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Paying it Forward

December 2, 2009

October 29, 2009.

My brother’s 20th birthday, which, of course, I don’t get to spend with him because of the MILES and stuff.

The day I meet this incredibly amazing guy who is funny and considerate and easy to talk to and after an hour or so of music talk, pass him my number and continue to have conversation after wonderful conversation.

The day I show up at a coffee shop to play to what I’m assuming will be probably two people I know along with a handful of other random, lovely people who I’ll never see again, only to watch as at least half of the people I work with (and I work with a lot of people) come in one by one, sit down together, drink coffee and cheer me on.

That day was a GREAT day.

And I’ll remember that date specifically, maybe forever, because it’s already a date that matters.  It’s my brother’s birthday.  It’s also the anniversary of my grandfather’s death, although, while I always think about it, I usually don’t mention it… why bring a party down?  Either way, the date is significant, and I’ll remember it because of that, but the really, truly wonderful thing about this date in 2009 was that last bullet point.

People coming out to support you when you think they won’t have time or don’t really care all that much or just probably aren’t even thinking about it.  Seeing tables full of people you work with, smiling back at you, along with a couple of friends sitting a few tables ahead of them, and even more familiar faces on the couches to your left.  Seeing a room, albeit a small one, but A ROOM, filled with people who are there because of YOU, and not for one of those things we all feel obligated to go out and support like high school graduations and weddings.  It’s not as if I suspected any of these people didn’t like me or didn’t think I was a lovely person, but taking your time like that and showing up somewhere… it’s a big deal.  It’s a really big deal.  I mean, most of the people I went to school with didn’t show up to my senior recital, and the ones who did mostly did because they were getting credit to be there.  These people showed up because they wanted to.

So when my friend and coworker Kelly told me she had her senior art show coming up and she said, “You should come!”  I said “I WILL!”  And just like I always do when someone says the same to me, I think she was thinking, “Well, she has good intentions now, but we’ll see.”  It’s much easier to think that way than have to be disappointed later, when it counts.  So when I showed up with an hour of the show left to go last night with a big smile on my face and a big hug just waiting to be given, her eyes lit up and she exclaimed, “YOU CAME!”

And I said, “I told you I would!”

And then we stood and talked and looked at her work and the work of the others in the gallery, and we smiled and we ate chocolate and I was there to support her.

And she thanked me over and over and over again for coming.

And she’s talented.  She’s really talented.

I didn’t go there because I necessarily expected that my presence would make or break her night.  That’s silly.  But when I got off of work last night and thought, “I’m tired, and I’ve still got recording to do, should I really go?” I remembered October 29, and the way seeing everybody sitting in that place because of me made me feel, and I thought, Yes.  I have to go.

It was so worth it.

Plus, I picked up a little surprise for my mom while I was there.

Black Friday

November 27, 2009

…and I look more ready for a photo shoot than endless hours of retail hell.

ah well.  there’s gotta be a bright side, right?


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November 27, 2009

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a letter

November 26, 2009

dear [you],

thank you for today.  i couldn’t have asked for a better thanksgiving.

well, unless, somehow, i could have spent all afternoon with you AND managed to see all the new cousin-babies.

but i’ll take what i got.

really.  really really.  thank you.


A Christmas Story

November 25, 2009

I’ve got a story to tell you.

In fact, I told this story to the boy the other night, and he nearly got angry with me that I’d kept it from him for “so long.”  Apparently, this is such a good story, it should have been told the moment I laid eyes on him.  And should be told the moment I meet anyone new.  Whether or not it’s December or July.  So what if it’s a Christmas story?  It’s THAT GOOD.

I’ve probably just set you up for disappointment.


I don’t remember how old I was.  I estimate 8-10, probably.  I was getting a weekly allowance of a dollar a week, and I very badly wanted a new bike– a TEN SPEED– and so every week when I found that new dollar bill laying on my bed, I’d store it away in a little tin Coca-Cola box in the back of my desk drawer, tally the post-it note inside to keep track of how much money I was accruing, and wait until the next week, when I could add the next dollar and tally the next mark on the post-it.

And then I’d probably hop on my little sea foam green Huffy with Harriet the Spy in a backpack and ride down to the park by the school to sit in an old truck tire and read while the fall leaves were blown from the trees.

I lived a very exciting childhood.

Now, as Christmas approached, I wasn’t shy about telling my parents what I hoped Santa would bring me.  The bike was the furthest thing from my mind when it came to Christmas–I was saving up to buy it.  I didn’t need Santa to bring one, obviously.  I don’t even remember what I thought I should get that Christmas but I do remember what my dad was very adamant about telling me I would get: A Box Of Rocks.

“Ha ha, Daddy, very funny,”  I would say.  “A box of rocks!  You are a LAUGH.

