Unique Reads | Top Ten Tuesday

I may have done this once or twice before, but just in case I didn’t explain: A book blog that I often lurk on, The Broke and the Bookish, does a weekly Top Ten Tuesday.  Today’s topic is…

Top Ten Six Most Unique Books I’ve Read

  1. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn — This book definitely changed my life and my way of thinking.  The premise is extremely unique (almost odd) but it’s very eye-opening and really does stay with you.
  2. Fated  by S.G. Browne — A unique premise in which other-worldly presences like Fate, Destiny, and Death live human lives with the rest of us, and what happens when they have their own doubts.
  3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak —  The way this book was written, from the perspective of Death, really grabs you.  The descriptions of war in this book were beautiful in their own tragic way.  I never saw the film adaptation of this, and I’m kinda glad I didn’t, because I wasn’t sure how well it would translate to screen.
  4. Candy Girl by Diablo Cody —  A book about a woman’s stint as a stripper.  Candid, vulgar, obscene…moments of this book made feel very uncomfortable, but at the same time I couldn’t put it down.
  5. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova — A vampire book that’s less about vampires and more about actual history.  Love it!  I adore historical fiction and the dash of paranormal activity in this story is just enough.
  6. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan — This isn’t the first book I’ve read that tells the story through varying viewpoints, but the particular story it told was pretty interesting and different.  The characters were unique, and the ways in which they connected was different as well.

Be sure to write up your own list and head over to The Broke and the Bookish and join the link-up!

Time for Penny Pinchin’ and Waist Cinchin’

While Jared and I aren’t in full swing of wedding planning yet (we’ve been tossing around ideas for a long time now and we picked the date ages ago, but we have no solid plans to speak of), the time has come to start thinking finances.  I personally hate thinking finances, because that is when I start stressing out and wanting to just run away and move back in with Mom and Dad.  The fact of the matter is that Jared and I are effin’ broke as…fuck.  (I wanted to have a cute little pun there but we are so broke it ain’t even funny.)  It’s a struggle to pay rent every month, let alone paying deposits on vendors and buying craft supplies for DIY projects.

Jared has plans to start up an Etsy shop soon (he’s actually working on inventory right now) and has also been looking for a second job for awhile, but I personally have every intention of heading back to school in the Fall.  If I do head back to school I won’t have time for a second job and that’s even more money I’ll be shelling out on the regular.  Yes, I’ll have to rely on student loans a bit anyway, but the whole situation makes me a little panicky.  My mother mentioned helping to pay for the wedding but I have no idea how much my or Jared’s parents are able/willing to help, and I’m really dreading those conversations.  J and I have vowed to stop eating out, with the exception of special occasions and maybe a once-a-month treat, but that’s not enough.  Unfortunately there isn’t much else we spend money on.  I’ll have to stop impulse buying makeup products, but other than that all we spend money on is food, rent, and utilities.  The struggle.  So real.

The next step, which I also don’t like to do, is start meal planning.  Hardcore.  Every meal.  Every day.  That way we don’t waste money on unnecessary food items and/or throw food away that we end up not eating.  I have always struggled with meal planning but hopefully knowing that it’s helping me afford the dress of my dreams or something will help motivate me to stick with it.

The good news, however, is that with meal planning and skipping the trips to McDonald’s and Chipotle we’ll hopefully start losing a little bit of weight!  I mean, if we’re meal planning anyway, we might as well plan healthy meals and snacks, right?  Of course right!  The other good news is that I tend to eat when  I’m bored and if there isn’t any food to mindlessly munch on I’ll have to find other ways to occupy my time…like maybe working out?!  Who knows?

And so it is with hesitant enthusiasm (yes I love a good oxymoron) that I begin this phase of my life: The Penny Pinchin’ and Waist Cinchin’ Phase.

Even Engaged Girls Need Pants

Well, folks, I have some news.  Most of you who read this either stumbled here on the ex-mormon tag or already know me IRL but for the sake of being thorough I figured I would keep y’all updated on the blog as well.

I GOT ENGAGED!

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Boom.

The story of our engagement is pretty simple.  A group of friends (including J and I) went down to the Santa Monica Pier for some fun-filled festivities and whatnot.   We were taking some photos together and then Jared popped the question!  I said yes, and then proceeded to ask if I could put on pants.  (Everyone was dressed nicely for the photos and I was freezing.)

I had a pretty strong suspicion that the proposal was coming, but I’m still very happy that I (finally) have this gorgeous ring on my finger!  We’ve already begun a little bit of wedding planning and have a tentative date, but for now we’re just taking it easy and planning a trip to see my family so we can celebrate properly!

