Category: musings


Megabust

Lollapalooza 2012 is now a thing of the past. Time for a quick review of my mode of transportation – Megabus.

As an overview, Megabus is a bus company with low fares. It’s not as easy to navigate as Greyhound – from Cincinnati I can only go to Columbus, Chicago and Indianapolis. And if I wanted to take Megabus to somewhere on the East Coast, I’d have to travel 6 hours west to Chicago and hop on the bus back east to Cleveland, then take a bus to Pittsburgh and then take another bus to NYC or DC. And if I wanted to go to Orlando I’d have to take the bus to Indianapolis, from there to Louisville to Nashville to Atlanta to Orlando. Or I can just take a Greyhound. Their route map really needs to TLC if they want to really compete.

Now, onto the trip experience. It’s a double-decker bus, so there are loads of seating options, but the top deck did seem to fill up pretty quickly. There is also only 1 outlet per pair of seats on each side of the aisle, so be prepared to fight for that outlet if it’s a full bus.

The ride up to Chicago was uneventful. We loaded up our bags and grabbed our seats and the bus driver checked our tickets. We arrived at Union Station about 10 minutes or so late, so I can’t complain about that.

Coming back from a long weekend of sun and standing at Lollapalooza, the journey home was definitely less than desirable. The Megabus stop at Union Station is outside, so if you encounter inclement weather, you have no where to hide. With it being August, we only had the sun to compete with. We got to the stop about an hour before our scheduled departure, which it’s only recommended you arrive 30 minutes prior. But we weren’t sure what the traffic was going to be like, so we left early. Turns out we could have left about 2 hours later than we did because that’s how late our bus was. So we were left in the sun, standing around and waiting for our bus to hopefully show up. There was another guy waiting for our bus who took the initiative and called their customer service line to see what was going on. He was told there was something going on at their station where they cleaned and gassed the buses before they left and he would get a call when it was on it’s way. About an hour later, he got a call that it was on it’s way and it would be behind a bus heading elsewhere. Well, that bus showed up, and then about 5 more before our bus finally showed up. They really need to have an email system in place or something for when buses are getting held up like that. Airlines give you the courtesy of an email or phone call when they are running late. Why not Megabus? I would have much rather stayed in the air-conditioning of the hotel and slept in an extra hour than wait outside in the sun on a slab of concrete with the uncertainty of bus delays. Our driver, however made up for lost time. We were only late by about an hour when we arrived back in Cincinnati.

I will heed my own warning that I gave out for the dotcom hotel websites – you get what you pay for. Sure, the trip was shorter and cheaper than if I had taken a Greyhound bus. But given this experience, I will most likely go with Greyhound from here-on-out.

I graduated in 2008 from the University of Cincinnati with my bachelor’s degree in psychology, right as The Great Recession was starting to take root. I was only going to take a year off before I started graduate school because I wanted to gain some work experience before diving back into academia. And yet, here we are 4 years later. People with psychology degrees were amongst the hardest hit in the downturn as 5 of the top 25 unemployed majors last year were psychology-related and clinical psychology was at the very top of the list. With people tightening their belts, mental health professions took a hit as they were deemed an unnecessary expense. I am, however, glad that I did not rush back into graduate school. For the longest time I was planning on going back for school psychology, which sits at #5 on the unemployment.

While I’ve been biding my time at my current position, I’ve occasionally flirted with the idea of graduate school, but am always stopped by the thought of more debt and a still-unstable job market.

Well, this time is different. The more I think about, the more I’ve come to realize that I want a program that I can work on online so that I can continue to work full-time without compromising my education. And the money currently going to paying off my student loans will be put towards the cost of my graduate degree so that I don’t take out more debt than I need.

“But, WanderLustyGirl, what are you planning on studying”

Ah, I’m glad you asked, reader. An emerging field within psychology is a branch called international psychology. It’s focused on studying psychology and it’s use on an international level. If you don’t go into research in this field, you will most likely become a consultant for international organizations ranging from conglomerates to aid organizations. What I am truly interested in is indigenous psychology, which is seemingly frowned upon at the moment. It throws the DSM out the window, which is psychology’s Bible, and says that non-Western cultures have different ways of viewing mental health and that not all psychological disorders are universal in scope. But regardless, international psychology still emphasizes the cultural heritage of a region when applying psychology, so it intrigues me and may lead to more work with indigenous psychology.

