Not So Magical After All?

I wanted to post about this sooner, but I just did not know what to say. I am still learning about the topic at hand, and all I can really offer is my personal opinion and views on things. There have been so many responses to this already- I suggest you read more than just this post if you have not done so.

I am talking about the tweets and statements made by J.K. Rowling about the trans community. She made quite the stir with her conservative views about their rights, and she doubled down on her publicly stated views after her fans rightfully tried to educate her on the matter.

My opinion is this: you can separate the creator from the art and still appreciate the beauty and message. You can also have various reactions to different situations based on your own compass and the sin. Your views are your own, and they are valid. However, you should be open to learning and listening if someone points out the flaws. And in this case, Miss Rowling is in the wrong.

I will admit that I first gave her a pass on what she said. She is the author of the series that shaped my childhood- really most of the millennial generation. I wanted to believe that she just did not understand what she was tweeting about, and that she would learn from the responses. However, when she refused to back down and claimed to be a victim of the internet, I quickly realized she was not a person worth my respect. Transgendered individuals are humans, and they should have the same rights as everyone. Gender is not an absolute, and a person should be able to be comfortable within their own body.

What hurts the most is Harry Potter is about love and acceptance. The bad guys were literally evil because they wanted to discriminate and commit genocide based on archaic views. Yes, there are some problematic things in the story regarding stereotypes and representation, but the seven books boil down to clear messages of hope. Friendship prevails. Hate loses. Love and accept everyone, no matter their status. It’s kind of a simple concept, really. It’s a shame that the author cannot practice what she writes.

I will not stop loving the Wizarding World. She just doesn’t exist to me anymore. This is the fun part of this situation- how fans are replacing her. Is Starkid the real author and everything else just fanfiction? Hermione decided to write a memoir. Maybe there is no one author and it was written by magic. I’m not sure which one I like best- perhaps a combination of them all?

Again, I am not the best person to be writing about this as I have limited knowledge. I am a straight cis female, but I do consider myself to be a LBGTQIAPK ally. I could be a better ally- I am usually pretty quiet on social media when it comes to these things. I tell myself it’s because I don’t want to start fights with family and friends, but that’s a pretty bad excuse. I want to be better. Learn more. Speak up more. That starts today.

The Beach during a Pandemic

Hello there.

I said I would write about my beach vacation, and here I am. I spent last Saturday through Tuesday at Santa Rosa Beach. My family has a condo there, and it’s usually not as busy as other popular beaches. The location is also about thirty minutes to Destin or Panama City, which makes it pretty great for a vacation.

The first night we went to Rum Runners bar. Saturday nights there are for Dueling Pianos, which is one of our favorite things. The area Rum Runners is in is like a small boardwalk within a resort. Not many people were wearing a mask, but most of them were at outside dining tables and still keeping social distance. Rum Runners itself has less tables than when we were there two years ago in order to allow for six feet between parties. Dueling Pianos was a lot of fun, but the smaller crowd made a huge difference. While the songs were good, there was no feeling of a party. That may be the wrong way to put it. The atmosphere was just not as electric. Not as many drunk bachelorette parties.

Sunday morning, we got to the beach around 9:30. I was shocked at the number of people there- at least double than what we normally see (we go around the same time every year). My guess is most people chose to go to the beach when all the other vacation spots closed due to the virus. There were four or five rows of people that morning, and I will admit that pictures of the beach from a certain angle would make it seem like everyone was on top of each other. But, there was space between groups. I did not bring a ruler or anything, but everyone was setting up the acceptable amount of distance away from others. At least, I never felt like I needed to put on my mask (I kept one in my beach bag at all times, just in case).

That afternoon was spent in San Destin for shopping. Masks were required, and the number of guests inside stores was limited. Our favorite place to shop is the Vera Bradley outlet (or factory, not sure which one is the official name), and this time they had some of the Disney print! I snagged myself a Mickey beach towel, but I never used it for fear of messing it up. Oh, and this time we did the tourist thing and got ourselves airbrush shirts made. You have to wear matching shirts, otherwise it’s not a true girls’ trip.

