The most important skill you will ever learn

Everyone needs to know how to open their own bottle of wine, because honey…trust me, some days you NEED it. This is kind of a weird post, I know, but the first thing I needed to learn when I got out of the cult and moved out on my own was how to open a bottle of wine. When you throw a party or have a friend over, you should be able to open your own wine. That’s rule number one for being a lady.

I fell in love with Stella Rosa a few years ago when my friend Lydia took me to Palermo Ristrorante (it’s Italian, duh). For the longest time, Palermo was the only place I could buy Stella but then I started seeing billboards that said “Stella gets around.” YOU WHORE!

Stella Rosa is now available widely (this is not a sponsored post, unfortunately…but it’s good shit).


Get a bottle.


Italian Wine


Step 1: Use a corkscrew (duh)






Step 2: Start screwing, baby




Step 3: Brace the corkscrew on the lid of the bottle



Step 4: Hold the corkscrew down against the lid of the bottle and pull straight UP one fluid motion. If you’re having issues, readjust your grip and hold the corkscrew down against the lid again, then pull.




Voila! Cork free!


Sip it. Chug it. Drink it like you mean it.



*Obviously you should drink responsibly, don't  drink and drive, don't turn into an alcoholic, and always use a condom.


Patti Smith/Dave Eggers LA Times Festival of Books Panel

They’re both having a great conversation about writing memoirs. Love it. I’ve had the good chills the whole talk.


Notable Quotes from the day: “Books are not to be used for vengeance…write about the person holistically.” Patti Smith

“I’ve realized the permanence of books.” Dave Eggers


3 Rules For Becoming a Morning Person

#1 Get older

I could never, ever wake up early when I was in my younger twenties. When I turned twenty-nine everything changed. I was able to go to bed around 10 p.m. for the first time in what seemed like my entire life (with the exception of sick days). Call it thyroid problems or personal preference, but I would always stay up until midnight or 2 a.m., especially in college. This is all normal, until you have to start working or waking up for class. I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed in the mornings. Then, I got older and the older I got (well it’s been a whopping year and a half since my 29th birthday) the earlier I’d go to bed. I went from midnight, to eleven to now…10 pm.

#2 Start drinking beer

I grew up around hard working laborers. I’m from California’s Central Valley, where my hometown’s main financier is the petroleum industry. Men who work outside in over 100 degree weather should earn a medal for honor. I spent one summer driving around in a truck weed eating entire pipe yards for the Texaco oil industry. After we weed eated the area, we had to paint the pipes bright yellow.

Let’s just say that working 8 hour days in that blistering summer heat was not my idea of fun. Nor was being at work at 6 am.

Somehow I did it, though.

Most of the men I know who have these types of jobs (and many guys, for that matter) end up at home or at a happy hour drinking beer after work. It’s an after work ritual. Meet with buddies. Drink beer. Go home to wife. Drink beer.

I’ve become one of them this week. I bought a case of Blue Moon and for the past two days, I’ve come home and drank one. Partially because Blue Moon tastes delicious, partly because one beer will put me in nap mode quicker than you can say “I’ll be darned” but mostly because drinking beer is relaxing.

#3 Take naps

My boss and I had a discussion this week about me getting to work earlier. I dread getting up early. I hate it. I hate mornings–well I don’t hate them, so much as wish I could spend them in  my cozy white sheets all snuggled up with my eyes closed. Once I’m awake, I’m not cranky (though this has changed from the past. I was cranky when I was younger). I get my coffee and listen to some lively music and viola! Life is good!

Since I’m getting up so early this week, I’ve decided to take up a habit one of my ex-boyfriends (side note: good riddance to him!) had. He’d wake up at 5 am to go to work and come home around 3 pm. After being home about thirty minutes he’d lay down and take an hour or two long nap. That way, he didn’t feel like death in the evenings when he wanted to hang out with friends or watch tv. Which is how I feel. Like death.

