Sunday, December 17, 2006

Scary things

My tires were spinning in a direction that should have taken me forward but my car was slipping sideways in the Bountiful hills tonight so I ended up parking at the bottom of the hill with my home teaching companion and waiting for his brother to come down and pick him up.
I decided to skip the dinner invitation and the stake carol singing tonight and just head straight back to my little cave to watch the snow fall from a place I knew I wouldn't have to drive home from later. I positioned my car at the bottom of the hill by my house for an easy getaway for work in the morning. If it snows too much I'll seriously just take the bus.
Driving in the snow is probably the scariest thing I can think of right now. My home teaching companion kept calling me a wuss. That's especially funny cause he's not exactly Mr. macho himself.
Turns out the sporty performance tires on my car perform a whole lot better in summer olympic events than they do in the winter olympics.
It's not all bad. I got snowed into Provo on Friday night. I had no where I had to be so I spent the night at IHOP and on a friend's couch. We drank lots of hot chocolate and watched two movies. That was a ton of fun. When I don't have to drive anywhere I can appreciate the way the snow makes everything kind of magical.
When the roads clear up enough for me to wander out again I think I'll take a trip down to Les Schwab's and invest in some winter tires.

Back home in Seattle my family still doesn't have power from a storm this week. The pictures below are from the newspaper and they are all from my city. It's kind of cool when nature unleashes her fury and reminds us all that we humans are still at her mercy.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

High


I just got back from three hours of vacuuming in the temple. It was our ward temple cleaning assignment. Vacuuming made me nostalgic for my glory days at the Marriott Center, but late night vacuuming in the Lord's house turned out to be better than any BYU custodial experience. I felt an amazing calm. My mind stopped spinning and everything felt strangely fine. I really didn't want the moment to end. I don't want this feeling to go away... which is probably why I'm still awake right now. As soon as I get in bed, I'll have a blink of an eye and I'll be late for work again and back in the dark and dreary world.
I'm thankful for the occasional little glimpses of heaven that make reality a bit easier to swallow.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Praise Chorus



A Praise Chorus - Jimmy Eat World

This song is one of my recent favorites. I'm trying to get up my guts to step away from the metaphorical punch bowl and onto the dance floor of life.

"Are you gonna
Live your life wonderin’
Standing in the back
Lookin’ around?
Are you gonna
Waste your time
Thinkin' how you’ve grown up
Or how you missed out?
Things are never gonna
Be the way you want
Where's it gonna
Get you acting serious?
Things are never gonna
Be quite what you want
Even at 25
You gotta start sometime"

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

An Election Victory (for me)

A week ago I taught a ward FHE lesson on voting and promised I’d vote this year for the first time in my life. I really don’t know how I’ve gotten this far without casting my ballot. I spent my entire senior year of high school promoting political activism among young voters, working on local campaigns, and lobbying along with the PTSA. I watch CNN and unlike Alan Jackson, I do know the difference between Iraq and Iran. For the last seven years my excuse for being a slacker voter has been that I’ve never lived in my voting district and never thought ahead enough to vote absentee.
This is the closest I’ve ever lived to my voting district, but I’m still 40 minutes away from the Provo address I’m registered at. After a tough day at work today, I drove home debating whether my vote was worth the long drive to Provo. I rationalized that if I stayed in Salt Lake tonight I could attend Institute—a good thing, right?
I got home and had pretty much rationalized myself into abstaining. When I signed into MSN messenger, Pinetree was online and had set his screen name as “I hope you all voted today.” Pinetree’s screenname was the last push I needed to stop making excuses and do my civic duty.
I hit the road with the empowered feeling that comes from doing what I know I should. Farrer Elementary was pretty much empty except for the two old couples staffing the voter station when I got there at 7:00 pm. Voting took less than five minutes to complete. I got to vote for the state representative and senator and for the improved transportation proposition. Most the county positions didn’t even have an option—just the republican or the write-in, and I had no idea who either of the school board candidates were. In Utah County I know my vote really didn’t turn any races, but it made a huge turn in me. I walked out the door wearing my “I voted” sticker and feeling proud of myself for finally coming through with a goal and feeling a little bit more a part of this amazing country.

That guy I used to see at the gym is famous now

Thank you ATP for commenting on this news spot on your blog which infuriated me enough to write a response to FOX 13. Watch the spot using the link below (two parts)then see my response (written late at night and when I was kind of in a weird mood so don't judge me too harshly).

Click Here

Fox 13 misrepresented a sensitive subject in Sandy Riesgraf's story "Married, Gay, and Mormon."
I am always interested in the way the media discusses homosexuality. As someone who knows Ben and as a gay mormon who has not chosen marriage I was especially interested in this piece. The media is guilty of consistently perpetuating myths and stereotypes about homosexuality over many, many years. The media has chosen to highlight the deviant, conflicted, and stereotypical side of homosexuality (ie Tom Foley, Brokeback Mt, Queer Eye) without really ever getting past the surface of homosexuality in America. Terribly misguided interest groups have some responsibility for this problem which I believe is equally damaging to young, closeted, or struggling homosexuals as any repression from evangelical or mormon church groups.
Sandy's spots were overly dramatic and tabloid and underly factual or realistic. I know it's standard in small-market news, but Sandy's voice intonation was hyper-incredulous and accusatory. Please, just read the news without screaming your uninformed opinion with every syllable you pronounce.
Listen when Sandy says "the experts say there is no way of knowing what percent of gay-straight marriages actually succeed." That is a fact but she makes it sound like it's part of some grand conspiracy by "the experts."
The tone and verbiage combined in perhaps my least favorite line of the entire spot: "The church was not interested in participating in the discussion of this issue." Please just say the LDS church did not comment on this story. If there is any question that the church is interested in the discussion of this issue, please see: LDS Newsroom or just talk to someone who is gay and mormon and talks to church leaders about it and I think you will hear a different story. The LDS church is more interested in talking about this issue than ever in it's history and is doing a better job of talking about it than many other churches. The church is very delicately teaching it's members to love and care for all people in all conditions without revising moral definitions to better fit MTV-ified America. You don't have to agree with the church's stance on the issue, but please try to inform yourself about the church's stance and then represent it accurately.
The story's negative bias toward the church tainted its portrayal of Evergreen International. I personally disagree with many things Evergreen International does, but your story made it look more vicious than it is. The book titles shown on the screen while introducing Evergreen's rep and the way the quote "there are men who have done that, yes" was used to insinuate that Evergreen tries to turn gay men hetero are two examples of this. You did allow the rep to say that Evergreen's goal is to "modify, reduce, or eliminate" homosexual feelings. Change is possible. That doesn't mean I will become straight and honestly I don't even want to, but I do want to understand myself better, and feel more capable of dealing with my homosexual feelings in an open environment. That positive part of Evergreen International was not well represented.
The counselor you mentioned at the end of the spot said the worst thing to do is give men like me false hope of a "cure", but I think a greater crime is to unnecessarily dash all hope of a happy life for people dealing with this issue. For too many years, the media has featured homosexual men in desperate and unappealing situations. I don't want to wear speedos and feathers in a pride parade or date a cross-dresser dying of AIDS like in "Rent" or be a 40 year old man alone in an empty house blaming the LDS church for a half-life of misery and looking to start over from the ashes of the life I wasted because I never really dealt with my issues.
I liked the spot on Ben and his family who are making healthy and informed life decisions. That feature was well-edited and I think a good, albeit short, look at his life. I wish there were more time in the media to look at healthy gay men--with wives, partners, or single, but in the positive situations that exist among gays but are little publicized in the media.
All publicity can be good and I'm glad FOX found time in it's programming to feature this issue. Hopefully it will cause people who are not homosexual to see some new perspective and hopefully homosexual men and women will be able to garnish some realistic alternatives and hope from it. I'm afraid however that the basic attitude of the spot editorialized Sandy's opinions and failed to cover this story in any way that could be described as "fair" or "balanced." If you find continuing interest in the way gay men and women from religious cultures are finding happy lives I hope that your future coverage of these stories will focus on more people like Ben and less on people like Craig (Greg ?) and will more fairly represent the role of religion in our lives. We all can hope.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

I want to make babies

I just got home from a date. With a girl. It was a ward set up thing. I picked her up at her parent's house. I met the parents. I think I've only done that like two other times in my life. It's much better to date girls who don't live with mom and dad. The whole ward met at a cheap diner. My date and I made awkward small talk through what felt like a very long dinner...Painful. We both seemed more interested in the sugar packets on the table than in each other. The whole date thing was a ploy to get us to go to the Saturday evening session of stake conference. At one point during the conference, I leaned over to do the rest my shoulders on my knees/look at the floor/sleep position. She asked me if she could scratch my back. What the ?? I told her no thanks that I have touch issues. Awkward. At the bishop's house afterward she told me I didn't have to sit by her if I wanted to flirt with someone else. What the ?? I sat by her. The conversation got a little more relaxed. Driving back to her house she told me I was funny which is a nice way of saying I have issues. I didn't even attempt to walk her to the door or anything and she didn't seem at all hurt.
Stake conference was all about family. The whole time I kept thinking how much I'd like to have a kid or two of my very own. The cruel trick of course is that to get a kid I need to marry or at least have a nine month romance with a girl like the one who was sitting next to me trying to scratch my back. I'm going to have to get over some of my issues.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Finally

I think this Sunday I'm going to read a book or something...