Monday morning, we got to the beach a little earlier than the day before and it was a lot less crowded. When we left at noon, there was only two rows of people. The weather was fantastic, and the fish were determined to eat our feet. Yeah, that part was not that great, so we did not spend a lot of time in the water. I get freaked out when the fish nibble.

The highlight of the happened that afternoon. We found an axe throwing place in Panama City, and immediately said “yes! Let’s do that!” I was the only one in the group who had done it before, so we spend a good thirty minutes learning the ropes. We were the only ones in the place, and the employees, Crystal and Tiana, were so much fun (and patient). They ended up playing the games with us, and they allowed us to play a little longer than our reserved hour. Everyone was so good by the end of it! I have a feeling that Axe Throwing PCB will be a permanent spot in our future vacations.

Tuesday was the goodbye and drive back to Orlando. It was a short and sweet vacation, and I miss it already. It was nice to not have to think about work for once this summer. Everything has been so hectic and sometimes it feels as if things are just getting worse. Last weekend was a blessing. And I would say, if you are comfortable, do the things that make you feel better. Mental health is hard to keep up with in a normal time, and it is amazingly difficult when your stress level is off the charts. Go to the beach. Take a walk. Do it safely. Just take time for yourself.

Theme Parks During a Pandemic

In the past month I have gone to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Disney Springs, and Hollywood Studios (thank you cast member preview). I am an annual pass member for Universal Studios, but I did not attend the preview days. I was still there within that first week of opening, and my reasoning for going was that the parks were most likely the cleanest they have been for a long while. I will tell you about the experiences I had at both resorts, then I will point out some comparative differences I saw.

I’m going to start with yesterday’s cast member preview at Hollywood Studios. We have been blocked out of this park basically since Galaxy’s Edge opened last year, and I was VERY excited to go back. Hollywood Studios was my home park during my DCP in 2013, and it has been my favorite park since the MGM Studios days. It’s my love of theater that drew me in, but Rockin’ Roller Coaster sealed the deal. Of course, all of the shows are closed right now, but I still love it. Anyway, we were there from opening to about 7 p.m.

In that time we were able to ride everything, including Rise of the Resistance, at lunch at Pizza Rizzo’s, and shopped a bit. Coaster was a walk on, so we rode that twice within ten minutes. We also got to ride Mickey’s Runaway Railroad twice with a rough thirty minute wait each time. Rise was a much longer line- about ninety minutes- and the queue wrapped around to the Muppet’s Studios queue. Portions of the line were even backstage! Cast members stationed at Muppet’s allowed people to get out of line for the bathroom and to get cups of water from Pizza Rizzo’s which was a godsend in the heat. A majority of that line was in the sun, but the ride was worth every minute. Like, I cannot begin to describe how intense and awesome Rise is.

Characters in Galaxy’s Edge were on platforms, and we saw character parades through the park at random times. We were never at the right spot for these parades to get pictures, but I think there were three: Mickey and Friends, Pixar, and Disney Junior. Everyone was social distancing and wearing masks for the most part- most of the crowding happened when people were trying to enter a ride queue from multiple directions at various speeds. I’m not sure how that could be addressed, but just pay attention to your surroundings if you go to a theme park, okay?

Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure were pretty empty. I mean, I got GREAT pictures at Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. We spent one day at each park, and Islands was a little more crowded than Universal, but I believe the walkways in Islands are more narrow. The app to get into virtual lines was a tad glitchy and unpredictable, but we had three people trying to get in, so it ended up being okay. This was a pre-planned family vacation for my cousin’s high school graduation, so we had a group of twelve people which made things interesting. We were always split up at every restaurant we went to except for Hard Rock Cafe where we got to sit together. We had plenty of time to do everything we wanted to do and a lot of things twice. If I remember correctly, Hagrid’s Motorbike was really the only line we had to wait more than ten minutes in.

