Here's how I came to be Mormon, as best I can figure: My mother's family was converted in their tiny hamlet in northwestern Louisiana, but I don't think many of them were very active members. When Mother moved to D.C. and married my dad, he was a wild man who smoked and drank coffee. After my older sister was born, Mother finally convinced Dad to convert. Thus, I was born into the covenant. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished. Check. Such behavior will result in disciplinary action up to and including ex-communication. Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s). Not so much this one, unless you count those top-secret Temple ceremonies. The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel. Check. Ten Commandments weren't enough for Joseph Smith. He had to include 13 Articles of Faith, too. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members. Check. See entries: "Only LDS Members Can Enter the Celestial Kingdom of Heaven" and "Only True Church on the Face of the Earth." The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict ith the wider society. Check. Oh, the persecution! The leader is not accountable to any authorities. Check. Case in point: How they were able to prevent black men from holding the Priesthood until the late 70s. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group. Check. It's all about the eternal reward. The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion. Check, check. The pressure to conform includes threat of being disfellowshipped. The horrors. Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group. Check. Just ask the ostracized family members of converts if you don't believe me. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members. Check. Perhaps you've noticed all those 19-year-old boys in ties out proselytizing on bicycles? The group is preoccupied with making money. Check. If you're confused about how much to tithe, just consider: Would you like your blessings paid on the gross or the net? Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities. Check. The only paid position at the local level is the building janitor. The entire church is run on a volunteer basis. Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members. Check. Teens are warned NOT to date non-members as you may accidentally fall in love with one and then you're doomed to a secular marriage ceremony that is only lasting until death do you part and NOT for time and all eternity. The most loyal members (the "true believers") feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group. Check. Ex-pats like myself are doomed to an eternity of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
In D.C., we were very active members of The Church. We had senators and White House staffers in our ward. But then Dad retired and moved to the Mississippi gulf coast and the church was much different down there. By the time I was a teenager, Mother had been ex-communicated, my brother had given up religion for pot-smoking, and I'd decided that my views were entirely too liberal for the Mormon church. Since Dad has passed, my sister is the only member left in the family. And let me just say, she's such a good Mormon. She and her husband-for-time-and-all-eternity hold all kinds of [unpaid] positions in The Church and she bakes her own bread. Those are the only two requisites for Relief Society Hall of Fame really.
But recently Mother has decided that she's going back to the Mormon church. This is based purely on her relationship with my sister, but she swears that it's different this time. She owned the scriptures, but she never read the Book of Mormon like a book and studied it like a text. This time, she has a testimony for real and not just one obtained by osmosis. I don't really care, as long as she doesn't send the missionaries to my house.
Because I still believe that my views are too liberal for the Mormon church. In fact, I have several beliefs about The Church that are set in stone. Or golden plates, as it were:
1. I believe that Joseph Smith was nothing more than a shyster with a god complex. Rumor has it this wasn't the first religion he tried to start, just the first one to stick.
2. I believe that he initiated polygamy as a tenet of his made-up religion so that he could have sex with 16-year-old girls. "Seriously, Emma! GOD TOLD ME TO!"
3. I believe that, rather than dying a martyr, Joseph Smith probably got what was coming to him. If anyone deserves to be cannonized, it's his long-suffering wife, Emma.
4. I believe that secret handshakes should be saved for treehouses and the He-Man Woman Haters Club. Which, by the way, is also the sub-title for the Mormon church.
5. I believe that the Mormon church is the biggest sexist organization not paying taxes in America today. I once read a woman's story about how EVERY YEAR on Mother's Day, the theme in Sacrament Meeting was the value of the Priesthood in our families.
6. I believe the three divisions of heaven idea is church dogma as determined by six-year-olds. "Heaven and hell? Only two? HAH! Mine has THREE!"
7. I believe that baptisms for the dead (as well as the other temple ceremonies) are pure baloney and don't really mean a thing. Nevertheless, it was still highly inappropriate of those Mormons to start doing baptisms for the Jews killed in the Holocaust.
8. I believe the Mormon church is a cult. Let's just look at this checklist published by ICSA for a moment:
The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law. Check. Joseph Smith is second in line to the throne, right after Jesus Christ Himself.8. I've noticed that the Mormon missionaries now look like little kids. It kind of eeps me out to think how I used to have crushes on the Elders when I was in high school.
