Miami Airport Marriott
I am on my way to Porto Alegre, Brazil, and stop off in Miami en route. The layover is 17 hours, and I could have stayed with my friend Radio (that’s his actual name), but he and his wife very recently became parents again and their place is way out from the airport so I would have spent a fortune on cabs there and back. Valiantly forgoing rudeness, expense, and being woken by the baby, I opt for the Airport Marriott. Having failed on the plane to write more than just under half of two of the five papers I am scheduled to present over the first three days of next week, I decide to finish one of the slide shows before hitting the hay. Since I am starving (I use the term somewhat loosely), I pop down to the restaurant, which is, conveniently, also the bar.

When on holiday (another term I use with artistic license, since I am on company time and have a shit-ton of urgent work to complete), I adopt the unlikely belief that I do my best work after beer, wine or a substantial measure of whisky. At home I know that I work well only after tea, coffee or water. Nonetheless, I ask the barman to recommend a beer, which he does. The drink hits the spot, and I down most of it before the excellent buffalo wings salad arrives replete with chunks of bleu cheese. (I still don’t know why Americans spell “blue” in French when referring to cheese. It seems like a distinctly arbitrary choice – why not also use le francais when describing the colo(u)r of, for instance, jeans, the sky, or one’s eyes?) I depart from the salad plate and pint glass with a lighter head, accompanied by an unexpected (that holiday influence again) yet convincing sense of exhaustion, and head for the lift. I pride myself on deflecting the bartender’s suggestion of a second beer.

I lie down on the bed in all my clothes with my glasses next to me, counting on some other rules that only apply in hotels, namely 1) that I will not in my sleep roll on to my spectacles, 2) that I do not need an alarm to wake up in time for the plane, and 3) that I will only nap for a few minutes, wake up, and immediately continue working for a good few hours. Knowing that there is precedent for the first two assumptions, I subconsciously ignore the third, and wake every two hours with the air con, lights and my shoes on before forcing myself off of the unruffled bed at 6.05 am feeling disorientated, confused, and grateful for the coffee machine. Caffeinated, I dig for, find and don gym clothes.

The Marriott’s fitness room is a trek down a corridor, across a dark courtyard (it isn’t dawn yet) alongside the pool, into the adjacent hotel, and through a series of doors to where the treadmills and ellipticals (weird) await. I pound out four strong, fast miles, lift some dumbells, do sit-ups and press-ups, take care to grimace manfully when other gym-goers look my way, and head back to my room to finish off the complementary coffee. En route, in the bustling lobby, I am suddenly self-conscious of the sweat-drenched USF t-shirt I am sporting. Part of the problem is that the University of South Florida is definitely in central Florida, whereas Miami is obviously south and I don’t own a U of M top. Safely back in the room, I do the tiniest amount of work on a PowerPoint about music teacher identities, before bravely selecting my University of Southern California t-shirt for the flights. At the terminal I buy an oversize Mediterranean Wrap just in time to eat it messily and stinkily on the plane. As we taxi for takeoff, I become crushingly self-conscious about the aroma of olives and feta cheese that emanates from my lap.



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