Did I just buy a Mormon church dress?

I’m leaving for Portland in one week and I need to start packing. I’m only going to be there about 28 hours so I won’t need to bring much with me, but the most important item will be the dress I’m going to wear to the wedding reception. Since I’m flying to Oregon the morning of the reception (thank you, unpredictable work obligations) I thought about wearing my dress on the plane, but instead I think I’ll dress comfortably and then change after I arrive. I’ll travel with a duffel bag rather than a suitcase for such a short trip. (My suitcase has a more important job anyway – it needs to be ready for me to leave on a business trip to DC next Monday morning. Yikes!) I’m optimistically going to bring some workout clothes in case I find a free couple of hours to fit in some exercise. Doubtful, but at least I’ll be prepared. Other than that, I just need a single change of clothes for the flight back home on Sunday. The abbreviated nature of this trip will most definitely make it stressful, but I’m so glad that I have the opportunity to go and see a bunch of my friends who live all over the country. I am certain that we will laugh a lot, eat a lot (my brother has already told me which donut shop is a mist-visit), and take a lot of pictures. It’ll be a blast.

In preparation for the trip, I had dinner at my BFF’s house last weekend and I brought four dresses with me so she and her family could help me figure out what I should wear to the wedding reception. My goddaughter appropriately donned her astronaut jumpsuit and helmet add some much-needed variety to the mini fashion show. Without knowing what was going to fit or look good on me, I ordered a bunch of options from different stores online, like Amazon and Modcloth. Some of the dresses actually have a funny origin story, including the lace one I’m wearing in the above photo. I have a strange habit of keeping tabs on several semi-famous (or maybe infamous?) Christian fundamentalist families, like the irritating and infuriating Duggars, mostly because I’m fascinated by their views which are so diametrically opposed to my own One of those families has a recently married daughter who maintains her own blog, and in the header photo she is wearing a gorgeous red dress than I’ve been envious of for a long time. Based on the fact that she sewed her own wedding gown last year I assumed the red dress was another one of her personal creations. But recently this woman wrote a post all about the dress and where to buy it – surprisingly, Amazon! I immediately ordered the dress in two colors, red and teal, hoping that one of them would fit me and be perfect for the Portland wedding reception. At the same time I explored other dresses from the same company and also purchased the lace one shown in the picture above. (Sorry it’s in black and white, but the lighting was bad and a color version just didn’t look right.) Turns out the company that makes all three of these beautiful is an LDS modest clothing company. I actually bought three Mormon church dresses! How’s that for a laugh? Much to my chagrin, the red dress that I was so excited about was slightly too small (it was way too tight in the shoulders), and its teal equivalent looked more juvenile than I had hoped (more like my 8th grade dance dress than a 39 year-old woman should wear), so both of them will be going back. The red lace, knee-length dress with elbow-length sleeves, however, is lovely. It is comfortable and flattering. It didn’t come out on top of last Saturday’s fashion show, but my BFF advised me to keep it in case I need a special occasion dress in the future. So that’s how I became the unlikely owner of a Mormon church dress. Next weekend I’ll be wearing a navy blue Modcloth dress to the wedding reception, but you’ll have to wait until then for photos. One more week!

Women can have careers too!

“I don’t understand the line of thinking that says men are created to be all manner of things, with all manner of skill, temperament, and talent. They can do whatever they like as far as vocation is concerned. Yet women, despite having all sorts of gifts, temperaments, talents, and abilities, all get the same job.”
-5/15/18 reader comment

Believe it or not, there is sense to be found on my least favorite blogger’s Facebook page, but it’s not from her. Surprisingly, I seek wisdom from visitors in the comment sections. Granted, most of the comments are disgusting attempts from readers to ingratiate themselves with the blog author, which make me even more infuriated than the original post, but once in a while you find a comment like the one above and you suddenly have hope for the future of humanity again. These rays of sunshine poking through the haze of sexism and outdated gender roles remind me that not everyone buys into the fanciful belief that “the good ol’ days” were back in the 50’s and 60’s. Or even earlier! For some reason returning to the time before civil rights and women’s suffrage seems appealing to certain folks. The modern world just has too much equality, too many freedoms, and far too much tolerance for their tastes! But getting back to the topic of women’s careers, here’s what the “Christian” blogger has to say.

