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I’m Packin’… Or not.


So I am fairly notorious for never being properly prepared for a trip.  But this time?  This time it’s like… extra bad.

Let’s just say we’re T-minus 3 hours from leaving our house, and we still have not packed, I haven’t sufficiently broken in my plane ridin’ jeans (since I failed to buy a decent pair of plane pants), my camera battery isn’t charged, I barely speak any Spanish, and I still don’t know the exchange rate from U.S. dollars to Euros.

Assuming Spain jumped on that whole European Union bandwagon.

The problem is that it never really feels like a trip is actually going to happen until the plane is burning rubber on the tarmac and I kiss the ground goodbye.  (Although let’s hope the plane doesn’t actually burn rubber on the tarmac.  I can’t imagine that would be good.)  This mentality makes it awfully difficult to actually remove items I might need from my bathroom and closet and place them in various bags for transport.

Add to that the fact that only a day or two after we arrive in Malaga, we’ll be heading off on Ryan Air with only strictly size-regulated carry-on bags to spend the majority of our trip on the islands of Ibiza and Formentera.  In fact, the only reason we’re bringing a checked bag (or two) at all is so that we have plenty of room to bring home the maximum allotment of bottles of Spanish wine and other food souvenirs.  This means that we basically need to fit everything — including my DSLR and 2 lenses — into two small backpacks.

In case you’re new here, this is what I packed for 2 months in Costa Rica:

Travel Bags

See that nice, green bag on the left?  That won’t be coming.  It’s too big.

See that black bag on the right?  That’s the bag that’s supposed to fit all of my camera gear, my swimsuits, probably underwear, possibly toiletries, and anything else we can manage to stuff inside.  Then, the rest of our clothes, shoes, and my purse will have to fit inside a second, similarly sized backpack.

Two bags.  Period.  No exceptions.

And I’m actually mildly concerned that backpack might be on the large-side.  I’ll have to measure.

So you can see why someone who normally procrastinates on packing anyway might be particularly intimidated in this scenario.

Oh, well.  I suppose if space gets really tight, we can throw out some of Justin’s clothes, because it’s not like I’d ever leave the camera behind.

Speaking of leaving things behind, I’m bringing my Netbook for use on the plane and maybe a bit in Malaga, but it’s very unlikely that I’ll be taking it to the islands.  This means that I might be sparse on blog posts for a bit, but I promise I’ll make up for it upon our return to reliable internet connections.

That said, I wrote a guest post that will be featured on the blog Simply Solo this Tuesday (5/31), so I really, really hope you go over there and check it out.

Muchas Grassy-ass!

The Thrill of Discomfort


I have some news.

It bit me again.


The travel bug.

Realistically speaking, I really don’t think it ever stopped biting me.  It’s like a greedy little deer tick, barely noticeable to the naked eye, latching on and digging in and sucking my lifeblood until I can think of little else but the pleasure of meeting new people, the adventure of traversing new roads, the taste of new flavors on my tongue, the thrill of discomfort.


It matters not that I returned from a 2 month stay in Costa Rica a mere 5 months ago.

All that really means is that I’ve been suffering 5 months of withdrawals.

And I can tell you this for sure – after 2 months of high, the comedown can be a bitch.

When I talk like this, most people don’t tend to understand.

But… you have a wonderful husband, they say.  And that, I do.

But… you have a nice home and adorable puppies and a comfortable bed! Yes, I’m incredibly fortunate.

But… why would you want to leave these things for the difficulty of living out of a suitcase?  The pain of getting from one place to the next without the luxury of your own vehicle?  The questionable cleanliness of your pillow?  The struggle of communicating with people who don’t speak your language?

Because, my friends, that’s how I know I’m alive.

Travel is the pinch I give myself when life starts to feel too much like a mundane dream.  It’s a pleasant dream, to be sure.  Comfortable.  But you know how sometimes you get too comfortable and you fall asleep and your entire leg goes numb from lack of circulation – stimulation – and you have to beat on it just to get it to wake back up and feel something again?

It’s like that.

Like I said.  Most people don’t understand.

