Monday, April 30, 2007

Samantha's Questions

1. If you found a crystal ball that was fairly ancient but had just enough energy to answer one question, what one thing would you like to know about the future?

A: Are we going to get rid of money?? Seriously, that stuff ruins my life.

2. If you had a secret weapon that would make you invincible, what would your personal secret weapon be called and how would it work?

A: I think I would choose invisibility. Then I could attack people in their sleep and they’d never know what was going on. That and I could listen in on a whole lot of conversations and learns lots of weird stuff that would lead to me being able to take over the world!

3. Most people have ingested at least one item that is not food (crayons, paper, paste, dirt, etc.) What non-food item have you eaten, how did it taste, and why did you eat it?

A: Hmm….the only “non-food” item I can recall eating is chapstick—usually lipsmackers—but that’s more a result of putting on a whole bunch and licking it off my lips…except for the one time when I made Gimple, GBYUS, Calvin, and Drex try the pink lemonade flavor by having them put it on their fingers and lick it off. I had to do it first so they knew it was ok. Lame, I know, but it works.

4. You die and find out that, indeed, reincarnation does exist. You may come back as any other entity, as long as it's not human. What will you choose?

A: That’s a tough one. I think I’d come back as a book.

5. Suppose you discovered an unlimited cash reserve that you must spend in the next two hours. You may buy one item and only one. What will it be?

A: ONLY ONE?????? Whose stupid idea was that?? Well, if it’s unlimited, I obviously can’t spend it all at once, so I reserve the right to interpret this question in such a way that I can buy multiple things later, but have to buy one super great item in the next two hours. I would buy a library…mmmmmm, yes, a library *covets*


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Yay for not Utah!

California is amazing for many reasons, but the reason at the top of my list is the fact that it's not Utah--yay for that!

Drex pretty much gave the run down until now, but can I just mention again the fact that we got sunburned?? I HATE being sunburned, but I guess my vanity got the better of me...that and the beach was amazing ;) For the record, sunburned shins are not a fun game.

Today was pretty fun. We went to church in one of the wards where Drex served his mission and it was really neat to see how much the people love him. They were all very excited to meet me (one guy told Drex that he was "on the right path" since he found me...) and after asking us when we're getting married, the next question out of their mouths was "does she sing??" I was quite entertained. It's always interesting to get the other side of the story when it comes to a mission. All the members kept telling me how lucky I was to have Drex and other similar comments (as if I didn't already know) and they accepted me as if I had always been a part of their ward family. Overall it was a really great experience and I'm glad I was able to be a part of it.

I'm sure we'll both have more to say when we get back, but I'm going to go put my feet up and go to bed...I can't fit my feet in my shoes for all their swollenness :(


Saturday, April 28, 2007

vacation: day 0

So I've been swamped with papers, finals, work, moving apartments, cleaning the apartment, and now vacationing in California. I've been having a blast in Cali, but there's so much to talk about that I'm just giving a rough outline: 10-12 hour car ride, In-n-Out, Rasputin, trip to Monterey and sunburning on the beach in Carmel, carousing on the streets of San Fran, and whatever the heck I'm going to get accomplished between now and the end of the trip. It's been fantastic and very therapetuic, and tomorrow I get to go to church in the ward that I served 15 months of my mission in, and see a bunch of the people I worked with. I'm really really excited for that.

Sorry I'm going to leave it at that - I figured I ought to let everyone know what the heck was going on, and clue everyone into the fact that I have minimal time to get blogging done. :P Yay California!


Sunday, April 22, 2007

mean girls and ringing

We finally had that Mean Girls party tonight! I'm glad a bunch of you could make it. And by a bunch, I mean that we peaked at 20 people in that little living room. I had fun! It's really interesting to see how we all interact with each other, and it was fun to meet some new people and introduce some of our new people to the general group.

Also, a bit about ring shopping. Which we've been doing. It's a pretty tedious thing for most guys, and I'm not really an exception to that rule. I won't lie - the first day we did ring shopping, I was not really enjoying myself. We hit up the University Mall and saw all the jewelers there, and mostly it was just depressing for both Salad and me, because everything that looked good was way out of our price range, nothing was very variable, and most of the people weren't all that interested in helping us find something that would work for us. Today we hit up Sierra West, though, and had a much better experience. The sales guy there was very nice, very knowledgable, and extremely helpful. The stuff that they had was much more up our alley, and the prices were much better than in the mall. We'll see where it all goes - I'll keep everyone posted as we figure more stuff out. And if we get a ring from there, there's some sort of incentive for referring people, so if anyone else ends up needing to get a ring, head over there and tell them we sent you. ^_~

That's all. It's late.


Oh yeah PS brother Bob is going to Hawaii on his mission. God loves this family. First California for me, now Hawaii for him? I don't know where our next brother can go to compare.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Girly rant, please forgive me

Ok, since Drex did a rant, I’m going to…except mine is no where near as important as his is (and it’s kind of girly).

