We always say we’re wanting to go to brunch when Tina’s serving up at Black Forge, but it seems the brunch schedule and our schedules never mesh. But at last, last Saturday, we had a free morning, so we went up for some coffee and a delicious sampling of quiches. And then we stopped at the mall on the way home because, I mean, might as well if it’s right there.

Paul’s co-workers are big fans of doing escape rooms and one of the nearby libraries set one up for free, so in the evening, we went to do that and ended up being the fastest team, escaping with 10 minutes left on a 30-minute time limit. As a result, we got put in for a drawing for prizes, and Paul’s name was drawn for a Starbucks gift card. Nice to go do something and get money for it instead of having to pay for it, plus that library was pretty nice. I know my brother visits that one a good bit and our library is connected to it and others in the county, I’ve just never stopped in.

And afterwards, a few of us went out to Mad Mex, because Paul and I can’t be within 15 minutes of the place and not go. It’s just so good.

Our favorite movie theater, Row House, was doing a sci-fi, memory-focused theme for the week, and they were showing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Blade Runner. As much as I would love to see Eternal Sunshine in a theater, I’ve already shown it to Paul–but he’d never seen Blade Runner. And if we’re gonna go, I’d rather go see something at least one of us hasn’t seen before. It’s part of what I love about Row House. It makes movies you have seen a little more fun, but because it exclusively shows older releases surrounding a different theme every week, you get a chance to see something that’s long left theaters on a big screen in surround sound.

Of the two movies, I think I enjoy Eternal Sunshine more, but as far as seeing something in a theater, Blade Runner was the right choice. I’d forgotten how beautiful its cinematography is, and when the movie started with those awesome, ridiculous noir-esque shots of what they thought of as a futuristic LA, I was really happy Paul’s first exposure to the film wasn’t on one of our laptops in our bed. Hilariously, the movie is set in 2019, and when that title flashed on screen, I laughed out loud. But also…Sean Young. That is all.

Wait, one final thing–approximately everyone out-acts Harrison Ford in that movie.

We seem to only do this when we go to Lawrenceville, maybe because it’s super easy to do it, but we make it a point to never eat at the same restaurant twice. We just kind of had the idea and stuck to it, I think because the first time we decided to eat in the area, we decided to just walk until we found something interesting, and in the process, we just saw how many neat restaurants there are. So we try something new every time, and usually, we choose just based on walking until we hit something we’ve never been to. It was a Sunday evening, so a few places were closing up, which made taco place Condado the winner.

Condado is essentially build-your-own tacos. They have a menu of suggestions to choose from, sure, but you can also just fill out what you want–basically the same concept as Burgatory, just with tacos. We opted for some of the suggestions, and I took it easy because both vegetarian options sounded spicy, and I went for the one that sounded less likely to destroy my tastebuds. I ended up being wrong, but that aside, it was a great taco. It also introduced me to jackfruit, which is apparently a pretty good meat substitute due to its texture and the fact that it takes on other flavors similar to the way tofu does.

So basically, despite eating a taco that was a little too much for me, I loved the place. Paul did, too, and it may put a wrench in our plans to just wander Lawrenceville for food.

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I was toying with the idea of hosting a small party for New Year’s, but Terra beat me to it before I made up my mind. I think one day, I’d still like to do it, but for now, it can be tough for her to get out here and I wasn’t super committed to it, anyway.

And then Paul’s cousin Chelsea invited us to join her and her friends for some drinks, and we figured what the hell, we can do both–we pass through Pittsburgh on our way to Terra’s house anyway. so we can pop in, have some beers, then continue on our way for the rest of the New Year.

It ended up taking us forever to find parking, mostly because we were in a part of the city we don’t usually visit and one of the garages was closed. Because it took so long, we decided to hang out longer than we planned to, and I felt kind of bad because most of Terra’s other guests bailed and she was basically waiting on us. But we had fun hanging out and having some drinks before we hung out at Terra’s.