Diary of an Ex-Mormon | Elder Wurtzbacher

I’ve found that it’s hard for me to recount my experience in absolute order.  It’s been so long, and I didn’t keep a very detailed journal at the time…  In fact, most of my entries during this whole experience was either about Jacob and how cute he was, or just parroting whatever a missionary or other Mormon had told me.  I think that’s very telling of what my actual focus was during all this.  So I think that whenever a particular story or person comes to mind I’ll share a little here.

Recently Jared and I saw Book of Mormon at the Pantages in LA. It was wonderful, and I’ll share more about the show and my thoughts later, but ever since then I’ve been thinking a lot about the missionaries that taught me prior to my baptism.  Honestly, most of them were as dry as day old toast, and I couldn’t tell you much about them.  I don’t even remember the name of the missionary who baptized me off the top of my head.  But there is one Elder that I do remember very clearly.  Elder Wurtzbacher.

Elder Wurtzbacher was from Detroit.  Elder Wurtzbacher was the first black Mormon I ever met.  Elder Wurtzbacher was quite the charmer.  He must have been the star pupil at the Missionary Training Center because damn was he good.  I had a bit of a crush/infatuation with Elder Wurtzbacher.  I may or may not have found him on Facebook to see if he is as cute as I remember confirm the spelling of his last name.  (He’s still pretty cute.)

He was one of the first two missionaries I met with.  His companion was Elder Humphries (if I recall correctly).  Elder Wurtzbacher was the first Elder to leave me.  I was really upset, because I really wanted him to be the one to baptize me.

He was a smooth talker.  I remember wanting to read the whole Book of Mormon before taking the plunge.  (Yes, that was a pun.  No I am not sorry.)  He asked me what my favorite dessert was.  I told him it was peppermint ice cream.

“Oh peppermint ice cream!  Great choice!  Now, Alissa, when you open that carton of peppermint ice cream and scoop out your first creamy spoonful, you know it’s good, right?  Do you have to eat the whole thing to know you like it?  Or is one bite enough to commit?  You know you’ll want the whole thing after that one bite.”

As an adult I know that the logic of that comparison is flawed, to say the very least.  But Elder Wurtzbacher made it seem so logical!  Through my Facebook research I have found that he is currently attending a school of dentistry, but I think he would have a very successful career in politics.

I was so shy and hesitant and scared during those first meetings with the missionaries.  Sometimes I wonder if Elder Wurtzbacher hadn’t been there if I ever would have converted, or if it would have taken a lot longer.

Impressions of Friendship

I thoroughly enjoy recalling my first impressions of people and comparing them to what I think about them now.  I don’t think I’m alone in this.  Tonight I went out with a work friend turned life friend that I love and respect.  We got our nails done and then got fish tacos.  We haven’t ever really gone out and done anything together before, just the two of us.  We talk a lot both at work and on the phone, but it was really nice to just have a girl’s night, just two gals hanging out.  No other coworkers, no men, no frenemies that we’re forced to be polite to.

It has been a long time since I’ve been out with someone that I honestly agreed with the whole night, especially when you consider the fact that we work together.  It was really lovely.  It reminded me of when Kristin and I used to hang out all the time because, yanno, we lived on the same side of the country.  Tonight made me realize how much I’ve really been craving a local friend that I feel completely comfortable around.

Yesterday I was at a bridal shower for a friend that I’m a bridesmaid for.  I didn’t feel as comfortable during that shower as I did tonight.  There are some other issues that have recently been revealed concerning that bride, involving secrets and potential drama, but I’m keeping my mouth shut for now.  I think the feeling of being left out at one of my best friend’s bridal shower is probably amplifying how I feel tonight.  Which is free.  Free to be myself.  Free to be the bitter, sassy, bitchy, liberal minded, atheist, pervert, asshole that I am.

This friend that I hung out with tonight, Megan, hired in to our workplace just over a year after me.  In my mind I referred to her as Pigtails.  She had these frizzy pigtails that she was wearing with our work hat and she looked way younger than she actually was.  One of the first times I talked to her after she was trained I was so rude (which I feel horrible about and she doesn’t even remember it) and the first time I saw her outside of work was at a coworker’s 21st birthday and Megan’s true colors were revealed.  I was shocked!  But highly entertained.  She said some wild things that night but man did she get some good laughs.

I never would have guessed that she’d be one of my favorite people to work with, and the first person I absolutely HAVE to talk to whenever anything of any interest happens.

I really needed tonight, and I’m very glad that she’s here to make nights like these happen.

Diary of an Ex-Mormon | The Beginning

It all started my Sophomore year of high school.  Spanish 2.  I remember feeling like Jacob looked familiar, but I didn’t have any memory of seeing him around campus before.  My boyfriend at the time, Matt, was also in that class, but I ended up being seated next to Jacob.

