Month: February 2014

On my lack of patience for the utterly incompetent

Alright, brave blogosphere, this is your fair warning.  Prepare yourselves.  What is about to happen will quite possibly fall under that category of musings one tends to keep to herself, more often than not, for fear of disrupting the natural order of things and the contented indifference of the general public.  My friends, as you may have well guessed, I refer to the rant.  That noisy airing of one’s urgent qualms with life’s happenings in a manner that may as well include podiums, megaphones and a faithful posse of picketers chanting phrases of the obscene variety.

I will try to keep the obscenities to a minimum, for the children.

In this particular instance, the origin of my feelings of rage and fear of potential spontaneous combustion can be easily traced back to one comprehensively loathsome source: the utterly incompetent.  You know them.  You’ve seen them in action.  Dare say, you may even be friends with them.  Well, dear blogosphere, my utmost apologies, but THEY MUST BE DESTROYED.

Okay, okay, I suppose that was a bit harsh.  Deep breath.  Positive thoughts.  You see, I have recently been bombarded with such people – people who (bless their souls) lack the basic life skills to, well, you know, successfully or efficiently accomplish anything.  Ever.  Normally this wouldn’t irk me, disturb me or pose any threat to my happiness or productivity whatsoever.  Normally I would simply go about my business as a capable human, and they would go on wrecking everything they touched, poor fools, and our paths would not not cross and everything would be fine.  But all of that changes, treasured blogosphere, when the unthinkable occurs: I need them for something.

*GASP*

Oh dear.  Upon this realization, the first thing that occurs is a combination of bewilderment and panic.  “How have I possibly found myself in a situation where I must interact with this imbecile in order to obtain the thing that I need?” followed by “Shit.  Chances are I am never going to get the thing that I need” and then, in the less dire of cases, ultimately followed by “Oh well, let’s have a nap then.”

Unfortunately, my present situation does not lend itself to such casual acquiescence.  The thing that I need requires my full and immediate attention and has little patience for my laissez faire attitude.  The thing that I need is a house.  You heard me, a dwelling purchased by people who claim to have reached “adulthood” and must therefore prove to their friends and family how grown-up they are by ditching their dingy, mismatched digs for a proper abode suitable for holiday visits and the upbringing of children.  Yep, apparently I must prepare to accommodate my future children who do not yet exist.

Don’t get me wrong, the prospect of being a homeowner is positively thrilling.  Here, I’ll even present you with a list of the reasons I think buying a house is a swell idea:

1. The yard.  A little patch of earth that is mine to do with as I wish.  Oh the possibilities!  I can plant things and watch them grow! (Assuming acquiring said yard will magically improve my plant-growing abilities…)  My dog can run around outside instead of doing laps around my bedroom!  I can grill things!

2. The space.  Finally, a place to display all the wedding gifts that have been crammed in the closets for the past year!  And more closet space in which to cram other things!  And a kitchen that two people can navigate at once without head on collisions ensuing, sending bits of food flying about!

3. The financial benefits of buying vs. renting, and other grown-up reasons.  My husband would be happy to explain these to you because, let’s face it, I can barely add and subtract in my head.  This is one of those areas in which I would be determined utterly incompetent.

Which brings me back to the subject of my fury and intense desire to blow things up – the subject which has presently driven me into such a tizzy that I have devoured an entire bag of chocolates whilst writing this blog.  See, sweet blogosphere, in my 27 years of life, I still have yet to fully understand the concept of finances.  I’ve mastered the basics.  Those who have money can buy things.  Those who do not have much money can also buy things, but it’s probably not a very good idea.  I do not yet have a lot of money; therefore, I do not buy very many things.  There you have it – the whole of my monetary expertise.  Thus, when posed with the daunting tasks of getting pre-approved, establishing a reasonable budget, understanding what the hell a mortgage actually is, I went straight to the bank.  (Like I said, I’ve been desperately avoiding being a grown-up for a very long time.  I may as well have been hiding out in Neverland.)