He already mentioned the fact that we’ve been trying out different flavored lip glosses and stuffs which has been fun, but the acquiring of said lip gloss was irritating in the least. I asked Drex for flavor requests before I went to the store and figured that I would be able to find whatever he asked for in the lipsmackers section of Target. Silly Salad, this is Utah where there’s no selection for anything if it doesn’t relate to the Church :P I searched in vain and couldn’t even find one of the five flavors requested, so I headed to Walmart thinking, “It’s Walmart…they have everything!” Again I was sorely disappointed and getting really ticked off. I was able to find some substitute flavors, but I couldn't figure out why the selection was so crappy and why I couldn’t find what I was looking for when I’d never had any problems before; and then it dawned on me: I grew up really close to the Bonne Bell factory (makers of lipsmackers) and therefore was privileged to have a wide selection to chose from; everything from Cherry Coke to just plain Strawberry, from Mocha to Pina Colada. I still have some friends at home, though my parents have moved, so I called my best friend’s mom and asked for a favor, “will you please find me these flavors and send them to me??” Thank goodness for the amazing mother of my best friend…we will soon have some new flavors to try out ;) But I’m still bitter about the lack of selection here

Ok, there’s my rant. I’ll try and have a substantive post in the near future, assuming my brain doesn’t turn in to scrambled eggs in the next week or so.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

rant: judgemental mohos

Yay for the end of classes! I only have one paper and one test left, then I'm free for spring and summer. Glorious. So for the record, we're experimenting with flavored chapstick/lip gloss/whatever, and it seems to have a positive effect. So that's good news.

Now I want to vent for a little bit. I have been nothing but impressed with the overall open-mindedness, acceptance, and non-judgemental nature of the Moho community, but I've come to a frightening realization. Mohos are just as judgemental of people they feel don't match the poster-boy image they like. Not always, but a lot are.

Those who know us know that Hidden fits quite a few gay stereotypes. He's effeminate, carries around a murse, worries about fashion, flails his hands when he talks (sorry bud =)), and stuff like that. But y'know what? Underneath that exterior, Hidden's just a guy with his own issues, his own strengths, and his own needs. And y'know what? I feel like he's been betrayed by the very people who should understand him the best. Do you know how hard it is to watch your best friend get snubbed and shut out by people you consider your friends? Or at least people who by all accounts ought to at least understand enough not to judge others based on such silly notions. So what if he talks like a gay guy - his ideas are good, his opinions are solidly founded, and he's working his tail off to help people understand not only him but all of us in the Moho community.

We went for a walk late one night last week. Most of you understand what it's like to feel alone and alienated, to feel like those who ought to understand really don't. Most of us have gone through that. Some of what brings us together is that commonality, and many of us have reveled in the seemingly unconditional acceptance by those 'like us.' Many of us feel like we finally belong somewhere, that we're relating with people who can actually understand where we're coming from, and who are friends with us for who we are regardless of orientation or other issues. Hidden still faces a lot of that alienations and loneliness even when spending time with us. Outside our tighter group of friends, the tenseness and sometimes distaste or even dislike are almost palpable. He's been cut out of activities or other things with no explanation. It bugs me to no end to see, and it breaks him apart. He probably wouldn't want me to be blogging about this, but it really irks me that we have such a capacity to speak out of both sides of our mouths. People are people, and if you're going to judge them, do it based on more than just your surface judgement and your distaste for the way they walk.

On the plus side, there are many of you who have not shown that judgemental mentality, and I thank you for it. Our little circle of friends is still growing, and I love every one of you - we have so much fun spending time with you, and it's sad that some of it will be broken up by the coming of spring semester. I hope you all keep in touch on Facebook or whatever as you disappear for a few months.

Sorry I was ranty. I'll hopefully post again tonight - brother Bob is hopefully getting his mission call and opening it tonight, so I'll have to brag about it. ^_^ And talk about going out to sushi. Mmm....

Sunday, April 15, 2007

the open book of life, chapter xo: Kissing

Alright, it’s my turn to weigh in on this aspect of our relationship. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about posting on such personal things, but I hope that what we have to say will benefit those of you who read this. After all, mixed-orientation relationships aren’t something we find a whole lot of research on.

I guess I should back track a little…up until about 2 weeks ago, I was completely fine with the fact that we hadn’t progressed to the kissing stage yet. A lot of people would ask me if Drex was a good kisser and I’d shrug and respond with, “I dunno” and move on with the conversation. His brother even remarked one day, “you really don’t care, do you?” It was true, I didn’t. But for some reason, about 2 weeks ago, the fact that we hadn’t kissed started to affect me. Eight times out of ten I was still ok with the fact that we hadn’t kissed, but those other two times it was all I could do to respect the fact that Drex just wasn’t there yet.

One of the biggest problems for me is that I really do enjoy kissing. I’ve dated a few people and reaped the benefits of being with someone else who loves to kiss as much as I do. It’s hard for me to understand why people wouldn’t enjoy kissing, but at least this situation is a little easier to wrap my mind around ;)

Things came to a head yesterday when I very nearly succumbed to the pressures being placed on both of us. I felt really bad approaching Drex and will admit to being…scared (but that’s not really the right word) when he responded the way he did. Luckily it didn’t do any irreparable damage.