Before I met Jacob I had a very vague understanding of what it meant when someone was a Mormon.  I had heard jokes about polygamy and I specifically remember a line in Eddie Izzard’s stand up special Dress to Kill in which he refers to Mormons as Martians, but other than that all I knew about them is that they were really religious.

Jacob later told me that he had seen me before as well, and that his first impression of me was “Why is she dating that Matt kid?” and that I won him over with my sarcastic (and often rude) remarks about our teacher.  That man despised me, but he loved Jacob.  He was also Mormon.  A lot of our teachers at our school were Mormon men.  And they definitely played favorites.

I did like Jacob a lot.  Confession: I was a serial dater in high school, and as horrible as this is to admit, I always knew who my next romance would be even while I was still with whomever I was currently dating.  I know, I was a man eater.  Whenever there was a group project Matt and I would team up with Jacob and another girl in class to get the job done, and if we were expected to pair up during class Jacob and I would always work together since we sat next to each other.  We got to know each other pretty well during those times.

Eventually Matt and I did break up (twice actually, that was another bad habit of mine) and the Jacob Era began.  Our first day was May 20th, 2005.  It was a double date with my best friend Kristin and her boyfriend at the time, Julian.  We went to a bowling alley and found that there was no open bowling that night (even though I had called earlier to confirm) and so were left wandering around Norco.  We went to a reptile store where Julian yammered on about lizards or something and then we went to In-N-Out.  Jacob and I held hands and Julian mocked us.  Later my parents picked Jacob and I up with my younger cousin Brendan in tow (he was staying with us that night for whatever reason).  I remember Brendan was being such a brat to Jacob, and it became a bit of an inside joke.  We dropped Jacob off at his house and I walked him to the door, where we had our first kiss.

I fell for Jacob hard and fast.  I liked his family for the most part, and my parents liked him, but the relationship certainly had it’s issues.  I really wanted us to be exclusive (I mean, we weren’t seeing anyone else anyway) but he wouldn’t agree to it because I wasn’t Mormon.  Finally, one day, I don’t remember when, we were finally MYSPACE OFFICIAL (yeah, MySpace) but it only lasted about two weeks (if that, I really don’t remember) before he broke up with me over AOL Instant Messenger one morning.  He blamed his mother, saying that she felt more comfortable with him dating someone of the same religion and she didn’t see the point of dating someone who wasn’t a member since we couldn’t get married.  The other issue was that I was still 15 and Mormons have a rule of no dating before 16.  How she allowed him to go on the date in the first place, I don’t know.

At this point I was already convinced that Jke (his nickname at the time) was The One.  If I had to join a religion to be with him, I would.  And thus the seed was planted.  It took me a long time to follow through, but I decided that I would talk to missionaries and see what was up with this Mormon thing.

Diary of an Ex-Mormon | Introduction

I not-so-recently found myself tweeting (as I often do) about my experience as a Mormon.  Sometimes these little forays into my memory come at random, but often they are brought on after coming across a fellow ex-Mo’s tweets.  Granted, I’m the only ex-Mo I know so I’m sure my friends and followers find these outbursts pretty random all the time.  Anyway, this particular day my friend Nathan suggested I write a book about my Mormon journey and self-publish.  As I told him then, and as I still believe now, I don’t think my short-lived time as a member of the LDS church is really that notable.  I still do feel the urge to get it off my chest.

I’ve never sat down and fully recounted the whole story from beginning to now.  I can’t say the end because I don’t know if it ever really ends.  I still find myself missing elements of that time of my life, and sometimes I still catch myself in old habits.  It’s odd considering I never fully felt I fit in to that culture, and yet here I am still trying to shake it.  I suppose that’s normal.  It’s a part of my past and there’s nothing I can do about that.

There are a few disclaimers I want to start with before I really get into everything:
I have, frankly, forgotten a lot of the finer points about the Mormon religion.  While I was baptized and went to church and all that, I never went to a temple.  I had a temple recommend (meaning that I was qualified to go to a temple) but never actually made it out to one.  In addition, it’s been a very very long time since I studied religion in any sense, and even when I was an active member I didn’t read as often as was suggested.

I am the only member of my family to have ever been Mormon.  My parents aren’t very religious, I have some extended family that are members of the Catholic church, but that’s about it.  I went to a myriad of different churches in the years before I was Mormon, but none of them really had a lasting positive impression on me.  In fact, I would classify most of those experiences as either negative or indifferent.

My experience as a Mormon generally centers around an ex-boyfriend of mine, so this story will also have a lot to do with our relationship, whether I mean it to be or not.  There’s just no way around it.  I am definitely a victim of the Flirt to Convert method of missionary work.

