20 March 2011

the perks of life without a prudent insurance policy.

"There's a reason we refer to "leaps of faith" - a mighty jump from the rational over to the unknowable, and I don't care how diligently scholars will try to sit you down with their stacks of books and prove to you that faith is indeed rational; it isn't. If faith were rational, it wouldn't be - by definition - faith. Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be... a prudent insurance policy." -liz gilbert.

I will admit it, I may be mildly obsessed with Eat Pray Love, as this is the second time I am making a reference to a Liz Gilbert quote. There is just something so completely genuine and empowering about her words and how beautifully she writes that I often feel as though her words exist to feed my soul. A ludicrous perspective, but her writing truly speaks volumes to me. As does the above quote, which is precisely what the priest spoke about during the homily at mass this morning. Coincidence? I think not. You see, I tuck away a collection of quotes in my heart, so that when I'm going through a particularly sad or stressful time, I can be confident that the appropriate quote will surface and restore my sense of balance. Yesterday this quote flashed before my mind after a particularly frustrating conversation with a person I thought I knew better than I suppose I really did. Since my mind rarely shuts off, a fact that I've simply come to accept, I couldn't stop toying with this notion about faith with everyday life (not to be confused with faith and its relationship to religion). The more I thought about it the more I realized that I really needed a good ole fashion dose of church to really gather my thoughts and engage in some serious one on one prayer time with God (disclaimer - my writing is not meant to be construed in way, shape, or form as religious).  And then for whatever reason, as I fell asleep last night, snuggled under a heaping pile of blankets, with one leg peeking out, in typical Courtney fashion, I convinced myself that it would be in my best interest to wake up to my alarm clock this morning and get myself to church. Believe it or not, today's theme (I like to assign a theme to the homily - aka the speech -  the priest gives during mass) was about "taking a leap of faith."  I think my jaw dropped a little when the priest started talking. As I surveyed the ceiling, as I often do during church, my mind began to register what was happening. Was the priest really talking about taking chances...taking risks...putting all of your eggs in one basket...because you have the faith that that intangible reward will not only be satisfying, but so incredibly gratifying? Um hello, isn't this *exactly* what I was mulling over yesterday?  Quite honestly, I think Liz Gilbert and the Big Guy double teamed me, so I could really tap into this crazy idea of leaping blindly into the unknown.

So for the rest of the day, I've been contemplating what it actually means to "take a leap of faith" with no one other than me, myself, and I. When I look at my life, I realize that I would certainly not be where I am today if I didn't say screw it and blindly jump into that dark unknown feet first as I often as I have. This of course is not to say that I don't calculate the pro's and con's, the costs and benefits, etc. I am a CPA, which makes me somewhat analytical by default. But, despite weighing out the positives and negatives, I've always leaned toward what Robert Frost so poignantly coined the "road less travelled." Let's face it, I left behind family and friends to seek out a new life in California, only to have the faith to move back to the East coast for a relationship I wholeheartedly wished could have worked out (but was not meant to be, as I fully realize now); quit a promising career in the hopes that I could find a job that I truly loved (something that I'm still seeking); and walked away from a relationship that was seemingly perfect (remember, things are not always what they seem). When I lay it out like that, I think I'm quite the pro at taking leaps of faith.  So why then do I let tiny hurdles set me back and question life. Case in point: I had an entirely elementary conversation with a friend yesterday and walked away kind of shocked. I'm a pretty open person (the fact that I share my thoughts and feelings with the wonder that is the world wide web is evidence enough), but I walked away yesterday wondering if I am maybe too open? Perhaps it would behoove me to not let my guard down and let people into my life so easily. Maybe I should be more careful about taking risks and chances in life and play it safe. I mean isn't that what most people do? Take the road more travelled, hide behind their insecurities, flounder for excuses...just to play it safe? Do I really want to be on that road congested with people driving on autopilot for the sheer reassurance that I arrive to my final destination safely? Isn't life about the journey, not the destination? Wouldn't I rather go through life, relishing in all that it has to offer, testing the limits of fate and crossing the borders of uncharted territory? This isn't to say I should travel through life recklessly by any means, but to simply check faith by the door and not take chances is unimaginable. I know I may be ridiculous at times (okay, most of the time), but to think that I let one conversation throw my mindset off track to the point that I was questioning my ability to take a leap of faith is absolutely absurd.