Later that day, another pressure was heaped upon us and in an effort to respect Drex and make sure that he didn’t have to deal with that pressure, I inadvertently made things worse. I felt terrible and even contemplated just giving up on kissing anytime soon altogether. Kissing is something I enjoy and something I feel to be an integral part of a relationship, but I didn’t want to be kissed because he had been pressured into it. I almost decided that if he tried to kiss me last night I wouldn’t let him—I’m glad I didn’t though.

Even though Drex didn’t enjoy kissing as much as he wanted to, I think it was a good experience for both of us. I will admit that I kind of like the fact that he turned the initiation part over to me as it will make things easier on my end. I fully intend on putting my somewhat limited experience to use to coach him through and potentially get to the point where he can enjoy it more.

We’ll see what happens and where this takes us now, but I have high hopes for our future (with some reservations) and I know that everything will work for our good.


relationship progression: kissing

It makes me sad that my busy-ness has overtaken my blogging. I can't wait for all my papers to be written and my finals to be done - the stress that plagues my mind and the minds of those close to me leave us all on-edge and near the breaking point. Salad and I went to a concert on Friday night, and I was moved to tears. Twice. That doesn't generally happen (except with Whitacre's When David Heard, which is arguably the most soul-wrenching song in existence), but my emotions were so close to the surface, and the feelings were so acute that I couldn't help it. While I don't much enjoy crying in public, it was worth the experience.

I was also going to opine on another subject, but what I have has become so lengthy that I'm going to hold off until tonight or tomorrow. It's something that's weighed about as heavily on my mind recently, so it's important for me to blogbarf on it.

So. Some of you in the know and close to us have been very interested in this aspect of our situation. I'll catch everyone up, because though it's pretty personal, it's not so personal that I won't divulge to inquiring minds. I have a hangup with kissing. First of all, I just don't get it. What's so great about kissing? Maybe I'm just not wired right. Another way for me to be defective. ;) Second, my mind works in odd ways, and I'm fairly certain that progressing to the kissing stage when my mind isn't prepared would be a bad idea, and a psychological setback for me. I know it's supposed to be 'just kissing,' but for some reason I've got great importance attached to it - probably because everyone else likes it so much, and I don't think I understand it. I've done stage kisses for a high school musical, and film kisses for a movie I was in. I've also been smooched by a semi-trashy smoker girl backstage at that same musical, but I've never been in a situation where I've kissed someone romantically. People tell me I'll just 'get it,' but I have my doubts. I think I understand myself better than most people realize.

And that was actually a small point of contention last night. Enough people know about my hangups on this, and want my 'best interests' that they've been trying to get it to just happen, because they think that's best. I had told Salad that without doubt, I wanted to feel like I had overcome my mental blocks and gotten to a point where I was at least comfortable with trying before we did it. She almost got swayed otherwise talking with other people, and it was only my frantic pleadings that talked her out of it. She even prefaced with "You're going to hate me for this, but...." That didn't offend me, but it set the stage for later on in the day, when yet another person made an innocent comment about how she should just lay one on me right then. For some reason that just set me off inside, and I had to isolate myself so I could examine what made me so mad about it. I decided it's because I felt cornered, and that no one was listening to what I was saying - despite telling many people that I needed to overcome this mental hurdle before taking the next step, they were deciding what was in my 'best interests' without regard for my opinion. I know they meant well, but I understand me. My self-analysis is in-depth, very probing, very honest, and typically quite accurate. The mounting pressures to live up to everyone else's expectations for a relationship of which I am a half became to much to want to deal with.

Anyway, I've been working on getting past this for days or even weeks now. It's a logical step in a relationship, even if I don't get it, and I know Salad likes kissing a lot. Last night I finally felt like I'd mentally braced myself enough to take that step. I think my fears were very well founded, and after doing some kissing last night, I can honestly say that I still don't get it. I think I'm just not a kissing kind of guy. It was more enjoyable than any previous stage kiss or whatever that I've had, but it's not something that I'd look forward to all the time, and I certainly don't understand lengthy make-out sessions. Seems like a waste of time for me. Perhaps as I experience it more it'll grow on me, and I hope it does, but for right now I've told Salad that she'll have to initiate anything, and that I won't enjoy it as much as she does, because I just don't understand what's so great about it. I can imagine kissing anyone, girl or guy, and it just really doesn't do anything for me. Oh well. Salad says she's gonna coach me through it. ;)

Although if there are any opinions out there, especially from anyone who's had remotely similar experiences, please share. I'll take everything with a grain of salt, but I will take it. And I'm curious how everyone else falls on the subject.


Friday, April 13, 2007

historic strides at byu - chapter: dean of students

I only have about 6 minutes before I have to leave for class, so this will be brief and I'll come back to it later. Hopefully. I'm kinda wiped out right now, so we'll see.

This morning we (8 of us) met with the Dean of Students and his two associate deans. They are involved with anything dealing directly with students, including all groups and clubs as well as the Honor Code office. The meeting was set up by Jan Scharman in conjunction with our meetings with her, and the purpose was for us voice our concerns with a group that deals more directly with the student populace, to pass on any specific grievances with the Honor Code office (execution of the policies set forth in the document) and to discuss possible ways that we can improve BYU's approach to the entire BYU SSA community.