See, the bank, sweet blogosphere, is where people who know what mortgages are tend to hang out.  You make an appointment, show up with your financial papers, and the rest is a breeze.  At least that was my previous understanding of the matter.  In reality – my reality – this assumption of competency among mortgage consultants was tremendously miscalculated.

*I interrupt this post to inform any mortgage consultant who is currently reading this that I do not accuse you of arrant incompetence.  I refer merely to the particular ninny I have been in contact with.  There are no blanket statements being made.  Thank you.*

Precisely one month ago, my husband and I strolled into Wells Fargo for our appointment with the kind, efficient woman who would go above and beyond to expedite our pre-approval process, who would keep us up-to-date with the progress being made, who would answer all our questions in a timely manner and who would get us into our new home in no time.  We made this up.  This did not happen.  In actuality, the consultant we were paired with was – how do I put this – BAT. SHIT. CRAZY.  This is not an exaggeration.  Not only was she certifiably insane, she proved time and time again that she was quite incapable of doing her job.

Let me elaborate.  Said woman – let’s call her Pam – Pam greeted us in the manner you would imagine a cheerleader on cocaine greeting someone.  I believe she told us her name and entire life story in about ten seconds, all the while bouncing around the room fiddling with the 90’s style scrunchie that held a pony tail on top of her head.  She then sat us down and began to gather our information.  Here is the gist of our conversation with Pam:

Pam: HELLO!  WELCOME!  So-you-want-to-buy-your-first-house-do-ya?-My-name-is-Pam-and-I-will-be-your-Wells-Fargo-mortgage-consultant.-So-glad-you-could-make-it.-Sorry-if-my-phone-rings,my-daughter-has-been-sick.-She’s-six.-They’re-so-cute-at-that-age-aren’t-they?-Anyway-let’s-chat-about-getting-you-folks-into-a-house!-Sit-down,make-yourselves-comfortable!-I’m-going-to-need-your-tax-information,your-bank-statements,your-contact-information.-Here-let-me-write-that-down.-E-mail-addresses-please?-Got-it.-Okay-so-how-did-you-two-meet??

Me: Well…

Pam: Oh!-Wait,I-seem-to-have-misplaced-your-e-mail-addresses.-Could-you-repeat-them-please??-While-you’re-at-it-let’s-get-those-cell-phone-numbers-again-too.-Okay,where-were-we?

Me: I was just…

Pam: Ah!-Did-you-give-me-your-W2’s-yet?-Oh!-Here-they-are!-(reaches under desk)-Let-me-go-make-copies!-Be-back-in-a-jiff!

And so it went.  By the end of our meeting, I believe we’d given her our contact information about eight times, but who’s counting?  Pam assured us that we were in good shape and should hear back from the underwriter in a few days – a week at most.

Now, I’m not going to go off on how I could do Pam’s job better than she could, nor am I going to pretend I know what in God’s name an underwriter is, but I am going quietly state one tiny little fact: PAM IS FULL OF LIES!  I’m sorry.  I got carried away again.  I just find the following sequence of events so perturbing that I have to restrain myself from smashing my face repeatedly into this keyboard.

January 26, 2014:
We meet with Pam.  Pam assures us with full confidence that we will be contacted by the almighty underwriter promptly.  Pre-approval is imminent.

January 27…28…29…30:
Nothing.  Aside from an e-mail from Pam asking me, yet again, for my husband’s contact information.

January 31:
Pam calls.  There has been an ice-storm, a polar vortex of sorts (thank you for that brilliant description, Becky), such that the entire city of Charleston has completely ceased to function in its apocalyptic state.  Pam wants to chat about the weather.  “The bridges have closed!” she exclaims.  “Giant slabs of ice are falling and crushing cars!  Isn’t that crazy?!”  Pam, you are crazy.  Tell me about my mortgage.  And then, “Oh by the way, I’ve been out of the office so I haven’t had a chance to send off your paperwork.  Sorry, bye!”

I hate you, Pam.  I proceed to stab household objects repeatedly with a fork.

