Saturday, August 14, 2021

Married - Greencastle, Indiana

I am a married woman! Geoff and I got married in November 2020. We had a very small wedding due to the pandemic. It was located in our town of Greencastle, Indiana. My niece, Emma, was my maid of honor and Geoff's son, Luke, was his best man. Geoff's daughter, Megan, was the flower girl. It was beautiful. Today is our nine month wedding anniversary. No baby. But that's another story. 

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Graduated from law school - Montgomery, Alabama

I graduated from law school! In May of 2020, I finished the course work, but because of the pandemic, graduation was not held until August. Mom and Dad drove to Alabama from Indiana for the festivities. My brother, Brian, and his wife, Millisa, drove up from Tampa, Florida. Brian acted as my "hooder" which is the person who puts your hood (like a backwards necklace/scarf thing) on you.

Mom and Dad and I stayed in the hotel connected to where the graduation was held, the Renaissance at the Montgomery Performing Arts Center. Mom and Dad watched the live stream on the computer in the hotel room to minimize their exposure. Then they met us downstairs after the ceremony.

After we got some photos, we took a look around downtown Montgomery. We went to eat lunch at Mellow Mushroom. I had a well earned drink. 

After Mellow Mushroom, we went to the Hank Williams museum. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the museum, but it contains the car he was riding in when he died back in the 1950s. They had some of his old outfits and it was really striking how petite he was. I did manage to get one photo in the gift shop and one outside the museum. 

Then we stopped at the Hank Williams statue. 
Then moved on to the Riverfront.
There was a boat down there that would go out but it was closed due to the pandemic so there wasn't anything to do there. The next day, we started the drive back to Indiana. Using the website, we stopped at a place with a giant chicken outside. However, after getting gas and using the bathroom, we left because chicken was all they served which didn't suit this vegetarian. 
We didn't get our diplomas that day, but they came in the mail. I graduated with two degrees. A JD and an LLM in Dispute Resolution. I was so eager to get two degrees for the price of one! 

After I got home, there was no time for me to rest, though, because I still had to take the bar. It had been postponed because of the pandemic and software issues, so I had to take it on the 4th of August. I had graduated, studied hard, even during the drive, and had to try and give it my all. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

New Orleans

Last weekend I drove from my temporary home in Montgomery, Alabama to New Orleans, Louisiana. It took about 4.5 hours. I rented a car because I wanted to keep the miles off my car (which has many). I got the car from Thrifty via I usually rent from Enterprise via Costco Travel, but I left it too late and there was nothing available from Enterprise. I had to pick up my car at Montgomery airport. Luckily, my former roommate gave me a ride. He also watched Chewy for me.

First stop - Mississippi
I stopped at a rest area in Mississippi and found this notice about the color of the toilet water:
Well, that's good to know. That's about all I experienced in Mississippi.

Parking - I parked at Canal Place across the street from the casino, Harrah's New Orleans.
It seemed to be a fair price and in an easy to locate place. It was about thirty dollars for the day and right when you exit the parking garage, there is a tour bus stop selling tickets. There are also lots of crowds, so I asked for directions to Bourbon Street.

Next up Bourbon Street - I walked about eight crowded, side street, blocks until I came upon Bourbon Street. There were police standing at road signs that blocked off the street. I had no idea

where to start, so I just turned to the right and moseyed on down the way. It was just as I had seen in pictures, with so many lights, bar after bar, and people walking down the street with drinks. There were people standing on balconies at bars looking at the people below. Music emanated from the bars to the streets. At first it seemed exciting, then it started to take a turn. I had a person in drag come up to me to take a picture with me and ask me for money for a "sex change operation." I quickly realized since I was a woman alone, I was definitely seen as an easy target. I went into a shop to buy my obligatory souvenir magnet and the surly shop owner saw my measly purchase and insisted that I had to pay cash. No problem, I said. Thank goodness, for once in my life I had cash on me. This shop owner just seemed like he hated every one that walked into his shop. Then I decided to stop in a bar and actually sit down and listen to some authentic Zydeco music, which was recommended to me by someone in the chiropractor's office. I had never heard of it before, so when I saw a sign for it, I stopped in. The bouncer let me know in no uncertain terms that there was a one drink minimum and I needed to buy a drink to have a seat. No problem, I said. I went to the bar to order a drink and just ordered what seemed to be their signature drink. The bartenders were wearing ear plugs and did not
look happy to be there. I felt like I was in the episode of Seinfeld with the "Soup Nazi" where I had to quickly and confidently place my order and pay immediately. Once I got my drink, I found a seat in the front row of a quite small room with a band playing in the front. There were a couple of drunk people dancing in front of the band, but everyone else was seated (there wasn't room to do much else). I tried to focus on the music and noticed the looks on the band member's faces. They also didn't seem happy to be there. In fact, it looked like at least one of them hated their life. I know that seems like a strong statement, but that's the impression I got. I was disappointed no one was playing a washboard or something like that. Shortly thereafter, I saw a panhandler playing a plastic washboard with a sticker on it that said, "Music is not a crime."

Pedi cab -
I was growing tired of Bourbon Street, and I saw a bicycle with a seat attached.

I asked if he could give me a ride and he said yeah. It was hard for me to get on the bike b/c the step was a bit high for me, but I crawled on in. (After that, I always got on and off at a curb.) I originally asked for House of Blues because I wanted somewhere I could eat while listening to live music. He suggested Frenchman Street. On the way there, it was a little nippy, but he had a blanket available. He gave me a proper tour telling me all out the galleries vs. balconies (one covers the sidewalk, the other doesn't), Romeo spikes (to prevent people from climbing fences) and how New Orleans has the only confirmed vampire existence. He showed me where Anne Rice used to live. It makes sense now why she would write such stories. This was such a cool experience and worth every penny. It was $1 a block. He gave me his card so that I could call when I needed a ride back to my car.

