Saturday, March 31, 2007

wee~~ conference =)

What a mostly great day. :P Seriously, though. We started off the day and Salad came upstairs to make coffee cake. It's one of her family traditions for the morning of Conference - they make homemade coffee cake. So I was a partaker of some fantastic home-baked buttery goodness in the morning. Then that first session of conference...can you say amazing? It was definitely a powerhouse session. Lots of doctrine, lots of uplifting and interesting perspectives and talks, and lots of feeling the Spirit. Although I was very throw off by the fact that they decided to do the sustainings in the first session. We ended up having nine people in my apartment watching it together. And we definitely outnumbered the straight people 5-4.

After the first session, we kicked everyone out of my apartment, drove some people home, and Salad and I headed up to Salt Lake to spend some time with her family before they head home (they're still in SLC for their spring break, but they're leaving Sunday night). I had to drive because Salad was on happy pills for her back - and the fact that she hadn't slept since she woke up at 6:00AM the morning previous didn't help things. Working grave is not a fun thing. Anyway, we got to spend some time before conference with her family (who are a riot, and who I like a lot), then we watched the second session with them. I will admit that all the talking about the Tabernacle, its history, and how great it is didn't really tickle my fancy. I like the place, but I watch conference to be uplifted and instructed, and I'm not talking instructed as in a lecture on a building's history. Luckily, Salad made the whole session more interesting by almost slicing her finger off with a cutco knife while cutting sausage for her brother. And then she almost fainted. Leave it to Salad to spruce up an otherwise boring session. ^_^

We headed back down to Provo after the session so I could get ready and head over to priesthood session. The girls (Salad, her mom and sister, Mulan, and my cousin's wife) all hung out and had a girls' night out. They say they ordered some male strippers, but I think they would have been a bit more bright-eyed afterwards if that were the case. Priesthood session was good - I liked Elder Hales' admonition that we had better prepare ourselves properly or we'll die in a fire, and similarly that we should make sure not to be selectively obedient or we'll die in a fire. That's what I got out of it, at least. Seriously, though, conference today was pretty good. But if the rededication of the Tabernacle is what makes it Historic with a capital H, I might throw something at the apostles who perpetuated that rumor. Or mail something threatening to their offices. (apparently I shouldn't blog when I'm in a weird mood)

Then we watched Matrix Reloaded, because Salad still needs to be indoctrinated. Now she's seen the first 2, and we just have to pump the last one in to her. I love the bit with The Architect, because I'm sure a lot of what he says goes over the casual watcher's head.

Looking forward to tomorrow's sessions! That is all.


true to your 'self'

Time for a quick post, then bed. My head is throbbing - leftovers from being sick - and my coughing picks up quite a bit when it gets late, for whatever reason. Coughing and headaches don't mix well. For the day, as Salad mentioned, Hidden and Stephen came over. What she didn't mention is that we whipped up some fantastic macaroni and cheese using 5 different kinds of cheese. Lots of leftovers for snacking during conference. =D And the commenting on random cute guys was fun, at least for me. I'm fairly secure in my just-looking-mode, so it's just a fun time more than anything else, and really allows a different level of getting to know your friends. :P

So in my philosophy class today we continued our line of thought about the real 'self' versus the walls/masks/fears/coping mechanisms etc that we allow to dictate how we interact with others. Today much of the focus was on how to get through the mire of junk we put around ourselves. If our real 'self' is immutable and happy, and I am my real 'self,' then no external force can affect my internal happiness - but how do I overcome those masks, insecurities, avoidances, etc. that hold me bound? It's a complex question. I'm of the opinion that since each of our 'selves' are unique, and because each of our barriers are unique, that our methods of dispelling those false-selves are going to be different. Everyone has their own path to walk.

A lot of things came up - repeated choices becoming habit and morphing into character, facing our barriers down, coming up with challenges to push ourselves out of our comfort zones, therapy, prayer, recognizing our own inborn value, continued trying and being committed to a goal, giving up self and trusting something else, and service made our list on the board. For me, a part of me knows who my real 'self' is, but one of the most effective ways for me to find my true 'self' is by identifying my barriers and walls and those parts of myself I consider 'fake' and figuring out how to get rid of them. For example, my introversion got on my nerves for a while, so I decided I was going to force myself out of my shell and get to some activities and put myself out there a little bit more. That one wasn't too difficult for me, and it was mostly successful. Sure I'm fairly introverted still, but I know I can break out when I want to, and right now I'm okay with where I am.

I also got to thinking about whether I am being my true 'self' by denying my passions and pursuing a heterosexual relationship. The answer for me is a resounding yes. My self is a child of God that wants desperately to return to His presence and to inherit eternal life, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get there. For me, pursuing a 'gay lifestyle' would be more like another wall living my life for me than anything else. It wouldn't be what I really want, but rather more like what I think I'm supposed to want given my circumstances. I think that's what a lot of people touting gay rights 'on our behalf' from the outside fail to understand or connect with - what our perception of 'self' is as compared to what they think it should be. And I wonder if it's what kept BYU administration from working with us before - if their expectation of our 'self' is radically different from how we actually see things.

That's not how I envisioned ending my post, so um...we saw Blades of Glory today, and it was very funny. Will Farrell should never go around shirtless, but it was still really funny. That is all.


Friday, March 30, 2007

I'm a fruit fly!

I had a new experience tonight that I would never have dreamed of participating in, and yet found myself completely un-phased by the event as a whole—ok, well maybe that’s not completely true, or I wouldn’t have thought to blog about it :P

Drex, Hidden, Stephen, and I were sitting around watching various music videos tonight and were commenting on the attractiveness of the male singers in the videos. I didn’t really think much of it until I realized that I was having this discussion with 3 guys…not 3 girls. I found it kind of funny when I actually connected the dots (I’m kinda slow when I get tired), and commented to them that I was thoroughly amused by our line of conversation.

Over the last little bit I have become more and more comfortable around the people from the MoHosphere that Drex and I have hung out with. I love spending time with them and getting to know them and often come away wishing that we could have spent even more time together. I think people who don’t take the time and opportunity to get to know such wonderful people are really cheating themselves out of some of the best friends they could ever have.

You guys (I’m using it as a non-gendered term for those girls who read the blog as well) are great and I’m glad that we get to share a bit of ourselves with you and that we also get to know you in the process. Thanks for sharing your stories and insights. I, for one, am grateful that I get the chance to learn from your experiences, make new friends, and come out a better person

I’m pretty sure this has been uber rambley, but that’s what you get when you have a tired Salad. Perhaps I will try to clarify later. I’m sure Drex’s post will be much more enlightening and deep, so look forward to that.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

let me do the talking.

I'm looking at 10+ days of being sick, and I'm ready for it to be over. Oh well.

We had an intriguing discussion/activity in my philosophy/first-year writing class yesterday (Wednesday). (for the record, taking a first-year writing class is requisite in the psych major, regardless of whether or not you tested out of the course using AP English credit from high school.) It was about walls and barriers in our lives, and how they speak for us much of the time. Essentially my teacher boiled down the walls in our lives to experiences from our past - finding out we're not the center of the universe when we first go to preschool, realizing we're not incredibly brilliant when we get our first low mark on a test, discovering we're not ultra-talented when we get cut from the team by a coach, etc. When we have experiences like that, we react to them, and begin to form a web of belief that defines how we see the world - those other kids in preschool just aren't cool enough to hang out with me, school sucks and my teacher is stupid and I don't need her to learn, and coach just doesn't see my latent talent and potential, etc. As we formulate those opinions and beliefs, often they get in the way of our communication with others - soon it's our walls speaking, and not us. Somehow who we are gets confused and lost in the cacophony of preconceived notions and skewed perspectives we wrap around ourselves.

It all rang very true for me. I think I escaped a lot of the wall-making, because I tend to take things in stride (of course, my view of myself is likely also skewed by my walls of perception and previous notions of my 'self'), but some walls are definitely there. Walls of belief, coping- and safety-mechanisms, psychological abnormalities, etc. filter what I take in and make me see everything the way I want to see it. At the same time, it defines a lot of what I allow people to perceive me as. Though I am a goody-two-shoes at heart (and possibly because of that), I want people to see me that way - part of my perception of myself that I like to project to others is that I'm in some way morally superior to them. I will go to great lengths to perpetuate this perception, and sometimes when I notice I'm doing it (unconsciously, usually) I get quite irate with myself, because honestly...who am I to determine the moral high ground? My walls of shyness, introversion, and insecurity masked by bravado tend to shine out before the real 'me' inside can get more than five words in - I think a lot of people perceive me as aloof, uncaring, or untouchable because of the way I present myself.