February 15:
Pam informs us via an e-mail written, presumably, by her six-year-old child that she has just submitted our paperwork for review.  Today.  REALLY, PAM?!  Thank you for validating my hypothesis that you are UTTERLY INCOMPETENT. [insert lengthy string of expletives here]

February 16-?:
Pam goes to California.  Pam does not tell us this.  We check our phones with the ferocity of a rabid squirrel.  Our shoes become worn from frequent pacing.  We hear nothing.  We are livid.

February 26:
We cannot take it anymore.  We contact Pam.  “What’s that?  The underwriter hasn’t contacted you?  He contacted me a week ago.  I was in California.  Someone from the bank should have called you.”  YOU SHOULD HAVE CALLED US, PAM, YOU B****.  “You’ve been pre-approved, by the way.  You should probably start looking for a house, you know, your lease runs out pretty soon, doesn’t it?”  I punch my hand through a window.

Whew.  Let me pause for a moment for some meditative breathing.  That’s better.  Now, in a race against the imminent approach of our lease’s end, I suppose we will hastily begin our house hunt.  But all is well.  Even the most severe incompetence may be tolerated with patience and a positive attitude, especially if the intended result is achieved.  At least that’s what my therapist keeps telling me.

So, in conclusion, ever-so-attentive blogosphere, if you are contemplating buying a house in the Charleston area at some point in the next twelve years, I would advise you get on it.  And send Pam our love.

Picture courtesy of:
http://www.creativityfuse.com/2010/09/enough-knowledge-to-be-dangerous/frustration/

On my absurd fear of the zombie apocalypse

*Warning: scrolling down will expose you to graphic photos of the zombies to which I owe the onset of my absurdly irrational fear.  Read on with caution.

Yes, blogosphere, it’s true.  While others reserve their (perhaps unspoken, but undeniable) end-of-the world, doom and gloom theories for nightmares involving, I don’t know, nuclear war or global warming – something as plausible as alien invasion, even – time and time again I unfailingly choose zombies.  For reasons unbeknownst to me, my painfully vivid visions of global destruction always include a graphic scene of one of my friends – undead in this case, obviously – launching his decaying figure in my general direction before I go all Rick Grimes on his ass with a crowbar.  Well, in the good nightmares.  In many instances I wake up in a cold sweat, frantically checking to ensure all my appendages are intact and bite-free because, moments before in dreamland, my Dad or sister, grey-eyed and ravenous, had lunged at me from behind and…well, I’ll spare you the graphic details. [insert any given Walking Dead attack scene here]

Jeez.  That’s what I get for breaking curfew all those years.

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Oh, hey Dad.

“Why zombies?” you might ask.  “Why pick the most illogical, improbable scenario – and probably one of the most gruesome – to embody the fears of your demise?”  Valid question, blogosphere.

I could go into a long, drawn out analysis of my childhood woes and their possible influence on my worrisome daydreams of death-by-zombies.  I could try to assemble a timeline documenting the escalation of my distress.  A fancy one with bullet points and arrows, theories and deductions.  But, no.  I’m pretty sure I can chalk it up to one thing.  Television.

There once was a time before zombies ever posed a nightmarish threat, fantasized or otherwise, to society.  Our go-to zombie flicks and Halloween costumes were non-existent.  There was no Zombie Survival Guide, Abraham Lincoln was just a regular president, and Pride and Prejudice remained untarnished and zombie-free.  One could go about his or her business worrying about ordinary, legitimate apocalyptic travesties, such as a massive, world-encompassing natural disaster or a lethal airborne pathogen.  Or the human race just simply destroying itself.  No zombies.  But then a few writers and filmmakers got wind of some gnarly Voodoo legends over in Africa and Haiti, and Poof!  Enter the undead, forever changing American horror culture and the nightmares of its followers, myself included.

I should clarify: I was never – and still am not – a horror buff.  Let’s face it, while I carried them around in my backpack to seem hardcore to my peers, those Goosebumps books were a little much for me, and Are You Afraid of the Dark was completely out of the question.  The slumber parties I hosted did not include ghost stories or Ouija Boards.  Basically, after experiencing the terror that is The Exorcist, I figured I was good for life.  I was perfectly fine staying at home watching Hallmark movies with my mom rather than accompany my friends to the latest box office nail-biter.  I am not brave.  The number of scary films I have endured willingly without trickery or coercion is exactly zero.