Click here: The End

Sunday, October 22, 2006

To the depths of the queerosphere

Like the cosmos, there seems to be no end to the web of bloggers documenting life with SSA.
On days like today when I have way too much free time I sometimes follow the trails of comments and links to new frontiers of blogspot. Whether the blogs are fresh and cautious or old and juicy, they all tell a familiar tale. They are full of faith, determination, pain, confusion, and bleeding angst.
Navigating the queerosphere and glimpsing into others' lives inevitably leaves a sick feeling in my stomach. I can handle my life and the life of a couple close friends, but when I see that this blogring is really never-ending I can't help but get nauseous. Each of these people is going through what I've been through and I still go through and what I can only describe sometimes as hell. And it's not fair. Why would a just God haunt so many lives? Not to get all emo about it cause most of the time it's not too bad and there are lots of things that could be worse, but sometimes it does really suck. And I know very well how a couple of sucky moments can overwhelm a lifetime of good ones.
It doesn't help that I have a wicked "Hero Complex" that connects my self worth and sexuality to my ability to heal the world's pain and specifically the pain of good looking men. It makes me want to take in all the desperate bloggers and "save" them, calm their fears and fix their problems. But there's no way I can reach that many people. I try with a couple project cases. It feels like the starfish story from Sunday School--"at least I made a difference for this one." Maybe if I can just perfectly frame a comment on their blog. Maybe if I can just be the good friend they've always needed. Maybe if I can just help them see how amazing they are.

My anthem is "Fix You" by Coldplay:

"When you feel so tired but you can't sleep
And the tears come streaming down your face
When you're too in love to let it go
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you"

I have no right to sing that song. My projects never work. I get my life all caught up in somebody else's and we don't find any solutions. Eternal laws provide no way for me to save somebody else. A blogger texts me late at night hinting he's suicidal. All the power in me wants to reach out and take his pain away and make it mine so he can just stop crying for one night and have a break for once, but I can't. And nothing I can say or do makes it any better until something changes inside of him. I freak out.

In the end it all comes back to what it always comes back to--faith and hope and trust in God. My freak out session usually ends when I remember that there is someone who knows us all and who does reach out to us all--to the depths of the queerosphere and beyond. He can save us all and He already took our pain away... not quite so simple in application but it's all out there and there's a lot of light at the end of the tunnel, and along the way too. He invites us home and He can "fix" us. I need Him to fix me.

"And all I was trying to do was save my own skin
But so were You" - Relient K

Sunday, October 8, 2006

He's Blind Not Gay

freakin hillarious

Hindsight

The knee was still screwed up on Saturday so I watched the marathon from the sidelines. Gilmore Guy and Pinetree exceeded their own expectations and had amazing races. It's cool to have fast friends.
I had fun driving down and up in my new car and listening to some new music and just getting out of town.
As motivation to keep training, all three of us are planning to sign up for another marathon soon. There's not a lot to choose from over the winter so I'm not sure what we'll decide on. We've got the Moab Half Marathon in March.
Today in church my friend bore his testimony and mentioned that he ended a party at his house early to go help clean the Conference Center late Tuesday night cause he had signed up for it and had forgotten. I got a call Tuesday night reminding me that I had signed up for the same thing. I was down in Provo and already planning to go running so I told them I wouldn't make it. Looking back, if I had just gone and cleaned the Conference Center like I should have instead of running 20 miles, my leg may have been fine on Saturday.
Among other "if onlys," another friend told me about R.I.C.E.
Rest
Ice
Compression
(like an ACE bandage)
Elevate
You're supposed to do that when you have a sprain which is what I'm pretty sure I have. If only I had known that on Tuesday I'm sure my leg would be better off today.
Oh well. I'm over being pissed at myself for past stupidity. Moral of the story: make sure you go to the church things you sign up for and if any of you sprain something, just R.I.C.E. it.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Learning the hard way

"you can't procrastinate training for a marathon"

-- That sagely wisdom is what Wiggle told Pinetree who told me on Tuesday night as we were about five miles into a 20 mile run up Provo Canyon.

It was our last long run before the St. George Marathon on Saturday. The run itself was amazing. An almost full moon illuminated the world in glowing blue hues. It was light enough to see the details of the mountains and the fall forest. Conversation was good until we all got tired--then the silence was good.

Unfortunately, Wiggle's wisdom came a little too late for me. About the time I heard it from Pinetree, sharp pains were beginning to shoot through my left knee. I assumed I could run it off but another 10 miles proved me wrong. Compensating for the knee pain spread the stress from my toenails to my thighs. Gilmore Guy and Pinetree were buddy enough to stick with me as I hobbled back into Provo at 1:00 am feeling pretty defeated.

Since Tuesday, I've been desperately trying to heal my leg--eating well and massaging my knee and stretching and sleeping and last night I even tried a hot tub. The sharp pain is numbing slightly, but I messed it up pretty good. I'm walking with a limp and can't really put weight on my left leg. I'm pretty pissed at myself. I only really started training for this marathon about three weeks ago and then I crammed in 10+ mile runs every night in a desperate training binge. It's been a long time since I've subscribed to Runner's World and I've obviously lost some of my good running sense since then.

In a way though, I'm kind of happy. I'm a big fan of justice and this is one time I feel like I get what I deserve. So many times I've slacked and procrastinated and things have just kind of magically fallen into place. I was beginning to think I was one of the "chosen people" or something. It's good to get a little wake up call sometimes and remember that sitting, watching, and wishing don't get me any closer to the things I really want. A postcard on my fridge says "The only way to become a great runner is to run." There are hard ways and easy ways of going through life, but there really are no shortcuts.

I'm supposed to be on the starting line of the St. George Marathon in about 36 hours. I'm still eating my pasta and hydrating and packing my running shoes in case I feel good enough to run then. I'm not banking on it though.

Whether I run 26.2 miles with a throbbing knee or wait three hours and watch while everyone else runs, it will be a painful experience. I'm just hoping that it will be painful enough that I'll learn my lesson for next time.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Musical Medicene


I spend a lot of time on Purevolume.com looking for a new musical fix. "Naive" by The Kooks is my latest intoxicant. Pretty much I just love the accent.

You can hear it with the player at this link:
The Kooks on Purevolume.com


My favorite from last week was "Take What's Mine" by Baumer. You can actually download this one for free. "Denouement" is another nice track. Cool 80s retro sound.

Here's the link for that one:
Baumer on Purevolume.com


The best discovery of the summer was Hellogoodbye. It took me one or two listens to warm up to the powerpop sound and now I'm an addict. Check out the rockoutable "Here in Your Arms" and "Call n' Return" and the softer "Baby, It's a Fact" and "Dear Jamie...Sincerely Me." It's all so good.

The link:
Hellogoodbye on Purevolume.com

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Office is back


The season premier of The Office is this Thursday at 7:30 pm on NBC.

This week's episode is called "Gay Witch Hunt."

Work and gay stuff are two things I really need to laugh at sometimes.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

This is my life

In the Q&A mentioned in the previous post, Elder Wickman used the example of his handicapped daughter Courtney to illustrate that God does not always act in ways that man views as fair.

