I am a lady who loves beer and I can’t keep quiet anymore. At the risk of sounding like a militant woman with a personal vendetta against a single brewery, I must speak up.
A few days ago I saw a blog about a brewery (which shall remain nameless and heretofore known as “Brewery”) touting their Ladies Only brewery tour. While I normally would applaud the inclusion of women in, well…anything, this struck a nerve. A righteous, angry nerve.
Let’s start with this: the ad/flyer for the event is PINK, for crying out loud. As if that’s the only way to get a girl’s attention. “Let’s make it pink! That’s how they will know it’s GIRLZ ONLY NO BOYS ALLOWED.”
When trying to determine what it was about the event that got my hackles SO VERY RAISED OHMYGAWD, I had to brush aside a lot of feminist propaganda that came from my own brain (shut UP, brain). What I was left with was this: separating women from men in order to keep us from feeling intimidated only serves to further marginalize us.
And here’s the other BIG MAIN THING: Brewing and beer is NOT a man’s world. It’s a beer lover’s world. If you want to include women, do things to INCLUDE us. Don’t corral us in order to deliver a specialized, diluted version of your world. Do a ladies night with special discounts (if you must), acknowledge the contribution of women to craft beer, do anything other than what Brewery did. Don’t treat us differently, for heaven’s sake.
It just feels like a step backwards, is all.
I fell in love 12 years ago. With a city, a region. Washington DC is my favorite place ever. And I’ve been to a lot of places.
I’m off to DC again this weekend. Mom and I went at Thanksgiving so it hasn’t even been a year since my last visit. I could go every month and it might not be enough.
Several friends live there so I get to visit and catch up. This trip, I’m staying with a girlfriend in Maryland for the first 2 nights and then I actually got a hotel downtown for the last 2 nights. This will be the first trip (out of, what…7? 8? I’ve lost count.) during which I will actually have FREEDOM. Flexibility to come and go without feeling like I SHOULD be anywhere. This is unprecedented – I don’t know what to do with myself.
It will be great to catch up with my friends whom I haven’t seen in varying lengths of time. From 4 months to 15 years. Should be a really nice weekend.
Since this is far from my first visit, I’m hoping to get off the beaten path a bit. There’s nothing I like more than walking the neighborhoods of the district. Looking at beautiful (and not-so-beautiful) row houses imagining the people that live there. What do they do? Do they like it in DC? Do they appreciate it? I know I would. I don’t know that I’ll be able to keep myself away from the Mall, but I don’t need to cram in every tourist trap monument and museum this time. Though I may still visit Abe since I neglected him on my last trip. He misses me.
For reasons passing understanding, my Number One Very Favorite thing about DC is the Metro. It’s…magical to me. Yeah, yeah, I know it sucks. There are plenty of websites devoted to the sulkiness of WMATA. But to me, Metro is THE BEST PART. I love the way it smells the most. God, that’s weird. But I do. It smells like brake dust and any number of unsavory things. I love the feel of the whoosh of air as a train comes out of the tunnel and into the station. I love the arched ceilings and broken escalators and cranky station managers and dirty benches. I love the orange seats and erratic braking and the blinking lights on the platform as a train approaches. Getting on the Metro at DCA, it is difficult for me to maintain an air of indifference. I try to look weary, exasperated and impatient – as if I belong there. All the while, on the inside, wanting to jump up and down like a giddy schoolgirl. “I’m here! I’m here! OMG this is amazingcakes!” Plus, this time I’ll have a SmartTrip card. No more paper fare card with a Panda on it. I’m a pro now, people. Let’s get serious about this.
I left my heart in DC. So on Friday, I’m gonna go look for it, pay it a visit and then on Tuesday I’ll leave it behind again. Getting on that jet plane to come home makes me want to cry every time. So that part ought to be good times.
1. A girl on roller skates. Like, actual roller skates.
2. A man kneeling at the water’s edge, playing a flute.
3. Two people on a bicycle built for, well…two!
4. Lots of brush piles and much cleaner shorelines.
5. Kayakers and stand-up paddlers. A nice, calm day for both!
6. Very hot and tired-looking runners. No thanks.
7. 653,812 cyclists. I counted.
With the release of the spectacularly underwhelming Google+ (which shall henceforth be referred to as G+), I have struggled to remember that Google has some real bang-up products that make life more wonderful.
GMail has completely taken over the email portion of my heart. I have used GMail for personal email for a number of years, adopting it soon after it launched. Whenever the hell that was. When I got a promotion at work, I was issued a GMail account as my company switched to Google Apps several months earlier.
