A Writer's Journey

January 8, 2018

(Almost) A Week in Virginia

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 1:00 pm
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Happy New Year! I know I wished you all that last week, but I wanted to repeat it. I hope you all had a great holiday week and that you ended 2017 on a good note.

I also hope you ended it some place warm because even though I was in Virginia, we were cold. I think we only got above freezing two days.

I flew down to Richmond the day after Christmas. I worked that day, running my company’s payroll for the last pay of the year. Then I hopped in my car and drove the ten minutes to the airport, leaving my car in long-term parking at Newark-Liberty International Airport.

Which is about three miles from the airport itself. I just kept driving and driving until I found the lot. Planes were landing overhead and I had to take a shuttle back to the terminals.

I got to Terminal A and breezed through security. I grabbed some food and then did some writing as I waited for my plane to show up. Our flight ended up being delayed but not by much. I think we got into the air about a half hour after we were supposed to.

Our flight was only an hour so we pretty much landed on time, though we spent some time taxiing to the gate. I hurried off the plane and met up with my parents, dismayed to find out it was just as cold in Virginia. No relief from the cold for me.

I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before as I was still packing. And then I had developed a stuffy nose that woke me up, preventing me from getting a good amount of sleep. While it hadn’t effected me while working, I was definitely tired by the time I got to the hotel. I took a shower and pretty much went to bed.

We spent Wednesday mostly shopping. Well, my parents did. I went to WalMart with them but then chilled in the room while they went elsewhere. We then met up with my sister for dinner before going to see Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

Spoiler alert: We loved it.

(If you want more information about the movie, you can check out my review/recap on my other blog, My Little Corner).

Thursday was spent at the Science Museum of Virginia, which was really fun. I learned that right now, I can’t outrun a rat, let alone a bear. I also can’t hit a baseball, but I already knew that. My hand-eye coordination is not the best. Nor is my spatial judgement.

We also watched a movie about dark matter in their giant dome theater that was narrated by Tilda Swinton. It was pretty cool but I’m afraid I got motion sickness, especially once we got to the CGI recreations of what is happening in the LHC. But then we got to see some giant renderings of planets, so that was cool.

After the movie, we then went down to the BOOST exhibit which is a bunch of cool interactive features for both children and adults. I did a bunch of them, including attempting to walk a tightrope (not very good). I also got a cool new recipe to try—peanut butter chicken. Maybe while my parents are away…

I also did an exhibit featuring yoga. My company’s annual health assessment suggested taking up yoga and I had started to consider it. So I gave some of the poses a try and I did ridiculously well at level 1 yoga. I might actually take up yoga now. I just need to get a mat—I already have access to a class since it’s offered at my Y!

We then spent the evening with my sister at her new place—she’s renting a room from a friend. Said friend has two dogs and his girlfriend has a dog, so in addition to my sister’s dog, four dogs greeted us at the door. Balto, my sister’s, was more focused on my dad and somewhat focused on my mom. Which left me at the mercy at the other three (very friendly) dogs. As a French bulldog, Rupert is now the smallest dog to jump on me. (I’ve learned that the bigger the dog, more likely it is to jump on me. You should’ve seen how big my eyes got when I realized my cousin’s Rottweiler was going to do that). My sister, mom and I went to get dinner at a nearby diner before we just chilled at the house, where boxer Maya decided to keep licking me.

Friday was another movie day. Since my sister didn’t want to see The Last Jedi, my parents and I went to go watch it instead.

Spoiler alert: I loved it. My parents were more so-so on it.

(Once again, you can check out my other blog for a review. Coming soon!)

We returned to my sister’s house and hung out with the dogs again as my mother helped her move a few things into her room. As I sat there, I was suddenly struck with everything I could’ve been doing—mostly all the writing I could’ve gotten done instead.

Eventually, we went out to get barbeque before hitting up a Michaels for items my sister needed to decorate her room. We dropped her and my father off before my mother and I drove to the airport to pick up my aunt. Then we drove back to my sister’s and picked up my father to head back to the hotel.

Saturday was probably our most eventful day—even more eventful that Thursday. We met my sister at the hotel and I drove with her to Williamsburg, listening to Pandora the entire time. We were listening to the Broadway Showstoppers channel but encountered a lot of Phantom of the Opera. So much so, she got annoyed with every Phantom song and I couldn’t help but laugh.

We had lunch at the Golden Corral before heading to Busch Gardens for Christmas Town! Every inch of the park is covered in Christmas goodies with special Christmas shows and some really good hot chocolate. There was musical retelling of the Christmas story that made you clap your hands and tap your feet. And there was a musical version of A Christmas Carol that was also pretty good as well.

My sister and I were able to do Invadr, the new roller coaster at Busch Gardens but were unable to do Verbolten. It ended up closing up because of the weather—it was too cold to run any of the rides. And it was definitely cold—but the warmest day of our time in Virginia. But by the end of the night, I could barely feel most of my body.

