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No, I’m not dead, I promise.

Wow.  It’s been over a month since I posted last.  I would suggest that if you’re wanting to follow the blog, you should probably sign up for email updates.  Let’s just be honest, I’m a seriously erratic poster at best, and since I’m trying to do a million things at once now, I sometimes forget I have a blog.  So, let’s just pretend I’m sending you and sign up.  A hell of a lot has happened since then, so let’s just go with the bullet points for now.

  • We managed to finally get to Missouri despite two full days of truck packing, cleaning, and various other mishaps.  (Not to mention two different moving companies.  The second day we actually paid the guys who were moving out someone else in our complex to pack the last few things in the truck.  We gave up.)
  • The hotel we stayed at in Kentucky was god awful.  All a hotel really needs is a good bed.  Ours felt like we were sleeping on a set of box springs.  I had a massive allergy attack due to the renovations going on in the damn hotel and slept like shit and we had to park the U-Haul half way down the street because the hotel (off the INTERSTATE) had almost no parking.  Winchester, Kentucky “Quality” Inn, you fail.
  • We were an hour away from the new house when the rear tire of the U-Haul blew out going 70 on the highway.  Then, we got to wait two hours for a guy 20 minutes away to come change out the tire so we could continue on our way.  In the meantime, I had to pee (obviously) and ended up in a hole in the wall biker bar in the middle of nowhere.  Yeah, my life.  Adventure.
  • The truck pulled into the driveway at 9pm.  We were expecting to be there at 6 pm.  We were not best pleased.  Then, that night, we had an epic freaking thunderstorm that scared the beejeezus out of me because my weather radio wasn’t hooked up yet.
  • We got the truck unloaded in record time, but the boxes are still invading my entire freaking house.
  • Our house, it is crooked.  If you’ve ever seen the “How I Met Your Mother” episode where Lily and Marshall live in the apartment where they can slide from one end to the other because of the tilt, you understand.  Drop a can in the front of the house and it’s going to the kitchen without you.  Whatever, it’s over 100 years old and is entitled to be a little crooked.
  • I learned the other day that the house was built before the advent of insulation.  Yep, freezing ass cold is going to be the regular state of being this winter.
  • We were adopted by a tiny stray cat.  She showed up and was so skinny that we couldn’t not feed her.  It would have been cruel.  Now, she lives in our poor sad garage and loves us.
  • Fat Kitty and Tonks are loving their new house, now that the moving stress is over.  There’s lots of windows to look out of and things to see.  Like cows.  Lots and lots of cows.
  • Our dining table comfortably seats 4.  Last Friday evening, there were 6.5 people sitting around it trying to eat dinner.  It was interesting to say the least.  (The half person is our nephew, he’s 6.)
  • Plumbing is the most underrated invention ever.  I learned this when our septic line burst in our yard last week.  Three men spent an entire afternoon digging up the lawn to replace it.  I like flushing, it’s awesome.
  • School is going pretty well.  I have one SERIOUSLY amazing professor and one absolutely random batshit one.  It’s going to be a long semester.
  • I’m liking it here a lot more than I thought I would.  People are so nice, and I’m only half the stress case that I was when we lived in DC.  Current stresses include, studying for exams you know are going to be random as all hell because your professor can’t think in a straight line, and a lack of employment.  Listen people, I’m awesome and your workplace would be a thousand times better with me in it.  I’m more than qualified for these jobs I’m applying for.  Hire me, you know you want to.
  • I miss you, dishwasher!
  • I’ve been breeding fruit flies in lab.  Yep, my astronomically shaky self has to play with tiny fruit flies two to three times a week.  It’s a hell of a learning curve, seriously.
  • Antenna based internet is vastly superior to satellite based.  No usage restrictions FTW.
  • The weather is finally cooling off.  Hello fall, I’ve missed you!

That’s about all the random I have time for today.  Pictures to come, promise.  Also (hopefully) more regular posting.  I just need to set aside a little blogging time once a week.  Seriously though, if I could have one day where no one came to my house out of nowhere, that would be awesome and I would appreciate it.

 

Holy Moly

It has been a busy few weeks.  We’re finally getting our house all packed, even though we really need to get with it as the movers will be here to load the truck on Tuesday.  TUESDAY! Wow.  That’s only 5 days from now.  Where has this year gone?  I can’t believe it’s already August for cripes sake.  Our house is basically made out of boxes, and since we’re only half packed there’s little room for stacking them.  Therefore, several places in my house now have floor to ceiling boxes.

I’ve been a busy bee this past week.  I’ve set up appointments to have services installed at the new place, set up cancellations of services here at the old place, gone to the dentist (twice), and made two more doctor’s appointments.  Not to mention the funeral.

My parents have been gone for over three years now, but I’ve never been able to get myself to make funeral arrangements.  One of the reason I had possession of my dad’s ashes (probably the only reason, thanks you evil wench) was because I live in the DC area and therefore am in close proximity to Arlington Cemetery.  My dad requested numerous times to be interred there when he died, and since it’s time to go I knew I’d never get another chance to do it.  So last Wednesday, Figment and I went down to Arlington for the service.  We were insanely well taken care of, and the parents are interred in a nice, newly opened area.  All I can say is that I’m sure my dad would have approved.  There’s nothing quite like the pomp and circumstance of a military funeral.  And the rain even managed to hold off until right after the service was over.  I really appreciated that.

This week I have been to the dentist twice.  Once for a cleaning, the second time for FIVE fillings.  I’m not going to lie, I tend to avoid the dentist like the plague.  I am a horrible patient, mostly because I have never had a non-traumatic dental experience.  The last filling I had done with no anesthetic because the woman could not numb that side of my face.  I went in Tuesday morning absolutely terrified of the pain.  I needn’t have worried, my new dentist was the bomb.  His bedside manner leaves a LOT to be desired, but his dentistry is awesome.  It is the least traumatic experience I have ever had at the dentist AND he figured out how to numb my lower right jaw area, and to top it all off he gave me the name of the anesthetic he used and where it should be put in order to inform my next dentist.  The only downside was that he used so much of it that I didn’t get feeling back into my face until nearly 4 hours after my appointment was over, but I’ll take that over feeling the drill any day.

