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.

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.

 

 

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)

Then I moved.

My U-haul had so many problems that they ended up refunding everything but my mileage.

The previous tenants stopped paying their gas bill so it had been turned weeks before I moved in, so no showers, cooking or laundry for the first 5 days...

Then my neighbor introduced herself. She asked how much I wanted to know about the previous tenants and before I could answer she plopped down on my couch and opened the floodgates about how the guy was a tatted-up gang member who manufactured and sold drugs and the girlfriend only entered the house by climbing through the kitchen window. After she left, I had to check my house for signs of meth... something I never thought I would have to do.

After getting over the shock of living in a drug dealer's house and being assured (well half way, he is not a very assuring type) by my landlord that they did not cook meth I moved in, but so did the mice. 

I saw the first lying in the middle of my floor; he was very much dead. He was surprisingly cute and pretty tiny, gross yes, but not the most alarming thing. A day or so later I found his friend hiding in my laundry room. Naturally, I put on rainboots, grabbed a trashcan (to catch him in if it came to that) and stood at my cracked door until my friend could bring me some traps. After setting it up we sat down to talk. Then, the mouse decided to venture out. After our initial shock, we were determined to get it out. He conveniently ran into a pile of moving boxes and got trapped. Once that happened we were able to make a box exit for him and my friend literally kicked him out the front door. 

I texted my landlord that night and he said that he would get an exterminator. Four days and five huge bait stations later my house was ready for the mice. The bait takes at least 10 days to kill mice so I had to wait. I had to wait through the nights where I would bolt up in my bed because I could hear them in my walls. I had to keep all food stored. I had to vacuum up their poop. But, it seemed like they were going away.

Then last week I did a load of laundry and noticed dropping again. I grabbed the vacuum and went room to room and sure enough there was poop in EVERY room. As I went to grab my shoes--that were on a shoe rack a couple rows up--I found poop. POOP IN MY SHOE! I texted my landlord and he only texted me back after my second attempt the next day saying this was a huge deal (he has a track record for telling me things like, "a mouse here and there isn't a big deal" and when asked if he would fix a baseball size hole behind my oven that I realized mice used as a door he said "no, holes don't attract mice." He is an idiot). An exterminator came out yesterday but the bait isn't working. The mice are getting food from somewhere so they are not interested in the bait and won't until the food disappears. I have never found droppings on my counter and my food has never been touched so they are obviously going elsewhere. The only thing that we can think of is that they are eating at the neighbors (I live in a duplex) and then they just come to my house to poop and party. I can't decide if I should be flattered or not.

So, I basically am living with mice until my landlord hires a contractor to fill in all the gaps from the outside, fixes my unfinished pantry where the plywood floor opens to the creepy stairs that go to the dirt basement (the mice are literally walking up the stairs and straight into my pantry, they don't even have to try with how ill-fitting that plywood "door/floor" is). I am loosing faith in my landlord but the bigger problem is that it is getting cold and if this isn't fixed the mice will not leave until spring, so if he can't get his act together I need to move. 

Moving in my least favorite thing.

Also, I have already totally moved in, had friends instal Ikea shelving (which equals me driving to Ikea no less than 7 times to buy the correct shelves...) bought furniture solely because it fits in this house, and spent DAYS organizing. If i have to move I will require that my landlord lets me kick him in the shins on the way out.

I can tell mice have been in my house because they poop, how awful would it be if that's how I identified my friends or family coming to visit? Thank you for never pooping on my floor or behind my appliances, I mean it from the bottom of my heart. 

Breaking Up (with religion) is Hard to Do

I recently posted on Facebook about my experiences with Tinder and of course it got more likes than an photo where I actually put on makeup or my amazingly perfect tiny homemade pie. I have become known for my dating stories--the bad, the awkward, the uncomfortable, but sadly never the good. Though I like to keep things lighthearted and focused on the ridiculous, one thing keeps happening to me that sucks and I don't know how to handle it. Just last week I stood on a windy corner in my neighborhood as I was told that Mormonism was black and white; the guy I was dating was standing on the white side and I was on the black. "Yeah, that sucks, but its only one boy," you say, but no, this is the third boy with basically the same exit.

(also, let's pause here. Did you catch the part about religion being black and white? Can we agree that it is NOT true and a pretty damaging assumption?  He said that you either do what you are told or you don't, thinking about things is inappropriate...We are all supposed to find out things for ourselves, wade through the gray and find the light. If someone thinks differently or isn't blindly following, they are not automatically on the "black" side.)

Now, getting dumped this time was not a total shock to me. The breakup was the world's longest, hovering at about two weeks--and religion--well I have known for a long time that I am much darker than most. But even though I knew this boy was going to break up with me because I, a very round peg, do not fit in the perfect Mormon square hole, it has not been easy. Being told that you are not righteous and doing things wrong--things that you know in your heart you cannot feel differently about, makes you feel pretty terrible and hopeless. Terrible that somehow this should make sense and it is unfair that it doesn't, and hopeless that you will ever find someone who wants to be with you. 