"I happen to have a handicapped daughter. She's a beautiful girl. She'll be 27 next week. Her name is Courtney. Courtney will never marry in this life, yet she looks wistfully upon those who do. She will stand at the window of my office which overlooks the Salt Lake Temple and look at the brides and their new husbands as they're having their pictures taken. She's at once captivated by it and saddened because Courtney understands that will not be her experience here. Courtney didn't ask for the circumstances into which she was born in this life, any more than somebody with same-gender attraction did. So there are lots of kinds of anguish people can have, even associated with just this matter of marriage. What we look forward to, and the great promise of the gospel, is that whatever our inclinations are here, whatever our shortcomings are here, whatever the hindrances to our enjoying a fullness of joy here, we have the Lord's assurance for every one of us that those in due course will be removed. We just need to remain faithful." - Elder Wickman

That story made me remember this, which I wrote in an e-mail back in May:
"I had a sweet Sunday today. A member of the stake presidency taught a great lesson about... hmm I don't know what it was about... life basically, like how we have trials and joys and everything and it's all life and as long as we have the Lord there with us it's all good. He talked about his wife having a premature baby and all the complications and this girl was there, this 11 year old girl, she was sitting on her mom's lap and she had all kinds of health problems and mental handicaps and seeing her totally affected me. Why did God let that happen to her? I don't know. The thing is, the dad and the mom are ok with it. They don't curse God and question why. They just trust the Lord. And the girl has all kinds of issues but she was smiling the whole time. The dad said that when the baby was a couple months old her lungs collapsed and she was lifeflighted to LDS hospital and everyone there thought she was going to die. When the dad heard about it, he rushed home from work but then he just waited at his house for an hour or so to pray and decide what to do and when he finally went to the hospital he said he had made up his mind to release the little girl's spirit and let her die. But when he got there and put his hands on her head he felt like those weren't the words to say. Instead, he said that it was her choice. That if she wanted to stay in that body and live then she could, if not, she had already done what she needed to do on earth and could go. Right when he said that all of her vital functions came back and she was released soon from the hospital. Apparently her spirit wanted to stay on Earth. That story really moved me because there's something in my Patriarchal Blessing that says that I chose the situation of my birth. When I think about it that way, I suddenly realize that there is this valient spirit inside of me who knew exactly what this life was going to entail. Maybe I even knew that I would struggle with this whole gay thing, but I want to be here and I want to live. It makes it easier to accept and to not just curse God when you think that maybe we had a choice in the matter."

Have a great Sunday everybody.

Q & A

The church posted the following link on it's website earlier this month. It's an interview with Elder Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman of the seventy. It's definitely worth reading the whole thing.

Here is the link:
LDS Newsroom: Same-Gender Attraction


This is probably the most comprehensive and clear description I've ever seen from the church concerning same-sex attraction and how we should deal with it. I honestly felt the spirit while reading it. I know it's true.
There are a couple of things I still have questions about and have to just go on faith on. First, I don't understand the fear of adverse effects to traditional marriages from a change in the legal definition of marriage. I support the Church's doctrine on marriage but the disintegration of traditional marriage prophecied in the political debate has not happened in places where marriage has been redefined--like Canada. Second, I still choke with the statement that controlling homosexual feelings is the same as controlling heterosexual feelings before marriage. To me, there is a huge difference. Straight guys can love girls, kiss girls, hope for girls before marriage--I can not do that with guys. Answers are provided to both these questions but I'm still left hanging a little. Hopefully I don't sound like an apostate. Like I said, I trust God and I trust that God is inspiring Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman. I'm glad to have a couple more answers in this Q&A but there are still those two things I think I'd go over one more time if I could talk to a GA.

These were some of my favorite quotes from the piece. They all refer to agency and responsibility, which to me has become the key in making my life happy:

"I think I would say to your son or anyone that was so afflicted to strive to expand your horizons beyond simply gender orientation. Find fulfillment in the many other facets of your character and your personality and your nature that extend beyond that. There's no denial that one's gender orientation is certainly a core characteristic of any person, but it's not the only one." - Elder Wickman

"We have the agency to choose which characteristics will define us; those choices are not thrust upon us.The ultimate defining fact for all of us is that we are children of Heavenly Parents, born on this earth for a purpose, and born with a divine destiny." - Elder Oaks

"Ultimately, the wisest course for anybody who's afflicted with same-gender attraction is to strive to extend one's horizon beyond just one's sexual orientation, one's gender orientation, and to try to see the whole person. If I'm one that's afflicted with same-gender attraction, I should strive to see myself in a much broader context-- seeing myself as a child of God with whatever my talents may be, whether intellect, or music, or athletics, or somebody that has a compassion to help people, to see myself in a larger setting and thus to see my life in that setting. The more a person can look beyond gender orientation, the happier and more fulfilling life is likely to be. The worst possible thing for any of us-- no matter what our temptations, no matter what our mortal inclinations may be-- is to become fixated with them, to dwell on them. When we do that, not only do we deny the other things that comprise us, but experience teaches that there will be an increased likelihood that eventually we will simply succumb to the inclination." - Elder Wickman

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

These Days

I'm sitting on my new couch in my new apartment and things are just fine. Last night was my first night here. I'm still not quite sure why I moved in the first place. Pretty much just cause I got it in my head and I have a hard time getting stuff out of my head. The house I was living in was really sweet and close to work and cheap and my roommates were great. Sometimes I do stupid stuff---like moving now, but I usually make it work out in the end.
Work sucks but it sucks in a way that it's almost funny how bad it sucks. It gives me something to complain about and we all need that sometimes.
My ward is amazing. I actually have friends and stuff to do.
My parents are coming to town tomorrow. I miss them a lot and I'm crazy excited to see them. Too bad I'm leaving for Gilmore Guy's wedding on Friday but that's pretty exciting too. My parents will be here when I get back and my little bro will have joined them.
I really need to start running to get in shape for the St. George marathon. Gilmore Guy has been doing like 12 miles a day so he'll beat me. I might be able to keep up with Pinetree though. I hear he is eating a lot of burritos these days.
I think running more would give me more time to think about stuff which would help me come up with material for my blog. Right now I pretty much just think all day about how to get the people at work to stop freaking out and then I come home and think about how I can get to bed. When I have free time I think I'd really like to buy a car and I should really find my checkbook so I can pay my bills.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Musings of an unoccupied mind

