Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A little bit of Utah at home

A new Washington state law that went into effect December 8 outlaws smoking in public places and workplaces, as well as within 25 feet of doorways. Although I'm usually pretty liberal about "I'll do my thing and you do yours," smoking is one of the things I'd really like to see nobody do. I've enjoyed sneering at the few who still feel it's their right to pollute my breathing space. I sometimes am a real prick and give an exaggerated cough as I walk through their cloud.

Anyway, I thought these two letters to the editor in the Seattle Times were funny. It shows how Utah is perceived in the rest of the world. Unfortunately, I think exaggerated coughers/moral zealots like me are a big part of what creates the perception:

12/27/05
Burning desire
I love Utah
Gee, I was born and raised in the state of Washington, and have lived in Seattle for the past 20-odd years, but suddenly it seems more like I'm living in Utah! How did that happen? As far as I know, I've never set foot in that repressive state run by moralistic zealots, but the bans and restrictions suddenly going up all around me make me feel like somehow Utah has extended its borders to the Pacific Northwest! ["2 weeks into smoking ban, some fuming but few cited" page one, Dec. 23.]
Help! I want to get out! Now, instead of talking about (and decrying) "the other Washington," as we West Coast Washingtonians tend to do, I'll be more inclined to decry "the other Utah."
And yet, our new sister state down south — when it comes to smoking — is actually less repressive than its northern brother, thanks to the Draconian initiative that we passed here recently.
Maybe I should move to Salt Lake City where there's still some space left for personal freedom(!).
— Russell Scheidelman, Seattle

12/28/05
Discover Utah

It behooves you
Regarding "Burning desire: I Love Utah" [Northwest Voices, Dec. 27]:
"As far as I know, I've never set foot in that repressive state run by moralistic zealots" says reader Russell Scheidelman in reference to Utah. He has never been to Utah, obviously knows very little about it, and yet he makes this bigoted comment, maliciously maligning a whole state he has never set foot in. That is the height of bigotry and arrogance.
Traveling is often the best way to rid oneself of false, preconceived notions. Mr. Scheidelman, please come and spend a week in Utah. I'm sure you will be pleasantly surprised as you learn, experience and enjoy the skiing, canyons, mountains, history, and especially the friendly people of Utah.
— Jason Hochstrasser, Seattle

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Christmas

"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make it out that we live in a world of hatred and greed. But I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere.
Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends.
When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from people on board were messages of hate or revenge.
If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling that you'll find that love, actually, is, all around."
-opening lines of Love Actually


Right when the dark days of winter begin to seem unbearably bleak, the Christmas season brings warmth and light. By Christmas Eve, the incessant roar of industry, school, and all our other trite occupations hushes as strip malls and offices almost universally close and lock their doors and each individual goes "home." For 364 days we are a mass of humans in perpetual motion, cogs in an immense global economy; but on Christmas day we split into 6.5 billion unique individuals as we get together with the people we care about most in our corners of the planet. At Christmas time the warmth of human affection reaches all of us in some way or another--whether it is passionate romance, the unwavering loyalty of family, the "luv" of good friends, or the charity of strangers.
I'll be with loved ones this Christmas--my father, mother, brothers, nieces, nephews, and grandmother. My thoughts will be with my other siblings—especially my little bro freezing on his mission and my thoughts will be with many of you in your corners of the world.
I sometimes get bitter about my life’s conspicuous dearth of romance, but these days I’m trying to be content with what I do have. I have a pretty full life. This year, more than perhaps any in the past, I'm surrounded by people who I care about and who care about me.
My parents’ love is constant and consistent.
My brothers and sister are my oldest friends and never cease to amuse. This season I’ve especially enjoyed hanging out with my younger brother and all his singles ward friends.
I love the kids I work with at my job in Provo and they seem genuinely happy to see me. They tease me, trust me, and make me feel significant.
I love the custodians I work with at my other job. Years of doing dirty work together has cemented strange bonds of trust with people I probably would never get to know otherwise. I worked a lot of hours during finals week and realized how much I appreciate the conversations and diversions we have as we work.
My roommates this last semester were my best ever. There was a sense of family as we occasionally cooked, cleaned, and decorated together or just stayed up into the night talking.
Most of you who read this blog have been a significant part of my life this year as some of my truest friends. It’s good to have people who understand me and accept me with all my quirks. Spending time with you doing whatever is a welcome escape from school and work.
Probably the most significant love in my life, and the thing I need to appreciate more is the love of God. My Heavenly Father gave His son so I can find my way back to Him. His son suffered for each of my sins and finally died for me. I've occasionally been granted brilliant glimpses at God's love. His love enriches each day, making my happy days better and allowing me to hold on to hope on the days I would otherwise feel like curling up and crying.
People here at home keep reminding me that I may become the first male to graduate single from BYU, but I really don't feel alone at all. My life is rich with love. Thanks to all of you who have touched my life this year and I really hope you have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas Decisions



I have two choices of jackets for Christmas. The American Eagle leather jacket is warm, real leather, and looks surprisingly good on me (a girl was like "dang!") but I'm afraid it's pretty impractical and a bit pretentious.
The North Face jacket is tight and functional. It makes me look good without standing out--more my style.
The leather one is actually cheaper than the North Face one cause its on a good sale. I'll soon be graduating and wearing business casual to work which goes with the leather.
So I have to decide which one I want before Christmas. What do you suggest?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Hallelujah


Glory, Glory!!!! I'm finally done with finals.

I've been neglecting my poor blog so I'll try to update some this weekend

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Constructive Criticism

My life on myspace didn't last long. I followed some links earlier this week and wasted several hours looking at profiles of other gay guys in the Provo/SLC area. I made my own profile on Wednesday so I could log in and stuff. Well there are hundreds of guys up and down the Wasatch front and they all look pretty interesting. I'm way too curious about who else is out there. I've got this fantasy in my head that I'm going to someday find someone who does something special for me... it's not a very clear fantasy but I think you get the idea.
The struggle is between two things I want 1. The good Mormon life and the wife, kids, and quiet contentment that comes with it, and 2. a profound emotional and physical relationship with a guy.
Right now, both seem so far out of reach. Still, I imagine finding some "prince" who so completes and validates me that I can gladly give up everything else and still be happy. I’m waiting for someone to like liberate me by pushing me off this fence I'm sitting on and put me on some firm ground--on either side.
Cranguy called my bluff last night. I said something about myspace and he basically told me to stop wasting my time with that stuff. "What are you looking for?" he asked. "You're never going to do anything with those guys." As soon as he said it, I knew he was right. I'm not ready to get off the fence in either direction but if I do it’s probably not going to be the gay side. So I deleted my myspace profile and the links I had made. It's kind of a shame about my profile cause I found a cool template and made it look pretty trendy, but oh well. I really needed someone to tell me what Cranguy did. I guess I'm pretty needy.
Real friends aren't afraid to tell it like it is, which means they are going to tell you when you're a little off base.
Last summer I was running with Gilmore Guy when he pretty bluntly told me "You're not the shiz, El Veneno. You think you can do everything by yourself but you need to admit that you can use other people's help" (or something like that). That comment humbled me (for a few days) and was a big part of what motivated me to finally see a counselor.
I'm not much of a real friend like that. I'm so scared of offending my delicate relationships or so unsure about my own beliefs that I have a tough time correcting anyone. In a job interview this week, I was asked to share an experience of a time I had to convince someone of something. I couldn't think of an experience.
I believe you mostly get what you give. As I mistakenly project my own lack of self-esteem on others and tip-toe delicately so as to not shatter what I imagine to be fragile egos, in turn I usually get only bland reactions from others. So many people appease and coddle me. I'm surprised how I can say the most ridiculous stuff, just kind of testing the waters, and people will always at least nominally agree with me. My parents have never really told me I was wrong about anything. I kind of wish they would--it would show they care. I wish my counselor would disagree with me. I wish he'd tell me something I need to change. Yeah... I'm needy and codependent and who knows what else.

On a different note, I'm catching the Christmas spirit. Christmas around the World was only marginally Christmasy but the dancing was awesome and the music too. I heard the combined Men's and Women's Chorus, BYU Singers, and BYU Symphony perform on Saturday in their Christmas concert. The whole audience sang along with the symphony to my favorite Christmas hymn, Once in Royal David’s City. I got all teary eyed. I was pretty tired so I could blame it on that but really it was just hearing the third verse which is all about the Savior. This Christmas I think I need to spend some time getting closer to Him cause he certainly is a real friend.
The white dusting that covered everything a few times this weekend was just enough to be pretty but not enough to make my car slide, so I approve. Church was especially good and I didn't fall asleep once. I got free food for lunch today and I'm going to watch Love Actually (the edited version) tonight. I do have way too much homework to do before tomorrow and one of my study groups sucks but the other is as good as they get. Tomorrow I'm meeting with my regular counselor and the #1 SSA counselor on campus so we'll see how that goes.

