perfect illustration by @jooleeloren. I laugh/cry at every single one of her drawings. She needs an award.
The thing is ... being an adult is really expensive. Being an adult in dental school is also really expensive. Now, I'm no expert on adult-ing, but I do know that it helps a lot with financial stress if you know where your money is going and exactly how much you need every month to survive. Aka a budget. Shae and I came across this great budgeting tool called You Need a Budget, or YNAB, which has really helped us visualize and plan our finances better.
It's an app you can download to your phone, and it is also a tool that can be used in your web browser. We actually use it the most on our computer.
Basically, you link up all your bank accounts and cards, so you can see how much money you have and how much money you owe in credit/loans/etc. This is a really helpful thing for us since we each had different bank accounts from before we were married. Sometimes it's hard to know exactly how much we spend because sometimes I use my UCCU card and sometimes I use my Wells Fargo card. On YNAB, we can see everything in one place and we don't have to log in to a bunch of different websites and try to make sense of it all.
You then set up all the categories you need to budget for. I.e. groceries, transportation, clothing, rent, etc. Then you put in the amount you want to budget for each category. We kind of had to estimate the amounts on the first month. The longer you use it though the more you see your spending patterns.
Every transaction will show up on the main page of YNAB. You then categorize each transaction. So if I see a transaction for $100 at Walmart, I know that was my grocery trip and I categorize it as such. It helps so much to see exactly where your money goes, and even more helpful to see how much you have left to spend in each category!
Another thing I like about YNAB is that you can make categories for things like Christmas Gifts, Car Registration, and, in our case, investing. Let's say you want to spend $500 on Christmas gifts at the end of the year, YNAB helps you see how much you need to save every month throughout the year to make that happen, instead of arriving at December and trying to scrape that money together. If you know you need to save $42 dollars every month all year, you will save yourself a lot of stress at Christmas!
YNAB is free for students for the first year, and then $50 per year after that. We're still in our first year of usage, but I'm pretty sure we will keep using it in the future because it is an awesome tool.
Shae and I found some music that we both enjoy! This is big news because we have really different tastes. Of course, we both like The Killers because that is kind of a prerequisite for being married to me. But normally he refers to my music as "weed smoker music," and he likes country and the more mainstream music that I don't care for. I also really only care about how things sound musically, and Shae only cares about lyrics.
Even though Shae and I served in the same mission, sometimes I think Shae's version of it was cooler than mine. He served like seven months on the Island of Malta. I mean, the man speaks Maltese for goodness sake! Wow, he's cool. Our mission included everything south of Rome, Italy, including the Islands of Sardegna, Sicily, and Malta. Between the two of us we served in all the islands. Sardegna (where I served) had flamingos and white sandy beaches, but idk Malta just looks the prettiest.
This past week I read the book The Impersonator by Mary Miley. It was a super fun read! I really like murder mysteries, and this was one set in the 1920s. I've always been really into that era, so when I learned about this book I was excited to read it. It was like a mix between Anastasia and The Great Gatsby, with a little hint of The Lizzie McGuire Movie.
Like I said, the book is set in the 1920s in a city near Portland, Oregon. Leah is a Vaudeville performer, and one night after a performance a man comes up to her and asks her to impersonate his niece, Jessie Carr, an heiress, who disappeared years earlier in order to help him claim her very large fortune. Does she do it? What are the implications of pretending to be someone else? Oh, and there's murder in it. Did I mention I like murder mysteries?
I was a little surprised because this book was actually really clean. Most murder books I like aren't so clean, and this one had nothing questionable in it and no f-words. So that was a cool side bonus.
If anyone has read this book and wants to have a mini book club with me that would be welcomed.
I've been using Spotify for like ... 5 years probably. But I finally upgraded to Spotify Premium just to see if it is worth it. Is it worth it? I'm not sure yet. I kind of fell out of searching for new music in the last couple years, but maybe this will help me get back into it. Here's what I've listened to and like recently.
This week I totally blew through this book called Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.
It. Was. Awesome. I think it's my favorite book of the year and it was probably the most interesting love-story-but-not-a-love-story I've ever read. It was so surprising and thrilling and heartbreaking and I wanted to scream a couple times! If Christopher Nolan reads this he is going to be all up on the movie version.
Being VERY vague and not giving anything away, it's basically about the impact of our choices. The main character, Jason is abducted by a masked person and wakes up in a completely new life. He is still Jason, but everything around him is different. Does he like his new life? How does he get back to his old one?
I read it at a really appropriate time, as Shae and I are making decisions about where to go for dental school and all that, and really wanting to make the right decision because we know whatever side of the fork in the road we take will have a lasting impact. It's kind of exciting and kind of terrifying, and I just think this book has some interesting morals about decisions and what actually matters most.
Plus it's also such a crazy mind trip and it totally sucked me in.
I went to World Market on my lunch break the other day. I love that store, and it's too far away from my house to justify going there. But now I work minutes away! While I was there I was looking through greeting cards, and I saw one with a quote from Charles Baudelaire on the front that said,
"A multitude of small delights constitutes happiness."
I've posted a similar quote on this blog before, and I'm working really hard to internalize it. It's the small things. It's noticing. It's being grateful for tender mercies. It's about not comparing your bloopers to someone else's highlight reel. It's remembering that I'm infinitely harder on myself than God is. Every day is a mixture of sadness, anxiety, doubt, tiredness, and small happy moments. We have to try and focus on the happy, and not apologize for our other daily feelings.
One of my favorite movies is called About Time. It's about a time traveling Domnhall Gleeson and it's so delightful. Something he talks about in the movie is that he lives every day as normal, and then he travels back in time and lives the same day all over again, but without the worries of the day because this time he knows the outcomes of every situation. He lives it again and enjoys the small delights that he didn't notice the first time because they were shadowed by worry and uncertainty.