The best news of the week though is that I have only ONE MORE DAY at this ridiculous job.   I’m so excited I could cry.  I’ve got a few dates with friends coming up, and some relaxing, and a lot of packing to do.  I’m more and more ready to go each day.  Goodbye DC, hello MO.  See you soon!

 

The most epic weekend of my life

I’m feeling a little Sophia Petrillo this morning, forgive me.

Picture it.  The last weekend of July, 2011.  Washington DC.  The neighborhood ball field.

Glover Park Co-Ed Softball League

Oh yeah.  This is how I spent my weekend.  Let’s ignore the fact that the article is fail, in that the Niners didn’t manage to take the tournament, even though they did win the first game of the match up.  Damn you, double elimination.

So.  Saturday was pretty much just a normal softball Sunday for us.  I stayed sober to do the driving, we won one, we lost one, there was food and good times.  The most notable part of Saturday was our current team knocking out our previous team from the tournament.  We live for this every year.  Sweet, sweet vindication.  But Sunday was where the party was really at.

We arrived at the field at 8 AM to get ready for our 9 AM game.  This by itself was bad.  We’re NOT a morning team.  Saturday we lost our 9 AM game (thankfully, because had we won WE would have been the 8 AM game), but won our 3 PM game (although it took 3 extra innings).  So the morning starts and people start trickling in.  We’re expecting a few people to not be there, and some folks that weren’t there on Saturday to be able to be there on Sunday.  Well, 10 minutes to game time and two of them haven’t shown and a third has texted the coach with the simple message “can’t make it”.  The two MIA folks weren’t really a surprise, they were seriously flaky.  But the third?  The third person just so happened to be our clean up hitter, one of the biggest lefties in the league AND our stalwart third baseman.  We’ll call him Big T (it’s true).  So needless to say, there was a lot of dissension in the ranks at that point.

So finally someone gives him a call to find out what the hell his problem is.  When she gets off the phone and tells us, we immediately realize he has a valid excuse.  He’s in jail.  Oh shit.  Now, the irony of this is that the team I play for is called Chico’s Bail Bonds.  He was on his way to the game in his uniform shirt when he was picked up.  We didn’t know this at the time, we were worried he got slammed in the drunk tank on the way home last night, but we couldn’t figure out why they were letting him use the phone.  He said he was going to try to get someone to come get him, and he’d be there when he could.

So we go on to play, and lose, putting us out of the tournament completely.  Whatever, continuing to play means we’d get hotter, sweatier, and it would interfere with our drinking.  We’re totally fine with it because now we can hang out and take advantage of what tournament weekend is all about, partying.  We call the police station after the game and Big T is still there.  So we send the envoy to bust him out, Coach and K, both in their Chico’s Bail Bonds shirts.  Hey, its about time this team lived up to its name.  Before she leaves, K takes coffee orders because she’s going to stop at Starbucks on the way back.  R places an order for something huge and caffeinated, he doesn’t actually care what, and then K and Coach go to pick up our jailbird.

They’re gone for a while.  Keep in mind, at this point it is 10:30 AM and the drinking has already begun.  Including me.  (Now, if you know me at all, you know I don’t drink.  I’ll very rarely have a drink when we’re out and about, but I don’t do very much drinking at home.  What can I say, I’m a lightweight and I’m cool with that.)  At this point, they’ve been gone about an hour and R is thinking he’s never getting his lovely caffeinated beverage so he gives up and breaks open a beer.  Coach has returned by now, although not with Big T and K (she had to drive his car back) and has let us know that no, he was not locked up in the drunk tank, he was arrested because he was driving with a suspended license.  He didn’t know this, but they suspended his license for not returning his plates when he moved out of state.  I shit you not.  They arrested him for that.  Bullshit and shenanigans.

So we’re running low on beer and ice, so Coach and Figment go off to get some.  They come back, and in jest Figment has brought R a can of Four Loko (henceforth referred to as 4L).  I shit you not.  And this is where the crazy begins.  Now, I’m a little tipsy at this point, but not enough to be drinking 4L.  (I doubt I’ll ever be that trashed.)  But the guys take it as a personal challenge.  They crack that bad boy open and share it among them, all making this face of OMGWTF as they drink it.  There are many hilarious comments with terms such as “anti-freeze” and “smurf piss” tossed around and it’s still not even 11:30 yet.

So finally K comes back with Big T and R’s coffee.  Now, this isn’t just a neighborhood softball tournament.  We have a guy who puts on an announcer’s persona and calls all the games as they happen just like baseball on the radio.  He’s brilliant.  He’s heard about our Big T ending up in jail on the way in that morning, and as he walks up, the Clash’s “I Fought the Law” comes on over the speakers.  It is epic.  But the dumbest part?  They took the man’s shoe laces.  As if he were on suicide watch for a suspended license.  Yes, it’s a pain but hardly worth killing yourself over.  Anywho, it’s over and done with (except for the requisite court appearance) so we move on with the party.

I’m half in the bag now after three drinks (told you, lightweight) and it’s getting on towards lunch time so we decide to order pizza while K and I go on a girly drink run.  Really, the only alcohol I can safely tolerate is Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  Om nom nom.  I pick up a six pack, and this is where it gets ridiculous.  We pick up two more 4Ls as a running gag AND because we know they’ll drink it.  On the way out, I get a phone call asking to pick up more Four Loko because they apparently ALL want to be ridiculous.  So we head back, the pizza has already come, and all the pepperoni is gone.  There is much yelling of ASSHOLE and RAT BASTARD until R orders more pizza.  (K had ordered pepperoni but they ate it all before we got back.  I didn’t give a crap because I wanted the cheese anyway.)

We pull out the 4L (wtf are we frat boys? possibly) and it’s passed around with more funny things being said about how absolutely disgusting it is.  The ladies stay far far away from the 4L because we have more sense but they guys are all about it.  Now it’s about 12:30 and we’re all tore up from the floor up.  All of us.  The entire team.  It’s fantastic.  We’re sitting right by the scorer’s table under our tent just getting absolutely trashed.  I’ve never been that drunk in my entire life and it is definitely the best time I have ever had.

