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Monday, February 28, 2011

Aaaaand We're Back!

It is absolutely atrocious how long it has been since I wrote here. Probably more than a month. It's been a rocky few weeks, and even though there were times I thought about writing, I felt so emotionally drained that I couldn't muster the energy.

But I'm back! The problems aren't all gone, but do problems ever really go away? I think perhaps there are simply times when we handle them better than others.

So, one really good thing that I got from the last few weeks of wandering is the chance to read Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection. I referenced Brene earlier when I wrote about her vulnerability speech. But this is basically her guidebook on how to live wholeheartedly. It's an incredible read. Unlike other "self-help" books, she hits right to the center of the things that are causing many of us conflict and tension in our lives. I would highly, highly recommend it. In fact, I'll link you to amazon right now.

This last week has been rather nice. My boyfriend's mother came into town, and from last Wednesday to today we've spent every evening at his sister's house so that he could be with his mom. He is such a momma's boy, and he knows it. I loved seeing the excitement in his eye when he was with her. They don't get to see one another nearly often enough, but this week was nice for them.

But the time I spent with them was different for me as well. Now, I've been at his sister's house plenty of times, and I had gotten to know her husband and daughter. But this week with all of us together it felt like I became much more a part of the family than before. I got closer to both my bf's sister and her husband, and I think the husband would be okay with getting me as a brother-in-law. Finally someone in the family to play Call of Duty with him. ;)

Tonight, as we had our last dinner with his mom, they began talking about my boyfriend getting a car this summer (I've been a happy chauffeur for a year now). "I could come and see you guys much more often," he said to his sister. She then looked at me and said "But you still have to bring Ty. Just because he doesn't have to drive you doesn't mean he doesn't get to come." That made me feel really good.

We've never talked to them about it, but we're pretty darn sure they know about us dating. Otherwise it would be really odd for them to invite me to dinner for the past five nights. I'm not sure how they feel about it all. But I think they see that we are happy with each other. They see the fruits of our relationship in other aspects of our lives. And even though they might not understand it, and they might not agree with it, they love us all the same. And that makes me feel good.

Since we're talking about families, I'll segue into a bit about my own. I went home this weekend (two and a half hour drive!). I stopped on the way to visit my grandmother, who has taken quite a beating health-wise in the last couple years. She was thrilled to see me, and I was just as happy to see her. I've always felt a connection to this grandmother, and if I were to come out to someone in my extended family, it would probably be her. She has such an unconditional love, and she is able to get rid of prejudice when it interferes with her family. What an angel she is. I think I'll make a habit of visiting every time I go home.

My immediate family was doing well. They moved into a new house a month ago, and they're finally getting settled. It was really good to see them. My mom has definitely softened up. I sent her a copy of Carol Lynn Pearson's No More Goodbyes, and although she's never mentioned it since, it seems like she may have read it. The weekend was nice, simply because I got to sit around and be a part of a family. Nothing too eventful. Just a nice weekend.

Although, when we got to sacrament meeting yesterday, the first speaker stands up and announces that she's been assigned President Packer's talk as her subject. My heart dropped and I prepared for the worst. Thankfully, she was very judicial and stuck to the material, using scripture simply to reiterate what President Packer said. All the same, it was still hard to sit through. I am grateful, however, that she wasn't offensive about it.

When the time finally came to split up for priesthood and relief society, I left and retrieved my own copy of No More Goodbyes that I wisely stowed for the trip. I spent the time sitting in my car, reading, and weeping a bit, squeezing all the love and acceptance I could from Sister Pearson's beautiful words. That book has been a lifeline for me in the last few weeks, and I am so grateful for it.

This leads me to my last topic for the night. Last week I read that Carol Lynn Pearson's play "Facing East" is going to be made into a movie. I am thrilled about this, simply because I can't find it being put on anywhere nearby, and I really want to see it. But being the resourceful person I am, I found a place that offered her play for a very reasonable price, and immediately bought it.