It teaches kind of a deep principle, and it's my goal this November to time travel, in a way. To recognize that it's normal to have worries about the future, both short and long term, but to trust in an infinite God who knows the outcome, and who sent His Son to comfort me and reassure me that everything is going to be made right, and to be give more energy to the small joys.
So here's what I'm thankful for today: That cute neon "entrance" sign. Jacques Henri Lartigue photographs. Sparkling lemonade. The rainy day smell. Dark chocolate. The sound After Effects makes when it's done rendering a project. When a Killers song comes on the radio during my commute. When you accidentally press the button on your phone while talking and Siri grossly mishears what you said and you and your husband break into fits of giggles. Finding an important quote on a greeting card at World Market.
This is mostly for posterity's sake, but here is how me and Shae met each other.
I was in the fourth transfer of my mission, so I had been out around six months. It was my first transfer in Catania (Sicily), and it was zone conference. Zone conference was kind of a big deal down there in Sicily because we literally never saw the mission president. Our mission is so big and includes islands etc so we really didn't get a lot of interaction. It was going to be a 2 day zone conference where we got to have interviews with the president, and then a day of the zone conference and probably arancini for lunch (woo!).
We showed up to the Catania church in the evening (probably after doing finding) for interviews and naturally that place was packed with missionaries from the other cities in the zone. I was new to the mission and I had spent all my time on the island of Sardegna so I didn't really know many other missionaries. I was waiting in the entrance of the church for some sisters to finish their interviews, because I needed to take them back to our apartment where they'd be staying the night, and there were like four or five anziani I hadn't seen before waiting too.
I walked up to one and it went something like this, "Hi Anziano..." (reads name tag) "Bryant."
"I'm Sorella Marquis."
"Yeah. I've heard of you. You were in Cagliari with Sorella Caramia."
"Yep. So where are you from?"
"Are you in Malta right now?"
"No, but I served there."
Conversation over. I probably awkwardly backed away and started talking to someone else. Also I asked Shae about this and he literally has no memory of it.
The next day was the zone conference so we all met back at the church to have training from the president and assistants and zone leaders and stuff. Turns out Anziano Bryant wasn't in my zone, but he was one of the assistants. I remember he and his companion gave a really good training on commitments. Then it was over and everyone went back to their cities and we got our apartment back after it was overrun by a dozen sorelle.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and we're getting our transfer calls. I was staying in Catania and getting a new companion, and we were getting a new Anziano in Catania to replace one who was finishing his mission if I remember correctly. I asked Anziano Hurlburt if he knew who his new companion was and he said, "Yeah, it's Anziano Bryant!" Me: "Is that the one who was the assistant just barely?" "Yeah, and he'll be the new zone leader."
Anziano Bryant showed up the next week, and for the next six weeks I don't think we really talked. We might have had a few transactional conversations about meetings and appointments but I literally knew nothing about him except that he was from Las Vegas and was really serious and walked fast with his hands in fists.
The next transfer, I stayed in Catania with another new companion, and Anziano Bryant stayed in Catania with his same companion. It was the transfer that included April General Conference, and it was also Anziano Bryant's birthday that week. I took it upon myself during my mission to make sure that everyone in my districts had a good birthday and got some kind of treat. So I made his birthday cake, and all the missionaries in Catania got to watch conference at the church together. That was probably the first time I ever had a non-business conversation with Anz Bryant. I don't remember it, but after that I could tell he was a lot more comfortable talking to me at district meetings and english course.
Mainly, I admired him because he was a really good teacher and he was pretty serious about being the best missionary he could be. He was a good example and a good leader, and definitely made me want to be more thorough and obedient.
We both stayed in Catania for one more transfer after that. That transfer was probably one of my favorites during my mission because our district was all really awesome missionaries and we were all good friends. We saw some really awesome things happen that transfer, including a baptism in our district, and Anz Bryant passing a golden investigator (who later got baptized) to me and my companion. Some also not awesome things happened that transfer, like me and my companion missing the last train way out in the boonies and having to call Anz Bryant to come pick us up in the car (I was SCARED to make that phone call haha), and I got some weird lung disease and had to call Anz Bryant again to take me to the hospital on the American Navy base. He was just always willing to serve and help everyone, and he was always really pumped about other people's successes more than his own.
All the missionaries from Sicily who were getting transferred up to the mainland rode up on a train together. So it's kind of cool to say that we rode on a train all the way up the coast of Italy for 10 hours and it was really beautiful. Anz Bryant hopped off in Napoli and I was pretty sad to say goodbye to him. I really thought to myself, "Well, have a good life. I'll probably never see you again. Friendship over." But I was glad to have been able to serve with a really good example and friend.
He finished his mission six weeks after that, and since I was in Rome I got to see all the missionaries who were about to go home that P-day. Anz Bryant was there and seemed happy to see me, which was a nice surprise! I kind of imagined that our friendship was more meaningful to me than it was to him. But he took the time to talk to me and to listen to how things were going in my new area.
After he'd been home for a week or two and I was still serving up in the Rome zone, I got an email one P-day from Shae Bryant. Whaaa? We were still going to be friends without being plopped in the same city by chance and required to work together? I have to say I was pretty happy about that.
As I was writing this, Shae leaned over and hugged me and said, "I'm so glad we can hug now!!!" I am too.
I went through my phone pictures the other day, and couldn't help but share some of my favorite moments here. Photos really don't deserve to just sit on our camera roll or our hard drive, never to see the light of day. So here are some of my images that are really making me happy lately.