Now, she doesn’t have cable, and neither do we–so really, no matter what, we weren’t watching a ball drop unless we got on a computer and streamed it. But we opted to not bother and just wait and guess when the New Year started based on the influx of texts. It sounds really anti-climactic, but I found it pretty entertaining. I do enjoy New Year’s, but not to the point that it all hinges on watching TV.

We hung around for a couple hours, headed home, and crashed pretty hard, considering we were out until like 2 a.m., and enjoyed a lazy New Year’s Day.

Within a few months, my extended family will have three new babies. Two of my cousins are expecting, as are my brother and his wife. The first is due in February, and the last in May, and with everyone home for the holidays, the one in the middle, my cousin Casey, had her baby shower the Saturday right after Christmas.

I shit on bridal showers all the time, but I actually kind of like baby showers, mostly because having a get-together to help prepare for a new baby makes a hell of a lot more sense than a bridal shower, at least for some of us. Like, I may not have needed dishes and an iron, but when my time comes, I’m sure as shit gonna need basically everything for a baby. But I digress. It was a nice lunch in town, and afterwards, Kimmie and Aunt Barbara came over to my parents’ house to exchange Christmas gifts. Everything Kimmie gave me was cat-related, so it was perfect.

I hung around for a little bit longer, then in the evening met up with Marissa and Marion for dinner, which was nice. I’ve seen them both semi-frequently the last two months, between the holidays and weddings and things at our house, and especially now that Marissa’s living close-ish to us, I’d like to try to get together with her more. I texted her about hitting a movie this past weekend, in fact, but she had plans with her cousin.

All week long, Paul had been wanting to go see the new Spider-Man movie, Into the Spider-Verse–his job shuts down from Christmas until after New Year’s, so although he did hang out with friends and family while I worked that whole week, he was also looking for stuff to do and asked me a couple days in a row if we could go see it, but the scheduling between when I finished work, when the movie started, and when he had tai chi or other plans wasn’t working out. On weekends where one of us is off on their own for a day, I try to find us something to do together the other day, even if it’s just a movie, so that Sunday, we finally made it to his Spider-Man movie.

I’ve never been much of a Spider-Man fan–my superhero leanings go Batman and X-Men. But Paul had heard good things and seemed pretty interested, so that’s what we ended up seeing. And it was actually really good and we really enjoyed it. Frankly, the series from several years ago just isn’t that memorable to me, so I think Into the Spider-Verse is probably my favorite of the movies.

Ah, siblings. You can always count on them to be a pain in your ass.

Paul opted out of the annual Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert this year–in fact, he hasn’t gone since bass player David Z died tragically. So that left me to meet up with Brandon and Kelly in the South Hills to take the T, plus I wanted to hit Lush’s annual after-Christmas sale, where all seasonal items are BOGO. And that’s in addition to what I snagged online the minute the sale started. Like, I got myself two gift boxes worth $100 for the price of one, plus a few other small things.

For starters, Brandon and Kelly both had the day off and I did not, so while I wanted to join them to shop for the new baby, I really couldn’t. I told my brother I had to work and would get showered and head out as soon as I was done, and while I admittedly didn’t tell him what time I thought I’d get there, I figured it wouldn’t be until close to 5.

And the thing is, while friends have joked they’d become the ultimate lazy slobs if they worked from home and they’re not off-base there, when I do go out, I actually kind of enjoy the process of getting ready. Like, since I’m only putting on actual clothes and make-up on weekends, for the most part, I look forward to doing my make-up. So I’m not exactly taking my time with it. I don’t know what my brother expected, but that means I need a little over an hour to get ready, depending on things like whether or not I’m shampooing my hair. Or shaving.

I think Kelly was more realistic about how long I’d be. But alas, every so often, I could count on a text from Brandon asking what’s up or what I was doing or where I was or when I thought I was gonna get there.

Now, admittedly, we when we’re together, we probably get to be annoying just because we act like typical dumbass siblings, and on this night, we were being particularly childish–I intentionally pushed my chair out and smacked into him when he was walking behind me, he made fun of me, that kind of thing. And he managed to get cookies-and-cream ice cream on my white jacket. Just like old times!