Gilmore Guy’s girlfriend is wearing a diamond ring and I saw a completed marriage license application sitting on his coffee table. So really I should say fiance. That’s still almost too much for me to take in but it’s definitely a good thing and I’m definitely proud of him. I do want to mention here though that I was the one who pointed the girl out to him when I met her in our dance class last semester (and I was the one who made him take the dance class). So Gilmore Guy owes me something for all of this. I get to go to D.C. in August for the wedding which by itself would be cool but is even cooler cause I have three other good friends out there who I’ll get to see plus I’ll get to see my old house and get out of Utah for a while. My little brother is thinking of going out with me which would be even cooler. He's even cooler cause he climbed Mt. Rainier this weekend and he did it in like 12 hours while most normal adventurous types take three days. And he did it with our cross country running buddy who is Jewish and filthy rich and whose dad used to yell at him in Hebrew during races. That kid is insane.
This episode in Gilmore Guy’s life is a good little taste of reality. Somehow, inexplicably things just happened and now he’s getting married. Sometimes things we fear and worry about so much are not that big of a deal. I’m not saying he hasn’t had to work for this, but I’ve been with him for a lot of the last few years and I’ve seen how he’s just done what he needed to and things have worked out.
In church yesterday we talked a lot about loving ourselves. It comes down to that you have to know that God loves you wholly and completely and fundamentally. He loves you for who you are—his son or daughter. I don’t know cause I’ve never been there, but I’m told that real life parents feel a love for their children that can not be rivaled. The supreme Deity in the universe is literally my father and he literally loves me. Reading our scriptures or praying doesn’t make him love us more, but it does allow us to more fully feel his love and that makes him happy. I believe much unhappiness and self-despising comes from believing that our worth is conditional. She broke up with me, therefore I must be worthless. He didn’t notice me, therefore I must be worthless. I thought I perfected my paper and my professor gave me a B, therefore I must be worthless. I totally procrastinated writing my paper and flunked the class, I’m worthless… The fact is our personal worth is not connected to our success or failures.
God does love us. I watched New York Doll again last night. I love how God gave Arthur Kane exactly what he wanted.
Life in the northern valley is pretty good. I keep busy with FHE, institute, sports night, firesides, and continuous little social events. My ward is not cool at all by MTV coolness standards—just a bunch of goofy looking and impaired people who are old and not married but that’s cool for me cause I fit in and we’re all having a great time and we’ve learned how to laugh at ourselves and just deal. I’m having a little bit of Utah culture shock which for some reason I never had at BYU. I went on a big group date thing on Saturday night. It was just okay but the people I went with can’t stop talking about how cool it was.
Living up this way is cool cause I get to see some of my cousins and grandma and stuff more often. Tomorrow I’m supposed to meet my cousin for lunch and on Saturday we’re going mountain biking. He’s deaf which is just incidental but I think it’s cool and also the fact that he speaks Spanish.
My second family who lived across the road from me all growing up in Seattle just bought a house on the hill here right where I always run. I helped them move in last week and now I have a standing invitation to have Sunday dinner at their house every week. We had taco salad this Sunday. Their son who was one of my best childhood buddies and just got married moved out here to another house in Salt Lake so I get to see him a lot too.
I could write a lot about work but I hear you can lose your job for blogging about the workplace. For a summary of what my job is like, just watch the TV show The Office. It’s a great show, and the story of my life. Actually all my office drama deserves a post so I’ll do that sometime.
I’m becoming a media junkie. I’m kind of on one continual music and movies high right now. I rotate through genres trying to get a new fix. I love songs with cool titles and lyrics that just seem to tell my life story. The amazing thing is that all kinds of trendy teenagers and college kids like the same music I do which means we all think it tells our story and that means we all have kind of similar life stories and yet somehow we still think that nobody understands us and that we’re all so different. But we’re not so different and we all could probably be pretty good friends if we just tried. One of my friends got me hooked on Lost. It’s like crack. It’s pretty cool most of the time but I find myself needing it every night. I usually don’t get around to watching an episode until 11:30ish… That’s no good cause after one episode I get all scared and think The Others are going to come and try to take my baby so I can’t sleep so I just put in another episode hoping everything will get resolved but forgetting that this is a TV series so they have to drag it out and by the time I realize what’s happening, it’s 7:15 a.m. and I’ve almost slept through work. I’ve also got a free one-month trial of Blockbuster online so I’ve got three movies at any time competing for my attention. Writing this all out makes me realize how frivolous this all is. I think I’ll cut back on media in July.
My roommates are cool. I can tell some good stories about them but again I’m afraid they might read this so if you don’t know the stories already just ask me in person.
Not because of my roommates I’m thinking of buying a condo or a house or something. Today after work I went to check out some places I saw online. One was across the train tracks and behind a warehouse in downtown SLC. It was actually at the end of a little alley lined with actual project row houses. I didn’t even drive down the alley cause the dudes chillin over their El Camino were giving me nasty looks. I can’t afford much so I might be looking for awhile.
I’m looking at cars too. I really want a willow green Subaru Outback. Again, it’s a little out of my price range. I did find out they pay me overtime if I work more than eight hours so it makes me feel a little richer and it unfortunately makes me rationalize skipping lunch everyday so I can get the overtime.
I guess I’m just writing this cause I know some people really have no idea what I’m up to without this blog. I’ll try to write more later. Things are good, I’m being good, I still go to Provo all the time. If you’re one of the people I kind of lost contact with when I left P-town know that I’m sorry and I miss you. I really do miss everyone…I even miss the cashiers at Macey’s and the people I walked by on the way to school and Cecil Samuelson.
Finally I just want to say that it is really summer and the sun stays up forever and it’s so hard to have a real job right now but I guess that’s life.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Right Where I Need to Be

At work today, my two computer monitors suddenly went black just as I was in the middle of something important. My phone died at the same time. Apparently a dump truck hit a power pole somewhere and our whole operation went down with it. With the power out, the regular office sounds of phone conversations, printers, and fax machines were all absent. All the people in the office congregated by the big windows and we just hung out for about an hour eating ice cream bars and talking about the weather, surfing, traffic, whatever. It was a cool moment to get to know my coworkers and kind of made me realize how dependent we've all become on technology. For all the good they do, e-mails and voicemails and all the modern technology has dehumanized commerce and isolated humans. I'm going to have to remember to unplug sometimes and build connections with people.
I'm trying to get to know people up here. I feel like I'm fitting in at work. People there are starting to get my dry sense of humor and I'm starting to understand their inside jokes.
My ward is small but full of solid people. I've made a few acquaintances of the type that I can sit by at the next church thing and not feel weird about it. I think it will be good.
My roommate who owns the house is an all around good guy. Tonight we talked about dog training, running shoes, and cars. We're going to go car shopping together someday.
My other roommate is different. I had a bad first impression of him and a really bad second impression but I think he'll be cool after all. I had a really crazy experience with him Sunday night (the second impression) that I'll have to tell you about later.
I've ended up spending a lot of my freetime down in Provo. I've been crashing at Gilmore Guy's and spending a lot of time with a girl... like really a lot of time... like the type of time that a boy spends with his girlfriend--but we're not that. It's all fun and feels good until I start to think about it too much. She's remarkable. We've known each other for four years now and we're about as close as people get. I don't want to hurt her but I also don't want to let go of such a good thing. This weekend she and I saw X3 together on Friday and went to the Sand Dunes south of Provo on Saturday then played games at Gilmore Guy's with he and his girlfriend. Yeah, Gilmore Guy has a girlfriend. So I'm thinking I might just be treating this girl like a girlfriend cause it's convenient. It sure is convenient though, and a lot of fun.
On Monday, I got to Provo about noon. I met this girl at her house and went to D.I. in Provo to look for great values on clothes. I found a sweet shirt for work. I found some snazzy plaid golf pants too but they were about 12 inches too big on the waist. We went next to Orem to check out the Honda dealership where I was hoping to test drive the new Fit. All of the Fit's had sold so we just got a brochure. The Fit is a little Japanese looking car but I kind of like it. Next, we went to Lowe's to look for a lamp for my room. We had fun picking out rugs, bathrooms, kitchens, and paints for our future houses. Next, we went to Jamba Juice and we both tried new flavors recommended by the girl at the counter. We took the Jamba Juices to an Argentine restaurant and got a thick sandwich and a Chilean empanada to share. We bought Guarana at the South American market next door. This girl and I have been to who knows how many restaurants together. She told me on Monday that she's been to more restaurants with me than with all other people combined.
After eating we drove around a bit then went to a beautiful cemetery up on the hill in Provo. This girl thought that would be an appropriate activity being memorial day and all. We had fun setting up flower pots that had tipped over in the wind and reading gravestones. I learned that people die young. There were so many people who died at 40 and 50... life is short. Lots of husbands and wives were buried near each other. We noticed that they usually died within several months of each other. I bet you kind of lose the desire to live when you lose your life companion. The saddest gravemarker was for a mother of three boys. She was in her thirties. Her youngest boy was buried in the same plot. He had just one date on the marker--obviously the day he had both been born and died and also the same day his mother had died. The mother's picture was on the stone with her husband. They were a beautiful, vibrant looking couple. Most of the grave markers had pictures of the temple on them. I guess when it all comes down to it, the temple, and the covenants and promises that go with it, is the thing that really matters. In the end, that's what gives us hope. In the evening, my friend and I met up with Gilmore Guy and his girlfriend and went hiking to Stewart Falls up by Sundance. My friend and I had a really good discussion along the way. We finished off the night making dinner at Gilmore Guy's GF's condo and watching a terribly lame 80's movie. I took my friend home and didn't even give her a hug this time. I tried but she kind of dodged then smiled then shrugged and walked to the door. She sent a text a couple minutes later "What the..? Sorry about that-just hate saying goodbye to you."
Gilmore guy says that she and I have as much chemistry as any couple he's ever seen. I love spending time with her and have none of the complaints about her that I normally have about girls. She's just all around cool. Too bad I'm gay. I try not to worry about where this is going. After four years things are still remarkably cool so I hope they just stay that way.
Tonight I went running up on the hill. I ran around a golf course and through neighborhoods of ginormous got-to-have-the-nicest-home-in-the-ward houses and up into the foothills where the road turns to gravel. I ran by a house with a big banner that said "Bienvenue Elder ....", and I ran past a chapel just as the deacon-aged boys were getting out and they were all heading home wearing their Boy Scout shirts and riding motorized scooters. I ran by people gardening and kids on trampolines and a couple with a realtor looking at a house for sale. Up on the hill everything is very nice and clean and people really do look happy.
I'm especially happy these days. Being in a new place has been good for me. Alone time helps me figure out who I am and what I stand for. I've been doing the things I need to to feel the spirit more in my life. There's just a feeling that you get when you're doing what you want to deep down. It's kind of like the feeling you get after you go running or work out. It's always hard to get motivated to do those things but you really want to and when you do you feel great. There are spiritual things I've needed to do better at--like really praying, reading the scriptures, participating in church, thinking about others, serving, being close to my family, and things like that. I'm doing better at that stuff and it feels good. Everything just feels light right now and I really think things are going to just keep getting better.
I'm turning 25 in not too long. I remember thinking about the future when I was a freshman at BYU and thinking that after my mission things would be really hard dealing with being gay and trying to reconcile that with all the other parts of me. Pre-mission that wasn't much of an issue but I just imagined it becoming more and more of an issue as I became more and more obviously unmarried. Somehow, I imagined that that would mean that my entire life would become increasingly unhappy. I've been gladly surprised to find out that things are just fine. Every year in recent memory has been better than the last. Getting old sucks in a way. I guess I'm getting closer everyday to becoming a name on one of those gravestones. At the same time though, I'm cool with it cause it really is a sweet ride and I'm just glad to be here for it.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Life