At one point, Figment completely disappears.  I thought he had gotten up to go talk to our friend L, but when I asked L hadn’t seen him in like 2 hours.  So L goes up to the scorer’s table and has them make the announcement “if anyone’s seen Figment, please let his wife know”.  At which point I was informed that he was seen about 15 minutes previously in front of the Wachovia up the street.  Not too long after he comes back, bag of 4L in tow.

By the time we get to championship game time, we’re all so drunk that we are incapable of paying any sort of intense attention to what’s going on.  We get vaguely told off (absolutely in a joking sort of way) for not paying attention to the score.  (Hey, when I ask you what the score is, don’t tell me it’s 9-4, that doesn’t help.  Tell me who’s winning.)  There’s more food and great conversations and laughs and a MASSIVE amount of heckling (nothing personal Kenny!).  It was the perfect way to end our softball season.

Around 3 or so I finally quit drinking because ONE of us has to sober up enough to get us both home.  My metabolism for booze is much better than Figment’s, so that’s always going to be me.  I get drunk really easily, but I sober up just as easily.  It’s a gift, and a curse.  We sit around until about 8 just hanging out with everybody until it’s time to go home.  There were a great many hugs and goodbyes and tears (mostly on my part).  It’s been a great 4 years, and I’m really going to miss it, but this is definitely going down as the most epic weekend of my entire life.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Crazy of the year award

Okay guys.  I understand that some people are mentally ill.  Really, I get that.  And I understand that mostly they can’t help their quirks, and some need medication REALLY BADLY.  But, sometimes you just can’t help but wonder what the hell is going on with people these days.  It’s kind of disturbing.  Like there’s this one woman who appears occasionally on a corner near my office.  She looks perfectly normal.  Until the screaming starts.  The first time I heard it, I looked around for the crime.  No crime.  Just this crazy woman screaming bloody murder at nothing at all.  And it’s not just a regular scream, oh no, it’s a blood curdling banshee scream.  It’s terrifying.  But it’s really nothing compared to the man I encountered on our public transit system yesterday.

(source)

I have recently sprained my ankle rather badly while playing softball.  It is an especially crap time to do it as our yearly tournament weekend starts tomorrow, but it is feeling a lot better than it was this past Sunday when I ran my foot into second base at a seriously awkward angle.  There is still swelling and bruising, but my ice pack is helping a lot.  Anyway, I got on the train and I really need to sit.  I’m not particularly steady at the best of times what with all the brake slamming that happens on metro, so standing like a stork while hugging a pole for dear life just isn’t going to cut it.  Someone will end up with me in their lap.  Surprise!

When I get on the train there is one seat left next to a relatively normal looking guy.  He’s dressed in a polo and khakis and has on decent shoes, so there’s no indication in his appearance for me to expect what happens next.  There is a newspaper in the seat.  This, in itself, is not at all a surprise as people are douchebags and leave their crap lying all over the train.  I generally scoop up the paper and either read it and toss it or set it under the seat for the next bored metro rider.  As I lean over to move the paper, the man snatches it up like it’s his precious and looks at me like he may maim me for even trying to touch it.  Mentally, I go “ohhhh kayyy….” and go to sit down.  This is when I notice the cup.

(source)

Now, WMATA prohibits all food and beverages on the metro.  They’re really crap about enforcing this rule, but generally people who bring food or beverages on the train do so in closed containers.  This is not a closed container.  This is a giant 7-11 double gulp cup.  It is full of coke (or other brown soda).  It has no lid.  And to top it all off, he has it sitting in the middle of the bench between where I would be sitting and where he is sitting with just his hand resting over the top of it.  I can tolerate a lot of things, but coming to work drenched in coke isn’t one of them.  I clear my throat and say “man, you have to move that beverage.  I’m sitting here, and it’s not allowed on the train anyway.  Move it.”  He gives me this look like I’m speaking an alien language and scoots it a little closer to his leg.

Fine.  It’s the last seat, and if I don’t sit down soon I’m going to fall over.  So I sit.  At this point, I take out my book and get to reading, because it’s the only way I’m staying awake on the train.  Suddenly, movement catches my eye and I look over and this man is having a conversation.  With no one.  His lips are moving but no sound is coming out.  He’s even gesturing with his hands, which honestly made me nervous because he wasn’t holding on to the damn cup anymore.  Clearly, even though I cannot see this invisible conversational partner, they are having an argument.  This goes on for about 5 minutes until we get to the first stop after I got on.

We head into the station and stop, and I miraculously stay dry.  He starts gathering his stuff about him and I think oh good he’s exiting, I’m saved.  Nope.  He’s just standing up to look at the metro map on the opposite wall of the train.  Oh well.  He’s doing a pretty good job of wrangling his beverage so I’m not too bothered.  Then he sits down.  Now, I didn’t smell him when I was sitting there, but the act of his moving about has wafted this odor in my direction.  I do believe that at some point while wearing his clothes this man has wet himself, let it dry, and kept on going.  It was horrendously gag inducing, but again there were no more damn seats on the train so I let it go.  Once he stopped moving the reek stayed contained to his personal space.

As we are pulling into the second stop he turns his head and looks at me and says very politely, “excuse me, do you have the time?”  I tell him and his eyes widen to the size of dinner plates, then he says to me in a slightly panicked voice “IN THE MORNING!?” then goes back to studying the metro map on the wall.  At this point, we are almost to my stop and I say to hell with it and just give up.  I stand up, clinging to the pole for dear life as we stop and rush off as the doors open.  There are things that alone you can handle, but when you put them all together just creep you out.  This was one of those times. It has got to be the WEIRDEST start to the day I have ever had in Washington.  So, add another thing to the list of things I won’t miss about this place.

Disney Insanecation – Final Day

Okay, so I haven’t actually forgotten about the blog, I’ve just been ridiculously busy and completely incapable of concentrating on any one thing for any length of time.  So, without further ado, let’s get on with the show.

Today was the roller coaster ride of the trip.  Not only was it the very last day, but we hit ALL FOUR PARKS.  Yes, you heard me, all four.

We started off the morning taking the bus from our hotel to Animal Kingdom.  We were having breakfast at Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, but we got to Animal Kingdom with about an hour before we needed to be at breakfast.  (It was just me and Figment.  The rest of the fam had left really early to hit up Toy Story at So in we went.  We stayed pretty close to the entrance, but we saw things that we had missed the first time through, like most of the “zoo” section.