I arrived today, with a handwritten note on the first page saying "Love from Carol Lynn Pearson."

I don't know what it is about seeing someone else's writing, especially when it expresses such sweet and sincere messages such as that. But there is a life in the words others write, especially when written by their own hand. And that short message meant the world to me today.

I read the play immediately. I love it. It is so beautiful and so touching. And I could feel a bit of myself in every one of the characters. I especially loved Marcus, the boyfriend of Andrew. Andrew's suicide and the effect on others is the premise of the play. It is so clear in the way Marcus speaks, and the way that Andrew speaks about him, that their love is real. And perhaps I love it even more because I can feel the same thing I feel when I am wrapped up with my own boyfriend. Love is an absolutely precious and priceless object. You cannot fully comprehend it unless you feel it. And the wonderful thing is, it is continually changing and growing, giving you the chance to discover it anew over and over again.

Just one last note, and I'll end for tonight. Now, I know what temptation feels like. I understand the almost physical pressure, blurring of the senses, and feeling of numbing darkness that accompanies it in one form or another. But that is not what I feel when I am with my boyfriend. I feel peace. Absolute tranquility. True union with someone who has become an extension of myself. I feel love.

Perhaps Andrew from "Facing East" said it best when he said "It doesn't feel like darkness."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Glance

Do you ever just look in the mirror, and truly look at yourself? Look into your own eyes, trying to pierce through and see the soul that lies within? It surprises me sometimes, to see the life behind those eyes, and know that it's mine. We spend so much time looking through the window of our bodies that to stop and see the being that we are can be almost a revelation.

I wonder, as I look into those blue eyes, what secrets lie beneath. What deep potential lies dormant there, waiting just beneath my fingertips? What eternities of wisdom are held within that hidden soul? What love rests deep within, for beings I do not know?

I think we are too often in the habit of degrading ourselves, of making ourselves into fallen and broken people. In an effort to bring attention to what maintenance we need, we end up declaring the whole thing a mess. What's worse, we begin to believe it.

But just a few moments before a mirror, peering into the eyes we look out of so much, and we feel the inklings of the reality of who we are. We find there a being of grace and light. A spirit of passion and goodness. Something within the eye shimmers, hinting at the fullness of glory clothed by our flesh.

I believe in the reality of the spirit. One half of the whole we claim as "I". I believe that it has existed for ages, and that this short existence is but a continuation. What things have these eyes seen? What hearts has it loved? How many long and wondering conversations have I had with people I counted close to me? To think of such things expands the limits of my own abilities to think, to learn, to teach, and to love.

As I look into those eyes, I can see the other direction as well. I wonder what these eyes will hold in five, ten, or fifty years. What things will they have seen? What tears of joy and sorrow will have fallen from them? What will I know then that I don't know now? What will I be?

In the short couple of decades that I've been here it has become evident that the circumstance that constitutes "my world" is not a permanent one. My world right now is college, my boyfriend, dealing with coming out, and working to maintain my relationship with my faith and my family. But it is a temporary world. As are they all.

So what will tomorrow's be?

I know that one day this will all be a long distant dream. Faces and names will fade with time. Passions will cool, while others are ignited. Desires come and go. And work and success mold the future with each passing day. Time is an ever changing mistress. You cannot tame her. You are at her mercy, and can only work out the details.

Such trains of thought bring new understanding of the value of a life. Eternity is held within the eyes of every person. And if you look closely, you can find God in every face. Each day more stories are lived than could ever be written. And each story interweaves with the next. We are connected inseparably to the future and the past. Our life is but a small thread in the master tapestry. Just a blink. A glance. But every glance holds another infinity.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Born This Way

Listen to it.

Love it.

Live it.

I know this song has received a bunch of criticism, but I really like it.

On a slightly related note, I now have tickets to her concert. (Sweet!)

And I cannot wait until her album comes out. Only three more (long) months.

Anyway, enjoy.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

We Are All Connected

I'd like to start this post with a couple announcements.