The good news is that this time, Justin is going with me.  Or maybe I should say I’m going with him.  Because, as is our fashion when we’re taking a “big” trip, we’re visiting someone we know.  It’s one of the best ways to make an otherwise unattainably expensive trip… attainable.  Besides, there’s no better way to experience a locale than to travel with a “local.”

We’re visiting one of Justin’s sisters, Becca, and her boyfriend Bradley, who have been living in Spain for the past 2 years.

That’s right – Spain.

They spend their time teaching English to students in Spanish classrooms and traveling around Europe.  And sometimes Africa.

I know.  It’s a rough life.

And since they’ve decided to move stateside again at the end of the school year to pursue even higher education, Justin and I realized that if we want to visit Spain while knowing someone who lives there, it might be now or never.

We’ve never actually met Bradley.  Becca met him while they were both working on the island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean and it’s all very magical and romantic.  I’m excited because I already know I love Becca and, based on his blog musings and awesome taste in music (just read the linked post comments), I’m pretty sure Bradley and I are going to be friends.

Plus, he’s a huge planner and Justin actually likes to have a schedule (I know – he’s weird), so Becca and I can just go with the flow.  It’s pretty much the perfect situation.

While I’m slightly bummed we won’t have time to see much of mainland Spain or any of Portugal (one of my dream places to see), we will get to experience two completely different and amazing Mediterranean islands, Ibiza and Formentera.  So I can’t complain.

And, based on preliminary Google image searches, on Ibiza we’re going to experience a lot of this:

Image source

And on Formentera a lot of this:

Image source

I.  Can’t.  Wait.


Is That a Vagina on Your Kindle, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Funny story.

*It’s pertinent to note that I typed this yesterday while on the plane to Miami.  You’ll see why this is pertinent in a minute.

But before I get to the story, I’m gonna talk a little about my new Kindle.  Go ahead and skip down to point #4 if you want to get straight to the story.

Remember how I told you I won that Kindle at the Christmas party?  If you’re not sure what a Kindle is, I’m sure you’re not alone – I had only a vague idea before I owned one of my very own, and I wasn’t even sure it was something I’d want until it was something I had.  It’s basically a flat, lightweight electronic reading device.  You can buy and download books from, and an instant later it’s magically uploaded to the Kindle.  The screen is not bright like a computer.  It’s strange and wondrous and for the most part, I like it.  Especially for travel.

Except also not.

Because while it makes it easy to carry about ten-gagillion books with you while weighing next to nothing, it does have a few notable downsides:

1.  You have to turn off all electronic devices while the plane is taking off and landing.  I like to read while the plane is taking off and landing.  A Kindle is an electronic device.

2.  Buying electronic books doesn’t save you a considerable amount of money.  I’ve noticed they’re a few dollars less than brand new ink-on-paper books on Amazon, but you can actually find the used ink-on-paper books for less than an electronic book.  Also, as far as I can tell, I can’t loan my electronic books to my friends.  I suppose this could be a good thing if your friends like to steal your books, but I figured it was worth mentioning.

3.  No one can see the title of the book you’re reading.  Of course, in some cases this could probably save you considerable embarrassment if you’re reading something like The Gossip Girl series (it’s a vice, don’t judge).  But when you feel like you’re reading something that makes you look intelligent, you want people to notice, you know?  You want people to look at you and say, “Oooh.  She’s reading Sophie’s Choice.  I heard that’s a doozy.  She must be really intelligent.”  What’s more, letting people see the title of your book could also save you from embarrassment (see point 4).

4.  Story time. I was sitting at my gate in the Raleigh airport waiting for my flight to board, when this very pleasant-looking Indian woman (dot, not feather) walked up with her bags on a cart and sat down next to me.  She looked a little lonely, so we chatted awhile until we reached that inevitable point of conversation between most strangers when we ran out of things to say.  So I pulled the Kindle out of my bag, turned it on, and asked her whether she’d ever used one.  See, she travels quite frequently for her job, and I hadn’t yet fully learned the downsides of traveling with a Kindle.  So far I’d been pretty thrilled with it.

She said she’d never used one, so I handed it to her so she could take a closer look.

And here’s where it gets dicey.

What I forgot is that I had recently started reading, Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut.

What I forgot is that the Kindle opens to the page where you last left off.