The meeting went very well. While we didn't accomplish everything that we had hoped, or even talk about all the topics that we'd considered, we were able to get through quite a bit. Most importantly, we became people that the administrators know and can turn to, and we can feel like we can take things to them. It was a good atmosphere, some good ideas were brought up, and some options for where to proceed were discussed. We're not sure where to take it, because the whole situation is so dynamic and the range of students that we want to work with is so vast that much more dialogue will need to occur before any concrete changes can be made. They are very open to working with us, though, to understanding our concerns, to starting up whatever groups or whatever are ultimately decided to be beneficial for the community, etc. We walked away feeling like the university is listening, and they walked away happy to see our side of things after dealing with the Soulforce side of things, as well as to get people in their office that want to proactively do something to help them understand. I found them more than reasonable, and while we may not have any hard evidence to show how the meeting went, I would deem it a success, and a step in the right direction. I'm looking forward to further dialogue as we continue addressing our issues with the people in power.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

historic strides at byu - chapter: honor code

I was able to attend a meeting yesterday in which history was made. For years the honor code section about homosexuality has been unclear and arguably unfair - almost anything could be considered against the honor code, because so much was left open to interpretation. The homosexuality clause could easily be used as an excuse to execute judgment and impose restrictions. A group of individuals approached Jan Scharman, Vice President of Student Life, about Soulforce and homosexual issues within the BYU community. One of the things that was brought up was the verbage of the Honor Code. Upon reviewing it, Jan agreed that it was inadequate and unclear, and said that she would work to get it rectified.

We never knew it would happen so fast.

She invited the group back yesterday (plus me, since I wasn't in the original group), and she made it known that the honor code would be a (the?) key issue in our discussion. When we got there, she basically handed us a fully-approved bureaucracy-conquered new version of that section of the honor code. She wanted us to pass off on it and make sure we were okay with it before it went in, but she'd already gotten through all the red tape. It is an amazing fix, and answers the questions we had. It explains what homosexual behavior is, and what advocacy is, according to the university, and outlines clearly what is allowed. It also makes it clear that we're welcome in the community, and based on what it says, we know that we're allowed to discuss our issues with people without fear of administrative repercussions.

She asked that we not post the text online until she got it up on the website, but I just checked and there it is. So here's the text as found here:

Homosexual behavior or advocacy
Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or orientation and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards. Members of the university community can remain in good Honor Code standing if they conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code.

One's sexual orientation is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior or advocacy of homosexual behavior are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings. Advocacy includes seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior or promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable.

Violations of the Honor Code may result in actions up to and including separation from the University.
Unfortunately I don't have the text of the original (there's only about 12 words that are the same between the two, according to Jan, and that actually seems almost accurate), but among other things it said that any action, explicit or implicit, advocating or implying homosexual behavior was against the honor code. I have the wording wrong, but the idea is there. It was bogged down in legalese, it was unclear in its intent and execution, and generally didn't have a good feel about it. So this is huge. How many people have tried and failed to do what just got done? I feel so lucky to be part of it now, when things are happening, even if I played no role it making this step occur.

We're also planning some meetings with other key administrators that Jan has singled out. She's already cornered them and told them that they ought to meet with us, and what it's about. We're going to be branching out from there. We're pretty stoked.

More blogging later. I had to get this out now, but I have a lot more to say about this and other things.

EDIT: Thanks to Foxx for the text of the original, for comparison purposes:
Homosexual behavior or advocacy
Brigham Young University will respond to student behavior rather than to feelings or orientation. Students can be enrolled at the University and remain in good Honor Code standing if they maintain a current ecclesiastical endorsement and conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code. Advocacy of a homosexual lifestyle (whether implied or explicit) or any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code.
Violations of the Honor Code may result in actions up to and including separation from the University.

Monday, April 9, 2007

a quick take on moho vs homo

Just wanted to ring in on the MoHo/HoMo debate that's been going on since Tito's post and from there to other places, including -L-'s blog and Mormon Enigma's. While I believe in the sanctity of terms, I also believe in the evolution of terms, and the fact that the creator's original intent might not endure in the definition as a term becomes more widely used or popularized. Tito states:

I want to clarify its genesis and meaning. Because it *was* created for a specific purpose of clarification that seems to have been a bit muddied in the way some people are using it. And this is important—not just any homo can be a moho. Moho is reserved specifically for those individuals who are active, believing, committed members of the Church.
I like the original meaning, because it fills a vocabular gap and makes a clear distinction using a nifty new coined term. However, it's obvious that the word has evolved in usage and now refers more to individuals who identify as homosexual who also have a Mormon cultural background or standing, regardless of their actual position in regards to or affiliation with the Church. And while I'd like to directly respect Tito's definition, it doesn't seem possible or in good taste.

So where do we go from here, if we want to make the distinction? I personally think that MoHo as a more direct and obvious abbreviation of intent and affiliation works fine. Mormon comes first, Homosexual second. Our cultural brotherhood still gets to keep the Moho title, but a clear term that still fills the void can continue to be used. Of course, it takes more than just one person to make a term real, but that's my take on it.

