Recent Journeys

Two weeks ago (good grief, how does time go so quickly?!), I was on vacation. I needed it. Spring has been sluggish for me. I’ve had a hard time getting a rhythm going so I looked forward to a change of scenery for a week to just give myself a chance to re-set.

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Seriously, he’s adorable and never stops moving (nor has he learned where a camera is yet LOL)

I started out my week with family. My nephew is already getting ridiculously big and has the best smile. I even successfully stayed alone with him while his parents had some pool time. Yes, he was mostly asleep for that time but small victories people. I am not a baby person. We also went and frolicked at IKEA for an afternoon – I do enjoy a good walk through IKEA even if the crowds are ridiculous.

I then went off to Walt Disney World for a few days. This was big for me as it was my first official solo trip in which I was on my own for the entire time. I kind of adored it. I didn’t have to worry about anyone’s whims but mine. I could go on attractions I hadn’t been on in forever or wait in lines for those that I enjoy but the others could care less about. I could decide to watch the parade or the night shows or go do something else while those went off. I didn’t have much of a plan. Which for Disney these days means I knew exactly what parks I would be in, what attractions I would be riding, what shows I would watch when and where I was eating at all times. But I didn’t know what I was doing in between my plans and that was delightful.

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The food in Pandora is pretty (and tasty too!)

I will note I got to see all the new things at WDW and I enjoyed them all. I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about Animal Kingdom’s newest land, Pandora, since I got back (I managed to avoid most spoilers before my visit) and I have to say, I agree at times and other times I wonder if I visited a different place LOL as those bloggers and podcasters. Pandora is small but that’s the point. Disney Imagineering is trying to create a very personal, intimate experience with Pandora and I think they mostly succeed. There are kinks to work out but there always are with new attractions. Pandora is gorgeous; easily one of the loveliest things I’ve seen come out of Imagineering in my lifetime. It is different from day to night in a way we haven’t seen in the parks before. Both the official attractions are gorgeous; one worth the wait and one not in my opinion but that is usually the way of it right? For me, Flight of Passage was incredible. I think next time I ride Soarin’, I’ll feel like I’m on an antique. It was grandiose and yet so much…my experience. I rode a Banshee; there were other people in the room at the time but I couldn’t have told you they were there. I flew; I felt that animal breathing underneath me. I don’t know how they did that but I adored every minute of it and would happily wait for it a couple times next trip to do it again. The other ride? Has an audio animatronic to die for. It’s beautiful in every sense of the word. It’s also really short. Far too short for the amount of time you wait to board your boat. And also, any bets on how much time passes before that audio animatronic has technical problems? We’re still waiting for the yeti to be fixed…At least Everest has a ride without the yeti. Take away the Shaman from that ride and you just have a really short pretty boat ride.

I critique because I love of course. I always want them to keep moving their ideas forward and keep wowing me. But keeping what they have up and running is important too. Wowing me was certainly on the menu with Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom. That show is incredible. And overwhelming. There was almost too much going on; I didn’t know whether to watch the fireworks or the Castle projections. So, repeat viewing is a must for this show (as is getting your spot at least an hour early; I was used to Wishes where I could stroll up 30 minutes before and get a good spot so this threw me a bit). I missed the narrative of Wishes a lot; HEA is just sort of an compilation of greatest hits and current favorites. I ADORED that Hunchback of Notre Dame got some serious love from this show; a lot of “forgotten” or often overlooked Disney characters poked their heads up in this one and I can only applaud that. The Disney geeks will always want more of that for ourselves and also so we can share those movies with the new generations. Yes, I love Frozen but it was nice, like I said, to see Quasi get his moment center stage too.