What I forgot is that on the page I’d last read, Kurt (we’ve been on a first-name basis since I read and fell in love with his short story Harrison Bergeron in the 8th grade) was talking explicitly about womens’ panties and the body parts found therein.

And, my friends, what I forgot is that there were illustrations.

That’s right.  The friendly woman who had just expressed that she thought I was one of the nicest people she’d ever met in an airport, found herself, quite surprisingly, face-to-bush when I handed her my Kindle.

Luckily, the drawing looked more like a tree than a vag.

I think.  (Although my sister and her roommate have since confirmed that it does, in fact, look like a vag.)

I hope she didn’t read anything before I snatched it back from her.  (I realize that snatched is a poor choice of words to use here, considering the context, but it’s already there and I can’t, for some reason, bring myself to delete it.  Mature, Katie.)  But I hope she didn’t read anything because the text really wouldn’t have helped my case.

The only thing that would have helped my case is a clearly visible book title, my friends – a title that proved I was reading a novel by one of the most renowned authors of our time – not a smutty porn book with illustrations that appeared to be drawn by crayon-wielding children, for crying out loud.  Children who like to draw vaginas. (Not that there’s anything wrong with smutty porn.  Not at all.  In fact, smutty porn is a perfectly healthy way to indulge your fantasies, in my humble opinion.  It just doesn’t necessarily belong in an airport, you know?)

As I type this, I’m sitting in the window seat on the plane and I have what appears to be a 15 or 16 year old boy sitting next to me, and his mother is sitting next to him.  I hope he’s not reading over my shoulder.  Damn, why can’t I read or write something appropriate for nosy onlookers?

I want to continue reading Breakfast of Champions, but all of the asshole drawings, which look something like this: * and take up two-thirds of the Kindle screen, might attract my seat mate’s attention even more than this lil’ blog post.  But you know, I guess wouldn’t be too embarrassed if he did read what I’m writing, because his mom is reading, What Your Son Isn’t Telling You: Unlocking the World of Teen Boys right in front of him.  And that, to me, is more embarrassing than an innocent asshole illustration or two.

And now I realize: I wouldn’t be judging her if she were using a Kindle.

Recreational Equipment Impaired ®

Ok, I hadn’t planned on mentioning Saturday’s fateful episode because I’ve already done a few of those “Hah, how delightfully kooky I am!” kind of posts and I figured I’d better cool it on those for a while before you guys start thinking a typical day for me entails sobbing hysterically in the shower, scratching the eyes out of people in magazines, writing rambling letters to the President warning him that Wilford Brimley is trying to poison the local water supply, etc.

That’s strictly a Sunday thing.

I’m watching you, Quaker Oats man.

However, since Katie brought it up — with a little dramatic flair added for comedic value — I feel I should explain the situation so that my mother-in-law doesn’t have to worry that I’m going to snap under the stress of packing some day this week and go after her baby boy with a frying pan.

So, it went like this:  I drove to the REI in Rockville on Saturday for what started out as an entirely innocent errand to exchange a rain jacket I’d bought online for a smaller size.  The exchange went smoothly and that might’ve been the uneventful end to the most boring cocktail party story ever except, just as I was turning to leave, some dark, twisted thought sprang from the bowels (ew) of my mind.

Oh, what the hey, I thought to myself.  Shucks, since I’m here anyway, I might as well take a look around this here shoppin’ establerment and see if I there’s anything else I might could use.  Git ‘r done!  Earnhardt forever! Because, naturally, that’s how I talk in my head.

When I finally made it out of the store two and a half hours later, I imagine the parking lot surveillance cameras caught a wild-eyed, disheveled person who vaguely resembled me bursting through the front doors like I’d just been released from a 48-hour hostage situation, pausing just long enough to whip my head wildly left and then right, and then tearing off in a dead sprint across the parking lot without looking back.

For those unfamiliar with REI (which stands for “Recreational Equipment, Inc.”  Droppin’ knowledge like bombs!), it’s a national outdoor and sporting goods retail chain that supplies every conceivable brand and type of gear for the knowledgeable climbing, camping, mountain biking and general outdoors enthusiast.