But the best part of all is that this combines my love of all things foreign with what I went to graduate school, sprinkled with the possibility of travel. How can I go wrong?

Curses!

For the record, I haven’t been totally slacking in my blogging duties. I got distracted by Pinterest. I’ve been working on a board over there based on the 1000 Places to See Before You Die book. Almost done, too!

Check it out here!

Remembering 9/11/2001

At 8:46 AM on 9/11/2001 I was 17 years old, a senior in high school. I can barely remember my schedule from my high school years, but I do remember my second period class senior year. I was over 600 miles away in suburban Ohio, far removed from the drama unfolding in NYC.

But I remember a classmate walked into class and told the teacher to turn the TV on. We were watching when the second plane hit and it will be one of those images that will stick with me the rest of my life. We continued to watch, even after the principal got on the PA to tell those of us watching to turn it off. I wasn’t one to watch the news stations at that point in my life, but the moment I got home I turned to CNN to watch the updates. I remember being worried all day because my grandmother was supposed to be flying home that day from a trip.

The horrors from that day is not something that should ever be forgotten. But it’s a downright shame what has happened in this country since that day. Being in suburban Ohio, I didn’t have a lot of friends who weren’t black, white, Christian or Jewish. One of my best friends growing up is Hindu and I knew of only a few Muslims at that point. One of them was in my Trig class that year and I do remember her talking about the vandalism happening to the mosque in town. If anything, I can thank 9/11 for my interest in things outside my comfort zone and my evolution into who I am today. I now read everything I can about different cultures and religions. I meet many people from the Arab world through work and I am extra nice to them because I know other people in the area may not be as nice. I know it wasn’t them as a religion who attacked us. I know it is against their religion to do such heinous acts and that it was the work of extremists.

That is how I remember 9/11. By remembering those who died that day, the reprehensible Islamaphobia that followed and remembering that the acts of a few does not apply to a large group of diverse people.

On the technical side…

I’ve been computer-less for about 2 months. Any posting I’ve done has been on someone else’s computer or off the clock at work.

But, that’s been remedied. I got a MacBook last week. I love it, so I can begin to A) post more and B) start posting pictures. Huzzah!

An Ode to My City

Cincinnati, Ohio. It doesn’t really give you visions of grandeur from a great city, like New York City, New York or Chicago, Illinois does. You may not know that we exist, let alone where we are. But, like the little Whos on Horton’s dandelion, I’m here to insist that we are in fact here. I was born and raised here, and I’m not ashamed to call myself a Cincinnatian. As previously mentioned, I work at the front desk of a hotel, as well as a concierge of sorts for a group who stays with us for a month about 8 months of the year. It’s kind of my job to know what there is around town. We may not have the plethora of museums, parks and restaurants that you’ll find in NYC or Chicago, but they aren’t lacking in quality.

The Cincinnati Art Museum is a great way to spend a day, plus admission is always free, thanks to a generous gift from a local arts patron’s philanthropic foundation, The Richard and Lois Rosenthal Foundation. They have on permanent exhibit a wonderful collection of Rookwood pottery from the famous pottery company here in Cincinnati. There’s a whole wing dedicated to the arts from Asia, India and the Islamic world. They also have pieces from the greats; Picasso, Monet & Matisse just to name a few. When I was there in December they had a collection of Gainsboroughs on loan, which were breathtaking. Last time I was there they even had a few Warhols on special exhibit. There’s an exhibit featuring artists who’ve called Cincinnati home during its formative years and works depicting the area while they were in residence, which I’ve always found intriguing to see how my hometown looked before it became the city I know today. Then there’s a collection of European and Christian art, African art and art from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. They even have a conservation project for Van Gogh’s piece “Undergrowth with Two Figures” that you can watch them work on. There’s so much to see that you really need to dedicate a whole day if you want to see everything.