But probably the biggest thing, and the one my mother finds hilarious, is that ever since they announced the pregnancy, he’s been asking me about our plans to have kids. I think he’s just anxious for us to have kids, too, which I get, but now when we hang out, I get lots of questions about if we’re actively trying to get pregnant or if I’ve taken a pregnancy test lately. I told my mom, and she laughed and laughed.

But otherwise, it was a fun night out–great concert, unusually warm weather, and we didn’t fuck up and miss the T this time.

We had a nice Christmas.

Paul had to work a short day Christmas Eve and I had to work a full one, but when we finished up, we got our stuff together and headed over to my parents’ for my mom’s family’s annual Christmas dinner. We all went over a little early to help out, which basically just means we all wanted to play with the dog.

And it wouldn’t be a holiday without my mom coming back while I’m getting dressed to say, “Your dad’s driving me nuts.” Ah, the true Christmas spirit.

It was a nice evening, and it included the gender reveal for Brandon and Kelly’s baby, as their appointment was that morning–they’re having a girl, and her name is real cute and pretty but is not to be announced until she arrives.

The original plan for the reveal, by the way, was my hair–I was gonna dye it accordingly. My hair appointment was a few days before they found out and our original plan was to lighten it and lift out the purple, but then I remembered that, you know, having to work Christmas Eve meant I wasn’t really gonna have time to do that, dye my hair, and get ready for the rest of the holiday. But my mom’s probably relieved it didn’t work out. She’d still be rolling her eyes at us if it had worked out.

All four of us–both kids and our spouses–spent the night, which my mom was adorably excited about. I kind of thought she’d think it was a pain in the ass having all of us over, but she was happy and I think we all had fun. Brandon and I kept saying we were gonna wait up for Santa, but naturally, everyone went to bed at a pretty reasonable hour.

In the past several years, maybe from my teens on, two things have always happened on Christmas–everyone gets up before me and has to bug me to get up and I insist on opening presents Christmas Day. We also usually start by watching the dog open his presents first.

My mom’s been adamant for the last few years that we don’t need more “stuff,” which is true, so she’s been sticking to a few small things to open and money–a lot of money, to be honest, and she’s very seriously thinking of not renewing her contract at work this summer and keeps saying she wants to do that kind of thing while she knows she still can. We appreciate it. Ours went to help pay off furniture before we got hit with interest on it this month. But I also got some makeup I’d asked for and Paul got a Henry Rollins book I knew he’d had his eye on.

Brandon and Kelly didn’t stick around too long in the morning before they headed to her family’s festivities, but Paul and I had a few hours to kill and hung out for a little bit. Then we made our way to his parents’ house for dinner, which was a smaller, more relaxed deal since we’d done all the gifts and such on Sunday while Julie and Michael were in.

We came home sometime in the evening to a cat who was not pleased with us for leaving her alone. It’s kind of sweet, honestly.

In the week or so leading up to Christmas, we crammed in as much of our usual Christmas stuff as possible–The Nutcracker, B.C. Taylor, an evening trip to Phipps to see their annual Christmas flower show, and plenty of get-togethers.

At this point, we’ll cram a ton of stuff into a day if it means seeing people we don’t get to see often. And that’s exactly how the day before Christmas Eve was. We started at my mom’s Aunt Elaine’s annual Christmas party and had a nice time eating and hanging out with everyone for a couple hours.

From there, we went to Paul’s parents’ house. Julie and Michael were in town but weren’t gonna stick around through the holiday, so we did our family gift exchange then. In the fall, we used the Internet to do a Secret Santa between the siblings and spouses/significant others–I got Josh and totally nailed it with a video game he wanted, but also a bonus of a chocolate game controller. Julie had me, and she got me a bunch of candles, vegan lip balms, and soap from a craft show up in Erie, which was pretty much perfect. Paul gave Katie a Cards Against Humanity expansion pack and fuzzy socks, and from Jacob, he got a dinosaur wine-bottle holder. On top of that, we got one of our late wedding presents, a signed, framed print from Paul’s favorite childhood book, Dinotopia. We knew it was coming, but there were issues with the original frame and it took them this long to get it fixed. Now we just need to figure out where to display it. But the big moment of the night was presenting Paul’s parents with their gift, a summer trip to Canada. Well all pitched in for it, and Julie was hilariously excited for them to open everything and figure out we were sending them on vacation.