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Yes, yes I am, actually.  Thanks for asking.

So when The Walking Dead hit the scene and the zombies returned to the spotlight, I feigned disappointment at my inability to afford cable and carried on unfazed.  That is, until I stumbled upon the realization that the show’s protagonist was none other than Andrew Lincoln.  Oh you know, that beautiful specimen from Love Actually.  Thus prompted my thought process: Love Actually –> heartwarming romance –> Andrew Lincoln –> yes please –> Walking Dead –> heartwarming zombie romance?  Mmmk.  I can work with that.

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Hello gorgeous.

And oh, dear blogosphere, it all spiraled downward from there.  Sure, there was some romance.  Sure, Mr. Lincoln played a handsome, heroic, order-restoring, zombie killing machine in a sheriff’s uniform.  And, yes, the mildly stimulating plot line held my interest well enough.  But the zombies.  Heavens.  There should have been a disclaimer: Oh, hey viewer, if you enjoy the luxury of sound sleeping and pleasant, zombie-free dreams, watching this program is probably a bad idea.  Just saying.  Maybe change the channel.  Okay, back to the show.

But it was too late.  I was hooked.  And since my husband had also developed an affinity for the show, there was no turning back.  Every Sunday night we got our weekly dose of gore, and, like clockwork, that night I could expect a recap as soon as I drifted into dreamland.  Only this time I would be the main character.  Oh boy.

As time went on, I became accustomed to my nighttime battles with the undead.  I suppose it became second nature to associate fear with zombies, so, upon any mention of an impending apocalypse, my mind continues to instinctively produce images of barren fields, abandoned cars and homes, and flocks of walkers migrating from one rotting corpse to the next.  Sigh.  Why can’t I imagine the end of the world as some sort of peaceful occurrence instigated by a higher power who transports us safely from the earth’s demise to Heaven or its equivalent?  I mean, at the very least, couldn’t I picture something that takes me out quickly rather than forcing me to live in fear until I am inevitably devoured alive before awaking (assuming there is something left of me to awake after the feast) to shuffle about, slowly deteriorating, until someone smashes my head in or blows my brains out, ending it all for good?

You tell me, blogosphere.  What’s a girl to do?  I suppose the damage is done.  My absurd fear of the zombie apocalypse will continue.  And as for the dreams?  Well at least I can say my subconscious self is a bad ass, at least half the time.  Because, chances are, if there ever actually was a zombie apocalypse, I’m pretty sure not even my copy of the Zombie Survival Guide (Yes, I own it.  Yes, I’ve read it.) would save me.  I’d probably end up looking like this girl:

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She looks like she used to be cute, though, right?

Great.

Pictures taken from:
http://www.blogs.amctv.com
http://www.dailydead.com
http://www.aintitcool.com
http://www.thewiseguise.com
http://www.polyvore.com

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Thanks to Becky and Stickman, the world now has THIS, and for that it is better.

BECKY SAYS THINGS

Oh, brave Listener. We’ve all had a bit of a rough time recently.

There are several reasons why we are all feeling a bit peeved, irked, and somewhat vexed:

1) It is February. February is an obnoxiously depressing month, it knows it, and it doesn’t care. February is insufferable.

2) We are still paying off our Christmas credit card bills. This is intolerable.

3) Our New Year’s resolution diet and exercise regimes have failed miserably and we are eating more doughnuts, peanut butter, and full fat milk than ever before to cope with the depression of February and Christmas credit card bills.

cheerful5

4) The couples amongst us have had a relationship-busting argument on Valentine’s Day, and the singletons amongst us have just been reminded that they are SINGLE and ALONE and destined to remain that way for the rest of their sorry lives.

5) There is nothing to look forward…

View original post 1,016 more words

This is a story about a girl who is not me

“My whole life is a delicate cycle, a delicate cycle…” -The Uncluded (Kimya Dawson/Aesop Rock)

This is a story about a girl who is not me.

