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The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem.

Lately, I’ve been playing a crapload of mental tug-of-war.

Seriously.  Both sides of my brain must be like… amazingly buff right now.  In fact, if I could figure out a way to box and market this game, I’d probably be a bajillionaire.  And if I were a bajillionaire, I wouldn’t be playing mental tug-of-war.  At least not this particular game.

The thing is, I’m sure I’m not unique when it comes to what, exactly, is gnawing on both sides of my mind.  It’s money.

There, I said it.

Do you feel dirty now?

For some reason it seems like talking about money (without offering up a this-is-the-plan-that-will-get-you-out-of-debt-for-GOOD solution) is a huge faux pas.  It makes people uncomfortable.  They feel inadequate if they have little and guilty if they have a lot.

There is no doubt in my mind that you need money to be happy.  Tiny Tim was a perfectly delightful, high-spirited little boy, but he would have died if it weren’t for Scrooge’s money, and then he definitely wouldn’t have been happy.  Not one little bit.

I’m not saying you need a lot of money — just enough to provide your basic needs, a sense of security, and possibly for indulging in a passion.  And it’s that passion in particular that brings the happiness.

And please.  Don’t confuse “passion” for “stuff.”

So this tug-of-war game I’ve been playing goes like this:  I know I’ve been wanting to make travel — regular travel — a major part of my life.  The problem is, even though nearly every dream and drive I’ve had since childhood has pointed me in that direction with everything short of flashing neon arrows, it didn’t even really occur to me to try to do something about it until 2 years ago.

So I did what any rational, level-headed, Type A person would do:  I quit my job and did a work exchange in Costa Rica for 2 months.

(Needless to say, I am not level-headed or Type A.  And rational?  Try rash.)

Okay, in retrospect I see the problem.  This type of highly emotional quarter-life crisis decision-making was not sustainable in the least.  And worse, it whet my wanderlust with a fierceness.  While I wouldn’t trade the experience or the friends I made for anything, it’s fair to say that I now wish I’d thought beyond the trip.  That I’d made a plan.  And, most important, that I’d taken the time to save a significant amount of cash from my previous job before kissing that paycheck goodbye.

The thing is, when you hear those amazing stories about people who make a dramatic life change and their lives suddenly turn out all joyous and magical and completely figured out, they don’t tell you how much planning and preparation were involved before the deed was done.  Or, how much money.  All I heard was, “Go for it!  Live your dream!  Everything will fall into place!”

Well.  Those people probably weren’t making $800 per month student loan payments.

And now my mind’s at it again.

There’s the dreamer side that says spread your wings and FLY.  OPTIMISM will carry you through.  Who needs food when you have NAIVETY on your side?

And of course, the practical side that says I should do boring things like plan and calculate and save money.

Hence, the tug-of-war.  Not to mention the fact that the quickest way for me to save money right now would be to get a second job, likely as a waitress once again, which would take me away from Justin and the pups.  Just so I can… travel away from Justin and the pups?  No, thank you.  I will have my cake and eat it too, if you please.

So.  Which do you think is right?

a) Hard work and discipline is the best and most effective way to get what you want in this world.  Stay strong, make a plan, have patience, and eventually you will reach your goals!

b) There are no guarantees when it comes to Tomorrow, and nothing can stop you when it comes to the Power of Positive Thinking. Send good vibes into the Universe and keep plowing ahead, and roadblocks will tumble as you go!

I know which one I want to believe.

But, in reality, I’m guessing we need a whole lot of both.

Lucias Art on Etsy (first saw on CentsationalGirl.com)

 

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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 weheartit.com, 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.

Right??!

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:

Language

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!”

Money

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.


Health

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.

Culture

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!

Hahhahahaha”

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.