Ok, so I have not felt like blogging at all lately. So to make up for it, this is going to be the mother of all blog entries, full of anecdotes and philosophy and a road trip and links and pictures. Seriously, this blog entry is going to start giving birth to other blog entries. I hope you can appreciate this.
Some people who call themselves the Provo Late Knights came upon my confessions blog and invited me to join their ranks. My friend Ryan from efy is in the group, and he vouched for me, so they let me in. What they do is make movies, which you can see here if you have Quicktime 7 (which comes with iTunes). They are mockumentaries about life in Provo after midnight. We filmed one last week that introduced me as their nemesis, but you will have to wait a week or so before they get it all edited. I'm excited for the release, and also to start writing the next one.
Ryan also invited me to the Sundance film festival with him and some cool friends from his ward. We saw Gwyneth Paltrow. I was surprised that she is actually a lot more beautiful than normal people. It was weird. I'd always assumed that movie stars would look less glamorous in person, but not so. We saw seven short films (one of which was Gwyneth's directorial debut), and then they had a Q&A session afterward with all the directors. I asked a question about the lighting to one of the other directors, whose film was better than Gwyneth's, and wasn't funded by Vogue Magazine. We also had some delicious pizza. Man, that was some good stuff. Ryan is a really superior person. He has been going through some tough times lately with the passing on of our mutual friend Carly, but in my own times of turmoil I have really appreciated his involving me in his life. He's a good friend.
My choir went to St. George last weekend. It was such a great experience. We went and saw the new Joseph Smith movie that replaced Testaments. That movie is the best the church has ever produced. I cried through the whole thing. I want to go see it again. Anyone who reads this and is close enough to Salt Lake City or St. George to go watch it, please do. It will change you. Also, I became pretty good buddies with my friend Brett, since we roomed together. The two of us had a great time with our car buddies, Shelley (my efy co-worker) and Jessica (went to Wicked with me). Our entire choir was more bonded afterward.
We had auditions after our concert this last week, and my friend Snake from the ward tried out, and he made it in. He won't be able to come to our Wednesday practices, so it's my job to tape record the practices and then do practice with him one-on-one at his house. I'm excited to work with him; he's a really great guy.
I asked a girl on four dates tonight. Her name is Natasha and she's in my ward. She's in a marriage prep class and has an assignment to go on four dates with the same person. She was telling me this while I was playing bartender at my friend Mike's birthday party, mixing her a drink (non-alcoholic, of course). So as I was leaving the party, I suavely said, "Hey, Natasha, if you need any help with your homework, just call me."
"Did you have a specific class in mind?" she asked.
"OK! I'll call you."Her enthusiasm was accompanied by a warning that this is quite the commitment and might require a lot of work and planning and time. I guess there are some tough stipulations. Meh. She seems like a cool girl, and what the heck else am I going to do with my weekends?
Well, besides the fact that Kelly stopped me at church and asked if it would be all right if we went on the date she accidentally stood me up on before Christmas. So I'm also going to do that next week. I'll probably let you all know how it goes.
I ordered pizza from Little Caesar's today. 25 pizzas. They're for my ward skating party this Saturday. I'm excited for it.
I clipped my nails for like an hour on a bus ride last week. I got them all short and perfect. Now I have an ingrown pinky nail. I always wondered why you can't get an ingrown fingernail, but now I know that you can. It's starting to turn green and I keep bumping it on stuff. OOOOOWWWW!
There's a job fair I'm going to tomorrow. I need a new job. Desperately.
Tomorrow night after choir practice I'm going to go with my new friends Chris and Garrett to watch them film something. They're going to shout in the square on campus, things like "I'm wearing women's underwear" and "I don't wear deodorant." The thing is, they're two of my favorite people in this ward. Very intelligent and aware of people and of current events. I could see myself living with those two. They are really cool. I try to hang with them whenever we have big ward functions. Garrett is the one who wrote about my fireside in his blog. Chris has set up a website similar to the hundred hour board, only where anyone can answer, and he wants me to be the editor. He's going to set up advertisements, and I will get 50% of any profits he makes off of it. That's pretty exciting. Everyone go there and ask or answer questions, ok?
