The Spring of Unsolicited Housemates, Urine Soaked Tennis Balls and Sleepless Nights

If you found this post from google when searching “how to remove raccoons from your house” and just want that, without any fanfare, scroll to the bottom.

Or if you are a visual person and don’t want to read this, go to my instagram (@bethany_jane) and watch my story highlight on the entire escapade. For some reason I can’t get it to upload correctly here.

It was a night like any other, I was snuggled up in my pregnancy pillow (if you haven’t tried a U shaped body pillow, or stolen your sister’s pregnancy pillow after she gave birth—like me, you don’t even know what good sleep is) dreaming of what my house will one day look like after renovations. Then, I heard it. I sprinted from my bed in a stupor (but since I sleepwalk I have a leg up on being able to accomplish tasks in the middle of the night) and ran to the back windows of my house, searching for someone running thru my yard and over the tarp covered frozen ground.

My neighborhood has had break-ins in the past so I was sure I heard a human. Last fall I tarped my yard in hopes of killing everything and being able to start over, so this winter it was a slick sheet under crunchy snow. The sounds were so loud and disconcerting, but I never saw anything. But it kept happening, only at night, near the back of my house.

One night I ran into my bathroom and with horror realized the noise was IN it. I strained my ear against each wall and started debating which friend I could convince to go into my attic and possibly come face to face with whatever creature stays awake all night (and instantly I thought of my favorite This American Life episode Squirrel Cop). A friend came and checked the exterior of my house and inside my attic but couldn’t see anything. But the noise continued.

It continued for months…almost three months to be exact.

Partway thru I realized that the sound was inside my chimney. My house has two that were bricked over years ago and have no inside access. Once I realized there was a layer of brick between me and them, it was bearable. But then I realized there were babies in there and they started getting real chatting. It was pretty obvious early on that this was a family of raccoons.

I did my share of googling. It seemed like a consensus that if raccoons are in your chimney, and they can’t get into your house, to let them be and when the babies are big enough they will move out on their own. Some pest companies can’t get the babies out so it is the easiest option. But then somewhere I read that they don’t like constant noise and you can sometimes annoy them out…

I went to LA for the weekend and butted a radio up to the chimney before I left. I was sure to leave it on the worst AM talk radio station I could find.

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When I got back I dropped by bags and ran into my downstairs bathroom to pee. I had my pants halfway down, when suddenly I whirled around and screamed, “what the hell is that noise?!” It only took me a second to realize that the radio had totally worked but to my chagrin the mom had moved the babies from my chimney and relocated them between my wall and bathtub by going into my crawl space. This was 1000% worst…

I tried putting the radio in the bathtub on full blast.

I tried turning on the shower.

I tried yelling at them to leave.

But they stayed. And not only did they stay, the did somersaults and tried to break-thru the wall, pushing small bits of material under my baseboards with their terrifyingly dexterous little hands. The noise died down a little and since it was after business hours, I thought I could last until the next morning to call a pest control company, so after showering on top of a family of raccoons, I went to bed—but not before making a oneway door on their entrance and setting up my security camera outside…

A few hours later, thru the drone of talk radio playing in my bathroom, I heard them from the second story of my house. I heard their cries, their somersaults and their little hands ripping at my tub jets. I ran downstairs and in total dismay, sat on the closed toilet debating what to do. I tried everything I could think of, and finally I resorted to Marco Poling my sister on the east coast who I knew would be awake. At one point she said, “what are you going to do if they break thru? What exactly is your plan?” All I could reply was, “well I have a plunger I stick over the hole they make until I think of a better plan…”

After three hours of sitting on my toilet and debating my exit strategy if they came face to face with me in the bathroom, I glanced to my right and saw a beacon in the night, a half full can of Fabreeze. At this point I was halfway delusional but thought, if they hate extreme things, they will surely hate intense smells. I shoved the nozzle into the cracks of the tub (first time I have ever been stoked at the shoddy craftsmanship of something in my house) and pulled the trigger. As I sprayed a steady stream of fabric softener like scent into their faces I started to hear them squirm. Soon, I could hear them scurrying away from the tub. One stayed behind, crying probably because it’s siblings all left. Then suddenly the mom came back, grabbed the baby—who let out the most bloodcurdling scream—and dragged them under the tub to the others.

Sweet Victory!

(if I had a dollar for every time someone requested the video on the left, I could pay for the stupid pest control company. That means watch it—with the sound up—if you haven’t before)

My house was silent and I could grab a couple hours of sleep before work. I grabbed blanket and laid down on my couch, keeping one ear up to check on movement below my floor. I never heard a sound. My camera’s motion detectors never went off.

When I told my boss that I would have to leave in the middle of the day to meet a pest control company at my house, either the video she watched of me at 4 in the morning or my bloodshot eyes made conveyed that my sanity depended on this work absence.

I met the pest man at my house who explained to me that the best method for coaxing a female out with her babies is to throw, wait for it, male urine soaked tennis balls into my crawl space. You throw them in so they bounce all over spreading the delightful scent. Then the female gets nervous that the “male” will come kill the babies so she will vacate with the young. And guess what, this service is only $349! What a steal. Literally, a steal, as my friend quickly pointed out. But at this point, I didn’t care, I needed peace of mind a bathtub in once piece. (for the record, I am not easily swindled on every front, he wanted $95 to cover the 5x7 hole they were entering thru and $150 to put a piece of plywood on my chimney, I declined both of those highway robbery items…)

Once the balls were gingerly tossed to and fro he put many a classy piece of duct tape over the entrance, his way of knowing if the mom had come out (somehow my camera aimed at the hole wasn’t good enough…).

Days pasted.

No movement. No breaking thru the duct tape. No motion on the camera. No sounds.

Those bastards somehow moved out BEFORE I spent a small fortune on tennis balls. I have no idea how, my camera was always armed and I could hear them using the door I made. No now has any answers for this. The property has been checked multiple times for other entrances, there are none.

They won yet again.

On the plus side, I now how a bunch of tennis balls mixed in with the already plentiful amount of debris in my crawl space, every homeowners dream.

And if you came to this post to find out how to remove raccoons from your house, here is what you need to know:

  1. They do not like noise, constant bad talk radio WILL make them want to relocate.

  2. They do not like intense smells, such as Fabreeze, a partial bottle of airfreshner will suffice nicely—if you have direct access to where they are nesting.

  3. One way doors are for dummer animals

  4. Pest Control companies charge WAY too much and if they aren’t actually trapping (and then killing) the raccoons, they are basically useless because…

  5. …you can buy your own raccoon male urine AND tennis balls to douse on Amazon.

And if you use one of these methods and it works for you (or you laughed at my videos and realized I could have spent that money on something cool like the countertop I am about to buy), feel free to Venmo me (@Bethany-Davis-1) a few bucks for the HUNDREDS i just saved you by not calling pest control. You are welcome.

Oh and in case you were wondering, my brother in law covered the access to my crawl space, and yes, for free. I shall give him $95 worth of favors next time I stay at his house.

It wasn't okay, but I will be

For years I have debated writing this post. For years I debated if what happened was really as bad as I thought, deep down. For years I put on weight and pushed—especially men away. But this year I want to move on.

Up until my mid-twenties I had a twisted view on domestic violence. I thought that women who were in the situation of repetitive violence were glutton for punishment and just too weak to leave. I thought they chose to disregard obvious red flags and made a conscious choice to be with someone they knew was evil. I thought they knew better. I never thought it would be me, I mean I am a college educated woman who won’t sit back while someone takes advantage of her—just ask any of my previous landlords…

But I was that woman. I am that woman.

I am still smart. I am still a force to be recked with. But now I understand battered woman syndrome. I am also angry. I am angry at myself, at my church leaders, at people who knew my abuser and most importantly the Orem City Police.

In 2013 I met a quiet and kind boy in my congregation. He had his own huge apartment, business and drove an Audi. He was also had lies. He made me believe that he was successful and worked hard, both were far from the truth. He pulled me in with the allure of “success,” gripping stories of a hard childhood, sweet interactions with his baby niece whom he watched regularly since birth and small acts of service (my bar had been set real low of what constituted a boyfriend “trying”). But within a month he was evicted from his apartment, taking a loan out on his paid for car, not working and manipulating and abusing me.

Things spiraled quickly. I wanted out but was embarrassed at the situation I put myself in. I felt responsible for helping him get on his feet—he had borrowed things to help with the move and even stored some things in my garage. At a financially hard time in my life I felt obligated to spend money because he had none, and now was embarrassed when I realized he was never going to get his act together to pay me back. And worst of all, I felt shame and fear for situations I never wanted to be in but that he could twist to our church leaders—something he verbally mentioned. He constantly pushed the boundaries and made me incredible uncomfortable, both physically and emotionally. I even remember him getting physically angry when he forcefully told me he loved me and I didn’t reciprocate. I told him that I have never loved anyone and that isn’t something I flippantly throw around, that I won’t be forced to say it but will when I feel it. He slammed the phone down as he yelled at me.

He began pushing himself into my life. He would show up at my house, but to do nice things so I would feel guilt if I was annoyed. He started invading my space, stashing things at my house, almost like he was trying to move in. He would get angry if I didn’t invite him to a wedding reception or trip. He always seemed to be there, lurking, not interacting with my roommates, friends or family. But I didn’t know what to do. I had people at church constantly telling me how great it was that we were together, probably because I was stable and didn’t have a past they thought I was helping him. Sure, he went to church every week and frequented activities because of me, but we all know that spending time in a church does not make one holy.

Then one day my roommate called to tell me that he was at the house and she was incredibly uncomfortable. It was the middle of the day and I was at a new job. I had given him a key to help with something once, and he had kept it and was apparently using it without my knowledge. This particular day he was insisting to my roommate that he help clean the house and wouldn’t leave. He was erratic. I called him and tried to convince him to go but he became angry and lashed out—how dare I see his kind act as inappropriate. And this was when I knew I had to find a way out. But first I had to get my key, anything else he had borrowed from me, and find a way to do it without sending him into a spiral.

I had seen him start to deteriorate pretty early on and knew that it would only get worse. This was one of the main reasons I didn’t break up with him. I saw rock bottom coming and didn’t know what that would mean or how to deal with it. I began pushing him away—encouraging him to take an early morning shift so that we wouldn’t be able to see each other as often—wasn’t always available, and just disinterested when he was around, but it didn’t stop him.

I don’t remember much about our actual breakup. I can’t remember what lie I told to get him to not feel rejected but also leave. I just remember feeling calm for the first time in months. But then the calm quickly turned back to panic as he became more and more depressed and manipulated me into thinking I was a horrible person if I didn’t help “save” him. The fear of lies was still held over me and so I told him I would help him as a friend. We would not touch, we were not dating, he could not call me all the time, but we could occasionally go to the gym together and I would try and help encourage him to stay sober. Yeah, he kinda forgot to mention to me that he was alcoholic and had been drinking every chance he got when I wasn’t around. It explained so much but way too late.

One morning I told him I had hurt my back and would not be going to the gym with him. He took this as a reason to make me cookies and drop them by. He called to tell me about the cookies and quickly spiraled out of control. He told me that he had spent 4 hours baking them (should have been an immediate red flag that he was drunk, no sober person takes hours to make crappy sugar cookies). He was demanding that I see him. He was swearing and yelling. I told him that if he calmed down he could drop them off later and then he told me to “f*** off” to which I replied, “don’t ever speak to me like that and don’t ever come to my house again.” I hung up the phone and walked upstairs where I planned to move on with my day, albeit a bit shakier than normal.