Here's the thing, in Mormonism there is a right way to do things, a very specified order of how and when. You are baptized at 8, if you are a boy you start on the priesthood track at 12, you don't date until you are 16, boys are expected to go on missions after high school, and then you get married in the temple. We believe heavily in personal agency, but sometimes I feel like we are so focused on how things are supposed to happen and the time frame that we forget that some people use their agency to do things differently or slower. I, am one of those people.

I am wrestling with major issues (like the church's recent policy that bans children with gay parents from being baptized and says homosexuality is one of the worst sins and can result in excommunication--among other issues). I want to be part of a church that embodies love and isn't so much about policies and orientations and laid out plans for when things should be done in your life. I want honest and sincere, nonjudgmental agency. And if you think that disagreeing with a SINGLE policy isn't a big deal, it is literally the sole reason I was dumped. Apparently it is not acceptable to disagree (meaning you feel like it is a crumby thing) with a policy even if you literally cannot obey or disobey it because you will never be a bishop and have the power to say if a person can get baptized...

photos by me, sometime in 2009

photos by me, sometime in 2009

I spoke with my bishop about my dating situation during my two week break up. I asked him if it was wrong of me to date members of the church since I am not what the men are taught to want to marry (questioning things, feminist, not endowed, the list goes on...). He said that he loved having me there and that of course I was welcome and wanted, but he also told me that he would never counsel someone to get married outside of the temple (because I have doubts and don't think it is apprioprate to go with how I currently feel) and that IF I find someone who is similar to me that could work. IF is one of the saddest words to hear in dating. If I find anyone I am lucky, if I find anyone in Mormonism that is okay with my (lack of) beliefs it is freaking miracle. I understand that the temple is important, I really do. But, it is frustrating to feel like all my good qualities are null and void in relationships since I take the temple so seriously that I don't want to go before I am ready. It feels like we preach that church is for the sinners and people struggling, unless you want to get married and then you had better get all your crap together by your early twenties so you can take part in the MOST important part of the religion and get married in the temple. We believe in a God that is full of grace, that promotes agency, that wants us to find the answers, and that will always give you another chance. Why are we so hard on our members to be on a certain timeline?! And why is it so inappropriate to date someone who is totally active (and completely supportive of the partner in all aspects of the religion, even them attending the temple) but struggling? Is telling me I am wrong and a bad member supposed to help me become a better one?

I know I am not the only one in the church that feels like this, but I feel alone all the time. I feel like I don't fit in anywhere. Mormonism is all I know, its how I met 89% of all the people in my life, it is a culture and religion, it is my background and my foundation, and it is becoming my demise. It is becoming a lonely hateful place where good people are told they cannot be members, a place where boys won't date you longer than 3 months (let alone get near marriage) because they don't want to understand that people see things differently. Its a place where I cannot attend a wedding ceremony. It is a place where I cry in my bishop's office for wanting to date the good people I meet but knowing that they are taught to want more than me. It is a place of social stress and anxiety. It is also a place of God and music and laughter and friendship. It is a place that should be totally about personal decisions without the fear of being judged and ostracized. 

photo by me, sometime in 2010

photo by me, sometime in 2010

I was once told that I care too much about people, that I want things to be fair so badly that it hurts. I think this is true. I want people to feel love and acceptance everywhere that at times it gives me anxiety. I'm that person that hates farmer's markets because I want to buy EVERYTHING to show the people that they are doing a great job and not being financially able breaks my heart. I buy homeless people dinner and talk with them about their lives because I want them to know that they are not alone and that I too had to call the cops on my last boyfriend (true story, that lady and I BONDED!) I even left a card for the boy that dumped me because I didn't want him to remember us from our last, horrible and misunderstood, conversation (also, in my defense, I was on steroids for my knee and roid-rage is real people!). I want everyone to feel loved because sometimes I feel so little. So little from the boys that have told me that I have the wrong relationship with God, that cheated on me or used me. So little from the bullies in public school, from multiple teachers that told me my work was horrible and I shouldn't even try. From roommates that made my life a living hell. These are things that are sad and hard, religion should not be one of them. We should support each other ESPECIALLY when things are hard and people don't understand. We should encourage people to find answers for themselves and not follow blindly. We should not only preach that you can think differently and still be accepted, but act on it. And we should help people and not toss them aside. 

Dating has been pretty terrible and adding religion has made is basically unbearable. It's a place where I never feel good enough, literally the only place in my life where I feel dumb. The only answer I have gotten through all of this--from having the most decent and all around good guy not want to date me because of religion--is that I need to break up with dating that is centered around religion. I want to date people because they are kind and funny and happy and hardworking, not because of their religion. I want to find value in others' beliefs and for them to respect my super confusing convictions. I want to love a person and not a laundry list of what they should hold near, dear and true. 

