Stories in Other Forms | Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of The Broke and the Bookish is our favorite stories in television and film.  I technically broke the rules this week, but I don’t care.  The fact of the matter is that I don’t watch that much T.V. and while I certainly enjoy movies, my favorites tend to be based off of…books.  While it was never explicitly said to not include book-based stories, I’m choosing not to as much as possible.  So my list includes some stories from other forms of media.  I hope you don’t mind!

  1. The Office — I.  Love.  The Office.  I’ve watched the series multiple times, I’m constantly referencing this show… it is my life source.  Hilarious and heartwarming…if you haven’t watched this series, where have you been?  Pam and Jim  are my OTP.
  2. Strictly Ballroom — Baz Luhrmann’s classic dance movie with an amazing soundtrack and just all around awesomeness.  A cute love story, some ridiculous characters, great comedy moments…  I love this movie!  My mom brought this home from the library one day years ago and I really thought I was going to hate this, but it’s truly amazing.  Fran is a beginner dancer with eyes on the next star of ballroom dance, Scott Hastings.  After Scott loses his partner and credibility after improvising moves in front of Australian Dancing Federation President Barry Fife, he gives Fran a chance to dance with him in the Grand Prix.  Everyone, especially Scott’s mom, panics, conspiracy are revealed, and Scott finally stops living his life in fear.  I’m pretty sure it’s on Netflix, watch it tonight!
  3. The Golden Girls — Um.  If this needs explaining I really feel sorry for you.  Harsh, but true.  Greatest sitcom of all time.  All time!  (I’m totally a Sofia by the way.)
  4. Modern Family — Speaking of hilarious comedies that often manage to teach us lessons and warm our hearts without being overly cheesy…  This show is great.  Not many shows make me literally laugh out loud but this one does at least once an episode.  I’m talkin’ big belly laughs here.  The good stuff.
  5. The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists — This album by The Decemberists tells a story through a series of songs.  It’s basically a musical soundtrack without the existing musical.  The album is meant to be listened to as a whole, but I feel that a few of the tracks are good stand alone songs.  I don’t want to spoil too much, because half of the experience is piecing together the story while you listen, but it’s basically a love story between a girl and a boy who is raised by the forest.  I know that sounds crazy, but it’s really amazing.
  6. Parks and Recreation — I’m currently playing catch up on this one (I’m extremely behind the times here) but I love Leslie Knope and all of her antics.  She is one of the best feminist characters I’ve seen, and the whole cast of this show is brilliant.  Brilliant!
  7. The Book of Mormon — I just saw this musical earlier (almost exactly 4 months ago!) but I’ve been obsessing over the soundtrack for quite some time.  Part of the reason this story resonates with me so much is because I used to be LDS (Mormon) and this story is, in part, a conversion story.  Also, it’s really funny.  And NSFW!  Fair warning!
  8. Next to Normal — Another musical, this is the simultaneously depressing and uplifting story of a woman coping with loss and mental illness, and how it affects her family.  Again, I don’t want to spoil too much, so I won’t.  Just know that it’s good, okay? Awesome.
  9. Into the Woods — This one is kinda breaking my own non-book-based rule, because it’s a musical based on fairy tales, but there are original characters (the baker and his wife) thrown into the mix, and the plots are all interwoven in a remarkably original way.  Plus, and I may be wrong about this, I am pretty sure the entire second act is original an original storyline.  Anyway, this Stephen Sondheim musical is currently being made into a film by my boss, dear old Mickey Mouse.  I have mixed feelings, but I know that I will ultimately be giving some of my paycheck back to Disney when Into the Woods arrives in theatres.
  10. When Harry Met Sally — My favorite movie.  Boom.  I said it.  The rom-com of the century.  Just perfect in every way.  Funny, romantic, sad…all the feels.  Another movie that I quote and/or make reference to on the regular.  Often unnoticed by those around me.  Excellent soundtrack too!  If you haven’t seen this yet, check it out.  Especially if it’s your time of the month.  It’s great with some ice cream.  Just sayin’.

Be sure to write your own Top Ten and add your link to the original post!

My Favorite Classics | Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday

 

Over at The Broke and the Bookish they do a weekly Top Ten Tuesday.  After perusing my list, be sure to make your own and add your link to the original post!  This week’s topic:  Our Top Ten Favorite Classics!