Another thing to be noted: When starting to drink beer, note that beer is easily spilled all over valuable items that may or may not be located on your nightstand. Such as what just happened to me while writing this post. I reached over for another taste of Blue Moon and damnit–my Blue Moon spilled all over my checkbook.


So You Want to Read My Hate Mail?

Awhile ago (December 11, 2010 to be exact), I wrote a post about Magic Erasers and why Elisabeth Elliot sucks, or something like that.

Needless to say, a lot of people didn’t like that post. At all. They think I’m a heretic and I think I’m funny. I usually just give those people a big fuck you and go on with my day, but today I’m going to share with you Brian’s comment (which I hate to admit I haven’t read in it’s entirety, but why not start now? My comments are in italics and {brackets}:


“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us
which are saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 {I’m not saved, Brian. That’s old news. Read my blog.}

There is a reason that Elisabeth Elliot offends you, but it is has to do with you- not her. {You’re right, Brian. It does have to do with me and how awesome I am. In fact, the last time I got on my knees wasn’t to scrub the floor like Ms. Elliot. So I think I win.}

You will, one day soon, be quite ashamed of your criticisms of Mrs. Elliot. Perhaps you should refrain from criticising that which you do not understand.  {I hope that day comes soon. It hasn’t come soon enough.}

“Those that look to be happy must first look to be holy.“- Richard Sibbes {Holiness is a myth that preachers spread to try to get people like you to pay money.}

“Whatsoever a man values above God, He will make it a bane and a ruin unto him.” – Richard Sibbes (What do you value most? Really?) {My cats, myself, my humor. Oh, and I value that I have a blog and you don’t. Nahnaahnahahaha na}

One cannot buy a life, though many have tried, and most are still trying. If you are attempting to fill that God-shaped void in your heart with food, money, your privileged “position”, a new car, your children, a new man, the attention of others, or a myriad of other things- it will not work. You can lose any of these in the span of a heartbeat. God will never allow you to be satiated by anything other than Himself. Some temporal goods have their place, if used as designed, but to use them otherwise is to misapply them and invite upon yourself disillusionment. To the wise, the world must eventually lose its charm. You will only find peace, joy, and contentment (what you’ve been searching for, all along) as you yoke yourself to Jesus Christ (see Mt. 11:28-30). Still, I fear that some of you who read this will continue on as before, trying to satisfy your inner longings with that which cannot satisfy. This amounts to nothing more than “chasing after the wind”. Perhaps, in a few years, having run through this cycle several more times, you will reflect upon these words. {You’re losing me here. I don’t even have the patience to read this because it sounds sort of dumb to begin with.}
Choose rather to live the examined life, remaining ever conscious that, be it today or some unknown morrow, there will come your own “last supper”, after which you will step from time into eternity. Are you ready? Philip of Macedonia employed a friend at his door, and every morning when the king awoke, and every evening just before he went to sleep, his friend would call out to him, “Oh, King Philip, remember that thou art mortal.” Life becomes more meaningful and precious, if you consider your latter end. {Now I have a lesson in life. Thank you, Oh Wise One.}

Some will be offended by my remarks. Not so long ago, I was much like you. (John 15:18-25, 1 Peter 4:4) God often offends, until there is no opposition left to offend. Please realise that I did not come by this knowledge the “easy” way – I tried everything else first. Maybe you have, too, only to find that the world never delivers on its grandiose promises. I only say what Luther said before his accusers, “Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.” {Wait, this is GOD writing me????!!!! WHAT?? I thought it was Brian!}


Brian, wait…I mean God, are you out there? I still don’t like Elisabeth Elliot, but I HAVE started cleaning my house now and then.

Sunset & Vine

There is life after leaving a cult. It takes time to re-adapt to living a normal life, but it can be done. I’ve decided to start blogging about some seemingly mundane topics, such as a Saturday of shopping, because for years these were things I wasn’t able to do while living inside the cult.

Chris and I usually spend one or two Saturday’s a month in the Los Feliz area, eating at Umami Burger and buying books at Skylight Books. It’s one of our favorite areas in Los Angeles.