And yes, I completely understand that is not fair for me to date a guy who may feel like he might have to compromise some of his convictions (like possibly a temple marriage). I just wish their was a place for me and that guys could see the good qualities, the qualities worth fighting for, and work through the hard stuff with me. I am not saying that I will never understand more or want to go to the temple, I am saying that at this moment, I need a lot of help to get there and every guy has tossed me to the curb instead of ever asking me how they can help, let alone even talk about the subject with me. I wish that is was okay to be a confused soul and still find a good, decent, Mormon guy. But it feels like we push marriage so heavily that things are checked off a list early on and people are disregarded because they might not be "marriage material" in one aspect, on paper, at that one moment in time... Do we realize that it takes time to get to know people and what they are really like?!

I have been so beat down by dating that sometimes I forget that I am better than this. I am smart, strong, independent, witty, successful, artistic, musical, generous and even keeled. I am a decent cook, master baker of miniature sweets, a conversationalist and debater, organized to a fault and a great gift giver. Yes, religion is important, but so is being a decent human being that can see the value in all people. 

I will not change for anyone, but I would like the chance to grow with someone. 

It's not about hemlines

I was so disgusted when I saw this shared over and over years ago. Everything about this is what is wrong with our culture.

I was so disgusted when I saw this shared over and over years ago. Everything about this is what is wrong with our culture.

Today I read a somewhat popular/viral blog post about Modesty and Mormonism. I agreed with a lot of the points that the female writer had (we should never blame women for men's thoughts etc) but by the time I had finished glazing over the comments I realized we are missing the biggest point on the subject.

You can never be completely modest, and it encompasses so much more than clothing.

The concept of modesty has been warped to mean cap sleeve shirts and horrid knee length shorts. If you search the For the Strength of the Youth pamphlet, modesty is only mentioned once and it ONLY deals with clothing:

"Immodest clothing is any clothing that is tight, sheer, or revealing in any other manner. Young women should avoid short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders or is low-cut in the front or the back. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance."

Can we also notice that it doesn't give specifics for lengths? Why have we decided so black and white that it is the knees?! And, why are there no details for men? Why not mention low riding pants or wearing sleeveless shirts (and if you are guilty of those 'awesome' muscle shirts, just stop, they are not your friend).

The issue is, modesty is part of every aspect of your life. 

Since this post is about Mormonism and modesty, the Church's definition is:

Modesty is an attitude of propriety and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behavior. If we are modest, we do not draw undue attention to ourselves. Instead, we seek to “glorify God in [our] body, and in [our] spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:20; see also 1 Corinthians 6:19).

If we taught this definition of modesty we would not focus just on how women dress. We would talk about having a modest home (which let's be honest, maybe we don't because this is Utah where people love big hair almost as much as their big house), a modest attitude--modesty as a tool to glorify God. We would talk about a hundred things BESIDES clothes. And, if you think about it this way, modesty is something that you are always striving for. When you dwell on it being only clothing you stop thinking about it once your closet is full of "modest" options beacuse you are now a "modest" person.

Modesty has become a discussion on clothing that has also somehow morphed into sexual discussions which are quite possibly the most damaging thing that I listened to as a teen. I had lesson after lesson about how girls not only have to dress modest to stop boys from having impure thoughts but that they have to stop all unwanted/improper advances. This was a constant lesson, a lesson that said, "guys always want your body and are constantly thinking of sex, you are the gender that has no sexual desires. Your job is to keep the men in line until it is time to get married and then make babies."

Because of lessons like this I had a very twisted and horrible dating life. I always felt that I was not supposed to make advances and should wait for boys to be interested in me rather than it being an open discussion from both interested parties. Even when I was dating someone I never felt like I could initiate anything--even if we had kissed before and were clearly "an item" it was always the boy that should make the move. This broke me. I was in terrible after terrible relationship where boys treated me like I assumed I should be treated. I didn't actually acknowledge this was a huge problem until I was 25! I had been 'dating' for almost a decade!

In my opinion--that of a woman who went through 6 years of Young Women's and 10 years of Relief Society--we need to stop worrying about hemlines and simultaneously sexualizing and desexualizing our women. We need to teach independence, empowerment, and self respect. We need to teach that sex is not something to be feared but something we WILL all want. How can you expect people to have a healthy sex life when you teach them for years that it is the worst sin, that is until you have that marriage license in hand. Here's a noble thought, maybe we would encourage sex ed/health to be taught at home and not so heavily in church! We need to teach the basic, very basic, aspects of Christianity. We need to accept everyone and stop asking about their sexual history or orientation. We need to stop staring at the women in shorter skirts and be grateful they showed up. And most importantly we need to teach our men to respect women, regardless of how they look or their past, and not perpetuate rape culture. 

Why? Because we Mormons are too honest to illegally download porn. Obviously we have an issue of lusting after all types of women, the girls in your ward are the least of your worries...

Why? Because we Mormons are too honest to illegally download porn. Obviously we have an issue of lusting after all types of women, the girls in your ward are the least of your worries...

Think of all the things we could teach if we spent those hours teaching about God or Christ or being a good Samaritan instead of drilling girls about which swimsuits are allowed at girl's camp and how to avoid the "door step scene" (I seriously had this lesson, because we were also apparently not supposed to kiss...) or the varying degrees of kisses (there is this super weird fruit analogy that is forever burned into my brain about the degree of french kissing) or talking about necking which NO ONE knows the definition of as a teen (or ever).