So how do we break down our own personal barriers to let the real 'us' shine? Unfortunately I think that journey's unique for everyone, but for me I'm starting with identifying what my barriers are, and then I'm going to figure out what I personally need to do to counteract them. If I can roll with the punches and adapt as well as I think I can, it should be an exciting exercise.

What does anyone else think about the concept, especially of one's walls doing the talking for them? It seems like those of us who deal with SSA tend to be especially adept at creating walls around ourselves to determine what we say and do, especially in social situations and interactions with other people. I guess another question in our case is whether or not we want to bring those barriers down, because honestly we are safer in Mormon society when we've got some of our barriers up. Is safe enough? I'm guessing the depends uniquely on each individual as well. It's a lot to think about.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Episode #4: bringing it current

Ok, as promised, here's the rest of the story:

Right before Christmas and after as well, Drex’s cousins and brother and I had been talking and we’d seen a change in him. We didn’t necessarily feel like it was a change for the better and we began to be worried about him. He seemed more upset and bitter and angry and just overall not in a good mood—EVER. His cousins nominated me to be the one to talk to him and figure out what was going on. That wasn’t really a fair position to put me in but there was logic behind it. They figured that I would be the one person that he would listen to and actually take seriously. I HATE confrontation and contention. Drex and I are very similar that way. I didn’t really want to deal with the issue because I knew that there could only be 2 outcomes: 1. we would remain friends and the friendship would get better or 2. everything would end right there. Because those were the only options I had no desire to deal with it because I tend to psyche myself out for the worst case scenarios. I kept putting it off and putting it off and just trying to ignore what was going on.

At the end of January I was cornered by Drex’s cousin and he had a lot to say. He’s been one of the biggest supporters of me and Drex getting together since the very beginning and this encounter proved to be very stunning. He sat me down and told me that he didn’t want to ever be in the same room with me and Drex together because we have the tendency to verbally play off of each other and it’s not always very nice. He said that we had offended him deeply and that while he didn’t want anything to change the friendship between us, he wasn’t going to make an effort to be around when Drex and I were together. Then he told me that I should just give up on Drex altogether. Maybe at one point we could have worked, but at this point our paths had diverged enough that it just would never be a possibility. I was stunned by this conversation and really didn’t know what to say. When he left I called my mom and bawled on the phone about everything. I told her I couldn’t do it anymore and that I was just going to get over him. There were other things I needed to focus on and I couldn’t waste my time anymore because it obviously wasn’t going to go anywhere.

I finally sucked up my inhibitions and decided that I would talk to Drex about the change in his attitude while his cousins/roommates were out of town on business. We had to see a movie for the class that we are taking together while they were gone, so I just decided that I would do it after that. We walked out of the movie and were on our way to my car and my heart was going a million times a second. I was so nervous. I waited until we got in my car and were headed home and I told him I had a loaded question for him and asked, “what’s up?” I’m sure he didn’t catch my meaning at first, but after some probing he told me that he was really stressed out and since he didn’t have any real music distraction going on he was having a hard time filtering everything out. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really buy that answer, but I let him keep talking. We ended up going up to his apartment to talk since he was by himself and we sat on complete opposite sides of the room. We talked for over an hour and I have no idea what the specifics of that conversation were. Then suddenly he was talking about his SSA in really vague terms and dancing around whatever it was he was trying to say. I looked at him and said, “Why are you dancing around the issue?? You know I know, so stop dancing.” He responded with, “I know, but it still hurts to talk about.” Then, for only the second time since I’ve known him, tears started streaming down his face. I again felt an increase of love for him and knew that he needed something from me, so I opened my arms and said, “Come sit by me.” He moved and I put my arms around him and laid my head on his chest and we just sat there for a while. I felt him take a deep breath and exhale and what came next left me completely shocked. He said, “I need to preface what I’m about to say with, I don’t want to be smothered and I don’t want you to get your hopes up…but I think we should give us a try.” Ok, now place yourself in my shoes and picture my reaction. I had always planned to be spiteful if he ever asked me and just tell him no, but in that moment I felt the most overwhelming peace and contentment fill my heart and mind and I knew it was right. While I was processing that though, I looked up at him with complete disbelief in my eyes. When I gained control over my voice I replied with, “Well, I need to preface my answer with, I’m done with my endorsement in June and I really have no intention of staying here unless there’s something keeping me here…no pressure or anything.” I think he answered back with something along the lines of “Fair enough” but I don’t remember because my brain was on complete overload. We sat there for a long time and he put his arms around me and we talked about many different things. For some reason that I can’t recall at the moment, we decided that it would be a good idea to keep the fact that we were dating from his family until after his cousin got married. Looking back on it, it was quite the silly decision, but whatever. It was at that point that I decided to tell him that I had Hidden’s email address if he wanted it.

I went to bed that night still wondering if I had dreamed the whole event. The whole idea of finally being able to date him was so surreal to me and I hardly dared believe it was true. I had waited for four and a half years and my prayers had finally been answered…and then it dawned on me: I had made a deal with God and once again He had come through for me. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m going to go making all kinds of deals with God, but it proved to me that He does listen to our hopes and desires, and if we’re patient enough He just might be willing to let us have the ones that will be good for us. When I woke up the next morning I very nearly pinched myself just to make sure I was awake. I decided I didn’t want to deal with the minute pain and waited to see how things would go with Drex that day. To my complete and utter surprise, we were actually dating, I hadn’t dreamed it all.

After about a week and a half and talking with Drex’s cousin’s fiancĂ©, we decided to scrap our original plan of silence and told his family (mine already knew). My roommate/his cousin was ecstatic and demanded the full story while I was in the middle of getting ready to go to class—needless to say, I was a bit late for class. The rest of the family wasn’t really surprised at all and they reacted with “it’s about time” and “we’re really happy for you.” When Drex told his mom though, there wasn’t much of a reaction at all, which made me really nervous. We had established a pretty good relationship when I went out and visited them, or so I thought and the fact that there really wasn’t a reaction from her didn’t seem really uplifting at the time. The whole extended family was coming in to town for Drex’s cousin’s wedding and I will admit to being very intimidated to talk to his family after the lack of reaction. I started stressing out unnecessarily, which I’m wont to do in a lot of situations. Everything went smoothly the first night they were in town which did much to put me at ease. Unfortunately I was still stressing out about the wedding because I was supposed to do the bride’s hair and take care of the kids while everyone was at the Temple and…and…and…yeah, I was stressed out. The morning of the wedding I did the bride’s hair and drove her up to the Temple and then went back to Drex’s parent’s hotel to watch the little ones with his brother. We went back to the Temple for pictures and when I got there, Drex told me that he was considering telling his parents about his SSA while they were in town. I was kind of surprised, but told him that I would support whatever decision he made. We kind of talked about it a little on the way home from the Temple and he made the decision to go for it. Later that afternoon he told his parents that he wanted to talk to them alone at some point. I didn’t think it would happen that day, probably right before they left to go home.

That night was the time. We sent Drex’s brother home with my car and the little ones were in bed. I was sitting next to Drex with my arms around him and my head on his chest but before everything settled in to place I had him lean down and told him that I loved him no matter what happened and I wasn’t going anywhere. I put my head back on his chest and his heart was going about a million beats a second (ok, so that’s exaggerating, but it was going really fast). The wording he chose for telling his parents was quite similar to what he said to me so I experienced a bit of a flashback. They took the news exceedingly well and expressed their love and support for Drex over and over—his dad was quieter than his mom, but you could see the love in his eyes. During the course of the 2 hour conversation we covered a lot of topics, but I was most impressed that they included me in the conversation. Both of his parents asked me how I felt about the situation and how things would work out with us and how my parents would react to the information. It was an amazing conversation and I can only hope and pray that the conversation with my parents is as productive.

The next day we went up to Northern Utah to visit with his extended family and I had an absolute blast. His cousins are way fun and his aunts and uncles are great people. I didn’t interact as much with the adults but I seemed to fit right in with the cousins which isn’t something that normally happens right off the bat for me.