Yesterday, I was feeling a little more adventurous, so we threw out ideas like a day at Universal Studios, Disneyland or wine tasting in Solvang. After deciding that those were all too far to drive to, we settled on a few things we’d been wanting to do and set out to do them.

The first thing Chris wanted to do was go shopping at Amoeba Records, followed by a trip to the comic book store, Meltdown. I wanted to try Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, having never been there. They were all located near Sunset & Vine, so we ended up in that area, and just ended up walking the area.

Roscoe’s was way too packed. There were about thirty people standing outside, so we had to skip that plan.

We walked back down Sunset, and found something called The Waffle. There was a crowd waiting, too, but only a twenty minute wait. I had some pretty amazing waffles with baked in pecans and candied pecans on top, followed by some amazing coffee.

Woofles, at The Waffle (for dogs)

At Amoeba Records, Chris and I split up. He went to the music section and I went to the movie section to try to find one or two of the artsy films I’d seen in my film class last Spring. One was called Il Conformista, an Italian film that translates into The Conformist. Another was Waltz with Bashir, an animated documentary-esque film about the First Lebanon War.

I love Waltz with Bashir because the filmmaker, Ari Folman is an Israeli veteran of the First Lebanon War who encounters a friend who keeps having nightmares about several particular moments of the war, but can’t piece together his role. The film becomes this poignant statement about memory, post traumatic stress disorder, and the pain of war.

I remember watching the film in class, and several moments of the film made me cry. Particularly because so many moments have these really profound statements about memory and trauma.

Upon leaving Amoeba Records, Chris and I stopped to wait for the crosswalk to indicate we could walk. I saw an Eckankar building, which is a cult that my grandma participated in for years before her death, so I took a quick picture of it on my phone for my mom. I was going to send it to my mom with a joke or a memory of how my grandma worshiped the founder of Eckankar, or Eck, as we used to call it.

I put my phone away, just as the crosswalk light turned green, and we crossed the street.

We glanced over to the right to see an SUV coming straight at us full speed. Then, a guy on a moped sped in front of her. She slammed on her brakes and he swerved to miss the SUV. His swerve ended up taking him off the road full speed into a light post, where his bike flippped over onto his chest and his head pounded onto the cement.

Chris and I ran back over, not sure what to do for a moment, and then someone yelled call 911. Which should have seemed obvious, but having been so close to being killed and struck by a flying motorcycle, it was hard to instantly react. I started dialing 911, and then hung up because my fingers were unsteady. I then tried to dial again, but hit Chris’ number. People were yelling, “Is anyone calling 911?” and I became more nervous.

I finally got 911 on the line.

The operator transferred me to another line, where the 911 Emergency Operator asked me if the man was breathing.


Was he awake?


Did he seem to have any obvious bleeding?

No, I said.

The operator continued, “Don’t move the injured person. Don’t give him anything to eat or drink, because that may interfere with what the doctor may have to do later. Stay on the line until I receive confirmation that the ambulance is on their way.”


“The ambulance is on it’s way.”

I hung up and walked over to the injured man.

The ambulance is on it’s way. It should be here in a few minutes.

People were urging him to stay still, even though he really wasn’t moving.

A homeless looking man kept telling the crowd, “Keep talking to him. Don’t let him fall asleep.”

Minutes later, we heard the blare of the firetrucks approaching.

I leaned down and said, The ambulance is a few blocks away.

When it approached the corner, They’re here. They’re just parking. You’re going to be okay.

As the firetrucks and ambulance parked, swarms of men in blue shirts jumped out, putting on their plastic gloves. They walked over quickly to where the man was laying and started speaking to him. They touched his fingers and asked him if he could feel that, and then eventually the man was able to sit up.

My head hurts. He kept saying.

He tried to stand up, and wasn’t able to so the EMT’s brought over a stretcher for him. After they wheeled him away, I kept worrying that the EMT’s wouldn’t know the bike fell on his stomach and chest and he might have internal injuries. I was so tempted to walk over there, but instead I just stood still questioning myself.