Now, GMail was fine for personal use. Many of the features were just not that important to me (searching, multiple labels, contacts, etc) since I checked my email and then deleted them, pretty much. Sure, a few labels here and there but they were never more than crudely categorized dumping grounds. The chat function was nice, but not having many friends who also used GMail, it went unused.
People who have some sick attachment to Outlook, et al had a really hard time making the switch to GMail at work. Admittedly, it was hard for me at first as well. The conversation view alone gave me a few gray hairs. But then something magical happened. I GOT USED TO IT. I DEPENDED ON IT. And chatting? Miraculous. Especially at work.
Multiple labels save me from spending too much time and energy on locating an email. And don’t even get me started on the advanced search. It’s glorious. Looking for a file that was emailed to you? Check the box.
Voice calling is reliable, clear and easy to use. Just remember not to close the GMail browser tab while you’re simultaneously web-surfing and talking to your mom while she’s on vacation in South Africa. Oops!
I could wax lyrical about GMail for days. In conclusion, it is teh awesome.
This winds up piggy-backing on my GMail sonnet because it’s usefulness has been proven with my work account. Example: Two people get information on new hires and add it to a Google spreadsheet. When they do, I receive an email so that I can update my training schedules and attendee lists. Streamlined! and Efficient! And to think…we used to email the file back and forth saving our little hearts out. No longer!
See above re: collaborative benefits. Same goes for the calendar. Also, I have all of mine set to sync to my iPhone and Mac via MobileMe. Event invitations for meetings, demos, classes OH MY! The colors complete me. Default reminders keep me warm at night. Witchcraft, I tell you!
An acquisition gone right. Cute kittens. Mash-up videos. Dads getting pegged in the nuts by whiffle balls. The fun never ends.
There are other Google products that are cool and I’m sure I’m missing a couple big ones that have changed my life. It’s just hard to imagine life without The Google. And the doodles! Love the doodles.
We chose Pisa as our arrival point in Italy for the following reasons: it was cheaper to fly there than anywhere else and we could check the leaning tower off our bucket lists.
Arriving in Pisa was pretty humdrum. It was about 9:30pm so it was already dark out. The airport is pretty small so it was a super quick exit to a taxi.
We chose a B&B called Five Roses, which was run by a lovely woman named Flavia. She didn’t speak much english, but enough to know that we immediately requested wine. We didn’t even care how much the bottle was*. We just picked one (a Montepulciano red) out of the wine fridge and went to our room.
It was comfortable and VERY clean. It was also clear that I was going to have to get used to hard, tiny beds in Italy. Oh dear.
We got up fairly early and had breakfast in the common area and packed our bags. We only had the morning in Pisa before we caught a 1pm train to Arezzo.
Let me tell you something: You don’t need any longer than that in Pisa. It’s not the most picturesque city in Italy and doesn’t really have any attractions aside from the tower, duomo and baptistery.
We did all three of those things, though! We walked to that part of the city, crossing the river. It only took about 30 minutes.
Y’all. That tower LEANS. It leans like a mofo.
The duomo (a duomo is just a cathedral – it’s typically the largest church in the city), wasn’t open yet, so we went to the baptistery first. There wasn’t much inside it – just an altar, pulpit, gallery and some catholic things about which I know nothing. Cool building, nonetheless.
The duomo was really beautiful. It was large and very ornate inside. We strolled through it and lit a candle for my dad. Then we looked at each other like “So…that’s it? We’re done with Pisa? Yep? Ok, let’s go.”
With that, we walked back to Five Roses to grab our bags, stopping for a panini (which was not very good) at a small cafe/bar/gambling spot. I can’t believe the cuisine there wasn’t Zagat-rated.
…and away we trundled with our luggage for the 10 minute walk to the train station. To Arezzo! choo-choo!
*The bottle of wine was all of €10. About $13. I already loved Italy at this point.
My plan is to post about each day/leg of the trip. It seems it’s the only way to cover everything. Not only do I hope these posts entertain you, but they will also serve as a sort of journal for me.
READY SET GO
Mom and I flew separately to the London’s Heathrow airport and had a meeting place already set up. The timing was perfect and we got our British currency and hopped on the train into town in no time. We got off the tube at Clapham Junction, where Louise met us. Louise is an old friend of my mom and mother of the brilliant Alex, Andrew, and William – all of whom I have known pretty much my whole life. Alex and I are the same age and our mothers met when we were about a year old, I think? Looooong damn time, anyhoo.