The first presidency devotional just started so I’m watching that and the choirs are angelic. Mormons sure are talented folk. Some crazy lady yelled something right as the prophet started to talk. Did anyone hear what she said? You know the Christmas spirit is strong when we’re letting the crazies inside the conference center instead of keeping them on the corners outside.


...This article came out in the Deseret News yesterday. As always, I'm glad we're talking about it. Alone in the Fold...

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Flattered

At Wendy's today I ordered my food from the dollar menu in my native tongue (English). When the cashier asked if it was "for here or to go?" I paused a second as I usually do when my brain is shut off between class and work like that but the cashier quickly restated "¿Para llevar o para aquí?"
"Para aquí" I replied.
And from there on out it was all Spanish. I was wearing my black track jacket that does kind of make me look ethnic and I had been bumping to reggaeton all morning in my car so maybe that was showing on my face. Who knows.
Anyway, I was flattered.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Contrasts


I jumped in my sisters' pool on Thanksgiving day. It was almost 80 degrees out but the pool was just 62... that's really cold (for my Canadian friends who don't understand our scales). I did it as a dare more than anything. It actually felt kind of nice.

So I'm back in Provo tonight....
At 6 p.m. I was barefoot and wearing a t-shirt pushing my nieces on that swingset in the picture under the setting Arizona sun. So I was a little shocked when the plane hit turbulence at 9:30 coming into the Salt Lake valley and the pilot told us it was because of a snowstorm. The idea seemed absurb but the white flakes whirling by the plane confirmed it. I still hadn't quite accepted the frigid reality when my car went skidding into the next lane at the first stop light leaving the airport. I modified my driving and spent 10:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. in my hockey-puck of a car praying my way back to Provo as I slid along the ice skating rink labeled I-15 at an average speed of about 25 mph. My weak little headlights and windshield wipers were no match for the snow pelting my windshield like the Starfield Simulation screen saver. As I passed literally dozens and dozens of accidents and flashing lights and squinted to see through the small defrosted area in my windshield into the whiteout I really started to question Brother Brigham's inspiration when he called this The Place. Strangely, the sign welcoming me to Provo still elicited a big smile and I kind of think I'm glad to be back. Utah might just be getting to me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Muchas Gracias

101 Things I'm thankful for. In no particular order.

1. Stick shifts
2. Safety belts
3. Piles of leaves
4. Airplanes
5. Sunshine after the rain
6. MSN Messenger
7. The pictures from my mission
8. My mission journal
9. My small-town Utah parents for escaping to Babylon
10. Parents who give me nothing to complain about
11. Real friends (I can't say enough about this one)
12. Learning
13. BYU
14. Phone calls just when I need them
15. People who don't think like I do
16. Music that makes me want to dance
17. Wireless internet (which I'm currently stealing from my sister's neighbor)
18. The little kids I work with, like the girl today who couldn’t remember her phone number, last name, or teacher
19. The custodians I work with who make cleaning up vomit fun
20. My bosses for letting me get away with so much
21. My metabolism
22. My sixth grade teacher for making me go into Junior High thinking I was “gifted and talented.”
23. My Eighth grade PE teacher for making me run track.
24. My Ninth grade drama teacher for making me quit drama.
25. My Junior High/High School friend Scott for putting up with me.
26. My High School Journalism and History teacher for making school something to look forward to.
27. All the guys I ran with for making me feel less freakish
28. Every one of my missionary companions but especially the ones who cared and especially, especially Elder Nelson for saving me when the ZL was pounding on me.
29. Knowing Spanish
30. My patriarchal blessing, especially the part that says I chose this life
31. Dollar movies
32. Peanut butter
33. Watermelons
34. Racial mixing for creating beautiful people.
35. Free food—wherever I can get it
36. Fruit, flowers, rainbows, butterflies, queers, and everything else that adds color to the world
37. My fleece blanket
38. Waking up and realizing I can keep sleeping.
39. Small towns with gas stations and Wendy's along long stretches of highway.
40. I-Tunes
41. Hot showers
42. Late test days with no late fee at the testing center
43. Dollar menus
44. My faithful little car
45. My absentee roommate
46. My clean and well-decorated apartment
47. The Atonement
48. Prophets
49. Picking the right team in the war in heaven (barely)
50. Moments when I feel close to heaven
51. Knowing God accepts and loves me
52. Music lyrics that say the things I've been thinking but just couldn't express.
53. My brothers who look like me so I know I’m not adopted
54. Modern medicine
55. Getting to keep my wisdom teeth
56. Google
57. People who play music in the street (especially those kids at Pike’s Place Market in Seattle)
58. Being American
59. Looking Latino/Jewish/Arabic
60. Mountain meadows
61. Weather that perfectly fits my mood
62. Smoothies
63. Not being all that messed up
64. Somehow avoiding speeding tickets
65. Indoor plumbing
66. Having very talented siblings
67. The beach
68. The few peeks at love I’ve had
69. Church leaders
70. Agency
71. My parents for never making me walk around with one of those child-leash things on
72. My mom for being an amazing cook/decorator
73. My dad for making it so we never worried about money
74. My dad for serving people all the time
75. Mormon funerals
76. The counseling center
77. Being so dang good looking
78. My Quiksilver jacket I got for $14.99
79. Hymns, special musical numbers, and prelude music
80. Graham crackers (good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner)
81. Tortilla chips (equally good)
82. The hikes I went on as a Boy Scout
83. The clothes of my brother who is on a mission
84. The CD collection of my other brother on a mission
85. My brother getting home next week
86. My nephews and nieces
87. Study guides
88. Cell phones
89. People who do the jobs I’d never want to.
90. The memorization technique my seminary teacher taught us.
91. Running shoes
92. Fireflies
93. Bonfires
94. Hammocks
95. Trampolines
96. Seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting, and smelling (although I’m admittedly less thankful for smell)
97. My over-analytical, hyper-sensitive, silent observer nature
98. People who talk to me normally and don’t ask if I’m dating anyone
99. The Marriott School
100. Summer
101. Hope of good things to come

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Frigid Obscurity

With more than a month to go until winter even officially starts, the weather is unofficially way too cold and dark. I keep getting distracted looking for airline tickets to warmer climates. Here are some warm pictures I found to at least help you imagine being some place warm.


You're welcome.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Phonies


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Long Sunday Post

The sun never quite made it out today. The occasional rain and wind is tearing the last leaves off the trees. Gloomy clouds fill the sky and snake along the mountains and up the canyons. It all looks very ominous. Winter in Utah isn't my favorite season. Maybe if I just learned to ski....

Despite the forbidding weather, today was a good day. Church felt especially early at 9 a.m. but I wore my wool sweater so I could at least close my eyes and kind of imagine I was still under my warm covers. We had ward conference today and the lessons and talks all focused on seeking out the one--especially giving service and sharing the gospel. Those are two of my favorite topics and the speakers were splendid. Our high counselor told some great stories. He’s from Payson. People from Utah know how to tell really good stories.
I had "Once in Royal David's City" stuck in my head for some reason but I can never remember the tune of the first line and that was kind of frustrating me. I always get it confused with the tune from "Guide Us Oh Thou Great Jehovah."
After church I came home and stayed home for about nine solid hours except for taking out the garbage and one short visit to another apartment. Two of my roommates are out of town so it was just me and my roommate, the EQP, at home. I really like the EQP; in fact I told someone today that I think he's the best roommate I've ever had. I also told someone else that I think I'm his service project. He sits by me at church, comes into my room at least once a day just to chat and see how my day's going, and invites me to do stuff with him all the time. Plus, he does his dishes, likes international films, and he's into dancing, singing, music, and all that. When he asked me what movie I saw last night, I was almost embarrassed to say Bride and Prejudice but he surprised me saying he loved that movie... cool.
He and I gave a blessing today to a girl he home teaches. She was worried about a lot of the same stuff I'm worried about--graduating, prioritizing her time, and getting everything done she needs to. She said "I feel like I'm doing lots of stuff ok but nothing really well." I've felt like that too. During the blessing I was praying for my roommate that he'd be inspired and I really felt like he was cause he started out hesitantly but then said some awesome stuff. I got a good taste of the spirit and the blessing probably helped me as much as it helped her.
I spent a lot of time alone in my room today. The past few days I’ve been with my best friends a ton and I love spending time with them, but I’m sure they get tired of me and occasionally its good to just be alone to sort through my thoughts. I finally read more than one chapter of the Book of Mormon in one day. I really need to pick up the pace though to finish by the end of the year. I listened to some first-rate Sunday music, including Christian music by Jars of Clay that I've been liking and two songs I found on my computer that I used to listen to on repeat in my darker days.