First, Lady Gaga's single will be released at 7:00 am on Friday, February 11th. Be there.

Next, the announcement was made in my Gender class that David Pruden, the director of Evergreen, will be speaking in my class of 60 people on Thursday. I'm not exactly thrilled about this, but it should still be enlightening. But there will likely be a question and answer period. So, if you have any possible questions to ask him, leave them in a comment and we'll see what happens.

Alright. So today was Gender class. Now that we're getting into the juicy stuff I'll try to post regularly about the goings on in that class.

Today started with the charge that our professor left us with last week. Namely, based on the reality of attraction, shouldn't the standards for gay and straight people be the same. She didn't open it up for discussion, but rather tried to help the class see from a more sympathetic point of view.

"These people don't know why they're born this way," she said. A very strong point made by a BYU professor, but one that I'm sure we'd all agree with. She then asked that the class have more empathy for those of us who are attracted to our own gender. She said that growing up gay in the church is very lonely, and that to live the gospel means facing a life of loneliness, along with denying ourselves love, marriage, kissing, and dating, things they didn't even think twice about.

She concluded by speaking to the class from a psychological point of view. "Empathy is the best predictor of a good outcome in a therapist/patient relationship. You can say that it's wrong as a lay person, but as a clinician, you have to be empathetic. A clinician's purpose is not to criticize. It is to help the patient heal."

I am continually impressed by this professor. She has compassion that is rarely seen on campus. Of any class to be discussing these issues, and to potentially be taking an active role in, I am glad that I am in her class.

It's not where I intended to go with this, but I want to end talking a bit about love. I don't mean in the romantic sense, at least not tonight. But rather, in the sense that we are all members of the human family.

I love the movie "Lady in the Water." I know it received a lot of criticism, and that many people didn't like it. But I loved it. It is one of my absolute favorites. I can't watch it without tearing up. I highly recommend it.

To truly appreciate it you need to look beyond the story itself. It's not about a nymph or a hotel repair man. It's so much deeper. It's about you and me, and the purpose each of us has in coming to earth. Each of us is here to touch someone else, to change someone.

The story is about a water nymph named Story, who has come to our realm to find a certain person, and to be seen by him. All he needs to do is see her, and something in him will change, and he will write a book that will change the future. This man sees her, and is deeply struck. Later, he comes to her and says, "I don't know who you are, but you did something to me. My thoughts... everything became clearer. The fears that were muddling my thoughts just went away. I can hear myself."

She looks him in the eyes and asks, "Do you wish to know your future?" He nods.

"A boy in the midwest of this land will grow up in a home where your book will be on the shelf and spoken of often. He will grow up with these ideas in his head. He will grow into a great orator. He will speak, and his words will be heard throughout this land and throughout the world. This boy will become leader of this country, and begin a movement of great change. He will speak of you, and your words. Your book will be the seeds of many of his great thoughts. They will be the seeds of change."

It is a beautiful scene, full of power and hope.

Later, the man is talking with the nymph again. His book is done.
"You can see things in the future," he says.
"Some things," she replies.
"I have a question to ask you."
"I will do my best to answer it."
"You'll tell me the truth, right?"
And so he begins. "Change doesn't happen, the way you say it's going to happen, without dramatic events that accelerate thinking. I wrote this thing. It might take decades or longer to create a reaction, before it anchors in the consciousness. That's not the type of change you're telling me is going to happen, right?"

She doesn't answer, and he continues.
"I was wondering why he didn't meet me, this leader who's just a boy. If he was so inspired by my words, why didn't he try to meet me."
The camera pans around the corner to her face, full of knowing, and sorrow.
"There's a lot of things in this book people won't like to hear. I'm not anything, you know. I don't think I'm anything special. So I started thinking, 'how's this going to happen? Why are people suddenly going to take me seriously? And why didn't he meet me?' And I thought of how it could happen... Story, I wanted to ask you, is something going to happen to me? Is someone going to kill me because I write this?"