9. I've noticed that there are A LOT more temples now. When our family was sealed, we had to go all the way to Salt Lake. When they built a temple in DC, that was a really big deal. Now, hell, there's one right here in Memphis.
10. I've noticed that The Church prefers to be called "LDS" instead of "Mormon" now. I wonder why that is? There must be a public relations purpose for this change, but I can't for the life of me imagine what it would be.
Not that The Church doesn't desperately need an image overhaul (in my opinion), but that's one free-lancing job I am not willing to take on.
Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished. Check. Such behavior will result in disciplinary action up to and including ex-communication.
Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s). Not so much this one, unless you count those top-secret Temple ceremonies.
The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel. Check. Ten Commandments weren't enough for Joseph Smith. He had to include 13 Articles of Faith, too.
The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members. Check. See entries: "Only LDS Members Can Enter the Celestial Kingdom of Heaven" and "Only True Church on the Face of the Earth."
The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict ith the wider society. Check. Oh, the persecution!
The leader is not accountable to any authorities. Check. Case in point: How they were able to prevent black men from holding the Priesthood until the late 70s.
The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group. Check. It's all about the eternal reward.
The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion. Check, check. The pressure to conform includes threat of being disfellowshipped. The horrors.
Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group. Check. Just ask the ostracized family members of converts if you don't believe me.
The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members. Check. Perhaps you've noticed all those 19-year-old boys in ties out proselytizing on bicycles?
The group is preoccupied with making money. Check. If you're confused about how much to tithe, just consider: Would you like your blessings paid on the gross or the net?
Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities. Check. The only paid position at the local level is the building janitor. The entire church is run on a volunteer basis.
Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members. Check. Teens are warned NOT to date non-members as you may accidentally fall in love with one and then you're doomed to a secular marriage ceremony that is only lasting until death do you part and NOT for time and all eternity.
The most loyal members (the "true believers") feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group. Check. Ex-pats like myself are doomed to an eternity of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
So a while back I purchased an album on iTunes. Included in that purchase were two videos. I don't know why but they were. Just part of the album or whatever.
But the videos lock up iTunes every time it tries to download them. So I cancel the download (of the video), but the songs "behind" the videos aren't downloaded yet.
So I go to Advanced>Check for Purchases and it takes me to a list of songs that I've purchased but have not yet downloaded and it automatically begins to download them....starting with the videos which then lock up during the download process. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
The thing is - I DON'T EVEN WANT THE DAMN VIDEOS. But I can't seem to delete them from the list of Purchases.
God, I hate when technology is smarter than me.
I went to a podiatrist today. This is not a doctor that I ever had aspirations of visiting, as I think they view my pretty shoes as the enemy. But I have this knot on the ball of my foot that really hurts me (when I wear high heels) so I went to get it checked out.
Turns out I have some kind of cyst that will have to be surgically removed. Yikes. He said it was caused by - you guessed it - the heels. And he said that I will have stitches in the sole of my foot for three weeks after the procedure so he suggested that I wait to have it done until we get back from vacation at the beach.
There's an article in our local paper this morning (requires free, one-time registration) about the school board's attempt to allow cell phones at school.
(As a disclaimer, this is the Memphis City Schools, and does not affect My Kid, who attends a county school, which have their own, separate Board.)
The current rule (in City and County schools) is no cell phones at all, not before, during, or after school. The consideration is to allow students to have and use cell phones before and after school.
Teachers and principals are dead-set against this; they say it will be an enforcement nightmare. They say that students use cell phones to make prank 911 calls to make false reports of emergencies at school. And bullies are forcing their peers to give up their cell phones and then using them for illegal activities.
Parents want their kids to have cell phones before and after school for safety reasons and so that they can get in touch with them. I know that when My Kid stays after school for basketball games, I want to be able to reach him, or to have him call me when he's ready to be picked up. But that's not allowed.
What do you think the answer is? Should high school students be allowed to have cell phones for use before and after school? Do I have any teachers out there? What do you say?
Something weird is happening to my skin.
White spots, dark spots, red bumps. I’m afraid to admit that perhaps the years of abuse are beginning to show.