We stayed with Louise and James at James’ house on Wandsworth Common. The weather was perfectly English, but without the rain. I loved it! A bit chilly and gray, which is how I like it.
A walk down a high street is exactly what one should do when in England. North Cote Road is lovely. Lots of nice shops and restaurants. Amazing food stands, flowers, you name it. This is a truly terrible photo:
The UK is so comforting and familiar to me, which is odd considering I hardly ever get there. It’s in my blood, though – my mother is Scottish.
Mom, Louise and I stopped and had Indian for lunch. There is so much variety of cuisine in London, but one must ALWAYS have a curry. The food was delicious, even if we were the only ones in the restaurant. We walked back to James’ and it was time to head to the station to go to Kent for the next couple of days.
Louise’s friend Ellie picked us up at the station and drove us to Louise’s mother’s home called Burnt House in Benenden, a village in Kent. Burnt House was built in the mid-1600s. It is incredible. Low ceilings, crooked floors, giant fireplaces and really beautiful grounds. We spent two nights there.
The first night in Benenden was spent having a really enjoyable dinner at Ellie’s, who lives in a restored oast house:
and she has horses and PUPPIES!
Ellie made the most delicious quiche I have ever had. It was a really lovely dinner and I was sorry that I didn’t get to see Ellie again.
The following day, we met Alex and Andrew at the local pub for lunch. I also got to meet Alex’s sweet wife Deanne and his FREAKING ADORABLE I WANT TO BITE HIS FACE son Luke. It was awesome to catch up a bit with people I haven’t seen in donkey’s years. It had been at least 20 since I’d seen Andrew (who is also my mom’s Godson.) and at least 15 since seeing Alex. Again, I was sorry we didn’t have more time to spend together.
The Three Grannies and I enjoyed dinner at Burnt House:
and the next day, after a good English lunch of sausages and potatoes (YUM -My favorite! Vacation is an excuse to eat the way I really want to!), Mom and I were off again – on a train to Gatwick Airport and a plane to Pisa.
To be continued…
Blogging. Yeah…about that. Where have I been? I dunno. Around…
The only things I feel compelled to blog about tend to be related to death or running. Been thinking about using Tumblr but it was just one more thing to not keep up with. Then I thought maybe I should just post shorter entries. and then I thought I am thinking about this way too much. Maybe I should just freaking post random shit and SHUT UP ABOUT IT. Heh. Good story. Lay some pipe in it. (Just a little shout out to my LPC peeps – hi!)
So, death and running. That’s all I got. The death thing will have to wait. I am reflective as we approach the one year anniversary of the worst day of my life ever EVER. I have been sort of drafting a post in my head but frankly, it makes me cry. And I’ve kind of enjoyed the past few months of NOT crying at the drop of a hat. So avoidance is still a thing, right? Cool. I got that covered.
Which leaves us (well, you, really) with running. Again. SPOILER ALERT! I’m not running a damn marathon or anything so don’t get all OMG GIRL YOU SO CRAAAAAZY on me. But! I have increased my distance to just over 4 miles with only 2 short walk-breaks. THIS IS EPIC, PEOPLE. 5 miles will be a major milestone for me. I don’t even care what my pace is. 5 miles of mostly running will be YOOGE.
Well, I suppose the epic part is that I like it. I no longer feel immediate mental shrinkage at the idea of running. I daresay I look forward to it. I also no longer want to kick puppies WHILE I’m running. The treadmill is my preferred medium but it’s something. The sweet spot for me (where I quit bitching to myself and watching the clock) used to be in the 2-7 minute range. Now it kind of creeps up at the 10-15 minute range but goes away pretty fast. The best part? Because I’m intolerant of weakness in myself, each PR just means I have to beat it the next time. Progress is actually pretty easy when you’re your own competition.
There are several options out there for training: classes, apps, Just Doing It, etc.. I am lucky to have several runner-friends who not only encourage me but also rev up my competitive spirit. I mean, hell, if they can do it I can do it. The second motivating factor for me is having a friend/coach who I admire and respect as an athlete AND who tells me to get off my ass and run AND who told me not to let him down. That was for the 5k in February, but I’m trying to keep running even if it requires spending money on new shoes, leggings, shirts, bras, gadgets etc to motivate me. Whatever is takes, right?
So THERE. Still running. Still kicking my own ass at it, too.