Watts (chipotle) wrote,

Notes from the field

It's quarter past two and I'm sitting in a courtyard that seems kind of French Quarter: wrought-iron furniture and railings, brick patio, tree in the center of the courtyard. It's sunk a bit below street level, and the tree provides enough shade to keep the seats cool and the screen free of glare. The courtyard is adjacent to (and for) a coffee shop.

I could live here.

Or at least near here--which wouldn't be impossible, since there are apartments right above the coffee shop and on the second floor over most shops here in Celebration, the town at Walt Disney World. In the five or six years it's been open for business, Celebration's been moving from theme park extension to real town.

Now, I've always wandered about the Greener Grass Quotient in places like this, West Park Village (a smaller Tampa equivalent), or even real older neighborhoods: would familiarity breed boredom? If I could walk to a pleasant outdoor coffee shop and camp out with Peroxide there, would it lose its charm?

Part of me's suspicious--but I should really try living in a place like that to see.

I set out today with the assertion that I needed to get writing done. Absolutely true. I don't know how much I'm going to get done here other than this journal. I'm tempted to head out to a Disney park while I'm here. I have an annual pass that expires in about a month that hasn't been getting nearly enough use.

But--writing first.

Or second. Getting coffee first.

A half-hour later, most of the way through a Barnie's "Toffee Coffee": I've heard that dogwalking is a good way to meet people, and I've just seen that in action. A woman with a big fluffy golden retriever has been sitting at a table for twenty minutes or so, and a man in a Hawaiian shirt walking a little white fluffy poodle went past on the sidewalk. The poodle and the retriever started nosing at one another and the man and the woman started talking.

For the record, the man and the woman seemed to hit it off, but the retriever looked kind of pained at having his butt sniffed by a frizzy hyperactive mop.

Half past six, waiting for a drink at "Francisco's," a bar at Disney's Coronado Springs: the trip to the Magic Kingdom was kind of a wash. The park didn't look crowded at first blush. That's because everyone was already standing in lines for the rides. Space Mountain had a wait of 55 minutes; it was the shortest of the major rides, with Splash Mountain topping out at two hours. I ended up on Pirates of the Caribbean after making a circuit around the park, then decided that I'd look for a bar.

My first inclination was to go to Victoria Falls at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, but then I thought: let's try the Dolphin, because you haven't been there in a long time. That was a wash, too: they'd blocked off the parking lot except for valet. So, I headed toward Animal Kingdom. On a whim I turned into Coronado Springs instead.

The resort has a Mexican-Southwest theme, but the loud colors are definitely Disney. It's still pretty, though. Unfortunately it looks like the Maya Grill, a once-great "Nuevo Latino" restaurant here, has been lobotomized: the menu looked very generic. Ironically the low-end counter service restaurant, the Pepper Market, has chef's specials and a full menu now. I'm debating whether to eat there for dinner despite knowing my budget can't--or at least shouldn't--stretch for it.

The drink is pretty good, though. They dubbed it a "Mexican martini": tequila, triple sec and Rose's lime juice. Flavorwise, almost a margarita (the canonical recipe for that being tequila, Cointreau and fresh lime juice, although most bars use a "margarita mix" instead of the last two ingredients), but not quite--and it does look more like a martini. Something to try (or try to improve on) at home when I get a martini glass or two.

Sad thought for a guy who's held a Mouse Kingdom annual pass for nearly a decade: Disney is getting--dumpier. Subtly so, maybe, but the difference between Disney World 2002 and Disney World, say, 1994 is striking. Little "quiet areas" the designers put in just for ambiance are disappearing. New rides are obvious cost-cutting measures compared to their predecessors. Paint is being left chipped instead of obsessively retouched. Charming stores like the Gourmet Pantry have been bowdlerized into souvenir shops (originally it was like a bigger, less snobby version of Williams-Sonoma's specialty foods section, with a rotating selection of neat, hard to find stuff). I wonder if the slow decline is attributable, in some way, to Frank Wells' death; he seemed to be conscience--or at least Guardian of the Charm--to Michael Eisner's excesses. The current man running the theme park division is, according to every current and past Disney employee I've spoken to, far more concerned with "maximizing profit" than upholding tradition. I understand the business rationale for that, but even though only (recovering) Disneyphiles like me might be able to catalog the changes, most visitors will notice them. If Disney's management insists on running it like just another theme park, it won't be too long before that's how customers treat it.

A Mexican martini on an empty stomach, I learn, gives me a slight buzz. I don't think margaritas do.

Quarter past nine: back home. Yes, I ate at the Pepper Market and had a classic Tex-Mex plate: two chicken enchiladas with green sauce, with sides of black beans, Spanish-style rice and that little blop of shredded lettuce and tomato that pretends to be a salad rather than the taco topping you know it really is. The food was surprisingly good, though--I've had enchiladas at ostensibly more authentic full-service restaurants that didn't measure up.

So looking back on the day, did I get any writing done besides this journal? Eh. A couple hundred words on notes on "Circle." Important words, certainly--the outline of the plot. I'm ready to start floundering around on the draft. I'd considered stopping at Barnes & Noble on the way through Lakeland to camp out at their coffee shop with the laptop and work a little more on it, but at this point the "coffee shop" in my kitchen may be a better choice--and I have other work that I need to attempt this weekend that can't be done away from the apartment. Getting the other stories for the still mythical collection scanned in, for instance. I promised myself I'd have all that work done--assembling the older stories into Microsoft Word files, revising them and e-mailing them off to TIm--by the end of this month. This month is running out. And, I have to pay the bills I didn't pay last weekend, with the added fun of seeing if I have any that I have to pay in person now because they're sufficiently late.

And as usual I have to start throwing crap out of my apartment. I think my journal has said that at least once a month for the past two years. Not that I haven't successfully done it several times over that period--I just don't do it nearly enough.

Well, off to make coffee and to see whether I make a saving throw against adding Drambuie to it, and then probably to abandon writing for a bit and to play a level or two of "tranquility," a game which I'll probably write about in a shorter entry than this one.

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