After a couple hours there, we went to our last stop, my friend Leah’s annual Christmas party. She took a break from hosting it for a couple years but brought it back this year, and it’s one of those events that we love going to because of who we get to see there–she gets together a lot of our classmates who have moved away but come home for the holidays. Since we both had to work the next morning and had an hour’s drive home, we’d said we were gonna leave at 10:30. It would give us time to enjoy ourselves and would get us home late, but not so late that we’d be worn out the ext day. And besides, the next day was Christmas Eve, and at least there’s the promise of the following day off. If you’re gonna go into work tired from a night out, one day before a day off isn’t a bad way to do it. But then we got caught up playing games, and we ended up not getting in until after 1 a.m. Oops.

But I regret nothing. It was a busy day, we drove all over one county and back home to another, and we were exhausted, but we got to see a lot of people over the course of the day and we had fun. I don’t think we’d have it any other way.

2019

So here’s what I’d like to accomplish in the year ahead.

  • Home improvements. The biggest need is either new paint or new siding, but there are some smaller projects to tackle, too, like replacing some old, worn doors and staining the deck. I don’t know about doing it in 2019, but I’d also like to replace the water heater, upgrade our thermostat, get the fireplace in working order, and install an electrical outlet in the main bathroom because strangely, there isn’t one. If the siding gets done and we can afford new landscaping, that, too. And new furniture is on the list and definitely doable, especially the living room. I’d also like some sort of small china cabinet and something for recyclables.
  • Keep a cleaner home. Honestly, I think we’re both doing a little better at staying tidy in the house than we did the apartment for a few reasons–one is definitely space, and maybe this is all psychological, but it at least feels like a cleaner place by virtue of being less cluttered. I also think that because we own it, we have a little more pride in it, so we’re a little more motivated to stay on top of things.
  • Don’t say a fucking word about turning 30. I realize that by default, I’m already breaking this, but hear me out–I am and have always been a firm believer that 30 is not old and that lamentations about turning 30 are ridiculous, and even though I am kind of like, “Oh, wow, holy shit, 30 years old,” it’s not necessarily in an, “Oh, my God, I’m old and my life is over,” way the way a lot of people say it, and because it’s almost always meant that way, I don’t want to even address it because I don’t want to even imply that’s how I feel about it. So at least when it comes to social media, I’m not drawing attention to it…and I’m now realizing that astute social-media users might read into that the opposite of what I mean anyway. Whatever. Still not doing it.
  • Be a kick-ass aunt. The first baby in the family is due in May, and I intend to spoil the shit out of her.
  • Have my own kid? I don’t feel like I’m ready to have kids, but I know everyone says you never are and I know myself well enough to know that if I ever do feel ready, it’ll be too late. So I’m leaving this up to fate. We’re not actively trying but not actively preventing, either, so whatever happens happens.
  • Get back in shape. I fell out of my good gym routine in late 2017, then fell back into a good one in late 2018, so here’s to hoping I stay consistent in 2019.
  • Get published. Like I said before, getting married in 2017 and buying a house in 2018 took up a lot of time, so submitting work was seriously on the back burner. I’m hoping to change that in 2018. Up to now, I’ve at least gotten one or two pieces out into the world each year, so at the very least, I’d like to get back on that.