Which, basically, translates to the seventh circle of hell for people like me.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I consider myself an outdoorsy person — I like to hike, camp, trail-run, mountain bike, eat possum, etc. — but me stepping foot into an REI is akin to someone who likes to read attempting to plow through the entire Encyclopedia Britannica series in one sitting.  You’re just in way over your head, my nerdy little friend.

The thing is, I’m not what you would call a “decisive” person.  If you give me two options, I will choose Option A, then change my mind and choose Option B.  Then change my mind again.  Then ask which one you’d choose.  Then try to listen to which option fate is telling me to choose.  Then make a list detailing the pros and cons of each option.  Then convert said list into a color-coded Excel bar graph.  Then, if given enough time, have a nervous breakdown.

So, it goes without saying that I don’t do well in scenarios where I’m given too many choices.  And, being a major retail chain, choices are what REI is all about.  So, being the person I am in the situation I was, I ended up spending half the day wandering aimlessly up and down each aisle (and possibly through part of the Men’s Big & Tall next door somehow) trying to discern the difference between 10 similar shiny packaged products, praying that someone would swoop in and save me from this private hell of personal freedom.

Every once in a while I’d see a busy store clerk bustle by, at which point I’d shuffle after him a safe distance, whimpering and holding out two items like a toddler asking to be picked up.

What is a ‘nonadjust Poly/Neoprene retainer’ and why is it trying to make me insane?

And on the rare occasion they actually stopped for me (and didn’t break into a jog after looking back and seeing my hungry eyes and quivering lip), here’s how the exchange typically went:

Me: Please.  I’m looking to buy a hydration bladder for my backpack.  Just tell me which one I should get.

Bearded, Teva-Wearing Store Clerk: Well, that depends.  How many liters is your pack’s capacity?  Is this for a technical daypack or a multiday excursion pack?  Does your pack have an internal frame or external?

Me: Um, see, it’s a backpack.  It’s about yea wide and yea big (hold my hands appropriate distance apart) and it goes on my back like this (mime putting on a backpack).

Bearded, Teva-Wearing Store Clerk: What capacity is the pack’s reservoir sleeve?  How many drink tube exit ports does it have?  What type of access port design are you looking for?

Me:  (Blink several times.  Maybe drool a little.)

Bearded, Teva-Wearing Store Clerk: Do you want a rigid or molded hydration bladder?  Made of rubber or flexible plastic?  Do you intend to use a water purification-adaptable system?

Me:  Lookie here, Brent.  I guess your carabiner key chain and your “Life is Good” T-shirt qualify you for some sort of Eagle Scout merit badge in smug condemnation, but I will not be suffering your crap today, my friend.  So just tell me what to get or I will rip off your stupid ponytail and make you eat it.

Okay, so that last part was in my head.  What I actually did was mutter something incoherent and then scuttle away like a crab.

So, by the time Katie called, I was a bit stressed out.  I mean, I was so confused and uncertain that I almost bought a fanny pack.  Fortunately, I regained my senses in the nick of time, paid for the few items I’d manage to decide upon, and got the hell out of there.

So, hopefully, explaining that episode has now put everyone’s mind at ease that I’m not a neurotic nutjob.

Wait.  I guess that really didn’t…

Aw, crap.

The Sink’s In Here Somewhere…

In the words of Erin’s frog, she is completely harshing my mellow.

I mean, I was happy just floating along, all, “I’m SO ready for this Costa Rica trip.  I’ve got typhoid  shots and a backpack – what more do I need?”

And then came this post.  This awful, horrible, mellow-harshing post that, aside from making me laugh at Erin’s pantaloons, sprouted this demonic little thought in my head that maybe – just maybe – I should think about packing.

Have I been worried about the language barriers?  Sure.  Have I been concerned my fragile little underexposed body might have difficulty adjusting?  Of course.  Have I been concerned I’ll make a true American ass of myself by not understanding the culture?  No doubt.  I expressed all of those concerns here.  I’ve already admitted that when it comes to this trip, this is me:

But in all  honesty, I haven’t let myself freak out about these things because:

a)  I’m doing the best I can to prepare in a limited amount of time by studying up on some Spanish (and buying a phrase book); seeing the doctor and getting proper medications; and reading up on Tico culture in my nifty little guidebook, and

b)  We’re going to be working for a great family who, at every chance they’ve been able to get so far, have been straightforward and quick to reply with what to expect.