“There’s no command that tells women that they must get a job or even make money. Yes, there are examples of women who made money in the Bible but no commands from God that women are required to make money. Women going to college and making money are not biblical concepts so let’s not try to say that they are or are of any value to God.”
-8/1/18 blog post

So she’s the arbiter of what’s valuable to God? Sure thing, lady. But as easily as I could write a whole different post on this troubling idea, that’s not the part of this excerpt that I want to expound upon.

I am certainly no expert in this area, but how can something not be Biblical if it’s in the Bible? This seems like a flimsy argument. I mean, obviously there are things in he Bible that are meant to illustrate undesirable behavior, like conduct forbidden by the Ten Commandments, but I am not aware of any examples of working women that fall into this category. As long as those ladies who had jobs and made money weren’t being used as examples of sin or blasphemy, how can we interpret that what they were doing wasn’t Biblical? I am confused. In most cases these days we females aren’t married off when we turn 18 so we spend at least part of our adulthood single, assuming matrimony is even in the cards for us at all. How are we supposed to make a living while single? There is no guarantee that a woman will ever marry, and she may only have herself to rely on for food, clothing, and shelter. If she has a family, their support cannot last forever, and it’s unlikely that charity (religious or otherwise) will provide for her every need during her lifetime. And this isn’t even taking into account widows, wives who have been abandoned by their husbands, or women who have saved themselves from an abusive marriage. I fall into that last category. Thank goodness I am a career woman who can take care of myself. My least favorite blogger might not like it, but luckily I don’t have to live by her antiquated, misogynistic moral code!

Better living through pharmaceuticals

“I’m so thankful that my doctor has taken these symptoms seriously, unlike some other medical professionals I’ve seen, and is helping me map out a path forward. As a next step, she wrote me a prescription for Requip, a drug that’s used to treat not only restless legs, but Parkinson’s Disease as well. We’re not messing around with my crazy legs!
6/8/18 webpage post

It’s been nearly two months since I last saw my doctor and I am now taking 1 mg of Requip every night, an hour or two before I go to bed. It doesn’t make me feel great – there is some nausea and risk of vomiting, especially if I take it on an empty stomach – but it does seem to calm my Periodic Leg Movement Disorder (PLMD). Hallelujah! However, I’m not sure it is helping me get the quality sleep that I desperately need. I still have days where I’m completely exhausted and can sleep way more hours than any normal person should. Waking up in the late afternoon is not a good feeling when you had a long list of things you needed to accomplish during the day. Fortunately I have a neurologist appointment on Thursday to hopefully make more progress on a treatment plan. I definitely have some non-negligible, although mostly minor, side effects from the Requip so I’m not sure if it is going to end up being the best option for me. My quality of life has most definitely improved since starting this medication, though. I can fall asleep at night without worrying about infuriating and insomia-inducing leg spasms for the first time in over two years, which is a miracle. Thank goodness for modern medicine and ever-evolving pharmaceuticals to assist everyone in living life to the fullest. You almost never find the right combination of drugs the first time, and I’ve tried a few that certainly didn’t work for me, but my Lexapro and Requip are working wonders at the moment. I’m concerned about the possibility that the Requip will become less effective over time or make my symptoms worse, as many RLS and Parkinson’s medications have a tendency to do, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I know that in the grand scheme of things my medical problems are not nearly as devastating as other have to deal with, and for that I am grateful. That doesn’t mean I’m not worried about the future, though. What if this is a symptom of a more serious affliction? This is another bridge to cross later, if needed. For now I’m trying to make up for some serious sleep deprivation!

A woman’s worth

“There is a reason women were created, and it’s not just because Adam didn’t know how to do the dishes.”
-Blog comment that made me laugh

For some reason I can’t seem to stay away from my least favorite blogger’s page. (I’ve written about her twice before, on 6/30 and 7/7, but I refuse to name her or her webpage here because, in my opinion, she doesn’t need any more exposure!) I visit the blog on a regular basis even though her every post make me ill. Most mornings I find myself checking in to see what fresh monstrosity she has put out into with the world. Recently she wrote a post that “went viral” (as she will remind you at every opportunity) so her particularly narrow-minded “Christian” views got a lot more attention that usual. (Note: By putting the word Christian in quotations I mean no disrespect towards the religion in general, but I also don’t want to imply that this woman’s beliefs apply to all followers.) The post in question was regarding what essential traits a woman should have to make her marriage material. I’m sure everyone could come up with a reasonable list of characteristics, like kindness, maturity, loyalty, responsibility, etc. However, this blog post called out three particular qualities that “men prefer” in their potential spouse – namely her virginity, no accumulated debt, and a lack of tattoos. Pretty specific, huh? Taking this list at face value I don’t think any of these things are exactly groundbreaking concepts, especially since every man (and woman, for that matter) has their individual preferences when looking for a partner. But the way the post was written implied that women who had any past at all (like independence or ex-boyfriends) were damaged goods not worthy of a quality husband. What nonsense!

