June 28, 2018 – Advocacy Day and DC Trip, 2018

I always seem to do my best planning after the even occurs, much to my internal project manager’s chagrin. Since MomZ and I got back from DC, I’ve already revamped my packing list (which I didn’t even use this time), added travel items to a new “Travel Items” shopping list on Amazon, and started researching places to visit & eat at next year when MomZ and I are in DC.


My annual pilgrimage to DC has been my favorite trip of the year, despite the fact that it can be the most sad reunion ever. But MomZ and I have met and made some great friends on the trip, and she and I seem to travel very well together.

Every year, we get a little bit better at going up on The Hill, and this year, I think a huge contributing factor to that is that it was just MomZ and I in our Representatives’ offices this year.

Which is a double-edged sword – MomZ and I don’t screw around when it comes to sales pitches (which is ultimately what our Congressional asks are), but at the same time, it means that out of the approximately 4.5 million people in Northeast Ohio, only two went to Advocacy Day this year.

So, as much as I like MomZ and I being a two-person powerhouse, we need more people to come and pester the shit out of Congress to pass research funding budgets.

Notes from our trip:

  • For the first time in 4 years, both MomZ and my “comfortable” travel shoes gave up their ghosts, and we found ourselves almost completely unable to walk by the end of the trip. That put a damper on sightseeing our last day.
  • We hit two new museums: the National Museum of Natural History, and National Museum of American History. We liked them both.
  • We’ve decided that since Smithsonian museums are free, we’d just hit the exhibits we wanted to see, and beat feet. If there’s stuff we want to see next year, we’ll just go back.
  • Made it to one of the Ladurée in the United States. I got to bandy about my mangled French, but the shopgirl – who was French – appreciated it and helped my awful pronunciation. I then ate my weight in macarons.
  • I don’t know why anyone take my directions as gospel, but at one point on our Mall walk, MomZ, Terri and I ended up on the stage of the outdoor amphitheater in the cordoned-off-because-of-construction section by the Washington Monument. Don’t follow me like you know where I’m going! This is how we all end up in jail!
  • We did some shopping at the Pentagon City Mall, but it was surprisingly just for things we needed: dress shoes for me, light shirt for MomZ. We looked in Sephora, but realized we both liked Ulta better, and since we can shop at both of those places at home, what’s the point? We spent our money in the museum gift shops instead.
  • MomZ and I both got new piercings. She got third holes in both of her lobes, and I finally got my forward helix done. I think it’s placed too low, but it gives me room to get a second one (which I probably will).
  • Next year, we’ll probably stay at an off-site hotel. The Renaissance is cost-prohibitive, and I’m going to make a better effort to pick up the tab. Besides, DC is so very commutable, it’ll be a lot like living/working in DC. I like this opportunity a lot better. Maybe an AirBnB, maybe not. We’ll see.
  • The White House is one of those places you can see once and only once in your lifetime. MomZ hated how many security checkpoints we had to go through, and I thought Biltmore was better. I’ve seen it once, I’m good for life.

For the rest of our trip photo album, head on over to Google Photos.

In Loving Memory

Andrea in June, 2018.

I had the chance to meet Andrea Battle Sims at Advocacy Day last year. She had been diagnosed and recovering from pancreatic cancer in 2015, but her cancer cell count was very high. She was a breast cancer survivor from 1994.

She was both an absolute delight and a trooper as we walked around Capitol Hill. She was such an accomplished and cool lady. Mom and I got her cell phone number and promised to stay in touch. I became friends with her on Facebook.

Both Andrea and I liked each others’ posts on Facebook, and did an okay job of keeping up, but I never got the chance to actually see her again.

In November, I reached out to her, to see if she wanted to get lunch after one of her chemo treatments over at Ahuja. We passed a few messages back and forth, but weren’t able to make it work.

Shortly after that, I (messily) left my job, spent time dealing with my own health and wellness issues, and focused getting my career restarted and my own life back on track.

Andrea and I never got to get together for lunch.

I know how gauche it is to make someone else’s tragedy about themselves, but I hope you’ll forgive me this one time. What I went through paled to what Andrea went through, and I should have done a better job trying to take her to lunch. I have major regrets about not following through. If the last 6 months were about me figuring out who I am, and who I want to be, then I must absolutely learn from this mistake, and try to never make it again.

I don’t know if any of Andrea’s family will be coming to Advocacy Day this year, but in addition to carrying both my uncle’s and my father’s pictures with me to The Capitol, I’ll be taking Andrea’s with me, too.

I reiterate my commitment to bring hope to a horrible situation: I promise that I will forever carry her memory and continue the work started when DadZ was diagnosed. I will work forever to make sure no other families will have to suffer the way ours have.

Tell the people in your life while they are here how much they mean to you. Be a good steward of your fellow man, and take care of them. Life is fragile and fleeting. Make the most of it.

In Loving Memory
Andrea Battle Sims