 These McCaw parrots were gorgeous, and we were just in time for noms.  There were red, blue and even green ones.  We also saw some lemurs and warthogs and a MASSIVE amount of ducks.  Seriously, if I were a duck I would totally live at Disney.  These guys have amazing lives full of people feeding them all the time.  Then we hopped on the bus to the lodge for breakfast.

Boma was the perfect place to have our last breakfast.  It was quiet and the buffet was fantastic.  AND they had my very favorite Disney breakfast item: sticky buns.  I love Disney stickies.  I still remember staying at the Contemporary all those years ago with my parents and always having Mickey’s Stickies for breakfast.  Win.

After we ate, and I stuffed myself with pineapple (omnomnom), we headed out to wander the grounds of the lodge.  There’s a fabulous animal preserve at the back, complete with a guide from South Africa ready to answer all your questions about the animals and their habitat.  There were giraffes and antelope and even flamingos.  It was really pretty.

At this point, Figment and the parents and I decided we wanted to go to Hollywood Studios.  The fam had picked us up Fast Passes for Toy Story (since we refused to stand in line for 90 minutes when we were there the last time) and we wanted to ride Rock & Roll Roller Coaster again.  When we got there, Figment and the parents headed towards Toy Story while I ran off to get passes.  They were for several hours later so I wasn’t sure we would use them, but I got them anyway just in case.  When we got to Toy Story, since mom was in her wheelchair (after she got used to the idea, there was no way we were not getting one again) we got put to the front of the line without needing our passes.  So when we exited (it was great!) we gave away our 4 passes to another family waiting in line.  Win!

Then we wandered over to Star Tours.  We weren’t expecting to get on as it was Star Wars weekend, but we wanted to see all the folks dressed in costume.  Again, the chair was our ticket.  They put us in the Fast Pass lane.  We were excited because I freaking LOVED Star Tours, and the parents didn’t really get to enjoy it because the previous time they were on it with the creeped out 5 year old.  They really enjoyed it this time.  After that, we decided we’d had enough of Hollywood Studios, so we gave our Rock & Roll Coaster passes to some folks who randomly walked by complaining that the line was too long, and headed to Magic Kingdom!

Yes, we had been to Magic Kingdom just about every day at this point.  What can I say, it’s part of my childhood and I <3 it.  Mom & Dad wanted to see the Hall of Presidents, and Figment and I wanted to ride Pirates again.  So we got there and split up and headed our separate ways.  We actually rode Pirates twice in a row, after getting a frozen strawberry lemonade. Nom.  And since it was the release date of the new Pirates movie, they had changed the Davey Jones hologram at the beginning into Blackbeard!  Besides that, everything else was the same.  After Pirates and Presidents, we decided to head on over to Epcot to get in all the things we missed the day before when we had to dash out.  Besides, we needed to pick up our pearls.

We hit the monorail (and griped at the guy for making mom walk all the way down the ramp and back up instead of letting us through the gate) and went to Epcot.  I had a nostalgic moment as we passed through the Contemporary.  We headed straight to Japan to pick up our stuff, then wandered through the rest of Epcot checking out the remaining bits of World Showcase.  We did have lunch at the Japanese quick service.  I had udon noodles with tempura shrimp.  It was really tasty.  I didn’t want to eat too much because that night we were headed to my very favorite Disney restaurant.

(source)

After we showcased it up, (we even saw replicas of Kate Middleton/Diana’s engagement ring in the England section!) we headed off to my favorite part of Epcot; FIGMENT!  I totally had a Figment plush when I was little.  I LOVED Figment.  I remember there was even a guy (who isn’t part of that section anymore) who wandered around that part of Epcot with a Figment puppet.  We stopped by the jumping water fountain, where this one little girl kept trying to jump up to get the water to hit her.  She was just too short.  So Figment goes up to her and asks if she wants picked up and she nods.  And he says “are you ready!?” and she goes “YEAH!!!” and he lifts her up and she got DRILLED with the jumping water.  The look on her face was priceless.

Wow.  It was so different.  If you’re interested, this is what I remember it being like.  I have to say, Imagination was way better when I was a kid.  There were loads more fun activities then than there are now.  To be honest, it’s a little boring although the ride itself was cute.

After we left Figment behind (although not completely, I bought a Figment Vynilmation magnet) we headed out to sit on a bench for a little while before it was time to meet up for dinner at the Coral Reef!  (That linked blog has some amazing pictures of the restaurant.)  It’s the one place that we ate while there that I remembered eating at when I was a kid.  I don’t remember the food, or the decor of the restaurant, what I remember is that while you’re eating you’re looking at this massive aquarium.  This also turned out to be my very favorite meal of the entire trip.

(source)

I had the Mahi Mahi with rock shrimp and a coconut sauce and the chocolate wave cake.  It was absolutely delicious.  Even better? Disney Fan magazine has posted the recipe for it.  I may never have access to mahi, but I’m sure as hell going to try it with some other kind of fish.  It was a delicious evening.  And we had an amazing table.  We were in the second row from the aquarium so we had basically an unobstructed view of fish all through dinner.  And as Figment and I were in charge of the midget, he actually behaved himself AND ate his dinner.  Will wonders never cease.  After that dinner, we were really ready to head on back to the hotel.  We’d missed the lights/fireworks show because it happened while we were at dinner, and we knew we needed to go ahead and start packing and getting ready to leave the next morning, so we just hopped the bus and went back.

Figment and I went directly to the hot tub.  We did not pass go or collect $200.  We were so damn tired and sore from all the walking that we couldn’t even think of doing anything else but plunking our butts into steaming water with a glorious adult beverage in hand.  In all, it was the best most tiring vacation ever and I cannot wait to do it all over again.

Spaceship Earth - Our last view of Disney

Disney Insanecation – Day 4

EPCOT!  Oh man.  I had so many great memories of Epcot, and so many things I wanted to do.  The fam got up and left a little early because the brother wanted to go to Test Track.  Figment and I weren’t that interested in that, and I thought I would die if I had to wake up at 5:30 again, so we snoozed just a little late and met them at the Land pavilion for breakfast.  I had a chocolate croissant.  It was glorious.  (I love chocolate croissants more than most any other pastry item in the entire world.)  After that, we went on Living with the Land and I got some excellent ideas for our garden.  (I so want a tomato tree!)