This girl was your typical, regular sort of little girl growing up in American middle class suburbia.  She had a mother and a father who were married and lived together and loved each other, and who had children whom they also loved very much.  They loved their children so much that they worked hard to provide for them.  These children wanted for nothing.

The little girl grew up in a nice neighborhood of a quiet town, with trees and houses and people who were friendly and trusting but not trusting enough to leave their doors unlocked while they were away.  This was not Mayberry.  Her house had nice furniture, and her bedroom was pink with a white bookshelf that her Daddy built, full of books with pretty pictures of girls who looked like her.  And she and her sister played outside together on the swing set that their Daddy also built, and they slid down the big yellow slide and made sandcastles, and everything was normal and everything was good and they were happy.

And eventually the girl got older and went to school with other girls who looked like her, and some of them had long hair and pretty dresses and she wanted to be friends with them.  She became friends with the girls, and they played house on the playground and chased the boys around the jungle gym and they laughed and laughed and laughed.  And everything was normal and everything was good and she was happy.

Suddenly the girl was twelve years old and she was in middle school.  She noticed that her friends were getting taller and leaner and more grown-up looking, and she was not very tall and not very lean and her face was round.  And her friends began buying dresses from the fancy stores where grown-ups bought their dresses.  And she learned about money.  And they let her try on their grown-up dresses during P.E., and many of the dresses did not fit her, and her round face turned red and she learned what skinny was.  And she told her parents she had decided that she wanted to be skinny so she could buy pretty grown-up dresses and look like the other girls.

And her mother told her she was beautiful.  And her father taught her how to play tennis, and she played tennis with her father and her sister.  And she became good at tennis and joined her school’s team and won many of her matches.  Her parents told her they were proud of her like they always did, even when she didn’t win her tennis matches because they loved her very much, and they told her that, too.  And everything continued to be normal and everything continued to be good and she was happy.  But the dresses still did not fit her.

And in 7th grade she went to tennis camp in the summertime and her friend from school went with her and they shared a room.  And she and her friend thought the boys at camp were cute, and they sat with them in the cafeteria.  But the boys made fun of her when she ate cake for dessert, and they told her she shouldn’t do that or she would be fat.  And the boys did not like girls who were fat and ate too much cake.  And the boys were not very nice boys.

So the girl decided she would not eat cake anymore.  And the friend of the girl asked her if she wanted to know a secret about being skinny, and the girl said yes.  Her friend told her about a television program she had seen where girls who did not want to be fat did not eat very much.  And sometimes these girls would eat more than they wanted to, but it was okay because they had learned how to “fix it.”  The girl said this did not sound like a very good idea, but she wanted the boys to like her so she tried it.  And she became good at it and she became leaner and she did not want to stop.  And she could not stop.  Still everything was normal and everything was mostly good and she was mostly happy.

Then it was time for the girl to begin 8th grade, and finally she grew as tall as the other girls and her face was less round.  And at lunch they would eat sandwiches together and talk and laugh and the girl felt happy.  But after lunch her stomach would hurt and her heart would pound and she would begin to feel very bad inside if she did not “fix it.”  And the girl did not like feeling this way, and she began to become afraid.

And one night after supper the girl went upstairs into the bathroom and her sister followed her, and she did not know it.   When she came out of the bathroom her parents were there with her sister and they were upset.  And she became angry with her sister and they did not speak for seven days.  The girl’s parents took her to a doctor in the city who told her if she did not stop this she would die.  And the girl cried and her mother cried, and she felt sorry and afraid and she did not want to die.  And nothing felt normal and nothing felt good and no one was happy.

And for the whole year the girl’s mother drove her to the city to meet with the doctor.  And the girl took a pill every day that the doctor said would help her feel better.  And after awhile the girl began to feel better.   She went to school and she played tennis and her stomach did not hurt when she ate sandwiches in the cafeteria with her friends and they laughed and laughed and laughed.  And she was no longer angry with her sister.  And everything began to be normal again and everything began to be good again and she was happy.

And the girl continued to feel better, and she did well in school and she played sports and the boys were nice to her, and eventually she went to a good college and her parents continued to tell her they were proud of her, like they always did, because they loved her very much.  And everything was normal and and everything was good and she was happy.

