(parenthetically speaking)

a random gal’s random thoughts about nothing and everything in general

When I Check Out, I Like to Check In July 19, 2009

I love hotels. Love, love, love them. Like Tiny Tim—who I had the pleasure of interviewing from his Des Moines hotel domicile back in 1994—I think I could even live in a hotel.

Just think, they’d be no bed to make and there’d always be someone to pick up after you. You could crank the AC down as low as you like and use all the hot water you want and not have to worry about huge electric bills. And room service when you get the munchies at 1 a.m.? Hello! Not to mention all the free ice you want.

To me, there’s just something exotic about staying in a hotel. Even in the most rinky-dink, cookie-cutter chain hotels. It somehow makes me feel, um, international. Even when I’m just shacking up for the night in some hole-in-the-wall along an isolated stretch of interstate in Winnemucca, Nevada.

For one thing, I always sleep better in hotels. Maybe it’s those dark, heavy drapes they always seem to have that block out even the slightest hint of daylight—so much so that if you didn’t know better, you’d think the sun had exploded, enveloping the planet in a veil of black while you were busy dreaming about lollipops and unicorns.

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Here's hoping there's room at the inn.

The best I can recollect, my love affair with hotels started when I was 16, when my brother and I were driving in my old brown Toyota Tercel from Texas to Arizona to visit my aunt. I’d drive until I couldn’t drive anymore and then we’d stop at some cheap motel called the All-Nighter or something like that, and then start all over again the next day. Being that it was just the two of us, I felt like such a grown-up walking up to the clerk and saying, “I’d like a room for the night.” Actually, I can’t believe they didn’t look at the two of us and ask us where our parents were and refuse to rent us a room. Because, trust me, I didn’t look then like most 16-year-olds do today—like they’re 18 going on 25. I was lucky if I passed for 13.

In the years since, I’ve stayed in some really nice hotels. The Fairmont in Banff, the Peabody in Memphis, the Owners Suites at Signature in Vegas, to name a few. I’ve also stayed at some real fleabags. Like the time when my mom and sister and I had to scramble to find a room in Galveston, Texas, in the middle of the night after our tent blew down in a storm. I can still picture that tacky red velvet bedspread, the nasty, dingy brown shag carpet, and the live wires coming out of the wall. It was not in the least what you’d call exotic, but it did keep us from having to sleep in the women’s bathroom at our campground all night, where we had retreated after our Coleman SunDome took off in a whirlwind like Dorothy’s house in a Kansas tornado. It was such a pit, the three of us still laugh about to this day. So see, even the crappiest hotels can create lasting memories.

Another reason I love hotels is that they, at least for me, serve as a much-needed escape from the ordinary. I mean, don’t you ever get tired of sleeping in your same old bed night after night? Staring at those faded paisley sheets with the burgundy trim that you’ve had since your thirties?

Sometimes when I’m particularly down or stressed, or some frightening combination of the two, I want nothing more than to check into a hotel, pull the covers up over my head, and get away from the realities of the world. I did that very thing when my precious cat Harold, whom I’d had for 20 long years, got sick and had to be put down. I left the vet’s office, got in my car, and just started driving. I didn’t know, or care, where I was going. I just needed to get away. And rather than turning around and heading home at some point, I simply checked into a hotel for the night. No toothbrush, no night clothes, no nothing. And I think in some small way it may have actually helped start the healing process. (Now some of you will call me crazy for having such an intense reaction to my cat dying, but that’s another blog for another day. Besides, you never met Harold. If you had, you would have done the same thing.)

Anyway, the point is, that when it comes to hotels, it’s like Martha Stewart says: “It’s a good thing.” Of course, Martha would never be caught dead in a beat-up old motel room in Galveston, Texas, with a red velvet bedspread and brown shag carpeting. She doesn’t know what she’s missing.

To further prove I love hotels, check out the column I write about them at Examiner.com.

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I Only Do It for Money Anymore July 11, 2009

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Hey, baby, what'll it be?

When I first started this blog, I was obsessed by the number of hits I got. I’d check the stats several times a day, and actually battled my brother—who started his blog, jonwbecker.wordpress.com, at about the same time—to see who would rule the Internet. (On about his fifth post, he got more than 1,000 hits, while I’ve just now reached 1,243 hits total, so he obviously KO’ed me in the first round.)

These days, I don’t bother to check how many hits I’ve gotten. In fact, it’s been exactly 66 days since I even added a new post.

What happened? I get paid to write now, that’s what happened. You see, when I got laid off from my editor job back in February, I started freelancing full-time, which means that people actually pay me to write for various magazines, websites, etc. So the simple truth of the matter is that I’m not really motivated anymore to sit down at my computer and write something unless there’s the promise of a paycheck in it for me.

Does this make me a writing whore? I guess so. But I prefer to think of it as the cobbler’s wife who went without shoes. That I’ve used all my energy and creativity in writing the stuff I’m hired to do, that I don’t have much else left when it comes to writing for the sheer joy of it.

But writing for pleasure does help keep one’s professional writing fresh and inspired, so paycheck or not, I’m going to try and add a new entry here every now and again. So stay tuned. In the meantime, if you’d like to check out the stuff I get paid to do, log on to my website (www.mediabistro.com/jillbecker) for copies of recent stories or check out my Examiner.com column (www.examiner.com/x-7514-Atlanta-Hotels-Examiner). You can also follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jillbecker.

Maybe you even have something you want to pay me to write. If so, just leave a comment for me here with your contact info and I’ll be in touch.

 

Rooms With a ’Tude May 6, 2009

I’ve started compiling a list of the world’s most unique hotels. Hopefully I’ll get a few writing assignments out of it. Or even a book deal. (My dream.)

Of course, lots of hotels claim to be unique. But I’m talking truly out-of-the-ordinary here, folks. For instance, did you know that in the Netherlands you can sleep 55 feet up off the ground in a spectacular suite for two atop a working industrial shipping crane?

It’s called the Harlingen Harbour Crane (www.vuurtoren-harlingen.nl) and it sits dockside along the Wadden Sea near the historic town of Harlingen. From its lofty perch, you’ll be afforded sweeping 360-degree views. Inside, you’ll find the accommodations surprisingly comfortable and luxurious (there’s a shower/bath built for two and designer touches like Eames chairs).

Harbour Crane exterior.

Harbour Crane exterior ...

Harbour Crane interior.

and interior.

Know of other unusual lodgings like the Harlingen Harbour Crane? I’d love to hear about them! Want other hotel notes and news? Check out my column on examiner.com.