There were a few Christmases where I had some pretty good ideas about what I might be getting.  This particular Christmas was really exciting, because I had no idea.  It would be a real surprise.

So you can imagine that I might be really surprised when I tore the paper from a box that opened to reveal…


My parents had given me A Box Of Rocks for Christmas.  Not just any rocks.  Used rocks.  Aquarium rocks right out of the fish tank downstairs.  They didn’t even love me enough to find shiny, polished rocks.

I tried really, really hard not to cry.  Was this supposed to be some lesson about the true meaning of Christmas?  Was I FAILING?  I could help it.  I was just a kid, y’all!

I had no idea what to say or what to do, so I just cried.

And my dad laughed at me.

I continued crying.

And then somebody, probably my mom, who felt bad about making me cry on Christmas morning, told me to just look at the bottom of the box, already.

So I dug through the box and I found a note at the bottom, which said to go look downstairs.

It probably should have instructed me to put the rocks away in the fish tank on the way, for as well as this Christmas was going.  You want your present?  CHORES FIRST, SLAVE DAUGHTER!

So I put down the box and I did my best to suck up my tears as we all headed downstairs.  I stood there, in the middle of the huge, divided room, looking for something… anything… having no idea what it was I was looking for.

Someone finally had to point it out, leaning, gleaming against the back wall.

A big, beautiful, purple Ten Speed.

And I laughed and wiped the last of the tears from my cheeks as I ran toward it and did my best to hop on, though it was really too big for me, and I rode it as far as the basement walls would allow.

I fell in love immediately.

And very soon after, started thinking about all that money I had now that I didn’t have to buy a bike.

The bubble was soon burst, though.

“We figured that since you’ve been saving up to buy a bike, we’d just buy the second half for you.  So you can put about $35 toward this, and we’ll take care of the rest.  Does that seem fair?”

Why yes, as a 9 year old, this seems terribly fair to me.

Now that we’ve put you through the biggest emotional trauma of your life, Pay Up. Merry Christmas, Courtney.

(for the record, I loved that bike, I quickly over came The Box Of Rocks Incident, and in the end, was glad to pay $35 for a bike rather than $70. Also, I love my family, even if they are kind of crazy sometimes. No disrespect is meant in the retelling of this story.  It’s just… it’s just too funny not to.)

Past Life

November 24, 2009

Considering my current diet, which consists of all kinds of black bean burger variations, veggie chili, quesadillas, and fajitas, and my always and forever guilty pleasure, mom’s homemade chicken enchiladas, my longstanding love of guacamole (I am to guac like a Montanan to ranch– I’ll find an excuse to put it on ANYTHING),  not to mention the fact that nearly every time I’ve eaten out in the past year I’ve picked a place where the wait staff barely speaks English…

I’d say I was Mexican in a past life.

What do your eating habits say about you?

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November 23, 2009

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Jazz Fusion

November 22, 2009

We’ve recently started playing Christmas music at our store.  Don’t even get me started on that.

A few days ago a lady was in buying costume pieces for a dance studio or a dance team… some group of dancers.  She commented on the song playing, an instrumental Christmas tune of some kind, said she liked it, and asked me if I knew who it was.  First of all, I wanted to visibly recoil in horror– most of our Christmas music is terrible and this was no exception.  But I simply said, no, this is instrumental, and the only the only instrumental music I’d know how to name is Mannheim Steamroller.  This obviously isn’t Mannheim Steamroller.  (Translation:  Whoever this is, they are NO Mannheim Steamroller.) First, this lady, at least in her 40s, gave me this blank look, like Man-who? And then she proceeded on, “I just really like this.  It’s different.  Sort of… jazz fusion, I’d say.”

I had to choke back my laughter.

Jazz?  Fusion?  What exactly about this song is screaming JAZZ FUSION to you?  Is it the simple I-IV-V chord structure, the complete lack of non-chord tones, or is it perhaps the acoustic guitar, the drum part a seventh grader could play, and the HAND BELLS?

What did I do?

I nodded.

“Yeah.  Sounds kinda like jazz fusion to me, too.”

People who think they know.


Live High

November 19, 2009

Glory God, oh God is peeking through the blinds
Are we all here standing naked
Taking guesses at the actual date and time?
Oh my, justifying reasons why
Is an absolutely insane resolution to live by

Live High
Live Mighty
Live Righteously

-Jason Mraz

Do you ever stop to think about what you believe?

I do.  More often than you could imagine.

The lyrics to most worship songs have never sat right with me.  Having to sing in church used to downright make me cry, even if I’d had a perfectly lovely day and did my best to go in with a good attitude.  I’ve always struggled with certain aspects of the faith I grew up in.  I’ve never been the girl who had a favorite bible verse and I’m here to admit to you that it wasn’t until sometime last month that all of the details to the Jesus dying and descending to Hell and rising again and therefore saving us all from our sins finally clicked and made sense.  I was listening to the Newsboys in my car when all of a sudden it was just like, Oh, that’s how that works.