I was a child in the time before sunscreen. Back then, if your kid was susceptible to sunburn, you made them wear a t-shirt over their swimsuit. Never mind that a wet t-shirt has a sun protection factor of three. THREE. The only thing that parents had at their disposable was that zinc oxide like the lifeguards wore on their noses. It’s a wonder we didn’t all sizzle and fry up into tiny little crispy people.
I was lucky though. I tanned easily, mostly due to good genes, I think. My mother laid out her whole life and her skin was perfectly fine. Young-looking, even. Two weeks on the beach during summer vacation and I looked like a little Indian child.
All you can see is my teeth. (1976)
As a teen, I worshipped the sun. I lived on the Gulf Coast and we scoffed at sunscreen. Sunscreen?? We don’t need no stinkin’ sunscreen. We used baby oil or Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil (which was the same thing, really, only it smelled like coconut). Some of the really bold among us mixed iodine in their baby oil, or slathered themselves in butter. No one talked too much about sun damage back in the 80s. We had bigger things to worry about. Like AIDS. Pools and beaches were our lives. We baked ourselves and looked all the better for it.
Linda Dano was my fashion idol. (1985)
By the college years, I’d moved to Memphis where tanning beds were gaining in popularity. I avoided them for years because I adored laying out in the sun, and had no desire to squeeze four hours of shakin’ and bakin’ into 15 minutes under a florescent light.
We vacationed in the Florida panhandle and occasionally I would hit the tanning bed to get a “base tan” before I headed to the beach. Tanning beds were a means to an end; sun was still god. And the Florida sun was brutal. If you planned to spend a week there, you were gonna need some sunscreen in the early days. Otherwise, you’d burn too severely and not be able to enjoy any more days in the sun. I started out with SPF 10, then 8, 4 and, on the last day, none at all, in order to snatch up as much sunshine as possible before heading home.
But tanning beds are like solar crack. The addiction will sneak up on you and before you know it you’re begging the girl behind the counter for just seven more minutes. Tanorexics look at their orange skin in the mirror and see paleness. They swear they can stop tanning any time they want.
Jessica’s monochromatic look is a fashion Don’t: Hair, skin and dress should not all be the same color.
Last summer while in Florida, I developed a horrible rash up and down my arms. Thousands of raised, red bumps that itched like crazy and looked absolutely horrible. The pharmacist thought it was an allergic reaction to the sun and recommended a hydrocortisone cream. What? Allergic?? I can’t be allergic to the sun! I’ve been in it my whole life! I began to suspect that maybe the time in the tanning bed may have made my skin more sensitive to the sun’s effects. I swore off the fake tan even though I still had several minutes left on my plan.
A lot of people swear by sunless tanning creams, but I just can’t. When I was in high school, there was this girl named Laura Mark who used sunless tanning lotion and her skin was totally orange. When she touched notebook paper, it left a big orange smudge on the page. I realize that sunless tans have been perfected since 1984, but I still can’t even think about using them without picturing Laura Mark’s trail of smears.
This year, I have a friend with a pool. Her son and mine are close in age, and they are kind enough to open up Club Backyard every Saturday to anyone who wants to come over and swim. I’m using sunscreens to develop a slow, consistent natural tan and I’ve decided this is definitely the way to go. Kind of like in Florida, I started with SPF 10, moved down to 8 and am now sporting the 4 every week. The benefit to this is:
1) By tanning slowly, the tan lasts longer. Hypertanning contributes to tanorexia because it fades so quickly and makes you crave more.
2) My tan is a gorgeous golden color that I receive compliments on from everyone. Especially my bikini waxer.
3) My friend is 10 years older than me and has these little white dots on her legs where years and years of sun exposure has killed off the pigment in her skin. This is not a goal I have for myself.
I’ve also decided that the sun is not a friend to my face. I faithfully apply sunblock (SPF 15) to my face and obtain that sun-kissed look with tinted moisturizer and a good bronzer applied with a big fluffy powder brush.
I still think my mother’s good skin genes will protect me in my old age. I’m lucky enough to be 40 (nearly) and wrinkle-free (so far). Still, I find an awful lot of imperfections in my skin that cause me despair. When you’re young, you think you’re going to live forever in taut, smooth skin. And you can. Just remember: You + Sunscreen = BFF.