But then comes Erin with her post about practicalities, like packing??!

Not to mention the panicked phone call I received from her at REI just yesterday when she was struck with an insurmountable bout of indecision.  (Did I tell you I wouldn’t tell anyone about that, Erin??  It’s a good thing only 6 people read this.)

So I’ve decided it’s time to start assessing where I stand, starting with the GINORMOUS bag of goodies and gifts my exceedingly generous friends from work gave me over excessive amounts of tequila (accompanied by a small amount of margarita fixings) after my last day at work.

Okay.  Wow.

I will admit there are a few items here I may not be taking to Costa Rica.  See, I have a limited amount of room in my backpack, so it’s inevitable that some things out of this huge, thoughtful bag of gifts will get left behind.

Like maybe these:

Peace flip flops

Not because they’re not totally awesome, but I do need to be a little practical here.  I’m only allowing myself to bring 2 pairs of shoes (possibly 3 if I can’t find the right wet/dry amphibian shoes), and I’ll need my 1 pair of flip flops to work with the majority of my clothes.  Unfortunately, I just don’t have that much teal in my wardrobe.  But maybe I should.

And these two items:

Bug Hat

While I understand the practicality of packing the proper head gear, I should probably be realistic about what I’ll actually wear.  For example, the first hat might really come in handy if I find myself devoid of bug spray or if I decide to take up beekeeping, but I’m hoping to avoid both scenarios during this trip.  And the second… well…


There are, however, some really really great things in here that will definitely be making the cut.

Like food.  Can’t go wrong with that.  And while I might not be bringing all of this food, I can definitely see where it might come in handy on the trip out there or during one of our weekend excursions.

Snack Food

And how cool are these nifty little tools??  I find myself walking around the house just looking for an excuse to use these.

These are just a few of the multitude of basic hygiene and toiletry products, which are fantastic (don’t ask about the Gold Bond – hopefully I won’t need it):

And this – this I was really excited about.  VERY few people are cool enough to sport one of these:

Head Lamp

I am lucky enough to be one of those people.  To prove it, here’s me during a Geology field trip circa early 2006:


See?  Cooler than words can express.

They also got me this great little sling bag made out of recycled products.  I haven’t actually tried to take it out of the pouch because I’m afraid I won’t be able to get it back in, but rest assured I will likely get my use out of this puppy once we’re there:

Recycled product bag

There were many, many more things in there as well, including a rain poncho, first aid kit, ear plugs (in case Erin snores), ibuprofen, and sanitary hand wipes, just to name a few.

I’m incredibly lucky to have worked with such amazingly thoughtful people.  It almost feels like I don’t need to bring anything else.  Almost.

I’m also very lucky I look good in a headlamp.

Just sayin’.

I Don’t Know Where There Is

I mentioned way back here that I’ve been getting a lot of questions about this upcoming trip to Costa Rica.  Since then, some people have been acting a little… timid… around me.  Like they’re afraid to say or ask anything lest I bite their heads off with my self-righteous wailing.

Let me clarify by saying that these – well most of them – are not bad questions.  If I seem annoyed when they’re asked, it’s only because I’m irritated with the fact that they force me – repeatedly – to face the fact that I don’t really know what I’m doing.

I do, however, know that when I force myself to answer them, I don’t doubt for a second that this trip will be a worthwhile experience.

And don’t worry – we’ll be sharing our packing list and trip blunders along the way.

But it’s the after questions – the, “What are you going to do when you get back?” and, “How long can you sustain your finances without a real job?” questions that, as much as I hate to admit it, make my pits turn damp and stop me cold.

For these, I really have no answer.  Right now I only know my way out of what I don’t want in this life.  Stagnancy.  Politics.  Achievements in the form of framed certificates I can hang on my cubicle wall.

Slowly, after literally years of questioning the career path that found me, I eventually realized that all I can do is take my exit, as gracefully as possible, and hope it leads me not just somewhere else, but somewhere better.

I picked up on another Avett Brothers line the other day (I’m sorry if you’re sick of the mentions here – but their lyrical wisdom is far superior to anything I could write myself), that translated the plea in my head to real words:

“I’m as nowhere as I can be / Could you add some somewhere to me?”