And then her powerful words:

"Man thinks they are each alone in this world. It is not true. You are all connected. One act can one day affect all."

I cannot do this justice in this post. Please, rent this and watch it. Or if you don't want to rent it, we'll have a movie night and watch it. It is such an absolutely beautiful film.

From the first time I saw this, I was struck by that phrase. "Man thinks they are each alone in this world. It is not true. You are all connected."

How often do we go through this life, bearing the burdens of a lonely soul? How often do we weep where no one can see? How many nights do we plead for a brighter day? We walk through crowds of people on the street, on the subway, on campus, everywhere we go. We pass them each, feeling worlds apart from them. Feeling isolated from them. Feeling alone.

But we are not alone.

We need one another. We need to support one another. To strengthen one another, rather than break down or demean. Each of us is a divine creation. We have been granted gifts and talents that make us priceless, of infinite worth. And we were sent to a world surrounded by one another in order to bless and strengthen one another. To work together, to laugh together, to cry together, and to wipe away one another's tears.

We are here to touch one another, to change the world, one heart at a time. To comfort those who are lonely, and to lift those who are in despair.

For we are all connected.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Night/Monday Morning Wandrings

It's really late. I should be sleeping. But there's a lot on my mind, and the music of the russian singer that I just downloaded is making me really nostalgic. Maybe that's the wrong word. But regardless, I want to write. But unfortunately for those who have read past posts that have started out this way and actually become something, I really don't think this one is going to materialize much. Haha! I guess we'll see.

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to bring you a glimpse into next week's ground-breaking release of Lady Gaga's Born This Way. Listen to this and tell me you aren't excited. But be warned, it may cause squeals of unrestrained glee.

Anyway, where was I? Yes. Ramblings. Aaaaaand we're off!

Today has been long. Life tends to be that way. It doesn't help that I did almost nothing today. And stagnation will make one miserable faster than anything else.

I am really tired of the fight. Mainly, the fight that I'm trying to resolve within myself, that almost gets completed, and then someone or something has to step back in and remind me that I'm an abomination and that God and all Mormons hate me. They'll claim that they don't until they're blue in the face, but the fact remains that until they're ready to listen to me, setting aside all thoughts and suggestions of what I'm "supposed" to do, then they don't love me.

And until someone can suggest a complete and relevant suggestion for me, something that I can actually build a happy life on, then I will discuss nothing about the moral relevance of my orientation with them. We get it. You don't like that we're gay. We understand, you have a problem with it. It makes you uncomfortable. We get it! So stop trying to tell us, and actually offer a solution! If you don't have one, then mind your own business!

I obviously need to talk some of this crap out, because there is some defensiveness and anger here. I don't get to see my new therapist this week, so I may have to set up an appointment with my Facebook therapist. You know who you are. ;)

Anyway, on a lighter note, my boyfriend and I had lunch yesterday with a married couple in Salt Lake, and it was such a great day. Lunch was amazing, the company was fantastic, and to be able to actually be a couple around other people felt incredible. We spent several hours just talking. It was great, and I am already itching to go back. Provo just gets smaller and smaller every day. And when there are such great people up north, it's hard not to want to be with them.

Wow. I cannot stop playing that blip of Gaga's new song! I can't wait!!!!

As I wrote the last line my boyfriend sent me a text that said "check your email." When I did, I found an autotuned recording of him singing "I love you, Goodnight!" How cute is that? What a sweet boy I found. :) I think I'll keep him.

Anyway, I'd better get to bed. May the new week dawn brightly for us all, and may the wait to Gaga's new release be swift and painless! ;)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Another Random Collage: Double Standards and a New Therapist

Today's post is probably going to be just as disjointed as all the others I've written lately, but oh, well. It's my blog, and I can do what I want. :)

In Gender class today we finally touched the sensitive issues, and my, people had a lot to say. We discussed hermaphrodites, transsexuals transvestites, and homosexuals. It seemed somewhat ironic to me that the students were more accepting of hermaphrodites and even transsexuals than they were of homosexuals. The only thing that makes sense to me is that because of all the press in the last few years being gay is the absolute evil.