PS Easter was great! I love good holiday-inspired foods. :D

Sunday, April 8, 2007

O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden

I’m sitting here trying to decide if I’m a bigger fan of Easter or Christmas and I think I just came to the realization that I love them equally for completely different reasons and I'm going to focus on my love for Easter.

Last night, smack in the middle of our really good conversation, Drex asked me why I thought we celebrated Easter. I will admit that my mind was in a completely different universe at that moment, but I pulled back and thought for a minute. I came to the personal conclusion that Easter is the celebration of “the gift.” Most people seem to forget that without Easter, there would be no Christmas. While the birth of Christ was God’s gift to us, the Atonement and Resurrection were Christ’s gifts to us. Far too often we get caught up in the commercialization of our holidays and we forget to examine why we celebrate. It’s obviously not about the Easter bunny and the large amounts of chocolate (though I will admit to enjoying that aspect), but rather about recognizing, as exactly as possible, the unsurpassable gift that the Saviour has given to us. He layed down His life for us that we might have the opportunity to return to Heaven and be in the presence of God again. He made it possible for us to repent of our sins and start anew. Without this marvelous gift, where would we be? I can’t even begin to fathom the eternal ramifications of not having the opportunity to take advantage of the Atonement.

My family is very much addicted to music. Every holiday has its specific music and that’s how I group my holidays. Christmas is always associated with Nat King Cole (long story) and Handel’s Messiah. Easter is associated with Bach’s St. Mathew Passion. Every Easter I would wake up to the beautiful music and I would lie in bed trying to soak up the meaning of the words. The version we always listen to is in German and it is amazing. I know most people hate the sound of German, but I don’t think I could listen to these pieces in any other language. One of my very favorite hymns comes from the Mathew Passion: Oh Saviour, Thou Who Wearest a Crown is one of the most moving pieces of music I have ever listened to, and I find it particularly moving in German. I love singing it in church and wish that more people knew of the amazing power behind the song. Here are the lyrics…it’s hymn #197 in the LDS hymn book for those of you who would like the music as well:

Oh Saviour thou who wearest
A crown of piercing thorn,
The pain thou meekly bearest,
Weigh’d down by grief and scorn.
The soldiers mock and flail thee;
For drink they give thee gall;
Upon the cross they nail thee
To die, oh King of all.

No creature is so lonely,
No sinner so depraved,
But feels thy presence holy
And thru thy love is saved.
Tho craven friends betray thee,
They feely thy love’s embrace;
The very foes who slay thee
Have access to thy grace.

Thy sacrifice transcended
The mortal law’s demand;
Thy mercy is extended
To every time and land.
No more can Satan harm us,
Tho long the fight may be,
Nor fear of death alarm us;
We live, O Lord, thru thee.

What praises can we offer,
To thank thee, Lord most high?
In our place thou didst suffer;
In our place thou didst die.
By heaven’s plan appointed,
To ransom us, our King.
O Jesus, the anointed,
To thee our love we bring.

I love Easter and I love contemplating everything that goes with it. I love the music, the scriptures, the family gatherings, the conversations, the knowledge, and the growth. Now I’m going to go continue basking in the glory of Bach’s musical genius while I get ready for church.


happy easter!

Looks like yesterday's "Bradley" is now Calvin. Just as a heads-up. (:

I had a fun, relaxing day, and we even got to barbecue at Judith's place. I really miss easy access to a barbecue, so it was a nice change, and good food. I finally got to feed my craving for chocolate chip cookies by making a nice double batch. I had wanted to do it for the Heroes party, but there just wasn't enough time with the papers and homework I had to get done the entire week prior. Salad and I had a nice open discussion tonight as well. I don't know how people can keep relationships afloat without good communication. One of the things that came up are my personal walls and boundaries that keep aspects of me from coming to the surface, but that's really a subject for a future blog entry.

So since it's Easter, I got to thinking about the holiday and what makes it unique. I mean, it's obvious that we're celebrating the resurrection of Christ, but I was curious what made the holiday feel different. I came to the conclusion that everything surrounding the religious aspects and origins of the holiday is connected to hope. It is obvious from passages in the New Testament that the apostles just didn't get that Jesus had to die. Peripheral to that, I'm sure all of Christ's followers were pretty much flummoxed by the turn of events - from unfair trials and unruly mobs to the suffering on Calvary and the burial in the tomb, it must have really torn them up. The man that they believed to be the Son of God had just been killed by the government and ruling religious leaders. Their master and teacher was dead. It must have been an incredibly depressing and downcast few days.

Then suddenly Mary spoke with him. Then he appeared to the apostles. Understanding dawned. He was not dead, but was risen. The plan of God was not foiled, and evil had not triumphed. Better yet and more importantly, the Atonement was complete, and hope was given to a world of sinners and people who fall short of the glory of God. Death was overcome, and repentance made possible. Because Christ died, in Christ we may all be made alive, and be partakers of the gift.