Last night when I was taking my contacts out, I considered that they were kind of bothering me yesterday and maybe it was time to toss them and replace them with a new pair. That thought was followed by the decision to go ahead and wear them for a couple more days until they were really bothering me and I was assured that it was, indeed, time to change them. I realized that this is crazy! Why should I wear my contacts until they're itchy and blurry and cloudy and driving me up the wall when I have at least ten more pairs in my bathroom cabinet???
In the spirit of enlightenment and the constant search for self-actualization, I decided to examine other ways that I practice self-abuse:
1. Waiting to pee
2. Wearing Spanx
3. Watching the news
4. Skipping yoga class
5. Window shopping
How do you needlessly torture yourself? Make me feel better - I can't be the only one!
In 1998, at my old job where I got to work with celebs and childhood cancer patients alike, I was sent to LA to accompany a little girl and her family to the Hollywood Christmas Parade. The child, a cancer patient, was to ride on the Target float with Donny & Marie Osmond, who had a hit TV talk show at the time.
It was a great trip, because Target does everything first class. They put us up at the Ritz Carlton in Pasadena and sent a limo to pick us up for the parade. We were dropped off inside a studio (can't remember which one), right behind Casey Kasem and just in front of Ruth Buzzy (who drove herself in a Rolls Royce). We were ushered to a huge green room that was full of B- and C- list celebs, including several characters from Young and the Restless, Alley Mills from The Wonder Years and some hot young boy band I'd never heard of but the patient's older pre-teen sister was going completely ga-ga over.
Imagine my surprise when I heard on tonight's premier of Nick Lachey's "Behind the Music" that he met Jessica at the 1998 Hollywood Christmas Parade.
Huh. If I'd only known....I could've put a stop to it and saved the entire country from the trauma of having to experience their pitiful lives firsthand. So to all of America, I extend my deepest and most sincere apologies.
Freelance PR writing.
Land ideal position for big corporation with deep pockets.
Go to grad school.
Sell ad space on my blog.
5. Discover some wildly creative idea that no one's ever thought of before and just freaking go for it.
This is possibly - nay, probably - the most creative and entertaining piece I've ever seen. It's six minutes long and worth every second. I found myself wishing it were longer.
It's the Evolution of Dance.
(My personal favorites were the Brady Bunch, Vanilla Ice and White Man's Overbite.)
If (like me) you live smack dab in the middle of the Bible belt, and (not like me) you're pregnant and your baby is due on our around June 6, do you know what you do?
You have your doctor induce labor on June 5 to ensure that your child isn't born on 6/6/06.
Really. I saw it on the local news.
They profiled this sweet little blonde girl and showed her folding little tiny onsies. And she bore her testimony of her faith in Christ and said that she just felt more comfortable not having her baby on 6/6/06.
Which begs the question: Do you really think that if, in fact, you ARE the chosen one, you can avoid your fate of bearing the spawn of Satan by inducing a day early?
And if this is one of the signs that will bring on the final Rapture that you're all so excited for, don't you think it's your duty to fulfill that mission?
Huh. Not so faithful now, are ya missy?
The handbag by Hefty has got to go, but the rest of the outfit is rather cute.
First, it's not often that a fashion trend returns that you can wear again. Typically, when a trend returns, it is brought back by and for girls in their teens and twenties who weren't even alive the first time the look was in.
(Yeah, I used to wear leggings. I wore them with a straight miniskirt and a cut-up t-shirt and pumps with lace ankle socks. And long strands of fake pearls. For someone who didn't like Madonna, I sure did dress like her. I thought I looked like the girls in the ZZ Top "Legs" video.)
Thanks to Madonna and her whole like-a-virgin-boy-toy look, leggings were actually pretty trashy back then. The way they're being worn now is going to be much more socially acceptable.
And let's get one thing straight off the top: These are tights; THEY ARE NOT PANTS. Please do not wear them under a shirt.
Yikes. Nikki Hilton is almost always a fashion Don't.
They should be worn under skirts or dresses. If you're self-conscious about wearing short dresses or miniskirts, this is your answer:
See how adorable Sienna Miller looks in leggings and flats.Now, to address some issues that may have you concerned:
1. If you're self-conscious about wearing the leggings, go for a monochromatic look.
Look closely. There's a black pleated skirt there.