These are them (skip this part if you're getting bored):

Psalm
I thought this road I’ve been wandering held promises at every bend.
But every turn just leads me to nowhere and every step takes me far away from You.
Long, long road out before me, longer still the road behind.
I’m too afraid to change my direction-- too ashamed that I’m far away from You.
I remember everything like the first time that You took my hand.
You said You would lead me, lead me forever, I did not understand.
I let go of everything, when I chose to release your hand.
I thought I knew the price I was paying, the price of wandering far away from You.
I know that I’ve earned my emptiness.
I know I’m reaping what I’ve sown.
Now as I mourn the distance between us, you come and show I’m not so far away from you.
And you chase away my emptiness, and you chase the sorrow from my soul. You bind my wounds and bear up my burdens till somehow I am whole.
And I’m set free because you have loved me.
Now this road new before me seems brighter than the road before and I will hold your hand for forever. And I’ll never wander far away from you.

Better than I
I thought I knew what’s right, thought I’d found the answers, thought I’d chose the surest road, but that road brought me here.
So I put up a fight, I told you how to help me. Now just when I had given up, the truth is coming clear.
You know better than I. You know the way. I’ve let go of my need to know why, for you know better than I.
This has been the test. I can not see the reason. But maybe knowing I don’t know is part of getting through. I try to do what’s best. Faith has made it easy to see the best thing I can do is put my trust in you.
You know better than I. You know the way. I’ve let go of my need to know why, for you know better than I.
I saw a cloud and thought it was the sky.
I saw a bird and thought that I could follow.
But it was you who taught that bird to fly.
If I let you teach me, will you teach me?
You know better than I. You know the way. I’ve let go of my need to know why, for you know better than I.
I’ll take what answer you supply, you know better than I.

I also listened several times to Go the Distance from Hercules. I've got to give credit to Pinetree for referring that song to me. It’s become something of my anthem recently.

I know I can't just wrap myself in the gospel and pray myself out of my problems, but I do feel like I need to be a little closer to the spirit. My realism doesn't need to replace faith. I can still trust in the Lord. I need to be a little less bitter and sarcastic. My life is pretty good.

I finally got to read this article by Master FOB Coming Out Straight. He's a gay man who chose to marry a woman. I really appreciated his grounded optimism. This week my counselor asked me (as he often does) what I want in life. I told him that what I really want is a nice house, a trampoline, country music, a church calling, T-ball games, school plays, Fourth of July barbeques with the neighbors, and summer nights sitting on the porch drinking lemonade and watching the kids wrestle in the grass. I don’t think I want that cause that's what the church tells me to want or because I'm ignorant of other options. I just can't see myself being really happy in coffee shops, discotheques, chat rooms, and pride parades. I guess the middle ground is a life of celibacy and "great loneliness"--bearable but not my ideal.
So that's what I want. I'm content with the way things are now though and I just don't know what's going to happen.

There's this really sweet girl I work with at my campus custodial job. We were talking about dance classes yesterday and we decided she would try to get into my country dance class to be my partner. I sent her an e-mail today telling her what section I'm in and she responded with a girlishly friendly e-mail. This girl is so cool but I'm not attracted to her and probably never will be... Still, in the interest of being less bitter, it’s nice to remember how nice girls can be.

Speaking of girls, a girl from my business group invited me over to her apartment for hot chocolate and cookies tonight. There were a bunch of people from her ward there and it was cool meeting new people and just making small talk. I love quote boards. On the quote board I saw the name of someone I know from this volunteer thing I coordinate. When I mentioned that, my friend asked if I knew a girl named Becca... Oh no! Yeah, I know her. Its a long story, but basically I had called and e-mailed her several times to get her to start volunteering but she was waiting for her friends to be able to start and her friends haven't been able to start volunteering cause of other stuff I can't control. So one of the times I called this Becca girl I know I sounded like a total jerk cause I basically just told her to stop waiting for her friends and volunteer cause we need her now or else let me know if she doesn't want to do it... I didn't mean to be rude, but I was just trying to explain the situation to her... anyways... apparently she had been over at this apartment for lunch and was complaining about how disorganized this whole volunteer thing was. I can't stand to have people not like me, so I made them invite Becca over for cookies too! She came, but my friends told me just to make chit-chat but not tell her who I was for awhile. We made chit-chat for a long while and finally I got ready to go and chickened out about telling her who I was. As I left my friend pointed to her and mouthed "should I tell her?" I said yes. Now she’ll think I’m an even bigger jerk. I swear though, all the other people I volunteer with like me.

Anyways, it was a good Sunday. I think I took at least three naps. This whole week turned out nice. No prince charming ever showed up, but I do have some great friends who fill the void. With the anticipation of Thanksgiving break, this next week should be even more bearable. I can almost taste my mom’s turkey and stuffing and can’t wait to hang with my nieces in a little over a week.
Happy birthday tomorrow to Gilmore Guy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Waiting for my prince to come


A minute ago I told my roommate I'm ready for a knight on a white horse to come and rescue me from this provincial life...
To top it all off, I just lost a tiny screw from my glasses somewhere in my plush carpet. That's gonna be hard to find.
It was actually a good day all in all, but the mid-semester stretch is just killer. Everything feels a little off. Maybe it will all be better in four hours when I wake up.
Anyways, two weeks from right now I'll be in Arizona on Thanksgiving Break. I think I can hold out that long.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Custodians say the darnedest things

It had been awhile since I worked the night shift at my campus custodial job. The night shift is special because:
A. It’s when all the slackers work.
B. All the real work has already been done during the day.
C. The supervisor goes home after a few minutes and puts the most senior custodian (yeah, that’s me) in charge.

So we scrubbed spots off plastic chairs using those cool “magic eraser” pads for three hours. Turns out they’re not quite as magical as the commercial claims.
The best thing about my job is hanging with a group of people who are pretty much total strangers or casual acquaintances at best. Despite being unfamiliar and totally different personalities, something about cleaning up poo together makes people feel like old friends. Our three-hour conversation was all over the place—just the way I like it.
By some law, all custodial conversations must at least touch the subject of dating. Tonight we talked about dating a lot. We also talked about periods and feminine “issues,” movies, puberty, converting vegetarians to meat, hot people at work, and homosexuality…lots and lots of homosexuality.

ME: “Basically the only reason I even consider getting married still is just cause I know I probably should.”
MARRIED GUY: “Come on, you’re a guy, there has to be a physical aspect.”
ME: “Um, no really no. I think after you hit a certain age the biological clock just runs out and there’s nothing left.”
MARRIED GUY: “Hmm… I’d really have to question a guy who says that. You do like girls don’t you?”
Pause as I consider my options.
ME: “Yeah I do like girls… but not enough to marry one.”

Later…
MARRIED GUY: “Sometimes girls are like ‘I’m so glad I’m a girl,’ but being a girl would suck. [He lists reasons] The only bad thing about being a guy is being so physically attracted to girls and having to constantly control your thoughts.”
ME: “Hmm… it’s been a long time since I’ve been that attracted to a girl.”
MARRIED GUY: “Well you’re lucky then.”

From a girl on the dance team…
“I know lots of gay guys at BYU and they all try to repress it and pretend they are straight. I’m just like, don’t just pretend to be straight, Be Straight! Either that or just be really gay.”

ANOTHER GIRL: “I work with a gay guy at my other job, he’s hilarious. He’s so flaming”
SINGLE GUY: “Gross.”

Voting for the hottest guy and girl custodians…
ME (Talking about one of the other custodians working with us): “James is pretty hot too, don’t forget about James.”
GIRL 1: “Yeah I think James is number two. If I didn’t have a boyfriend he and I would totally hook up.”
GIRL 2: “We need a cool name for James that makes him sound hot.”
ME: “How about “Flamin’ Jamin?”
GIRL 1: “Umm… I think that means something else.”

GIRL 1: “Why do you think the rainbow got associated with being gay?”
MARRIED GUY: “I think cause the rainbow has all the colors so no one knows if it is a boy or a girl.”
ME: “I think cause rainbows are really cool and gay people wanted a really cool symbol so they picked it before anyone else did.”
GIRL 1: “I don’t think so.”

Talking about something....
GIRL 2: "I learned that in my Miracle of Forgiveness class.
ME: "They have a Miracle of Forgiveness class?"
GIRL 2: "At my old college."
ME: "Oh, I don't really like that book. It says some pretty crazy stuff" (I was thinking about the section on homosexuality but decided not to elaborate).
MARRIED GUY: "Like the part where it tells the story about the Seventy who was out riding his horse and he saw Sasquatch and they talked and he told him he was Cain and he had been condemned to grow hair all over his body and wander the earth for eternity."
ME: I wasn't thinking about that, but that is pretty crazy.

After the married guy asked the girl if she felt bad that the boy who she reactivated and is dating hasn’t served a mission when the prophet said everyone should serve a mission…
GIRL: “My grandma was like, ‘well you better get him on a mission.’ I was like, ‘I don’t think that’s going to happen grandma.’ Old people can be so dumb.”
I told about this guy who sat in front of me in my business ethics class who got noticeably uncomfortable both times my teacher made some sweeping statement about how we had all been on missions or something to that effect. After the second time I asked the guy about it after class and found out that he hadn’t served a mission. He told me he gets frustrated and feels embarrassed whenever the topic comes up, even though he knows he shouldn’t be. I told him sorry that people at BYU assume a lot and sometimes don’t think before they say stuff. We became pretty good friends after that and he impressed me every time he did a presentation in class. It was an ethics class so we talked about the gospel and I could tell he was just a really good guy. I have no idea why he didn’t serve a mission and really don’t care, the point is he’s a stud.
So we custodians talked about that girls shouldn’t just go through a checklist with a guy like, “yeap he’s served a mission, check.” Cause I know plenty of idiots who serve missions and plenty of fine fellas who don’t.
Everyone agreed.

