It all began a few weeks ago when I ended up staying alone over Shabbat in a hotel airport in order not to miss an 8 p.m. flight after Shabbat to Austin, TX, in order to attend SXSW Interactive. I've stayed in plenty of hotels over Shabbat, but those hotels were in ... Israel! Where everything just works. You can enter your room with a real key, there's no weird automatic lights or doors, the dining room serves food for Shabbat, there's a synagogue in the hotel, and everything is super easy. For this stay, I had to organize a food delivery from the local deli for dinner and lunch, make sure I got to the hotel well before Shabbat to figure out where the automatic things were and what lights I could leave on and off, and to make sure the staff were prepared for me. Add to this the fact that the hotel had only been open a few months and ... what a time I had.
Aside from the logistics and having to "check out" at 4 p.m. and spend the next 3 hours in the lobby waiting for Shabbat to end, there was a great sense of loneliness of Shabbat. I went into it thinking I'd have a super relaxed "Mommy vacation," a chance to kick back, sleep a bunch, and read trashy magazines and a good book over those 25 hours. But the truth was, it was a lot of empty time where I felt a bit stir crazy. Once I was in the lobby, I got to do some fun people watching, and I got halfway through a book, but eating alone in a fairly sterile hotel room wasn't fun.
Would I do it again? Probably not. Would I do it in Israel again? Yes. A million times. So easy.
So Shabbat ended around 7 p.m. and my flight was at 8 p.m. I zipped off to my gate and made it in time for the flight to Austin, where I arrived around 11 p.m. ... the night before the Daylight Savings change. Once I arrived at the group house I was staying at, I schmoozed for a bit and then crashed hardcore like a very pregnant mother would.
|About as wild and crazy as I got at SXSW.|
Wearing a lei at a Tiki Bar party.
This time around, I was home most nights and in bed by 9 p.m., exhausted with swollen feet, a headache, and no desire to party until the cows came home. I felt completely lame, considering my housemates were up until around 4 a.m. most nights, but hey, I'm a mom. An overworked mom. Sleep is a commodity. I was also a bit turned off by the entire thing this year because it's become incredibly and predominately corporate in the past four years, and not just tech corporate. McDonalds had a house. Why does McDonalds need a huge presence at SXSW? I don't know. They had a virtual reality Happy Meal experience for the love of Pete. I don't mind a Mashable House, but McDonald's? No thank you. The whole thing just made me feel ... dirty. SXSWi was big when I used to go, but now it's turned into some type of unstoppable corporate monster.
Overall, I totally thought that Shabbat and SXSWi were going to be a huge "vacation" for me, but they ended up being harder work than juggling work at home with a toddler. It's definitely a truth that man plans and Gd laughs. Despite it all, however, it was a ton of fun. I just probably wouldn't do it the same way again.