Today was amazing. I felt the spirit wrapped around me comforting me and carrying me. I went to church for the first time in my new single's ward. I think I'll like it. It was ward conference so the Bishop spoke and said some stuff that was just what I needed to hear. In the combined Priesthood/Relief Society meeting I was completely overwhelmed by the spirit. My eyes were all watery and my throat was all tight and I had to muster all my strength to not bust out crying.
This evening I went to a fireside with Sheri Dew way up on the hill. I left early to make sure I could find it so I ended up with an hour to just drive around and explore. The hills are all a vibrant green and covered in field grass and wildflowers. There was a soft breeze and the sun was setting and little, cool-looking birds were all over and it was just amazing.
Sister Dew's fireside was sweet. Listening to her made me remember why I do all the Mormon things I do. I drove home listening to "Everyday" by Maren Ord. That's the song that the main character in "The Single's Ward" listens to when he's sitting in his car looking over the valley and remembering his baptism and getting the priesthood and being a missionary and he decides to turn his life in the right direction.
I'm trying really hard to keep going in that direction. BYU was a great environment but I think I got too casual there and too comfortable. Change is good. I'm going to work extra hard to do the things that make me happy. I'm especially trying to get close to God again and feel really comfortable praying and actually feeling like he is listening and like I'll be willing to follow the inspiration he gives me.
As far as gay things go, I'm feeling very, very not gay. I'm not feeling straight either, but I really just don't think about that stuff. Work has me busy and I'm kind of disconnected from all the gay stuff so it just hasn't been an issue.
The strange thing is I found a place to live on Craigslist that was really close to work and one of the roommates says my other roommate might be gay but so far that guy is too cool to talk to me so I don't think that's gonna be an issue. Incidently, the other roommate is quite cool and tries really hard to make me feel comfortable and introduce me to people and stuff, so it's all good.

Someday shared this scripture today and it completely resonated with me. It's the words of Joseph Smith from Liberty Jail. When the Lord's on your side, nothing can really go wrong. It's true.

Doctrine and Covenants 127:2 "Deep water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become a second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulaton; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it."

Saturday, May 13, 2006

$30 a night

I think I spent a total of about $220 in Mexico for eight days of food, lodging, entertainment, and transport. That's pretty decent.
I treated myself to a good hostel in Cuernavaca where I got a private room with private bathroom and queen sized bed, free breakfast and dinner, and a pool with hammocks by it for about $30 a night.
If any of you read this and realize how cheap and cool Mexico is and decide to go please invite me along--I'm addicted.

My favorite city - Taxco

On Tuesday I visited a colonial silver mining town in Guerrero state called Taxco. This town was magical. I spent hours and hours just walking up and down the cobblestown streets. The buildings are all white and the roofs are all red tile. The streets are full of white VW Beetles and Vans that are the taxis. The whole town is built on a hill so you are always going up or down and it's usually steep.

You see that little red circle in the top right in the above picture? That's a big Jesus statue. I kind of felt it calling me so I weaved my way through the streets all the way up to it. The VW vans pretty much fill up the entire street so I had to keep checking my shoes when the passed to make sure they hadn't run over my toes.

I took tons of pictures in Taxco. I'm most proud of the first one on this post. I think it turned out pretty cool.

Someday I want to go back to Taxco and be able to walk these streets and eat in these cafes with someone special.

Tepoztlán - Magic

Here are some more pictures of my Mexico trip. On Monday, May 1 (the day of the immigrant protests in the U.S.), I left Mexico City for Cuernavaca. May 1 is Labor Day in Mexico so there were all sorts of labor protests going on. The railroad workers were filling the Zocalo in DF when I got on the subway before the sun had even come up. In Cuernavaca, healthcare workers, teachers, and who knows who else were marching in white shirts. One guy was passing out foam-dome baseball caps with some declaration printed on them. People were seriously mobbing him to try to get a cap. Apparently Mexicans are big fans of free hats.
Mexicans in Mexico protested American immigration policies the same day with a protest against everything Gringo. I saw lots of posters reminding people not to shop at American businesses like Wal-Mart and McDonald's but the press the next day said nobody actually followed through. I even ate at McDonald's that day cause I was running low on cash, banks were closed, and McDonald's accepts plastic. I'm all for more rights for immigrants in America but I really question how boycotting American businesses in Mexico would do that? McDonald's and Wal-Mart are two of the biggest employers of Mexican-Americans and contribute a lot to the Mexican economy. Oh well, I think the lesson I've learned the last few months is that protested are just kind of a big joke. They are fun to watch though.

After a couple hours in Cuernavaca's centro, I weaved through the layers and labyrinth of Cuernavaca's city market and came out a couple blocks away where I caught a bus headed to Tepoztlan. Tepoztlan is a small town in the hills about 30 minutes from Cuernavaca. Tepoztlan is supposedly special though, cause it's magic. According to various websites (if it's online it has to be true) Tepoztlan is one of few mexican villages officially recognized as a "Pueblo Magico" or Magic Village. I don't know what that means or who makes that decision, but nevertheless I was pretty pumped to see this place.

I got off the bus in Tepoztlan and saw two Mormon missionaries waiting to get on the bus. Maybe they are what makes it magical. I chatted with them for a while and told them I was jealous.


The town was pretty cool. I saw lots of hippies, and Europeans and South Americans and stuff... Listening to accents and trying to guess where someone is from is pretty fun.
Everyone who comes to Tepoztlan hikes up to see the Pyramid. The hike is a lot longer than I expected. I was wearing jeans and it was hot.

But the view was worth it... it was almost, but not quite, magical.

Monday, May 8, 2006

La Iglesia trae la felicidad


We went to church right next the Temple. Going to church in Spanish is so much better than English (I know I'm biased). I've only gone in Spanish a handful of times since my mission. The ward was awesome. Four new members were confirmed. A recently reactivated sister gave a talk on enduring to the end. A recent convert preparing to enter the temple with his family gave a talk on preparing for the temple. A recently returned missionary gave a talk on honoring the priesthood. All the young single adults had a separate Sunday school class where the teacher was hilarious and gave us cookies. All the girls got excited about my roommate, especially when they heard he was there on business. We went to church with a girl my roommate met at BYU who lives down there. During relief society several girls asked about his availability and tried to get the girl to bring my roommate back for a fireside that evening. Priesthood opening exercises lasted 55 minutes. The two males who were confirmed in sacrament meeting received the Aaronic priesthood. We spent the rest of the time planning a mother’s day ward party. The Elder's quorum president sent the 12 year old new convert around the room to beg for money to pay for the party. We broke off into our quorums for 5 minutes and talked about retaining converts.
I didn’t fall asleep once. I felt the spirit. I remembered how happy the gospel makes those people who have experienced life without it.

Teotihuacan

El Veneno, the Lamanite says "¡Arrepentíos Todos Vosotros!"


Teotihuacan, a pre-Aztec city. Constructed and inhabited from about 200 B.C. to 200 A.D. May have been the biggest city in the world at that time. About an hour from Mexico city.
Me and my roommate ran up both pyramids.

Conquering Mexico

The national cathedral—constructed by the Spanish conquistadores over the central plaza of the Aztec city of Tenochitlan. The Spaniards destroyed the Aztec Templo Mayor and used it’s foundation as the foundation of the church. The Cathedral was built with the stones taken from the Aztec city.

One of my favorite moments in Mexico: We were on our way through the Zocalo when a sudden thunderstorm burst. We ran to hide under a tree with several old ladies who had been selling necklaces and stuff on the sidewalk. When the rain broke through our leafy shelter and when we remembered that Mexico City rain is acid rain we booked it to the National Cathedral. The cathedral doors were packed with people waiting out the storm so we squeezed past them and took a seat inside right in front of the Crucifix. That’s when we noticed that mass was going on in the front half of the cathedral. My hair was flat against my head and streams of water drained from my hair and down my face and neck to my already soaked t-shirt. Shivering I closed my eyes and listened to the rain splash off the rock sidewalks outside. The soft voice of the priest on the other side of the cathedral was indistinguishable. Suddenly, just as I was drifting into a semi-sleep a choir lit up the room with piercing chants. It was electrifying.