This may be way more personal that I should share here, but I was a virgin when I met my husband at age 22. I’m what most people would call a late bloomer in that regard. That label doesn’t bother me, but I know that most women in my peer group had sex for the first time much younger than I did. However, when my ex and I got married (on the 6th anniversary of our first date) I was no longer a virgin. Not surprising considering we had been dating for such a long time. We also lived together for a year and a half before the wedding in the house we bought a few weeks after getting engaged. Still, he was the only person I had ever been with. But rather than lauding my virginity at the beginning of our relationship, he was actually annoyed by it. Virgins have no idea what they’re doing in the bedroom and he didn’t want another inept lover. (He was my first but I was not his, which I was OK with.) And now that I’m older and have more life experience I don’t blame him! So while I understand that most religions value a woman’s purity when she weds, clearly not all men are exclusively looking for virgins to marry. (For the record, my ex-husband wasn’t any more religious than I am, but he was still interested in my morals, goals, and our mutual compatibility before choosing me as his wife.) So now that I am a divorced woman pushing 40, and obviously no longer a virgin, am I less worthy of a man who loves and respects me in my current state? Am I damaged goods because I am single after saving myself from an abusive marriage? No! Maybe no Prince Charming will ever make his way into my life, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to settle for less than what I deserve just so that I can have a man in my life. I’m doing just fine on my own!

Regarding the other two noted qualities of a marriageable female according to this “Christian” blogger – no debt and a lack of tattoos – I’ll have to tackle those in another post. It’s getting late and I have to get up and run the Cypress 5K in the morning. Just one of the things this single woman can do with her abundant freedom and independence!

Braided hair, oh my!

Remember that Christian woman I mentioned a couple of posts ago who banned me from her Instagram? Well, here’s the story of how I was blocked from commenting on her Facebook page. On June 19th her blog post included an image of an excerpt from the 1st book of Timothy. Here it is in its entirety:

“8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”
1 Timothy 2:8-12

The only portion that wasn’t highlighted in the blog post was the part about women not braiding their hair, or wearing gold and pearls or costly attire. This woman claims to adhere to a strict interpretation of the Bible, and scolds her readers when she thinks they are picking and choosing which verses to honor. So when she used this passage from 1st Timothy I commented on her associated Facebook post asking how she feels about braided hair, gold, and pearls in this day and age. I tried to ask the question as respectfully as possible because I wanted to get a sincere response without starting an argument. How do you think this situation played out? Not only did I not get a response, but my comment was very quickly deleted and I was banned from posting anything further. Why bother trying to answer simple queries when you can just avoid them altogether?

Now, I’d like to make it clear that I am not religious so I am not as familiar with the Bible as many others are. My general belief is that the Bible is an ancient book written exclusively by men back in the time when women were little more than property. While it undeniably contains a great deal of wisdom, not all of it is applicable to modern Christian life. Some of it even seems downright crazy. Simply considering this example from 1st Timothy, I most certainly disagree that women can’t teach men. Gender equality was not even a remote consideration thousands of years ago, but now women are employed in almost as many jobs as men. When numerous churches have female pastors and other leaders without feeling like they are going against the will of God, how can we possibly take the Bible as a whole in its strictest interpretation? All of this is just my opinion, of course. I don’t have a problem with anyone’s religious beliefs unless they advocate oppression, hate, or violence. As long as you don’t try to force me to conform to your moral code, or tell me I’m a horrible person because of how I live my life (more on that in another post), we’ll get along just fine.