There’s that word again.  Somewhere

When it dawned on me that I’m only where I’m “supposed” to be and doing what I’m “supposed” to be doing, I wondered why I’m not doing what I want to be doing.  I can’t explain it.  It’s pure selfishness in all its glory.  And I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.

All I knew was that I needed a new experience.  Any experience.

So that’s what I’m after.

(That, and figuring out how to make my thoughts work without ending them in prepositions.  Because like Winston Churchill, “Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.”)

After that?  Who knows.  But I’m sure it will be great.

And even if it’s not, at least it will be me.

*The internet is a veritable soup of hauntingly beautiful imagery mixed in among the muck and grime of other less inspiring, mundane frivolities (like this here blog).  Although we’d like to get to the point where most of the images found here are our own, all of the ones you see in this post were acquired from, which, in turn, compiled the images from other places across the web.  If you happen to find your image here and want it credited or removed, just contact us and we will comply pronto.  Thanks!

When Does the Fun Start?

On my way to quench my coffee addiction this morning (a habit on my list of things to kill before the big Costa Rica trip), I decided to stop over at the military hospital to get my second shot for Hep A and B.  Ouch.  (But I’d rather take 8 more of those in one arm – no, in my face – before I’d choose to subject myself to another Typhoid shot.  That’s just the kind of baby I am.)

Frequent responsible and health-conscious travelers, how do you do it??

At least I got a hot pink band aid out of the deal.

(‘Scuse the image quality – that was taken with my phone.)

As the nurse drew the curtain closed and pinched my arm fat so she could administer the medicative juices, I started to consider the fact that there’s a lot of merit to just taking off one day with absolutely no initial research or preparations.

I read an online article over the weekend about a kid who did just that.  He was fresh out of college and had been running a hospital shuttle bus for a few months, and then BAM!  He saw an ad on Craigslist or something for a room for rent in Costa Rica and just decided to go for it.

No vaccinations, no Spanish-English dictionary, no trip insurance.

He brought just himself and a strong pair of cojones.  And his brother.  And his brother’s cojones, if you want to get technical.  Okay and maybe he brought a toothbrush.  And maybe he put that toothbrush in a backpack – but I’m guessing he didn’t try on a bunch of packs at the store and post questions on travel forums about the best way to carry his DSLR.  That’s all I’m sayin’.

And I thought, how great would it be to have the guts to just go for it – don’t worry about professional courtesy of giving work notice, don’t worry about reading up on the history of the country, don’t worry about contracting potentially life-threatening blood borne pathogens – it’ll all work out in the end.


But then I realized.  I may not be much of a planner – I’m not good with itineraries or playbooks or remembering which day of the week it is – but I will always be a maximizer.  (It’s a word I learned during an office retreat, so it must be real.  And it must always be typed in bold font.)  At any rate, I will always try to make an experience the best it can possibly be.

The maximizer in me knows that if I go into a trip like this without understanding anything about the local people or the ecology of the region, I’d spend so much time while I’m there trying to figure those out while not looking like an ignorant idiot that I’d forget how to just enjoy.

So I’ll deal with the shots.  And the hot pink band aid.  And the questions about what I’m going to do when I get back.  The works.

And I’m bringing a damn dictionary.

And I think – I really think – it’ll be worth it in the end.  And maybe my shoulders will thank me for doing a little research about the pack.

I’m Too Sexy for my Hep Shots

Since Erin is busy gettin’ busy with her hubs who made it home yesterday, I thought it might be helpful to address some of the questions I’ve been getting about my level of preparedness for this upcoming trip.

Do you remember how my prep work for our trip to Hawaii entailed attempting to get bikini-ready by faking a tan and trying to work out?

Well, my preparations for our (much longer) trip to Costa Rica are panning out a bit differently.

The truth of the matter is, in my attempts to resurrect my feelings of carefree youth by quitting my job, booking a ticket to a foreign country, increasing my alcohol tolerance level – the works – I’ve started to realize that in light of this upcoming experience, I’m going to be regressing a hell of a lot further back than I ever wanted to go.

You see, I’m not just reverting – I really am a baby.