Color


Lots of people associate Mexico with poverty. When I come back from Mexico people are always like "isn't the poverty just sad?" Yeah, maybe but honestly that's not what I notice. There are tons of poor people who really don't have access to the life they deserve, but at the same time, Mexico is alive, vibrant, and rich. The colors are bright. People gather with family and friends whenever they can (usually around 11 at night). They dance in the street. They stop to smell the flowers. We could learn a lot from our southern neighbors.

Oh Mexico


First thing I saw when I walked out of my hotel on my first morning in Mexico--Protesting campesino men, wearing only their underwear...their very skimpy underwear. This is why I love Mexico.


Coyoacan- A little haven of serenity in one of the biggest cities on the planet.

I traveled alone 5 of my 8 days in Mexico. Being an independent person I really like the freedom of solo travel and busting through crowded subways and unfamiliar streets all alone kind of makes me feel brave. Sometimes I'd see cool stuff and wish I had someone to share it with. Sometimes I'd wish there were someone to take my picture so I didn't have to use stupid traffic mirrors.
I met a girl in a restaurant and she took me to visit her college. She's an economics major there. She kept telling me about her sister who has dated two different Americans.
The University is huge. Supposedly there are 500,000 students. I don't know if I believe that, but it is big anyway. There are soccer fields all over campus, big grass ones and little cement ones.

I bought a T-shirt at the University. I forgot to look at the back. When I pulled it out later I saw that it said "Los angeles en el cielo aman a un Dios divino. Nosotros en la tierra amamos a los Pumas, a las mujeres, y al vino." The angels in heaven love a divine God. We on earth love the Pumas (the school mascot), women, and wine. Fitting.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Time to go

I just put the final box in my car. The walls of my apartment are white again. Using the skills I learned over fours years as a BYU custodian, I've removed all evidence of my existence from the refrigerator, toilet, and shower. I'll leave my keys on the table on my way out. Someone else will make memories here soon.
Tonight I move on. Provo and BYU has been my home for the last seven years. I've left before, for internships, and a mission, and long vacations, but I've always come back. Provo was my home base--where I let my roots sink deep and branches stretch wide. I've invested in relationships in this town and I'm receiving healthy returns.
As I was packing over the last few days I've come across all kinds of notes and pictures and little treasures that remind me of the events of the past seven years. I finally pulled out a notebook and broke my life down into semesters and started writing down all the images that were flooding back into my memory. I can honestly say that these have been the best years of my life. So much good has happened to me. Some crap has happened too but all that bad stuff just kind of gets consumed in the good and blended into a product that tonight I can enjoy. I drove across campus this evening just as the sun was setting. The snow-covered mountains surrounding the valley reflected orange. The trees were white and pink with spring blossoms. The grass was green and freshly cut. Everybody looked so friendly--so familiar. And it is familiar. I feel at home here.
Today was my last day at my favorite job ever. I didn't tell any of the kids cause it would have hurt too bad for me to say goodbye. A sixth grade boy came in today, as he does every single day at recess to ask if I'd missed him and to talk about the girl he's too afraid to talk to. A whole playground of elementary school kids yelled my name as I walked by the soccer field to go to my car. I almost broke down crying right there.
I talked to some of the most significant people in my life today--the friends I've made since coming here. Recently returned missionary girl called twice on her way home from California to keep from falling asleep at the wheel (like she did three years ago). I chatted online about travel plans with my half-Brazilian roommate who I'll meet in Mexico tomorrow. I talked with Cranguy online at the same time about registering for classes (I remember helping him register for classes before he even came to BYU). Peculiar Mormon called just to say hi and to see how I'm doing. I stopped by Gilmore Guy's apartment to give him the food that was left in my freezer. His apartment is my second home. Pinetree texted to see if I wanted to do anything. These are the kind of friends you never want to let go of, the kind of friendships I don't imagine I could ever replicate. I know these friendships and the others I've made here will last, but they will change too and I really just don't want anything to change. I'm scared that nothing will ever be the same. I'm scared that life in Provo will keep on moving at full speed while my life turns boring. I'm scared of being the stranger at Church on Sunday and I'm scared of being the newbie at work. I'm scared of driving unfamiliar streets and shopping at grocery stores that aren't Macey's. I'm scared of change.
It all just kind of seems so silly, to be leaving something that feels so good. But deep down, I know it's time and I know I'll be just fine. Maybe things will just keep getting better and better. Maybe I'll be so lonely that I start dating girls just to have something to do. I really don't know what will happen. I guess that's the point.
Yeah, it's time to go. I'm keeping my Grandma awake waiting for me in Salt Lake. She said she'd have food waiting for me. I'm gonna publish this then pack up my laptop and head to my car. It's time to move on. :-)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Slow Down

From a fortune cookie: "Life is a journey. Stop running."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I have a friend...

So readers, I have a friend and he has a problem (seriously this isn't me). My good bud Gilmore Guy who tries very hard to fight off his various suitors got a little overwhelmed toward the end of the semester and ended up accidentally dating a girl. So here's his question:

"I hope you don't mind me using your blog as a way to generate some discussion on a topic, but I would like some perspective and I figure your readers might have something to say.As you know, I date. Sometimes reluctantly. Sometimes I enjoy it more than I expect. I think underneath this young gay guy front, I'm a middle-aged married man who is content to be married to a kind-hearted woman and together raise a few good children. I've always wondered, as many of us ssa lds guys do, is it fair for me to get married?
You hear so many stories of gay men who get married despite their attraction to men, only to cheat on their wives (whether with another man or just in thought or via internet). It makes everyone miserable and it often ends in divorce. In fact, many of your readers may be married men who currently (or formerly) found themselves in this state.
Is this an accurate representation of married men who feel attracted to men? Do they all feel like they are living a lie? Are they all questioning their marriage, their testimony, and their self-identity? Are there any of these men who live happy, relatively "normal" lives and content themselves to dealing with the challenges that face most married men, with same-sex attraction being a lesser concern? The blogosphere (and many of your commenters and their subsequent commenters) is full of jaded, disappointed, or confused LDS gay married men. Is this an accurate representation? Perhaps only disgruntled or conflicted men turn to blogging; the happy ones don't feel the need. We never hear from them.
So I guess my question is, O Visitors to Veneno's Blog, are there happily married, gospel and church believing, ssa married men out there? I'm not looking for hundreds - in fact, I'd be happy to hear from even a handful. But I want to know that there's hope. I believe it is there and I will believe it's there regardless. But a little proof now and then is nice."
--Posted by gilmore guy to so this is it at 4/19/2006 11:47:10 PM

Sunday, April 16, 2006

It's True

I had a whole bunch of these stickers on my mission to give to little kids and the like. It being Easter and all today, I feel like I should just say, in case you ever wondered, que yo sí tengo fe en Jesus.

The Error of My Ways

A clean-shaven face greets me in the mirror these days. I shave every morning at least and sometimes again during the day. A couple of weeks ago I was one of the kids on campus who consistently defied the honor code with several days of nasty stubble. I think I look better with the stubble covering the skinny parts of my face and it helps me feel a little manlier. I’m sure my stubble doesn’t affect my spirituality--it didn’t even seem to scare children.
If you read the letters to the editor in the Daily Universe you’ve probably seen the recent escándalo about shaving and the Honor Code. For awhile that debate just fueled my resolution to grow out my facial hair and stick it to all the self-righteous, self-made-honor-code-enforcer pricks. I was feeling kind of rebellious. Then I read a letter a week or so ago that hit the core or the issue. The issue isn’t whether or not facial hair is wrong or not--that can be debated. The issue is that I signed the Honor Code understanding that it meant I’d have to shave regularly. The issue is the value of my word. So, though I disagree with the policy, I’ll live by it.
I love BYU. There’s plenty to criticize about the details but the way everything comes together is amazing. I only have two more days of school here---ever. Honestly, I’m sad to go.
While I was caught up in the rebellious spirit, I got all excited about Soulforce’s visit. In the end, I think I was wrong about them too. They seemed to stick very firmly to their agenda—full approval of gay sex. That’s a lot to ask from a school that frowns upon even heavy kissing between straight couples. There’s no way in hell that BYU is going to suddenly change its policies to allow actively gay (having sex and not even trying to stop) students to attend BYU. And while the right or wrong of BYU’s conservative attitude can be debated, that’s not really the point. The point is, Soulforce knew that they wouldn’t influence BYU. Instead, they came to BYU to make a scene, to be arrested and take pictures to put on their website to prove that conservative bigots are ruining their lives. Really, BYU was very nice to them. Soulforce had to pretty much ask to be arrested, yet that became the headline in all their press releases. Soulforce also severely twisted facts in their press release, like saying that

“Brigham Young University's student conduct policy prohibits LGBT students from attending the school. Students who are found to be LGBT face suspension or expulsion. In addition to this policy, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has opposed the equality and dignity of LGBT people, in church and in society, with particular virulence.”