Within minutes I saw a shadow at my door and the banging began. I could tell that he was in one of his moods and could not be reasoned with. Because our door had a colored glass pane we would be able to see me if I walked past, so I decided to stay in my bedroom—away from the door. The banging was constant as well as my phone ringing repeatedly. I thought that I was home alone, but my roommate ended up coming home and he sweet talked her into letting him in with an excuse that he had left something in my bathroom. He came barreling into my room and face to face with me.

Quickly he began asking me questions while standing too close and making me physically uneasy. “Why wouldn’t you answer?! You said you would speak to me! What is wrong with you, I am doing you a huge favor!” Then he glanced over his shoulder and saw my roommate who was in a broad stance a few feet behind him. He moved his anger towards her. “Why are you here?!” She calmly looked at him and said, “If you think I am leaving her with you, you are insane.”

He walked towards her and I ran into the family room, trying to persuade him to leave. He then turned to her again , slightly lunging forward and said, “What?! Do you think I’m going to hurt her? BECAUSE I’D KICK YOUR ASS FIRST!” While he was distracted I pushed him out the front door, I think he let me because he thought I would follow. I locked the door as fast as I could and then we sprinted to the backdoor. At the same instance he tried to force his way in, my roommate and I body slammed the door in his face and dead bolted it. Then he began to circle. He began banging on every single door and window of our home.

I called 911.

Within minutes I had two officers in my home. One pulled me aside while the other went to the garage with him. The female officer looked at me and said, “Look, you seem like a really nice girl who likes to think the best of people. He is completely drunk and cannot be reasoned with. You need to tell me that this is trespassing so we can tell him to never come back.” I quickly nodded and we headed to the garage where he was spouting lies and stories to the other cop. He had things stored in my garage that I never knew about and used that as his whole reason for coming over and why he had the right to be there. He then tried to get me to speak to him alone and I refused. He turned to the cops and said, “You have to make her speak with me! She promised me that she would!” They set him straight that promises don’t have to be kept with lunatics that try to break your door down. They helped him load up his stuff into his car and then escorted him to their car—he was clearly unfit to drive.

I stood in silence, stunned at what had just happened. Then, right before they put him in the cruiser he turned and shouted at me, “HEY! THEY ARE GIVING ME A RIDE BECAUSE I AM AWESOME!”

I called a member of my bishopric told him what had happened. I thought that he got the gravity of the situation.

Then the phone calls, texts and facebook messages started. The guy was now back at home and making google voice numbers for any city I had friends and family in, hoping I would answer. He was bombarding me from every angle and then the messages got suicidal. The begged for help, that I was heartless if I didn’t. I called back the same member of my bishopric and told him that I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t ever speak to him again, I am not the person to help and that I needed them to take the torch. He told me he was busy and maybe they would figure something out later…

I ended up contacting his sister on Facebook and told her a brief version of the days events. She didn’t even know his address so I had to pass that along too.

A couple quiet months went by. Then I saw a facebook comment from him, “you’ve given me no other way to get ahold of you, so you can delete this after you read it, but there is a box still in your garage that I need.” I deleted the post and started driving home when instantly the bishopric member called me.

“Hey A. reached out to me and wanted me to ask you if he could pick up a box from you. He said you deleted a comment on facebook about it.”

“Yeah, I saw his comment and it said I could delete it so I did.”

“Well there are two sides to every story.”

No. There is one side. It was literally the side I was telling.

“I will have to think about it but I don’t think I want him on my property, I will try to reach out to a friend to see if they will take the box to him.”

“Okay, but I don’t think it will be that big of a deal, just let me know.”

As soon as I get home I check a notification on Instagram. One of my roommates worked for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and posted a photo of me on their official account with a quote. The notification was for a comment, left by A., in no minced words eluding to me sleeping with him and being a slut—which was of course not true. (and for those of you who don’t know, frowned on by the Church and one of the things he said he would tell the bishop while we dated). I called back the bishopric member and told him there was no way in hell he was allowed near me after that comment.

His roommate ended up coming to get the box. He is one of the most genuine and sweet guys you will ever meet. He had also been fooled by A and now couldn’t get rid of him. We sat in the damp grass of my front yard, holding a stupid tv box that was apparently the most important thing, and commiserated.

The next 8 or so months are a blur. I know that at one point after the breakup my bishop called me into his office, I assumed to ask me if I was okay after dating a psychopath and having to call the cops. His first question was if we ever had sex. I gave a stern, “NO.” got up and walked out, furious. I do also remember the bishopric member asking me on multiple occasions to meet with A, giving me a sob story about how A had reached out to him to try and set up a meeting the two of us. What part of him being super abusive were these men not figuring out?!

I remember once going out to my car and finding some of the long ago borrowed moving boxed thrown in the back seat. My heart sunk. I realized that the door code I had been using while we were dating was the factory code and would always open my door—even when it had been changed. I no longer felt safe parking outside.

Christmas came and a card was left on the doorstep. It told a tale of getting sober and wanting to meet for lunch. I threw it away.

January came, almost exactly a year from when the cops took him off my property, two years since we started dating.

I walked out to my car, it was a Sunday, it was my birthday, and noticed a box of soap lying in the middle of the garage. This was product for my business. I was confused and just thought my roommate had probably moved it and accidentally dropped some. I would talk to her later.

A week or so passed and I went out to the garage to refill inventory. The soap wasn’t there. Other product was missing. The light wouldn’t turn on. I called my brother and asked him if he moved things and then slowly realized our house had been robbed. A light was broken, multiple cupboards were emptied and everything that had a connection to me was gone.

I called the Orem police and explained to the officer that only things relating to me were gone. That I now realize that when I found the soap on my birthday that was because the robbery had just happened. I explained that the only other item we think was missing was A’s snowboard he had accidentally left. There were brand new tools, a Kitchen Aid in the box and even a motorcycle, nothing was taken expect the snowboard and things that belonged to me. I explained that since it had been a year since the last encounter with we had forgotten to change the garage code and he knew it. (for the record, I tried and it wouldn’t work and it was always on the to-do list…) He was literally the only person that made sense. And, I don’t think it happening on my birthday was a coincidence…

He took his information, pretended to take my case seriously, and then never contacted me again, even after me reaching out multiple times with more complete reports of what was stolen. Just to be clear, this was grand larceny. He stole thousands upon thousands of dollars of inventory from my company.

I remember walking into church and telling my bishop what had happened and who I had suspected. He got a sad look in his eye and gave me a hug, silently agreeing.

I began to feel uncomfortable in my own home. We were already vigilant at locking our the doors but now we were paranoid. Within a month I had decided that I was moving to a new city to get away.

I rented a warehouse for my business and began commuting to work in the city I wanted to move to. Within a few weeks I received a strange call, I answered the Unknown number only to hear, what sounded like A, say “hello” and then complete silence. I froze. I thought I must be imagining and hung up.

Then a few days later I have this text exchange:

The last text was sent from a new number, his favorite MO.

I had not posted much about him or the break in because I was afraid he would see it. I purposely downplayed it, if I mentioned it, because I didn’t want people to know. The fact that he mentioned it only cemented more that he was the one behind the robbery. At this point, we had been broken up for almost two years and I realized he was still there. He had disobeyed the trespassing order at least 4 times and was now clearly still watching me. This felt different, this felt worse and way more scary.

I went directly to Orem police and demanded a detective. I showed him the texts and said, “Tell me now that what I said a year ago isn’t true!” He wrote down my statement and said that the original officer would call me.

I don’t remember all the details of our conversations but I remember these highlights:

-He admitted that he never followed up with anything from my break in, but don’t worry, he was real sorry.

-He tried to find A but there weren’t any current leases or utilities in his name, he seemed to vanish two weeks prior. He claimed he even spoke to his mom and she didn’t know where he was.

-He assured me that none of his past run ins with the cops were violent to which I replied, “For one, most normal people don’t have a repetoire with the police, two: what part of him threatening my roommate and me isn’t violent?!” He then agreed. He also said that the police knew who he was because of welfare checks, apparently he also suffers from mental instability.

-I gave the cop more information like the sister’s name, who he had lived with in the past, to contact.

-I was assured they would do everything they could to find him because they couldn’t issue an Order of Protection without physically giving it to him.

I stood on my mom’s sidewalk when the police officer called me back for the final time. They had not been able to locate A, they could not offer me any sort of Order against him, their only solution was for me to move and for the police to put my house on a nightly drive-by to help ensure my safety.

I slowly made my way home, sad, frustrated and frightened. I called my sister and stayed on the line with her as I checked every single room in my house and then said, “I can’t believe I am saying this, but if anything ever happens to me, know it was him.”

Those are the words you never want to utter.

At this point my roommates had all moved out and I was alone so I moved my bed into my living room because if he tried to break into my house i would hear him first. I also couldn’t bare to sleep under a widow—off the front porch—that he could easily access. Two years later he managed to take my room from me.

This man had manipulated his way into my life. He lied to church leaders, landlords, and people who thought they were his friend. He was emotionally and sexually abusive. He is a drug addict and alcoholic. He has a criminal record—something the police didn’t know until I told them. This relationship was also the longest I have ever had but not because I loved him, but because I was absolutely terrified of him.

I wish I could go back and tell myself to not get involved or at least breakup before things got sticky. But most importantly I wish I could tell myself that people who know me will believe me, that his lies wouldn’t fool them. I wish I could go back and give myself a pep talk about sex, that if someone is trying to force you to do things you don’t want with a threat THAT IS ABUSE. The worst part about the fear I held onto, the situation came true and it didn’t matter. No one believed him because he was unhinged, I wish I had never doubted my peers and leaders. I also wish I could go back and shake my bishopric. I want to tell them to open their eyes, to see the abuse and NEVER ask someone to meet with their abuser to make them feel better.

And this is how I was when I moved to my new city where I wanted a fresh start. I was broken and lost trust and faith in humanity. I quickly abandoned my faith (to be clear, not because of this, but I am sure if I looked deep down it was a factor), gained weight, stopped putting as much effort into my looks, refused to date, and headed towards my own rock bottom. To this day I still won’t answer phone calls not programmed in my phone or tell people the area of town I live in. I only let certain people in, ones who have proven their worth. I have cameras at my office and home. I don’t shut any interior doors in my house—because I need to see into every space and hear every noise.

This past winter I was listening to the podcast Cold where they discuss the Susan Powell disappearance. The last episode talks about the sign of domestic violence and they share a recent story of a student who was murdered by her estranged boyfriend—a manipulator and liar. As I listened to these women’s stories it hit me like a ton of bricks, holy shit, I am these women, I just didn’t die. I can’t explain how I know, but I believe that if he had the chance he would have physically hurt me. I could see it in his eyes. I could tell by his obsession with me years after the breakup. I could tell by how he pushed me in other situations. He was an alcoholic with no boundaries. He had absolutely nothing to loose. To this day, he is the only person I hope never to see again because I don’t think I could be in the same vicinity without becoming completely hysterical.

I think sometimes we like to categorize abuse in simple terms like rape, murder, or battery. We have a harder time realizing that there are other types that don’t leave a mark on the body but destroy the soul.

This year my goal is regain what he stole from me. I want to work on my confidence. I want to get my health and body back. I want to know, like really know deep down inside, that I deserve a good man and that I am not destine to be single because I think I am undesirable. Oh and I want to find a therapist.

And most importantly:

If any of this sounds familiar, please know you are not alone. And know that whatever fear is keeping you in the relationship isn’t worth it.