The last night his family was in town Drex and I spent at the hotel hanging out and just being with the family. When it was time to leave Drex’s dad gave me a hug and then his mom gave me a hug and said, “You take care of my boy and let him take care of you.” I felt so loved by them and I don’t think they can ever appreciate how much that meant to me. After being so nervous about them coming out and everything it was a really good point at which to leave off and I felt really good about the situation.

We started the blog not long after they left so I think this might be the end of the recap of the “Drex and Salad Saga.” I feel kind of sad about that, but at least I got it finished. I’m going to end with some personal thoughts and then I can just keep going with the present stuff.

I have known, almost since day one, that Drex and I were more than just mortal friends. I truly and deeply believe that our spirits were friends in the pre-existence. I know that sounds way cheesy and very Saturday’s Warrior but it’s true. The time leading up to us dating and the point where we are right now was painful in a lot of ways, but completely worth it. I know the feelings aren’t 100% reciprocated, but I love Drex more than I’ve ever loved anyone in my entire life and that love grows everyday. I can’t picture my life without him, nor do I ever want to. I know that our road together will be long and hard and occasionally discouraging, but it’s totally worth it. I wouldn’t give up our experiences together for anything in this world.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

the easiness of the way

First off, I apologize if this comes across as preachy to anyone - it's not my intent to make anyone line up directly with my personal beliefs and experiences, but rather I feel like this insight is important enough both to record for my own benefit, and to share with others if they care. This connection has been stewing in my mind for a while now - I've read over the passages in my personal study and in my scripture study with Salad in the last few weeks, and they clicked together the second time through. I've been trying to figure out how to convey the power of the connection I saw. Here are the passages:

...he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree. (1 Ne 8:30)
What meaneth the rod of iron which [Lehi] saw, that led to the tree? was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.(1 Ne 15:23-24)
...and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished. (1 Ne 17:41)
The connection seems obvious, and most people have probably already figured this out, but it really struck me this time through, and I did a small evaluation of my recent life. Before a few weeks ago, though I'd cracked open my scriptures periodically I hadn't established a firm schedule for scripture study, and whenever I tried things would get in the way. I'd easily rationalize missing a day and making it up later (which rarely happened). This time, I've been much more consistent - though I'm only partway through 2 Nephi and though Salad and I only just finished 1 Nephi tonight, there's been a difference. I haven't missed a single day of personal scripture study since I began, and Salad and I have missed two days due to curfew, but made them up the next day in both instances. What really interests me, though, is how much easier it is to face temptation when I've got my scripture study going. I taught that to people all the time, but I guess I never actually internalized it with anything other than my mind. I wasn't convinced it was true. It really is, though.

The words of the Lord as contained in His scriptures have a power in them to change lives and to influence people. A concerted effort to study the scriptures personally allows one an extra layer of protection against the adversary. It's not foolproof, it's not a get-out-of-jail-free card, but it lends you strength and brings you that much closer to the Spirit. How often do we forget in our angsty, internally focused lives and through our trials that we have the words of God available to us? A commonly-used cliche' Mormon concept is that to talk to God we pray, and to listen to God we read our scriptures. On a very simple level, it's true. There's obviously more to listening to God than just reading our scriptures, but it's an important step to finding the will of God and finding the strength to align ourselves to it.

That's about all. PS is anyone else excited for Conference? My psych stats teacher said that two of the Apostles, while reorganizing stakes in the Utah Valley area, said that this Conference will be Historic with a capital H. My stats professor then spread the rumor that they're getting rid of Sunday School and going to a 2-hour block of meetings. I don't know if it's true or not, but I'm pretty sure my testimony would be strengthened if that happened. ;)



So my parents are in town for a week and I'm really excited that they're here. Drex mentioned most of what happened yesterday so I won't bore you with a repeat of the story...except to mention that my dad and I played catch for a bit, which was uber fun. I'm a softball fanatic and Drex hasn't learned to appreciate the goodness of the sport so he won't play with me (it might also have something to do with the fact that he doesn't own a mit, but we're not going to talk about that).

My parents have met Drex before, but it wasn't under the bf/gf context so I was interested to hear their impressions after spending some time with us. I texted my dad to thank him for taking us to lunch at Shoots (soooooo good, yum) yesterday and he texted me this morning to say that he got my text. My dad isn't the most text-savvy person in the world so he ended up calling me and we talked for a half an hour. He said that he and my mom are impressed with how Drex treats me and that they're happy that I'm happy. He then proceeded to tell me that he's never seen me so happy, which I guess is a good thing. Since Drex and I have talked about the possibility of getting married I asked my dad what he thought of that scenario and he said, "As long as you're happy it doesn't matter what we think. We trust your judgment and we know that you won't make an eternal decision that will make you unhappy. Your mother and I like Drex a lot and I don't forsee any major problems. Your sister is the more judgmental one, but let's be honest, what does she know?" I laughed at the last statement because it's so true. My sister refuses to have a good opinion of any of my friends. I love her, but she can be the biggest punk sometimes.

After I hung up with my dad I got to thinking about life and how things have really fallen into place for me and us over the past few months. I reflected on something else my dad said, "Heavenly Father opens doors for you when you're headed in the right direction. Make sure that when those doors open you step through them. They won't be open forever and you need to take advantage of it." God really has opened a lot of doors for me recently and I've tried to step through every one of them no matter how scared I am for what's on the other side. It takes a lot of faith and I often feel like I'm unprepared and unable to handle whatever will come next but so far I've been really blessed and haven't been challenged above that which I could bear. I know that life won't always be easy--believe me, I've had my fair share of sucky moments--but I know that everything will turn out for my good and the good of those around me.

Alright, I really need to go write a paper for my Chinese history class...I've put it off for far too long. I promise to continue the "Drex and Salad Saga" sometime soon, I just have to find the time to sit down and write the rest of it.


a weekend in brief

Man, I missed two nights of posting. The reason why is that my brother has been staying at my apartment to recuperate from getting three fillings and four wisdom teeth removed on Friday afternoon. He's been in a pretty sad state, and I have an extra bed in the apartment. Plus my mom all but commanded me to take care of him. :P At any rate, my brother doesn't know about me yet, and while I have no problems with telling him, I'm waiting until it feels like the right time for him to hear about it. I suspect he already knows, but the fact that he hasn't addressed it and that he's coping with finding out some of our other friends are gay leads me to believe that it still isn't quite time to bring it up. Soon, though.

Salad's family drove into SLC on Friday evening and came down to spend the morning and early afternoon with us yesterday. I made belgian waffles for breakfast (yum yum), Salad's parents and grandpa went to the temple while we went and watched TMNT (good, silly movie), then we trucked over to Shoots, the best Chinese place in town, and had lunch. It was very fun - Salad was impressed that her family made complete fools of themselves and that I took it all in stride. Honestly, I wasn't aware that anyone made fools of themselves. Isn't weird behavior normal for most families?

Also, we have a new Moho friend! We met him briefly at the discussion group with Soulforce on Thursday, and Hidden had a chance to actually spend some time getting to know him. He and Hidden came over last night and we watched The Matrix (edited, because I'm silly like that), since Hidden had seen the last 60% of the movie 10 times or more and Salad had never seen any of it. I don't know how everyone else liked it, but I had fun. We'll have to do more stuff in the future. I'm going to call our new friend Kyle until he comes up with some name for himself.

All the activities and such over the weekend got me to thinking...I really like meeting a lot of you people in real life. What if over the summer we had some sort of monthly get-together? We could all go hang out at a park, maybe bring some food to munch on, maybe see a movie in a theatre or at someone's house, whatever. I know some people are wary of such gatherings, but I think it could be a lot of fun. And even if it doesn't happen, Salad and I are always willing to hang out and have fun (provided we're not swamped with schoolwork at the time). Spending time with Hidden, meeting Pinetree, Kyle, AtP and El Veneno have been some of the highlights of my month.

At that, I suppose I should be getting ready for church or something.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

soulforce visits byu

Still sick and now with an exceedingly sore throat, but I'll survive. I'm going to try to get everything about Soulforce down in this one post, but if I get too tired or it's taking too long, I reserve the right to start in the middle and finish tomorrow. There's a lot to say.