The driver of the SUV was still there. The police questioned her and then brought Chris and I over to be questioned. Chris recalled every detail to the officer and we were free to go.

We took a moment to regain ourselves before trying to cross the crosswalk again, and set off toward Meltdown comics.

Awkward Stories from My Past

I just got finished feeding the chickens and the horses. You heard that right–chickens and horses.

I have the great fortune of having an awesome studio apartment, which just so happens to be a guest house on what Chris and I call Animal Kingdom and The Farm. My landlord has two horses, twelve chickens and two dogs and when she’s out of town, sometimes I feed them for her.

The other night, my landlord invited me and some of her neighbors to dinner. We all made our plates and went outside by the pool to sit by the fire pit. As we ate, she mentioned to everyone that I was writing a book and of course they asked what it was about.

Well, I was in a cult for seven years.

It’s still never easy to start telling this story to anyone and my voice begins to get that shaky, uncertain quality. No matter how kind or understanding the people are, I always start the look that says, Omg, this is weird.

It is weird, but indefinitely, the conversation steers toward a barrage of twenty questions, shot to me like a machine gun.

Why did you stay?

What makes something a cult?

So, you’re writing negatively about the church you were in?

Did your parents send you there?

No matter how long I’ve blogged about it it never gets any easier to talk about the awkward things in life.

Doodle of the Day

Do you ever doodle? I did during the last few minutes of work because…well, it’s been busy and stressful and I needed some “down” time.

In honor of my upcoming one year anniversary to Chris, I drew him a penguin. He doesn’t know this, since he’s not reading my blog this second, but maybe I’ll show him later. 🙂

Happy doodly-anniversary (soon!), Chris! (He loves penguins, guys)


Here’s some penguins for Chris.


Here’s my doodle-ing version of the guys above. Send me your doodles! I bet you can doodle better than me.


Go To Hell Notepads

I don’t get any money or anything from the company Knock Knock, but I sure should! I buy just about every note pad they put out.

Recently at Urban Outfitters, I bought these “Go To Hell” notes. They’re mostly for fun, but I keep them around my desk in the event that I’m tempted to punch my boss in the face.

See how I’ve used them here:

If you’d like me to write a “Go To Hell” note to someone you know, I might. Just email me at mycultlife AT gmail DOT com or send me your own “Go To Hell” notes. Maybe you don’t like me and you’d like to send me there.



The End of Summertime

Summertime is ending (or has ended) for most of us. I’m looking forward to going back to school next week, because it’s generally a lot less stressful than most jobs. I’m also looking forward to continuing what I’ve started this week–a really heavy workout schedule. I’m starting to love it. It reminds me of high school (a whole 10 years ago!), when I used to play soccer and run cross country. Some summers our cross country team would drive up to the mountains, where the weather was cooler and our coach would drop us off 10-15 miles away from our destination–a German restaurant on top of the hill. From there, we’d do our best to run up and down hills in a higher elevation than we were used to. I was usually the slowest runner on the team, it being my first season, and that ended up being kind of cool because my coach, Mr. Dennis, would run to meet the last runner and coach us back.

Mr. Dennis was a world-class coach. He was very positive and made me feel like an Olympian just for finishing the 10 mile run without stopping. It was there that I started to love running–in those moments when Mr. Dennis would coach me, telling me how strong I was getting physically and mentally. He wasn’t in it for him, he was looking out for me. Pushing me to become stronger.

I miss those 10 mile runs, not because they’re easy but because I miss the coaching. My mind would be fighting me, telling me to stop because I was exhausted and all of a sudden, I’d see Mr. Dennis coming down the hill running to meet me. And then I was able to push through that mental block and finish pushing myself.

My summer was also filled with 5k’s and a long run from our desert town to the beach. Our team members each took turns running a few miles, for about 12 hours. When we were finished, we all took showers and grabbed dinner. I was exhausted, but it was that kind of training that made our team champions in many of our races. Being around great runners and great athletes made me cognizant of a mental fortitude we all have and we can all tap into. We all have it inside of us, and sometimes we just need to push ourselves and find what works.