I’ll explain:


The most glaringly obvious sign of my unpreparedness is the fact that I don’t speak a lick of Spanish.  Okay, fine.  I learned the words “platos” and “cerveza” from some of the guys I worked with at a restaurant, but that’s really about it.

Enter Rosetta Stone.  I’ve been working my way haphazardly through the lessons over the past couple of weeks, but I’m going to have to pick up the pace if I want to do anything more than tell people, “The cat is black.”  El gato es negro.  And there’s a good possibility I screwed that up.

Let’s face it – it’s unfair of me to expect people to speak my language while I’m living in their country.  But with my computer’s microphone not cooperating, the best I can expect in the end is to sound like a 2-year-old.  But I can deal with that.  Oh, and I’ll need to be spoken to the same way.  “No, Katie – caliente!”


Once I (finally) graduated college and joined the real world (I may have had a couple of missteps along the way), I thought I was free of the back-of-the-mind burden that comes with living paycheck to paycheck.

Well, it turns out that the idea of living with no paycheck at all is a bit more daunting.

Of course, I would not have quit my job if it would’ve meant losing the house or becoming delinquent on my student loan payments – I’m not an idiot.  But still, it was kind of nice having my “cushion” of pay every couple weeks.  It was nice to be able to spring for the fancy $10 bottle of wine, ya know?

But you know what?  A little bit of life experience holds more value to me right now than a new car or hardwood floors.  Besides, my ’99 Chevy Tracker only has 140,000 miles – she’s still got a lot of life in her.


Do you remember the plethora of immunizations/vaccinations you needed to get when you were little?

They usually came in the form of a shot administered to your arm, thigh, or my personal favorite, your butt.  Well up until a couple weeks ago, I didn’t really remember these shots.  I’m not really a queasy person when it comes to needles or blood, but let’s just say that a Typhoid vaccination injection is not one of the key ingredients to a kick-ass party.  The shot for Hepatitis A and B wasn’t too bad, except for the looming thought that I need to have it repeated two more times.

By the way, here’s a text excerpt from several hours after I got my immunizations, one in each arm.  (For some reason the nurse wouldn’t honor my butt request):

Me: I am now immunized against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Typhoid.  My arms hurt.  They hurt so good.  :)

Erin: Lucky!  I want MY arm to hurt!  (Haha, and why not Hep C?  Guess they knew they’d be wasting their time.  Slut.)  ;)

Ahh, I love traveling with loving, trusted friends.


So I just want to clear a little something up from this post, in which Erin described some of the lovely ailments her doctor told her to look forward to experiencing during a trip to Costa Rica.  Anything we might acquire while there would likely be due to us being travelers (aka. babies) in a foreign country.

See, our bodies are used to little buggies in the water here, but American little buggies are different from the little buggies in the Costa Rican water, which can lead to something known as travelers’ diarrhea.  It’s not because their water is unsafe – unless we decide to drink directly out of a river, which wouldn’t be smart no matter where we are in the world.

We’re lucky enough to be staying with a really great family (more on that later), and we anticipate many, many good times to be had in the sweltering jungle heat between bouts of the craps.  Which, it turns out, can be caused by more than just exposing our unacclimated bodies to the elements.  According to our host:

“LMFAO, you will most likely not get the craps unless you drink a lot of Guaro, the Tico moonshine, the water is good to drink right out of the tap in the whole country.  It is no hotter than Frederick Maryland in the summer, or NC.  There is a possibility of being wet during this time of the year and you could be very wet, like Seattle wet, with the small difference that there are dirt roads everywhere and you will most likely be wet and muddy.  But it’s nothing that an icy cold cerveza can’t take care of.

Just wanted to clarify that your doctor’s are quacks and if I am wrong I will buy you both a beer!

Adios from the malaria filled, steamy, sweaty, hot world of Guanacaste Costa Rica!


Okay, so maybe we won’t be adhered to the toilet with explosive diarrhea (darn).   Maybe we won’t be able to fry eggs on our foreheads.  Maybe our bodies won’t be so bloated and water-logged that friends will send us boxes of gas-X and ShamWows.  There is just the slightest, teensy-weensy-tiniest chance that we were exaggerating our hardships just a bit.  But hey, we’re writers – that’s what we do.