  • Finish a library book without renewing it the max amount of times. My library only lets you renew something a total of three times, and I’m always splitting a good chunk of the book across a couple days to finish it without getting a late fee. It’s not like I don’t read at all over the weeks I have it, it’s just how the timing keeps working out. Just once, I’d like to finish a book without having to do that. Like, even if I finish it a day or so before the due date, whatever, as long as I’m not rushing to do it.
  • Read more books than last year. I average finishing one book a month lately, but I’d like to get up to finishing 20 or more in a year. I did it before, I just need to to do it again.
  • Travel. A long, far-away trip probably isn’t practical for financial reasons, not to mention I’m worried about making huge plans if getting pregnant is in the realm of possibility. But we’ve talked about doing smaller weekend trips, so I’d like to try to do one every month or so over a long weekend.
  • Cut credit-card debt in half. I’m down to essentially two cards with balances, and I don’t think it’s at all realistic to totally eliminate both–or even cut them both in half. But I think getting the overall total cut in half is doable, especially with other balances knocked out now.
  • Entertain more. The first time we had people over was for Memorial Day, and we didn’t have anything that big since. The floor wasn’t done at the time–and we thought it would be. So we didn’t start staying at the house full-time until the weekend of the 4th of July, and then we spent the rest of the summer gradually moving. We never got around to doing anything bigger than a few friends/relatives at a time. And while we probably won’t do another biggie until, well, Memorial Day, I’d still like to get people over here every month or so.
  • Get involved in politics. With another election cycle looming, I’d like to do more than just shout on the Internet (and vote, of course). I’m gonna wait and see who announces candidacies, but when it’s all going full swing, I’d like to volunteer for my favorite candidate. I’d like to attend more events, too, starting with the Women’s March–I think we’ve been looking at real estate in one form or another every year until now.
  • Keep up with old resolutions. Mostly, I want to keep up getting in touch with friends. I’m not great at it, but I’ve been getting better, and I’d like to try to keep inviting people over or to reach out more when I’m in town. One of the things my husband’s good at that I’m not is randomly sending someone a message just because he hasn’t talked to them in a while, and I’m kind of intimidated by that because not a lot of people do it and I feel like I’m bothering them or that it’s weird. But he does it and doesn’t care and it seems to go well, and I think I could learn from that. Just don’t tell him I said that.
  • Keep prioritizing myself. I think I’ve done a good job of this over the last few years, but I also think there’s almost always room to get better. So I’d like to continue to be sure that I’m surrounding myself with the right people and not wasting time doing things I don’t want to do, aside from the usual duties of life that can’t be helped. But the bottom line is if something isn’t serving me, if I’m unhappy or unfulfilled, ditch it.
  • Get a new job. This is at the bottom of the list because again, it’s low priority. I don’t need a new job, but I want one. Clearly, I haven’t made much progress on this for the last few years, but there’s also a reason why I always say people shouldn’t put so much weight on resolutions.

