A Different Kind of Vacation

Sedona sunset

Almost every vacation I’ve ever taken has been to do something. Go to a convention. See the touristy sights. Look at Doctor Who locations. Visit as many friends and family as I can squeeze into a few days. I come home feeling no more rested than when I left (and often far less so).

This last trip to Sedona, Arizona was something different. Finally. Okay, maybe Steven and I did manage to fill it up with going-and-doing-type-stuff more than was entirely necessary, but it was easily the most relaxed vacation I’ve taken in many many years. And it was great.

I didn’t de-stress quite as much as I would have liked, but the somewhat-enforced relaxation did make a difference that I can feel even now. I’m more clear-headed and ready to face the challenges of the day.

A big part of that was largely unplugging from social media. I didn’t even know where my phone was half the time, and I was 100% ok with that. I checked emails and incoming tweets a few times, but I didn’t check my feeds overall. I had next to no idea what was going on in the larger world and it was fantastic.

This was a family vacation, so I spent lots of quality time with my mom and dad, sister and brother, and my aunt (plus, the aforementioned Steven, of course). We played games (Pandemic! Catan! Apples to Apples!) and grilled our own food and soaked in the hot tub a LOT. There was a ton of just sitting around and talking or reading or staring at the views. (The pic above is a sunset as seen from one of our three patios.)

After experiencing something like this, I realize this is the kind of vacation I truly need every once in a while. I can remember only one beach vacation in Florida that left me feeling so recharged, like I’d gotten what I needed out of a vacation (and that one I spent almost entirely on the beach, reading). This is something I’m going to take into account the next time I start planning future trips.

The tricky thing is I’m not in a financial place to take vacations like this often. (Or at all, really. This one was planned so far in advance that it happened despite my current looking-for-work state.) Even when finances are firmly in the black, there are only so many trips I can take in a year. When I’ve got a day-to-day gig again, there’ll be a limited number of vacation days to take into account too. If I skip Doctor Who conventions (very much do-stuff kinds of trips) for a year that means I miss seeing most of my friends for that whole year. That’s no good for my mental health either! And when it comes to non-con trips, I’m married to a “do-er”, who wants to go see things and do things. So there’s that to consider.*

I guess for now I’m just incredibly thankful I got to take this particular trip at this particular time. It might not happen again soon, but it did happen. And I’m overjoyed that it did.

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*I absolutely recognize how lucky I am that this is a “problem” I have. There are many people for whom any kind of trip would be a dream, and I don’t take it for granted.

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London Travel Diary – Day 6

Our continuing adventures in the UK! Check out Day 1Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and Day 5 if you missed them.

Day 6: Wednesday, November 4

This was a big, long day! Steven and I got up at stupid-o’clock (that’s 4:30am) to take the tube to Epping where we met Simon and Warren in the pouring rain and waited for our pal Dan to pick us up. Dan, because he’s one of the nicest fellows ever, agreed to drive us all the way to Cardiff and back on Wednesday so we could take in the Doctor Who Experience (and not have to check out of our hotel in order to do it).

We stopped at a “service station” (which is like a highway oasis or truck stop) to use the bathrooms and so Dan could get something from Greggs. (Greggs was another thing that was totally new to us.) I bought myself a Kinder hazelnut bar from a vending machine. It was awesome. There were no Kinder products in the US when I was growing up, and I’d never tried the items we have here in Canada, so even my vending machine experience felt exotic.

A proper road trip involves some sort of crazy antics in the car: Continue reading

London Travel Diary – Day 5

It’s high time I continued our adventures in the UK! Check out Day 1Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4 if you missed them.

Day 5: Tuesday, November 3

Tuesday was a day Steven and I were largely on our own, and we decided to just walk around. I can highly recommend wandering around London with someone you love. It was a great way to experience the city.

We didn’t have much in the way of specific destinations in mind, but Steven wanted to check out BBC Broadcasting House, so instead of jumping on our beloved Tube, we set out on foot in that general direction. Of course, one of the first landmarks we encountered was the ever-present, ever-looming WOTAN.