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Best part of the reunion was hanging with this crew for the weekend

After I let my inner eight year run rampant, I headed north so my inner 20 year could re-visit undergrad. It was time for my ten year reunion at Gettysburg College. I find it so hard to believe it’s been ten years. In so many ways, I feel am the same kid who lived there for four years and in so many ways, I know I am not. I especially loved getting to room with my Senior year roommates again and just be around friends for a weekend. I am coming up on five years in Tallahassee; the longest I have lived anywhere since finishing undergraduate studies at Gettysburg and I’m feeling that a bit. It’s hard to describe exactly. I enjoy my work a lot; always have and I like Tallahassee but I’m still working on making it home and one of the things I’ve never quite succeeded in doing is finding a solid core group of friends here like I always had at home or in school. It’s different now of course; so much of my age group is married and has young children and doesn’t have time, or make time, for friendship outside of those groups. Which is fine and I understand. It’s just…it would be nice to have some of my oldest friends closer geographically for sure. So, I clearly just need to travel to visit people more. The whole student-loans-take-over-my-bank-account lifestyle will just have to take a hike and I’ll fly around and visit people instead.

So, that is what I have been up to. I need to do a reading round-up here and share a few recent recipes (as well as an experiment with Hello Fresh!) here too. I’m hoping to get back on a schedule on so many things (cooking! reading! exercising! blogging!) so fingers crossed I can. And oh yeah, work travel next week to add a challenge to scheduling should make this interesting per usual.

A weekend of cemeteries

It was actually more cheerful than it sounds for the most part. Work last week went quickly. Having Monday off helped a lot. I scanned for three days and was out at Fullerton again on Friday where I finished the collection I had started the week before so that was good. I also finally got a chance to meet with my supervisor for a bit and got a lot of questions cleared up I had lingering from the appraisal I had tagged along to plus some questions I had about the scanning project I was working on. Friday night I stayed over at Mackenzie’s since we planned on leaving at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning.

Actually, it wasn’t even dawn yet. We left DC at 4:30 AM and arrived in Gettysburg a little before 6 AM. We headed up to Little Round Top to have a view of the battlefields before the sun rose. I have to admit, seeing the misty fields and the sky lighten purply red was beautiful. I lived there for four years and didn’t see it. Funny the things you never get around to doing just because you assume you have all the time in the world to do them in. We continued on down into the park afterwards, watching the sun come up before we had breakfast at LD’s after a brief side trip onto campus to get to the ATM. Campus is a bit torn up at the moment. They’re building the new athletic center but the new child care center they opened last year looks beautiful even if it was weird to see a building where Stone Lot used to be. After breakfast, we walked the National Cemetery all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial Wall at the back with the Gettysburg Address engraved next to a bust of Lincoln. We then drove up to the Peace Light and did a lot of the Auto Tour. We also climbed to the top of Big Round Top – not that you can tell from the pictures – not much a view through all the trees up there.

We stopped at the new Visitor’s Center on the way out of Gettysburg and it is HUGE! I think the new store is bigger than the entire old building. I didn’t like that the old buildings were just sitting there crumbling though – they need to tear them down or find a use for them – they look awful. The new center is beautiful though and huge and fits the needs of the area much better so kudos to the designer. We headed over to Lancaster next and explored Amish Country. We just drove around, picking a few side roads to explore down, to see off the “real” Amish, not the tourist displays. Their farms are simply beautiful – so big and in perfect condition. A lot of farms were bringing in their hay so they had these beautiful Belgian work teams out in the fields. It was different to see work horses actually “working” instead of the hitch classes I loved watching at the state fair. I have a lot of respect for their way of life but I don’t think I’m signing up for it any time soon. I wouldn’t last long anyway. What would they do with a girl who can’t sew or cook to save her life? I might not be such a hopeless case with baking…hmmm….something to think about. Maybe I could do a vacation to Amish Country and stay on a farm for a week. I think that would be enough time for me to miss my computer and air conditioning sufficiently enough.

We made one more stop in PA – Harrisburg. We visited the Capital building which is very ornate and decorated within an inch of its life. It also looked very rich – something tells me Albany would not be this impressive. One of these days I should visit my home state’s capital though…add that to my list. We got back to DC around 6 PM and I had a quiet night after that.