I’m trying to recall this trip that was over a month ago, so bear with me if it’s not as good as the Hollywood section.

The 3-D glasses were tricky thanks to fogging, and the team members were quick to tell guests to keep masks on over their noses otherwise “the ride will stop.” I did think I was going to lose my mask on the Hulk, but I did not and it was fine. You did not have to wear a mask on the water rides in Islands of Adventure. The freestyle cups were active (something I think Universal has that Disney needs), and a team member wiped down the station after every guest.

Both parks required mobile ordering for quick service meals (we did not eat at a table service within any of the parks). However, Universal’s locations allowed you to be seated inside while waiting for your meal while Pizza Rizzo’s made you wait outside until the My Disney Experience app said your order was ready for pick up. That was a HOT wait out in the sun, and I could see a lot of angry guests in their future. Universal’s system was not perfect, though, as a team member would go around the tables to get order numbers and sometimes they would miss a table in their rotation, causing a longer wait for food.

Hand sanitizing stations were everywhere at both parks. but it was not enforced at Hollywood Studios. At the Universal resort, a team member gave you sanitizer at the head of the line, and you could not board the vehicle until after. There was also a sanitizing station right after you got off the ride, but that one was not required. The difference was most apparent at Toy Story Mania where guests were able bypass the sanitizing station without using it before loading into the ride vehicle.

Overall I will say I felt safer at Universal than at Disney in regards to Covid guidelines. I will also say that my experience does not mean someone else felt differently. It’s all personal opinion. I do recommend bringing multiple masks to whatever park you may go to. I switched mine out after four hours in the fun summer Florida heat. This helped immensely with breathing as the sweat and humidity kind of clung to the fabric of the mask.

Now that everything is opened up and cases are on the ride, I will probably no go back to a theme park for a little while. Between the block out dates, the heat, and increase in out of state travel, I think I will say goodbye to my Saturday cardio of walking around the parks (I know, my privilege is showing. Perk of working corporate for a major tourist industry). I will probably go to Disney Springs before the current increased cast member discount ends, though. I am also going to the beach this weekend where I WILL have a mask with me by the ocean just in case the crowd levels are more than I am comfortable with. I know my level of risk, and I will act accordingly even if it means only one half of my face is tan.

Feel free to ask me questions about the parks, and I will do my best to answer. I will also follow up about that beach trip and whether or not I felt good on the panhandle.

A New Month Already? Julying

Happy second half of 2020! We’ve had a hell of a year so far, but there’s still time to turn it around.

Disney opens at the end of the week, and while I am excited, that’s not the subject of today’s post (I am signed up for one of the Cast Member preview days, so I will talk more after going to that). Today is all about that lovely goal I have about getting healthy. Woohoo!

Quick recap: I am an accountant and therefore sit around all day and do not exercise very often. I am also prone to stress snack on chips and chocolate. All bad habits combined led to a 30 pound gain since I got married in October 2016. I was doing good this past year- I started going to Orange Theory this past October and was taking daily walks on my lunch breaks. Oh, and I kept my desk at standing (LOVE my standing desk at the office) until the afternoon, which also helped a lot (scoliosis back pain, so fun). Then quarantine and working from home (indefinitely still at this point) happened and everything just kind of stopped.

In the beginning of May, I did my very first 5K for one of my favorite organizations: Bert’s Big Adventure out of Atlanta. It was a virtual race, so I was able to complete it by running around my neighborhood. I did not train for it, and according to MapMyRun, I did a total of 5.14KM in 57 minutes. Not too shabby for my first race.

My first 5k race!

You would think that would have made me want to get moving more, especially with the Wine and Dine 10K not yet cancelled, but I still did not get into a routine when it came to fitness.