That is simply not true. Soulforce seems to define Gay as someone who has gay sex. I hate that people try to characterize the LDS church as some dark enemy. To do so, they have to pull out obscure quotes from the past and twist facts. The truth is, and anyone who has spent time in the church knows, that the LDS church is amazingly helpful to all of its members, even those who consider themselves gay. The church policy is one of inclusion. The church confirms that feeling gay is not a sin at all. Having sex with another man is sin and is subject to disciplinary action just like any other sin. The point of that action is repentance and growth, not to beat the sinner down into a self-deprecating corner. Some random church members are pricks—some of these pricks might even be bishops and stake presidents and somebody may have encountered these people… I haven’t. I have only felt love and acceptance.
I really liked the people from Soulforce. They seemed sincere and decent and they seemed to listen when we talked. I hoped they’d come in and open a forum for discussion to start to help the gay students at BYU with what we need, like realizing how many people deal with the issue and how hard it can be and that it’s not something we did on purpose and we can’t just pray it away. I want BYU to be the type of place where I could tell people I feel this way and get hugs and deeper friendships instead of being referred to the honor code and being shunned. I want the BYU counseling center to increase its ability to serve the SSA population and actively reach out to students who may be struggling without knowing where to turn. I want the Church and the Honor Code to more clearly define what is “homosexual conduct” that violates the Honor Code (or offends God). Soulforce brought up some good topics—like the fact that many Latter-day Saints feel like suicide is the only acceptable way to reconcile their feelings. That’s a huge issue that needs to be discussed. I’m afraid Soulforce purposefully polarized the issue making discussion impossible. When they characterize BYU as the evil Nazi regime and themselves as the noble martyrs and refuse to budge, communication dies and they end up in handcuffs (only no handcuffs were even used). But you see, they never wanted to talk to anyone. They never wanted to help me to make BYU better for me and people like me. They want to bring BYU down, and I’m not for that. Like I said earlier, I came to BYU because of the atmosphere. I don’t want to tear it down, I just want to be able to talk about the stuff that needs improved. I don't think I can do that any better today than I could last week at this time. Today BYU students just have more reason to believe that gay people really do have an agenda and that "feeling attracted to people of the same sex" pretty much means having sex with them and hating the church/BYU

A couple of BYU students went out on a limb and participated alongside Soulforce giving speeches and carrying lilies in the memorial for suicide victims. I really appreciate those people. I know they took a big risk and I know they were more closely aligned with my interests. So thanks to those guys and girl.
Anyway, I typed that really fast and wish I could make it clearer. Basically just wanted to get it off my chest while I'm still a BYU student.

For a much more fluid discussion of Soulforce’s visit, see these two great summaries by my buddies:

  • Blueshorts

  • Master FOB
  • Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    Open your eyes tonight


    Invisible Children

    A documentary made by three young Americans. "Invisible Children" exposes the effects of a 20-year-long war on the children of Northern Uganda. Children who live in fear of abuction by rebel soldiers, and are being forced to fight as part of a violent army. More than just a movie, this film has inspired a movement to take action and create change in Africa.

    See the film tonight and learn what is being done.
    Wednesday April 12
    7:30 p.m.
    JSB Auditorium

  • Invisible Children Website
  • Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Soulforced

    Soulforce's Equality Riders have come and gone.
    I just discovered that BYU has a nightly newscast. Here is their coverage of the visit (in Windows Media Player):

  • April 10, 2006
  • (The second story)

  • April 11, 2006
  • (The lead story)

    Sunday, April 9, 2006

    20 Reasons to smile tonight

    1. He and I had a good talk tonight and there's at least hope things will be okay.
    2. I met the people from Soulforce and they're cool. I'm anxious to see how things play out tomorrow and Tuesday.
    3. I met more gay people; including several lesbians (one who goes to BYU), and a former quasi-stalker (he appeared unimpressed).
    4. I went on two dates with girls this weekend and got two hugs.
    5. I got free food from Tucano’s this weekend.
    6. I'm going back to Tucano’s on Friday.
    7. I watched the Young Ambassadors and a sweet Ballroom Concert this weekend. Cranguy is an amazing dancer.
    8. I danced with two different girls and had a dancing sword fight (brooms really) with two guys at work.
    9. My teacher didn’t tell me I needed “more confidence” after my waltz test on Wednesday.
    10. I look forward to dance class now instead of dreading it.
    11. I bowled 155: one spare and three strikes in a row.
    12. I liked a song I heard in the bowling alley and found it on I-tunes within minutes of coming home. It's Ever Blazin’ by Sean Paul
    13. The weather was amazing this weekend.
    14. I have a ticket to Mexico City for the end of the month.
    15. I have my room to myself until then.
    16. My room is clean.
    17. I finally found another pair of 30x32 jeans at Hollister this week.
    18. I've stopped caring about school.
    19. My hair is just the length I like it.
    20. I'm updating my blog a lot.

    Watching for Soulforce

    Soulforce is coming to campus on Monday. If they stand in Brigham Square you can see them and the student reaction here:

    I never wanted to feel like this

    Hurting people I love
    In High School, I had a total crush on a kid named Noah who ran track with me. He was strong and confident and at the same time soft and gentle. We were slowly becoming friends, which was cool. One sunny day we were all out playing frisbee and I passed the frisbee his way only he was distracted and didn't see it coming so I ended up pegging him in the face. He crumpled over in pain. I want to die.

    Being my own worst enemy
    Watching home videos at Christmas time, I become increasingly annoyed by myself. My voice, my movement, my jokes, the way my clothes fit...everything seems wrong. I want to disappear for days because I don't want anyone else to have to deal with me.

    Living a lie
    In fifth grade, I was George Washington in the school play. I loved acting in those days and participated in several plays and drama classes inside and outside of school. I could do amazing things with my prepubescent voice. I could go high and low and do all sorts of accents. I would change my voice frequently to fit whatever fantasy world I was living in. One afternoon as we were practicing the play in fifth grade, I commented that I couldn't remember which voice was my "real" voice. I really couldn't. Today I have just one voice but a dozen personalities. I can’t remember which one is really me.

    Crashing and burning
    As my senior year of high school came to a close we all felt like we were at the peak of our existence. After senior prom, four kids from my school were heading home along the dark roads of suburbia. Feet were sore from dancing. Teenage hands were touching tenderly. The car stereo was blaring. Minds were whirling with the exhilaration of the night and the moment. The turn came a little too soon and Daddy's Beemer was going a little too fast. One panicked scream escaped and the car crumpled around a tree. Life comes screeching to a halt.

    Impotency
    My oldest brother and my dad paced the kitchen fighting about something again. The volume increased with each argument as did the harshness of the words. My brother threatened to run away or break my mother's china. I watched from the family room as the family I loved seemed to be tearing itself apart. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I ran to the kitchen and yelled for everyone to just be nice. My brother was the first to tell me to shut up and mind my own business. Then he started yelling about me, saying that I cause just as many problems as he does but my parents never get mad at me because they think I'm a “goody goody.” My dad told me I wasn't helping and to not worry and just go to my room. I stood silently as four eyes focused on me, reeking of detest. My mind raced to think of something to diffuse the tension. As I felt my face muscles begin to tighten, I knew the tears were just seconds away. I turned and ran upstairs to my room where I slammed the door and crouched on the floor. The screaming continued as I cried one of those full body cries where the entire body shakes. Everything I know how to do just makes things worse. I pray and hope that somehow, in some way, my agony will mean something.

    Earlier this week, I felt all of those feelings again. I’m a little better now.

    Saturday, April 8, 2006

    A new record

    I'm getting better at communicating.

    When I got a cell phone about this time last year, I managed to keep my talk time below my 300 weekday minutes each month. I also managed just fine without text messaging.

    In March, I set a new record for cell phone usage:
    Total talk time: 2101 minutes (more than 35 hours)
    Text messages received: 263
    Text messages sent: 241

    I may never beat this record.