In a world where terror dominates our news channels, where politics supercede religion, where diseases run rampant, crimes and atrocities are committed, and seemingly unbearable trials are faced, shouldered, and carried, we are reminded of the hope that comes through the Savior of the world. Christ lives, and He died for us. And beyond that, he made it possible that we can each be clean from not only the sins of the world but our individual sins as well.

Hope permeates every important aspect of Easter for me. I never really noticed it until I sat down and thought about it today. It's in the Easter hymns and children's songs, in the scriptures, in the Easter stories, and in the works of art. And it's in the spirit of the holiday, and in the Spirit. So at this time when we celebrate both the birth and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, have hope! There's plenty of it in the Lord.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Shoe and ships and sealing wax

I echo Drex’s sentiments about meeting those of you who decided to drop by last night. I wish we had gotten to talk more, but it was definitely fun getting to see you. Who new that Heroes could do so much to bring friends together (I’ll bet the pizza helped a little (: )? I’m definitely looking forward to many more activities over the summer.

As Drex mentioned, he talked to his brother Thursday night and things seemed to go pretty well. I’ll admit though, I wondered if his brother was really as ok as he said he was. Turns out that like me when I found out, he’s had a hard time wrapping his mind around everything. It doesn’t really help that he’s trying to synthesize everything at once, but I think he’ll survive. Bob (I hate using pseudonyms sometimes) and I talked for about 45 minutes when I picked him up for the Heroes party and then for an hour and a half after Drex and I got back from dropping off the last of our party friends. Bob continues to prove the fact that he’s a pretty special and unique kid. I wish I could outline our conversations for you so you all could appreciate the kind of person that he is, but as it was uber late and I was uber tired, the details are a bit fuzzy for me.

I’m watching the food network as I’m writing this and I have to say, some of the things they do are just nuts! This chick was using a cake decorator frosting putter-oner (yes, I made up a new label) to put tarragon butter on cucumber sandwiches for kids. First of all, WHAT CHILD WOULD WILLINGLY EAT A CUCUMBER SANDWICH??? Second of all, that’s way too much work for a kid’s meal. Anyway, I digress.

I feel like I should wax spiritual, but I’m just not as good at expressing everything I think and feel as I want to be. I’ll have to think on it and come up with some really good, but short, treatise on something. Alright, I have to go drop my roommate off and then work on not being lazy for the whole day…


heroes and papers

I've had an eventful two days. Last night I completed the process of coming out to my brother (sup Bob (I think that's the pseudonym I used...)) over dinner at Red Robin. We were originally going to counter a nondescript response with Salad doing a classic double-take punctuated by a loud "What?!" but it didn't work out that way. Rolling with the punches runs in the family, and he took everything in stride, though I'm sure he has a lot boiling under the surface that he hasn't talked with me about.

I spent hours of time and got less than 2 hours of sleep last night en route to finishing an 8-page paper for my philosophy class. I actually rather enjoy the subject matter (defining art), but getting some of the sections of the paper moving took a lot of time, and as a result I'm pretty exhausted right now.

Our Heroes marathon was a wild success. Thanks to everyone who came! I had a blast. We were so crammed in there some of the time, it was awesome. I apologize to everyone that I didn't really get a chance to meet (which is basically everyone). I didn't want to section myself off and only talk to a few people, which meant I spread kinda thin and didn't really meet anyone. Just as a quick recap, we had 23 people attend, including 6 (I think) that we met through the blog. agirlwho, John, Gimple, GBYUS, playasinmar, and the Baker's son all made it for at least some of the time. We also added a new friend to the pile, whom I will try to refer to as Bradley. All in all we had lots of fun, got through all of the last 9 episodes of Heroes, mingled, and watched random and silly videos online. I honestly really enjoyed myself, and we'll definitely have to plan some fun activities for those who will still be around once school is out. We're just too awesome a group of people to pass up on the potential.

I'm literally falling asleep while typing this, so I think I'd better quit while I'm ahead.


Thursday, April 5, 2007

drex, pots, and heroes

First off, today I explain where the name 'drex' comes from, because a few of you have asked. When I was in sixth grade, some friends and I decided that we were going to make a video game. We created concepts for the world, characters with backstories and subplots, and overarching plot to drive the storyline, a magic system, a battle system, and even went so far as to compose character themes and overworld music. Yes, we were nerds in the greatest sense, attempting to put together an RPG. Of the characters created, we each created a character that were essentially avatars of ourselves. My character was named Drex, a shortened form of a street near where I lived, Drexel Drive. Since that time, I have used Drex as my online moniker everywhere I go. I have a significant presence in some circles, and my name is widely known. In some ways it's a 'risk' attaching it to this blog, but I've determined that the barriers between my many lives or personalities ought to be more blurred than I've kept them. For years I maintained a real life persona, and online persona, and my secret gay persona. There are aspects that I like and value in each of those personalities, and there are aspects that I don't care for all that much. I've been trying to reconcile it all and pick out the best parts and make them mine, so I can be one full me. It seems to be going fairly well, for the most part.