  1. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum —  This book was my life growing up.  Literally.  I have read all 14 books in the series multiple times and this is the one that started it all.  I mean, I was obsessed.  I still can’t get some relatives to stop sending me all things Oz.
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen — I mean, duh.  I love this book.  I love the characters, I love the romance, I love it all!  Enough said.
  3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury — I remember reading this over summer for school and feeling so confused.  And then when school started and we began discussing it and my appreciation for it grew so much.  One of my favorite dystopian novels of all time.  All time!
  4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott — This book is what made me want to be a writer.  I just imagined myself like Jo, working furiously with her cap slouched over her brow.  It just seemed so glorious to me.
  5. Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand — Another one that I read for school, and I just fell head over heels in love with Cyrano and all of his dramatics.  Later on this play wormed its way back into my heart through an old friend and now I appreciate it on a whole different level.
  6. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo — Talk about an epic read.  I actually haven’t even finished this one but I’ve been chipping away at it for years, and I’m enjoying it so far!
  7. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery — Another series that really shaped my childhood and, ultimately, my life.  I wish I could be more like Anne, because I loved her as a kid.   I mean have you ever heard of a more positive and tenacious person in your life?  Yes?  Well, whatever.  She’s rad.
  8. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien — I don’t think this requires much explanation.  I mean, I hope not, jeez.
  9. Lord of the Flies by William Golding — Again, I read this for school.  I remember we were assigned to read one or two chapters at a time (and we had a weird schedule so we only had English every other day) and I read the whole book in the first week it was assigned.  I got some of the best grades I’ve ever gotten on essays and whatnot while we were focusing on this novel.  I was totes into it!  Totes!
  10. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck — Talk about one of the most heartbreaking endings to a novel ever.  When we read this in class I think my jaw hit my desk.

What are some of your favorite classic reads?  What are some that I should add to my collection?

Appreciating Where I’m At

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I have always had a really bad habit of focusing on being somewhere else and placing all the blame for current disappointments on where I currently am, or who I’m with…

Background info about me:

I used to be a bit of a heartbreaker.  And I don’t mean in the innocent sense that guys liked me and I was simply unattainable.  I had the tendency to toy with boy’s emotions for funzies.  At the time I would convince myself it was NO BIG DEAL and I don’t think I realized how inconsiderate I was being.  Looking back, though… I cringe.  Anyway, along those lines, I would start to get bored with my current boyfriend and I would kinda “choose”  my next conquest before I had even broken up with my current beau.  I started this habit in 9th grade and didn’t kick it until I was 19.  (I have horrible relationship karma so Jared is probably going to tear my heart apart at some point…)

So!  All that said, since I’ve stopped living for future romances I recently realized I haven’t truly kicked my habit.  I don’t mean relationships, I mean living situations.  I’m constantly bemoaning our apartment, my salary, the heat, my car…etc.  None of which is really that bad.

Lately I’ve been wistfully day dreaming about leaving So Cal and moving back up north, close to wear I went to school.  Today I had an epiphany… When I lived up north I constantly missed being down here!  I missed real beaches that you don’t need to bundle up to enjoy.  I missed being close to just about anything.  In the area we live in we are super close to two theme parks, not too far from two others, there are a plethora of shopping and dining options nearby, we’re super close to the beach, and we are within an hour of numerous famous performance venues.  That’s not necessarily the case where I went to school.

Disclaimer: I am in no way intending to diss that area or any of my loved ones who are from there or currently live there.  I cherish the time I’ve spent there. I always look forward to visiting.  It’s just not what I truly envision for my day-to-day life at this point.

Anyway, this was all just a very rambly way of saying that I need to take responsibility for my own happiness and finally recognize when I’m getting in my own way.  I need to stop placing the blame for my discontent on stupid things like my job, the apartment, etc.  I mean, I adore my job!  Could I stand to get paid a little more?  Sure.  Do I want to stay in my current position forever?  Of course not!  But that’s no reason to make every day a miserable experience for myself and those I work with.  And my apartment?  The only thing wrong with it is that Jared and I take no pride in where we live.  Real talk: the apartment is always a mess, and it’s hardly decorated.  So obviously I’m not going to love spending time at home.  And even if J and I moved, I’d be willing to bet we’d have the same issues at a new place.

So starting, well,  a few days ago, I’m going to be working on my attitude.  So far it’s been going pretty well.  I’m still in the ‘fake it till you make it’ phase but I’m okay with that.

I’ll get there.

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…