    Wednesday, March 29, 2006

    Possibilities

    "Unwritten" - Natasha Bedingfield

    I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I'm undefined
    I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned

    Staring at the blank page before you
    Open up the dirty window
    Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

    Reaching for something in the distance
    So close you can almost taste
    Release your inhibitions
    Feel the rain on your skin
    No one else can feel it for you
    Only you can let it in
    No one else, no one else
    Can speak the words on your lips
    Drench yourself in words unspoken
    Live your life with arms wide open
    Today is where your book begins
    The rest is still unwritten

    Oh, oh, oh

    I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
    We've been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can't live that way

    Saturday, March 25, 2006

    Eenie meanie minie moe

    It's decision time.
    I'm actually graduating from college in a month and I actually have to decide how I'm going to start the next stage of my life.
    Inexplicably, things have worked out so that I have two really viable options. The choice is between a great job with great pay out on the east coast and a good job with good pay here in Utah. I had pretty much decided to go take the east coast job but then this Utah job came up and I'm reconsidering. I can't really put a value on being close to my friends and family. I'm excited about getting a jump start on my career and everything but I think I'd be happier out west where I can look forward to doing something after work and on weekends. I made a pro and con chart and a decision making matrix, but in the end I think the decision has to come from the gut.
    I should be fasting and praying and going to the temple to make this decision but I'm not feeling all that motivated. I haven't depended much on personal inspiration in recent years and I'm not sure now is the time to start. God and I kind of have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy--I don't ask him advice and he doesn't tell me. The spiritual vibes that I do get make me feel like either choice would be good. I just have to choose one and go with it.

    Everything is pretty chill these days. I’ve been incredibly busy--like 5:30 a.m. to midnight every day. Not a lot of time for sleep. I’ve been doing a lot of head bobbling in class and my notes are filled with the scribbly line made when I drift into unconsciousness and let the pen slide across the paper. I haven’t had much time for blogging or instant messaging. I think that’s actually a good thing. Cause of working so much, my bank account is looking pretty healthy these days. School is low pressure. I’m feeling good.
    The weather is excellent again. Something about shifting gears with good music and windows down on a sunny day makes me sooo happy.
    I ran in the Moab half marathon last Saturday and the Rex Lee 5-K today. I’m fast. I suck at a lot of stuff, but I’m actually a dang good runner. That makes me happy.
    Speaking of sucking, I still suck at dance, but it's okay. About 15 minutes into practicing the cha cha with a friend a couple weeks ago I realized that dancing is a lot more fun without the pressure and I broke through some kind of mental barrier and just let loose. I haven’t felt awkward about it since.
    I love my friends. I’ve got some great friends who are exactly what I need. My gay friends have been interacting a lot more with my straight friends and I’ve been interacting with their straight friends. Like half of BYU was at the 5-K this morning and it was cool to see so many faces from the past—people from old wards, classes, study abroads, ex-girlfriends, roommates of friends… I feel like I’m actually part of something, kind of a social circle. It’s cool.
    Soulforce is coming to BYU on April 10. Their visit is stirring up controversy across campus and getting coverage in the Daily Universe. Letters to the editor have been generally open-minded about the whole thing so far. I had a good discussion with some coworkers about the topic. I think I helped them realize for the first time ever that not all people who are gay are necessarily fornicators. I also helped them realize that even if someone is actively gay it shouldn’t affect the way we interact with them at all. Most people at BYU are pretty understanding once they start to think about something. A lot of people have just never thought about the intricacies of being gay and Mormon. If nothing else, I’m hoping Soulforce’s visit will promote more discussion and consideration of the situation.

    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    :-)


    This has been a sweet weekend. I feel alive.

    I can't really explain why, but I think it has something to do with...
    - Running fast and frequently. My legs ache. I love that feeling.
    - Working out. We set the goal to do it this year and we've actually followed through.
    - Drinking protein shakes to get buff (yeah, I know it won't actually happen).
    - Working at the coolest job ever with the coolest people.
    - Hours and hours of watching Dancesport. Loved the Jive and the Cabaret. The little kids were awesome too. So much fun.
    - Sleeping in.
    - Helping some girls get a car out of a ditch.
    - At the suggestion of a friend, deciding to interact more with the lady folk and then actually doing it.
    - Hanging out with straight friends.
    - Cranking the sweetest Reggaeton beats in my car all weekend and jamming my gears to the rhythm.
    - Having a clean room.
    - Reading the scriptures and praying.
    - Friends. Thanks for being you and for being part of my life.

    Wednesday, March 8, 2006

    And then we die

    One idea from Elder Bateman's CES fireside Sunday night has stuck in my head. He used charts and diagrams to show us that our mortal experience is temporary. We're born, we grow, we make choices, and then... we die.
    In the context of the gospel and with an understanding of the plan of salvation, our impending deaths should be something of little consequence, just a blink of an eye and a passing to something greater.
    Elder Bateman intended his talk to open our eyes to help us see an eternal perspective. By seeing this mortal experience as just another step in a long spiritual process, it should be easier to make wise decisions now and to "look forward with an eye of faith."
    I've been looking forward recently, but with an eye of fear and uncertainty. Graduation and job searching has forced me to start thinking ahead and making two and five year plans. I have no idea where I'm going or why I’m going there. I fear I’m going the wrong direction. The only thing certain about my future is that, eventually, I will die.
    We're all going to die. I remember the night that idea finally hit me as a little kid. Lying in my bed, I imagined my body weakening, my skin sagging, and my heart finally giving out. I imagined the people taking away my body, embalming it, and putting it to rest in a casket. I imagined the rotting, the worms... the waste.
    I couldn't sleep that night. I finally went to my parents' room and just stood by their bed, comforted to see that they were still alive.
    I've tried not to think about that stuff. I've tried for a long time to believe I'm everlasting. It's easier to stay calm when I think of each new day as part of an infinite cycle rather than accepting that each day lived is one tally mark on a finite schedule of my existence.
    In the eternal perspective, I'm doing all right. Today will be a good day. I haven't screwed up big time today. When I do finally kick the bucket and meet my maker, the injustices and sacrifices of this life will all be made right in the eternities. It’s a Job-like perspective. All I have to do is get through the now and eventually God will even the score.
    In the mortal perspective, things could be a lot better. Today is just another day in a life of stalling death. I wake up, I work, and I sometimes play. I just have this feeling that everything I study and the people I meet and the money I earn and everything I do are just drops in the bucket. In life or death, it will eventually go away. I feel like I'm spinning my wheels at full speed but really going no where. When I focus on just keeping the wheels spinning I’m fine. When I start looking up at my aimless route, I feel really, really tired.
    I once attended the funeral of a 14 year old girl who had hung herself. Being at a funeral of someone that young brings things into perspective. We all realized that life is short and for a couple days we just hugged our friends and weren't afraid to cry and didn't care about homework and all that crap. For a couple days we lived like we were dying.
    I don't want to die. I don't want time to keep passing me by. I wish there were a pause button so I could stop and figure stuff out before I go any further. The future freaks me out. I'm scared of looking back in 20 years and feeling like I've wasted my time. I already feel like I've wasted so much time.
    I feel like I’m being beat into a hopeless corner. I can’t have what I want. I don’t want what I can have. So I while everyone else goes somewhere I just cower in desperation. I’m the one responsible for my position. I’m the only one who can change my direction.
    I’m not even sure what I want. I just want something significant. I want something that lasts until tomorrow, something that’s worth living for. I want to be the next Che Guevara, or Mother Theresa, or just get a hat on father’s day that says “World’s Greatest Dad.” I don’t just want to be that guy who was in your class and you pretend not to know when you see him later or that roommate you wonder what happened to.
    Enough ranting.
    There's more I could say; like the fact that Elder Bateman said: "It is the eternal marriage relationship and the power to create life which produces happiness in mortality and a fullness of joy in the life to come." See, that just messes with me even more. But I'm not gonna say all that now cause I have to go to dance class, then another class, then work, then my other job, then work out, then sleep, and then it will be tomorrow. And tomorrow’s another day

    This is your life and today is all you’ve got now
    Yeah, and today is all you’ll ever have
    Don’t close your eyes

    This is your life, are you who you want to be?
    This is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be?
    When the world was younger and you had everything to lose?

    This is your life - Switchfoot

    "Do you always think this much, Charlie?" "Is that bad?" "Not necessarily. It's just that sometimes people use thought to not participate in life." "Is that bad?" "Yes."

    - The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chobsky

    It's my life
    It's now or never
    I ain't gonna live forever
    I just want to live while I'm alive

    -Jon Bon Jovi, It's My Life

    Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
    To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment
    Would you capture it or just let it slip? You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
    You own it, you better never let it go
    You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
    This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo

    - Lose Yourself, Eminem