Please note:

I legitimately love the members of my bishopric and consider them all friends to this day. While I am frustrated at how things were handled with me I understand that bishopric members are not therapist. They are not trained in how to handle all situations they get thrown into. While I do wish I had been referred to people that could help, I don’t hold it against them. I do want to open people’s eyes though, sometimes as Mormons we forget that there are better options outside of church for help. We also like to think the best of people but we need to be good judges of character and just because someone is part of our congregation does not mean that they are inherently good. If someone is alluding to or flat out telling you about abuse or fears their partner, we need to help them get out and get help. Also, we REALLY need to fix how we talk about sex in our culture.

My House

My house.

For the first time in my life I get to use that term, my house, MY HOUSE. Buying a house is not for everyone, but for me this was something that I have wanted for a long time. When I was 16 I moved out and ever since then I wanted a place that was mine. I went to college with things like a sewing machine, Kitchen Aid mixer, and Williams and Sonoma gadgets because that is what I liked to save up for as a teenager. I longed to have a house and slowly accumulated all the things for it, knowing it would eventually work (Levi would interject here that this was SUPER annoying since many of these "things" ended up in our office. On the plus side, our office was very homey!). Between what I had stored in our office and had in my current rental, I had enough furniture to completely furnish my 3 bedroom house (actually perhaps too much, I have this thing for chairs, it drives Levi nuts but I can't seem to stop!). I have no idea what it is like to buy furniture because you need it, like a good pair of shoes, it finds me at the randomness of times. 

The house buying process was the worst thing I have ever gone thru. The seller was, pardon my french, bat-shit crazy. I never met her, but from what I gathered she was in her mid thirties, worked a lot, had three HUGE dogs, didn't care about cleaning, "fixed" things the most ineffective way possible every time, loved the color green, and is one of the most difficult people to deal with. To put things into perspective, here is a timeline of events:

11/2 saw the house, put in offer (with 24 hours to accept)

11/13 got a contact to sign for the first time

11/14-12/4 I signed THREE addendums to the contract

01/10/18 Finally closed

Normally you know if your offer is accepted and you draw up a contract within a matter of days and close within 30. We closed over two months later! She changed the close date three times, wanted to rent from me then changed the date so she wouldn't have to pay me, drew up addendum after addendum to take things from the property like the dishwasher and chandelier, would take days--if not weeks--to get back to us about a simple question, and overall just took me for everything she could. It is a sellers market so every time I had a question or wanted something they would come back with "we have 4 other offers, take it or leave it." 

The seller also had a horrible winter. Right before she listed the house her fiance died in a tragic accident. But, she didn't tell her realtor and had him list it way before she needed to leave. I felt so bad for her, we gave her so much space and I requested that the realtors don't push her too much. But then she was horrible to deal with and it made me feel guilty that I was frustrated with this person who was going thru so much. I broke after she removed the chandelier at the last minute and refused to put up a light and left the house DISGUSTING. I also feel a little bad that the only reason I got the house is because I offered over asking and was first, the realtor was happy with our offer and went with us first because he didn't want to overwhelm the seller with a bidding war. The house had something like 5 offers the first weekend on the market.

Now on to the better parts. Here is the green beauty that was built in 1906. (the photos are from today, exactly six months since moving in).

To understand where I stared, here are some images from the listing before I bought it:

And here are my grand plans:

Also, here's my disclaimer--I am currently storing NOTHING in closets or the garage, so basically everything is out and as one of my friends said when they came over, "are you sure you aren't a hoarder?" I might be borderline, but once I have closets you won't even know!

Laundry Room:

This room is the first project out of sheer necessity. Because of the damage to the wall behind the washer I opted to re-do this before I hooked mine up. The plan was to rip out the plaster and then run electrical that made sense, replace the windows and door (that thing was GNARLY), add insulation, add sheetrock, paint, and cabinetry. 

However,

when I started ripping out the plaster we quickly realized that NOTHING was done right. There were no exterior walls (we assume they slapped siding on a porch), no headed to hold up the roof, no real doorframe, electrical didn't make sense, no insulation (which makes the laundry pipes prone to freezing), you name it and it was wrong. Now the plan is to: re-do the entire thing except the roof and floor. Praise having a cousin who let me hire him to do the work.

Once the construction is done I will paint, match the window molding and baseboard from the living room, and have custom cabnits made for the back wall (with counter) and then above the washer/dryer.

Kitchen:

This was quickly done to sell the house, it is the cheapest material and doesn't utilize the space. I want take down all the upper cabinets, center the sink between the windows, extend the windows to countertop height (they are there, they boarded the bottom up), ditch the range for a cooktop and double oven, finish the floors, close off the bathroom and do a huge wall of cabinetry with a double oven and small counter. So far all I have done is remove one chunk of counter to put my fridge in a normal place.

Dining Room/Entry:

New windows, new window frames (to match dining room), replace the poorly done chair-rail with something better, paint (done!), new front door.

Living Room:

New windows, paint (already done!), repair plaster damage under windows, figure out which of my travel photos to frame around my sweet custom wood map (made by Gray Skunk).

Downstairs Bedroom:

Remove carpet, replace window, get custom door for the rounded doorway, rip out closet and build a new one where the long wooden table is (this will have cabenit storage above and then a normal clothes closet with linen closet on one side).

Downstairs Bathroom:

This bathroom was such a poor design. They built a HUGE wall to encase a jetted tub (that isn't grounded none-the-less) that makes the room feel so small and blocks the window. I want to take out the wall/tub, close off the door to the kitchen, replace the vanity with a counter that is the full length of the wall, get a free-standing tub and do a lot of tite work.

Inspiration:

 

Stairs:

Remove carpet, re-do scary closet.

Upstairs Bedroom:

Extend the room into the attic space, replace the plaster with sheetrock, make a closet in the back, add a main light. And yes, right now, this prison cell size room is just storage...

Upstairs Bathroom:

Straighten the wall out so I can have a pocket door, move all the fixtures, add a shower. Basically everything. 

Landing:

This is one of my favorite projects but will cost a lot so it will be later. I want to remove the gross closet and carpet and then extend the room out into the attic and create a dormer. This would make it a fairly large space, let in sunlight and make it possible to move the bathroom door. I want to make this a library/sitting area with built in bookshelves (with a ladder, thats a must and dream!) and an amazing window seat.

Master Bedroom:

ADD CLOSETS! This room has one very tiny closet that you have to almost crawl into (kicker at the bottom that makes it super weird). I want to wall off the current closet and then add closets on both sides of the room in the unused attic space. Then remove the plaster, redo the electrical, add an overhead light/ceiling fan, add insulation and sheetrock and get more than one outlet. And yes, I am not oblivious to the fact that I have way too many clothes. When you are single you get to do whatever you want, that's the perk, right? So yeah, one day if I find someone who wants one of my custom closets, I suppose I can address the issue and get rid of a thing or two...or 50. 

Also, I feel like I should say that all my "window coverings" are just quick fixes, I need to do all of those too... (I feel like I mostly have to say that since I can't believe I have a chevron print in my house...that needs to go sooner than later!)

Exterior:

Well that's a whole other post! I have started some of the yard work, but it will take a long time to get things to the point where I can do fun things and not just tame what is already there.

The garage needs a lot of tender love and care, it is basically a large shed. I will add exterior lights/outlets for the patio area when I redo the laundry room and eventually I need to do something with the back yard, right now it is a shit show (literally, there is so much dog poop smashed into the ground made all nice from the heavy snow).

These projects are my dreams for the house but I am sure they will evolve as I live there and change based on the costs. I don't have a timeline so we will have to see how far my money and credit card rewards (I cash out for Home Depot gift cards at every chance I can get haha) can get me! And if you are ever in the area and feel like you need a project, by all means, stop on by.

I'm Not Your Tinder-ella

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It's been a hot minute since I blogged about dating, but tonight I couldn't pass up the opportunity to angry blog my latest attempt.

I have dabbled in Tinder, I will admit it. I have met only a couple guys in person and neither ended well. But, I just turned 30 and since I realized that I spent more years of my twenties going on zero dates than years I went on dates (seriously, how is that possible with so many years at BYU?! But I have always been like that; it has never been odd to literally go years without going on a single date) I decided I should actually try and make my 30's different.

(and in full disclosure, I did go on an actual date last week--not tinder related--so I guess I have broken my two year hiatus. But he hasn't said anything about another date and is really sporadic with communication so I'm not holding my breath)

This weekend I did a Tinder binge. That is obviously when you make brownie batter, but never cook it because that's too much commitment, and eat your way thru a bunch of terrible profiles while you contemplate the need for a life partner and how many facial piercing and tattoos are too many.

I matched with a few people, but am terrified and terrible at starting conversation, so I waited. A couple guys messaged me and then you have the super fun REALLY terrible back and forth attempt at conversation with a perfect stranger that you find mildly attractive and only know roughly five facts about.

One guy was more upfront and told me he hates texting (which I can get behind. I like texting simple/funny/informative things but I don't like to have long conversations) and wanted to call me. I gave him my number, we texted a little and then we ended up talking tonight.

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Here's the thing, I am awkward. I don't date and have zero confidence in my flirting skills and am very uncomfortable with my weight/how clothes fit, how young I look, and that I have no idea how to come across as a 30 year old woman (i always refer to myself as a girl) with my looks or apparently demeanor. I'm not sexy, I am "quirky" as guys like to keep telling me. And yes, I realize deep down I am none of those things, this is not an attempt to fish for compliments.

The conversation was, for the most part, enjoyable. He is quick witted, funny and seemed genuinely nice, until he kept telling me how nice he was...If you have to tell me I will doubt you. He seemed respectful and wanted to meet me in person, which I had told him twice in text I would do next weekend when I am free (I am freakishly busy right now with work and family). Even though he knew this, he started pushing for tonight. He called me close to 10pm and kept pushing for now. I'm sorry, when was the last time a truly nice guy wanted to meet a girl for the first time after 10pm?

Never.

He also kept changing the story. He wanted to chat. He wanted to get to know me. He wanted to just meet me to see if we gelled. Then it switched to he wanted to give me a foot massage ("every girl wants a foot massage! That is what pretty ladies need, I am such a nice guy, all I want in return is conversation!") but don't worry, we would meet in a public place with lots of people! 

We live in Utah, no place on a Tuesday night has a lot of people...

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I told him no over and over. I have an early flight, I am already in my bed with my cloths on because I was too tired to even change when I got home... He wouldn't stop. Finally I said, "look, if there is one thing you need to know about me, it is that I am fiercely independent and don't like to be pushed. You keep mentioning tonight and I don't want to leave, I can meet you in a week and a half." He denied pushing me, then brought up meeting again and then quickly said, "we both need sleep I am going to let you go."

I replied, "this feels like it ended really badly, its not that I don't want to meet you, its that I don't want to tonight."

After the 30 minute conversation came to an abrupt end he texted me twice quickly.

"i am going to leave you alone now"

"please delete my number"

I called him out on how weird this all was and that next weekend shouldn't be such a big deal. He replied that I shouldn't date if I don't have the time, it's not fair.

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NO. It is not fair assuming a girl should come to you at the drop of a hat. 

The thing that pisses me off is that he repeatedly told me that he wasn't trying to sleep with me; that this was not a booty call. Call a spade a spade, if you want to sleep with someone say it up front, if you are caging about it they will end up hating you or you will end up pushing things too far and being rape-y.