I'm so glad I didn't skip my philosophy class today. My teacher invited an eccentric teacher friend of his to come in and speak to us, showing how philosophy can be more a way of life than a method of thinking. This man was weird, but he was incredible. He's a potter (he's been commissioned by the Church to do pottery for some of the historical sites and such, so the next time you visit a church history site and see pottery up on the walls or a glazed porcelain pitcher on the heavy wood table, think that he might have made it) in addition to being a high school teacher (and he taught at BYU in the 70's), and he brought his pottery wheel to include sort of an object lesson. He spent some time shaping clay, showing us different forms of clay, explaining differences between clays and what has to be done to create something out of clay. He was extremely adept with his hands, did some beautiful work, and ended up making a really spiffy pot with a cobalt glaze along the outside.

One of the things he touched on was the difference between the clay that makes porcelain, stoneware, and earthenware. All three types of clay are formed over ages, with erosion taking off microscopic pieces of granite and accumulating together. Clay cannot be made by man, because we simply can't form pieces of granite a quarter of a micron thick. At least I think that was the measurement he quoted. Anyway, all three types of clay are the same material. The difference is how far they stray from the rock, and therefore how many contaminants are with them. Primary clay, used to make porcelain, remains close to the origin and has few contaminants; the clay that makes stoneware has more contaminants, and the clay that makes earthenware has many contaminants. And I hope I'm spelling that right. Anyway, earthenware is heated to 1800 degrees to bake, stoneware to 2100 degrees, and porcelain to 2400-2700 degrees. If earthenware is heated above 1800 degrees, it melts into a puddle. Likewise, stoneware heated above 2100 degrees melts. The correllation isn't too much of a stretch - as we stray from the rock, our origin, we pick up contaminants, and those impurities means that we cannot withstand greater heat and end up as lesser forms of what we could have been. Porcelain can be heated to lower temperatures, and so celestial beings can minister to lesser beings. Earthenware melts at porcelain temperatures, and so telestial beings cannot withstand the glory of the celestial kingdom.

This wasn't discussed in class, but the beauty of our situation, mirroring the clay example but straying a bit from the strict analogy, is that the Atonement and repentance can rid us of impurities. Christ has made it possible for those of us who stray to be able to pick ourselves up, rid ourselves of our contaminants, and move ourselves back to the source.

That's where the analogy ends and I opine some more along some lines that Hidden talked to me about a few months ago. Sometimes we see SSA as a trial, and other times as a blessing. Another perspective is that it is expanded agency. We are given an entirely different set of choices that the 'normal' person doesn't have. Granted, a faithful Latter-day Saint views the choices that are opened to us as inherently wrong, but the choice is there. Heavenly Father entrusts us with more choices, and it is up to us to choose liberty and eternal life through Christ or captivity and eternal death through the devil. We know what God wants us to do, what He hopes we will choose. We were given the choice because we have the capacity to choose right. And yet we are not compelled to act, and compulsory means are not used to force our hands. We are trusted. It is understood that sometimes we will falter, and occasionally some may fall off the strait and narrow path, but that is the purpose of the Atonement - to lift us up out of the mists of darkness, to dispel the misunderstanding, to clean us off and place us right back on the path of righteousness. The way is simple, though not always easy. We even have an iron rod to remind us where we're supposed to go and to help us put one foot in front of the other. I know I'm mixing some metaphors, but it makes sense to me.

O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions? (2 Nephi 4:26)
Sometimes I need days like today and glimpses into eternity like this to keep me going. I didn't think I needed it today, but if the Lord sees fit to distill some dew and grant me some understanding, however faint, I'll take it.


PS, we have heard back from a handful of you about our Heroes marathon, and those of you whom we have met and added on Facebook have been invited on there as well. We'd love to see even more of you, so if you have the time to drop in at any point between 4:30 and 1:30, feel free. We've got 14 people for sure coming at some point (I think 5 or 6 of those are only coming for portions), with 2 maybes. If I'm remembering correctly. At any rate, it'll be fun times. We will be starting from episode 10, but we'll preface it with a recap and interpretive dance so anyone who hasn't seen the first 9 can be up to speed.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Come to our Heroes party! details in the post

Mmmm, the Matis’…what fun we had. I don’t think I’ve ever had that much fun in a social gathering of that size. I’m not the most socially graceful person in the world and I take serious issue with large groups of people. You’ll typically find me on the sidelines looking really uncomfortable and keeping my eye on the nearest escape route, but I felt none of that last night. There were a couple of times when I completely stuck my foot in my mouth, but it happens and I’m sure those instances have been forgotten by the other parties involved.

I had no idea what to expect when we got there, so it was amazing. We had great food (I echo Drex’s sentiments that you Mohos are fantastic cooks), good conversation and much spiritual growth. At one point Drex decided to go downstairs to get some water and didn’t return for several minutes so I texted him to find out where the heck he was (also looking for an excuse to avoid being questioned by a girl that was writing a paper). He texted back saying that the Matis’ were sharing more details about Stuart and I bee-lined it downstairs. As soon as I stepped into the basement I was enfolded in the embrace of the Spirit. It was so cool. We listened to the Matis’ share experiences and another woman share her experiences with her son as well. As I was sitting there I felt so strongly that everything I am doing and have done is completely in line with what the Lord desires of me. Drex and I are both working hard and the Lord recognizes that and is pleased with what we’ve accomplished together. It was the most amazing and all-encompassing feeling I’ve had in a few weeks. I am really grateful that I was able to listen to what they said and feel the spirit that they carry with them.