To substantiate my point that some real idiots serve missions...
GIRL 2: “I knew this one kid at my old college who went on a mission just cause he thought he owed it to the church but then as soon as he came home, he revealed that he was gay. And I was like, ‘a lot of good the mission did him.’”
ME: “Um… Gay people can be good missionaries. There were two latinos in my mission who were open about being gay and they were fine missionaries.”
MARRIED GUY: “But their poor companions!”
SINGLE GUY: “Yeah, there was a ward mission leader in my mission who was gay.”
ME: “When I was in his zone, one of those gay missionaries baptized a gay guy and he was called as the ward mission leader. I went on splits with them both once.”
GIRL 2: “Wait a second. That’s just wrong. How can you be gay and have a calling like that?”
ME: “Ok, I guess I should say “same-sex attracted” they were attracted to guys but they didn’t act on it. They were totally worthy. There are lots of people like that in the church.”
GIRL 2: “Oh, ok. I guess that’s ok.”

Me telling another custodian that he won our vote for hottest male custodian…
HOTTEST MALE CUSTODIAN: “What about you man?”
ME: “Oh, they were judging the whole body… if they were just voting for best nose then I would have won for sure.”
HOTTEST MALE CUSTODIAN: “See, how can I compete with that sense of humor?”

I can’t believe they pay me for this crap.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Self-Flattery

In another exploit along my constant quest to make other people pay attention to me, I've added some cool features to my blog sidebar. Please enjoy the music video. I'll try to change it frequently. I just fixed it so it doesn't come on automatically--that was really annoying. Click play if you're in a musical mood. The other additions are just fluff. I am pretty proud of myself for remembering some of this html stuff from my Information Systems class... ok, I'm more than proud, I think I'm a genius. I got a 100% on a hard test today.... maybe I really am I genius.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween!

I wish I had gotten sick on Milk Duds tonight. Instead I wrote a paper and ate candy corns (probably the nastiest and strangely most addictive candy ever invented).

Friday, October 28, 2005

Our Peers' Opinions

I've made a point of picking up the Daily Universe recently to follow this string of letters to the editor...
At least somebody's talking about it.

October 18
Will you mare-ee me?
Sure, let’s change the meaning of marriage and family. What would it hurt?
I, for one, would appreciate such a change. If the opportunity of marriage were offered to more than just a man and woman together, I would be able to receive the benefits. If I could legally marry my horse it would make things better for me. I wouldn’t have to pay sales tax on feed, because it would be food for my wife. I could claim my horse as a dependent that definitely does not contribute to the family income. I could receive along with my food stamps, feed stamps because it is my wife, not an unnecessary pet. The government might also give me a subsidized paddock. Do you think they would really expect me to keep a horse in my apartment? And as for procreation, we could always adopt. I've always wanted a little filly.
Greg Hebdon
Royal City, Wash.

October 20
The slippery slope fallacy
Tuesday's letter about legalizing marriage to animals was clearly meant to be humorous, but it employed a surprisingly common argument from the debate over gay marriage; namely: "If we legalize gay marriage, what's next, (insert something absurd or scary here)?" Isn't this an obvious example of the slippery slope fallacy? Do people who make this argument honestly fail to perceive a meaningful difference between a committed partnership of consenting adults and the exploitation of humans or animals? This argument makes about as much sense as saying, "If we give women the right to vote, what's next, giving zebras the right to run for governor?" or perhaps, "If we let our kids listen to rock-and-roll, what's next, letting them strangle people with guitar strings?"
Scott Hanson
Idaho Falls, Idaho

Horse letter lacked manners
Contrary to popular belief, there are those on campus who come from homosexual families. Although I believe everyone is entitled to their opinions, I also believe that everyone is entitled to respect. Opinions that were published Tuesday were vulgar, hateful and disrespectful.
It would be pointless for me to defend gay marriage on this campus. Most of the student body already have their firm opinions. However, I will point out that beliefs similar to those expressed in a letter are the same beliefs that refuse to acknowledge homosexual individuals as human beings. These same beliefs are shared with those who threaten physical harm to my younger brothers on the way home from school. And if there are those who say that members of the LDS church do not teach their children to harm others because of sexual orientation, I would suggest that they research what happened to a boy named Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. I do not ask for acceptance. Love will continue despite what the letter writer or I do about it. I ask for his manners.
Mikell Kober
Orlando, Fla.

October 25
Bleeding heart elitists
As is apparent from recent articles and editorials in The Daily Universe, there is much self-congratulating and mutual back patting among the Mormons who are liberals among us. Just because they break with what they perceive as the unthinking majority of Utahns and Mormons in general, liberal Mormons suppose themselves by some stretch of the imagination to be more intelligent than the rest of us.
Religion is independent of politics. The fact that the vast majority of Mormons are Republicans has absolutely no bearing on the fact that the Democratic Party is for bleeding heart elitists who support the wasting of taxpayer funds so that they can feel good about themselves. As a wise man once said, at no point in your incoherent ramblings did you come close to anything that would be considered a rational thought. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your (liberal) soul.
Todd Barfuss
Farmington

Mormons in the mob
Comparing gay marriage to the marriage of a man and his horse is one of the most ridiculous and outright ignorant things I’ve heard. Homosexuals are not trying to marry animals; they are trying to marry other people. I know several homosexuals, and I was unaware that their status had been downgraded from human beings to barnyard animals. Although it may come as a surprise to some, gays are perfectly capable of being good people, and even (gasp!) leading spiritual, Christ-like lives. Yet they’ve been reduced to horses, all because they want to live happy, monogamous relationships with someone they love. Some don’t realize that many of the persecutions faced by the early church were in light of strange, and very illegal, marriage practices. Joseph Smith drew a lot of heat not simply for being a prophet, but for taking over 30 women as wives, including 11 teenagers.
Now the tables have turned. Suddenly it’s the Mormons who have found themselves in the mobs of persecution, belittling fellow human beings to mere animals. It’s time to realize that given our history, we are the last people in the world to be telling anyone who can and can’t get married.
Stephen Robbins
Albany, Ore.

October 27
Religion and politics
I thought it was ironic that the letters by Todd Barfuss and Stephen Robbins had something in common. Their positions on the political spectrum are apparently opposite, but they agree that religion and politics are independent of one another. In the real world, they have a strong affect on one another. There is an attempt to segregate our lives into two segments: what we do on Sunday and what we do the rest of the week.
I agree with the position of the church that one can be a good member regardless of their political preference, but I’m tired of the attitude that one is ignorant if they let the words of revelation influence their political stances. I’m not hateful and I wouldn’t care about the issue, but Pres. Hinckley made the statement that we should support legislation that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. If Robbins thinks we don’t have room to say who should be allowed to be married or not, he should complain about it to President Hinckley. Vote how you want, but as for me and … (well, I don’t have a house), I’ll follow the prophet.
Shawn Curtis
Nibley


Charity over rhetoric
I would like to extend my hearty congratulations to those writers who have effectively hijacked the debate over homosexuality. Now a man is either a hateful, venom-filled bigot for condemning homosexuality or a beastly caricature for participating in it — all thanks to you. Reason and moderation do not appear to be highly valued attributes among our friendly neighborhood ideologues.
Unfortunately, some of us seem to have heard "love the sinner and hate the sin" so much that they apparently refuse to believe that it is possible, preferring either to vilify homosexuals or homosexuality’s opponents. Never mind that the rest of BYU’s population might actually value charity over cheap rhetorical tricks and slanted ideologies. Never mind that the analogy between Joseph Smith’s plural marriages and homosexuality is little more than a gross politicization of a complex historical issue and an oversimplification of the crudest brand.
But on second thought, cool-headedness lacks the blood sport intensity that "letters to the editor" readers have come to know and love.
Russell Stevenson
Afton, Wyo.

Homosexuality is Christ-like?
To be Christ-like is to obey the will of God, to bridle passions, seek to serve others, and be an example for truth and righteousness. The view that homosexuals follow such a high standard is ridiculous, and this is the problem with "supporting" gay marriage. Some, in their zeal to protect the "rights" of all actually lose focus of what is truly right.
This nation was set apart by the Lord, we know that. We also know that this nation is promised to prosper only if we keep the commandments of the Lord.
Some say that the government should not interfere with someone’s right to choose, that this is a moral issue. Moral issues are the center of civilization — not traffic, education or even gun laws. We need to make a stand as citizens of this country. We need to push for what is moral and good, not for things that are popular or maybe seen as "rights." I would hope that as members of the church that we do not judge, but instead, teach by our words and our example what is right in the sight of God. That, Mr. Robbins and all of you who think likewise, is what Christ would do.
Richard Sedwick
Harrisonburg, Va.