I'm only 26, but I've already figured out that while I don't know all the answers to life (who am I kidding, I barely know any of the answers), I'd rather take that leap of faith and go full force into unknown, knowing that my journey is going to be one hell of a lot more exciting than those people who live to simply play it safe. So yes, maybe I'll get hurt and have more than my fair share of tears (I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, which results in me crying...a lot). Maybe it will take me 10 more years to figure out what is that I want to do, or several more relationships to find that one guy who will compliment my happiness in life. Maybe I'll end up moving six more times before I settle into some state of permanency. But, my God, I know that with a little bit of faith, those leaps really aren't so terrifying after all.

16 March 2011

up in the air. flapping away.

In approximately 60 minutes I will be snapping back to reality. My plane will hopefully descend into a peaceful landing and I'll be reintroduced to the chilly weather that the Northeast has embraced for quite a few months now. I am by no means ready to walk off a plane (in flip flops mind you) into 40 degree weather with a long day of work ahead of me tomorrow, but I suppose life must go on. Since I'm tired of reading and simply cannot fall asleep (because not even my severe iron deficiency can tire me out after all of the sleeping in I've done the past five days), I challenged myself to detail a few random tid bits from Spring Break 2011. 

My super awesome parents dropped me off at the airport six days ago and my desperately needed escape from reality began. Let me be the first to say that the airport is not a relaxing experience. As a matter of fact, I find that from the time you step foot into the airport until you are buckled safely in your seat, the whole experience is one legit, anxiety provoking, hot mess. Fortunately, I checked in online and printed out my boarding pass ahead of time. There's one saved headache. But then there's the whole security checkpoint process. Allow me to clarify my frustrations with the checkpoint "system." I have no qualms with the Department of Homeland Security patting me down, making me and my luggage go through an x-ray machine, or even having a security guard sift through the contents of my luggage (one time, I actually had a security guy recommend one bikini over another to ensure that I looked my best on the beach...how nice). I know a lot of people's frustrations lay within this whole system, but hey, it's a privilege to fly. You were not born with that natural right to hop on a plane, sit in a chair, rise above the clouds, and fly away. So if the DHS wants to search me and every other person out there who is boarding a plane to ensure that I land safely and in one piece at my final destination, search away! If you don't want to be searched, then quite frankly, I hope you're not flying with me. My frustration stems from my own self. For starters, I pack too much. TLC could do an entire series on "luggage hoarders," because of people like me. I pack enough to last me quadruple the time I will be vacationing. Jeans for 90 degree weather? Check (it may get chilly!). 3289459345 pairs of underwear. Check (what if I'm stuck without access to a laundramat?). 14 shades of eyeshadow when I know I may only splash on a bit of makeup for my entire spring break rendevouz. Check (what if I meet someone famous and need to get all glammed up?!). So, not only do I overpack, I also insist on carrying all of my sh*t with me. I refuse to check my luggage, unless absolutely necessary, which often times leads me to engaging in a full on argument with the security checkpoint personnel that my carry on luggage will indeed fit in the overhead. Yes, I am that girl - the one who thinks that "one carry on plus one personal item" doesn't necessarily apply to her. I know I can easily check a bag, but for a girl on a budget, that's a last resort, and then there's always that possibility of lost luggage. Who wants to deal with that. 

It shouldn't be too hard to imagine me, trooping through the airport, with my six plus bags in tow, fiddling around for my boarding pass and ID badge, trying to maintain some sense of sanity as I approach the first Security point. The lady screens my driver's license, gives me a nod of approval, and hurries me along. Next stop...the x-ray machine. I've had several x-rays of my actual body - broken bones and whatnot - and it's never been nerve wrecking. But the security x-ray really does a number on me. As if it's not bad enough that I'm already the girl who carries way too much with her, I'm also that girl who holds up the security line. I frantically throw my suitcase and other bags onto the security belt, but feel like I'm racing against time, as I see the passenger behind me put his stuff up on the belt in one swift motion. I try to tuck away my ID/boarding pass in an accessible component of my purse, which I'll hopefully remember, heave out my laptop, remove my jewelry, untie my sneakers in a frenzy, all while "Mr. I'm so suave" unknowingly taps his fingers behind me signifying his utter lack of patience with me. I smile and apologize one too many times for taking so long, even asking if he wants to go ahead of me. When he politely declines, I feel a rush of adrenaline go through me and pray to God that I can get my act together and move it along. I swear, when did I become so slow!? Then I remember the infamous liquid rule and all of toiletries I always insist on packing (as if my best friend didn't have a full stock of shampoo, lotions, etc. at her apartment). I rummage for my zip lock bag of liquids, toss them on the belt, and cross my fingers with the hopes that security won't detect that the zip lock bag was nothing but a mere decoy and the rest of my full size liquids are strewn about the rest of my suitcases. Finally, I'm across the border into the promising gates of relaxation. But of course the madness doesn't end there. By the time I've been screened, my belongings have crash landed at the other end of belt and I'm yet again left to scramble them up in the most haphazard fashion before they become co-mingled with Mr. Suave's belongings. Looking like a complete fool, I pile on my stuff as if they're my latest can't live without accessories, sink down into an empty bench, and take in a sigh of relief. The hardest part is over. The next part isn't so bad. After I've situated me and my belongings, I confirm my gate number and head to the nearest news stand to buy some snacks and copious amounts of water. On a typical day, I struggle to drink that all so important 64 ounces of water, but send me to the airport, and I act as though I may never see water again in my entire life. Keep in mind that I cannot possibly carry one more item, but still I try to stuff two large bottles of water into my overflowing purse. Because, hey, I just may get a bit parched in the clouds....