2. If you're worried about wearing them to work, pair them with a pencil skirt and slingbacks, and make sure the leggings come down to just below the widest part of your calf.
3. You might say: "kalisah, aren't tights kind of hot to wear in the summer?" To which I say, "Yes, they can be." My rule of thumb is going to be: 90 degrees, Yes; 100 degrees, No. The ones I bought (Hue[Macy*s] 2/$17.50) are actually quite thin. But I wouldn't recommend wearing tights if you're going to be outside in the heat for any length of time.
On the up side, there are several good arguments for wearing leggings under your skirt, including:
a. You don't have to shave your legs.
b. A lot of indoor places (especially in the south) like offices, movie theaters and malls are freezing in the summer.
c. Tights will hold in your more bulgey parts.
Jessica Simpson actually looks cute here. Notice the monochromatic in a basic color. That's a Do.
a. Don't wear patterned tights.
b. Don't wear brightly colored tights unless you're under the age of 19.
c. Don't wear tights with holes in them.
Labels: fashion and style
It's doughnut day! Pop into Krispy Kreme for a free doughnut!
When I posted my summer make-up suggestions, an anonymous reader with long curly lashes suggested that perhaps I could post something that a young mother could 1) afford and 2) find time to adhere to.
I try to please all my readers, so I told her I would give it a whirl.
1. Start with a tinted moisturizer. I recommend Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer ($12) which I've not used, but I have formerly used Neutrogena tinted moisturizer and this seems to have replaced it.
2. I stand by my argument that a good under-eye concealer is awfully hard to find. I've used soooo many different brands over the years. If black circles are your problem area, I would splurge on the Benefit Lyin' Eyes ($18 - which, come on, is still pretty reasonable for department store make up). Otherwise, you can try something from the drugstore.
3. Next, if you choose, dust all over with a light loose powder, such as Coty Airspun ($7). For a more natural look, you can skip this step. But if you want to look a little more "made up," use a large powder brush (you can get a Sonia Kashuk travel-size set with all the bare necessaries at Target for $12) and NOT the powder puff thingie that comes with the powder. In fact, just go ahead and throw that thing away as soon as you get home because it is nothing but a petri dish for bacteria growth.
4. Next, use your large powder brush to apply a bronzer. Brush lightly on forehead above each eyebrow, sweeping down over your temples and high on your cheekbones. I've not used any drugstore brands, so I can't recommend one but this list on drugstore.com, ranging in price from $7-12, is sorted according to popularity, so that might help key you to which are the best.
5. Apply a soft pencil eyeliner in chocolate brown across the upper lid only. Use the slanted make-up brush (or even a Q-tip) to blend into a smudgey line. Brush your eyebrows and tops of upper lashes with a dampened eyebrow brush (any soft children's toothbrush will do) to remove traces of powder. If God did not fortunately give you long curly lashes, use a curler before applying a layer of your favorite mascara in brown or soft black. There are lots of good mascaras available at the drugstore. I like Max Factor Stretch & Separate ($7). I recommend the Sonia Kashuk eyelash curler which is available at Target for about $7.
[***Extra Mascara Hint That I Forgot Last Time: Always blot the mascara wand on some toilet paper to avoid smears and smudges. If you do get mascara on your face, let it dry before trying to remove it. Mascara is formulated to stick to lashes, not skin, so if you let it dry first it should flick right off.***]
6. Finish with a tinted lip balm - there are also tons of them available - for a light wash of color. I like Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer in Rhubarb ($4).
So let's total that up and see if it comes in under a week's worth of groceries:
Tinted Moisturizer - $12
Concealer - $18
Powder - $7
Make-up brushes set - $12
Bronzer - $7-12
Eyeliner - $5-8
Child's toothbrush - $1
Eyelash curler - $7
Mascara - $7
Tinted Lip balm - $4
TOTAL COSTS: $80-88 (including the $18 concealer and the one-time expense of $20 for brushes and tools)
TOTAL APPLICATION TIME: UNDER 3 MINUTES
What d'ya think? Young moms struggling to budget your time and money - does this work for you?
Is anyone else having trouble placing photos in their posts? I've been trying
since last night for 24 hours 2 days now and NOTHING SHOWS UP. Grrr.....
Now I'm gonna have to come up with a new post that doesn't require photos. Boo.