It pisses me off that some women actually go for this type of guy. Okay, he is on Tinder so he obviously isn't the best at dating, but he has a plan that has been tried and tested. He tells girls they are pretty and that he want to give them a foot massage AND IT WORKS! Don't we have more self-respect than that? Am I so cold that I am the only one that has to warm up to touching people? And for the record, I do like physical contact, just when I like know your last name and maybe how many siblings you have and what type of pet you had as a kid.

I am also pissed off because this literally sums up my dating life. Most of the guys that have shown interest have been forceful with sex (luckily early on so I avoid ever going on a date with them and have not been pushed too far in person). Does this tactic actually work for them in real life? Do girls like being talked to like sex is their only gift to mankind? I grew up hearing that the way to a man's heart was thru his stomach, they didn't ask me if I knew how to bake! hahahaha

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And lastly I am pissed because even though I tell myself that I am okay, that I am attractive and smart and successful--that I have things to offer and am a "catch" guys like this break me down and destroy my self-confidence. They don't give me the time of day so I start to assume I don't deserve it, that I am not remotely attractive and all of my good qualities are actually "quirks" that people find odd and not endearing. I know that I am not like other girls, I can't tell you what a fine wine is, I laugh too hard, talk too much, tell ALL the weird stories I shouldn't and would rather make you a pie from scratch than figure out how to be flirty. (in my perfect world I make a pie, show up to a guys door, "hi, I like you, here's a pie" and then they eat it and fall madly in love we never have to do the awkward game of do they or do they not like me and we refuse to actually talk about it because would make things weird--WHICH ISN'T TRUE BY THE WAY, TALKING IS GOOD!)

Whatever happened to normal speed dating? A guy asks a girl out, they talk about life, they maybe make out, they go on more dates etc. When did it start being about sex the first time you talk? Tell me I am intelligent and attractive before you tell me I am sexy. 

So here I sit, back at page one. Back waiting for a guy to text me who may or may not be interested but I can't decide because TEXTING IS THE WORST. Back to trying to get up enough courage to try "swiping" again. Back to trying to figure out how to convince the guys in my life that are resigned to being bachelors with their self-perceived problems no one could look past, that I am worth giving a shot.

I heard growing up that there is a reason everyone older is single. Now that I am here I get it. We all have major issues and the fact that anyone gets together--and some even get married--BLOWS MY MIND.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

also, its super weird that my ex-boyfriend is dating an acquaintance so I see all her posts about him. In a way it is has been oddly good because they are so great together and he seems to be so good to her, it has given me a new faith in dating and humans. He was terrible to and for me but it has been so nice to truly realize that was just us being bad for each other and he is still the good guy I always knew he was.

See? Good guys exist and so therefore I should be able to find one...

 

one day.

 

 

Thirty but still not Flirty

2017 was not a terrible year, in fact it was quite wonderful. The happier I get the more unhappy I realize I was in my past, (so, real sorry if I was super depressing to be around from like 2013-2016...). I still struggle with making friends/dating but I have settled into that glorious spot of adulthood where I slowly stop caring what other people think and it's making all the difference. 

So, here's my recap of my last year of my 20's, in no particular order, and maybe I should change my blog title...

I BOUGHT A HOUSE. If you can't tell by the all caps, this is a huge deal. I now have no money, a million projects and extra rooms for you to come stay in. Also, once upon a time I made it a goal to own a house before I turned 30, I came in a whole 8 days early. (crappy photos from the listing, a WHOLE post will be dedicated to this soon)

Was asked on my annual date and then promptly canceled after he sent me FIVE unsolicited selfies and one "morning love" text when we had only just met.  And for the record, he looked NOTHING like the photos he sent, please do not set me up with guys that look like Lil Wayne because you assume that is what I'm into. Also, four of those photos are basically the same, WHY?! And why is this the ONLY guy that has been openly (I'm still hoping there is secret love lurking in the hearts of the guys I want to date) into me this year?!

Traveled to France with my gal pal Paige

Traveled to northern Idaho.

Went to Philly twice in a month, I just can't seem to get enough of those crazy Kimball kids.

When I surprised Jenny with my visit to Philly, I did it at the Wait Wait Don't Tell Me show.

I forced Milo to have a photoshoot in his wedding outfit.

Levi got married. It was the most fun wedding I have ever been to. Like roaming magician, synchronized swimmers, more food than you could image, wedding. Not to mention, we are pretty stoked on the bride joining our family. 

and we roasted Levi with a video of our nieces and nephews re-enacting our most memorable moments. (below are my two, WATCH THEM, you will thank me and they are only a few seconds each).

I traveled to Los Angeles a couple times, it is a convenient place to stay for a day before I go somewhere else. And every time, at some point, five of us enevitably end up in Lynsey and Brandon's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" bed to watch Plant Earth together. 

I hired an employee, which was super easy because we have been friends for almost a decade. She listens to all my crazy stories, puts up with my way of boss-ing, encourages my party planning/forcing our neighbors to hangout with us, lets me go on vacation (I have NEVER been out of my office this much before!) and even hangs out with me sometimes outside of work! 

I did Whole 30 and lost 11lbs while eating an obscene amount of mayo.

The movie I was in, Tim Timmerman's Hope of America, finally had its theatrical release. I asked a guy to go with me (and he didn't realize I was even in it hahahaha) and had one guy, months later, recognize me at the grocery store #winning (and since that will never happen again I made him take a selfie).

I "ran" my first half marathon, actually any race over 5k, with my siblings and their spouses.

Traveled to southern Africa with my sister, Mallory, and her husband, Collin. We took two flights, one train and had three rental cars in order to cover the insane distance of 3 countries (Namibia, South Africa and Lesotho).

I was support crew for my brother and brother-in-law's 100 mile race thru the mountains of Idaho. We all got a little delirious there near the end...

I gave myself the title of work neighborhood party thrower. I think my neighbors are okay with it (solely because I feed them).

I was the stand in for the child model on a catalog photoshoot and produced my best (and only) Christmas card yet.

I learned how to brown butter and my chocolate chip cookies will never be the same.

I caught 2 bouquets and had my first "bachelor" party (i shared a hotel room with the groom, a groomsmen and a bridesmaid the night before my friends got married. The groom had graciously let me stay at his house in Norway when I visited so he didn't think it was weird at all... Europeans. We, the girls, made sure he ate breakfast and got to the temple on time so I guess it was good we were there).

I made my sisters, sister in-laws and mom travel to a cabin in Idaho for my 30th birthday. I made ALL the desserts and gave everyone gift bags, Oprah style, of all my favorite things.

My business had its best year ever, doing almost 1.5 times the volume of 2016 (and up until now that had been our best year). We also bought a forklift and I surprise everyone with my skills--often in a dress and heels.

I occasionally started dying my hair (and hands) pink.

I did not go to church. This got its own blog post and that honestly hardly covered anything. For me, it was more stressful and than peaceful and leaving has helped me feel more calm. It has also given me hope for finding a healthy relationship one day (dating and church caused more stress than I could handle, the combination is mostly responsible for the 40 lbs I gained if that gives you any indication...)

I won over my work neighbor's dog. It is one of my prouder moments, he is terrified of EVERYTHING and it took months. Now he comes to see me daily (and I like to think its for my winning personality and not just the treats...). He is disgusting, always drooling and flinging it around, but for some reason he is my favorite--next to Milo of course (and he IS Milo's favorite, he has a big old crush on Charles)

I worked way too much and often had dance parties of 1 late at night (songs of choice were: Shiny Happy People and Birdhouse In Your Soul, it was a weird year)

I spent New Years being sick and celebrating on east coast time with my sisters and their families.

I drove to Idaho to watch the eclipse. TOTALITY worth it!

 

I cut off at least 6 inches of hair. It was long so you probably don't notice, but it was a lot. I told myself I wasn't attached and wouldn't be sad, but then I realized I can no longer tie my hair in a knot on top of my head. I left work one day because I got too sad and frustrated that I didn't have a hair tie and couldn't tie my hair up. (the after photo is a screenshot, but even it's poor quality is better than I can fix it--your hair never looks as good as walking out of the salon)

I forced (it was pretty easy) my brother/business partner and employee to reverse trick or treat to our work neighbors. 

And I took some photos I actually love. I haven't been shooting as much as I used to, so this was a nice change.

Now what's in store for 2018?

Its been almost 2 years since I went on a legit (guy asks, plans and pays) date, maybe I should try harder, okay fine try at all, at this thing...subtle hints are obviously not working. 

I want to finish getting in shape and shed the last 20lbs I have been lugging around...

I want to read again. I moved SO MANY books into my house, I used to read all the time but the last 5 years or so I mostly iPad bad tv shows...

I will travel to Europe with my siblings and mom.

I will YouTube my way thru house repairs.

I will pay off an obscene amount of tax and loan debt.

I will NOT buy a ridiculous amount of shoes or clothes or furniture. 

I'm already pretty stoked about this whole being 30 thing.

 

 

 

Who Said You Shouldn't Talk About Money?

Let me get the disclaimer out in the open first, I have no real financial training other than Personal Finance in college and a slew of books I have read over the years. But, I have always been interested in the world of finance and feel like people my age are overwhelmed and scared and don't understand some of the basic things. Also my nephew apparently thinks I am smart and asked for advice on how to adult correctly... (one day he will realize NONE of us know exactly how to "adult" all the way)

So here are some things I have found useful/practical/worthwhile when it comes to money, credit, investing, and saving (especially while you are in your 20's and 30's). 

and PLEASE share with me the things you do and know! Being an adult is expensive and stressful and I have some new big purchases coming up in my future (car and house) so I would appreciate anything you do! And how do you decide if you can afford something? I love talking about finances because there isn't one right way to do anything. My way is not superior, it is just the way I happened upon. Also if you hate talking about money, remember that you can have a lot of financail discussions without ever using actual figures.

