Friday, June 28, 2013

Observations from Walk to Work Week #1

Some background: I live 2.3 miles from my office. Head a couple blocks west and then it's a straight shot south until I literally run into my office building. I've talked for a while about walking to work and now that we're back from vacation and my extracurricular activities (not including partying) have stopped for the summer this seemed like the perfect week to start walking to work. I'm not a super fast walker; it takes me about 50 minutes to commute by foot. Here are some of my random thoughts during the past week, along with lots of sky pictures.

Monday: It's a gorgeous day and very pleasant. In the morning, anyway. After work it's humid and hot. Damn, I forgot a bottle of water. Huge mistake. Please don't sit at the desk for too long. Also, I should make sure to take an umbrella since it's the time of year of pop-up storms. I got lucky Monday with no rain. Probably not a good idea to wear a dress that potentially flies up in a breeze. And word to the wise, use the restroom before leaving the office.

Tuesday: Today I actually need to drive because I have a 5:00 appointment. Probably a good thing because I'm kind of sore and I could see myself bailing on the whole walking thing. But Tuesday provides a good break and by Gwensday I'm ready to go.

Gwensday: OK, today I'm taking a bigger backpack so I can take a change of shoes and my lunch and deodorant. You're welcome, coworkers. This morning's sky isn't quite as nice but it's still not a bad walk.

Walking home, however, the sky looks ominous.

Will I make it home before the deluge?

I did have my trusty umbrella, but I was wearing a maxi skirt so
here's me creating puddles in the hallway at home.

Time to change clothes, go to new next-door neighbors for a happy hour and then to opening night of a new bar that is pretty much a block from our house. Fun, fun, FUN.

Thursday: After last night's good time, I overslept, so I took advantage of what measly public transportation we have and rode the bus most of the way to work. I walked home, and it was damn hot. I took a shower before going to Yahtzee. Home around 12:30. Oof.

Morning sky.

I think of this like I think of Braille at drive-up ATMs. Weird.

I hit a groove in which I crossed seven streets in a row with the walk signal without having to stop. Maybe I should play the lottery.

After work sky

Friday: I managed to get up a little earlier than yesterday. There's possible rain in the forecast for later today and our porch is being painted, so fingers crossed that the weather holds. Took a slight detour this morning to walk by Goodale Park and see the setup of Comfest, which starts today and goes all weekend.

Got to work and changed shoes and freshened up and "did my hair," which consists of letting it down and shaking it out.

Sorry, no makeup today. And holy shit, my hair has lightened a ton. Might need to go with a lighter color for summer.

Of course, I listen to music while walking to and from work. This particular song is one I didn't know until I heard it on SYTYCD last week and now I'm obsessed. If I need to increase my pace, this is one of the songs I bump up on the playlist.

Wings by Little Mix on Grooveshark

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Time to Rant

Here we are, a week before celebrating our country's independence, and there are so many instances of rights-stifling around the country that my head is spinning. Voter rights, women's rights, gay rights. Are you kidding me? This is 2013, correct?

So yeah, this is a soapbox post, but it might be a bit unfocused because frankly I don't know where to start. The good news is that since I started writing this post the Supreme Court shot down DOMA and Prop 8. There's still lots of work to be done, since a majority of states still don't recognize same-sex marriage, but it's a big step.

In Texas, the state Senate attempted to vote on an anti-abortion bill. State Senator Wendy Davis filibustered for 11 hours to ensure that the vote didn't happen. In Texas the filibuster rules are crazy: the filibusterER must stand the entire time and may not sit or lean on anything, much less take a bathroom break, cannot have anything to eat or drink, and he/she must remain on topic. Now let me say that in general I'm not a fan of the filibuster because to me it's a childish attempt to waste time, but it's pretty impressive when someone is so  passionate about an issue that they'll talk about it non-stop for hours on end. And I can't forget to mention a certain other state senator, a sponsor of the bill who on Monday actually said that the rape exemption is unnecessary because "in the emergency room they have what's called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out." I'm not kidding, people. She said that. More than once. And yes, I said "she." It was a WOMAN. For crying out loud, whether you're pro-choice or anti-abortion, get your damn facts straight.