The location of the art museum is also of note: Eden Park. This gorgeous park is located up on a hill called Mount Adams that overlooks the Ohio River and the downtown area. For a bit of trivia, Cincinnati is sometimes likened to Rome because both cities sit on seven hills. We even have a copy of the Capitoline Wolf in Eden Park, a gift from Mussolini himself. Eden Park is also home to the Krohn Conservatory, which has a wonderful butterfly show each year highlighting butterflies from a specific country and the culture within that country. This year’s show is highlighting Brazil. The park is also home to Playhouse in the Park, which puts on wonderful productions. It has the world premieres of 2 Pulitzer Prize-winning shows under it’s belt, as well as winning a Tony Award for Best Regional Theater and Best Revival for “Company.” Overall, it’s a wonderful place to go to enjoy a leisurely walk, not to mention enjoying some culture.

Speaking of culture, the Museum Center at Union Terminal is fantabulous as well. The building itself is a beautiful work of Art Deco construction. Anyone who’s ever seen the Hall of Justice from the DC comic universe knows what Union Terminal looks like on the outside. On the inside, there are 3 museums. Personally, my favorite is the Natural History & Science museum, but there’s also the Cincinnati History Museum and the Children’s Museum. There’s also a special exhibition area where we’ve previously had the Bodies & Titanic exhibit. Right now they are hosting a Cleopatra exhibit. And then there’s the Omnimax theater, which shows wonderful IMAX films. One of my favorite things to do on a lazy Friday night is to go see a Friday Night Classic, where they show old documentary films.

And those are just the big museums and most known park. There’s also the National Underground Railroad Museum, the Contemporary Arts Center, the Taft Museum of Art and even the Creation Museum. We also have historical sites, like the Harriet Beecher Stowe house, the William Howard Taft house and a few Civil War sites like the Waldschmidt Homestead. One of the best parks in my opinion is Bellevue Hill Park. It’s a small park frequented by students at UC because of it’s proximity, but it has a gorgeous view of the downtown area and the river. There are also the bigger parks like Winton Woods and Sharon Woods, which have all sorts of activities like boating and horseback riding.

And of course we also have our sports teams. We have the MLB’s Cincinnati Reds, the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals and the ECHL’s Cyclones. Then there’s the UC Bearcats for college football and basketball, plus their intra-city basketball rival, the Xavier Musketeers. And if you’re looking for some summer fun, there’s Kings Island and The Beach.

Two of my absolute favorite things to do are the zoo and the aquarium. The Cincinnati Zoo is the second oldest zoo in the country and is also a registered National Landmark. It’s ranked in the top 5 of all zoos nationally, has a well-established endangered animals breeding program and is currently going through a major renovation, which you can currently see in the form of the new Vine Street entrance and Night Walkers house. They even have a solar-panel canopy that sits atop the parking lots, keeping your car cool and providing the zoo with 20% of it’s energy needs.

As far as city restaurants are concerned, I have one warning. Don’t buy into the hullabaloo for Montgomery Inn. Their BBQ sauce, while delicious, isn’t enough to save their ribs. I usually get the spring chicken, which is quite enjoyable with the BBQ sauce. One thing I will suggest you try is Skyline Chili. A cheese coney is $1.50, so it’s a lot cheaper to try that out than it is for a $25 slab of ribs at Montgomery Road.

I highly suggest Urbanspoon to figure out where to eat. We have 4 steakhouses that are operated by Jeff Ruby, and all of them are spectacular. They really are the best steaks in town. There’s also the romantic Italian restaurant Primavista that sits on a hill in the west side of town overlooking the city. And we also have the first authentic Hofbräuhaus outside of Munich, as well as a soon-to-be opened Christian Moerlein Lager House. We are a German town historically, and we’re getting back to our roots as a major player in the American brewing world. And if you’re a fan of Diner, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network, Guy even made a stop to a couple of places in town. He visited Terry’s Turf Club, which honestly is THE best burger in Ohio, and Blue Ash Chili, which is a yummy variation of the classic Skyline chili recipe.

And as with any city, I’m scratching the surface here. There’s loads of other things to see and do and other restaurants to try. But you’ll never know what else is here until you visit.

This is not completely unrelated, but I’m going to qualify my previous statement about not having children. I’ve been watching a little too much Sex and the City lately. Today before I left for work today I was watching A Woman’s Right to Shoes. Now that I’m in my late 20’s and rapidly coming up on my 30’s, I’m surrounded by friends that are engaged, married already, have kids or want to have kids. And by God does Carrie have a point. Between bridal shower, wedding and baby shower gifts, it’s easy to rack up hundreds of dollars per couple, excluding travel if it’s required for these events. And no single person should be chastised for spending money on himself or herself when they spend that same money on their children.