We need to strive to be modest.

We need to strive to be kind.

We need to teach the things that actually really matter.

And we need to stop giving a damn what other people are doing, wearing, or saying as long as it does not directly affect us. (and for that one guy that is going to comment: "but a woman dressing immodestly DOES affect me" i would say, unless her boobs pop out of her scantily clad shirt and physically accost you, if you avert your eyes you will be just fine, she did not actually hurt you.)

twenty-eight

Lately, I am a day late and dollar short but I finally managed to do my yearly review. Over all I would say this year was a success. I traveled more, my business grew, I found a few amazing friends, and I only injured myself a few times. Oh and I hit my 10 year mark since the last time I threw up.

During my 27th year:

I found a solid and hilarious group of girls. We celebrated Galentine's Day together in Moab. I traveled to Arizona with one and to NYC with another. I took another's engagement photos, and we celebrated two of their weddings. Whether they like it or not, they are now stuck with me FOREVER. 

I went on 5 dates with the same person. This is a new record, but then in true Bethany form it ended especially weird...

 
 

I went on a 90 mile rafting trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. I was of course the only person that managed to get a kayak perpendicular to the water, high centered on a rock, and have to abandon ship. 

I called the cops to come to my house TWICE--almost exactly a year to the day apart, like shitty bookends to my year. The first was to remove an ex boyfriend that was trying to "win me back" in all the wrong ways. On the plus side, the last thing he said--as the cops put them in their car to give him a ride home--was, "Hey! They are giving me a ride because I'm AWESOME!" which are really the perfect last words. The second was for a burglary. Someone broke into my garage on my birthday and stole some things I had for work, unfortunately I didn't notice for a couple weeks so there wasn't anything the cops could do. 

I started making tiny cakes because 1. they are adorable 2. i randomly had the right pans in my kitchen 3. everyone likes tiny personal desserts

I bought a fancy dress just because it was under $20. Then found a party to wear said dress to.

I managed to catch TWO fish at the same time (two hooks, one line) and then had a fish fly out of my nephew's hands and land square in my bag snuggled up next to my wallet...

I went six weeks without having any sugar at all and promptly lost 15 pounds. Then of course I ate all the sugar again (but have not gained back all the weight). Now I am trying to not eat all the sugar once again and get rid of the last 15 lbs. 

I started helping one of my oldest and best friends produce a documentary about him trying to find a wife. Mostly I am doing it so I can add it to my IMDB page, or because I like him and the film. 

I tore the last half of my ACL at yet another church activity. And for the record, I totally nailed a backflip off the trapeze before the lame single jump that tore said ACL. The next week I tripped over a bench on the Highline in NYC which caused me to throw everything in my hands and land on my newly torn ACL with my butt in the air. My shin is still nicely deformed three months later...

I freelanced as a photo retoucher/digital tech over 65 times. Obviously, as the pictures show, I was busy working the entire time and never tried on the ridiculously large hats Sundance occasionally sells or had fun with my co-workers...

I was cast as a high school cheerleader in a feature film that comes out this summer (Tim Timmermans Hope For America). My name was Chastity, I was the awkward friend of the 'it' cheerleader, and I had to do a choreographed dance and a herkie jump. This will definitely get its own blog post because it was hilarious on so many levels. Oh and it is my highest paying job to date and I am eligible to join the Screen Actors Guild.

I bought a new set of dishes from Sundance that serves 20 which is approximately 13 more than I needed for the current number of friends I have in Utah.

I was the best damn assistant at the LDS General Conference (and it is totally appropriate to swear there because a senior missionary definitely said many swears to me about us photographing the priesthood session...)

I hiked Mount Timpangoes, which is way harder and longer than EVERYONE mentioned.

I traveled to North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Idaho, Arizona, Oregon, and California.

I met my new nephew Hank, held him for a week straight, and took many photos.

I found out that I make a pretty mean gingerbread house. We did a movie theme competition, mine is obviously A Christmas Story. Please notice the turkey hanging out the backdoor, the smoke in the chimney, and the leg lamp in the window. 

And I decided that I am moving to SLC and made some killer Valentine's.

 

The End.

 

Here's to a Bun-less Year

ringing in the new year right!

ringing in the new year right!

Like most every other person on the planet, today is the beginning of something different! Don't laugh, I swear that it is going to work this time! I mean, I have only been awake for 10 hours and I have already completed NUMEROUS of my daily 'New Years Resolutions,' starting with this blog overhaul.

I was looking back at my blog while I was trying to figure out how to import it to its new home and realized that I didn't blog a single solitary time in 2014. I point this out to show how its not a lie that this year is shaping up to be the best. In 2014 I dated quite possibly the worst option for me, gained 30 lbs, and even took a job at the mall to try and tide my finances over until my business picked up. With all of this lovely baggage I moved into 2015. My year started off (like seriously less than two weeks in) with me calling the cops on my ex who in an attempt to win me be back decided it was a great idea to get wasted, threaten my roommate and me, and then circle my house banging on all the doors and windows. Now you see why I have I haven't blogged much? I turned into kinda a hot mess. 