Thank God the rest of my trip was far more...peaceful. That's not to say that it wasn't uneventful. To give some of my readers just how ridiculous I am - or can be - I'll explain a very typical "Courtney has had one too many drinks" story. On Friday night, Natalie; her boyfriend, Joe; and I went out into downtown Ft. Lauderdale. A few drinks and a couple hours into the night, a few of Joe's friends who were in town for a bachelor party decided to meet up with us. Please note right here that I have no game. I may be single, but I don't try and pretend to be someone I'm not. I don't try to be smooth, or funny, or anything else on purpose. What you see is exactly what you get. Translation - you don't know what's going to come out of my mouth, especially when I've had a few drinks, but chances are it will end up being quirky, somewhat humorous and above all else, totally ridiculous. After talking for a few minutes, my new friend, Andrew, asks why I wasn't out the previous night. Instead of saying what any *normal* person would say, I said in my most animated voice, "I was still on a plane," and proceeded to raise my arm in the air and flap. Yes, that's right. I flapped like a bird in a bar so that my new found friend could fully envision that I was in flight to Florida rather than drinking at the Elbow Room in Ft. Lauderdale. When he didn't realize my absurd hand motions right away, I thought I was in the clear. But of course, even though it took a few minutes, he realized what I had just done and completely called me out on it..."Did you really just flap at me!?" Well, yes, I think I did. Sigh. Only me. The good news was that the flap became the signature dance move for the rest of my spring break and for their bachelor party.

Okay, my flight is about to land and knowing how long it will take me to gather my luggage, I need to log off...Until next time :)

08 March 2011

miss independent.

A fairly independent person, I like to rely on myself as much as possible. This does not mean I do not ask for help, because that would just be ridiculous (Mikey, this is your shout out...I hope you're reading this). But I do try to do things on my own *when* and if possible. However, being fresh out of a relationship has really been a wake up call for how much I relied on a boyfriend to do things for me. While I did recruit a few guy friends to help me with my recent move across town, I was left by myself to do the things that I normally would simply ask a boyfriend to do....for example...

I was in dire need of a few things for our apartment...a shoe rack, a bookcase, lamps (because why would there be a single ceiling light in our entire apartment!?), curtain rods, etc. Given all of my needs, I decided that Lowes would be my best bet. The most bang for my buck. The quick and easy fix. Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love to shop. Just not for this type of "stuff." I have never gone into Lowes alone, and I must admit, I was a little intimidated when I walked through the entrance. There I was, practically prancing through the doors with my high heels, black tights, and pencil skirt only to come face to face with aisles upon aisles of....manly man stuff! Stuff that I don't normally just go out and purchase, or even have a desire to shop for. Confidently, I grabbed and a cart and whisked away...a serious woman on a very serious mission. First stop...the "home storage" section to find a shoe rack...Mistake number one. 