After living with the land, we headed over to Soarin’ which was brilliant.  We were in the first row (thank you Fast Passes!) which concerned me a little bit because I don’t generally do well in the first row of anything, my eyes are just too bad.  But it was amazing.  I didn’t realize how high up they take you when you get off the ground.  I totally would have done it again, but they were already out of fast passes, and it was still early!  After Soarin’ we headed over to the Seas with Nemo and Friends.  Now, Nemo had nothing to do with the seas when I was a kid, it was just the Living Seas, but the exhibits have totally gotten better.  We rode the ride and then wandered around the aquarium bit for a while.  I know a good aquarium when I see one (hello Aquarium of the Americas, I miss you!), and this one was pretty good.  When we got there, there was a guy feeding the cuttlefish.  Those little things are speedy!  If you blinked, you’d have missed it.

Then we split up.  The brother, sister, and nephew all went off to play at Innoventions for a while and were going to go back to the hotel for the afternoon pool party.  The mom, dad, Figment, and I went across to Mission: Space which I was really excited for.  I’d heard great things about it, and let me tell you they were not wrong.  Mom and dad went on the green, while Figment and I went on the orange.  I admit, I got a little nervous while waiting for my turn after listening to the instructions, but I shouldn’t have been.  It was one of my favorite things I did at Disney.  During one bit, I had to push the button and I could barely lift my own arm!

After Mission: Space, we headed over to Spaceship Earth (AKA the giant golf ball), which was one of my can’t miss things.  It was both just how I remembered and completely different.  The little computerized stuff they added to the cars was fantastic, and I loved every minute of it.  Then we headed over to Ellen’s Energy Adventure.  I have to say, I was disappointed.  I don’t remember it having been a 45 minute thing when I was a kid.  Really, what I remembered was the riding part and the dinosaurs.  If I got the chance to do it all over again, I’d have skipped it.  Thankfully, there was a pineapple popsicle before we got there.  After that, it was time to head to the World Showcase!

First stop, Norway where we got fast passes for Maelstrom then headed back to Mexico to do the Gran Fiesta Tour.  The Mexico pavilion hasn’t changed much since I was a kid.  Then it was time for food.  Oh my cake, the tacos.  I shared the chicken tacos and churros with Figment and they were amazing, probably some of the best tacos I’ve ever had.  Absolutely delicious.  Then it was time for our fast passes, so we headed back to Maelstrom.

Maelstrom was always my Mom’s favorite part of Epcot, and I knew I couldn’t skip it.  What I did do was skip the damn film at the end.  I always hated sitting through the movie when I knew there was so much other stuff to see, and now that I’m an adult I finally got to sneak out the other side without having to sit through it.  After that, we just kind of meandered, it was nice to just wander through instead of race.  We took our time looking at the various country specific shops, especially the Christmas ornament store in Germany.  I kind of wanted to purchase a pickle ornament, but I knew I’d break the damn thing before I got  it home.  Because that’s how I roll.

We stopped at a cart outside the Italy pavilion for gelato.  Now, I know absolutely nothing about gelato, but it was delicious anyway.  I had a combo of strawberry and lemon.  It was just the thing for the hottest day thus far.  At this point, I was a sweaty, sweaty person.  Let’s just say I was really thankful for my deodorant.  While we hung out with our gelato, we wandered into the mask shop and then watched the mime who was a trip.  Then we made it to Japan.  I was excited to see the woman who makes the candy animals right out front of the shop, but she wasn’t there yet so we went inside and wandered around for a bit.

We saw the place where you pick your own pearl and both mom and me decided to get one.  She let dad pick hers out, she wanted earrings, so he picked two.  And then Figment and I managed to pick the same clam without even having to talk about it.  It turned out that mom got two different colored pearls, a gray one and a white one, but I ended up with a white one so we traded.  She got her earrings and I ended up with a glorious necklace that I now wear every day.  And it has a great story attached to it!  At this point, the candy lady was there so we went out to check out what she was doing before we headed over to catch the monorail to Magic Kingdom for dinner at the Crystal Palace with Pooh and friends.

I took this picture as she was finishing up.  The green thing (which she hadn’t finished painting yet) was a dragon that Figment had requested.  The upside down one below it is a lion.  She literally takes blobs of plain white sugar candy that’s been warmed enough to be malleable and shapes it with her bare hands and scissors.  It’s absolutely amazing watching her create something out of nothing.  After she finished the dragon, it was time to head out.

As we were headed to the monorail, the brother and sister in law called us.  Apparently they screwed up and our reservation was for 30 minutes sooner than they had told us it was.  We were likely going to be late as we were all the way on the opposite end of the park from the monorail at that point.  We speed walked past the remaining countries and headed to the monorail.  I forgot that between Epcot and Magic Kingdom you have to switch trains at the transportation and ticket center.  We were going to be just barely on time.  Until the monorail fail.  I swear it was like riding the metro at home.  We made it to the Contemporary, and then we had to stop.  Something about adding another train to the line and/or safety checks.  It took FOREVER and we were late.  But it didn’t matter too much, we just chilled out on the porch at the Crystal Palace until they called us.

The buffet wasn’t really anything to write home about (except the dessert), but it was good food anyway.  And the nephew absolutely loved seeing Tigger, Piglet, Pooh, and Eeyore, which made the whole thing worth it.  We were inside while the parade was going on outside, so we missed that.  Then Figment and I decided to go ride Pirates again while we waited for the fireworks to start.  We rode Pirates not once but twice, bringing the total up to 4 Pirate trips in 4 days.  As it was the release date for the new Pirates movie, they had changed Davey Jones in the mist at the beginning to Blackbeard.  Everything else was the same.

Afterwards we watched the fireworks, well half of them.  We didn’t really think it through well enough, because we tried to see them from the top of Swiss Family Treehouse, but there were too many branches.  So we ended up over by the Hall of Presidents where we caught the end.  Regardless of how much we missed, it was still great.  (It turns out we didn’t make the worst choice, the rest of the family ended up seeing them from the people mover!) And since it was a Magic Hour day, after the fireworks were through, the fun continued where we met up with the rest of the family at the Tomorrowland Speedway.  I was kind of excited, I was finally old/tall enough to drive my own freaking car!  Unfortunately, I got what was probably the slowest car on the track, but it was still fun.  The brother in law got in trouble for running into dad.  He said some guy just appeared out of the bushes and started yelling!