1. Use Credit Cards

  • A lot of people are afraid of credit cards, don't let them scare you! If you use them correctly (treat them like debit and pay them off in full every month) you can build your credit and get paid to do your normal shopping. Each year I get hundreds of dollars back in cash and store credit for my normal shopping. 
  • Don't sign up for just any card, use ones that work with your spending. My favorite cards are:
    • Citi Costco (visa): 
      • Perks:
        • 4% back on travel, 3% on restaurants and travel, 2% at Costco, 1% everywhere else. The cash-back comes in the form of a check once a year that can be cashed out at Costco.
      • When it Makes Sense:
        • If you shop at Costco.
      • Extra Things to Know:
        • Costco has an annual membership of $60 for basic or $120 for executive. If you have the executive you get 2% back on all Costco (excludes gas) purchases. So if you spend more than $3000 a year it pays to get the executive. Plus, if you have the executive AND the credit card you are double dipping and getting 4% back on normal (non-gas) Costco purchases.
    • Chase Freedom (visa)
      • Perks:
        • 1% back on everything, 5% back on rotating categories that change every 3 months. The cash back can be used for gift cards or, the way I use it, cash applied to my balance. I redeem my cash-back every month.
        • If you refer a friend you get $50-$100 per referral up to $500 a year. If you want this card ask me and I will send you a link (shameless plug, I am not below that...)
        • When you sign up you always get a cash-back incentive, usually $150-200. You only have to spend $500 within 3 months to get the bonus and you can apply the amount directly to your balance. FREE MONEY.
        • Zero interest for the first 15 months. I never recommend carrying a balance but there are times in life when you need some time without paying a bill or you want to pay off a large purchase over time. I will totally admit that I got this card while I was waiting for a business deal to go through and it carried me for the entire 15 months (I paid it off right before my interest kicked in).
      • When it Makes Sense:
        • If you want free money, the bonus is worth it
        • If you need a card without interest for a short time
        • If you don't mind being up to date on the rotating categories (gas, restaurants, movies, etc) so that you can get the most out of the 5% cash-back
    • Store Cards--if you shop enough at a store
      • The store cards I have are Target and Banana Republic. 
      • Why I have them:
        • Target: you get 5% off every purchase and you can get it in a debit or credit version (I use the debit, same perk but without having the credit card bill to pay each month).
        • Banana Republic: Their clothes fit me well and you can ALWAYS find things for at least 40% off retail (or much lower, what can I say, I am an AMAZING shopper). You get 5% back to use at their brands (GAP, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta) and if you get Luxe status you get free shipping (from all their brands) and basic alterations. It is a visa and can be used outside of the store (they also do bonus incentives at least once a year like their most recent: earn 100 bonus points (equal to $1) for everyday you make a purchase outside their brand. This lasted for 3 months and I racked up over $60 in extra rewards).
    • Amex Gold Delta Skymiles
      • Perks:
        • signing bonus, anywhere from 30-60k miles
        • signing bonus, $50-100 statement credit after you book a flight
        • free checked bag on Delta flights
        • 20% off all in-flight purchases. I seem to buy food a lot more on flights now...
      • When it Makes Sense:
        • If you are flying internationally on Delta. I signed up when I bought my ticket to Europe, I say international because you are going to get more miles on an international flight so adding bonus miles makes sense to get you closer to a free frequent flyer ticket.
        • If you fly Delta often.
      • Extra Things to Know:
        • There is a yearly fee of $95, waived the first year (so if you are only planning on flying once cancel the card before your year renewal)
        • Amex has member only deals that you can apply to your card. I don't use them often but occasionally I find deals for things I already buy so it pays to check them out occasionally (like $25 credit if you spend $25 on Hulu, I have a subscription already so by applying the deal I automatically got my credit after a few months).

2. Use sites like eBates if you shop online often

  • Perks:
    • You get cash-back on purchases you would make anyway.
    • It is fairly simple, you can install a browser pop up to show you when a store has cash-back available, or you can look up stores on their site and enter the store that way.
    • You get a bonus for every person to refer. When your friend signs up they get $10 (after their first purchase of $25 or more) and you usually get $5-25 (depending on their promos, I have always gotten $25).
    • Your cash-back is mailed to you a few times a year in the form of a check.
  • When it Makes Sense:
    • If you shop online often (except Amazon, only certain categories count)
    • If you have lot of people you can convince to do things and rack up the referrals, speaking of which, you should sign up and use my link HERE :)

3. HSA's Are Amazing and Often Not Taken Advantage Of

  • Health Saving Accounts were made (in my opinion) for people my age. It is  "A type of savings account that allows you to set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. A Health Savings Account can be used only if you have a High Deductible Health Plan"
    • Perks:
      • Uses pre-tax dollars
      • Is invested so it grows until you need it
      • If you don't need it for health related expenses it can grow until your retirement and act as another IRA (at this point you can withdraw for any reason)
    • Why I Have one:
      • I feel like young people should jump on this train because most of our medical expenses are in our future. This lets us build up a reserve in case we need it in the future and have more time for it to grow as an investment.
      • As far as I understand, you can pay yourself back at any point for medical costs. So, if I have the money now to pay my bills I can leave the account alone but keep a record of all medical costs (except insurance premiums) and then when I need the money I can pay myself back--even years after the fact.
      • It is my way of having more retirement since I am self-employed and don't have a 401K etc.
    • Extra Things to Know:
      • 2017 contribution limits are:
        • Single $3,400
        • Family $6,750
        • you have until 4/15 of the next year to make a contribution
      • 2017 insurance requirements:
        • Family $6,750 (minimum deductible: $2,600 and max out of pocket: $13,100)
        • Single $3,400 (minimum deductible: $1,300 and max out of pocket: $6,550)

4. ROTH IRA (Individual Retirement Account)

  • Perks:
    • Uses post tax dollars and withdrawals within their guidelines are tax free
    • You control the investments and if you open it early you have decades to have it grow.
  • Why I Have One:
    • Roth's are perfect for young people, they make the most sense for people who will be in a higher tax bracket when they retire.
    • It has a yearly cap so I don't have to stress about how much I should be setting aside, I just try to do something up to the max (though the max is obviously the goal).
    • You can use $10,000 penalty free for your first house, since this will be my next purchase it doesn't stress me out as much to put money in it.
    • You can borrow from yourself (contributions and interest) and as long as you pay the amount back within 90 days it does not count against your contribution and is penalty free.
    • You can withdraw your contributions at any time, penalty free (obviously not something you want to do since there is a yearly cap so you can't ever "catch up" but it is a good option if you are strapped for cash).
  • Extra Things to Know:
    • 2017 contribution limit:
      • $5,500
      • you have until 4/15 of the following year to contribute

5. Shop Smart

  • Shopping is my number one skill, I am good at it for a few reasons:
    • 1. My mom passed down her talent of mental math and being able to price out any deal
    • I am not opposed to buying second hand or "blemished" items
      • I only really know the best deals for Utah, but I am sure places exist everywhere. In Utah I get all my best housewares and furniture from DownEast (name brands like William and Sonoma, Pottery Barn and West Elm for up to 95% off retail), everything random from NPS (groceries, clothes, office supplies, etc), clothing and shoes from the Sundance Outlet (leather shoes for as low as $10) and clearance flowers from Smiths (usually 70-90% off). Great stores outside of Utah; Winco for food and REI garage sales for all things outdoor. 
    • I hold out for things I want and don't slowly upgrade all of my stuff: I buy what I want for a good deal when I see it and try to do without until then
    • I return things I don't need or don't fit right. I only return unused things, if you get home and have buyer's remorse RETURN IT.
    • I understand my favorite store's promos
      • Target:
        • If you have the Red Card you get 5% off every purchase
        • If you bring your own bags you get $0.05 off per bag
        • The Cartwheel app is awesome, I am not a mom so I am usually only in there for a few things and it is really fast to search the app to see if the items I am already buying happen to have an extra discount available
        • Their promos stack. One week I saw a Cartwheel deal for a $5 gift card with $20 personal care product purchase AND a bunch of deals for similar items that gave you $5 gift card (ex. buy three Herbal Essence products are get a $5 gift card). So if your purchase fulfilled both promos you could get $10 to spend later for a $20 purchase.
      • Banana Republic:
        • They do 40% off sale ALL THE TIME so don't settle for full price or normal sale price
        • If you find an item in store that you want but it isn't in your size they will locate it for you and have it shipped from another store. So if an item is super clearanced but not in your size you still might be able to get it.
        • All the stores (GAP, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta) use the same cart so you can check out once (and not have to pay separate shipping charges and it is easier to get to the free shipping amount) and if you use sites like eBates you can pick whichever store has the highest cash back to check out through.

6. Find Random Ways to Save Money

  • My family has always made fun of me because I don't spend $1 bills and I haven't since high school. It started back then as a way to stop myself from spending what little money I had in things like vending machines. I pull the one's from my wallet and started an iPod fund. As the years have gone on I changed it to a wedding dress fund (which is slowing turning into a wedding fund since it has been growing for so many years and there isn't an end in sight hahaha). It is a small saving tactic but it has grown to a substantial amount of money over the past decade. I also started having $5 a day (once a month, $155) automatically transferred to a savings account. I call this my wedding saving account, I guess my next goal should be finding a husband with all these financial goals I have set up.... but saving money is SO much easier than finding a boyfriend.

7. Don't "Promote" Your Lifestyle When You Get Promoted

  • Sure, we will most likely spend more money the older we get; we can't always live like college students. But, the goal should be to use promotions and or new/higher incomes to go towards saving or debt and not increase your lifestyle. 
  • Read THIS article from The Atlantic, The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans. It touches on issues middle-class people are causing for themselves (it is not talking about low-income earners and how they should somehow have saving to cover unexpected bills, that is another topic all together and a lot of those people are stuck in a horrible cycle that they cannot get out of. Middle-class people should be making enough to not be in this predicament though obviously things can thwart even the most prepared).
  • Here are some of the insights from it that I found interesting:
    • "The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. "
    • "So I never spoke about my financial travails, not even with my closest friends—that is, until I came to the realization that what was happening to me was also happening to millions of other Americans, and not just the poorest among us, who, by definition, struggle to make ends meet. It was, according to that Fed survey and other surveys, happening to middle-class professionals and even to those in the upper class. It was happening to the soon-to-retire as well as the soon-to-begin. It was happening to college grads as well as high-school dropouts. It was happening all across the country, including places where you might least expect to see such problems. I knew that I wouldn’t have $400 in an emergency. What I hadn’t known, couldn’t have conceived, was that so many other Americans wouldn’t have the money available to them, either. "
    • "David Johnson, an economist who studies income and wealth inequality at the University of Michigan, says, “People studied savings and debt. But this concept that people aren’t making ends meet or the idea that if there was a shock, they wouldn’t have the money to pay, that’s definitely a new area of research”—one that’s taken off since the Great Recession. According to Johnson, economists have long theorized that people smooth their consumption over their lifetime, offsetting bad years with good ones—borrowing in the bad, saving in the good. But recent research indicates that when people get some money—a bonus, a tax refund, a small inheritance—they are, in fact, more likely to spend it than to save it. “It could be,” Johnson says, “that people don’t have the money” to save. Many of us, it turns out, are living in a more or less continual state of financial peril."
    • " I didn’t have savings, but not because I thought I could rely forever on credit instead or because I chose to spend my money extravagantly rather than salt it away. In retrospect, of course, my problem was simple: too little income, too many expenses. Credit enabled me to forestall this problem for a time—and also to make it progressively worse"
    • "I never wanted to keep up with the Joneses. But, like many Americans, I wanted my children to keep up with the Joneses’ children..."
  • The author talks about different studies focusing on finances and then touches on his own story. He fell victim to the idea of being able to pay for things later and that things will get better so he could live past his means. As he made more money he found more things to spend it on and promoted his lifestyle along with his career.

8. Clearly Define Your Financial Goals

  • What do you want in life? Do you want to buy a house? Do you want to retire by a certain age? Do you want to own real estate as an investment? Do you want to pay for your kid's college? Do you want to travel? How much do you want in a Rainy Day fund? These are your goals and they get to be whatever you find important! 
    • Write your goals down. Do it. Right now. 
    • Start a saving plan. I love using Mint to see my goal progress and show me how my budgeting is going. It can pull in all your accounts into one place so you can see everything conveniently and create budgets and goals.
    • Even if you can't save much now, it is great to know where you eventually want to go. Start saving small and add more when you can. People laugh at my $1 fund, but even ones can add up to hundreds or thousands over time...

Moving On

My baby blessing outfit. If I have a daughter I still want to do something like a blessing so she can wear this. 

My baby blessing outfit. If I have a daughter I still want to do something like a blessing so she can wear this. 

I have debated writing about my relationship with religion because it is confusing and most of the people I know feel strongly about Mormonism and get sad when someone doesn't want to be apart of it. But, Mormonism is how I was raised, my culture, a constant topic in my family, where I met most of my friends, intertwined with my education at BYU, and will always be a huge part of who I am--so it seems like a topic I have to address. I also have felt very adamant that I talk about my views on how people on opposite sides of Mormonism can better respect each other.