They also spoke about the support that homosexuals have from the brethren. They listed off several General Authorities that they have talked to personally and the steps that the General Authorities are taking to help break down the walls and prejudices in the Church. It was exciting to me to think that our generation gets to be a part of the change. Not only that, but we are involved in something much greater than ourselves and we have the opportunity to make a huge difference. It’s awe-some to think about.

After the spiritual discussion we sat around with my roommate/Drex’s cousin and several other of our friends (both old and new) and had so much fun talking and laughing. The whole experience was fun and enlightening and I can’t wait to go back next month.

Oh, and a big PS here…we’re having a Heroes party at my apartment this Friday. We’re going to start around 4:30 and I think we might plan on doing pizza or something food-wise (so if you plan on coming and could bring a couple of dollars, my checkbook would be exceedingly grateful ;)). If you’d like to come, feel free to email me or Drex…our email addresses are in our profiles. We’ll probably go until BYU curfew (1:30am) at which point I will have to kick you out or get smitten. We’d love to see many of you there even if you can only stay for a little bit. Let us know!


a merry matis fhe

Oh man, what a night. First off, work and school were both uneventful, other than getting back a failing grade on my latest psych stats quiz. That was a downer. Everything started looking up after that, though. Although I guess hanging out on the steps of the wilk in the sun and basking in the beautiful weather was pretty awesome, too. Anyway, I rushed home after class to get my fried rice finished up (Salad got everything started and I combined everything to finish it up) so that we'd be ready to go - today was the monthly Monday night visited to the Matis', and it was our first time. So Salad, Hidden, Mulan, Remus, and I all piled into the car and we took off to Lehi.

Brother and Sister Matis are awesome. It was international potluck night, and the turnout was huge. I don't know if it's always that big, but it was pretty packed. We had some fantastic food (dang, you mohos can cook ^_~) and made some new friends. It was good to see Pinetree, El Veneno, and AttemptingThePath again, and it was good to meet John and agirlwho as well. Were any of you other bloggers there? If so, sorry we missed you, and we'll have to catch you next time. Also met a cool new guy, whom I will henceforth refer to as "Xiaobei." He served in the same branch as some of my aunts and my grandmother, and recognized me from all the pictures and stories he was forced to sit through; apparently they were pretty proud of their missionary nephew, and went through great efforts to let the elders know how great I was. ;) So that was fun, and I made a new friend!

It was great to feel so open and able to be myself around so many people all at once. I'm fairly open anyway, but there is a measure of repression that just pervades everything around BYU when you're gay. I guess it's one of those natural byproducts of the environment of the university. Anyway, so the conversation and interactions were really fun for me. Honestly, who wouldn't want to hang out with such an awesome group of people? Socially I had an amazing time. Then there was the spiritual aspect - not everyone was in the right place at the right time, but some of us were downstairs with Brother and Sister Matis when they got on a tangent and started sharing experiences with us. Many of the stories they related don't appear in their book (In Quiet Desperation, for those (very) few of you not in the know (if you haven't heard of it, you're a disgrace and need to go undisgrace yourself by picking up a copy asap :P)) and had to do with Stuart and their interactions and relationship with him; other stories related to interactions with various General Authorities, especially Elder Holland, who is a driving force behind looking at homosexuality within the church. He is working to change homophobia within the church during his lifetime. The Spirit was so strong in that basement as we gathered around to hear Sister Matis relating her experiences. All the side conversations tapered off, and people just paid attention - it was a holy moment, and it was a great experience for me. They are such incredibly amazing and loving people, and I'm glad Sister Matis is a huggy person, because I definitely just wanted to give her a hug when all was said and done.

Another sister came for the first time tonight, and she related the story of her son and his struggles with SSA. She just seemed like a very solid, well-adjusted, and loving mother figure that wanted to help each and every one of us, and offered her name and phone number to anyone who wanted someone for their parents to speak with. Though my parents are coping well, I'm pretty sure my mom could use someone to talk to about everything, because right now I think she only has my dad. So I approached this sister afterwards and asked for her number and such so my mom could contact her. She definitely has a heart of gold. I'm so glad she came and offered her support.

Truly there are major things afoot. The tide is turning, and the Church as an institution is becoming more keenly aware of the plight of its gay members. And at BYU I think we're part of a microcosm of what's going on at large - what we're attempting with the administration deals with policy and governing a school population, and we can safely and unthreateningly work with them to achieve understanding, tolerance (for lack of a better term), and openness - all without attacking the Church or our belief system. From there, I think it will very visibly be an example of what can be accomplished within the Church. Not that the leaders of the church are out of touch - I believe it's quite the contrary - but that things can blossom out from what happens here at BYU. And I think we're right in the thick of it right now, and I'm so excited and happy to be part of it. We're actually in a position to make changes for good, and to show that being Mormon and being gay are not mutually exclusive aspects to one's identity, nor is it irreconcilable.

That's all.