2018

I feel like I say some variation of this every year, but I also think it’s worth repeating every year.

A new year is an obvious, easy new start. I get why people push for growth no matter the time of year, and I don’t disagree, but if you’re looking for a fresh start, even if it’s more symbolic, New Year’s just presents it to you. A lot of people look at resolutions as though they’re destined to be broken, but I think maybe a lot of people just have the wrong attitude and put too much into them. It’s never a bad thing to set goals.

Every year, I spell mine out, and every year, I like to look back on how I did. I certainly tackled some big ones in 2018.

  • Buy a house Done. We found our house around late February, early March, and closed Easter weekend, right on the last day of March.
  • Get a new job This is one I set every year and never accomplish, mostly through lack of trying. Thing is, job hunting is at the very bottom of my list of priorities–it’s something I want but don’t need, so things like freelance opportunities come first. And I don’t by any means think that’s a bad thing! I’d rather focus on that extra income and work on a writing career than a new job, especially when staying put has major perks, too. Not to mention buying a house and the process of actually moving took up a lot of time. So I only applied to a handful this year and heard nothing back, but we’ll see how 2019 goes.
  • Take on more freelance work I call this half-done–I rediscovered some older opportunities I’d looked into rather than finding new ones, and unfortunately, one of the sites I was writing for decided to reevaluate their needs and took a break from doing the sort of content I and other writers were creating. The hope was that it would start back up, but it’s been a couple months and it’s increasingly unlikely.
  • Publish writing Much like job hunting, this is low on the priority list, again because I prioritize work I know I’ll get paid for. But with little work to do in the final week or so of 2018, I had some time to get stuff out there, and while this does mark the second year in a row that I didn’t get any creative work out into the world, I did technically submit something–I just won’t have an answer until 2019. But I did submit!
  • Subscribe to a newspaper I didn’t do it as early in the year as I would’ve liked, but I did do it. We don’t need physical papers piling up for various reasons, but we do now have a digital subscription to our local paper. And it’s about time, really. We’ve been living in this city for a few years, and we ought to know what’s happening beyond what we catch on social media.
  • Travel somewhere Done. Sure, we mostly traveled for weddings, but still, one of those got us out of state and to the beach. And then a few weeks ago, I took a bus trip to DC with my mom and her best friend. But hey, I just wanted to go somewhere, and I did. 2017 kept us busy wedding planning and we never really went anywhere, so I was just glad we had a few days away from home.
  • Save money We did…until we didn’t. Obviously, we put down a payment for a house, and then we spent a few thousand dollars more redoing the floors. Since then, we haven’t really squirreled much more money away, but I’m optimistic heading into 2019, because…
  • Pay off a credit card, ideally two …I succeeded in this, and I succeeded in the ideal of paying off two cards. We have one small balance–and I mean less than 100 bucks–from when we bought some stuff when we got our cat, but otherwise, any store-specific cards aren’t carrying a balance. But the two biggies were at the end of the month/year. I had a balance transfer with a few hundred bucks left on the account the was set to start charging interest in January, so I paid that off with my mot recent paycheck, and we had an account for our new bedroom furniture also set to start charging interest in January, so I paid that off with Paul’s most recent paycheck, all for a grand total of around 1,500 bucks. Not a ton, but enough. Now all I have left are two cards with bigger balances that will be the focus in 2019.
  • Read 20 books, preferably more Fail. But again, I blame the time suck of house hunting and moving. I hit 13. I think I did better than 2017, at least!
  • Get back into a good, regular gym routine Again, house, but I did get back into a good routine in the last quarter of the year. I went sporadically leading up to that, but these last couple months, I have made it to the gym a couple times a week. And it’s open today, so we may hit it for the first time in 2019.
  • Get organized This another one that I kind of did but kind of didn’t. I wouldn’t say I’m more organized now than I was a year ago, especially because we still haven’t unpacked everything. But moving has forced us to go through things, so I’ve at least purged some stuff I didn’t want or need. Having more space has helped, too, so stuff that kept our apartment cluttered has room to stretch or room to be stored. We’re definitely taking advantage of the fact that almost every room has closets with built-in shelving, as well as our small attic space. We did lose some space in our bedroom, though–strangely, the apartment’s bedroom was bigger, but having the rest of the house makes that a little easier. And I’ve taken advantage of things that create more storage space, like multi-garment hangers in the closet and built-in drawers on the bed. I also jump on any other gadgets that help save space or help keep things organized.
  • Stop being fucking late I feel like most people I know would tell you I’m still late for everything, but honestly, I feel like I’m less late than I used to be. I’m certainly never late for work now that I work from home, with the exception of one morning when my alarm didn’t go off. But even then, at least oversleeping just means that I rushed to get on my computer and clock in, not that I had to rush to get ready and drive somewhere.
  • Keep up with past successful resolutions I think I’m doing pretty good.
  • Take more initiative with friends as far as making plans–hopefully, a house will happen and having the space will make this easier I was right about this. The only big thing we really had was for Memorial Day, but we did get people together for smaller things a couple of times in the fall. I certainly feel like I’ve seen more of some people this year than I have in past years, and I’ve also done some reconnecting. At this point, for the most part, if we’re not seeing people we want to as often as we want to, it’s a matter of not having the time. We’re busy, and we both like to still have downtime at home, so we try to juggle that, too.

December is always a busy month for us. I think it’s busy for almost everyone as it is, but as a couple, that means double the family and friends having parties, not to mention other stuff like work parties and just what we want to do on our own.