Night time, though, included a magical experience. They lit up the park in a ton of lights—putting them everywhere, including the flumes of Escape from Pompeii, since no one was going to do a water ride anyway. There was even a show called O Tannenbaum where they coordinated the lights on a giant tree in Oktoberfest to blink in time to a medley of Christmas songs. It was quite breathtaking. We also wore large plastic Christmas lights that lit up around our necks after the sun went down.

We called it a night and the next day was New Year’s Eve. It was a lazy day spent mostly in the hotel, broken only by Mass and dinner at Cracker Barrell. Still, we were much warmer than the people in Times Square. We rang in the New Year and I hope 2018 will be better than 2017.

And then I flew back to New York with my aunt on New Year’s, though we only got home about an hour before my parents. Still, it was better than seven hours in the car.

So, that’s how I ended 2017. Now I’m looking forward to diving into 2018, even if we started with a cold snap and a snow storm. How about you?


July 14, 2017

I Dream of Paris…

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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I knew that when I got to high school, I wanted to study French. And I did, even though Spanish probably would’ve been more useful. I was one of eleven girls in my high school class who learned the language and we all got really close because our class was so small. We also learned about French culture and history, enjoying our lessons. Our one dream was to go to Disneyland Paris as a class.

However, we went to Catholic school so there definitely was no budget to send us to Paris. We had enough to go to Quebec in Canada, which was gorgeous and still gave us a chance to practice our French. And in college, I went abroad to England and don’t regret it.

There was a plan for a family vacation to France when I graduated college. We would visit Paris and my father wanted to go to Normandy, since his father landed at Utah Beach on D-Day. He also spent a month stationed at Marseilles. My grandfather didn’t speak much of his time in the war so I guess my father wanted to feel closer to that part of him. However, I graduated in 2008 just as the recession kicked in, so that trip got scrubbed. We went to Boston instead.

Yet, I still want to go to Paris. I would love to stroll down the streets of the City of Lights, take in the sights, take in the history and just be there. It would be a dream come true.


July 10, 2017

Lessons Learned on Vacation

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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I went to Walt Disney World during June. My father retired at the end of April and this was his celebration. So my parents, sister, aunt and I went down to spend a week at the Most Magical Place on Earth. At the end of that week, I learned some things about myself.

I am an adult.

No, that’s not a “I’m too old for Walt Disney World” realization. I firmly believe that you can never outgrow Disney World and that there’s plenty to do as an adult, even without a child.

It’s just a realization.


November 14, 2016

Farewell to a Special Lady

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm

Last week was a crazy one.

And not just because of the election.

(Though the election was a crazy one. Definitely one we’ll be reading about in years to come).

Wednesday morning, my great-aunt passed away five days short of her 91st birthday.

My Aunt Jennie was a spitfire who only slowed down because her body broke down. Her mind was still sharp as a tack and her tongue just as sharp until the very end.

She was the youngest of four children and was close to her sisters, including my grandmother. Following my great-grandmother’s death, though, my great-aunt decided to go live with relatives in South Carolina. So she was close with her cousins down there as well as their families. In the past few years, she tried to go down as often as she could to be with her cousins and I know it was a relief to my Aunt Pauline to have her there following the death of Aunt Aphrodite.

Aunt Jennie married my Uncle George and had one son, James. (Called Jimmy). But she also had a large role in raising her niece and nephews, my father included. They are all like siblings and I don’t call them “aunt” and “uncle” just because it’s respectful.

Last year, I wrote in her birthday card that I want to be her when I grow up. My cousin called me a brown-noser but it was the truth. Aunt Jennie did not let age slow her down. She became an auxiliary police officer, acted in an off-off Broadway play, was a Red Apple Lady at LaGuardia Airport, and did so much more. She was more active than I am now and I’m young. She was definitely a model for the theory that age is only a number.

So goodbye, Aunt Jennie. We will miss you but take comfort that you lived a full life. I also know that you are with your husband, your parents and your siblings again. We will meet again one day and I’m sure you’ll have lots of stories to tell.

Hopefully, so will I.

Rest in Peace.

June 6, 2016

Jury Duty

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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I was on on jury duty for most of May. I was called to report on April 29th, empaneled and unfortunately, I was chosen to be an alternate juror. It was a civil case regarding medical malpractice. The plaintiff and his wife sued his orthopedic surgeon and an infectious disease doctor, claiming they were negligent in their treatment of him post-knee replacement and that they failed to diagnose a knee infection in a timely manner.

After I was chosen, I knew they wouldn’t settle. This was five years in the making and things were pretty tense between the lawyers. They had to go outside twice during voir dire and one of those times ended up with a trip to the judge. And one of the doctors being sued was present for jury selection. This all screamed “Not going to settle” to me.

On the first Monday of May, I reported back to the courthouse and we were brought up to our jury deliberation room. The judge’s clerk came and spoke with us, getting our phone numbers and giving us his—just in case. He explained some things to us and then we were brought into the courtroom. The judge gave us our instructions for the trial and then the lawyers began with their opening statements.


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