The year did shape up some. I lost some weight, I actually asked a guy out (that is a story for another time) which I hadn't done in 10 years, had consistent work, was asked on 7 dates, and started being a bit more happy. Now that I have the basic framework to get the best of my old self back--and hopefully some new good traits--I feel like this next year truly can be the best. 

I didn't get the set up done for my Photo A Day, so this will have to do. I was not made to stay up until 3am... I almost thought 2016 wouldn't even be a thing, I felt so terrible this morning. 

I didn't get the set up done for my Photo A Day, so this will have to do. I was not made to stay up until 3am... I almost thought 2016 wouldn't even be a thing, I felt so terrible this morning. 

So, to make the resolutions stick here they are in all their glory:

Health:

  1. Do something active for at least 30 minutes a day
  2. Limit sugar
  3. Limit soda (eventually get to no soda)
  4. Cook 1 new meal a week

Beauty:

  1. Get dressed everyday (preferably real pants)
  2. Put on makeup everyday
  3. Fix my hair everyday (no more buns)
  4. Floss more than once a year
my sediments this morning

my sediments this morning

 

Self Improvement:

  1. Limit screen time (keep iPad out of my room at night)
  2. Read at least 1 book a month
  3. Write at least 1 blog post a month
  4. Work on personal projects for 30 minutes a day
  5. Send more cards/snail mail

Love:

  1. Activity try to date (try actually leaving the house)
  2. Stand up for myself early, don't let them string me along
  3. Only date people who put in as much as me
  4. Be kind to myself

To make these things work, I also have one more resolution. I will try to photograph myself everyday for the next year. This way I can see the improvements (that I put on real pants!) and hopefully that my happiness level has increased too. I want to get back to my old weight--but I don't want this year to be about that, I want it to be more about being happy with myself and seeing that I am a person worthy of photos, dates, and everything good I want. 

So here's to 2016, a bun-less year for my hair and hopefully a smaller bun on my backside!

 

 

death shall not destory my comfort

I am no stranger to death. I remember vividly going to more than one funeral with my mom, as a child, because she made it a point to expose us early so we wouldn't be overwhelmed when someone close to us died. I remember staring in awe at a tiny baby that was stillborn and looked to my five-year-old self like the most precious porcelain doll. I remember sitting in a pew while church members talked about their aged family member that passed on. I remember thinking these things were normal because I had been to so many.

The first time I remember losing someone close to me was when I was the tender age of four. My mother's mom passed away and I remember sitting on the stairs of my childhood home, scrunching up tissues and tossing them aside because others around me were crying and I thought I should be too, but nothing would come out. My grandma was amazing, but sadly I only have two memories of her; I remember he making the world's best hot chocolate and forgetting to put in her teeth once when she handed me my cup. I vaguely remember her funeral, but life didn't seem much different since I was so young so her death didn't impact me much.

Since then, I have been to dozens of funerals. I have sat next to friends as they buried a parent. I have sobbed with others dear friends as they have lost more than one child. I have sang at the funeral of a friend that died of cancer. I have been to funerals for suicides. I have been to a funeral where parents buried their adult child far before their time. I have watched from a pew as a friend became a widower. And I have sat next to my own siblings as we buried my father when I was still a teenager.

Since I was a child I have thought deeply and often about death. I have heard about this phenomena from other youngest children, I think that is the first natural thought when you learn about death and you are the youngest. All the sudden you realize that you will most likely have to see all of your family die before you and it freaks you out. Luckily for me, I have a much different take on this concept now than when I was a kid.

This past week a dear dear friend of mine passed away and I realized how much I love the concept of being a person that is left behind that has the opportunity to pay respects. LaVerne was a one in a million lady, she moved into my neighborhood when I was 7 and quickly became part of my family. I was constantly at her house all through my childhood, chatting with her in her gorgeous living room, gardening, or rummaging through her things to find the hidden treasures like the Mud Book: how to make pies and cakes. She loved to ask me about my love life so I even had my senior Prom date pick me up at her house. For years she would ask me about my date--who she referred to only as Scumptious--and was so disappointed when she found out he married someone else (even though I alway assured her we were only friends). I think I am most sad that I will never be able to introduce her to my husband. I know she had such high hopes that I would find someone worthy of her and my family and I am sad that I never got the chance to hear what she had to say about them.

Being able to post photos of LaVerne and kind words makes me realize the good parts of death. The parts where people who have lived long enough or have suffered long enough get to go home to the ones they loved that left years ago. It ends their pain while still allowing me to keep my favorite memories. I have realized this same reaction with my Dad. I knew my whole life that it was a miracle I ever had him in my life since he really should have died in the plane accident that paralyzed him in 1989 and so it was bittersweet when he finally did pass away. I knew that he had suffered 18 years longer than he should have and now it my place to tell the world all the reasons why he was amazing. Though I am obviously not looking forward to all the funerals that I have in my future, I do love the part where only kind things are said and the praise is endless. So, if you are one of my siblings and are reading this, I hereby promise to make your funeral witty, touching, and show everyone all the reasons why I'm glad you were around to raise me (because, let's be honest, you did raise me).