Frenchman Street - As we rode by, I could hear a band playing at a Mexican restaurant on the corner.

I decided to stop there and ate on the patio while listening to the music. After finishing, I headed down Frenchman Street and came upon some "New Orleans" style music on the sidewalk. The crowd was so large, it was blocking the street!

AirBnB - I stayed at an AirBnB outside of New Orleans. It ended up being farther out than I anticipated, but it was only like $25 a night, so you really can't beat that. There was this sign on one of the bedroom doors. Needless to say, I did not open that door. It was just a place to sleep and served its function, though if I go again, I will probably pay a little more to be closer to New Orleans.

Bus Tour

St. Louis Cemetery #1

73 Distillery
73 Distilling - 301 N. Claiborne Avenue. - We stopped here for a short bathroom break and to sample their fine spirits. I asked which would be appropriate for someone who is a wuss about alcohol and she told me all of the samples were at least 80 proof, so I passed on that. I did, however, purchase a drink at the bar that was recommended for a lightweight such as myself. It was fine, not something I'd get again. Oh, and I paid $2 for a small bag of chips because by this point I was starving. Could've done with a restaurant stop as part of the tour.

Gumbo Festival - Read about it here.
The 2018 Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival took place Saturday, Nov. 17, and Sunday, Nov., 18, from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. both days in Louis Armstrong Park. Admission is free.

I told my tour bus driver that I was going to get dinner and he told me about the Gumbo Festival going on. He even dropped me off there. I was so excited to see that there was not only vegetarian gumbo offered, but also gluten free.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) Britain May 2004

When I was a volunteer in Salford (outside Manchester) in England in 2004, I attended a training by Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) Britain. It was in May of that year and the training was actually held in Ashton under Lyne, which required a long multiple buses ride for me, but it was worth it. This training was 14 years ago, but I do remember some things. One of the activities done was to show how much body language matters in interactions. People set up scenes to show body language that shows violence. My "favorite" is the last one, because although it doesn't show physical violence, the small stature of the boy and the overpowering figure of the man show that it is violent in nature.

One of the ways we "clapped" was to shake our hands in the air. 

We spent at least two days together, possibly two and a half, I'm not sure now. But they were full 8 hour days, so we got to know each other well. Here are some pics from hanging out during breaks and lunch. 

After the course, we went to the pub (of course) 

The main thing I learned in the course was to think the best of people and their intentions. Don't assume they're being deceitful, assume they are telling the truth. Don't assume they want to hurt you, assume they don't. More great life lessons from my time in the United Kingdom. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

I am a Tornado

I am a tornado. In life. In love. In everything. Most of the time I don't want to be a tornado, I want to be a slow, warm breeze that barely caresses your shoulders. Sometimes I try. I tip toe through and try to be very gentle. "See, I'm just like everyone else," I whisper as I panickly look around to see if anyone can tell the truth. I may start off slow and calm, but the tornado always comes. Even then I try to hide it. "I'm fine." "Just a little stress is all." "No, that didn't hurt my feelings." "I most definitely am not crying." "Who says I'm yelling?" "Everything is fine. Everything is under control."  As shards of glass surround me and I wonder how I'll make it back by myself with no shoes and the wind still swirling.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Costa Maya, Mexico

I took a Carnival Cruise out of Mobile, Alabama to Costa Maya, Mexico and Cozumel, Mexico. This post is just about Costa Maya. The first part of the day we spent at Mahahual, which is a village on Costa Maya. We took a taxi there. The taxi rates are set by the government and for this trip it was $8. On the beach of Mahahual, there are several restaurants providing lounge chairs and beachside service. I had read good reviews about Tropicante, so we chose that one. We hadn't booked in advance, but they still accommodated us with lounge chairs. Ours were in the second row from the shore. We ordered Miami Vice drinks and chips and salsa and guacamole and were waited on hand and foot. 

My cousin opted for a massage on the beach. Her sixty minute massage was $30. She loved it and said it was a great value.

We walked up and down the strip and there was shop after shop of souvenirs and trinkets. I have no idea why they are selling items with American football teams on them in Mexico, but there they were. Also, while we were in our lounge chairs, people repeatedly came by selling wares.

One negative about the beach is the amount of seaweed. It was really overpowering. They try and keep it under control, but it is difficult.

We also saw dogs walking around that were pets of the shop owners, but they did not seem well kept. My cousin wanted to take one of the chihuahuas home with her, but that would've been hard to get through customs!

My iPhone battery died after doing Facebook Live videos so I was asking if there was a place I could buy a charger. One of the men laughed and said, "We are poor Mexicans, we can't afford iPhones!" For the record, my iPhone is a 5 I bought off my friend!

The last part of the day we spent in the port. There are lot of shops and a large pool with a swim up bar and restaurant. I decided to try out the swim up bar. I had always wanted to try one, so I grabbed my generic go pro in a waterproof case and went for it. The Miami Vice I got there was a whopping $14. You can see the phallic looking cup it came in. There was a rousing game of Marco Polo going on in the pool. The bartender asked me what they were saying and then joined in the yelling! From the pool you could see the cruise ship

While I was in the swim up bar, my cousin got a "fish" pedicure here at the port for $20. The fish in a glass enclosure bit off the dead skin on her feet. She said it tickled.

Now can we go back to the first picture of me in the Caribbean Sea? I wore a bikini top and gave zero f*%ks. There was a time in my life I would not change socks in front of someone. For real. And now I'm just in a bikini like no big deal? Well, alright then!