But my professor asked, "If your son or daughter came and told you they were gay, would you throw them out of the house, use 'tough love' on them?" Everyone said they wouldn't. One comment was made about the difference between the attraction and the behavior. The pompous guy that said that made the point that if his son was acting on it, then he wouldn't allow the boy in his house. I officially knew that I needed to say something.

I raised my hand and made the point that first of all, this is a very personal issue, and not being accepting is the last thing people need. Also, they've struggled with these things for a long time, and they've already asked themselves all the questions, and they've already guilted themselves enough. Acceptance is the only way to respond.

I then made the point that it is a double standard to say you'd throw your son out if he acted on his attraction, because if your son had sex with a girl they'd never throw him out. But for some reason if he has sex with a boy, it's okay? It's very hypocritical.

My professor then took that and asked "Is it a sin to have an erotic thought about someone?" The class said yes. (I could comment on that position alone, but I won't do that here.) Then she asked "So when you've been making out with someone you haven't had any erotic thoughts at all? How many of you have erotically made out?" We knew she had us there. She then pointed her finger at us and said "You're all sinners!" We had a good laugh at that. Of course it's not evil to have an erotic thought, especially while making out.

Then she brought in the big guns "Is it a sin for gays to kiss?" The class said yes, no question. "So it's not a sin for you to erotically make out, but just one kiss for gays is a sin?" They didn't say anything. "I want you to think about this for next time: Shouldn't the standards for gay people be the same as for straight people? I want you to be the 'devil's advocate' on this one. Think about it from the other side."

Next time will definitely be interesting.

But people just can't wrap their heads around this. My professor, who is from Japan, said she went back and homosexuality isn't an issue at all. A girl in the class who served a mission in South Korea said that people there asked her why America was so obsessed with homosexuality. It's not a big deal for them.

My professor made the point that the predominant religion over in the east is Buddhism, and that the Christian culture here really makes a difference. If only we could be as christian as the Buddhists.

Anyway, now that my rant on the ignorance of the culture here is over, I can move on to my next point of order. Due to financial issues I stopped seeing my old therapist and started going to a therapist on campus.

Yesterday was my first meeting, and I was a bit nervous about it. We sat down, and she asked me to just go over a few things that brought me in. She did a very good job on being kind and accepting, and I felt comfortable with her relatively quickly. I told her my story, and she was very sympathetic.

I got up to the present day, and she asked if I was dating anyone. I told her I had been in a relationship for over a year. I talked to her about what my relationship and my boyfriend have done for me, about how he saved me, and how he isn't just a pair of arms, but he's my best friend. He's my companion.

My therapist smiled and said that it warmed her heart that I could say that. She said "You have no idea how many people come through here, trying to figure out what to do about being gay, or if they even are gay, and they go out and they get lost in the mess of everything. For you to be able to say that he is your companion means so much."

I'll admit, I expected tolerance, but I didn't expect that. She basically told me she was glad I had my boyfriend. Cool. :)

We finished by talking about my views on religion, and the honor code. I talked about how the honor code expects everyone to be perfect right now, rather than allowing them to be in the process of becoming a better person. I believe that there are so many people here that need help, but they don't seek it, because the honor code has no tolerance.

An interesting note: actually, it turns out that as of this year, BYU has removed the term "advocacy" from its homosexuality section of the honor code. Advocacy is now no longer grounds for being kicked out of BYU. That's pretty big. Now, you have to be gay and kiss a boy, and then you're out. But at least you can say that you want to kiss a boy! Hahaha!

So the therapy was very good, and it was definitely needed. I can't wait until my next session. It's definitely been way too long!

Anyway, that's pretty much it for today. This post was more of a journal than an inspirational thought, but hey, that's why I started the thing to begin with!