So last night's discussion group was actually pretty decent. The Equality Riders gave a brief (about 20 minutes or so) presentation about...I forget the term...theological progression? Or something like that. Anyway, I kinda zoned out on most of their points - it's all stuff I've heard from left-wing activists trying to cater their message to a conservative group before. They were knowledgable with their Bibles, but it didn't really align with how the majority of GLBT BYU students feel - at least in my experience. Emily had some really helpful comments about the basis of good dialogue and forward progression and understanding being based in creating relationships. Sorta reminded me of the whole BRT step on the mission - building relationships of trust (sup now-defunct purple handbook). Truly, though, that was the only thing that a Soulforce member said that actually resonated with me and allowed me to feel the Spirit. Nowadays with stuff like this I largely follow my feelings, because I have a closeness to the Spirit when it comes to discerning the truth of things. I'm pretty sure it's one of my spiritual gifts. So though the Soulforce people intended well, they just weren't getting the picture.

After they took off, though, we were left with only one Soulforce guy - Mike, a former BYU student and current member of the Church. He obviously understood us better, and with 'our people' guiding the discussion, progress was made, and things felt better. They talked about submitting lists of grievances to the administration (a semi-futile approach, as I see it, and one that ended today with two Soulforce people being arrested in order to make a point), the fear that pervades the everyday lives of GLBT BYU students (I mostly just like putting all those letters in a row :D), the stereotypes that fly around, the misconceptions that the majority of the student populace has about us, and what we'd like to see changed in the Honor Code. The grievances bit, while good in principle, was attacked in entirely the wrong way. School administrators anywhere don't like to be pushed around, and a list of things we think are wrong is less than likely to be entertained, plus having Soulforce members 'march' the list on campus (their words) when they've been warned to stay off or be arrested...not so much a good idea. That was a big loss in my eyes. The talk of fear, stereotypes, and misconceptions was pretty good stuff. I personally haven't felt afraid of being myself on campus, but a lot of that is because of my personality and the feeling of invincibility I get when I think I'm in the right. I'm not going to be advocating public displays of homosexual affection on campus - I advocate open communication between all people about the subject and attempts to increase understanding and love amongst all students. So the fear has never really been a factor for me. Stereotypes of any kind bother me, and more so gay Mormon stereotypes, because they're close to home. Just because I'm gay doesn't mean I'm promiscuous, doesn't mean I whore myself out, doesn't mean I'm going to go limp-wristed and lispy (and if I did, who are you to judge me for it?), and it certainly doesn't mean that I'm not trying to live the gospel just as much as the next guy, or more so. It's myths like that that we're trying to dispel. As for the Honor Code, we just want clarity. We don't want a 6-page expose' on what homosexual activities are permissible or not - we want first of all to be able to discuss the issues in our lives without fear of ecclesiastical and administrative punishment. We want other people to hear and understand our stories, and perhaps feel compassion for our struggles and lend support. What do the scriptures say about dealing with people who are struggling?

...willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light;
Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort... (Mosiah 18:8-9)
...lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees. (D&C 81:5, out of context)

If we are able to have more discussions like that amongst the common BYU populace, we'll be partway to a more understanding campus.

Then, there was today. I didn't get to take part in the walls of Jericho march (sickness and work kept me away), Hidden did, and he told me that it was more good than bad. His interactions with Soulforce members was very positive, and he helped some of them catch a glimpse of the typical gay Mormon at BYU outlook. Some issues arose when the pro-same-sex temple sealings people started to pass around literature. It's people like them that give a horrible slant to our community and who lead Soulforce to believe that they can change Church doctrine. More on that in a moment.

We did, however, skip our history class to attend the rally at Kiwanis Park. It was not as well-attended as I had expected (I think it was about 50-50 or 40-60 Equality Riders to people who showed up on their own), but it started out great. Haven, a lesbian who organized the Soulforce visit last year, kicked it off (as far as I can tell, since we got there 5-10 minutes late) and was actually fairly well-spoken and fair. Then a "straight ally" current BYU student spoke to us about his experiences (he has a lesbian sister who left the church and thus his family has spoken about it), his findings (largely dealing with controversial electro-shock therapy used by a BYU professor in the 70's in an attempt to 'cure' homosexuality, a topic addressed in Carol Lynn Pearson's book, I think called No More Goodbyes (but I'm not positive, since I haven't read it)), and his opinion on what needs to happen. He also pulled some relavent quotes from his ancestor (from the time of Joseph Smith) and some stuff from Joseph Smith himself. It was good. Then a current BYU student who identifies as lesbian spoke, and was also very good. She talked about the pervasive fear on campus, her testimony of her trials and struggles, and how talking with others and being open allowed her to love herself again.

Unfortunately, the good stopped there. The next guy up was an older guy named Clay. He started out trying to lull us into his speaking style and getting us to trust his opinions by citing scriptures and faith that BYU would change its policy. Then he went off basically on church policy, saying that the 'rewards' to GLBT members of the church were unjust in the context of the scriptures, claiming that we have to take a stand against current powerful church leaders, and completely taking scriptures out of context to support his claims. It was a gross misrepresentation of what the majority of us stand for at BYU, and I don't think he should have been allowed to speak. It's people with stances like his that make Soulforce's visits unwelcome to many, and make me feel like they're less of a help to us than an inhibitor to actual dialogue. And as bad as Clay was, the next guy was worse. I didn't catch his name, but he said that we should call on church leaders to repent. He cited "Dollin" Oaks fearing that the Church would no longer be able to limit gays, he twisted I Am A Child of God, and generally was horribly creepy, and again, completely unrepresentative of what we stand for. I was horribly disappointed by how it ended up.

I didn't get to attend tonight's discussion group, but Hidden did, and he said it was phenomenal. Four of the six individuals who talked with Jan Scharman a few weeks ago were there, and only a couple of Soulforce members. They (Hidden and Pinetree, among others) were able to actually bring home our stance as gay Mormons - that to most of us (at least the ones in our circles), it's more important to be Mormon than to be gay. Basically that our goal isn't for BYU or the Church to allow us to 'act out' our sexual preferences, but that we want to be understood and free to talk about who we are and how we live, what we struggle with and how we can strengthen each other.

Tonight Soulforce is gone. They've stirred the pot, for sure. People are thinking about things, at least in part. We know that administration won't want to do anything that seems reactionary to Soulforce's visit, but we also know that they're open to discussing things behind closed doors, and profess to be open to creating something in the open as well. It's up to those of us who are in a position to do something to righteously and tactfully apply pressure to get things done, to speak when it is appropriate to speak and to make our voices heard. That's the only way we'll get anywhere before Soulforce returns again next year.

End of high horse. Sorry about long post.


Soulforce and other such stuffs

Wonder of wonders, I'm actually posting...

This won't be terribly long because I really need to get to bed, but there are some things that I wanted to get down before I totally forgot. And sorry for those of you waiting anxiously for the continuation of our story...I'm still working on it :P

Soulforce--what can I say? I will fully admit to having anti-Soulforce sentiments previous to this week. I'm still not entirely sure as to where I stand with regards to them, but I'm not as anti- as I was before. We went to a discussion night last night that was much more successful than I was expecting. There were over 60 people there and it ended up being a fairly good dialogue with the exception of a few people who had no idea what they were talking about. I feel like the Soulforce people were starting to understand the point-of-view of the LGBT community here at BYU.

After the Soulforce people left we stuck around and talked for at least another hour. I am really glad we went and I got to learn more about everything. There were only 2 parts that I didn't enjoy: I was super tired and had a hard time focusing, and I was sitting in the same position for way too long which made my back super cranky.

Today we went to the rally and I was actually really impressed by the first 3 speakers and then by the "musical number." They had some really great things to say and I felt like they were speaking with inspiration and a real desire to make the situation at BYU better. The next 2 people that spoke totally killed any good feelings I had felt. They took scripture out of context, took Church history out of context, advocated a complete change in Church doctrine and encouraged people to "stand up in the face of oppressive Church leaders." It's no wonder Soulforce feels like they need to change the doctrine of the Church in order to make things better. With people like that as their contact people they couldn't gain anything but a skewed view of the Church and where people stand. I was really frustrated with the end of the rally, but I have to admit that I was impressed by the overall experience. Hopefully things will be even better next year and the communication between the university and Soulforce will actually be productive.

After the rally Drex and I went back to my place to make dinner and generally veg around...well, I had homework to do, so it wasn't all relaxation. Poor Drex is so sick. We pretty much just sat and watched the Pitt v. UCLA and OSU v. Tenn games. Thankfully my Bucks pulled through for me again, but they had me nervous for a while.

I will blog about other things and continue our story later, but I'm going to head to bed now so I don't catch what Drex has and die this weekend.