Enterprise

So Captain Archer ran into the Borg. And after the encounter was over he knew perfectly well that some two hundred years in the future these cybernetic beings were going to threaten Earth. And we, as viewers who are certainly tough critics, if not experts on the topic, are supposed to buy that he did nothing to prevent this disaster? That he didn’t even attempt to pass this information into the future where it could be useful? That the apathetic Q was more helpful in arming humans against the Borg? No sale. I’ve been quite disappointed in “Enterprise” this season. This complaint isn’t the first one I’ve written about either. Several weeks ago I noted one in my Palm Pilot. “I would have thought the ‘Enterprise’ writers were more creative. Last night’s episode was pretty much a condensed version of Star Trek VI. I think the sentencing was actually taken directly from the movie.” I admit that I’m too much of a Trekkie to ever abandon the show, no matter how outlandish or annoying it gets, but that doesn’t mean I can’t complain about it.
5/13/03 webpage post

I’ve been binge re-watching the amazing first season of “Star Trek: Discovery” recently because I’m suspending my CBS All Access subscription until season 2 is available. It’s so much better than just about everything else on television these says. Then today I ran across this excerpt from a webpage post from over 15 years ago when season 2 of “Enterprise” was on the air. First of all, I can’t believe there was no Star Trek on TV for over 12 years. (And it’s only streaming now, not actually on broadcast TV.) Second, does anyone remember Palm Pilots? I had one in grad school and it was awesome, but smart phones very quickly made them obsolete. Third, the above rant about “Enterprise” is much different from the rave I wrote about “Discovery” when it premiered last fall. Looking back, I have vaguely positive memories of “Enterprise,” but I can’t find any written proof to back that up. Maybe nostalgia has altered my recollection. I would like to say that upon revisiting, “Discovery” is still fantastic. I can’t wait for season 2.

Sunscreen experiment #20

Here’s another inane sunscreen experiment to break up the heavier content in my last four posts! Kinda like one of the Hulu commercial breaks while I’m watching episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I wanted to have this post ready for National Sunscreen Day on 5/27, but I wasn’t able to pull it together in time. Better late than never!

I was torn on whether to publish this post under the header of “sunscreen experiment” or “retail therapy” since I purchased this sunscreen along with a number of other beauty products from the e.l.f. website on 3/25. I really just wanted to buy one item (Hydrating Under Eye Primer), but in order to qualify for free shipping I threw some other things into my cart that seemed promising. I’m sorry to say that most of the products I purchased aren’t working out as well as I’d hoped, but luckily the order wasn’t a complete loss. The e.l.f. Active Stay Out & Play SPF 50 is one of the items I bought on a whim and now I’m so glad I did. It’s similar to a much more expensive product I used a while back (Bare Minerals Mineral Shield Daily Prep Lotion SPF 50, which I think has been discontinued), but with surprisingly superior qualities. This SPF 50 has a liquid texture and feels powdery after it is applied. I was surprised to discover that it also has a light tint and it somehow works perfectly with my fair skin tone. That is not usually the case with tinted products considering how pale I am. I covered my face and neck with this lovely sunscreen last Friday and it got me through a full day at Disneyland with my friend and her daughter. And isn’t Disneyland the real test of any sunscreen? It’s really fantastic. So glad I gave it a chance!

Many forms of self-care (with a sunscreen addendum)

“So this is the foundation for my internet diary – searching for the truth and seeing what else comes along on the way.”
5/19/99 webpage post

I’ve been thinking about self-care a lot lately and how it comes in many forms. I’ve written so much about beauty products in 2018 due to my retail therapy obsession (or rather my mental health coping technique), and the biggest benefit of those impulsive purchases is that they helped me pamper my skin when I needed comfort the most. My beauty routine has proven to be a very restorative ritual and I still employ it as my daily outward form of self-care. (And with all of the Buzzfeed articles I keep reading about promising new products I don’t expect to run out of retail therapy subjects anytime soon.) The other day I started a called “Blogging is my self-care” (to be shared soon) because of how much writing helps me feel whole. Not that I’m a particularly prolific writer, but I have been maintaining my online presence in one form or another for the last 19 years (my first post was May 19, 1999!) and the feeling of publishing a well-written post (at least by my own reckoning) fills me with a sense of pride. But on the outside I think it’s pretty obvious from a lot of my posts this year that taking care of my skin is also an important part of my self-care. It’s mostly motivated my vanity, specifically trying to keep the acne and wrinkles and sun damage at bay, but also the simple routine of doing something beneficial for my body brings me peace. Maintaining some semblance of youth as I approach my 40th birthday is a nice bonus too.