And now of course I feel like I should say something about my funeral. For the record, there are things that I want when I die and since I am in no way afraid of death or find it odd to talk about, here are my demands:

First of all, I do not want a church funeral. I want a party. I want a celebration that has food and laughing and music and lots of photos. I want people to tell the embarrassing stories and the sweet ones. I want people to be happy and love each other. I also want an accounting of the people who have received packages, letters or cards from me because well, I just want to know that number because it has to be impressively large.

I want my hair to be cut off and donated--let's be honest--it is one of my best assets and there is no reason it should go to the grave with me. I also want to be buried in my most boring dress because the rest of my clothes will be divvied out to my sisters first, my nieces second, and then my friends. Same goes for shoes, actually--just send me to the grave without any. But do make sure I have a nice manicure and pedicure, preferable some bright color. I also do not want to embalmed so I guess have my party without me present or keep in a freezer until its go time. And lastly, buy the cheapest casket there is or have my brothers make a pine box, I am sure they have enough carpentry skills between the three of them to accomplish that.

As for my possessions, I will hopefully write up a will and leave it with my stash of one dollar bills. If you find a blank piece of paper in there, know now that it is my will written in lemon juice and you have to hold it over a flame to have it appear. As for my money, all cash and investments will go into a family account to fund Camp Aaron reunions. Anything that isn't specified is free game for all of you to fight over.

I have seen a lot of death the last few years and I wish I could have a break. Have a break from feeling sad for my friends or the pain when I lose someone. But I am also okay with death, I am okay with knowing that everything has to end. I think being okay with it makes me want to keep sending those cards and packages so that people know I cared about them the whole time.

Death shall not destroy my comfort,

Christ shall guide me thro' the gloom;

Down he'll send some heav'nly convoy,

To escort my spirit home.

(Refrain):

Oh, hallelujah! How I Love my Savior,

Oh, hallelujah! That I Do.

Oh, Hallelujah! How I love my Savior!

Mourners, you may love him too.

Jordan's stream shall not o'erflow me,

While my Savior's by my side;

Canaan, Canaan lies before me!

Soon I'll cross the swelling tide.

(Refrain)

See the happy spirits waiting,

On the banks beyond the stream!

Sweet responses still repeating,

"Jesus! Jesus!" is their theme.

(the arrangement of this song my Mack Wilberg has always been one of my favorites, it is incredibly powerful and you should all listen to it)

every pot has a lid

i bought the card, now i just need the guy to send it to.
Over the past few months I have thought a lot about blogging. Remember when I used to blog somewhat regular? Remember when I had funny NEW stories I hadn't already worn out? Yeah, me too, those were the good old days...

So I started thinking, "self, why are you so lame and can't think of anything to write?!" realized: 1. I don't leave my house super often and 2. I was in a horrible relationship that never seemed to end and therefore wasn't hitting my yearly quota of two perfectly awkward, blog worthy, dates. And with that, I realized I am only as funny as the people I hangout with and I obviously need to get out of my house more.

Technically I have been single for six months but it only feels like a few weeks and honestly has only been a few days of complete freedom. I think because of this super drawn out breakup (I made it clear we were done, but he didn't quite get the memo...) I had a hard time trying to relate to anyone let alone members of the opposite sex. Now I am free and feel fantastic (a friend commented just yesterday that i look the happiest she has seen me in months) i feel like it is time to jump back into that thing we like to call the dating pool, even if I only catch my semi-annual awkward date (which in all honesty, I am very over due for so halfway expect at least 5 in my near future). And this is where I come to my main point: how the hell does anyone find anyone to date let alone marry???

We all are bombarded with social media and see all our friends dating and getting married and getting remarried and having babies. For the most part, I get it. Then I see those people who are of the difficult type and i think, "how is it that you found your one in a million so fast?! I swear that I have at least a handful of options that could work--a lid to my wonky pot--but your pot only has 3 sides and doesn't hold water yet you found that ONE magical lid that fits? HOW DID YOU DO IT?! What pond are you swimming in?!" And yes, I realize I am not a unicorn in the dating world--a girl that is super hotttttt and not crazy. I do have some crazy and I do come with my own bag of issues but at least I have most of my life together and can hold coherent conversations.

i can bake, so maybe i should try it as a wooing tactic.
right now i am just under the impression it tells a guys i am trying too hard.
is it because i do weird things like make personal size cakes?!
So where is this magical pool where you find your match? Because I want to find it! I have grown up my whole life with people telling me it is church but I am beginning to seriously doubt these people. I mean, there are some great guys at church that I would LOVE to go out with, but I haven't figured out how to make that happen (to be completely honest, the last time I was actually 'asked out' was in 2012 by a guy on the New York subway. He turned out to be super creepy, surprise!) My sister Mallory would tell me that I just need to whip up a dessert, take it over and say, "um, I like you... here's a peach cobbler..." I will admit, she did have great success with this but I just can't grasp it. I also run into this horrible predicament of: I REALLY need friends (reference paragraph 2, I never get out and have been involved in crazy lately) so I am terrified of being an adult and saying, "hey I might like you, lets try going out" for fear they will freak out--because they aren't interested--and there sails our friend-ship. So how do I get these guys to man up and take me out? And when I say I am interested it simply means I am interested in seeing if we have anything in common, not I want to marry them tomorrow. I mean come on, I am the queen of the first date--not second date--they really have nothing to fear... I think that we are so afraid of commitment these days that we feel like we have to have our thoughts all put together on a person just to ask them out once.