After that, we had time for one more thing, so we decided to go to Monsters Inc again.  Figment and I had already been, but no one else had.  This time, mom got picked out of the audience.  I have to say, it was absolutely hilarious and the nephew was giggling madly at grandma.  I don’t think she’ll ever live it down, and the number 57 will never be the same again.  Then we were all exhausted and ready to go home, so we headed back to the hotel for rest and relaxation before the final Disney day.

 

View of the Magic Kingdom from Swiss Family Treehouse

Disney Insanecation – Day 3 – Kingdom of Magic

We all got up far too early again, but I had had a much better sleep the night before so it didn’t really bother me as much.  We all ate just whatever was lying around for breakfast and headed out the door.  I was excited because today was Magic Kingdom day!  When I was last at Disney, the only parks we did (I don’t even know if the other two even existed yet) were Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  So I was ready for a return to my childhood.  I couldn’t wait to ride Pirates and the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain!  I was even excited to see the Hall of Presidents, even though when I was little it bored me to death and all I really remember was having to stand up and listen to a bunch of boring stuff.

We all boarded the bus and headed off.  It was still a pretty nice day ahead, not too hot and not too humid (especially for Florida weather).  When we pulled up to Magic Kingdom, so much came rushing back to me.  I must admit, I cried a little throughout the day.  It brought back so many good memories of being there with my parents that it was kind of difficult to move on.  Although, I’m not the only one who was having an issue.

The day before, my MIL walked the entirety of the day under her own steam.  Now, for anyone else this wouldn’t be a problem, but she has rheumatoid arthritis and so today she was paying for the day before.  She kept up her brave face, but the family didn’t want to see her suffer so they made her get in one of the motorized wheelchairs.  She was not best pleased.  Figment kept poking at her about it (he never does know when to leave well enough alone) and I told him to just shut up and let her be, she’d get used to it and be fine (which she did and she was).  We all knew she’d be happier and be able to enjoy it more if she didn’t have to worry about being in pain all the time.   We were right.

After that mess, Figment and the brother and father and I headed off to hit Space Mountain before it got too crowded while the nephew, mom, and sister went off to Fantasyland.  Space Mountain was my first real roller coaster and was one of my dad’s favorite parts of Disney.  As we had gotten there not too long after the park had opened, we were in luck and the line was minimal.  I must admit, I don’t remember it being so jerky, but that’s probably because it was my very first roller coaster and I didn’t know any better and because I had been on Rock & Roll just the day before and it was such a smooth ride.  In any case, it was just as I remembered it was.

Next we all wandered off to Frontierland to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain.  And the HAUNTED MANSION!  I was so excited.  When my parents and I would go to Disney, we’d spend an entire week doing just the two parks, so there was a lot of meandering and doing things slowly.  My dad didn’t come out with us every day, he was a barfly back then so he’d spend quite a bit of time napping or hanging out in the bar on the top floor of the Contemporary Resort.  The Haunted Mansion and Pirates were one of the few things I really remember us doing all together as a family.  (Except Epcot.  My dad ALWAYS went to Epcot.)  And it was just as I remembered, only better obviously because clearly technology has gotten better.

Then we took the nephew on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad since he hadn’t done it the first time and then had lunch.  I was totally in the mood for chicken nuggets, and I have to say Disney does an excellent nugget.  Actual chicken!  After lunch we headed over to Adventureland for the Jungle Cruise.  Then there was the disaster where we went to ride Pirates (which was one of the few things on my own personal MUST DO list).  All I have to say is at least he didn’t do any screaming or carrying on, but it was a disaster none the less.

Then we got on the train that runs around the park.  Figment and I got off at Main Street while the rest of the fam went back around because Mom’s chair couldn’t make the journey on the train and they wanted to take the nephew to Tom Sawyer’s Island.  Figment and I went off and saw Buzz Lightyear (where the FastPass guy gave us the only bad experience of the entire trip), Stitch’s Great Escape, the People Mover, the Carousel of Progress (which for some reason I confused with Spaceship Earth), and the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.  Monsters Inc. wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen at Disney.  It was absolutely hilarious and I have no idea how they do it but I completely recommend it.

After we had done all that, we met back up at the front of Magic Kingdom because it was time to go to dinner.  So we went and got on the boat to take us to Wilderness Lodge to the Whispering Canyon Cafe.  At this point, we were all hungry and tired so dinner was looking great to us anywhere, but Wilderness Lodge was absolutely gorgeous and the food was delicious.  I had a mango smoothie and the trout and a fruit plate for dessert.  The men all had the all you can eat meat plate.

Now, if you’ve never been to Whispering Canyon Cafe, you wouldn’t know that the name is completely bogus.  There is no whispering there.  The waitresses are all crazy funny, and when the brother asked for more tea, the waitress brought him out a mason jar the size of his head full of tea.  She told him if he finished that one he could have more.  And god forbid you should ask for ketchup.  Oh man.  We had just sat down when all the sudden we hear from a table at the back “WEEEE NEEEEEDDDD KETCHUPPPPPPP!”  Apparently, if you ask for ketchup, you get it but you have to yell for it.  And people all over the restaurant bring you theirs.  Literally.  So you end up with 10-15 bottles of ketchup on your table until it’s time for the next person to need ketchup then you have to take all your bottles to their table.  Figment tried to swipe one off another table in order to not do this, but our waitress caught him.  It was hilarious.

After dinner, we got back on the boat.  Figment and I decided we wanted to go back to Magic Kingdom and do some more things, like I really wanted to go to the Presidents and hadn’t gotten there yet (and I didn’t know if we’d have time to go back later).  Everyone else headed back to the hotel.  We ended up doing basically everything that was left to do in the Magic Kingdom.