I think I agree most with Russell Stevenson.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

You're Beautiful

Yes, you are.

Nevermind that this video shows a man partially undressing. It's my favorite song of the day...

I just moved the video to the sidebar, so check it out there.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

It's a beautiful life

Thanks to the miracle of wireless internet, I'm posting this from a patch of grass on campus. This week BYU is all pimped out in Homecoming paraphernalia and her trees ablaze with warm-colored leaves. My fleece jacket is back in the closet replaced by a simple T-shirt. Apparently winter is going to wait a few more days to darken my life.
I'm going to listen to some Ace of Base.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Metaphorical Mountains

Standing in a dark parking lot somewhere up American Fork Canyon at 6:55 a.m. this Saturday, I really would have preferred to be back in bed.
Somehow someone had convinced me to roll out of my covers at 5:30 a.m. to go climb a mountain. Looking up at the gray silhouette of that mountain, the severity of what I had agreed to do began to set in. The peak stood five miles away and 5,000 feet above me. I was cold, tired, and sick and seriously considered just waiting in the car while my friends went ahead.
The hike began gently--first a paved road, then a wide and soft dirt trail weaving along a small creek through colorful aspen groves. The air was warmer than we had expected. My friend who had convinced me to come led out at a quick pace but I could keep up.
Just as I began to enjoy myself, dawn illuminated the valley and we finally got a clear view of our goal. My heart sank. The peak looked like a distant fortress protected by snowy slopes and rocky cliffs. The idea of someone trying to walk there seemed laughable. The idea that I would walk there seemed impossible.
I let my hiking buddies know that I was really just in this for the scenery and didn't mind at all if we didn't make the summit but we just kept on hiking at the same rapid pace.
After an hour of hiking we had crossed the valley and wiggled up several sets of switch backs. The trail became steeper, my muscles ached, and my breathing was heavy. Pausing momentarily in a rock field, the peak appeared even further away than before and hopelessly out of reach. I was tired, but not exhausted. I knew I could keep taking steps forward and progressing toward the goal, but the idea of actually reaching the goal seemed absurd. I looked down at my shoelaces, focusing on each step and trying to forget about what I knew lay ahead.

I had a commitment back in Provo at 1:00 p.m. so we had previously decided that we would absolutely have to turn around by 10:00 a.m. At 8:30 we reached a saddle and dropped back down a few hundred feet to a ridge that jolted harshly upward toward the summit. At the ridge, the trail turned sharply vertical. This part of the trail was less traveled and nonexistent in spots. Mud and snow made the climb especially difficult. I dug my toes into the ground and leaned forward to keep from slipping. I tried not to look back down. Several times, I lost my footing and found myself sliding downward. Each time I stopped my fall by dropping toward the ground and digging my knees and bare hands into the snow and mud. Stopping the falls was painful. Crossing a snowfield, my footing gave out and I landed hard on rocks buried under the snow, bruising my shins. My fingers stung from scraping through the icy snow.
On the exposed ridge, the wind beat on my bare skin. Every muscle in my legs throbbed. The wind, cold, and tired muscles made me clumsy. The curve of the ridge made it impossible to see the peak. All I could see was an impossibly long ridge that twisted into the sky.
Even though I knew that we were technically getting closer with each step, I felt farther than ever. Even my climbing buddies began to talk of turning back. We had already seen splendid scenery. We had already gotten a workout. Now the scenery had turned ugly and the trip had turned painful. Why continue on?
We checked our watches at 9:30. We still couldn't see the peak but decided to press forward until 10:00.
Not long afterward, the peak came back into sight only a few hundred meters away. With renewed energy, I ran across the ridge, scrambled up some rocks to the point, then thrust both arms into the air and yelled “I’m the king of the world!” A ferocious wind kept me from standing too long at my throne. I posed for two quick pictures that show me smiling brilliantly. My face shows no sign of the torture I endured to get there.
We literally ran back down the mountain and made it back to Provo just in time for my commitment. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been as drained as I was yesterday.

The whole way up the mountain I was thinking how the hike was like a metaphor for life. I think that’s why I was so happy to reach the summit.


I started seeing a counselor recently to try to sort through some of my many issues. Some of my friends congratulated me on taking that step like it was an incredible turning point or something. To me it’s just another step. I’m moving forward toward some goal. My goal isn’t quite as clearly defined as say a mountain peak, but there is some goal—maybe its being an old man sitting on a front porch with a wife who I love and watching the grandkids play or maybe its exaltation. Really I have no idea.
Even if my goal were clear, I don’t know how determined I am to reach it. As long as I can, I just keep moving forward. Sometimes I fall and it hurts and just aggravates the wounds, but I keep going. Sometimes I totally disregard the goal and just focus on my shoelaces or the nice scenery. With each step forward, the way grows more difficult, the steps I need to take are less defined, and the consequences of falling are greater. There’s a good chance that my time will run out in life before I ever reach the goal. As I trudge stoicly forward the goal seems further and further away and all the more unreachable but I have to believe its getting closer.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

I thought about the army

I’m sure he didn’t mean any harm, but my favorite business professor seemed to push all my wrong buttons this morning. Now, just over two months from graduation, I’ve become disenchanted with my business major.
I entered class today with high expectations. For once, I wasn’t scrambling to finish the reading. We were planning to discuss a case which I had thoroughly read and even highlighted. I knew all the key points and felt the confidence that comes with preparedness.
As the discussion developed, all that early morning studying suddenly began to catch up with me; my vision became foggy, my thoughts wandered to soft things, and my upper and lower eyelids drew closer. The sound of my name jolted me back to reality. My professor was asking me a question.
I rewound my brain, remembered the question and responded perfectly. Two more questions and two more perfect answers. Then the professor told me that was the easy stuff. He asked a deeper question. I can’t remember what the question was but it was something like “what’s the fundamental message, what’s the underlying thing this case says but doesn’t say?” He was clearly fishing for some specific combination of key words. I searched the room for a friendly face that would offer me some hint as to the answer. I was met with blank or perplexed faces. I searched the professor’s face—cold stare… the PowerPoint slide—all the stuff I already said… my highlighted text—that’s the stuff it did say, he wanted something novel…
“Umm…” I stammered. “I don’t know.”
He repeated the question, this time emphasizing new syllables and otherwise confusing things even more. I could tell it was becoming a game to him, like Catchphrase or something. He clearly had a specific response in mind. I knew all he had to do was click his little PowerPoint button and an answer would pop up.
“Umm… I really don’t know what you’re looking for.”
His eyes met mine in a silent glare. I started to combine vocabulary words and ideas from the case to form a vague sentence that only restated what I had already said. I hoped he would say “not quite” and go on to explain what he was looking for.
Instead he asked me if I’d had enough, if he should ask someone else, or if I wanted to keep trying. I said I’d had enough.
He moved on to another student and repeated the questioning style. The other student was equally perplexed.
He finally clicked his PowerPoint button and we all let out a little sigh when we saw the magical answer appear. The answer was actually quite brilliant, but it wasn’t so much an answer as an interpretation. It really hadn’t occurred to me. It was the type of idea that teachers come up with when they study this stuff for their job… the type of idea they teach their students.
So if that had just happened once today I may have forgiven him or even thanked him for opening my mind, but the whole class went like this. Maybe he had just read a book on allowing students to “discover” learning for themselves instead of teaching or something, but it clearly wasn’t working—despite our best gaming, not one of us ever guessed what the PowerPoint button would pull up. That would have been fine, cause the conversation was good, but the professor kept getting more and more angry with us. Finally, he exploded.
“Is this too hard for you guys? Do none of your other teachers ask you questions and expect you to participate?”
Funny, just as he was saying that I was thinking “man, I’m sick of business” and I was writing a note to myself in the margins of my paper to apply for the Border Patrol and the Peace Corps.
“Business is supposed to be hard…” The professor continued. “Are these questions too hard for you El Veneno?” I was wondering where the Peace Corps would send me.
“Yes,” I said and put my head back down on my desk. The class chuckled.
The professor gave a long speech about being prepared for class and told us he could tell within 15 seconds of asking a student questions whether they had come prepared to class or not. I wanted to vindicate myself waving my highlighted pages with the notes in the margins but instead I kept looking like I didn’t care.
For the last few minutes of class, we met in groups to discuss how we could creatively present findings to a group of managers. When we shared our ideas he told us why we were all wrong. He clicked the PowerPoint button to reveal that the best way to present findings to high-powered businesspeople involved cut-outs and a felt board. He told us he hoped we’d be able to apply that sometime in our careers. I hope he was being very sarcastic or something.
In my next class, I went online and started applications for the Peace Corps, the Border Patrol, and thanks to one of those “Be all you can be” ads in the Daily Universe, the army. I hope I get over this by tomorrow. I really don’t want to join the army.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Stockdale Principle

Frantically trying to finish reading a book for my business class, I paused in awe at this applicable principle:

The Stockdale Principle

Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of difficulties.