maybe i should use this photo on tinder, see the wind wiping through my hair?!
and my teeth look so straight!
Then there is the other social media idea that everyone and their dog has been throwing my way as a legit dating service: Tinder. And let me just get this out, "TINDER TERRIFIES ME!" For one, I get super stressed at the idea that I cannot move on to a new profile until I decide yes or no on someone. What if they really are a nice guy but they decided to put a lame tagline like "I promise to make you laugh?" Sir, I make myself laugh, you don't have to provide the service like it's rarity. And then there is my profile, you only get like 500 characters to describe yourself. I have been running this blog for years and it isn't done describing me! Once you get past the profile editing and the swiping you get to the match and chat option. I have only ever replied to two types of messages on any web dating platform: the messages that are so off or weird that I have to set a person straight (then promptly delete them) and the one time I found a long lost friend on Tinder, we reconnected and it was great. All those other messages that start with "run away with me," or "hey beautiful" make me want to vomit in my mouth and change all my photos to dogs with mustaches or unicorns pooping glitter so they will never think of me as a match.

And so here I sit, desperately wanting to meet guys that are normal and boringly stable--that think I am funny and hopefully a little bit attractive-- but not having a clue how to do it. There are slues of guys who are in their late twenties/early thirties in my area but I just can't seem to crack them. Perhaps it is because I am that girl that when nervous becomes annoyingly chatty in large groups when a guy I am crushing on is present or because I don't understand texting and how it relates to dating. I end latching on to texting as a legit form of communication (which it isn't) in a last ditch effort to win them with my wit and end up overwhelming the poor lads. And, no one knows exactly how to read interest levels in texting. I don't know how much you normally text! I don't know if that supposed to be funny or serious! I don't know the appropriate amount of time to wait before replying so you won't think I'm clingy and/or desperate! I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO THINK OR HOW TO READ IT!

The moral of my story: let's go on a date! Or, if you are one of those people that is flooding my feed with photos of you and your perfect fitting lid, set me up with your friends! Even if the only reason is "hey, he is single and YOU are single so naturally this should work" because at least I will get some much needed blogging ammo out of it. And dinner, tell them they HAVE to buy me dinner. Or they can take me to the nicklecade because sometimes that is much better than the food I have been fed on dates.

my mojo, its back.

like this awkward encounter. that boy threw me in a pool
fully clothed once too AND then took me on a
hilariously terrible date. 
Lately i realized something horrible--my dating life has been off more than normal. I used to think that it couldn't get much worse but then i realized that no matter how unfruitful my dates were, they were at least HILARIOUS. This fact has gotten me through the last decade of dating, i always know that if i can't count on the guys i am attracted to asking me out i can sure count on a good story from the other ones!

Then this last year my dates started to not be hilarious but instead down right depressing. I actually 'dated' more guys than ever before but i also had: two boys that didn't really acknowledge that i moved across the country while we're dating (not at the same time, one when i went to nyc and one when i came back), one boy that kissed me and then conveniently 'forgot' that he knew me when we were in the same room, one boy that kissed his ex (two days in a row) while we were dating, and a boy i have been enamored with every since we met confess his undying love (i'm going to word it like that because it sounds more dramatic and makes me seem way more awesome) for me while i had a boyfriend and then when i was single again we went on one super awkward date and he 'remembered why he didn't ever date me in the past.' WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN? After that final blow i felt pretty awesome, but in the sarcastic not fun way...

I was out of my groove, my encounters with boys were no longer funny and very much sad.

Then i went to family home evening a few weeks ago in my singles ward (a monday night activity with the people that go to my church).

We were playing a game of basketball and me with my stellar skills did the only thing i know to do: run in circles around the court to tire out the poor sucker that is assigned to guard me and to keep one less person near the basket and therefore more accessible for my teammates.

After i successfully tired out my opponent he began chatting with me about how fast i am. I may not run marathons like my siblings but i can still sprint across a gymnasium like my limber elementary self.

"Man, you are so fast, but i bet i could beat you. We should have a race sometime!"

"Okay, how about now?"

With that we lined up against the back wall, just two people ready for a friendly contest. As a fellow girl yelled "Go!" we took off. The race lasted a mere few seconds as both of us flew across the room. I could see him gaining speed so instead of slowing down when i was a few feet from the wall i maintained speed and busted through the right side of the double doors (and yes in hindsight i know this was a very bad idea, if anyone was in the hall i could have killed them. But no one was there so i'll claim it was a good idea from here on out). I assumed he would aim for the left door...


but no.
this is why i have that other blog

He ran full speed into an exposed brick wall.