PS: my family is coming in to town this weekend and I'm super excited...I'll let you know how everything goes

prologue: soulforce

This entry is more a reminder to myself of what I want to touch on later. I'm exhausted, burnt out, and incredibly sick, so tonight isn't going to happen. However, here're the basics (and keep in mind that prior to going I was fairly anti-Soulforce, but am typically open to giving people a second chance to make an impression):

We had 60+ people at the in-home discussion group that started at 8:30. There were 5 Soulforce peoples there, the most persuasive/knowledgable of whom was a lesbian gal from upper Michigan (and now from Washington) who has family members who are LDS. She grew up the daughter of a Lutheran minister (hey, I baptized one of those!). There were also fellows from Presbyterian and Southern Baptist roots, and I can't remember the other two (the bookends on the couch - anyone remember?). Their message was okay, but you could tell that underneath the cheery exterior they wanted to change church doctrines more than anything else. Which is okay, because they don't really understand us or our culture. Emily (the cool chick) said the one thing by a Soulforce rep that actually resonated with me, about relationships being the foundation for understanding within the community.

After the Soulforce peeps took off, we continued the discussion for another hour and a half. We got some questions from straight individuals trying to understand where we're coming from, a lot of talk about suggestions for Honor Code changes at BYU, some interesting discussion about stereotypes and common misconceptions, and got to tell everyone about Hidden (he'll get a blog someday soon :P) and Pinetree's meeting with the VP of student life at BYU and the strides that are being made from within. While some comments were a bit off-base, for the most part a lot of honest interaction and real learning went on, and I deem the meeting a success. Even if my body ACHED sitting there the whole time. Sitting in one place for a thing like that for three and a half hours when you're achy and sick isn't very fun, but it was definitely worth it.

Now we just have to convince our teacher to let us off class so we can go to the Kiwanis Park thingie tomorrow....


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

the good and the blah

Oh so busy. Honestly, there isn't enough time in the day for me to do all the things that I feel I have to do. On the plus side, I had a great (though incredibly hectic) day at work. I was not only amazingly busy, but very effective in using my time. I ended up making a sale (yay extra $200 this month! :D), plus I was told that my commission structure would be changing to be centered on training rather than sales, since all my time is taken up training people, and especially people that other guys sell onto our program. (we do online construction management software) So that means perpetually more money coming in. Which is really good, since I have a bunch of furniture to buy for the new apartment, a car to pay back to my parents, double rent in the month of April, and a trip to Cali to save up for.

Have to balance the good with not-so-good, right? I'm definitely getting sick, but I'm trying to stave it off with vitamin C, ibuprofen (to combat the abysmal ache-all-over feeling), ginger tea, and sleep. We'll see how I feel in the morning, but I definitely sound froggy with my itchy throat right now.

At that, I'm going to sign off. Gotta get some semblance of a night's rest, right? :P


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

meeting new people

So tired today, but it was a good day. Work and classes and all that jazz, but basically all day I was just pumped to go up to see the Joseph Smith movie again. What made it even better was that AttemptingThePath and El Veneno decided to join us. And just as I suspected, they're really cool and we had a good time. I wish we could have had more time to just talk or hang out or something, but I guess that'll have to happen some other time. Seriously. Plus, this time watching the movie I set a new record - I only used 4 tissues! But I think my sinuses were kinda clogged, 'cuz I got a nice sinus headache on the drive home. Wee!

I'm trying to figure out why I'm in such a good mood. I guess I just had fun, and it was good to meet new people that I could be open with, and who were the type that I would actually enjoy being friends with. It takes a certain type of person to be friends with me, so even seeing friend potential leaves a happy feeling. Plus it was an incredibly beautiful day today, and despite my brief bout of extreme pissed-offedness in the car (o road rage u), the sun kept me happy all day. I'm so shallow sometimes. I love it. ^_^

And now, to bed.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

historical: first encounters

Pretty fantastic day today. I got to sleep in, it was gorgeous outside, church was abidable, we had an incredibly fun dinner at my aunt's house, and we hung out with Hidden and heard his hilarious performance of assignments from a class he took. We're pretty much all patched up now (to the relief of Salad) and the three of us are going up to Salt Lake to see the Joseph Smith movie tomorrow night. Incidentally, I bet we could get away with taking one (or squeezing, two) more if there's anyone from Provo/Orem that wants to come. I haven't cleared it with either Salad or Hidden, but odds are they'd be okay with it, and if not you'll just have to deal with the rejection. (: I'm excited, though. And I have to remember to bring a box of tissues, because I've definitely used at least 6 every time I've seen it, and I'm not anticipating it being any easier this time around. What can I say; I'm like a faucet.

Ok, so I'm flipping through my journal for fun historical insights into who I am. One entry made me giggle. I went to a school dance (girls' choice) my freshman year of high school at age 13. The girl I went with "was in Mathcounts and is way smart, essentially a girl version of me." PS, a year later she came out as a lesbian. xD Sorry, looking back that just cracks me up.

I guess I never recorded anything about the next few major milestones in my self-discovery, so this will be the first record. By my sophomore year of high school and at the age of 14 and 15, I'd come to terms with my SSA and had realized that it wasn't something that was likely to go away. I was still trying to figure out where I stood on it, and while I was nursing an interesting crush on a girl (I have yet to figure that one out, because I wasn't physically attracted to her - it might have just been a weird best friends thing, but I'm not certain), I was having a plethora of crushes on guys. That year the strongest crush was a senior kid that was in choir with me. It was very juvenile, but hey, I was just 15.

The next year was much more hazardous - I'm fully confident that only the intervention of the Lord kept me from ruining my chances at a mission and possibly facing other ecclesiastical repercussions [as a side note, I've toned this down some. This is a very vivid memory, and some aspects of that week would be just a bit too graphic for my taste]. With the old seniors graduated and the new senior tenors not really stepping up, I basically headed up the Tenor I section in the auditioned choir and the hand-picked madrigal choir at school. Among the Tenor IIs we had some decent strength, but a big boon for the section came in the form of a sophomore kid named Dylan who transferred back up to our school from New York City, where he'd been in a boys' choir boarding school something-or-other. The kid was openly bisexual, and extremely cute. So I silently crushed on him. A few months after my 16th birthday, the orchestra and choir went on a competition trip to Virginia Beach. I was in both the orchestra and the choir, and I had friends in the orchestra, but I wanted to make more friends in the choir. I'm sure secretly I wanted to room with Dylan and that that influenced my decision, but my memory on that point is pretty hazy. In the end, though, I did room with Dylan and two other tenors from the choir. Turns out one guy was also openly bi (and extremely disgusting - picture 400 pounds and unshaven, age 17, in lounging clothes on the bed eating vienna sausages out of the tin off of his stomach, and you can picture this guy), and the other guy was loosely closeted bi. What a situation for a stalwart LDS SSA youth to be in!

Two things saved me that week. One was my incredible naivete, and the other was what I see as intervention from God but what could have just been a series of unfortunate circumstances. I'll skip most of the filler. At one point Dylan and I had a pillow fight in our PJs (his consisting of boxers and an undershirt), and we ended up on the bed with his legs wrapped around me. If I had half a brain for the whole sexual undertones/overtones/tones thing, this would have been an obvious come-on. Luckily I was completely ignorant. If he had walked up to me and asked me to do something scandalous with him, I probably would have dropped everything and done it, but instead even his most obvious machinations didn't do anything to me. He would put a towel on, drop his boxers, and leave them in the room with me while he went to take a shower. He talked about not getting any on the trip. much more obvious could he get? We even talked about his lifestyle some of the time in the bus. But I was blissfully unaware of any interest from him.

The last day of the trip, I had basically decided I was going to go after an encounter with Dylan. Which was mildly amusing, because the night before he'd been talking about how he thinks everyone in the world is bisexual and just doesn't realized it, then decided that I was the only straight guy on the planet (probably because I didn't react to his flirtations) and that all supposedly straight guys should be as cool and accepting as me. Anyway, since I didn't understand flirting I was just going to be incredibly forward, and my excuse for doing it, or the circumstances I wanted to create to set it up, was another pillow fight. Shortly before I was going to put my plan into effect, one of the jerks in the choir basically threatened Dylan and said that he was going to tell Dylan's older sister about his orientation (how his family didn't know I will never fathom), which threw Dylan into such a funk that he wasn't in the mood to play or anything. I honestly feel like I was unwittingly moving into a temptation that would have been beyond my capacity to bear, and that God all but plucked me out of the situation in order to keep that promise that we won't be tempted above that we are able. In the end nothing happened between us, Dylan and I chatted and emailed for the rest of the school year and he loved being able to educate me about his lifestlye and the terminology and such. To this day the smell of the cologne that he wore reminds me of him, but I'm incredibly glad that nothing happened between us and that God had His eye on me. Even if I wasn't committed to a path following the gospel, he was a player and I would have been a fling, but since I was on the path to serve a mission it means that much more to me. Especially looking back and seeing just how treacherous the path I was treading was. God's a good guy.


lazy days

Lazy days are *so* therapeutic. Especially lazy days where it's over 70 degrees outside and blessedly sunny. Oh man. Salad basically mentioned most everything fun that happened today. I had a choir rehearsal this morning, cut my hair, got my shorts, we watched some basketball, hung out with Hidden, went to a concert and ate some cookies at our friends' house.

