great about smiling and giggling when you're completely alone. And not 10 years old.
- I was completely unplugged all week. No phone (more on that later), no Internet, didn't care to check my email. It was wonderful. I did go through a bit of text withdrawl at first, but was able to substitute with cable television in my hotel room. Speaking of hotels, does anyone else find them really sexy? It's not often that I stay in a hotel for 6 nights and it becomes like a little community - Melrose Place at the lobby bar. Or like residence in university. I really like it.
- Met someone from Philadelphia and my best opening tactic was to launch into the theme song of "Fresh Prince of Belair". Luckily he joined me and we had a little show going. He then asked me if I know Shelley from Montreal. Stupid cheesesteak.
- One of the events had a band who played only 90s music. Stop and think about that for a minute if you're between the ages of 25 and 32. It was awesome, even though they completely butchered "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls. All we needed was a Much Music Video screen and a slow dance to Bon Jovi's "Always" and it's 9th grade. Although, if we're trying to accurately recreate that, I should be on the wall with Tracy pretending we're too cool and that we don't actually want to dance with the hockey team captain.
- I saw the coolest new event chair.
- I'm pretty sure I am now dating someone named Yolanda - security frisker at the Buffalo airport. She got to second base in record time.
- I will do anything to get the emergency exit seats on a plane. The leg room and ability to lay my head on the tray table is worth any guilt I will later feel when I am unable to open the emergency door and we all perish. On the flight home I was stuck beside two crying children.
So, that was Phoenix. To sum it up in a word, I found it to be a very blank city. No personality and it was difficult to really a get a good read on it.