My friend Alex passed this website along. It's my new favorite website, and you all should check it out.
The Mermaid called me up out of the blue to tell me she wanted to go to Costco. We went. I bought cheese, ham and cereal. It was a much more pleasant experience than the time I only bought vinegar and chili. We had a good talk. She had just broken up with a boyfriend, and talked for a substantial amount of time about how she needs a boyfriend who is more concerned with being good than being cool, and someone who is not materialistic but is more free with his things. I just nodded and said yeah, I could see her with someone like that. The girl is beautiful, but I never know what to think with her. One would have to fend off many other guys to really have anything with her.
I doubt I'll ever get around to talking fully about our roadtrip, so here are several of my favorite pictures from that time:
Over here on the left is when I was pretending to be seasick on the ferry. We had lots of fun on that ride.
This is me, Pinetree, Blueshorts, and Keri on our way into Seattle on the ferry. Seattle is the coolest city! I love the puget sound, and even fell into it!
I couldn't stop laughing about this campfire. It took us about an hour to light it. There was so much wind it kept getting blown out. Lad and I had to hold that tarp while Pinetree went through about 100 matches trying to get it lit. It was great.
This was our breakfast the morning of camping. You can't exactly tell, but we're on a cliff facing the ocean. It was a beautiful morning.
And here is my good buddy Pinetree playing on the beach at sunset. I didn't touch up this picture at all. Isn't it beautiful?
This is me being all contemplative at the same sunset a few minutes earlier. That has to be the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. This was at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.
Pinetree again. This thing just got prettier and prettier.
That's me on the left and Pinetree on the right. I got kinda wet out there, but it was so worth it for these pictures, I think.
I loved how far out one could run on that beach. The tide was very low.
My dad sent me a coherent e-mail. It was the most lucid he's been in months. He said he printed out a copy of the letter I sent him and keeps it on him always. He says this is his new lease on life. I hope he takes full advantage of it. Thanks to those who have been praying for both of us.
I had a great talk with my bishop on Sunday for an hour and twenty minutes. I went in there to talk to him about my Dad and my hellish nightmares and my general ennui. He told me I might be depressed. I said I'd always been a very happy person. He said, "Well, yesterday I went to a seminar and it had three parts. first, we learned about homosexuality. Second, we learned about pornography. And third, we learned about depression. And the doctor who talked to us told us that there are two types of depression. Chemical depression, and then depression that is brought on by a trauma."
Well, I thought that was an interesting little preface. If you're new to reading my blog and haven't read all the archives, you might want to click here before you keep reading today's post, or you'll be like, WTF?
Anyway, it was interesting because I realized that the bishop was right. I have been suffering from depression. Not any permanent kind, but one I really need to work through. I also talked to him about the unfairness of things, that my dad can make bad decisions and in the end, I understand that he needs to be punished, but how could a loving God allow those of us who live righteously to be deprived of the ones we love because of the bad choices they make? The bishop told me a story that was the flip side of that, about how when he was twenty-nine, he almost left the church, but decided in the end to stick with it. And then recently one of his older children approached him and said that he was so grateful for the decision his dad made to stay in the church, because think of all the progeny that would be affected. And then suddenly I saw how it IS fair. That if we weren't allowed to have a negative impact on other people, we wouldn't be able to have a positive one, either.
I had gone to speak to the bishop with my perennial concerns about failure. I had been afraid to get close to people because I knew the bad choices I might some day make would eventually leave anyone I loved in a lot of pain they didn't deserve. But the bishop helped me to see that on the other hand, my failure to grow close to someone would deprive them of all the joy I could bring, and that in the end it's only a matter of personal choice and application of the atonement of Christ that will determine whether I'll bring more sorrow or joy into others' lives. So my new goal is to do good, to be proactive in helping others and focusing on their needs rather than trying to sort out my own life before I can begin to focus on anyone else. Because it won't happen that way.