I'm having a hard time deciding what I want to blog about - it's a combination of too many ideas and too tired. I guess something that's been piquing my interest is holding grudges. I used to be able to hold a grudge really well and really long. At one point I held a grudge against my best friend - for years it lasted, until one day, years after he moved to another state, I had a dream that he said he was sorry. Only then, like 6 years later, was I able to forgive him and move on. So I find it really interesting that I can't really hold a grudge anymore. Or rather, I suppose I could, but I don't see the point to myself. One aspect of my logical side that remains intact is my ability to reason out of (some) emotions. If I'm feeling something that doesn't make sense or has no benefit, my logical side can sometimes flush it out. This extends to whenever I'm angry at friends - for better or for worse. I can't stay mad at friends, and can't hold a grudge against them. Not like I used to.

I suppose that relates to another curious thing that I've pondered recently - the logical vs. emotional dual aspect of personality. Before my mission I was almost purely logical. I think that at some point I subconsciously decided that the best way to not feel SSA-related emotions was to try to kill all my emotions. Of course very few people are able to completely pull that off, but I did okay at it. At some point on my mission, though, I switched to a largely emotion-driven individual. I think that was part of striving to be in touch with the Spirit. My testimony gained a more obviously personal aspect because I felt it myself rather than just learning it myself. I was able to discern the needs of those around me and how I could help them best. Some of that carried over after the mission, but I find myself sometimes wishing my logical side was as strong as before.

And I'm apparently rambling again. Man, I have to get more sleep. And maybe blog sometime earlier than 1:45 in the morning. Brilliant.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Episode #3: boo, you whore

It's a good thing I already had this next part of our story written because I'm way too pissed off right now to think coherently. I went into work tonight for a grave shift only to find that I was put on the schedule to work 4 extra hours in the morning. No one called and asked me if that was ok or even told me that I was on the schedule...pretty much I'm at the end of my rope and I'm seriously considering quitting.

Today was pretty good overall. Drex and I watched part of the OSU v. Xavier game this morning and my buckeyes won by the skin of their teeth. I was going to be so ticked off if they failed me in another sport *shakes fist at the football team* Then I made coffee cake for brunch and it was bliss. Later we went clothes shopping with Hidden and I was reminded again of how much I *hate* shopping of all kinds...except for when I get to get new kitcheny things. After whirlwind shopping and dinner, Drex and I went to the Concert Choir/Singers concert and were pleasantly surprised at the personality that Singers showed. Usually they're completely void of facial emotion and don't really look like they're having a lot of fun but tonight they were awesome. Then we went and hung out with some friends of ours and ate cookies and had a grand old time, but alas, it had to end and I had to go to work. Mrrrrr.

Back to the story of us:
Through Drex’s cousins I found out that the other girl had been phased out in late April-early May so I decided that I could gradually start coming back around.
While I had started talking to him again, I was still very guarded and I wasn’t as open with him as I had been. Not long before I started talking to him again I had been invited to a teaching interview in the county where his parents live and I really want to teach there someday. I had been talking to his brother one afternoon mulling over whether or not I should go because I couldn’t really afford lodging and a rental car and airline tickets. His brother disappeared for a while and then came back and said that his parents said I could stay with them. I was shocked! I was under the impression that I wasn’t the most popular person around their house, but I really wanted to interview out there, so I took them up on the offer. I hadn’t told Drex about my plans to go out and I will admit that decision was mildly spiteful, but what are you gonna do? His mom came out to visit a couple of weeks later and that was actually the first time I had met her. I can’t tell you how nervous I was, but I had to keep remembering that it’s not like I was “meeting the in-laws” or whatever (oh what I silly girl am I…). I had something I had to do with his cousin while Drex’s mom was in town, so I went over and was greeted at the door by her with a ginormous hug…um, not so much what I was expecting, but it was good. If nothing else, it broke the ice for me. At one point she asked me what the dates were for my visit and I told her and then realized that I still hadn’t mentioned it to Drex. Apparently he’s not the only one who can be a self-centered jerk. Oh well, such is life.

I did end up going out for the interview and staying with his family. It was a little weird at first, but I got over that pretty quickly. I had met both of his parents, individually, but I hadn’t met his brother in person yet. He answered the door when I got there and gave me a hug. I’m not sure what it is, but apparently they’re huggers (at least his mom and his brother). I felt a little awkward just kind of chilling at Drex’s house without him there, but I think it was actually really good. I was able to interact with his family and establish myself as an individual as opposed to the girlfriend, or whatever other label I might have had. His mom was hysterical—completely open and welcoming and did what she could to make me feel at home. I had my interview and afterwards she took me around to a bunch of the schools where she knows people and introduced me to administrators and teachers. It was fun to go around with her and see how she interacts with the people she has worked with. Drex’s brother and I had a ton of fun together. We went to bookstores, out to eat, to a movie, and then he and his dad took me into the city to see the night sites. It ended up being a very fun trip and I’m glad I took the opportunity to go and spend time with Drex’s family. They’re pretty incredible people.

I graduated from BYU that spring and had no idea what I was going to do with my life. That summer was spent working my brains out and trying to figure out what God wanted me to do with my life. I had no desire to stay in Utah, but I wasn’t getting any teaching offers and I REALLY didn’t want to go live in Montana with my family *gags* so I was trying to find other options. August came and I was talking to one of my friends that I had taught with and she suggested going back to school to get an English endorsement. I hadn’t really thought about that, but it would make me significantly more marketable and it would mean that I would get to go back to school. I’m a ridiculous nerd and I actually like being in school—not so much the homework part, but the learning new things part is my favorite part. So I applied to be a Post-Baccalaureate student at BYU to do the course work for the English Teaching minor and then take the test for the endorsement.

At about this same time I went to the Temple and made a deal with God. For the record, that’s not always the smartest thing to do. I was getting really frustrated with the lack of progress in my friendship with Drex and had been praying for quite some time to be able to just let go and get over him. Now, I’m glad God didn’t answer that prayer but at the time I was getting exceedingly frustrated. I was at the Temple and had told God that I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. I was sick of the emotional struggle and the mental struggle and I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I told Him that if Drex didn’t initiate any communication with me within like 3 days (or something ridiculous like that), then I was going to be done. I left the Temple feeling pretty good and knowing that I was on my way to getting over Drex. God likes to laugh at me. I make plans and God laughs. That night I fell asleep while watching a movie and woke up with a start because I had been waiting for a really important phone call and realized that I might have missed it while I was sleeping. I got my phone and found a text from Drex. Coincidence? Maybe, but I doubt it. I hadn’t talked to him for a few days and then he randomly texted me after I had told God that I was done if there was no communication from Drex. I will admit to being fairly ticked off at the time because I was all set to get over him and then God goes and tells me that I’m a fool and there will be no “getting over” going on. Here’s the rub though, I was stupid enough to go and make another deal with God. You’d have thought I would have learned my lesson, but not so much. This time, when I was in the Temple, I told God that if no move was made by the time I was done with my endorsement then I was completely done and I was going to move out of Utah regardless of whether or not I had a teaching job. I thought I was safe when nothing happened immediately, but little did I know what was in store.

A few weeks before school started, Drex started messaging a friend from home on facebook. To most other people the posts seemed fairly innocent, but I knew that he was going to try and pursue her when she came out for school. Unlike my reaction to his pursuit of another girl earlier that year, I was mildly entertained by this one. My prediction wasn’t confirmed for a few weeks until I was talking to Drex’s cousin and he told me that he had something to tell me. I knew he was going to tell me that Drex was pursuing this other girl. He gave me some good advice and let it go at that. When Drex’s brother found out, he was appalled again at the apparent insensitivity that he saw going on. I just shrugged it off because I knew it wouldn’t last. I didn’t disappear this time, rather I stuck around and continued my friendship with Drex hoping that I could at least maintain a friendship. Registration for winter classes came around and Drex, his brother, and I decided to take a class together. I was nervous for what could happen, but decided that it would be fun if I made it so.