We started off at Presidents which had become amazingly impressive compared to what was there in the 80s.  I mean, you can’t go wrong if your show is narrated by Morgan Freeman.  When it first started it was a movie and all I could think of was, “Where in blazes are the animatronic presidents!?”  Well, soon my question was answered in true Disney fashion.  The curtain went up and there was Lincoln.  Now, when I was little they just kind of stood there.  Now?  They stand up and sit back down and are so realistic it’s scary.  And then at the end, the entire screen goes up and there they all are, including Barack Obama!

I found it all very exciting.  Morgan Freeman’s God voice introduced all the presidents in order, and shone a light on each of them as they were named.  Barack Obama was so realistic that his gaze followed the introduced presidents and even had shifts in his body weight.  I was really blown away.  It was so much more than I ever expected!

At this point we went back outside and I wanted to go through Cinderella’s castle, but they had it all blocked off.  I was annoyed until I found it it was for the fireworks show!  Since it was already pretty late, we decided to just go ahead and stay for the fireworks as I couldn’t remember them anyway.  In the meantime, we rode Winnie the Pooh, where Figment realized that’s where I got the words heffalumps and woozles from.  (It’s what we call the cats.)  And then we visited the carousel, even though we didn’t ride it, and avoided It’s a Small World like the plague.   (I rode it as a child, and the song is still stuck in my head.)And since we still had a little more time to kill we went and watched Mickey’s PhilharMagic.  It was amazing, and I’m not a fan of 3D.  (Mostly because my eyes don’t work well with the glasses so I have to perch them on the very end of my nose in order to see everything.)  It was AMAZING.  They pipe in smells and you get spritzed with water and puffs of air.  I was glad we randomly wandered in.  Then we walked as quickly as possible to the front gates to watch the fireworks.

Now, I love fireworks, but I hate crowds and getting stuck in traffic.  (I love fireworks so much that I’ll brave both frigid and sweltering temperatures to get a good view.)  So we decided that since you can see the fireworks from anywhere in the entire park that we would see them from the front so we could exit fast quick and in a hurry afterwords.  It was GLORIOUS!  Unfortunately, I suck at nighttime pictures.  I’m too shaky to make anything not blurry, but I try anyway and amazingly enough I got a few decent ones.  I have to admit, I cried a little during the show.  Huge displays have a way of doing that to me, and it had been a rough day emotionally but oh so worth it.

On Loving Yourself

This time last year, I was about 40 pounds heavier than I am now.  I didn’t really think about the weight gain much at the time, I just bought larger clothes and went on with my life.  I had been really stressed out, my life had been falling apart, and it just didn’t matter.  Then, last August, I went to a friend’s wedding in New Jersey.  We were within a stone’s throw of New York City and I’d never been so we went up a day early so we could spend some time in the city.

I learned that NYC is a glorious place.  I loved the 12 hours I spent there seeing the sights and eating the pizza.  Oh man, the pizza.  We did the whole Empire State experience and went to Grand Central Station and saw the Chrysler building (one of my favorites) and had lunch at a cafe table in Bryant Park.  But when I got home and looked at the pictures, I couldn’t really believe what I was seeing.  I didn’t feel beautiful or even attractive.  I was kind of appalled and decided then and there it was time to get up off my butt and do something, anything.

So I started reading blogs.  Lots of blogs.  Fitness blogs were my new crack.  I bought a bicycle, which I am still afraid of falling off of, and nearly died the first time I had to come up the hill by my house.  I started couch to 5k, which was really hard and I STILL haven’t mastered the art of running.  (I was a pack a day smoker for 10 years, my lungs still don’t like me much.)  I got shin splints, I pulled things, I hurt myself a lot.  I made “friends” with Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper.

But most of all, I lived and died by the numbers; calories in, calories out, measurements, weight.  I bought a heart rate monitor to better understand how my workouts were going.  I was living on very little more than 1200 calories a day, I knew I couldn’t do any less, and it was working for me.  I was regularly losing a pound or so a week.  I really believed that Kate Moss was right, that nothing tasted as good as thin felt.  I was working damn hard, and I was seeing results.

The problem was, I was obsessed with my scale.  I had a goal people, and I was going to reach it come hell or high water.  No matter what it took, I was going to be what I thought of as the perfect weight.  And then, out of nowhere one day, I hit it.  I saw that number I had been looking for on the scale and I rejoiced.  I bought new, thin clothes.  I had done what I set out to do, but was my life really any better for it?  Was I happier now that I had reached my ideal?

The answer kind of shocked me, although really it shouldn’t have.  I didn’t.  Yes, I felt stronger and healthier now, but not because of some number.  I realized this very recently, this week in fact.  You see, even though I hit that number, when I started eating what would be a normal amount of food for a person who doesn’t sleep all day, I started gaining it back.  In fact, I gained about five pounds of it back.  But you know what, I don’t really mind.

What I’ve realized is that what I thought of as my “ideal weight” isn’t necessarily my “happy weight”.  I realized that I like food, in all it’s forms, and that one donut isn’t going to kill me.  Numbers are still important to me, I still basically keep track of what I’m eating on any given day, but if I go over by a few, it doesn’t matter that much.  All my “thin clothes” still fit, even with my 5 extra pounds.  I still feel like I look great, and I still feel strong.

What I learned from this was the things I knew intellectually really were true.  I don’t need six pack abs to be happy.  I don’t need to be a size zero or a size two.  Hell, I don’t even need to be a single digit size.  What I need is to love myself more.  To allow myself to make mistakes.  I’m not perfect, and I never claimed to be, but I no longer feel the need to hold myself to a standard that’s unattainable.  Yeah, I have lumps and bumps.  I have cellulite.  Some days I feel creaky and old and crotchety.  (Okay, if you know me, you know I feel crotchety most days.)

I don’t even manage to work out everyday anymore, but that’s okay too.  I may have dropped several dress sizes (or the entire weight of my dog) but the most important thing I dropped is my self loathing.  And I may have gained a few pounds, but I also gained perspective.  Thanks to the journey I brought myself on, I learned to love my body, cellulite and all.  And that feeling is way better than feeling thin.

Disney Insanecation-Day 2

I awoke the first actual morning of Insanecation 2011 exhausted.  I’d had an absolutely crap night’s sleep and felt like a zombie.  It was a glorious morning, in the low 60s with a slight breeze and very little humidity.  The first stop of the morning was going to be Animal Kingdom for breakfast with Donald.  I was pretty excited about this, because even though this was my fifth trip to Disney, it would be my first trip to Animal Kingdom as it had been built a few years after the last time I had been.

