Back from the House of the Mouse…

Dad and the Boys at Epcot, October 2009

Dad and the Boys at Epcot, October 2009

Couple weeks without adding content here.  One reason is that I’ve been thankfully busy.  The other… well, I packed up the family and went on vacation.  We took the boys to the House of the Mouse.  They had record setting high temps in Orlando, 100+ one day.  As an architect and hopeless skeptic, I found it impossible to step back and suspend disbelief while trudging around Disney World.  But I did suspend my tendency to take things a little too seriously.  And that was vacation enough for me.  It’s too easy to march archly around Disney, wearing the mantle of the cynic. Give it a rest, pal. It’s a place for the kids, and they enjoyed it quite a bit. Mission accomplished, Walt.

Sure, everything’s 2/3rd scale… and skin deep. But I had to appreciate the attention to (stylistic) detail, and was of course jealous of their budget (or lack thereof).  In the end, though, I didn’t subject my kids to some blather about the dangers of nostalgia and melancholy.  Instead I bought them chocolate covered bananas!  As many as you want!  That’ll stick with them longer than any lesson I might have tried to pound home about how, even though the brick was fake, they did get the 18th century brick joints correct.

It’s not always about being able to guard your kids against your own prejudices. If they want to think they really are in China, or any other Epcot “country” for that matter, then so be it.  They’ll figure it out sooner or later. Thankfully, though, they figured it out right away. And to their credit, they were interested more in the rides, experiences, and the reality that really was still there when you looked for it.  I don’t think they ever looked for more than a second at the giant centerpiece of Cinderella’s Castle.  But  ask them what their favorite part was, and they’ll tell you it was spending the day in the pool with some friends we met up with there, and then going to “Germany” for dinner with them.  Disney was the venue, not the point.

As for me, it helped that in “Germany” I could get a liter of Spaten Oktoberfest.

It was good to just get away as a family.   Been (thankfully) busier than ever.  Don’t know what to attribute it to, but I am just thankful for the work.  After a year of economic gloom-n-doom from the media on all sides, with things looking better than I’d hoped, we needed a little break to get out from under the wet blanket.

I think things are turning around, frankly.  Architects are the canary in the coal mine.  It’s no great exaggeration to say that architects feel the pinch of a coming recession first. Well, perhaps third… If the bankers feel it first, their first call is to the developer, who calls his architect. “Stop work.” At the first tremors in the economy, all the speculative work stops immediately: mixed-use, hi-rise, office, residential, retail development work…it all dries up overnight. Six months later the talking heads in the media start to suggest that things are slowing. Thanks for the heads-up guys….

But if there’s a silver lining, architects are also among the first to get wind of a recovery. I have a good friend who is also an architectural illustrator, and he and I have been trading cautiously optimistic phone calls throughout the year… Work this year was ok, not horrible (as it had been predicted). But the past two months have seen the phone ringing off the hook, and clients are calling about December work already. I am very thankful, it bodes well. I’m hoping it’s a trend, not a blip on the graph. I’m hearing, too, from former colleagues who were laid off, and are now back at work.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed.  Not sure how long it’ll take to trickle down and out to the wider economy, but I’m feeling cautiously optimistic. Maybe it’s because I’m back from the “Happiest Place on Earth”.  Dunno. Perhaps I’m not so cynical after all.

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