Almost exactly a year ago I walked into church, like every other week of my entire life, but left in a much different manner. Up until this point I had literally never skipped church without a justifiable reason (traveling, sick etc). I had always been on the more liberal side of how I viewed and followed church policy/guidelines/cultural norms but I had always stuck it out and because I am freakishly dependable and was almost always in charge of something in my ward. I also had this view that I could help others that didn't fit the mold, that I could be the breath of fresh air. I think deep down I knew I didn't want this to be my life forever but I am not the type to quit something and I literally did not know how that transition happens. So it took a major wakeup call to force me to walk away. I walked into church like every other Sunday but ran out hyperventilating; I was having my first and only panic/anxiety attack.

Since I had never experienced something like this before I of course googled it. It mentioned how things will flash thru your mind from the past and all compound on top of each other, it leaves you gasping for air, ugly crying, and contemplating your sanity (at least that is what I experienced). So what triggered me? A very nice woman giving a talk about how much she had been blessed and everything in her life had worked out because God answered all her prayers. Sounds like a great talk, right? And it was, except for when things from my past started flying through my mind. Things from my childhood, guys I have dated, unanswered prayers and the most recent issue of my last boyfriend telling me that God had told him to break up with me while all I had ever prayed for was for a decent guy, like him, to be with me.

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I know all the things active members are thinking at this point. You shouldn't let trials destroy your faith and things are not always rosy so grow up. Here's the thing, I also realized around the same point that I don't have faith in this plan. I realized that one of the reasons I didn't really want to get married all these years is because I knew in Mormonism that meant praying with my spouse and I HATE praying with other people and of course the temple--the temple freaks me out. I realized I had a fear of having children because I didn't want to teach them about church. I realized that there are some policies that will never work with my views on a loving God. I realized that I had been pushing things I should want away because I didn't want to do them in Mormonism. And I realized the most important thing; I know absolutely nothing to be true.

Church was always something my family did but didn't really talk about. We weren't the best at Family Home Evening, I can't think of ever doing a family temple trip, we sometimes did family prayer, and we rarely discussed church topics in a frank way. It was expected but not really explained. But somehow this worked, it at least worked in the sense that for the most part we all went as kids without complaining much, we ALL went to BYU (though some of us should not have, ask BYU housing which they wished hadn't attended hahahaha) and the majority of my family married in the temple, are super active and are doing fantastic jobs teaching their kids in open ways about Mormonism. Though you can look at my life and see COMPLETE activity in every way, I never understood everything. If you listened to my talks and lessons in church they were always on being kind and never really focused on gospel principles...

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It took me until my late twenties to realize that I am not a spiritual person. I don't feel things in church or when I pray or when other people are. The only time I feel something is when music is involved and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the pioneer hymns of Mormonism. When you are not a spiritual person and frankly most religious things make you incredibly uncomfortable, it is virtually impossible to try and gain faith in things you feel nothing for and are super confused by. I deal primarily in logic and not feelings; religion is not logical. When I told my bishop that I was not a spiritual person he tried to assure me that isn't true and of course I am; I do not see this as a fault but just how I was made. 

I don't want to turn this post into things I don't agree with in the church. Everyone has heard them over and over and it is not my intention to try and sway people to "my side." I will say, though my main reason for not attending church is because I don't feel anything when I am there (other than stress) and don't have faith in it, there are major policy, culture, and history fallacies that I cannot support. But that being said, every active member has things they don't agree with or understand and the difference is that they see value in the whole.

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Here is what I do know about Mormonism, it has produced some pretty amazing people. I look at my family and friends and see smart people, I don't think they are "dooped" or or being forced. I see them standing up for their beliefs even when its hard and unpopular. I see their kindness and happy dispositions. I think Mormonism gets somethings right and if I was going to be raised in some "crazy"--non mainstream--religion, I think I would still pick this one. (and if anyone knows how I can have a one on one chat with Elder Utchdorf, let me know! He will always be my favorite apostle; I have appreciated so many of conference talks--he always makes me feel like I am not crazy)

I spent most of my collage years sending missionaries off, writing them letters and welcoming them home.

I spent most of my collage years sending missionaries off, writing them letters and welcoming them home.

And here is what I know about being on both sides of the fence: we need to talk more, judge less and love unconditionally on BOTH sides. Active members tend to not mention when people leave, I think because they don't want to make the individual feel like they are prying and they don't want to make things awkward. But we WANT to be asked! We want to be acknowledged and have frank discussions. And on the flip side, people who leave need to be able to speak about it calmly and without calling it a sham and the believers mindless cult members (think of it as a different religion, if you wouldn't say it about Judaism to a Jew then don't say it about Mormonism to a Mormon. Sometimes people feel like they get to say whatever they want because they were on the inside and "know." Don't do that, it makes you look like a heartless ass who can't let things go and move on). We both need to stay a part of each others lives. Active members need to invite exs to things. Are you giving a talk? Are you blessing a baby? Having a baptism? Putting on the Christmas program? Great! Let us know! And exs need to go to these things! Treat them like a family get together and not a religious event. Go because it is your family (or friends) and you love them and want to support them. Go because you should. And both parties need to treat these encounters like the family events they are not as a missionary opportunity. Don't invite them to try and bring them back, let the exs feel at ease. And lastly, don't judge each other. See the people for who they really are and not what you assume. If they go to church don't assume they aren't thinking for themselves or that they are always looking at you sideways. And if they don't go don't assume it is because they have a drinking problem or want to have sex (and if it is, who cares!) Strip away the labels and see the people for who they are and have always been. 

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And if you go to church, please don't tell me how sad you are for me. If you TRULY believe in agency then you have to let people go. You can't invite someone to read the Book of Mormon and to "pray about it to see if it is true" and reject their truth if it is no. If the church really is true, I am sure this will all be worked out in the after life. The plan I was always taught doesn't make much sense if everyone would feel the same about everything and join the church. Sure we want people to join but we have always known that there are two answers people can get when they ask. Also, I was always been taught that the lowest kingdom is more amazing than earth, so if that is true don't be sad for me, also you can come visit all you want! See? God is kind and thought about those like me!

I worked for the church multiple General Conferences. I wish that the church could see the value in photographing what is REALLY present at conference. They want the typical, BYU dress/grooming standard, people but the real beauty is in the tattooed/bearded/scantily clad people that look truly happy to be there.

I worked for the church multiple General Conferences. I wish that the church could see the value in photographing what is REALLY present at conference. They want the typical, BYU dress/grooming standard, people but the real beauty is in the tattooed/bearded/scantily clad people that look truly happy to be there.

And where does this leave me? 

That is the age old question. I have no idea. I just hit the year mark of living in Salt Lake City and have made half of one friend (we are only friends at work so once I convince him to hangout off the property then he can be promoted to one whole friend). I have been thinking about my lack of a social life a lot lately and I think it is because I don't know where Mormonism left me. I used to make friends at church and school and without either I am hopeless. I am not like everyone else outside of Mormonism (or so I perceive) so I am having a hard time even figuring out how to begin to make friends "on the outside." I have never tried alcohol. I am a virgin with zero dating game. A risqué outfit to me is a sleeveless knee length dress. And I have no idea what my beliefs are in God let alone everything in the universe. I don't feel like I fit in anywhere and it is confusing and hard, but a year without any social responsibility (or church callings!) has also been healing. I have lost a significant amount of weight, I enjoy my work, I do things because I want to, and I am overall the happiest I have been in a long time. But now I have the hardest assignment to do: figure out why I do and don't do things. Do I ever want to drink? What are my boundaries in dating? What are the driving forces behind my decisions and character? Where do I donate my money? (and on a side note, I should have already figured this out because tithing is not really a charitable donation...) And there is still this overwhelming fear of letting my friends and family down if I do change some of my behaviors. 

My brother called me a couple months ago and mentioned something about me not attending church. He said something about how he just wanted me to be happy. I replied with, "I am happier this year than I have been in a very long time." And doing what he should, he said he was happy for me and didn't try to push me into coming back.

I like to think there is a God and his gift to me was a panic attack. He knew I was sad and lonely and that I would never be able to walk away from Mormonism without a push.

Also, it turns out that I actually do want to get married and maybe have kids one day. Now I just have to find someone who preferably used to be Mormon, but isn't bitter, and a decent guy and handsome and smart and can hold a conversation and is okay with my huge family and has a job... not a hard task at all...

Almost 30 (or Whole 30 With a Few Modifications, or The Month I Ate Lots of Mayonnaise and Lost 11lbs)

For years I have been frustrated with my body and have been saying I was going to get back in shape. It isn't that I feel like I look bad, but I FEEL bad. After I got back from NYC in 2013 my life seemed to always be in shambles and I coped (more like didn't) by eating out, never having real groceries, and wearing leggings as pants (which means I didn't notice that my jeans stopped fitting...). I always felt sick, found it hard to bounce back after injuries, had periodic terrible headaches, gained weight, and overall was not that happy of a person. 

This year I decided I was really going to change. My brother is getting married in October (and its the only wedding where I get a plus one so I need to take advantage of that!) and I turn 30 in January so I've made this year all about me. All about feeling healthy, re-finding my hobbies, working less, working out more, and worrying about myself and not stupid guys or religion or anything else that has depressed me in the past. 

At the beginning of the year I did Nutrisystem and lost 10lbs. Its fine, the food is not terrible and it is relatively easy (and my mad shopping skills got it for SUPER cheap) but it had one major downfall, it did not make me change my habits. I could still eat the foods that got me in trouble and more importantly it didn't make me spend time and energy in creating my meals. So when my sister asked me if I wanted to do Whole 30 with her and my brother-in-law, I thought the more rigorous plan would be good for me. 

So here is my review of Whole 30 and why I love it so much.

If you aren't familiar with the program here are the Whole 30 basics:

  • No grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, and all gluten-free pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat)
  • No added sugar--real or artificial 
  • No legumes (including peanuts, beans and soy)
  • No baked goods or replacements for foods that got you where you are 
  • By eliminating these things you can heal your body and slowly reintroduce foods to see which ones are affecting you.

A lot of people get scared of Whole 30 because they feel like it limits their food so much that there isn't anything left to eat. For me, it meant that I had to prepare all my own food and that is what made it a game-changer. It wasn't easy, but it made me change (most) of my bad habits. Because I have done elimination diets in the past to see if I was sensitive to gluten, dairy and sugar I already knew the outcome. I am VERY sensitive to sugar but since I ate so much of it I just didn't realize how crappy I always felt. Because of this, I was not as strict with following every single detail (except the no sugar of course) of the program but adapted it to me. And yes, I have already gotten flack for that from other people who have done Whole 30 but since it is for me and only me, I don't really give a damn.

The first week I was really strict and did not deviate from the plan. Slowly, I did add in the occasional black bean and I bought the organic Mayo from Trader Joe's (you should make your own but I opted for choosing the organic option with no sugar or soy). I did not buy all organic meat; a lot of meat has added sugar so I tried to make the best choices and just not eat a ton of it in general. I also would let myself occasionally eat Salt and Vinegar chips as a treat, you are allowed to have potatoes but it is against the spirit of Whole 30 since it is fried and a "junk food" but since it has a built in stopping mechanism--aka your mouth starts to crack apart-- I felt okay about it. I don't regret any of these decisions.