Contemplating Waves

A jet plane and a big idea
I jump over the sea
What ifs hot on my trail
But that can’t catch me, no…

-Avett Brothers  

Don’t worry kids, even with all of this Costa Rica talk, I’ll still continue to post about some of our house projects and my attempts to cook.  It seems like so long ago that I showed you our crime-scene guest bathroom, and I haven’t forgotten that I still need to show you how it turned out.  

In case you forgot, the last time I showed it, it looked like this:  

Kate's Guest Bathroom Crime Scene


But since this Costa Rica thing is currently still so fresh – so mind-numbingly, eye-openly, heart-palpitatingly new and exciting, I can’t help but talk about it a little more.  

First, let me just say that the hardest thing about going to work when you know you want to quit, is going to work when you already have quit.  The gray cubicle walls seem a little… grayer… and the harsh neon lighting seems a little… neonier.  It’s like the last couple weeks of a prison sentence.  Except with coffee breaks and I don’t have to worry about my co-workers shanking me on my way to the bathroom.  Usually.  

The interesting thing about going back to work after making such an announcement are the slew of questions that follow.  And the questions with their associated reactions to my answers are different depending on who’s asking:  

  • So you’re leaving here to go work on a farm?  For free?!
  • What does your husband think?
  • Why??
  • Can I come with you?
  • A farm?  Working for free?  REALLY??!
  • What will you do when you get back?
  • So like… aren’t you afraid you’re going to get raped?
  • Isn’t it going to be hot there?

And my personal favorite…  

  • What are you trying to accomplish by doing this?

And my answers are:  

  • Yes
  • Why do you care?  (He’s supportive, by the way.)
  • The heart wants what it wants.
  • Do you want to work on a farm?  No?  Then no.
  • Yes.  Yes.  Yes.
  • I have no clue.
  • Always.
  • I ain’t afraid of a little sweat.
  • I realize an existential heightening of awareness and enlightened state of mind along with the final, clear realization of what I’m supposed to be doing with my life might be a bit too much to ask out of this trip.  So let’s just say I want to do something fun.  I want to meet new and interesting people.  I want to experience life for a moment unchained by the conventional constraints that have me constantly worrying about the future.  I want to see the sights today. Smell the smells today. Taste the tastes, hear the music, and walk the trails that don’t have to take me anywhere other than where they actually go.

Seriously, guys.  I know to 70% of you this sounds irrational.  And the other 30% tell me they want to do this as well, but it’s not the right time, those loans still need to be paid, they need me right now at work, and on and on and on.  

And on.  

So if you still think we’re crazy or need a better explanation for why we’re doing what we’re doing, please read this.  It should make it a bit more clear.  

And remember that I defied death to take this:  


And Erin and I have both done this:  

Skydive Hawaii


Oh, and Erin has a BIG tattoo:  


So maybe we are a little crazy.  But only a little.  

And I will tell you this – it’s never a good time to quit work.  It’s never a good time to be selfish.  It will always conflict with somebody’s schedule, somebody’s budget, somebody’s feelings.  

A very good friend of mine, Christy Lowery, wrote this:  

“Closing ear to the voices that call,
Would be as seeds of adventure unsown.
Heed not the doubts, feed not the fears
For they will surely blind your path.
Spirit yearning for freedom is your driver now.
Let it take you where it may.

So take all of your questions and turn them back on yourself.  There is a consequence to every decision we make.  If you’re happy with your life, if you are content with your job, then there is no question for you.  But if you long to do something else, then what’s stopping you?  It’s only fear.  But as wise old Amazon book reviewer once told me, “Fearlessness is only attained on the moving side of action.”  

You could stand around and contemplate the waves…  

Heather Brown Print
(Click photo for link to artist's website)


Or you could just jump on in.  

I’m tired of contemplating waves.  

Photo by: Leah B Photography (click photo for link)


In the end, we all have to make our own choices and take our own risks.  

Find the quotes, song lyrics, or other inspirations that work for you.  Of all the ones I posted here, this one was the table-turner for me:  

“It is never too early to start beefing up your obituary.”  – Dos Equis commercial.  

‘Nuff said.