AND, at the same time

Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.



Admiral Jim Stockdale was the highest-ranking U.S. military officer in a prisoner-of-war camp in Hanoi during the Vietnam war. During his eight years in captivity he was tortured over twenty times and never given a hint as to when he would be released. In the prison, he dutifully led the other prisoners, secretly creating codes of communication and working for the highest possible survival rate.

When Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, asked Stockdale how he managed to survive, he replied: "I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade."

From the book:
"Who didn't make it out?"
"Oh that's easy," he said. "The optimists."
"The optimists? I don't understand," I said, now completely confused.
"The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”
Another long pause and more walking. Then he turned to me and said, “This is the important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can not afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
To this day I carry the mental image of Stockdale admonishing the optimists: “We’re not getting out by Christmas; deal with it!”

“Life is unfair--sometimes to our advantage, sometimes to our disadvantage. We will all experience disappointments and crushing events somewhere along the way, setbacks for which there is no “reason,” no one to blame… What separates people, Stockdale taught me, is not the presence or absence of difficulty, but how they deal with the inevitable difficulties of life."

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Acceptance

Tonight found me seated in a plush little theater between my ex-girlfriend and a nine-year-old half-Chilean boy named Kevin watching a modern dance performance. I was naturally leaning away from the ex-girlfriend. I was a little surprised when Kevin took my leaning as an opportunity to grab my arm. He explained to me that he was afraid of the dark and that the music reminded him of the movies "The Grudge" and "Son of Chucky." He confessed that sometimes when he's alone in the dark he gets tears in his eyes. I told him he'd be safe with me. Warm protective feelings swelled within. My ex-girlfriend poked at me and laughed. I kind of liked that she touched me.
As Kevin buried his head in my arm my ex whispered "oh, I want him." She was referring to Kevin of course. When smoke started to fill the stage and the dancers filed off into a glowing orange door reminiscent of the portal to hell in Ghostbusters, even I started to get scared. Luckily I was able to hold back tears in the interest of looking tough for the women and children.
We went outside at the first intermission to enjoy the reassuring fluorescent lights and I barely convinced Kevin to go back in for the next two acts by promising they would be less scary--thankfully they were. Even though Kevin was calmer, he was still worried about mysterious shadows, apparent faces in the background, and the fact that the theater seemed "the perfect size for the phantom of the opera." This kid was hilarious. I was happy to realize I wasn't one of the many things he was scared of. At the end Kevin told me he wanted me to be his friend cause I was "a good listener" and my ex told me I'd be a good dad. In moments like tonight I really, really want to be a dad.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Because I know you care

Because if you all jumped off a bridge I probably would too, these are a few of my favorite things...

My favorite colors...


- Green
- Brown
- Black
- Orange and yellow (but not for clothes)

Favorite meals...
1. FreshMex burritos, chips and salsa, and lemonade with good music.
2. Lasagna, salad, and warm breadsticks.
3. My mom's broccoli soup in bread bowls.
4. Rice, beans, and anything.

If I had free time, I'd...
1. Run
2. Read
3. Fix a good meal
4. Clean
5. Go shopping
(I didn't want to say blog, but it really should be on the list)

Favorite ethnicities..
1. Latin American
2. Jewish
3. Pioneer-stock Mormon

Languages I wish I spoke
- Arabic
- Hebrew
- Italian
- Thai

Movies I try to get other people to watch...
- Children of Heaven
- Hotel Rwanda
- Promises (a documentary about the Israeli-Palestenian conflict)

I don't really have favorite actors, but I do seem to like movies with these guys in them (and no, I don't find them attractive)...

  • Tom Hanks
  • Ben Stiller
  • Nicholas Cage
  • Matt Damon
  • Hillary Duff (Just kidding.... kind of)

But I do find attractive...

  • Oliver James
  • Hayden Christensen
  • Elijah Wood (but not in LOTR)
  • Durval de Lima Junior

    And...

  • Thalia (Latin American superstar and Pepsi spokesgirl)
  • Sandy Leah Lima (her brother made the other list)
  • Virginie Ledoyen (French actress)

My favorite male voices...

  • Josh Groban
  • Alex Ubago
  • Tiziano Ferro
  • Eros Ramazzotti
  • Ricardo Arjona
  • Obie Bermudez

Female voices...

  • Amaia Montero (of La Oreja de Van Gogh)
  • Sandy (of Sandy e Junior)
  • Celia Cruz
  • Sarah McLachlin
  • Alanis Morisette
  • Shakira
  • Dolores O'Riordan (The Cranberries)

(Now to feel manly again) If I had a big garage I'd own...

  • Land Rover Defender 90 (for adventures and UN peacekeeping missions)
  • 1966 Pontiac Parisienne Convertable (for sunny days)
  • 1984 Chevy Silverado (for listening to country music and loaning to ward members)
  • Honda Civic Si (for urban hauling butt and gear changing fun)
  • Audi A8 (for respectable occasions and occasionally letting loose on open roads)

Favorite Mountains...

Mt. Fuji, Japan

Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Mt. Shuksan, North Cascades, Washington

Volcan Osorno, Lago Llanquihe, Chile

Favorite cities...

  • Hong Kong, China

  • Seattle, Washington

  • Rio de Janiero, Brasil (Ok, I've never actually been there, but I feel like I have in spirit...maybe in a past life or something)

  • Provo, Utah, USA (but only in the fall)

Favorite weather...

  • Dark like night at noon. Thunderstorms. Wind. Everybody's running cause they don't want to get wet.
  • Cold, damp, smells like chimney and leaves. Blankets and fireplaces are the only escape.
  • Northwest summers for pretty much any activity.
  • Arizona or Vegas-like summers when you have a pool.
  • Crisp autumn evenings in Provo.

Favorite places to pretend I'm from...

  1. Mexico
  2. Argentina
  3. Brazil
  4. Israel
  5. Iraq
  6. Italy

Favorite spanish accents...

  • Chilean
  • Argentine
  • Spanish (like from Spain)
  • Colombian


My I-Tunes Top 10 Most Played
1. Reggaeton Latino - Don Omar
2. La Tortura - Shakira with Alejandro Sanz
3. Work - Jimmy Eat World
4. Como Pudiste - Obie Bermudez
5. Such Great Heights - The Postal Service
6. Best I Ever Had - Gary Allan
7. Hands Down - Dashboard Confessional
8. Na Na Na (Dulce Niña) - Kumbia Kings
9. Yo no quiero trabajar - Los Autenticos Decadentes
10. Untitled - Simple Plan

Favorite Candy
1. Reese Peanut Butter Cups
2. Sprees
3. Starbursts

That was harder to make then it looks. It was more fun than homework though.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Dias Melhores

History has shown that my life tends to be like a rollercoaster with high highs and low lows and an incredible ride in between. When I sometimes hit those lows I take comfort in knowing that I'll soon be clicking upward again to yet another, even higher summit and another thrilling dive.
The problem is my high highs have been far outnumbering my low lows in recent months. Maybe my hormones have calmed with age and I’m now riding a metaphorical kiddy ride or something. That could be. Or maybe this car is just going to keep clicking on upward to some ridiculously high apex where it will then plummet me toward hell in a terrorizing fall that slams me against my seat, leaves my heart and stomach behind, and moves so fast I can’t even scream—I sure hope not cause I’m not a big fan of those kind of rollercoasters. I’m more a fan of Disneyland than Six-Flags.
Yet again, this weekend was awesome. I went to that sweet wedding, spent a lot of time with one of my best buddies and his friends and mine, met tons of new people, met the girlfriend of my good friend and felt proud of him, played Cranium, bonded with my roommates watching a very late night movie, ran around a grocery store with three 12-year-olds, ate at a very expensive restaurant, saw a play, didn’t do any homework at all, had a nice church meeting, read a bunch of The Catcher in the Rye, took a long nap, and ate dinner tonight with a bunch of friends where two Americans shared company with guests from Canada, France, New Zealand, Peru, Colombia, and Korea. We played mafia and I dominated--seriously. I'm very good at lying and at detecting others’ lies. I’m happy about being able to discern others, but it kind of freaks me out how easily I can make others believe my lies. No one accused me. I can almost make myself believe I’m not mafia.
Maybe this whole euphoric rollercoaster ride in my head is a lie too. Maybe my life is miserable and I just do a really good job of pretending everything is swell. Maybe it’s just the fall weather, or the spirit, or all these Starbursts I’ve been downing, but I really feel happy.
In any case, I know everything isn’t always going to be good, but I also think something has fundamentally changed in me. I’m not scared anymore. I don’t wake up sweating at night worrying about my future. I kind of feel bad I wasted so much time worrying in the past. Today I would love to pause time and be able to get stuck in this moment. At the same time, I’m kind of excited to let time pass--there’s a lot to look forward to.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The big fat Brazilian/ Samoan/ Hawaiian/ Korean wedding