With a few exceptions, I have no problem with individual members of the ward I was a part of.  Most of the people I met and spent time with as a member were wonderful people, and while I may not agree with a lot of aspects of their lives I harbor no ill will against them.

My experience is mine alone and I in no way mean to speak for anyone else.  Again, I considered myself Mormon for a very short period of time compared to most ex-mo individuals and was not raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, so my experiences are going to be very different from others.

I’m very nervous to post this story.  I’m extremely nervous.  I don’t have a lot of any readers, but I’m still terrified of what will happen once it’s public.  For me, though, I feel it needs to be shared.  More to come soon…

#DailyDecember | Whoops

Yes I know, I have failed, yet again, to stick to a blogging schedule.
But I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas anyway.
I’m laying in bed typing this on my phone because I really don’t want to get up until I absolutely have to start getting ready for work. Jared is at work right now so there’s no point in getting up right this second anyway.
I hope that all of you “readers” have a wonderful Christmas or at least a wonderful Wednesday and a very happy new year.

#DecemberDaily | The Body Image Post

Yes, folks, here it is…the dreaded body image post that seems to be required of ever female’s blog.  For damn good reason.  I could go on and on about body image issues, the media/society’s roles in our insecurities, the patriarchy and so on, but today I shall refrain.  Today is going to be more reflective, and hopefully more positive.

I had a “bad” day today in terms of body image.  Man did I feel gross and fat and worthless.  But in my quest to start loving myself better I decided to focus on what I love about my body instead.  I invite you all to do the same.

  • My natural hair color is awesome.  I can’t believe I used to dye it and fuck with it.  It’s gorgeous.  Great brown coloring with subtle but varied highlights.
  • My hair can hold a curl like a BOSS.
  • My skin tone is relatively even, and my freckles are cute but not so overbearing that they distract from my other features.  Perf.
  • I love my bold eyebrows.  I never need to fill them or anything and they frame my face like the motherfuckin Aarons Brothers.  Yeah, I did just make that joke.
  • My cheekbones are on point!
  • To quote Larry the Cucumber, I love my lips!
  • Overall, my face carries makeup well, which I’m grateful for since I like to try out new looks when I can.
  • My collarbones are hawt.  I’ve always loved them.
  • I complain about my boobs a lot (they are big, and they hurt my back) but at least I have them.
  • Do I got a booty?  I doooooooo!
  • My elbows are bony and pointy.  I accidentally hurt Jared a lot.  BUT!  Growing up, if my cousins or other male cohorts were beating me up or something…I could certainly defend myself.  Elbows FTW!
  • I like my knees.  For similar reasons.  Also they’re just nice.
  • My calves are the bomb.  In fact, so are my thighs.  Those guys totally get me through the day.  They help me walk mountains.  Literally.
  • Same goes for my feet.

Anyway, that was my gratuitous self-love list.  Damn am I hot.

#DailyDecember | Resolutions v. Goals

It’s that time of year again…or at least very nearly.  Everyone starts prattling off this list of resolutions for the new year, including you, and including me.  We all do this nonsense but rarely do people follow through.  I don’t know if it’s because we are over-ambitious or lazy or stupid or just full of shit…or all of the above, but it gets pretty frustrating.  After awhile people make you sick with their resolutions that you know they won’t fulfill, and then you make yourself sick because you are doing the same damn thing.  I digress.

I think a big part of this problem is how people look at these resolutions.  They just say them and expect them to magically happen.  “I resolve to lose 50 pounds.”  Well, that’s not a resolution.  Yes, technically, you can just will yourself to do it, but it’s not magic.  It’s a goal.   A goal is losing 50 pounds.  How you do it is the resolution.  “My goal is to lose 50 pound and in order to do so I resolve to…” etc.  Maybe I’m over analyzing things.  I almost certainly am.

And then there are the challenges.  I used to be especially guilty of this in high school.  “I resolve not to eat pasta this year.” That is, first of all, a stupid ass (and real) resolution for a 19 year old fat chick to have.  Also, it’s not a resolution.  It’s a fucking personal challenge.  I feel the same about people who cut out soda, meat, caffeine…video games, whatever.  It’s a challenge.  If you are truly addicted to something, say smoking, and this is a misguided attempt to quit said habit, I guess I respect the intent.  But really that’s not how to get shit done.  Cold turkey does not work in the long run.  I was a vegetarian for a year, just to see if I could do it, and I never tried to fool myself into thinking it was some sort of resolution.  It was a challenge.  Because what is the point of resolving to cut something out of your life if you’re just going to pick it back up at the end of the year?  It’s a little bit ridiculous.

Semantics, man.