Come December I was getting to the point where I was getting overworked (I had many jobs going on at once), burned out at school, and just super stressed out. Drex’s birthday came up and we decided that we were going to go see the MoTab Christmas concert up in SL. I was excited for that and had everything planned for his birthday. Then I found out that the girl he was kind of pursuing was going to come with us because she had some friends coming into town that night and they needed to be picked up at the airport. Let me say here and now, the girl he was pursuing is a very good person and I like her a lot. We’re actually friends and get along really well, so my frustration at her coming had nothing to do with her as a person. I was just frustrated that she was invading an event that I wanted to be able to spend with my best friend. His cousins and brother were coming up with us too, but that didn’t bother me. The fact that she came up made me extremely jealous. I ended up making a complete fool of myself that night because I was overstressed and overworked and underslept and I hadn’t eaten. Those are never good combinations for me and I just, well didn’t handle the situation as well as I could have. As a result of the spectacle I made of myself we ended up missing the concert which I felt really bad about. Drex and I were able to go up the next Sunday and see it, but it was still an overall awful experience.

Not long before this happened Hidden and I had become friends through an English class we were taking. He had mentioned where he served his mission and it happened to be the same mission that Drex served in. I thought that was kind of random, but didn’t really say anything more about it. Hidden and I were talking after class one day and he told me he was gay and how he had struggled a lot and something just clicked in my head. I told him that my best friend also was struggling with that (can I also mention that Drex and I hadn’t talked about his SSA for nearly a year. It was just an unspoken thing between us) and that I didn’t know what to do for him. He mentioned something else about his mission and I ventured to ask him if he knew Drex and lo, and behold, he did. Then I said that Drex was my best friend before I even thought about it and Hidden put two and two together. He gave me his email to give to Drex at that point so that they could communicate with each other. I was terrified to tell Drex that I had the address though because I had just broken a huge trust. I didn’t want Drex to think he couldn’t trust me anymore and that I was a terrible friend and all those things, so I sat on the address for a few months.

I know, I know...i pick the worst places to end off, but it's the best I can do at the moment. There is more coming, I promise.


emotional roller coaster

I guess you all were right, to an extent.

Today was a roller coaster of emotion, but at least a roller coaster has ups. We had a panel on Black families in my cross-cultural families class, which was very insightful - we had a girl from the Ivory Coast, a girl from Uganda, and two guys from Ghana answering questions and such. Though the teacher is boring and not too adept at what he claims to specialize in (his knowledge is good, but his common sense, for lack of a better term, leaves room for improvement), the panels we organize have been immensely educational.

So after my MFHD class I typically hang out with my friend, and Salad joins us occasionally on Fridays. We checked all his normal spots, but no luck. By this point, the rather acute heartache got the better of me and I decided to skip my philosophy class. Unless I took part in a very lively discussion, my thoughts would inevitably turn to trying to figure out how to patch things up, and I'd be useless anyway. Nine text messages, 2 emails, and 2 voicemails later (I think), my friend shows up at Salad's door for our Heroes marathon. I was immensely relieved to see him, but he seemed determined to pretend like nothing was wrong/had happened and to just watch the show. I had essentially determined that if he was going to walk in with that attitude, I would have to quietly excuse myself, go upstairs, and essentially cry myself to sleep at 5PM. Luckily I'd already expressed that to Salad, and she got him talking and explaining his position. Eventually we worked things out to the point where at least it wasn't tense and we were able to enjoy the show (9 straight episodes of Heroes like what! we'll have to finish the rest, though). I don't know where on the spectrum of angry he's at right now, but it looks like time will heal the rift. I certainly hope it will. All night long I really wanted to just hug him because I still feel so awful that everything went down the way it did, but I didn't want to mess things up any more than I already had. I guess I'll just have to be more cautious in how I approach things - I honestly don't know if I could handle another bout of emotional rejection like that. I don't generally invest too much emotion into situations or relationships, but my close friends get as much of my heart as I have to give, which puts me at risk of being very hurt. I certainly contemplated cutting off all emotion, but I think that's a swing in the wrong direction as well.

On a lighter note, I think I'm going to go get me some shorts that I can enjoy wearing tomorrow. I hate shorts and Salad and I both hate shopping, but the end result might be worth it. The only shorts I have are a slew of khaki shorts that were handed down from my uncle - comfortable, but hardly stylish. We'll see if I can find anything slightly more fun.


Friday, March 16, 2007


I'm not a very insecure person. I'm typically quite sure of myself, quite confident in my abilities, quite certain that I can handle whatever life throws my way. There are a few select circumstances under which I tend to buckle more readily. The one of which I am most keenly aware is friends. My friends are few and far between, and I haven't had a guy best friend for since I moved away from New York in 2000. The last time I added a new guy friend to my list of close friends was probably sixth grade, back in 1994-95 or whenever the heck I was in sixth grade. I share this because I thought I had a guy best friend again, and it had been nice. My insecurity comes in the fact that because I hold my friends close, make few of them, and don't like people being mad at me, I'm always afraid that I'll do something to offend a friend or chase them off.

Sorta like I did last night.

I should have been more considerate, or chosen my words more carefully, or kept my mouth shut altogether. At any rate, apparently I've chased off a friend that I think I needed, and it's left me lower than I've felt in a long time. More because I don't know what I can do to patch things up or if it's even patchable than anything else. I want to play the optimist and say that it will all work itself out in the end and we'll be closer for it or some trite drivel like that, but my insecure side won't let me process things that way.

I think that's it. Not really in the mood to say anything more.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

i'm a self-centered jerk sometimes, i admit it

Can I start by saying that I'm loving the weather? Seriously, it's been so incredibly nice outside. I spent a nice hour of my afternoon basking in the sun, reading a book on Chinese women in traditional China, and I actually enjoyed myself. It's too bad I've been so incredibly exhausted recently or I'd be able to enjoy it more. And stay awake in my classes.

I sorta want to blogbarf about a few things that have been running through my head. After the two posts by Mormon Enigma, I have given additional thought to the concept of SSA as a proverbial 'talent.' I know that not everyone views things the way I do, but I honestly believe I've been blessed with the trial of SSA so that I can help others and gain a level of empathy that others can't reach. Couple that with some of the spiritual gifts that I have, and I'm fairly certain pursuing a career in counseling is a good move for me. Something that we can all work on (myself most DEFINITELY included) is making sure we see things through multiple perspectives before we decide on a course of action or where we want to anchor ourselves. To do otherwise increases the risk of misplaced faith, slipping off the path, or flat-out stupidity. I take little issue with people who disagree with me - though I may come across as self-righteous, that's never my intent, and as far as it goes in my mind, it's never reflective of my actual state of mind, either. It's hard when you see people you know deciding on the course of their lives after being swayed by one individual's life view, though. I dunno. I'm babbling.

I also want to apologize now, either after having messed things up or in advance of when I surely will mess things up. I am confident in my perspectives, I am confident in myself, and I am confident in my ability to work my gifts/talents in such a way that I can help others. That means that I come across strong sometimes, and despite my good intentions I will butt heads with people. I wish people could see into my heart when that happens, because I hate contention (that seems silly). I'm always well-intentioned, I just tend to come across wrong and mess things up periodically. I guess I need to work on balancing my life a bit more than I thought.

It's a really interesting predicament to be in. I'm simultaneously having some of the best and hardest days recently. Things with Salad are progressing slowly but surely. I wish I could pick up the pace, but I'm a faithful realist, and I'm content 'knowing' that it will work out but not putting a timeframe on it. At the same time, school is kicking my butt from time to time, and I seem to be offending the people I love and care about, and I feel more or less inept at being able to help them. Maybe I should be less worried about helping them and more worried about shutting up. Only that tactic hasn't worked well in my relationship with my brother. Despite our proximity and recent interactions, I think I feel farther from him than ever before. And Salad assures me that I shouldn't come out to him right now due to circumstances that she's not at liberty to share with me. *sigh* Can't life ever be straightforward?

(PS I bumped Salad's very good continued post on our history down, so don't miss it!)