He did not slow down.

He did not jump into the wall with one foot.

He ran straight in to it,

and broke both arms.



With this, i feel like i am back in the swing of things. I am back to being the girl that boys do ridiculous things around that end up on a blog. Well played sir, well played.


oh and in case you were wondering, i won the race.


guilty pleasures

my nephew, in the tv zone...
You know the scene. You are sitting alone on the couch with remote in hand, finger on the 'previous channel' button. The show blaring on the screen is one that you shouldn't be watching but you can't break the spell it has on you. You sit with bated breath, ready to hit the button that instantly takes you back to the previous, 'safe,' channel as soon as you hear someone within 10 feet of the room.

This is how i spent my childhood. I wasn't watching racy shows (unless you consider Barney racy...), just ones that i knew would lead to endless shaming by my older siblings.

The Wonder Years
Season 2, Episode 8--Hiroshima, Mon Frere


Recently i was talking to my dear sister jenny, and she brought up the fact that us Davises have one major flaw: We love to ruthlessly make fun of each other. This might not seem that unusual or detrimental, and you might be thinking, 'Every family makes fun of each other. That is what makes the love-hate relationship between siblings fun!' You might think that is why siblings are fun, but it turns out they are fun because you do bad things together that you never told your parents. Indeed, they are your partners in crime. They are not fun when they are in “Hamster Patrol” mode (if you don't get that reference you NEED more of “The Wonder Years“ in your life). My siblings never sucked up my hamster with a vacuum — most likely only due to the fact that when you don't have a hamster it’s pretty hard to suck one up, and my other furry pet, a cat, was too big for the vacuum — but they did like to taunt me and each other about everything from pets to music to clothing to television viewing habits. And if taunting didn't stop you from engaging in the subpar activity they would take it upon themselves to physically stop you, like when my siblings hid my Joy School (pre-preschool) tapes in my underwear drawer so they could have days of peace from the rhyming rhythms (i didn't like to change my clothes or shower apparently as a toddler).
who could hide such a cute girl's tapes?!
Joy School graduation

The funny thing is that i feel like i spent most of my childhood foolishly hiding things i shouldn't have and flamboyantly showing things that truly were in bad taste or odd and were very much worthy of all the flack i got from all of my siblings.


For example, i didn't feel the need to hide:

• Knitting in movie theaters: Not only do my siblings know that dirty little secret but so do a whole lot of other innocent moviegoers.

• Singing show tunes at the top of my lungs in the shower: I'm sure half of the neighborhood could sing all the words to “Honey Bun” because of my frequent exploits.

• My love of infomercials: no explanation needed.

• Thinking a bowl cut was a good idea.




• Having my favorite television event be Nick at Nite instead of TGIF: By the time i was 10 i'm pretty sure i not only had seen every “I Love Lucy” and “Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour,” but i even had a giant coffee table book that i would frequent to brush up on the back stories of the episodes.

• Using all my babysitting money to rent classics from Hastings: What other kid was arguing with the
rental store that a not-rated film produced before 1960 wasn't going to have things inappropriate for a 9-year-old to watch?

• The fact that i not only was a mascot but campaigned for our school to get one.

My extensive homemade doll collection: It was creepy and mostly held together with Pintrest-worthy amounts of hot glue and the occasional staple.

• That i liked gold, so naturally i thought gold braces were a brilliant idea. Why was i so surprised when my siblings started singing “Ghetto Superstar” to me all the time?

• Lifetime movies: They are all about cheating husbands that get murdered by their wives and yet whenever the entire house sneaks off for the usual sunday nap i gravitate toward the terrible acting of Lifetime. Angels in heaven probably weep for my soul every sunday this happens. (did i say sunday, because they definitely have an iPad app so now it can happen anytime, anywhere!)


Yet i did hide such normal things as:
i hid who i liked cleverly under things like taped
down valentine's in my journal

• The fact that i was a girl and heaven forbid actually liked girly things.

• That boys are cute and sometimes i had/have crushes on them.

• Dancing. I might be a horrible dancer but being inept seems pretty universal.

• Writing. Did you know that it took me until college to willingly let people peer review my school papers and i was terrified to start a blog?

• Singing (not show tunes, just the regular type). At my dad's funeral in 2009 i had the first solo in a song that all the girls in the family sang. One of my sisters mentioned afterward that she didn't know that i could sing like that. Even weirder was the fact that most of my sisters are musical but i still never sang solos, especially around my family.
hard to believe she was the ultimate tomboy

• My love for crappy teenage music: Everyone goes through a phase liking something that is popular, but i felt like i had to keep it all secret. And with that i will admit that most of the time i spent on a bus on my way to ski team i was listening to Savage Garden on my Discman.


When i was talking to my sisters about what they hid as children, they mentioned things like riding their bike around the neighborhood with a Walkman so they could listen to Men Without Hats in peace and being total tomboys because 'girl things were stupi