Let's talk about the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It makes me sick that there even needs to BE a voting rights act, but there is. Back in the day there was a lot of racial discrimination in certain states when it came time to vote, like people having to pass a literacy test or have a character reference in order to be allowed to vote. The Voting Rights Act was put in place to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment, which gave non-whites (the men, anyway) the right to vote. Seems crazy to me to have to have an act to enforce a constitutional amendment, but what do I know? Because sure enough certain jurisdictions, mostly in the south, did everything they could to limit or block non-whites from voting.

Enter the Voting Rights Act, which said "no discriminating, assholes," and then went further to say that if your county or state practiced voter discrimination in the past, they couldn't change any voting prerequisites or practices or procedures without approval from a US three-judge panel. The general principles of the act were considered permanent, but parts of it were temporary. In 2006, George W signed a 25-year extension of the act, but then Shelby County in Alabama sued the Attorney General and wanted certain sections of the act declared unconstitutional.

Yesterday the Supreme Court struck down one section of the act. Justice Roberts said that the current system is "based on 40-year old facts having no logical relationship to the present day." I kind of get it, but can we please not pretend that racism is dead and gone? Because it's not. What I think is that the act should be expanded and NO jurisdiction should be able to willy-nilly change their voting practices. Life isn't fair, but the ability to vote damn sure should be.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pride and Baby Shenanigans

Last weekend was Columbus' Pride Festival. We like to call it the beginning of our summer holiday season, because this coming weekend is Comfest (more on that next week) and then of course it's the Fourth of July, and all of these involve festivities within walking distance from our house.

Friday my mom and our nephew James came over for dinner, and by that I mean we took them to Buffalo Wild Wings.

James will be getting his summer haircut soon, so we needed a picture.

Some neighbors landed on our screened porch later and we had a few adult beverages and tried rearranging the porch furniture, but eventually it ended up in the same place it started.

The beer fairy visited our garage!

Saturday we went to two Pride brunches, then to the Pride Parade.

Some of my favorite parade participants included Chipotle, Mikey's Late Night Slice and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America! And
Aaron made friends with a 10-week old puppy named Ernest.

Then Amy and I took off for her niece Courtney's baby shower. (Only for a framily member would I abandon the festivities!) Her friends did a great job; we only had to play three quick games, and I even won one of them (matching socks, which Aaron found pretty ironic).

So much cuteness!

A Beatles onesie from Aunt Amy!

How cool is this gift?!

Mom-to-be Courtney surrounded by her mom Julie, sister Marin, and aunts Boo and Amy

Me, Courtney, Amy

Sunday we sang at church for the choir's last Sunday of the season, then met Aaron's parents for lunch at the Golden Lamb in Lebanon, OH. Yum. Low key evening to get ready for the week ahead, which for me will be Walk to Work Week. It's also my first five-day work week since before Memorial Day.

Linking up with Sami for Weekend Shenanigans.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Y'all, this whole going to work thing is messing with my ability to blog about the trip to Europe. But here is Part One: Berlin. And what's sad is that we were only in Berlin maybe 30 hours, yet it's still impossible to choose which pictures make the cut and now that I've finished this post ... damn, it's long!

(For the preface of just what the hell I was doing in Europe, go here.)

We got to the airport around 6:30 am for our 8:30 flight. We had three flights getting to Newark, and then we were all on the same flight to Berlin. So after arriving in Newark, those of us on the first flight had something like eight hours to kill. See here for some of those activities. We flew overnight and landed in Berlin around 8:30 am local time. We met our tour guides and got on our buses, but we couldn't check in to the hotel until after 2:00 so we did a little sightseeing.

One of the most moving stops was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It simply consists of 2,711 concrete slabs and from the street they appear to be all the same size. But the ground goes up and down so once you start walking around in there, the slabs are way above your head.

We then took a boat tour on the Spree River. Here are some scenes from that (but don't ask me what they are because by this time I was nearly asleep).

We finally made it to our hotel, the Park Inn at Alexanderplatz, but it still wasn't time to check in, so we got some lunch. Cue the food and beer pics.