I’ve had a lot of trouble with all of it, always.  The reasons, the details, the interpretations.

What I’ve never had a problem with is knowing that God is up there.  That much, I’m okay with and always have been.

The first time I really decided I believed in God, really, I was sitting in my freshman world history class.  I was fourteen or fifteen years old.  We were discussing world religions, and our teacher was going through many of the major ones, telling us what stories were in their sacred texts, and and it occurred to me that many of the stories were the same.  Sure, the names were different, the exact locations may have been vague, but the stories themselves remained in tact.  The floods, the prophets… it all added up, all without these two races of people ever having come in contact by the time these texts had been written.  And I remember thinking, there is indeed One God, and here all of us are thinking we’ve got the Right One.  There is no Right One.  It’s the Same One.

So at that point, not only did I decide I really believed in Him, I decided none of us were right.

Or all of us were.

But then, if God is up there speaking to us in different languages so as to get to as many of us as possible, why are Christians the only one with a Messiah who has come?  Are we?  I guess I don’t know.  But so many people say there is no way into Heaven but through Jesus, and I think maybe that’s true, but do we all have to be aware of it?  Some people just won’t ever “accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior,” because of many different circumstances, some of which are not their own choices.  Does that mean they don’t get in?  And those who purposely turn away, maybe even because they’re afraid?  If Jesus came to save us from our sins and denying him is a sin, well, I think that one counts, too, don’t you?

And asking too many of these questions, along with other, smaller, day to day things like “Is this really sinful or are these laws simply reflective of the time they were written in?” (I mean, Jews were not allowed to eat pigs.  Why?  Because they were unclean, not because there is something inherently wrong with eating pigs.  Not anymore than eating chicken or cows or anything.  And that rule has been changed for us and for, as I understand it, many of the Jewish faith, as well.) causes me to question EVERYTHING.

And I hate that feeling.  Because I know… I know there’s a God.  It’s the rest that get jumbled up.

And that’s why, for me, it’s about letting go, trusting in life, in humanity.  In realizing that no one living in this world will ever have the real answers, but that God really is everywhere and in all of us.  In believing the real sins are not the ones we commit against ourselves but the ones that are purely malicious, the ones that directly hurt others, or this Earth we live on.

There are many things we should be searching for answers to.  The cure for cancer.  The real reason the dinosaurs became extinct.  Better energy alternatives.  But when it comes to God, does it matter who’s right, or does it matter that we’re living high?

I choose to live high.

Single. Kind of.

November 17, 2009

I’ve had a facebook profile since Christmas break of my sophomore year of college.  I remember this because I remember sitting in my bff’s apartment, where I was staying so I didn’t have to keep the dorm ghosts company, and setting it up, then subsequently finding Preston’s profile and semi-stalking him, trying to decide if it was appropriate to add him as a friend.  Was facebook like myspace, where I had very few IRL friends, or was it different?

I ultimately decided it was different and I added him.  I still remember his profile picture as well as though I’m looking right at it.  I’m pretty sure it’s not there anymore.

What this means is that I’ve had a profile for nearly 4 years.

I just thought about it because in those four years, I’m not sure that I’ve ever changed my relationship status.

Yes, I’ve dated guys.  I may have taken the status down from “Single” to nothing at all… but it has never, ever changed to “in a relationship.”


The reason I think about this now is because… well… I came home tonight wondering if I should change it.

Ultimately I decided not to, for a few different reasons, but the biggest one?

It’s been that way for four years.
I’m not sure I’m ready to let go.

Is that not the craziest thing you’ve ever heard?

But it’s not really about the facebook status itself… it’s about the actual relationship status.

Even with the guys I’ve dated in the past, though I may have wanted it, I never even for a moment expected that those situations might turn into long-term real relationship scenarios.  I got to have fun and flirt and make out a little all while holding on to my precious, SAFE singledom.  It was familiar.  It was easy.

It was good songwriting material.

But now I find myself on the verge of something I have no good excuse to run from.  No impending graduation, no impending move across the country.  Just him and me and good conversations about music and family and cars and theatre and all sorts of other little things that lead me to think I could really get along with this guy.

For quite awhile.

And I am at the point where I’d be willing to take down that “Single” status and just leave it undefined for awhile.  But I figure maybe rather than jumping the gun or making implications, maybe I should just wait it out and change it when things have really come to be what I think they may come to be.

I am known for getting ahead of myself, but for once I feel just fine with exactly where things are.  That’s not just about this.  It’s about my life.  I’m good with it.  I know it’s moving forward and changing but I’m just perfectly fine with life’s pace right now.

And so I guess I’ll just let things happen as they’re meant to.

And for right now… I guess that means my facebook “friends” still think I’m single.

I am.
Kind of.