Why I loved Whole 30 and will, for the most part, continue to follow it:

  • It made me spend time doing meal planning and prep. I became an active participant in every food that entered my body. I spent more time cooking--which is something I have always loved but have drifted from over the last few years--and for the first time in forever my fridge actually had food and I didn't make hasty decisions for fast food or treats.
  • I saved SOOO much money. A lot of people complain about the cost of Whole 30 but I naturally do not eat a lot of meat (and am working to eat even less) which is the most expensive part and it saved me from eating out which is WAY more expensive than a bunch of raw vegetables. 
  • I felt great. The first couple days I had sugar withdrawal which meant I had a killer headache, but after that everything felt better. I didn't need to sleep as much, had more energy, and my mood was better.
  • It gave me an excuse to call my sister everyday to check in (okay, we don't need a reason but it was nice to have someone doing it at the same time).
  • I didn't feel obligated to eat things I didn't want. You know what I am talking about, the treats at work, the crappy food at a social gathering--this gave me a reason to say no! 
  • I had more uninterrupted time at work because I packed my lunch everyday and did not have to leave to eat. I had something available whenever I was starting to get hungry and never got to that point where you are bonking from lack of food. I felt like I got more done and could leave earlier (to cook for the next day).
  • I broke my TERRIBLE soda habit. I realized if I didn't drink Dr. Pepper for 30 days I saved 7,500 calories and TEN cups of sugar. That math was a huge wakeup call. 
  • I finally learned how to make the prefect hardboiled egg and ate deviled eggs daily (not very many, don't worry, but they are the best snack!)
  • I lost 11 pounds in 26 days. 

Yes, I stopped before 30 days (which is why, among the other reasons, I called it "Almost 30") for a wedding, but instantly regretted it. I felt so sick the next day and it took me four days to get back down to where I was weight wise before my "cheat day." But, I plan on continuing with a few modifications so I am okay with stopping early. I will continue with the no sugar but I will eat beans, peanuts, and the occasional dairy (life needs cheese!). I don't really have any plans to stop this, I am wanting to do it when I am alone--since that is most of the time--but then allow myself to "cheat" when friends invite me out. For the most part I don't want to eat out any more, especially by myself--socially I am okay with it. 

And if you were wondering what my favorite things to eat were and are:

  • Deviled Eggs (horseradish mustard, vinegar, salt & pepper, cayenne pepper, mayo)
  • Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps (shredded chicken, red onion, apple, sunflower seeds, grapes, mayo, onion powder, S&P)
  • Fajita Salad (chicken, bell peppers, onion, garlic, homemade seasoning mix, greens, cilantro)
  • Broccoli Salad (broccoli (or brussel sprouts), bacon, nuts, apple, and dressing (shallot, orange, lemon, oil)
  • Turkey Wraps (lettuce, turkey, bell peppers, horseradish mustard, avocado, tomato)
  • Zucchini "Pasta" (spiralized zucchini with homemade pasta sauce (tomato, garlic, onion, S&P)
  • Fruit Salad (my favorite right now is a mix of raspberries, kiwi, and grapes)
  • Chocolate Banana Shakes (this is my breakfast EVERY morning, coconut/almond milk, 1/2 frozen banana, chia seeds, baking cocoa)
  • Sweet Potatoes (just baked with S&P, so easy, filling and good)

But really, with vegetables, fruit, meat and spices as staples you can make ANYTHING.

and because I am proud of myself here is a photo comparison (apparently while getting more healthy I also progressively learned how to fix my hair...)

Before I started / Day 15 / Day 21 / Day 26

And if you can't tell that I feel more like myself, here are some photos from the wedding I attended last week.

I'll admit that this past week has been hard, I spent the first three days being SUPER strict to get back to feeling okay after the wedding but then I got a huge shipment at work (which was the first time I unloaded a semi with our forklift, I was so nervous but did great and my mechanic neighbor told me that he was so proud of me and I "was hauling ass!") and I let myself slip. Tomorrow is a new day and I am getting back at it. So if you see me in person, or just want to check in, encourage me to make good choices! I have about 20 more pounds to loose to get to my normal weight (the weight where I was most of my life and feel normal, not skinny just normal and healthy) but if I can keep this up I have no fear of not making my goals and getting to buy that kickass dress for my brother's wedding!

Europe

I hadn't been out of the country since 2010 so I decided to jump back into traveling with a bang. In August of 2016 I met some long-time friends in Sweden, went to Denmark, Germany, and Czech Republic by myself and then met my friend's fiance (who I had never met before but now we are legit friends--I even shared a hotel with him and some friends the night before his wedding) in Norway. In May of 2017 I met a friend in Paris, France. 

I keep seeing tickets to Europe for $400-500, so do yourself a favor and go on a trip. Do it. People always stress about trips to Europe costing too much but if you are willing to wait for a cheap flight, do a lot of walking, eat street food, and crash at the less expensive Airbnb's, you can do it for less than you think. My first trip was two weeks and probably cost $1700 total (to be fair, I stayed with my friends for free so I only had to pay for lodging for half the trip but my plane ticket was more expensive, around $800) my second trip was 10 days and cost around $1100 all said and done.

But then I dropped my camera on the plane home and broke my lens--it will cost $1700 to replace, so I guess I failed on that whole economical trip thing...

And then when I was trying to go through my photos to pick which to post I realized my computer has deleted things. I am not even sure how many photos are missing from how many years/events...

So look at some of my photos that weren't deleted and admire that I lugged two cameras and two lens across the Atlantic. (and that is a lot of equipment when you realize that I only took a personal item to France but managed to fit a laptop, extra pair of shoes and all my clothes and toiletries).

Click on the photos to view them larger.  

Orebro and Stockholm Sweden



Copenhagen, Denmark



Berlin, Germany



Prague, Czech Republic



Olso, Norway



Paris, France



Mont St. Michel, France



Versailles, France



And last but not least, all the selfies I saved you from on social media...


Herkie-ing My Way to a Theater Near You

*edit* I started writing this post over a month ago. The film is no longer showing in Utah or Arizona but should hopefully come to a streaming service soon.

This past week I marked something off my bucket list: Have someone look you up on IMDB after seeing you in a movie trailer. 

Okay, so the person already knew me and the movie is currently only available in theaters in Utah, but still, I am counting this as a success! And of course I only have an IMDB because I made it myself (did you know you can edit IMDB with your Amazon login?!) but that is besides the point...

So, in honor of Tim Timmerman's Hope for America coming to a theater near you, here is the comical story of how I came to be cast in a 90's high school comedy as a cheerleader named Chasity.

A few years ago I met my sisters' friend Cameron while in LA. He is in the movie industry and created a hilarious short, She's a Fox (watch it here, its only 18 minutes and so good/funny) that was based on his first crush in elementary school and it starred Hailey Steinfield right before she got her first big break in True Grit. The short did well, winning The Best Short of 2013, and Cameron wanted to take another story from his life and create a feature film, the story about how he was quite possibly the worst Student Body President in Orem High history and was impeached. 

I talked to Cameron a few times about his film and told him I would love to work on it--meaning still photography or something behind the scenes. Then one day I was leaving Cafe Rio when I ran into him the parking lot. They had just started filming (April 2015) and he said, "You should come by, we need more people that look like they are in high school!" I just can't seem to out grow my girlish face...

A few days later I was participating in a 24 hour scavenger hunt with two of my friends. We were in the height of the competition when at midnight I got a call from an unknown number. I ignored it but then got a second call with a voicemail. It was from Cameron's sister and she said, "Hey Bethany, so one of our actresses missed her flight from LA and she is supposed to film tomorrow morning. The part is for one of the main characters best friends who is a bubbly high school cheerleader and we instantly thought of you! Call me back ASAP if you can help us out!" All I could do is laugh, no one, NOT A SINGLE PERSON, has ever called me bubbly or cheer material. But, putting that aside, I called her back and said why not, that sounded liked fun (and they wanted to pay me to boot).

The next day I showed up to a grocery store parking lot to report for my scene. From my 30 second conversation about my part, in the middle of the night, I assumed I would be in the background, you know, that friend that doesn't talk but is there to make the main person feel powerful and pretty. But then they handed me a script. And then they put in my mom jeans. 

At this point Cameron came on set and asked how I was doing. "Oh, you didn't know you had lines? Well have they gone over the dance with you? And you can do a herkie, right?"

Me: "What the hell is a herkie? And, you know I'm a Davis, we are not known for our dancing skills..."

Cameron: "I am sure you'll be great! And if it is terrible, it will probably make it more funny!"

Awesome.

I read over my two lines, had a quick seat in the makeup chair and headed in for my first ever stint in front of a camera. Once I got inside I found Cameron and asked him, "Do you want my glasses on or off, wardrobe didn't say anything," after having me take them on and off for him he asked if I had a preference to which I replied, "Well, the one wanders if they are off and I can't stop it..." to which he replied, "On it is!" We did a quick scene where I walk to the register with Mackenzie (antagonist in the film) and our other nameless friend and Mackenzie complains about Tim Timmerman. I give my two scents (lines) about Tim being good looking  and then we cut. Don't worry that in one of the takes I forgot my second line, "really?" and just stared at Mackenzie blankly waiting for her to say something... Yet, somehow, they thought I wasn't the worst and had me go to a second location to shoot another scene.

We went to a house to film a scene where Mackenzie and her boyfriend are watching a movie with their friends (me and another couple, always the third wheel even in my fake movie life) and then have a pool party.  While we were waiting to film I sat around with the other actors and chatted about how each person got involved. Person after person talked about their acting agency and how they had auditioned. When it got to me I awkwardly said, "Um, they called me last night and told me to come here..." All the sudden I realized that I was WAY more out of my element than I realized. I had zero knowledge of the movie industry and didn't understand at the time that because I had one speaking line and a name I was being paid more than other extras and could join the Screen Actors Guild if I wanted. And you can bet your ass if it didn't have yearly dues and a hefty upfront fee to join I would join SAG just to carry the card in my wallet.

The only time I have ever had my hair and makeup professionally done was to make myself look like a 90's cheerleader...

The only time I have ever had my hair and makeup professionally done was to make myself look like a 90's cheerleader...

A few days later I was called back for my next scene. I showed up at the local high school where I was given the dreaded news, not only was I doing the choreographed dance but also the herkie. We (Mackenzie, actual high school cheerleaders and myself) quickly started going over a dance Mackenzie had choreographed. Let me be clear, I am not a dancer. I am that person that falls over at the gym if I am trying to copy the instructor in the mirror (this has literally happened more than once). Mackenzie tried to nicely tell us that things "needed tightening up" and finally I turned to her and the cheer-leading mom on the sideline and said, "Look, I have NO idea what I am doing. If I am doing something wrong you need to tell me in exact terms and not dance around it. You do not need to be nice, I know I suck." Once I got that out the mom was quick to correct me and it actually got better. 

Once we had the dance as down as it was going to get, we walked to wardrobe where we were handed identical outfits. I quickly turned to the stylist and said, "Emily, I thought we had discussed making sure I had an outfit that fits me, these are all the same size!" She turned to me without skipping a beat and said, "Yeah, about that, we didn't have any other sizes but that's why we bought you these shorts, because we know we will see your butt..." Thanks Em.... After I got dressed I asked about my shoes. With a look of horror Emily admitted that they had totally forgotten to get me any and proceeded to take off her too-big-for-me tennis shoes--that she had been standing in for 12 hours--and handed them to me.  

We walked out to the football field in front of the cameras and bleachers full of actors. We did a couple takes and I kept a pained fake smile plastered on my face to hide the fact that I still to this day cannot correctly do the running man or drop down to my feet and pivot (luckily you can only see part of my leg during this part, it was pretty pathetic--but in my defense I had a half torn ACL and eventually had to have surgery). Once we finished we jumped right into my herkie. I did a couple takes with the last one pulling my hamstring and then limped off set. I am classy like that.