We knew we had to try the currywurst, and it did not disappoint!

Oh, right, there were beers, too.

NOW we could check in. Aaron and I are those nerds who take pics of our hotel rooms. This room provided us with our best view of the whole trip. It didn't hurt that we were on the 30th floor.

There was a bus tour available but we opted out of that and explored by ourselves. We walked to the Brandenburg Gate, then realized that might have been a bit ambitious, so we took a bike taxi back closer to the hotel, then enjoyed some more beers before dinner.

Aaron at the Brandenburg Gate

Our driver

I spy a cycle tavern

Part of the Diversity Destroyed project

The TV Tower at Alexanderplatz always guided us back to the hotel.

Berliner Dom, TV Tower, Diversity Destroyed display

Pictures I "borrowed" from another choir member (thanks, Mark!)

We had a buffet dinner at the hotel and went straight to bed. Sunday morning we sang for the 10:00 service at the Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom). It's a Lutheran church and for those who don't know, Aaron and I both grew up Lutheran and my dad was a minister. The service was entirely in German, but we recognized some of the liturgy. Even though we were wearing robes and didn't need to dress up, Aaron wanted to wear a tie.

And it happens to be one of my dad's ties.

The dude in the top left corner is Martin Luther. We'll see him again.

After a tour of the cathedral we had time for a small break

and a drink, of course. That's my friend Dan.

Then we stopped at St. Hedwig's for some casual singing.

And we were back on the buses on our way to Dresden.

I hope you enjoyed our brief visit to Berlin. I promise I'll get more posts up soon about the rest of the trip!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Gila Returns

I'm back, bitches! The last 12 days are kind of a blur, not to mention the last 36 hours, in which I got up at 3:15 am in Salzburg and got on a bus to Munich, flew nine hours to Newark where our six hour layover turned into eight hours and we finally got to bed at 12:30 am Columbus time. Oof - that's a lot of numbers, even for me. I'm so happy I took today off, and I've never looked so forward to doing laundry in my life.

I had all these great intentions of scheduling posts for while I was gone, but given my procrastinating nature, that didn't happen, except for my two fabulous guests, Erin and Steph (click on their names to read their posts if you missed them).

I promise that I will recap our trip, with lots of pictures, but obviously that's going to take a while (and I "only" took 566 photos). So for today I give you:

The Top 10 List of Things To Do During a Long-Ass Layover in Newark

10. Drink - Our group was split into three groups on the flights between Columbus and Newark, and we were then on the same flights flying to and from Europe. Aaron and I were in the group which had the longest layover both times, so you know there were some adult beverages consumed.

9. Read - I downloaded several books to read on the trip but truthfully I didn't finish any of them. We were so busy that most times I tried to read I just fell asleep. But I did start this one:

8. Eat - And try not to leave a carry on bag in an airport restaurant. We did get it back, and then promptly left it on the parking lot shuttle bus in Columbus, causing Aaron to drive BACK to the airport at 11:30 last night. And we got it back again. Whew.

7. Shop - I personally did not do this, but a dear friend who shall remain nameless may or may not have bought four bottles of cologne in the duty free shop. In Newark. BEFORE getting to Europe. And number 10 may or may not have contributed to said shopping. (Love you, DFH!)

6. Go into Manhattan - Some of us had talked about doing this, but ultimately decided not to (though given the two hour delay getting back yesterday, I kind of wish we had).

5. Drink more

4. Sleep

I don't know how Kat does this, but you know, she used to be a gymnast. (xoxo, Kat!)

3. Charge devices - Unfortunately, our chargers were packed in our checked bags, so my phone eventually died yesterday, but you should have seen the crowded charging stations in our terminal yesterday, especially because we weren't the only flight delayed.

2. Massage - I took advantage of this on the way to Europe and again, wish I had done it again yesterday. My body is stiff and sore.

And the Number One Thing To Do During a Long-Ass Layover in Newark:

1. Keep Drinking

Back in the USA - 2 Blue Moons and 3 Miller Lights

OK, time to start the laundry, pick up mail at the post office, go to the grocery store and catch up on TV. ;)