If you live in Los Angeles you’ll understand how important it is to moisturize regularly in our arid, desert climate. If I skip any of my face or body moisturizers for more than two days my skin gets very uncomfortable. Due to that fact I wanted to write a quick post about my newfound appreciation of a sunscreen that I’ve had in my medicine cabinet for years, but have sadly underutilized. But after spending time in very dry locales I appreciate my Olay Complete All Day Sensitive Skin Moisturizer with Broad Spectrum SPF 30 so much more. I’ll admit that it’s not good under makeup because it’s thicker and stickier than my everyday products, but it’s great for weekend sun protection. Two days in Las Vegas last month and my face was so dry that it hurt. Thankfully I was smart enough to pack this Olay sunscreen in my bag and it made all the difference. So even though I sometimes despair at how many different SPF products I have in my bathroom, I’m so glad that this one is still with me. And my skin is happy too!

P.S. My first ever blog post is also where I wrote about “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.” It premiered in May 1999 just like my blog!

Sunscreen experiment #19

You’ve probably noticed that a lot of my purchases this year have been beauty products. This is what happens when you listen to an over-the-top self-care podcast, don’t budget your disposable income well enough, and are still searching for the “perfect” products (which might not actually exist). It’s a dangerous and expensive combination, especially when you’re not feeling great about yourself and retail therapy is a major source of comfort. And on a lighter note, if you’ve ever visited my blog before you are familiar with my ongoing search for the perfect sunscreen. At this point I have accepted that this could be a lifelong mission. So here’s my 19th sunscreen review that no one cares about but me!

It’s about time that I took the plunge into Korean skincare. As a general rule we don’t embrace paleness here in the United States, but other parts of the globe actually do! Thus the need for adequate daily sun protection – something that isn’t the easiest to find in our “you look better with a tan” culture. I should have made the switch to Korean brands years ago! I think the first time I learned about MISSHA Sun Milk was from a Buzzfeed article. (This is becoming a trend. I should stay away from Buzzfeed if I want to save money, but then I’d also miss out on some great products. It’s a mixed bag.) Then I heard a favorable review of it on the Forever35 podcast where I’ve gotten so many good recommendations. After doing a little research on my own I ordered a bottle of MISSHA All Around Safe Block Essence Sun Milk (SPF 50) on Amazon. This is the moisturizing variety (there are also matte and waterproof versions) which I definitely need because my skin is generally very dry due to the arid Los Angeles climate. So what’s the verdict? I love this stuff! It’s just fantastic. It’s my new daily moisturizer and sunscreen that I wear under my makeup. And the SPF 50 is a big step up from the Olay SPF 15 lotion I’ve been using for so many years. I can’t say it’s the best primer, but I’m making it work with some new moisturizing concealer as well (Benefit Cosmetics Boi-ing Hydrating Concealer). The combination of the concealer and the Sun Milk keeps my makeup from settling into the lines around my eyes – a plus for a woman who is almost forty years old. Bottom line: I finally found a winner. I am very happy I purchased this sunscreen and I have a feeling I’ll be using it for years to come.

2017 Resolution #1 revisited

“As far as race bibs go, I have a huge stack of them in the same box as the old medals. The most recent ones get displayed on the front of my refrigerator, but after their tenure there is over they are filed away. My goal for 2017 is to put all of them (OK, maybe not the ones that I can’t even remember what race they’re from) in a scrapbook or album for future reference.”
1/4/17 webpage post

4/26/18:
It’s getting dangerously close to May, but I still haven’t documented any solid resolutions for the year. It seems silly to even consider the traditional New Year’s enterprise now, being nearly four months behind schedule, but at some point I’ll probably make a list anyway. However, in order to avoid getting too far ahead of myself, I figured I should probably follow up on my 2017 Resolution #1 before making any for 2018! Regarding 2017 resolution #1, I never posted this revisit (that I started writing a whole year ago!) because I had only accomplished half of my goal, but at this point I’ll take credit for that portion and the rest can wait.

4/25/17:
As April is drawing to a close I can happily announce that I’m finally making some real progress on my first New Year’s resolution. On March 12th I ordered a scrapbook for my race bibs from an Etsy shop that makes them specifically for this purpose. Then last week I finished putting my first 75 bibs in it. They range from April 2014 to December 2016. I admit that some of the bibs from that backlog got tossed because they were so generic that I either couldn’t remember which race they were from, or they weren’t memorable enough to keep. I’m really happy with how the scrapbook turned out. It’s a fun memento that reminds me of all my achievements and doesn’t take up space. But funny enough, it’s already almost completely full! I’ll need to order a second one for future race bibs.