Then I got around to that other topic. That whole "same-sex attraction" thing, to borrow the church's euphemism. I really hadn't planned to talk about it, but since he brought it up....
The bishop was incredibly informed. He had done a lot of praying and soul searching in the twenty-four hours since he had been to the seminar. He said that he's recently been dealing with another young man in my situation, and hadn't known what to tell him. He inspired me with his confidence in my ability to make good decisions. He astonished me with his perceptiveness into my character, and his compassion for my plight. And he gave me a paper to read. By a Dr. Jeff Robinson.
Dr. Robinson is a devout Latter-Day Saint psycho-therapist who has counseled innumerable young men and women who struggle with same-sex attraction. The paper the bishop gave me was in actuality a transcript of a discourse he had presented to a similar group of bishops a few years ago. The following is my own summary of that paper. It's not intended to be a condensed version of his work, but rather a showcase of the points I found most relevant to me.
The good doctor has found three characteristics that virtually all of his subjects have in common. First, they are highly emotionally sensitive. Second, they are above average in their intelligence and introspection. And third, they have an acute sense of right and wrong and a compulsion to do right. Check, check check, all of my gay friends who read this just went in their heads.
So, Dr. Robinson has this theory. He asserts that you take a young man with these three qualities, and you stick him in a society that teaches him to avoid sexualizing women, and he will build up protective walls against the future likelihood of that ever happening. Meanwhile, because of his emotional sensitivity, he begins to feel different from other boys. He wants to be rough-and-tumble, to be admired by the other children for his prowess, but begins to realize (and resent) that his strengths lie in other areas. Still, he watches those boys who represent what he wishes he were.
Then puberty strikes. And boys are aroused for the next several years. Pants too tight? Aroused. Pants too loose? Aroused. Bumpy car ride? Aroused. The boy walks around aroused by everything in his environment.
Now, the "normal" boy, because of social messages he's received, and because he is captivated by the differences between them and himself, begins to dwell on the female body, and it becomes directly linked to his sexuality.
For an example of how much the societal influences affect our sexuality, Dr. Robinson points out that in some African cultures, fat women are attractive. In others, women are more sexually attractive to men if they are missing their front teeth, if they have their necks stretched out by rings, or if their earlobes are pulled down to their lips. Obviously, sexuality is influenced a lot more than we like to think by what our society teaches us.
For this exceptional boy, something goes askew at this juncture. Because of the messages he's received from society, he is not letting himself dwell at all on the female body. And because of the differences between himself and other boys, he is fixated on them at this point in his life where things are becoming sexual. His body learns to have sexual responses to males instead of females.
Now, of course, he doesn't want this to happen. But the moment he notices that it's happening and labels it, he's cementing it. "Oh, no. I'm gay. I'm gay. I'm gay."
If this were a wound, contends Dr. Robinson, we would give it time to heal on its own. If it were a disease we could medicate it. If it were a syndrome we would seek treatment. But it's not those things. It's something we've learned. To get rid of it would be like his saying "Rudolph the red-nosed" without your thinking "reindeer." Your brain has learned that and that's what it's going to keep doing.
That doesn't mean it's impossible. If you did want to stop thinking "reindeer," you would have to replace it with something else. So you might try to say "Rudolph the red-nosed buffalo." Repeat five thousand times.
Now here's the problem with these introspective, hyper-sensitive, highly intelligent, perfectionist boys: "buffalo. buffalo. buffalo. buffalo. buffalo. reindeer. Oh, crap! I just said reindeer again! I always say reindeer! I guess I'm just a reindeer person! I'll always be stuck on reindeer!" And now he just said "reindeer" lots of extra times.
What he should say is "buffalo. buffalo. buffalo. reindeer. oh, I used to say that a lot. buffalo. buffalo." The more he kicks against it, the more it has hold over him, like the man struggling to his death in quicksand.
