Almost two years ago I signed up for Oh Life, a service which offers you the chance to write a personal private journal about what you did that day.
You get a reminder in your inbox every evening at a time to suit — suggesting “Just reply to this email with your entry” — and it comes with a previous journal entry chosen at random for your education and entertainment. It truly is a “Dear Diary” for the 21st century.
Of course, I don’t always respond. Let’s be honest, no-one’s life is that exciting. And even if it is sometimes “action-packed”, after a while familiarity kicks in and I simply can’t be arsed to hit that reply button.
Nevertheless, it is interesting to see what you’ve actually done, and often quite astounding to see how long ago — or how recently — quite significant events took place.
Tonight’s reminder email read …
Remember this? One year ago you wrote…
Another Sunday sat in a hotel room. This time the Lincoln Centre, Dallas, at the start of a week-long odyssey around the US, ending up in New York.
Well, what a difference a year makes.
In contrast, I spent today variously getting excused from donating blood because of various minor infections and medications, meeting a friend of a friend to offer some free technical advice about his new financial spread betting web site and having an espresso coffee — and espresso chat — with another chum of long standing.
And if that wasn’t exciting enough, I rounded off the day with a hand stuck down a crap-brimming toilet trying to unclog it (with limited success) and give the family some much-needed relief.
Not sure really if that is an improvement or not.
But that American journey, begun 365 days ago today, is still clear in my memory.
It began with a long tiring flight from London to Dallas made worse by a 40-min delay on the ground at Heathrow caused by someone who carelessly failed to board the plane.
Once above the clouds I was too hot. I was dehydrated. I was bored. There wasn’t even a even a good view from the window, it being slap bang over the wing.
On late arrival at DFW, I then stood in a queue for more than an hour to have my passport checked, then another 20 minutes to collect my bags. I faced another nervous wait while I discovered whether the firm I was hiring a car from really DID need the part II of the driving licence I’d left behind, as they claimed on their web site.
Well they didn’t, which was nice.
What wasn’t nice was not being able to work out how to use the car AND the Sat Nav. I then spent a frustrating hour or so driving around Texas in the dark looking for hotel that didn’t seem to be in the database until finally pulling over and trying the GPS again, this time using the Dallas Galleria shopping mall — which I knew to be opposite the hotel — as a landmark.
Even then, with the Hilton Lincoln Centre in plain sight, I took a wrong turn and had to endure another five-mile detour just to get back to square one.
At the end of this, I’d been awake 24 hours before I finally made it to bed. And there wasn’t even a chance of a relaxing drink in the hotel bar because there was some sort of conference checking in and the lobby was filled with orange-coloured Avon ladies shrieking and yelping in a way that only perky Daughters of the Alamo can.
Later that week I flew by cramped commuter jet to Washington DC for a meeting at corporate HQ — a white knuckle ride on a raging storm into Reagan International Airport — with a classic stinking head cold developing all the while. At the weekend, drugged up on Advil, I took the Acela Express to New York to meet my wife who was flying in separately from London to sing at Carnegie Hall. Yes. That Carnegie Hall.
New York was wonderful but freezing. My potentially deadly bout of Man Flu slightly took the edge off the proceedings, but only slightly.
Whinge, Moan, Gripe
Well, that’s all behind me now. I’ve left my job with Hilton — where I was in charge of the company’s Organic Search policy — and I start work in just a week at a respected UK search agency as Head of SEO.
Leaving Hilton is a mixed blessing. My old job was high profile and high kudos. I got to travel the world and stay in the best hotels, and meet some really great people. I’ll miss them.
However, to paraphrase Rossini’s verdict on Wagner, there were “some wonderful moments … but awful half hours”.
For now I’m swapping the glamour of the international hotel business for blocked toilets and unpacking boxes of metaphorical crap following our recent move to the first house we’ve owned in 16 years.
As a corporate wage slave I found it very difficult to blog, just in case it reflected badly on the company. But the freedom of working for an agency now means I can get back to my first love. Writing about stuff.
Watch this space.