The next night I was asleep when Cameron texted me at midnight to say "Just watched your herkie. So good!!!" A few minutes later I bolted up in my bed with the sudden thought, "oh crap, I wasn't wearing a sports bra!" Since they didn't tell me what I was doing that day I didn't think twice about what underwear I was wearing, now that is all I can think when I see the scene...

I had two other days of filming, one was a short scene in the school office while the other was part of the previous house party scene. In the end, half of my shots were cut--the entire house party and grocery store scenes. But, I can't say that I am sad that I have never had to see the footage of me roughly delivering my lines. 

In March of this year I got the following email from my sister "I hope you're in UT March 2nd for the Tim Timmerman premiere--there are two tickets with your name on them, Chastity. I hope you take a hot date" (she was involved in the finance of the film). So I did what any single girl would do and asked my unsuspecting neighbor to come with me. We had never spent time together outside of our offices and in hindsight, this was probably the world's most awkward first date hey, come watch me do a cheer-leading scene in a movie! Don't worry, I swear I am almost 30 and not a teenager! I told him that I had a brief role in the film when I asked him to come but he didn't ask what it was and apparently forgot. During the movie he would occasionally make comments (he went to the U and they have a few jabs at it) but then my part came and he didn't flinch or say anything. Afterwards I asked him what he really thought of the movie, he replied, "It was good, and it was cool that you had a family connection to it." I looked at him and slowly said, "And I was in it..." He looked so confused. He then asked what part and why I didn't tell him before it came up because now he needed to see it again. I told him I had mentioned it before and it seemed really weird to point it out in the theater but that if he really wanted to see it he could watch the trailer.

We got back to our offices to let our dogs out and I hear his office computer go on. Sure enough he was watching the trailer. It got to my part, he paused, pointed to me and said, "It is you!" He claims that I looked really different with my long hair.... I have longer hair now... but I guess I will let it slide.

And that is the story about the time I was in a movie that actually played in theaters. 

(To view my herkie in all it's glory, watch the trailer below)

 

 

Do I Look My Age Yet?!

Let's be honest, 2016 was THE WORST. Politics sucked (and stole my coping mechanism, reality tv, now when I watch all I can think is, "This could be our next president!"), people died--celebrities and family members, work was rough, I got dumped, my landlord hates me, I called the police more times than I can count, you know, the usual. I try to keep my yearly recap upbeat but I also think it is important to be real so I included everything worth mentioning. But don't worry, there are good things that are mixed among the unfortunate. 

In my 29th year:

I celebrated my birthday with my family, my co-workers, and my friends. 

On my birthday (at night so I didn't realize it until later) my house was robbed. It was completely targeted at me, made me feel uneasy in my own home, totally violated, and the cops did absolutely nothing.

I spent Valentine's with this kid and told him that if are both aren't married in 10 years we should get hitched. I also squeezed into my hot pink jeans which was a major feat.

I had my ACL replaced.

I started dating a guy that I had known for a few years but we had never been close until he started keeping me company while I iced my knee after surgery. We spent many hours eating all the pizza and tacos and watching Better Call Saul and Bob's Burgers (I'm not the most exciting person to date when I can't walk...)

I worked another session of LDS General Conference and this year we didn't get sweared at by any senior missionaries! 

Four of my siblings ran the Boston Marathon so I made the most out of my east coast trip by going to NYC, the marathon and then stayed with a friend outside Boston. And I won Best Sister of the Year award for making homemade chocolate pie in a hotel room. 

I flew to San Fransisco to spend the weekend with my sister.

I reconnected with three of my Freshmen friends in two days, two old roommates for breakfast and one guy to photograph his wedding (all wedding receptions should end with a fire pit and s'mores).

I planned my final event as Activities Director for my church. I used my super human talent to feed way too many twenty somethings on way too little money. 

I leased a warehouse for my businesses which is a HUGE deal.

I bought a shirt just so Milo and I could match and accidentally match my mom at least twice a month. 

I got dumped in the most heartless way possible and now he pretends I don't exist. 

I wrote a blogpost about being dumped because of religion and it was shared on a Ex-Mormon Reddit page and had thousands of views. The response was overwhelmingly positive and I received over 50 messages from people from all aspects of my life. If you are one of the people that reached out to me, THANK YOU, it really did mean a lot.

I attended my 10 year High School Reunion. It was weird. I had some great conversations with friends and I realized that the people I didn't like in high school I still don't like now... I also made Stephen take awkward prom pose photos since we somehow never went to a dance together.

I played Pokemon Go once and quickly became a statistic as a fell down a flight of stairs.

I was contacted by an ex-boyfriend--who has stalking tendencies and has been removed from my property by the police in the past--for no reason other than intimidation and to say hurtful things. I had to talk to the police more times that I can count as they searched for him to deliver a No Contact Order. They also checked on my property every night until I moved. He is the reason and I do not tell people where I currently live or answer unknown numbers. Because of him I had to tell my family that if I am ever hurt it was most likely his fault. This is not a position I want anyone in and if someone you know is dating a crazy person know that they probably want out. I didn't break up with him because I was afraid of him, everything that has happened has proved me right. But, people also did not take me seriously when I told them of my issues. Though I told men in my church that he was abusive and I had to call the cops, one man still asked me multiple times to meet with him (my ex) because he was having a hard time. I am sorry, I am the victim and you should NEVER ask me meet with my abuser. I also had one man ask to speak with me about the situation only to be asked multiple times if we had had sex and not "how are you doing, are you okay?" (to be honest, the part about telling my leaders at church was prior to 2016 but still, can we now all see how FRIGHTENING my ex is?!)

I convinced my co-workers to all put on metallic tattoos.

I booked a ticket to Europe on a whim to spend time with friends. After spending a few days in the Swedish country side I went to four other countries in one week by myself. I went from Stockholm (Sweden) to Copenhagen (Denmark) to Berlin (Germany) to Prague (Czech Republic) to Oslo (Norway). It was slightly nerve-wracking but amazing.

I moved into an own place, it totally fits my personality, is close to work and I love it--other than my landlord and slight mouse infestation. After my landlord said everything he shouldn't (mice aren't a problem, we wouldn't fix the hole they were coming through because "holes don't attract mice," I don't understand tenant rights, and that I was too angry/emotional for us to talk in person) I walked out to the porch where he was standing and replied, "You are right, I am angry, and do you know why? I STOPPED SLEEPING BECAUSE MICE RUN THROUGH MY WALLS ALL NIGHT AND THEN POOP IN MY SHOES!" If I was only wearing a bathrobe over my clothes I would have completed the crazy neighbor look quite nicely. Then, I went to City Hall, scheduled an inspection and needless to say they found almost a dozen infractions that he has to fix or pay a $50 a day fine. I don't know the law my ass...

I flew to LA to spend the weekend with my sisters. I won the Best Sister Award again for wearing my brother's way-too-big-for-me cowboy boots on the plane since they wouldn't fit in my carry-on. They accentuated my unicorn leggings quite nicely....

I had my first ever panic/anxiety attack. It was brought on by talks at church and things my ex said and implied about church. I haven't been able to go back since. It is obviously a much larger discussion than this post can offer. 

I made an Employee of the Month wall at my office to "class up the joint."

I spent the weekend with four of my sisters in NYC where we all stayed in the family room of my friends one bed room apartment. We ate all the food, walked all the streets, enjoyed a musical with a song and dance about Black Death, and did not shower once. We are crazy fun and crazy disgusting all at the same time. 

I voted for what I hoped would be the first female president.

I spent Thanksgiving in Tennessee with my sister and her family. I took each of my nieces and nephew out on a date, took everyone Christmas shopping, made pies, watched my niece in the Nutcracker, helped frame art for Sarah's new classroom, did facials, watched movies, and loved every minute,

I had the best sales month of my business career which (almost, its still up for debate) made the six straight weeks of doing nothing but working and sleeping worth it. One week I worked 75 hours by Friday night and it took me 4 days to have enough time to buy a gallon of milk....I literally live next to the grocery store.

I spent Christmas with my sister and her amazing in-laws and realized the beard potential of my hair.

I witnessed the most unusual New Years Eve's party that included: acrobats, drummers, one creepy puppet, lots of drunk people, exploding paint, a woman in a belly dancing outfit swinging a live parrot around, and my super confused friends.

And things that don't fit into a timeline:

I made lots of (tiny) homemade desserts

Loved on lots of babies and spent a lot of time with my family

Celebrated a lot of other people's birthdays.

Edited some crazy and funny things at work

Spent time with friends.

And I debated if I should add this, but I spent--and still spend--most of my time alone.

I have always struggled to make (and keep) friends but this year was horrible. When I switched churches after I was dumped, not one person reached out to me. Multiple times when I texted people to invite them to dinner at my house they didn't acknowledge it. I sent people cards and packages and never heard from them. I asked someone to go on a trip only to have them respond with, "yeah, you should go on a trip!" I ask people to get together and they flake on me or give a vague response of how we should hangout "sometime" or they don't respond at all. This was from "friends" while with dating I was ghosted, dumped, and then terrified by three different guys. I even had a comment on my religious blogpost about how I will be single forever because I am selfish, this from a complete stranger. I know that this year was rough and I did not handle it as well as I could have, but it has been so much harder feeling like not many people want me around. Being the only single person in my family, moving to a new city, and having very few friends is super hard. I continually tell myself I don't want birthday parties or to go on dates or that I don't need people's help etc. because it is easier to fool myself than not have people show up. So, if you do actually like me, please spend time with me. The more time I spend alone the less fun I am to hangout with and more self concious I get, this is not a rabbit hole I should go down. And if I have a horrible personality flaw please tell me so that I can start making friends. And to those that have still checked in with me through out my crazy, I love you so very much and I wish we lived in the same city.

I understand how dramatic this sounds, but this year has been full of stress and loneliness and way more tears than I want to admit. I think we all go through this, but I think it is getting more isolating and damaging because of social media. We assume everyone else is having a great time doing fun things because of what they post. We see others constantly texting their friends; we can literally spend all of our time "connecting" with people through our phones and never actually have a connection. For someone like me who is not good at texting, doesn't know what snapchat is, and is detesting Facebook more each day people use it to spew hate, I don't want to only rely on the internet to feel like I belong to some community. 

This year, please be kind and spend less time on the internet and more time in people's actual lives. 

And to end my year, I got bangs and took one of my better selfies. I feel like I am finally starting to look older than 21...

The House of Pooping Parties

This year has been pretty intense and crazy. I started out by having my ACL replaced, then decided to move to Salt Lake, starting dating a guy, moved my office to Salt Lake, got dumped, moved my personal stuff into my office, got the Orem house ready to sell, went to Europe, and now finally moved myself to Salt Lake. Did you notice that moving was in there a lot? Yeah, me too. I started packing up my things in May and just now, 5 months later, have most of my stuff situated in my new house. 

I found a cute and quaint place in June, but after talking to the landlord decided that I would move into the unit he was finishing next door. He said it should be ready by mid July. By the end of July he said the end of August. By the end of August he said the first of October and then I promptly gave up. I looked for new places as soon as I got back from Europe (the one silver-lining of that place taking forever is that I used my rent money to go to Europe for two weeks by myself), found one on a Friday, saw it Saturday morning, and started moving in Saturday afternoon.

This seemed like a match made in heaven. It was the quickest apartment search ever and it had everything I wanted. It is recently remodeled, within walking distance of Trader Joe's and Williams and Sonoma, close to my office, has more than enough living space, a pantry, washer and dryer hookups, a bathtub and new appliances. (the photos below are the new place)