Parts of four distinct races came together in matrimony earlier today and I was blessed to be a part of the kickin' fiesta to celebrate--Probably the biggest and most exciting wedding reception I've ever seen in a stake center. There were Korean characters on the wall, Hawaiian table settings, men in lava lavas, straw mats, some Samoan prince, polynesian meat (and lots of it), Korean noodles, Brazilian dessert, Capoeira, Hula dancing, and that New Zealand dance where the dudes stick their tongues out, grunt, and slap themselves. There were also hoards of people throwing money onto the stage and stuffing it down the top of the bride's dress (right between her breasts). The cultural hall was alive with culture and danceable energy. The guests came in every shade of brown with the Samoan guests ranging in size from XL to XXXXL.
In the undeclared culture war for who would dominate the evening, I have to say the Samoans won--they were the biggest, brightest, and loudest. Not even Brazilians know how to have as much fun as these people.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Such a dork

“Do you want me to leave, would that help?” my roommate asked desperately. I could see that he was becoming just as nervous as I was.
“No, I’m fine.” I responded in a voice that revealed quite the opposite. My thumb trembled over the green call button on my open flip phone. I took a deep breath and closed the cell phone. My breathing pattern began to return to normal. I went to the kitchen and devoured a bowl of Raisin Bran. Staring at the wedding announcements plastering the fridge I wondered who turned on the A/C and why I'm such a dork.
As I placed my bowl in the dishwasher I resolved to call her. Back in the room, my roommate smiled wryly as I picked up the phone again. I could just imagine him telling this story to someone at work tomorrow. I put the phone back down right away. It felt heavy.
“Come on man, you can’t wait much longer. It’s already 10:30. She’s gonna be in bed soon.” Yeah, I know, I guess that’s kind of what I was hoping. I picked up the 25 pound weight on the floor and did a few curls. Another deep breath. “Ok, I’m ready.”
I put my knit beanie on as I often do when its time to get serious. It’s brown and orange and has two ties that hang down on either side like pig tails. I like how the frayed ends of the ties tickle my face when I move my head. My track jacket was lying on my bed and also happened to be brown so I put that on too. The polyester on my skin made me feel smooth. My breathing was normal again. My roommate had me run through what I was going to say one more time. This time it came out smooth and sultry. “Ok, I’m ready.”
Cause I was already wearing the beanie and jacket I naturally went outdoors to make the call. Besides, I couldn’t find anywhere in the apartment where one of my roommates wouldn’t hear the embarrassment.
I dialed her number before I even got out the door. No turning back. “Hey, is Intimidating Girl home?” “Yeah, one second.” “¡$%#@!” I was praying she wouldn’t be home. I was praying her roommate would be like “Oh, she’s out with her boyfriend.”
When Intimidating Girl came on the line and I told her who’s calling she didn’t sound too disturbed. I tried to make small talk at first. That failed pretty fast. “So…..” When the awkward silence couldn’t go on much longer I asked her out for Friday. She said she’d love to but she already has plans. Oh. I feel strangely relieved. This means my Friday is now free to go help my friend serve (and eat) food at a very multicultural wedding. It also means I won't have to empty my checking account this weekend.
Still, just to be sure it wasn't flat out rejection, I asked her if she’d be willing another day. Maybe that was a trick question--I mean it would have been very hard for her to say no at that point. Oh well, it worked. Now I get to worry for the next week and a half about the upcoming date for next Friday.
My roommate had the proud father look on his face when I got back to the room and I told him I had done it. Apparently somewhere hidden away there I do have balls.
Funny, as I just wrote this I listened as my other roommate and his buddy both called girls and asked them out for Friday night. No sweat. That’s all right. I think my way is more fun.

In other news, I can’t throw. Without fail, whenever I throw something those around me observe that I throw like a girl—not making fun or anything-- just an observation. So naturally I try to avoid throwing. I always thought the one exception was Frisbees. In our intramural ultimate Frisbee game tonight I realized I’ve only been kidding myself. I even throw the Frisbee like a girl. At least I can run.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Shifting gears

The clutch in my car was especially smooth today, the weather especially nice, and the music especially upbeat. On days like today it sure would be nice not to have to go to class.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

reality

I finished reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower today and decided to participate more in life and to see a counselor, and the whole story about Charlie and the girl he loved named Sam made me change the way I think about some things. Sam said: "Its great that you can listen and be a shoulder to someone, but what about when someone doesn't need a shoulder? What if they need the arms or something like that? You can't just sit there and put everybody's lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You just can't. You have to do things... like take their hands when the slow song comes up for a change. Or be the one who asks someone for a date. Or tell people what you need. Or what you want."
I guess you'd have to read the book to have that make sense. The whole conversation is great and really laid out what I was trying to say in a previous post when I said my whole idea about love and romance was flawed and that I knew it but wasn't willing to give it up. I think I'm ready to give it up now and that's pretty liberating even though it means I'm going to get hurt.
My other favorite quote is where Charlie says "I don't know how much longer I can keep going without a friend. I used to be able to do it very easily, but that was before I knew what having a friend was like. It's much easier not to know things sometimes." I can really, really relate to that.
There were lots more awesome quotes, but one more just came to mind so I'll write it and that will be the last (for today at least): "I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they're here. If they like their jobs. Or us. And I wonder how smart they were when they were fifteen. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It's like looking at all the students and wondering who's had their heart broken that day, and how they are able to cope with having three quizzes and a book report due on top of that. Or wondering who did the heart breaking. And wondering why." Genius!
I don't want to give away the end of the book, but it makes me wonder if maybe something traumatic happened to me when I was a kid or something that makes me like this and maybe I've just forced it out of my memory. Could I just remember that and would everything suddenly be better? I don't think there is something like that in my past, but in a way today I don't think anything even has to get better cause I feel just fine.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Wallflower on campus

Thanks to a suggestion in a comment from Pinetree on a previous post, I picked up a copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower at the library today. I started reading it right there in the Juvenile section and kept on reading it the whole way home. I love walking with a book in my hand--especially a green, hand-sized book like this one happens to be. For one, reading a book on the way home means I don't have to look at other people. For two, it makes the walk home a lot more interesting.
Walking home on this sunny afternoon with that little book in my hand and my mind full of imagination my nearly empty backpack began to bounce on my spine and I felt like skipping. Actually, I kind of did skip when I crossed the roads and went down the stairs. I tried to make it look like a jog/shuffle/skip, kind of a man skip I think we could call it.
The first page of the book describes three friends in a truck listening to music and feeling "infinite." Its exactly how I felt that day in my truck when I posted prompting Pinetree to suggest I read this book. I'm glad he did cause this is my kind of book. I can relate completely to the main character. In a way, its like having a new friend--a small, green, hand-sized friend.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Clarity

Props to the creator of Labor Day Weekend. After a grueling (when compared to summer) first week of school, this weekend was exactly what I needed. Too bad the next vacation isn't until Thanksgiving. I should be in bed sleeping instead of sitting on my bed on top of this pile of clothes and books. I have to wake up for work in a little less than six hours. I was supposed to do homework this weekend--that didn't happen. I guess that's why I'm delaying going to sleep. Once I close my eyes I know that opening them will find me in a dark room swatting at a blaring alarm and I know that keeping those eyes open through the coming months of classes and work will not be easy. Another reason I just don't want to go to sleep is cause this weekend was so freaking awesome. If you'd asked me on Thursday or Friday what I expected for this weekend I probably wouldn't have had very high hopes cause at that point I felt all messed up. I'm not sure when it happened, but sometime between the football game, the late night run, the testimony meeting, the fasting, the chilling with roommates, the ice cream, the finishing first Nephi, the Mario Superstar Baseball and the lightning storm, the cacophony in my head of the past several days suddenly quieted. I wish I understood better why I sometimes have these lapses into fear, hopelessness, self-doubt, inner-conflict, and general emotional neediness. I also wish I understood what triggered the change.
All I know is Saturday was better than Friday, Sunday better than Saturday and Monday was the best day I've had in a long time. I woke up early today and watched the sun rise over this western town. Before noon I climbed a mountain in the company of good and entertaining friends. I ate steak, corn-on-the-cob, and garden tomatoes at my Grandma's for lunch and enjoyed listening as my Grandma conversed with my late Grandpa's brother who had come to visit. At my grandma's I picked up some of the things I had left there like my Confucius statue, a Mexican painting, and two bags of clothes (it was like Christmas). After lunch I went to the mall with my South American friend who is hilarious to shop with and we had a good talk afterwards back at his apartment as he showed me pictures from his summer trip. I got home just in time to get a ride to the ward activity with my roommate and his friend. They are cool guys--the type of guy who would normally intimidate me but today for some reason they didn't. I got to the activity and immediately sat down next to a cute girl cause it turned out we were early and she was the only other one there. We talked for at least 30 minutes and found we had a lot in common. Finally she convinced me to get into the pool. The water was refreshing and the pool games entertaining. Eventually, I moved to the hot tub and actually had a good time meeting my new ward members. I asked their names not because it was the thing people do but because I honestly wanted to know their names. I made friends with a cool kid who stuck with me the whole night. Later, I played ultimate frisbee, running barefoot in the grass. Somehow I ended up convincing two latinas to take me to downtown Provo to the Festival Latinoamericano where we drank Horchata and ate empanadas, pupusas, and tacos. I saw some friends from work there and met a kid who had recently returned from serving in the same mission as me. When I got home I talked on the phone to a girl I met this summer who is up visiting for a few days. We’re planning to hang out tomorrow night with some of our other summer friends.
Now it’s late and I really do need to get some sleep, but here's to hoping Tuesday's even better than today.