What I'm about to say may sound a bit presumptuous, but I'm speaking based on pure observation. The way I see it, if you're a single girl, and you want to meet a guy, go to Lowes, Home Depot, or any other "guy" store. And wear a skirt. Because I swear, as soon as I walked down the aisle, I was practically double teamed. I was not asking for it. I tried to be confident. I tried to be that girl...you know what I'm talking about...that girl who doesn't need a man to do things for her and can do everything herself. Unfortunately, I was not faking anyone out as I walked aimlessly up and down the aisle trying to find a damn shoe rack. Instantly, an employee came up to me and asked if I needed help. Yes, this is something that employees are required to do. I get that. But, my God, give a girl a break! I explained to one of the guys what I was looking for and he starts asking me all these questions about what type of shoe rack I need. And then just for kicks, he decides to flirt. So of course I start to babble on and on, wondering the whole time how many types of shoe racks exist and whether this guy really thinks I'm just going to give him my number?! My God, we're not talking about actual shoes here! I just need that thing that stores all of my shoes! After a few minutes, it was decided that they didn't have the particular over the door shoe rack I was looking for. Whatever, I had other things on my list. I ditched the guy before he could ask me another question and off I went. Next stop - curtain rods. Holy sh*t, I'm going to be in for it whenever I have an entire house to furnish. I had *no* idea that there were so many curtain rods to choose from! And could they be any more expensive!?! Desperate to not walk out of the store empty handed, I saw what I thought may be the light at the end of my failing shopping attempt....the aisle of lamps!  I should have known the game was over by that point. Three aisles of lamps!? Is that really necessary?! So much for the light at the end of the tunnel. Frustrated and tired, I decided I had had enough. I pushed my cart to the side and tried to make a quick exit out of the building. But, no I couldn't even leave incognito! As I'm hurrying out of the store, who do I bump into but "Mr. Allow me to find you a shoe rack and anything and everything else you may need." Of course he noticed that I no longer had my cart and asked if I needed more help. Blushing, I quickly smiled and told him I was just way too overwhelmed to buy anything. Really, Court? Overwhelmed?! As I walked away, I could hear the guy getting a good chuckle out of my ridiculousness and I desperately wished that I had brought a guy with me to help me navigate through the store without being preyed on. When I finally exited the building, I took a deep breath of fresh air and made a dash for the store right next door. A store where I didn't feel like a complete idiot. A store where I didn't need a guy to help me buy what I needed. Hello, Pier 1 Imports. 

My euphoric feeling of triumph lingered as I moved on from Pier 1, to Marshalls, and then to Wal-Mart (I'm on a budget, and as much as I prefer Target, Wal-Mart's just a tad less expensive).  By the end of night I had successfully purchased everything on my list! Sans the help of a boyfriend!

Last Friday night I was getting ready to go out, nursing a beer (I swear I don't normally drink alone!), and continuing the seemingly neverending unpacking process. In an effort to make my room less of a dorm room and more of a professional 26 year old's, I desperately wanted the clutter to disappear so I could start to enjoy the benefits of a peaceful living environment. So as I sat there in the center of my room, as I often do, I had this brilliant idea to put up my curtains. I had purchased two curtain rods during my shopping adventures earlier in the week. I dug out Kaitlin's toolbox, found a hammer and a screw driver and peered up at my window, almost a bit curiously, wondering what I should do first. In the pre-single Courtney days, a boyfriend would have done this for me. No questions asked. Why would I waste time putting them up, when a boy could do it for me? But I was alone, nevermind the fact that I may or may not have been a little tipsy, and I was determined to put up the curtain rods. I climbed up on my super shaky, for looks only, vanity stool and attempted to screw in the first screw. Mega fail. I know the whole lefty lucy, righty tight bit, but the screw simply was not screwing. So I switched to the other side of the window. I got lucky with this side and was able to get one of the screws in. Kind of. I latched on the curtain rod to that side and wondered what I was going to do with the other side. In comes the hammer. God bless my neighbor with all of the racket I was creating. I climbed back up on the vanity stool and started hammering the hell out of the screw, forcing it to go into the window. Easy enough, right? False. Now I couldn't get the rod to latch onto that little metal thing that goes over the screws. Back to the drawing board. A huge part of me wanted to just say "screw it" - no pun intended - and wait till my Dad could come over and  fix it for me. But as I sat there, drinking my beer, watching the curtain rod dangle back and forth, I decided that this was my project and I had to finish it. So I got back onto my dainty little vanity stool again and didn't get down until I basically forced the curtain rod to stay in place. I swear I was so close to taping the damn thing in place, but I got it. Mission accomplished. No boys necessary.

Oh and my bookshelf....well my Mom ended up helping with that...but I've done everything else I ordinarily would have relied on a guy to do for me. And I must admit, it feels fabulous to know I can do these things on my own :)