But every now and then when the girl looked in the mirror she would remember what the boys at tennis camp had said.  And she would fix it.

This is a story about a girl who is not me.

For more on this topic, check out this brilliant blog: http://beckysaysthings.com/2013/07/30/becky-says-things-about-the-epic-fail-of-an-eating-disorder/

Technapocalypse

“Precious metal lines
Molded into highways
Running through me
So microscopically
Days and nights
Weeks and months and seasons
Rolling through me
So chronologically.
Computer age…” -Neil Young

A week or so ago, Scott and I were having a drink with a friend when the subject of technology came up.  Well, actually, the absence of technology.  We discussed how critical technology is to our daily lives and speculated about what would happen if we woke up one morning, and, say, the Internet stopped working.  Permanently.  For everyone.  What would happen?  Would it be a return to the Dark Ages? we wondered.  How much of the world’s vital information and archives – not to mention money – would be lost forever?  Would the world just simply implode?  As silly as it sounds, each of us expressed a legitimate fear that a world without technology would pose a serious issue for future generations…and would potentially erase much of the proof of our existence and accomplishments.

Now sure, this is a bit far fetched, and, after a couple of beers we were probably being somewhat dramatic, but it really got me thinking.  What would it have been like to live a life without the Internet?  Or TV?  Or computers, radios, phones, calculators, video games, etc.?  Well, go ask your grandparents.  Or your parents, even.  I’m sure they would be more than happy to enlighten you.  Despite the fact that technology is relatively new to the scene in terms of the world’s history, an obscene portion of our lives today depends on it.  Even the remote villages in Vietnam and India that Scott and I visited on our travels had a TV in every hut and access to the Internet nearby.  How is it that an entire planet’s inhabitants can transition so quickly from depending solely on their own knowledge and skills to complete and utter dependence on a box plugged into the wall?  Oh, wait, we don’t even have to plug them in anymore!  We have a wealth of useful information (mixed with an even bigger wealth of useless junk) at our fingertips.  Want to learn how to play an instrument?  You don’t need a real teacher for that, just click here!  Don’t know how to file your taxes?  You don’t need an accountant for that, click here!  Want to go to college?  Learn another language?  Officiate a wedding?  Buy…anything?  You don’t even need to leave your couch.  You could literally become a hermit and never interact with another human ever again and be just fine.

I don’t know about you, but, now that I actually stop and think about it, I’m not okay with this.  When did life become so impersonal?  Who decided that texting from across the room was a reasonable way to communicate with someone?  Why do we (and I am super guilty of this one) feel the unrelenting urge to go out and have life experiences just so we can plaster them all over our Facebook pages?  Apparently the notion of having good, old-fashioned fun with actual people while participating in real-life activities dissipated while we were all looking down at our phones.

I know I’m not the first person to have this “insightful” revelation, and I surely won’t be the last, but perhaps we should pay attention to how much we rely on technology and see if we can’t do something about it.  Obviously I’m not advocating the destruction of the Internet – I mean let’s not get extreme here – but rather just encouraging each of us to reevaluate how we spend our time.  For instance, instead of texting the old friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile, maybe give him or her a call.  Or, better yet, pay them a visit.  Instead of staring at your cellphone during dinner with your significant other, try turning it off and making some eye contact.  Or instead of surfing the web, spend your lunch break going for a walk with a co-worker.  Breathe in some fresh air.  Read a book.  You never know, the technapocalypse could happen at any moment…  (Oh, but I certainly hope not.)

Ramble On

Got no time to for spreadin’ roots, the time has come to be gone. 
And to our health we drank a thousand times, it’s time to ramble on…

It’s funny how extended travel can bring on such nostalgia and fondness for the foreign that, at times, it tempts one to pack up and catch the next flight out of town.  Take me for example.  In the months leading up to our wedding, my then fiance proposed we take an unconventional honeymoon – that is, postpone the whole “settling down” aspect of marriage and take to the skies for a minimally planned Asian backpacking adventure.  …Naturally, I panicked.  You see, on one level I think of myself as the adventure-seeking, free spirited nomad who would drop everything without a second thought to experience the world in this way; at least, that’s what my collegiate self would say.  But my now Master’s in Higher Education possessing, grown-up self begged to differ.  Academically, I had graduated – twice – and, in my mind, this meant the time had come to advance to the next level of maturity; in other words, I had to trade my flowing skirts for a pantsuit and find myself a job.  There was no time for this “traveling the world” business.  That would be irresponsible.  Right?

