Monday, March 26, 2012

To Houston In A Handbasket

So, I'm back from Houston. What do I have to show for it? A massive bruise on my right arm (and my pride), a head cold from Hades, some kick ass corporate clothing, a nice collection of vendor swag, and a strong desire to take a vacation, unplug the phone, and take enough benadryl to sedate a small village.

Honestly, though, it wasn't that bad. Outside of the 3 hours of sleep a night, the incredible and death defying acts of excessive drinking, and fried food EVERYTHING, it was pretty okay.

It started at 3:30 in the morning. I had to be in Seattle by 6 so I had to take the first ferry out of Bremerton. Busses don't run that early in Seattle so, when the ferry got to port I did the only logical thing: I rented a lincoln towncar to deliver me to the office in proper fashion.  I wish I would have taken a picture of this but it was early, I was tired, and I didn't have coffee in my system yet. I actually made the driver circle the block while I Googled which Starbucks in the downtown area was open at 5:30 on Saturday morning...then I made him take me there. For that brief moment, at the crack of dawn, I was Anna Wintour.

We all got to the airport with time to spare so, at 7:00 AM me and my boss decided to spend our time constructively: by drinking bloody marys. Wish he would have told me he ordered doubles. I might have protested...had I known.  Or not. You know...

I should say here that I HATE flying Alaska Air. HATE. I should have said something when the flights were being booked but totally spaced it. It's like flying in an easy bake oven. Toddlers have toys that are made from better and more durable plastics than that shit is made from.  So I spent the first part of the flight ready to barf in my coworker's lap until we stabilized. 

Here's somewhere in Montana:

 And here's one of the Dakotas. Not sure which. Not like it really matters:

The flight stopped in Chicago just long enough for us to notice that, even though it was snowing so hard in Seattle when we left that they had to delay and DE-ICE THE WINGS, it was 80 degrees and effing gorgeous in Chicago. Thanks Chicago, for rubbing that in our faces.  But we made it to Houston just fine...12 hours later....without worn off...and with hotel room complications.

For some reason the corporate card wasn't on file so we had to wait for 2 hours while it got sorted out. We waited in the bar. To everyone's surprise we did NOT drink a ton. I think we were just too tired. The guys each had a beer or two (my boss had a shot) and I had 2 glasses of wine. We ate dinner too but it was wholly unimpressive and flavorless (and lacked veggies, the whole menu).  Thank you to our accounting lady for booking such a cozy bed!

And for getting hotel rooms that have a bathtub the size of, well, Texas. Go big or go home!

First shot of night. This marks the last time I viewed this city as clean or tidy in any way:

Next morning = tradeshow time. We put our game faces on and went to it. This picture is just a very small part of the tradeshow floor. There were hundreds of exhibitors, including a few of our favorite channel partners who, as it turns out, are also very good at bowling, karaoke, and drinking competitions.

First night out after work:

Okay. I should explain that whole "First night out" thing.  The thing is, in tradeshows, there's usually an event every night put on either by the host company (in this case, Microsoft) or one of the exhibitors. At a tradeshow as big as Convergence, there are MANY.  The first night was Microsoft's turn. They rented out the MLB stadium and hired Daughtry to perform. The next few nights were hosted by channel exhibitors (amongst them our personal favorites: Avalara and Nigel Frank).

Moving on...

So I have this friend from Texas who's always talking about his favorite beer Shiner Bock and how you can't find it in Washington. I guess I must have underestimated how popular it really is because honestly, the shit's EVERYWHERE in Houston. EVERYWHERE. It's even in your chicken:

 Tim ordered better sushi than I did. I know, right?!?! Sushi in Texas!?!?  You pay a TON more in Texas for sushi than you do in Seattle but it was still tasty.

And then came the last party of the trip. Nigel Frank. We had a kick ass time at ALL of the parties (Avalara, karaoke, and bowling at Lucky Strike was awesome) but Nigel Frank, a New York recruiting firm did it to win it.  If I'm from New York, I know nothing about the south, and I have a corporate party to throw in Texas where should I, logically, host such an event?

In the skankiest bar we can find of course! Girls in chaps, free tequila all night long, a mechanical bull, and men in suits trying desperately to figure out if they should maintain a modicum of professionalism or start whipping out dollar bills.  It was glorious.

All of that tequila was a very clear contributing factor to this:

Now that I've mentioned that I should probably move on to something more non-secular. You know how everyone always jokes about how people in the south are overly religious? Fact. There was a  church every half a block (and sometimes not even that scarce) throughout the entire city. Kinda crazy. The jail was across the street from the Diocese.

 Authentic. Southern. BBQ.  If you are ever in Houston go to The Goode Company. So. Worth it.

Yes. That's an enormous head mounted on the wall.

The BBQ isn't what was super amazing. It was the pecan pie. That piece of nutty heaven changed my life.

 And this is our goodbye shot from the airport the evening we flew back. Honestly, after 4 days, 7 bars, 50-60 hours of tradeshow floor time, and stifling humidity, I kinda like Houston. The weather reminds me of my hometown. It's hot, flat, sunny, and everyone is friendly.

Thanks, Texas, for bein' so awesome.

PS. My coworker says he got video of us drunk and dancing our faces off together at a club to house music but I'm praying to God, Allah, Vishnu, and every other major deity I can think of that this is an empty threat.

Please, Lord, let this NOT be true. :/

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