Houston, We Have a Report (WR 3-20)

Hyatt Stories

I was in Houston at the beginning of this week on business. I stayed downtown at the Hyatt Regency, on the 26th floor of 30. As you can see from the featured photo, the floors surround a huge open area that extends from the first to the top floor. From your respective floor, you can look over the wall (“balustrade” seems too weak a word here; “parapet” perhaps?) and get vertigo by imagining yourself plummeting to your death in the middle of the bar on the lobby floor.  Morbid thought, but at such heights, who hasn’t thought it?

(Imagine how many stories occupy those stories. ;^)

After work hours, I spent the time writing instead of going out. I was able to apply the principles of ebook creation I learned from Guido Henkel (via David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Digital) to a couple of my stories. I had learned HTML several years ago, so his instructions made sense and were easy to implement. Although, for my ebooks, I opted for linking to a separate CSS file rather than including the CSS code at the top of the HTML file. It seems to have worked all right.

I have “Shee Yee’s Leap” posted for download from my Works page, and I will distribute the other short piece to those who subscribe to my mailing list. Because they were older shorts I had written, and because I’m not selling them, I created the covers in PowerPoint. I admit they have all the allure of a drab green hardback cover from the early twentieth century, but bear with me. Future covers will be better.

This past week was rough on me. I had a co-worker who died in a tragic cycling accident. He was only 35 and left behind a wife and three small children. It was hard to deal with, because it’s so close to home. Death suddenly takes center stage in your life and delivers a soliloquy. Whether you draw comfort from the hope of an afterlife or not, you still have that gaping hole in the fabric of your life. And the reminder that you, too, will die; that time is running out.

Sometimes you drown your grief in work. I did some of that this past week. Here are the numbers. On average, pretty good, but I’m not getting anywhere fast on my novel. Alas.

Weekly Report 3-20
Weekly Report 3-20

On the shuttle ride back to the airport, I met some interesting people that we picked up from a different hotel. They had been attending a photography conference. When we first drove up, a couple of ladies from New York got onto our shuttle, but because the driver was waiting for another party, it appeared that we weren’t going to leave for several minutes. One of the ladies kept saying, “This is garbage.” That was her tag line, “Garbage.” When it was clear that the driver was going to wait too long for their tastes, those two ladies jumped out and took another shuttle that had driven up.

The passengers who remained in the shuttle were an Asian businessman with a radio voice, a German from Cologne, and a woman from Madrid. The German and the Spanish woman talked about their photography conference experiences in Europe,  and especially praised the Paris Photo event that occurs each November. They said that if I ever got to travel in Europe that I should go to Paris Photo for that event as well as all the other Art events that happen about the same time.

The Spanish woman also spoke of the high unemployment in Spain. She said that she and her husband were lucky to have both their jobs still. They both teach at university. She lectures about photography and has published some books of photos. The German said that his country’s unemployment wasn’t as bad as Spain’s, but that the economic situation in Europe wasn’t very good. He asked me a question about the state of America’s unemployment and I didn’t hear him correctly at first, so I answered that I didn’t have much hope for it. I didn’t realize until later that he was asking for the percentage of unemployment. It’s so hard to hear and talk on loud shuttles sometimes.

The German was very nice though. He spoke of others learning German and agreed that it was difficult. He said that he had known a Chinese woman who had applied herself to learning German so much that she mastered it and knew things about the language that he didn’t know. I said, “There’s hope for me then,” for I admitted to studying some German. He spoke English well, but with the elegant, calculated accent that some American movies tend to make fun of.

I am a sucker for artistic European types. I think that Europeans, in general, value art and artistic pursuits more than the average American. It was fun to meet and talk with them however briefly.

Well, this has been a ramble. Hope it’s not all “garbage.”

Read, Write, Execute!

Photo credit: Michael Andrew Ellis

Author: Michael Andrew Ellis

I write literary fiction at the confluence of Mormonism, Hmong culture, and the human condition. Here on my blog I write about Mormon arts and letters, Hmong history and culture, classic and contemporary literature, existentialism, and my journey as a writer.

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