Friday, September 2, 2005

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Wake me up when September ends


The snooze button hitting, the leg-bobbling and doodling and playing with my watch and counting arm hairs to try to stay awake, the suddenly realizing I'm just staring at some old man's receding hair line and haven't registered a word he's taught in several minutes, the saying "sorry I can't, I've got homework," the avoiding eye contact with those people I know from somewhere but can't remember or totally remember but just don't want to have that conversation, the outrageous lines to get anything anywhere, the freshmen holding hands and making googly eyes in EFY-esque romances, the daily car accidents... I'm officially back in class with 30,000 other BYU zoobies.
Every day is a battle against my newly discovered ADD and against my frequent desire to make one of those paper chains to count the days until Christmas. Still, I try to enjoy the moment and there's plenty to enjoy--like my job that had me barbequing last night on some ghetto grill that kept shooting flames up in blatant attacks at my eyebrows (and got grease on my favorite pants!), my service-oriented ward with tons of authentic, genuinely cool people (although my roommates tell me there are no hot girls), having friends in every class, just having friends, a nice apartment and great roommates. Oh, on the roommate thing, I love them, but turns out they have no taste. When I got the condo I loved the fireplace, the mantle, the paintings, and the wrap-around bookshelf. Then landlord's son moved in with his new TV which he put in front of the fireplace, took down the mantle, moved the bookshelves, and announced that he was going to cover the walls with movie posters. I gently objected and I think in the end we'll maintain some of the original coolness.
Anyways, I'm having a good time. From initial experiences, I think the theme of this school year is going to be realizing the great opportunities and responsibility I have and looking for ways to give back during my life. One of my professors quoted Elder Eyring questioning why so few have so much and why so many have so little. I wonder that same thing a lot and feel the responsibility of having so much. It's my last year at BYU and I really want to take advantage of everything it offers so I can leave without regrets and yeah, hopefully leave here and actually do something worthwhile with my life.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Coolness


...In honor of reading all 254 pages of The Essential Calvin and Hobbes yesterday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Where to rest my head

Three days on the street can make a man hard. Luckily I'm not much of a man.
Everything usually just works out perfectly for me, so I was surprised upon returning to Utah on Monday to find no one to let me in to my new apartment. The dude with the key was in Mexico and expected to get back early this week. Sitting in my over-stuffed car in a park on Monday afternoon with nowhere in particular to go, I accepted that I was homeless.
On Monday and Tuesday, I split time between two jobs, some friends' apartments, random stores, and mostly my car. My car may not be a beauty but she has been through a lot with me. Even while filled to the roof with my junk (including lots of dirty clothes)she still smells great and offers a comfortable retreat to call my own. I spent my afternoons on benches in parks reading. Reading is something I've been wanting to do all summer but didn't get around to until I had exhausted all other alternatives for entertainment. Last night at about 10 p.m., I found myself parked under a street lamp reading the final pages of my latest war novel-- The Things They Carried.
I appreciate my friends who let me crash on their roommate's beds and dirty their showers.
This morning my new roommate came back from Mexico and let me into the apartment. I tried not to act too excited to move in, but turns out I really don't like being homeless.
Today I showered in my own bathroom and opened my bags of stuff and felt puffs of heat come out from days of sitting in the sun. I finally found my fingernail clippers which is great news because sometime Monday my fingernails reached that point where you suddenly notice that they're too long ever time you touch something and especially when you type. Maybe if I had just been able to find the clippers earlier the whole homeless experience would have been much more laughable. Anyways, now I'm chilling on my floral couch which is definitely my favorite feature of the new place and taking advantage of the novelty of in-suite laundry. On the mantle there's a picture of Jesus and a little daily calendar/quote thing. Today's quote is from Arnold Schwarzenegger and says "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman." Hmm.
School starts on Monday. I've got my books (I could go off about the new return policy though) and I'm ready to go. I just counted, and I've spent the night this summer in three countries, five states, and 12 cities. I saw some sweet places (and some holes) and met some awesome people. Movement and change is a blast, but the way my body is just crashed out on this couch reassures me that now's a good time to settle down somewhere and give myself several months of consistency.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

On my mind

This is where I basically vomit up all the things I can't get off my mind. Please feel no obligation to read this.
- Best feeling I've felt in a while: Cruising alone in my truck on the road near the lake on a sunny northwest day with both windows down and back window open, listening to my current favorite song "Way Away" by Yellowcard, shifting gears, elevated above the other cars by the 4x4 suspension--for several minutes, no worries.
- The two things I really look forward to each day are the feeling of water beating on my face in the shower and when I'm out running and move past the initial discomfort to "the zone."
- Does my mom think I'm Christopher Lowell? She asks me for decorating advice every chance she gets. My answer is usually "leave it how it is."
- I feel better when I’m healthy. I need to run more, lift weights more (ok, I never really started), eat more of everything but especially fruits and vegetables, less Wendy's.
- My ideas about love and romance are totally flawed—basically I'm living in a fantasy. I've known it was a fantasy for a long time, but for whatever reason I haven't given it up. This is a conflicted area for me that I prefer not to think about but the idea fills my head several times a day.
- Funny how you can be in the same room with someone doing the same thing but see and feel something totally different.
- Everybody thinks I'm a goody-goody--even my best friends who know a lot about me. I guess I portray that image and maybe I am, but I hate that label, or any label.
- Here at home my mom has me going through boxes of my old stuff. I've had a successful life. I've seen stacks of perfect report cards, papers, and projects, awards, scholarships, and notes of congratulations. From my second grade report card: "El Veneno is very quiet in class but he seems to have made many friends and is very active and interacts with his peers on the playground. He is a very conscientious, hard-working student who is serious." From third grade: "El Veneno is a delightful student who is well-liked by his peers... El Veneno enjoyed our chickens (we had an incubator) and unit on Mexico." I read that and think- I was such a little stud. But honestly, I haven't changed much. Why can't I see myself like other people do?
- I should write more frequently to my brothers on their missions. My relationships with them should be two of my most important.
- I'm needy. That's dangerous.
- I have issues. I'm independent. I get annoyed with anyone who becomes so involved in my life that it keeps me from having time alone to introspect and decompress. I'm selfish. Everything I do is basically for my self-gratification. Even if I'm acting interested and sincere, I'm probably doing it to satisfy some need inside of me. If its not convenient to me, I don’t care. I worry about that stuff more than being gay.
- My worst fear is ending up alone and realizing I don't enjoy the company.
- I shouldn't have let the girl slip away over the summer. I can't remember anymore why I let it fizzle out but I know I was tired of it. Now I remember her as this ideal person and want to restart things with her. I'm going to see her next week and just keep wondering what I'm going to say or do. Maybe she's engaged already. Still, I think about her a lot. More than anything I think about how idiotic I am in relationships.
- I'm tired of old ladies offering me their daughters and granddaughters. At the same time, I think I'm flattered (which is why I post it here). I ran into some lady in a parking lot who my mom knows somehow. As she was interogating me, she said "Of course you've served a mission." Of course (that bugged me). "How old are you?" "Are you engaged?" She asked me to wait to marry her granddaughter who has just entered the MTC. Sure thing. Later my mom told me that lady is something like my dad’s fourth cousin.
- The other night my parents conveniently went out for a walk and asked me to stay and wait for a girl from the singles ward who was coming to drop off some bbq grills they had borrowed. My parents had been telling me about this girl for several months so it was hard for me to believe this wasn't a set up. With no way out, I went along with it and helped her unload the grills. She was actually cute and interesting. I know her family, and they're awesome--her dad makes movies and has painted murals around their back yard. Her older brother has a band. She loves Mexico and just returned from teaching English in Africa. Once the grills were unloaded, there was an awkward pause then she said "thank you" and "have a good night" in a way that I actually believed she meant it. I was happy to say "see ya" and go back to feeling sorry for myself. I'm an idiot.
- A lady from my ward just knocked on my door right now to return something she borrowed from my mom. She invited me to come over in a few minutes for a birthday party for her son-in-law (married to her daughter who I went to school with). I acted uninterested. Then her daughter yelled from the car "Tell him to ask Brenna (her younger sister) out. She won't say no." Yeah, now I really want to go over to that house.
- I love my Hollister jeans. The problem is they only make them in 30 and 32" waists. I wish they made 31" the 32s are just a tad too big. I guess I could solve the problem if I just pay attention to the “I need to eat more” thought from above.