After waiting what seemed like forever for the bus to show up, we finally made it to Animal Kingdom.  My first thought was for coffee, and then for waffles.  I mean really, how can you visit Disney for breakfast and not have a Mickey waffle!?  Breakfast was carbolicious, and the nephew got autographs from Mickey, Miney, Donald, and Daisy.  Then we were headed out, and one of the guys gave us the tip of the day – head out the side door so that when they drop the rope you’re a stone’s throw away from the Kilimanjaro Safari and since it was early, all the animals would be out.

We ended up being on the first truck out for the safari.  I was expecting at least fences or some other thing that would keep the animals out of the road and away from the tourists, but that was totally not the case.  All the animals (except the elephants) wandered wherever they liked and we even saw the lion and his mate just hanging out atop a rock right off the road.  Had they really wanted to, they could have come down and eaten us, but I think they probably get pretty regular feedings in order to prevent just such a thing.

Then, some genius in our party decided that Kali River Rapids would be an excellent idea.  I don’t remember who it was, but whoever you are, I call shenanigans.  I got completely drenched at 10 in the morning.  It wasn’t even hot yet, and I wasn’t actually wearing the right clothes to be drenched in.  Jean shorts are extremely uncomfortable wet.  Thankfully, I had planned better than the MIL, as she had both done her hair AND worn a white t-shirt.  None of us were particularly pleased as the signs tell you there’s a possibility of spray, not that you may end up taking a bath in your clothes!

After this debacle, we headed towards Expedition Everest.  On the way there, we passed this woman who was like nothing I had ever seen in my life.  She was not only completely clothed in leaves, but she was walking on stilts and had what were basically long crutches.  She didn’t walk, she kind of flew.  When she stopped at this pole and turned her face away from the crowd, there was no way you could tell there was a person in there.  It was amazing.

Now let me tell you, I didn’t ride my first roller coaster until my senior year of high school.  Yep, I was a COMPLETE scaredy cat.  But since then, I’ve gotten a lot better.  We got to Expedition Everest and were going to get in line, but two random guys offered us their fast passes, so Figment and I went and BIL and FIL got in line.  (BIL isn’t really good at roller coasters, I’m not sure what he was thinking.)  According to our bus driver, there was a giant Yeti that used to swing his arm at the cars on the way by, but after a few years the steel had actually started to warp and they had to shut him down because he was getting too close to the passengers.  Everest wasn’t at all bad as roller coasters go, even though there was some backwards action, which really isn’t my favorite thing.

We wandered Animal Kingdom for a little while longer because the nephew wanted to go to The Boneyard to excavate dino bones.  Figment and I take responsibility for this, for his birthday two years ago we bought him an excavate your own dino kit.  It apparently made a giant mess, but he LOVED it.  We hung out around there for awhile and then went for lunch, which was pretty good, then headed for Hollywood Studios (another new to me park).

We got to Hollywood Studios, where my camera died later on, and meandered towards something that the SIL wanted to do with the nephew.  It was way below our age group and didn’t seem interesting, so Figment and I got some ice cream and headed to the shade to chill while we waited.  Yep, I did get a chocolate covered Mickey on a stick.  It was just like I remembered and was really very refreshing.  Figment had a popsicle that he lost half of, but we rinsed it off with some of our water.  After everyone was finished, we went on the Great Movie Ride which was a nice change of pace from all the walking and was pretty cool (in more ways than one!).  Then Figment, BIL, and I headed over to get fast passes for the Rock & Roll Roller Coaster and to get in line for Tower of Terror.  I’m not quite sure how I let him talk me into that one.  I hate free fall, and honestly I kept my eyes closed the entire time.  When we got on, I accidentally overtightened my seatbelt and it was really uncomfortable, but once we started “falling” I was kind of happy I did.  (Another bus driver tidbit, you don’t actually fall, you’re pulled up and down by various cables.  It made me feel slightly better about it, but not enough to do it again.)

And holy balls, Rock & Roll Roller Coaster.  We got in line and I was fine until we got to the front and saw one take off.  I immediately started getting cold feet.  I was SO not interested in dying!  According to the book that someone had brought, the cars go from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds.  It ended up not being so bad, it was actually the smoothest roller coaster I had ever been on, and I totally would have done it again, only we never actually got the time to do so.

Then everyone headed off to Toy Story Mania which had an 80 minute wait, so Figment and I went off exploring on our own.  (What can I say, we’re impatient!)  We wandered around and checked things out and then had a moment of “hey, what’s over here?”  Then another moment of “wait, this looks like Star Wars”.

And it WAS Star Wars!  I had NO idea that Lucas had partnered with Disney to create a ride there.  We got fast passes, and were going to come back, but the line seemed to be moving pretty quickly so we just got in line where we randomly met (by sharing hiccup cures) two people in line behind us who actually work at Disney.  (The pay isn’t great, but the benefits are amazing.)  They told us that there are 57 different versions of this ONE ride.  The lead up in line was awesome.  If it’s one thing Disney knows, it’s attention to detail and entertaining people while they’re in line.  We got to the ride, strapped in (even the “pre-flight” video was hilarious, with stuffed ewoks and people in Yoda backpacks), and then proceeded into what would be one of my FAVORITE parts of the whole Disney experience.  Even though it was 3D, which for some reason doesn’t get along with my crappy vision, it was amazing.  I highly recommend it to EVERYONE IN THE WORLD, well except 5 year olds apparently.

We exited and the fam was waiting for us and even the 5 year old wanted to go, so we gave them our fast passes and they went in while Figment and I stood outside and watched the show.  They choose kids from the audience to “train” to become Jedi.  They even fight Vader at the end!  It was adorable, until they came back out.  Apparently, the 5 year old spent the ENTIRE time screaming.  This is the same kid that rides scary roller coasters at home all the time, things I’m not even sure I’d want to do.  (This is a theme that would continue throughout the vacation.  Don’t even get me started on all that mess.)  Then we all decided we were hot and tired and ready to go.  So back to the hotel we headed for dinner and hot tubbing.

Stay tuned for the next installment!