Dr. Robinson says that most of the young men who come to see him approach their homosexual attractions like a knight approaches a dragon. They think they need to charge the dragon, exchange blows, get a bit scorched, but in the end, though they lie bleeding, singed, and muddy, the dragon will be vanquished and they will be alive to tell of it. The reality is that the best way to deal with this dragon is just to fend it off, retreat a step, keep that shield up, step back again, and again, and again, until you're far enough away that you can just turn your back on the dragon and walk away. He'll probably always be a speck on the horizon, but he'll no longer be a nuisance.
The conclusion Dr. Robinson's speech brought tears to my eyes. He says he tells his patients that if he had a pill in his cabinet that would cure them of homosexuality, he wouldn't give it to them. When they invariably ask why not, he tells them that he's sure Heavenly Father has just such a pill, and that he's sure they've asked for it, and that He's always said no. He said that in the end it would be this struggle that would help us to reach exaltation. That these young men are the sort that he feels would fall to pride without this burden to anchor them down, that they would be the very ones to do great things to the point where they wouldn't feel a need to use the atonement, and that Satan targets them precisely because of all the potential they have to do good. And he also asserts that we can still do that good, if we can learn to walk away from the dragon.
The bishop is going to talk to Dr. Robinson to try to arrange for me to meet with him. I am so excited. I feel he really understands these issues, and can really help me in my own quest to do what's right.
I read the paper in the bathroom right before my shower yesterday. Then I had to run out for FHE (Sharkbite was like, "Smurf! Shoes and socks now!" Funny how my FHE dad sounds just like my real parents two decades before) , and I accidentally left the paper on the back of the toilet. I went and watched 24 with Kip and Wiggle and Jessica after that, and half-way through I remembered the paper and could think of nothing else. When I got back, Sharkbite was the only one home. He talked with me about all the normal things (politics, women, why he doesn't fit in), and when I finally found a covert moment to nip into the bathroom to retrieve the discourse, I found that it was gone. Awkward. I have no idea what he would have done with it, what he might have thought of it, or why he would filch it, but oh, well. Maybe it's something he needs more than I do. HA!
Ok, I'm going to finish this beast off with some pictures of my choir trip. Hope you enjoy!
This is Shelley beating me at air hockey. I had to whip off my tie in the middle of the game, and Jessica said it was the sexiest thing she'd ever seen me do, so I did it several times. We got in trouble for taking pictures in here.
Here's me eating chinese food. Did you know I once went several months without using a fork? Chopsticks only for me, thank you. For everything from steak to macaroni and cheese. I love chop sticks. I was posing for the picture, by the way. I don't really eat like that. Embarassing!
<<-----Over here you can see the courtyard of my friend Tara's house. The place was beautiful! This is where all the girls from the choir stayed.
you can see the living room. The view was incredible, but the place didn't really feel like one you could live in.
At the outlet mall, we were really bored, so Shelley and I got some sidewalk chalk and a bouncy ball at KB Toys and started a rockin' game of four square. Shelley kept hitting strangers. This was yet another opportunity to whip my tie off all seductively.
This is me and Shelley pretending we play the piano.
Here's me and Jessica. Shelley took this picture because we looked like an old married couple in it. I'm in the T-shirt because my neck got really terribly painful burns on it from whipping my tie off so many times. TOO sexy! TOO sexy!
Tara's mom had me peel the tomatoes for the guacamole, so I put on a little cooking show for the choir members. They said aloud what they thought I was thinking, as well as the thoughts of the tomatoes. From left to right we have Brett, Lisa, Married Brett, Treanna, and Ryan.
And finally, no, that is not a dead marmot on that woman's head. It is her actual hair, and I hate it. And also I love it. Shelley and Jessica had to take the picture with this woman in the background at the assisted living center just so we would could look at it whenever we want. Thank you, ladies. I hope you all love and hate it as much as I do.