I didn’t start as early the next morning as I had wanted to so it was already blazing when I got to Arlington National Cemetery. Visiting a place with little shade in a Code Red Heat Advisory is a bad idea – I advise against it. I especially advise against climbing hills and stairs to visit graves in this heat. Just some friendly advise. However, I liked seeing the Kennedy graves again – they are beautifully presented on the hill overlooking DC. I then walked up to Arlington House and saw the house (not much there currently) and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers from the Civil War. I started the trek then to the Tomb of the Unknowns. Made it there in time to see the Changing of the Guard which was great – such ceremony to a little thing. Must be the British left in us. I felt bad for those guys though in full outfit under than sun. It must have been 100 by then.

After the Changing, I walked over to the Challenger memorial. I was pleased to see a memorial had been added for the Columbia crew as well. Not a tear shed yet which was impressive as I’d even listened to John Denver’s tribute to the Challenger crew (They Were Flying For Me) before I came (I swear my iPod is psychic – what song does she most not want to hear on the way to Arlington?) which never fails to tear me up on its own. Lastly, I walked up to the mast of the USS Maine, the ship sunk off the coast of Cuba during the Spanish-American War. After that, I had to hike all the way back to the start of the cemetery. At that point, the $15 tour bus looked like money well spent but I stuck it out. Luckily, all of Kathy’s reminders of sun screen and water had been remembered before I left the house so I didn’t melt.

Once back on the Metro, I had some time to kill so I found a bookstore off Metro Center and succeeded in only spending $10 – this is impressive people, look impressed – before I headed over to Chinatown to see Mamma Mia! In not spoiling the movie for anyone, I was pleasantly surprised by the film. They stayed very close to the musical’s original plot – always keeps me happy – and even kept a lot of the fun dances I remember from the stage show. My one gripe is that, I am sorry, but Pierce Brosnan cannot sing. It was painful at times. This is why James Bond does not sing people and he shouldn’t have too. Even Meryl Streep, a woman who I didn’t think had a musical bone in her body, sounded better than him. In fact, I was very surprised by Meryl’s performance. She had me won over by the end (although, I would have staged The Winner Takes It All a bit different but that’s just me). Other than that, it gets three stars from me.

This week is looking fairly standard. I have another report due on Friday so I need to come up with a topic for it here soon. I also am hoping to go see The Phillips Collection on Thursday night and then I think my museum/gallery list is complete – I may have a few stragglers to finish up. I’m actually not down here for much longer which is blowing my mind – I’m not quite sure where the summer went to be honest. However, I have a full couple of weeks left so I’m making the most of it.

Grad School is not conducive to blogging…

So, if you haven’t figured out by now, graduate school isn’t exactly a walk in the park for me. Obviously if nothing else it is time consuming. Besides eating and sleeping, I spend my time reading, doing homework or procrastinating (an exhausting activity in itself I’ll have you know).

Apparently there is something called “impostor syndrome” in which you feel completely inadequate and like you do not belong in grad school. I am suffering from this and apparently it’s not going away. However, I maintain my class schedule is designed to make me feel like an idiot…

I am an archives and records management major people. I do not need to know nor use algorithms to create encryption codes. I will promise to never attempt to….ever. The thing that irks me about this class is it’s whole goal is to make us be able to discuss technical issues with IT people. Personally, this is not the most helpful skill to me and my future career plans. I would think learning basic web design would be more useful. Understanding how to utilize the tools of the Internet for public relations and to better serve researchers and the like. A class like that seems to be more useful to me that being able to simply converse on libraries and APIs and the like. However, I think I may just be frustrated and bitter at the moment.

However, I am approaching the point of the semester where I get to design my schedule for next semester. There is a class on the History of Books. I think it might be a gift just for me. My interest is more along the lines of rare books anyway so I’m going to cross my fingers I get into that class(I am the girl who hugged a first edition copy of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities while I was in England. I think I alarmed the bookstore owner…). It’ll give me something to look forward to anyway!

In other exciting news, it snowed here yesterday morning. Who knew I’d miss Gettysburg’s climate?!