I’d be super bummed if we missed The Nutcracker, and we just managed to fit it in. We had a free Sunday–following a Saturday of my hair getting a fresh dose of purple dye–so we bought our tickets the night before and headed into the city. We squeezed in Christmas shopping where we could in the South Hills both before and after, plus a little bit at the theater. When your sister-in-law likes both ballet and tea, you do not pass that up, even if she might want to wait until she’s not pregnant to drink it.

The show was great, as always, and I will never not love it unless it’s really, spectacularly terrible, and I think a ballet company would have to really try to do that.

We grabbed dinner in the South Hills afterwards and ended up being out a tiny bit past my bedtime.

I kind of forgot to talk about the rest of our DC weekend trip.

Saturday was kind of the big touristy day. We stopped at the White House visitor center, then walked over to see the national Christmas tree and from there got a good view of the White House itself.

Personally, my favorite memory of visiting the White House was when we went once when I was a kid and my grandfather said, “Look, I see Bill Clinton in his gutchies!”

From there, we took a drive down Embassy Row and past the national cathedral, then stopped in front of the Capitol and had a little bit of time to check out the botanic gardens.

That evening was probably my favorite part of the whole trip–we had a nice dinner at Mount Vernon, then got a neat Christmas-themed candlelit tour of the grounds and building, where everything focused on what the Washingtons and others at the time did for Christmas.

But it was about then that I was starting to feel like some of our fellow travels were…uppity?

When we were first on the bus getting ready to leave Friday morning, my mom was texting one of her co-workers, who was joking about creepers being on the trip, and I believe it was she who made the comment that bus trips can be weird because of who goes. I was by far the youngest, and my mom and Lisa probably fell somewhere in the middle, with the bulk of the other travelers being older. I started overhearing snippets of complaints, and while I’ll grant that I kind of thought we’d get more of certain places like the cathedral and capitol, I also get that logistically, this might not be doable with a big bus group and when people are still, you know, working or otherwise going about their typical business in these buildings. I think when you travel anywhere, it’s easy to forget that people actually live there and while you’re on a leisure trip, everyone there is trying to go to work or school or run errands.

People also seemed to think that the trip organizers had a lot more control over things than they really did. They can plan all of this, sure, but dinner being served is the responsibility of the staff, or the time of a tour is determined by the staff. I heard one woman sound absolutely mortified that we’d been waiting 10 minutes after dinner for our Mount Vernon tour, but like…it wasn’t hard to figure out that the place was packed with other tourists and that the individual groups people were going in was running really behind.

But hey, I had a good time.

Our hotel was pretty close to a casino and we kicked around the idea of going, but we were kind of worn out at the end of both Friday and Saturday. I was hoping to squeeze in a massage at the spa, but their hours and our weekend itinerary didn’t mesh.

After breakfast Sunday, we had one last stop at the Museum of the Bible, which was the one part of the trip I was really not into–and not just because they were found recently to have fake artifacts. I’ve had a rocky relationship with organized religion since my teens, and I kind of figured this was not gonna be a museum I was gonna like. I think I expected, like, a sort of creationist, revisionist look at things.

To be honest, I was wrong. The museum was more interesting and informative than I thought it would be, but it’s not perfect, and even my mom, who was more interested than I, had some complaints. The focus was a little odd–I said it was like they managed to have too much and not enough at the same time. Some exhibits feature old Bible after old Bible, and while it was cool, admittedly, to see these super old, intricate, and beautifully designed Bibles, they were a lot of them, and it got to the point where we were kind of tired of looking at…Bibles. And then there were total missed opportunities–or we didn’t see them somehow–to explain things like how these old Bibles were made.

But I did get my in-laws a Christmas-tree ornament in the gift shop, and their café had great lattes and super cute, delicious cupcakes.

The more religious people in the group seemed to have enjoyed it far more than I, which is fair. I’m kind of glad I didn’t hate it, honestly, because no one really wants to have a few hours in a museum they’re dying to get out of.

And from there, we went home.