Episode #2: and so it continues

Before I jump back into our story I wanted to comment on today. It went fairly well until I started going to my classes and realized that while my brain was fried after Midterm-Monday, it probably wasn't terribly brilliant to take 2 days off of doing homework. That and just forgetting you have stuff due isn't ever fun either. After my classes I fell asleep on a bench on campus while I was enjoying the amazing weather and consequently my back has been growling at me since then.

American Idol was kind of disappointing tonight. I can't fathom why Sanjaya is still on there. He is not talented at all and just needs to get off the show. I'm really surprised that Haley didn't make it into the bottom 3, but oh's not like either of them will make it too much further given their apparent lack of talent (in my opinion).

Ok, back to us now....
There’s not much to say about the time while Drex was gone on the mission…a lot of stuff happened that I don’t think is particularly relevant. Except I did manage to injure my back in a big way and I still suffer from it. I didn’t tell Drex about it until after I had had surgery and stuff. I did write him every week except for, like, 4…and he was pretty regular with the letters as well. There were so many times when what he wrote to me seemed like he was reading my mind and anticipating what was going on in my life. His letters got me through some pretty rough times.

When Drex got home from the mission and moved out to Utah, I’ll admit I was pretty overt in my intentions and I think I pushed him further away than I intended. I was convinced through much of his mission that he would come home and we would get married pretty quickly and that it would be happily ever after. Um, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I wanted it so badly and I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t responding to me and feeling the same way. I got really frustrated and wasn’t super nice, but then I thought that if I were a bit more subtle, maybe that would help. Drex’s cousin kept trying to give me advice on how to approach the situation and what I should and shouldn’t do. It was a lot harder to follow his advice than I thought it would be and I was far from successful a lot of the time.

As I mentioned before, I screwed up my back pretty badly while Drex was on his mission and I had planned to have a second surgery the June after he got home. I was in pretty constant, excruciating pain and was looking forward to the surgery, hoping that it would eliminate that pain. I was taking classes that spring term and had arranged to take my finals early so that I could have surgery and my mom had made plans to come down and stay with me for a few days so everything was set…or so I thought. About a week before the surgery, my mom called me and told me that they (my parents) didn’t think that I should have the surgery at that point. They aren’t the biggest fans of my back surgeon given the fact that the first surgery didn’t hold. I was with Drex and his cousin when I got that phone call and I was so angry and frustrated and had a whirlwind of emotions. We were grocery shopping at the time and I had driven, so they went into the store while I tried to collect myself in the car. I was so upset that I couldn’t calm down at that point. When they came out of the store I stormed out of the car and literally chucked my keys at Drex and yelled, “YOU DRIVE HOME!” and fully intended on walking the 2+ miles back to my apartment by myself. Drex and his cousin managed to stop me on the side of the road not more than 100 yards from the store and his cousin walked with me down the street to where Drex had parked my car. When we got there, Drex put his arms around me and just let me bawl everything out for at least 10 minutes. I have no idea what was going through his head at that point, but I’m willing to bet that he was kind of worried that I was going to turn into Psycho. He has no idea how much it meant to me that he responded to my frustration and anger by just holding me and letting me cry. After that fun little incident, I was a little wary of him and I think he was trying to be really careful around me as well.

That next fall I started teaching at an Alternative High School for my internship and it was an incredibly rough experience for the first semester. I spent a lot of time venting and crying and feeling completely inadequate. Mostly I vented to Drex because his cousins avoided me. They don’t deal well with emotional beings and I needed emotional support, so I turned to Drex. That November his cousin wrote me an email telling that he couldn’t handle me and didn’t really want to be around me until I changed. That hit me really hard and completely out of the blue. I had no idea what to do because they were my best friends and they all live together and I can’t really avoid one without avoiding them all. It was difficult, but we ended up patching things up. The second semester of teaching ended up going much more smoothly with fewer emotional break downs.

Christmas came and went and then February hit. Historically February is a terrible month for me. I get really sick every year (since my freshman year of high school), like nigh unto death sick. I managed to get sick at the beginning of the month and then over President’s Day weekend my back went into severe spasms and Drex’s cousin took me to the ER to get meds and general relief. We all had Monday off to observe President’s Day and Drex called me to invite me over for dinner. He and his cousin came to pick me up since I was heavily drugged for the spasms. Drex ended up driving me home later that night and as he tried to drop me off, he told me that he was going to try dating someone else and that they had gone on their first date the previous Friday. I was stunned. I had no response. Drex decided to pull into my parking garage and we sat there. I was hurt and dumbfounded and didn’t know what to say. I don’t remember saying a whole lot, but I do remember what he said. He looked at me and said, “I’ve tried so hard to fall in love with you, but I can’t. I’m not saying it will never happen, but I just can’t do it right now.” Then there was a pretty big lull in the conversation. After a few minutes I looked at him and said, “You know, I love you more than I’ve ever loved any one before. We connect on such a ridiculously deep level, sometimes it’s scary. I guess I just don’t really know what else to say.” Again there was a long pause in the conversation. He kept looking at me like he wanted to tell me something but kept chickening out. In a slightly pouty and defensive, yet still loving voice I said, “what?” He took a deep breath and said, “Most people only know about 5% of me. The other 90% I keep to myself.” I was puzzled by that statement, but pushed him for more of an explanation with, “Ok, well, what’s the other 90%?” More hemming and hawing ensued until I saw a tear escape his eye and then he said, “I’m more attracted to guys than girls.” He didn’t look at me after he said that but sat there with his eyes closed and tears streaming down his face. After a moment of contemplation (I was amazed that I didn’t feel shocked, or stunned, or appalled, or any of the feelings that I felt I should have been feeling. Rather I felt my love for him intensify exponentially. I can’t explain it and I don’t know as I would if I could. It was a very revelatory moment for me) I looked at him and said, “Do you think that changes how I feel about you?” After I told him that I reached across the seat and put my arms around him. He buried his face in my shoulder and we sat like that for a few minutes. Then he collected himself and helped me out of the car and up to my apartment (I was still in pretty intense pain from the spasms in my back). He hugged me at my door and I went into my apartment still stunned. My roommate knew something was up and came and sat by me. It was so hard not to tell her, but I couldn’t fathom how much trust it took for Drex to tell me something so personal, so I told her I would be fine and retreated to my room to ponder on the events of the night. I shed numerous tears praying for guidance and direction and finally settled on writing Drex an email. I told him that I loved him dearly and that I would support him no matter what. Then I told him that I wouldn’t be coming around much because of his decision to pursue a relationship with a different girl. I didn’t tell him at the time, but I was devastated. I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with him knowing that he was with someone else. At the end of the email I quoted some lyrics from Wicked: The Musical. Pretty much it was the entirety of the song “For Good.” For those of you who haven’t heard the music I say “sssshhhhuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnn.” You really should go check it out. Anyway, for better or worse, I chose to kind of drop off the face of the planet until the “other girl” disappeared.

The next day I got a call from Drex’s brother who I had become pretty good friends with over the previous 4 years. He said that he had heard what happened and wanted to know if I wanted to talk. I told him that I would be fine, but one of the problems with becoming really good friends with someone is that they can always tell when you’re lying, even over the phone. He started crying before I even said something and was upset that “[Drex] could do something like that to me. He’s such an idiot!” I was touched that I had made such and impression on his younger brother. It’s especially interesting when you consider that he and I hadn’t met face to face at that point. Our entire friendship had been cultivated online. Apparently the other cousins were also kind of appalled that Drex would even contemplate dating someone else. I just did my best to avoid the whole situation.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realize how potentially devastating my reaction would be to Drex. I dropped off the face of the earth in an effort to protect myself from being hurt by the fact that he wasn’t dating me, but I didn’t take into account the fact that he would wonder if I dropped off because he told me about his SSA. In my defense, he hit me with both situations and I did tell him that I wasn’t going to come around because of the dating thing, nevertheless, it was still a stupid thing to do.

During my self-imposed exile I took the time to do further research on SSA. I read almost everything I could get my hands on: General Conference talks, websites, blogs (which I admit I really wasn’t impressed with at the time), The Miracle of Forgiveness, Our Search for Happiness, and myriad other things. Looking back now I realize that I had barely scratched the surface, but I was making an effort to try and better understand what my best friend was facing and how best to support him.

And as with last night, there's still more to go. I haven't gotten as far with the next installment so it might take a few days to get more.