In Flordia, Orange Theory opened right before Memorial Day. I did start back the week after it opened – OTF and the grocery store are basically the only places I go now. The first few classes were terrible as my body had ditched all the gains from the past 6 months. It was very discouraging, but enlightening to what all I had gained, then lost. I started making sure I took walks more regularly after that- and because B.B.A. announced another virtual race for the 4th of July. This time we could get shirts!

Y’all, my time on Saturday was 51 minutes. Things are working.

The best part is the scale is starting to trend down! I am so excited, but I do have a feeling that it is not just because of the increased activity. A couple of weeks ago, I began to really count the calories I ate – I bought a food scale and everything. Staying home all day decreases my calories burned, so I incorporated a very loose intermittent fasting schedule as well (16:8 for those who follow IF). My morning is hot tea and water; I try not to eat anything until noon. It’s working as long as I stick with it.

With all of that being said- what are some good healthy snacks? I know fruits and vegetables, of course, but what about non-traditional snacks? Especially for someone who loves sweet and salty things. Let me know some of your favorite recipes for me to try!

The Word of the Year is Create

I am a big fan of having a word of the year. And after having more “serious” words the last few years, I decided to do something more fun. My 2020 word is “create.”

I am not sure if you can read all of the headers, but the pictures above say “In 2020 I will Create…”

  • Stories
  • A Healthy Lifestyle
  • Ears
  • Better Relationships
  • A Loving Home
  • Memories
  • Stable Financials
  • Gratitude

I have four blank columns left, but all of these correspond to some goal I have for myself this year. I want to work on what makes me better as a person, which means I need to create the habits and hobbies that will get me there. I have also noticed that I have stopped spending time doing the things that make me relaxed an happy, which is why you see stories and ears at the front of the list.

And by ears, I mean Mickey. I have started making my own, because even with my cast member discount, those things are expensive. Plus, it’s fun to design and make. It’s putting my sewing machine to good use. I’m not making them to sell, though. I am no where as talented as some of the people I see on Etsy.

I will post about each of these areas- either separately or a couple at a time. There is a lot that will go into each one, but some are hard to describe/ explain correctly. Plus, some just seem to go together so well that it would make sense to talk about them at the same time. I encourage you all to have your own word of the year. I find them to be good motivators.

Better Late Than Never!

Good bye 2019! This past year was definitely my renaissance (which happened to be my word of the year. I chose well). So much happened!

  • Got my CPA license
  • Got the job offer from Disney
  • Left public accounting
  • Moved to Orlando
  • Bought a house
  • Went on an Alaskan cruise
  • Surpassed my reading goal
  • Basically made playing in theme parks my new hobby
  • Started going to OrangeTheory Fitness
  • Survived our first travelling Christmas with very few casualties (only 5 presents left in Orlando. I had a 10 minute freak out about it but what are you going to do when you are 8 hours away?)

I can’t wait to see what 2020 brings. I am not going to go into all of my current goals and projects in this post as this is just a “Oh crap, I haven’t updated in months” thing, but I promise to post my 2019 reading list the hope for the future soon.

I will get better about posting on a schedule, I promise!

NaNoWriMo 2019 Planning Update

I finally have a title! Golden Soul

One of my main characters’ name means empty light and I think that is the coolest.

While filling out a character sheet on Scrivener:

That’s right. The devil’s occupation is…. DEVILLING.
I cracked myself up with this one.

Right now the story is going to be set in Victorian era with a steampunk feel, but I may make it set in the future just so my MC has to have a music off in Hell with Elton John (I love Elton. It’s just a thing in my story that all musicians and script writers are in hell. ESPECIALLY the anyone who creates a musical. My devil is super into theatre.)

Just over a week before NaNoWriMo starts! If you are also taking the challenge, add me as a buddy: Destinydalma.