It's even scarier from right below.

It’s even scarier from directly below.

Steven needed his daily dose of coffee, so we stopped at a Pret A Manger on the way. I didn’t notice you had to ask for an extra shot to make it what I call “normal”-strength, so I walked away with a disappointingly weak latte. We did not go back to one for the rest of the trip.

We were surprised how quickly we found ourselves at BBC Broadcasting House. There’s an awful lot of stuff packed within very walkable distance in London!

Bobo was excited to see the BBC as well.

Bobo was excited to see the BBC as well.

Inside, we chatted with the clerk at the gift shoppe. He said he’d heard of Radio Free Skaro! (Though he said he’d never listened. Nor had he heard of Verity!) We bought a few things (including refrigerator magnets and an enamel pin for my TARDIS bag). And, of course, we took the obligatory I-was-at-the-BBC pics. Continue reading

Art Attack!

Huzzah! It’s back to patron-inspired posts for me!

Many thanks to Chris Fone for this particular item. It’s easily the most delightfully weird thing I’ve watched for the blog yet! For those not in the know, Art Attack was a British series of short episodes in which Neil Buchanan (who wrote and produced the show) taught kids about cool art projects they could do at home. Apparently there’s a version of it that’s still going on Disney Junior, but that’s not what Chris wanted me to watch and write about. No, it’s the classic I’m here for.

First of all, I’d never heard of this show. It’s totally the kind of thing I would’ve expected to see on PBS, but I don’t think it ever made it there–at least not to the Milwaukee area where I grew up. My spouse, Steven, on the other hand–he remembered it almost immediately! (Yes, I made him watch it with me.) He thought he remembered watching it on YTV in Canada.

I love that this is available on YouTube so you all can watch the glorious VHS transfer like I did. (Complete with sporadic tracking issues–I LOVE IT!) It’s only about 15 minutes, so I do recommend you give it a view for funzies. It’ll make the rest of this post make a lot (or a little?) more sense.

So without further ado, here are my observations about Art Attack: Continue reading

Resettling In

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As I posted earlier today, I’m just home from a week-long vacation in beautiful Sedona, Arizona. After all that time surrounded by natural beauty, warm temperatures, a sprawling luxury vacation home, and my loving family, it was a bit of a shock to get home to a city that’s not-terribly-far above freezing and a smallish apartment that’s strangely not filled with people laughing.

To combat this shock, I’ve been collecting little things all day–little things that make me glad to be home. I’m sharing them here, in part, so I can look back at this later to remind myself why I love living where I do. And I do love it here, but I’m sure eventually a day will come when these reminders will be handy. Perhaps it’ll remind you of some things you like about your home too. Continue reading

Post-Vacation Update

Sedona Panorama

Things have been quiet here in March. The early part of the month was spent concentrating heavily on job-hunting. (And on trying to avoid getting sucked down into the emotional mire of insecurity and uncertainty that can accompany that search.) Both struggles continue.

I also had a family vacation last week that was nearly two years in the making. (My mom is A Planner.) Mere days before I left, I learned a dear, dear friend passed away. I’m still struggling quite a bit with the complicated grief this news brings.* While I’m thrilled with my life here in Canada, being 1500 miles away from what I still think of as “home” is difficult at the best of times. When something like this happens, there’s another layer of guilt and helplessness and then a little more guilt for good measure.

So that colored the vacation a bit and led to sudden moments of deep sorrow in the midst of great natural beauty and family-induced joy. Continue reading

Back to Undermountain

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Hello nerds! I am pretty darn excited right about now. I’m prepping to play D&D! Total Party Kill, the D&D podcast I participate in, is about to switch campaigns. We’re now cycling back to the Undermountain adventure I played in previously. I’m always excited when prepping to play D&D. I’m extra excited now because Flessa is one of my favorite characters to play. She’s dumb. I love playing dumb characters. I spend all day being smart. It’s nice to have a break. Continue reading