As for my grad school cohort, the job search frenzy had begun.  One by one, they announced the news of their gainful employment and hopped on planes bound for the college towns that would be their new homes.  And there I was, torn.  What was I supposed to do?  I cringed at the thought of setting my beautiful, crisp graduate diploma aside, putting my long-time-coming career on hold and spending my crucial 26th year bouncing from one third world village to the next.  But, yes.  That was exactly what I was supposed to do.  And that’s what I did.  Excuse me, we did – my husband and I.  Despite my resistance, my ever-logical husband won me over with a pragmatic spiel about how this was our one chance – before the obligations of jobs and children – to see the world together while we were still young.  And I knew deep down that he was right.  So I agreed.  And let me tell you, it was glorious – life changing even.  Two weeks after our nuptials we found ourselves in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with two giant backpacks and a hunger for adventure.  That was how we lived for almost five months.  No plan extending beyond three or four days, no jobs lined up for when we returned to the States – heck, we didn’t even have a plane ticket home.  We saw Vietnam.  We saw Thailand.  We saw India.  And we didn’t just see, we experienced.  We talked to people, we stayed with locals, we simply lived.

I found out what “back to basics” really means on this trip.  Each day presented new obstacles and our only task was to overcome them: nourish ourselves, find shelter, get from point A to point B.  Life was simple, yet incredibly complicated.  Sure, “nourish ourselves” seems easy enough – as long as you don’t drink the water; “finding shelter” poses no problem – unless you’re in a tiny, remote village with zero technology and booking ahead is not an option.  And then there’s “getting from point A to point B.”  Whew.  Where do I begin?  On any given move, we’d have to flag down a rickshaw, bargain with the driver, then take a train or a bus or both, usually over the course of an entire day.  A whole day just for traveling a distance that would take a few short hours in the States.  Exhausting is the word that comes to mind.  But no matter how exhausted or frustrated we got, we knew that if we pushed through it we’d reap the rewards that so often accompany cultural enlightenment.  And boy did we.  We saw the most beautiful sights, both natural and man-made, and we met some of the kindest, most gracious people I’ve ever encountered.  I now know what it means to fully immerse oneself in another culture, to close one’s eyes and take a giant leap into the unknown and uncomfortable.   I can also boast the achievement of adding a good many pushpins to my framed world map.

But no matter how many moments of enlightenment we experienced, we knew that each passing day was bringing us that much closer to the inevitable.  Eventually we would run out of money, and the responsible adults inside of us thought it would probably be a good idea to return home before then.  And despite my new found eagerness to ditch the predictable route and continue wandering through life on a whim, I was homesick.  In every possible way (just ask my husband – ref: Christmas, 2012).  I missed my bed, my family, pizza.  And on March 26, 2013 boarding the plane back to my home state was just as exhilarating as leaving it.  Well, except for the ride to the airport, but I’ll touch on that some other time…

Ultimately, my point is this:  * Cliche alert * The life choice that I feared would veer me away from the path I’d chosen for myself actually steered me onto the path I was meant to be on.  Life is funny that way.  Now that we’ve “settled down” and have our jobs, our apartment, a steady income – the whole nine – we often find ourselves planning our next big trip.  Where will we go?  When will we be able to afford it?  And then we remember our careers, our plans for children, our “responsibilities”… There will always be some good reason to stay put, to settle.  And, don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly fine to listen to that reasoning.  But I can promise you this, when you feel life tugging you outside of your comfort zone, sometimes the best thing you can do is let it.  Who knows, maybe you’ll end up with some stories like these… http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/kellyhodo

Thanks for reading, and happy rambling!