My Broadway Hits

I have none of the talent that will ever let me be in a musical, but that will never stop me from loving Broadway or from putting on one woman shows at home or in my car. So, this is going to be a list of what I believe to be the best Broadway songs for belting. You will probably disagree or have ones to add, so please, let me know your favorites in the comments.

To prevent having a list that is 100 songs long, I have split them into categories based on moods. Please enjoy.

When you need motivation:
  • “Defying Gravity” Wicked
  • “Seize the Day” Newsies
  • “Freak Flag” Shrek the Musical
  • “Learn to Do It” Anastasia
  • “So Much Better” Legally Blonde the Musical
When you are really pissed off:
  • “No Good Deed” Wicked
  • “Cell Block Tango” Chicago
  • “I’d Rather be Me” Mean Girls
  • “Epiphany” Sweeney Todd
When you’re in one of those moods that’s not quite sad, but not not sad either:
  • “Who I’d Be” Shrek the Musical
  • “Monster” Frozen
  • “Music of the Night” Phantom of the Opera
  • “Shadowlands” The Lion King
When you just want to cry:
  • “I’ll Cover You Reprise” Rent
  • “Come What May” Moulin Rouge (it’s about to open on Broadway so I’m counting it)
  • “On My Own” Les Miserables (Really ANY of the songs fit here)
  • “Winner Takes it All” Mamma Mia
When you want to be sassy and sexy:
  • “All that Jazz” Chicago
  • “On the Right Track” Pippin (The ringmaster just oozes sexuality and I love it. At least she does on the New Broadway Cast Recording)
  • “Bend and Snap” Legally Blonde the Musical
  • “Harden My Heart” Rock of Ages
  • “You’re the One that I Want” Grease (Tell me about it, stud)
When you are in love:
  • “I Can Hear the Bells” Hairspray
  • “All I ask of You” Phantom of the Opera
  • “As Long As You’re Mine” Wicked
  • “I Could Have Danced All Night” My Fair Lady
When you want to sing something that doesn’t fit in the other categories (or you REALLY cannot rap but still try):
  • “Gay or European” Legally Blonde the Musical
  • “Trouble” The Music Man
  • “A Little Priest” Sweeney Todd
  • The entire Hamilton album
  • “One Day More” Les Miserables (Bonus points if you attempt all 20 parts like I do)
  • “Gaston” Beauty and the Beast

Long Time, No Write

Hello everyone! I know I haven’t said much at all this year (I’m not counting my birthday announcement. That was like five words), but it’s officially half-way through tax season. I figured it was past time to check in.

This season is kicking my butt. The new tax laws are tough to figure out, and a lot of things have changed. My work load is probably the same as last year, but the added responsibilities I have as a senior accountant have my stress levels really high. I feel over anxious about everything- especially the little things that I can’t control. I’m exhausted. Let me put it this way: Shrek the Musical made me cry when Shrek bursts from the outhouse in the opening song. I cried because of Shrek.

But, I had a fantastic birthday. My family and husband surprised me by taking me to Agatha’s dinner theater in downtown Atlanta. The 2019 winter show is Hamilton based, and it was fantastic. Best part was they threw in some Schoolhouse Rock. I could not have asked for a better celebration.

Oh, that jacket I’m wearing? That was a gift from my brother. He MADE that. It is gorgeous and I am so sad the weather has not been nice enough to wear it. Here’s the back:

IT’S A BEAUTY AND THE BEAST JACKET. Y’all, my brother is super talented. He’s made himself a music themed leather jacket, and I think he’s making Mom a Marvel one. Dude has all the creativity I wish I had. I’m jealous.

Anyway, we are three weeks from business tax deadline and then the big tax deadline is only a month after that. I can see the Disney glow at the end of the tunnel (I get to book fastpasses Wednesday. The homesickness is real). It’s only going to get busier and crazier from here, so I would not be surprised if the next time I post is April 16th. I’ll try not to wait that long.

How’s your 2019 going? Any other accountants feel the crunch yet?