I may not want an extravagant collection of Manolo Blahniks like Carrie, but I want extravagant vacations. I want to be able to go whenever I want and not have to worry about taking my child out of school for trips or hiring nannies. I want to be able to see the world and stay at posh hotels and not have to worry about kids getting lost amidst the throngs of tourists. Why can’t I expect the same kind of financial support for the things I want in life that they get from me? And I shouldn’t have to give up on the life I want because society dictates I have to settle down and procreate. We no longer live in the 18th century. We can choose to do what we want in life.

It shouldn’t be considered selfish to spend the amount of money married folks do on their kids on what I want to do. It shouldn’t be considered less of a responsibility for me financially if my bills are all paid and I choose to take a weekend trip with my extra cash instead. It takes almost a million dollars per child to raise them to 18, excluding college. But all I see are fabulous trips to Tahiti in the overwater bungalows or spending sprees in Paris in my future, not baby formula, clothes that don’t fit after a month and education costs.

I am routinely reminded why I want to be childless, beyond my desire for travel, at work. Kids are snot-nosed brats. No matter how good you think you’re raising them, their friends influence who they are beyond your watch. They may be sweet little angels while you’re around, but get them out with their friends and they are hell-raisers. Trust me, I see it most weekends while we have athletic teams in. The parents sit down for beers and let their children roam free. I’ve even had incidences where a parent will ask if I’ve seen their child. I’m sorry, I’m only paid to work the desk, not to baby-sit your child while you go off and get drunk (again, these are my opinions and don’t reflect those of my company). But therein lies the problem with most parents these days. They have them because they feel some obligation to do so, not because they want to. Not to be a terrible hippie about it, but the planet is extremely overpopulated. Want proof? Look at the job market. There are too many people for not enough jobs. Do you really want to bring a child into the world when they may not be able to find gainful employment as an adult?

I don’t want people to think I’m a hateful hag. I love kids. I just don’t want any of my own and think adults should be more judicious about having kids. Children are a blessing and a responsibility. You shouldn’t have them if you aren’t ready for that burden. I think having a bucket list of things you want to do before you have children is a good idea for any would-be parent. Do your bucket list before having children. You’ll be happier in the long run because you won’t look back and think “Oh, I should’ve done that before I had Sam Jr.” Since my bucket list is extensive, I’ve decided to forgo having children. But that’s my choice. Don’t think less of me for it.

Something that everyone should know from the start is that I work at the front desk of a national hotel chain. I’ve had this job for 6 years now, so I’ve seen a lot.

As a disclaimer, any thoughts regarding my job are mine and mine alone. They do not represent the views of my coworkers, my company or management team. They are just my observations.

One of my biggest pet peeves are guests who chew you a new asshole if something goes wrong. If you’re so worked up over something and you start yelling at us, you’re going to get one of two responses from most hotel employees. 1. The employee will try to calm you down by saying “I understand” then talk about options to make your stay better. Please stop yelling and listen to what they are saying. Take a chill pill and work with them. They are trying their best to rectify the situation. 2. Your yelling will cause the employee to shut down and they will not put the effort into helping you. You will continue to be pissed off and nothing will get done besides the bare minimum…if you’re lucky.

I know I am much more likely to put just a wee bit more effort into helping someone and even go above & beyond (free breakfast, drinks) if someone treats me with the dignity I deserve as a fellow human being. Go ahead and get a good yell in, but if the entire conversation is you yelling at me and not listening to how I’m trying to help you, the conversation isn’t going to go very far.

It’s easy to tell if you’re staying at a hotel where people enjoy their work. People will bend over backwards to make sure your stay is excellent. But you have to work with us. If we can’t completely fix your problem, we will try to work something out. We may not be able to switch you to a room with 2 beds tonight, but we can move you tomorrow night and give you some extra bedding for tonight. Oh, I’m sorry it’s a smoking room. We can deodorize the room to help mask the smell for the night.

So please, keep this in mind the next time you’re at a hotel and something goes wrong. You’ll get a lot further with us.

Anything you want to know? Leave a comment!!