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.

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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).

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  • 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.

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

Liner Notes from France

Start of a new year, and some of you may be able to tell, some blog changes, too. In short, I didn’t like Squarespace as much as I thought I would, so I’m looking into other options…again.

I could post some New Year’s Resolutions, which I still might. I may also post a year-end recap (might be a good idea), and even a post about my trip to France. But for now, here’s some liner notes about my trip to France that are bouncing around my head.

  • I prefer the Normandy region of France to the southern region.
  • For all the talk about French cuisine, I personally, was hard pressed to find fruits and veggies. Charlie asked me if I wanted to get pizza when I cam home, my response was, “No. Salad. Find me the biggest salad in Medina.”
  • What I lack in mental math skills, I make up for in navigational acuity. I’m going to chalk this up to overcompensating never wanting to get lost while taking public transportation, vis a vis…
  • I am really good at navigating the Paris metro (RATP).
  • I am very sad that Cleveland can’t get their shit together to build a better rail infrastructure.
  • Coming back from Paris, I’m surprised at how immune I’d become to seeing overweight people in the US. The “obesity problem” in this country really does appear to be an epidemic. That said, I have no idea what the answers are, but I could poke my finger in the direction of some corrective action.
  • I really enjoyed the accessibility and variety of a big city, and I could live in one. I would like living in one. But I love having the space out here in the suburbs. Again, I really wish Cleveland, it’s suburbs, and exurbs, had a better rail system.
  • Living out of a suitcase for a week — and having to repack it nightly — firstly, sucks ass; secondly, has really made me learn that
    I prefer to live a streamed-down life. So, when I recover from my second cold in a month, I’m going to go on a major purge.
  • Landing generally is uncomfortable on your ears. Landing with a cold is really unpleasant. Landing two separate times with a cold is agony. I was nearly in tears when we landed at Hopkins.
  • I’m really, really glad to be home.

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So, Yeah, This is August

So, the second half of the summer was not as exciting as the first, as far as events are concerned, but this happened:

At the beginning of August, Charlie took a nasty spill off of his bike and suffered a mild concussion, some lacerations, and maybe a bruised rib.  He didn’t need stitches, and it wasn’t a major concussion, thank Bob, but his helmet is annihilated, and proof that helmets are a good idea.

They let him leave the hospital in the gown, because the shirt he wore in there was covered in blood. I wanted to take him just like that to the mall to freak people out, but the party pooper said no….

So, I only got out on the bike once this year, but at least I got out. Next summer, I won’t be taking two summer classes, so I’ll have more time.

Earlier this month, the MomZ and the DadZ took the family (including Charlie) on Family Vacation to Western PA to go whitewater rafting on the Youghiogheny river in OhiopyleNational Park. Charlie had not been rafting before, so he had a great time. He and the MomZ want to do the Upper Yogh, which is a Class V. I, on the other hand, do not care for being wet or cold, so I think I’ll just dip my toes in next year.

Not only did I make Charlie prom pose with me, we made the MomZ and the DadZ prom pose, too.  I think I’ve decided that I am going to ruin every photo opportunity with Charlie and I by prom posing in it.

…And I would show you pictures, had the MomZ sent them to any of us. I went digging through her camera and her computer, and there nowhere to be found…as far as I know, they’re in the internet ether. Maybe someday I’ll show you….

Here’s what I will show you, though. A picture of me at Mattress Factory, a gallery of installations. I liked it: I think that it’s awesome that there are two entire buildings devoted to delightfully weird installation pieces. (And that, my friends, is bona fide art criticism: I was an art student!)

You will note that Charlie is specifically absent from this picture. That is because had he been in the picture, one of us would have been trying to put the other into a submission hold because only one of us knows how to drive stick shift and said person had to do so in stop-and-go I-376 traffic across a city which’s downtown highway planning was clearly mocked up by the city planner’s toddler in preschool art class. And said person tends to drive angry in Pittsburgh traffic, so, there would be no “loving couple” pictures that day.

The bag is the Ninja Octopus bag by retropopnamu on Etsy.

Also, since Charlie, Zero and I road-tripped to family vacation together, I did get this one picture of us in the hotel parking lot while eating roadside kettle corn and waiting for the MomZ and the DadZ to get to the hotel.

I clearly like the pink plaid button-down. That thing is comfy. Not incredibly flattering in photos, but comfy.

Spent

Well, that semester is over….

I wish that I could say the radio silence was worth it, and that it all paid off in the end, but only about 25% of what I studied (which, for the record, was 50% of the book) was on my final exam tonight. I really curious to know where he came up with the topic for the exam, because I don’t remember reading about any of it – and I read every single chapter of that textbook, which in  my entire education tenure, I have never done.

So, now I wait until Monday to see what grade has been posted and what my academic fate will be. I’m actually very nervous.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Annual Yule Weekend, wherein Charlie and I bundle ourselves down to Columbus to see Heather and David and all of our other Heather and David Friends to celebrate Christmas, friendship and make toasts and oaths for the new year.

I finally did it right this year and took both the Friday and the Monday off of that week. Friday so Charlie and I could have date night, and Monday, because, without fail, some abominable weather pattern moves in that weekend and I end up struggling to drive home in a blizzard. Knock on wood, let’s hope that I over-prepared this year and have not poked spiteful Mother Nature in the eye, challenging her to a duel.

But, really, two whole days off with no school obligations? I definitely can dig that release.

Smash’em Up

Charlie and I went to the Ashland County Fair last night. In addition to seeing the different livestock his students had entered for judging, and eating loads of fair food (yes, let’s talk about how well my personal training is working out…), we saw three hours worth of demolition derby!

The lawnmower demolition derby was pretty cool, but I think my favorite were the small pickup trucks: the smashes were a lot more spectacular, and there was more room to move around since there weren’t as many entrants. Of course, just like when we go to the movies, Charlie and I finished off our food/beverage before the main feature even started.

Wish you could have been there with us!