Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Bit Discouraged Tonight

I'm sitting here with my roommate, stalking some of my old friends from Hawaii on Facebook. I had a great reunion with a few of them this last weekend and it had me jonesing for a little aloha in my life.

There was a cute guy I used to go to school with. He was really funny and pretty good-looking. I always had kind of a friend-crush on him; I wanted to get to know him better and become better friends with him, which likely would have resulted in me getting a huge crush on the guy, as it usually happens.  In any case, he popped into my head tonight as I was reminiscing, mostly because he came along with me and my friends on our most quintessential Hawaiian vacation adventure.

I looked him up on Facebook and was surprised to see a picture of him and another pretty good-looking guy on the very front page. There was a lot of body language in the picture to suggest that they might be a bit more than friends. I started stalking my old crush a little bit, trying to find out if life had changed for him since he left Hawaii. I secretly hoped it had and secretly hoped it hadn't.

(Every time I find out one of my Mormon friends is going to live the lifestyle, I get a little bummed out. I need a pacesetter, someone who can forge a path through it and live an abundantly awesome life in spite of choosing religious convictions over emotional ones. I need someone to set that example for me, because I'm not sure I can do it myself.)

Back to my friend, I'm still not sure if he's gay or not. I dunno, I've had straight friends who could be friendly-physical with their other straight friends without any of that homoerotic connotation; he could just be another one of those.  But still, it's got me wondering if he's gay and decided that the Church just wasn't worth it.

If that's the case, then I'm pretty disappointed. Not disappointed in him at all, because I'm kind of a moral relativist and I'd respect his agency, but in the situation. Here he is, a BYU graduate, a returned missionary, the squeakiest-clean guy I'd met in a long time, serving in a billion positions in the church and loving every second of it, and then deciding that it wasn't worth it.

Quite frankly, it's got me thinking, what chance do I have at making it if faithful people like him can't? I mean, even if I made it out on a mission, how long would I last after that? Five years?

I dunno, I guess that kind of thinking is what gets people discouraged and willing to give up.  Still, there it is.

(Of course, there's the very real possibility that he's straight and all of this is just a bunch of me basing my emotions on an erroneous conclusion. Wouldn't be the first time.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Some Thoughts From Today's Devotional

Today, a dean of one of the academic departments gave the university devotional.  It was all about finding beauty around us, which beauty is a gift from God designed to make this life happier and easier.

He gave a a thought I thought I'd share real quick.

One thing he admonished the audience to do was find beauty in our surroundings, our studies, the personalities of others, in the Atonement and in ourselves. On the point of the Atonement, he commented that we have the opportunity to contemplate the Atonement at least once a week, in Sacrament meeting. He said that as a person who likes to eat, he finds greater symbolism in the Sacramental emblems. He said that it wasn't by accident that Jesus chose bread and wine, two of the staples of life, as the emblems of His body. Those foodstuffs were essential to life, and even though we as Mormons have replaced the wine with water, the analogy holds true. Bread and water are the two most basic foods that could sustain life, and it's no accident that they are a similitude of the sacrifice of our Savior. Elementally, we could not survive without Him.

He drew another most interesting parallel.  He talked about how bread is made up of complex structures called starches, which our body breaks down into simpler sugars. That process begins in our mouth, the moment our saliva begins deconstructing those starches.

He said that if we take a moment to savor and chew the Sacrament bread, instead of scarfing it down without hesitation, our saliva will begin to expose those simple sugars and the bread will literally become sweeter.

What a poignant observation!  It's one that I can't wait to experience for myself- wish me luck that I'll make it that long without screwing up!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Moms, man. Freakin' moms

I don't have much to say other than moms rock. Like, they really really rock.  Mine's so cool. I'm sure most of you understand what I'm talking about when I say that she's the greatest mom in the world.  I love her!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Inspired by Single Dad Laughing: "Hundred dollar jeans"

A foreword: this blog is going to start getting more personal. I think I'm gonna start posting more about me without editing details as much. I'm starting to not care who knows what, which might be dangerous and I might regret it later. We'll see, eh?

I love Single Dad Laughing. It's a blog written by, as you'd assume, a single father. I don't know the circumstances surrounding his status, but he chronicles his life with his son and their dog and it's almost always hilarious (and if homosexuality weren't birth control enough, some of his posts about the disgusting things his son does would be [boogers]).

Anyway, today I was perusing when I stumbled across this gem. He talks about how one day he spent over $500 in a clothing store because he needed to feel confident and good-looking. That blurb makes him sound incredibly shallow, but if you read the post, you'll see he's anything but. He makes a very compelling case for splurging on things you don't need.

Without having read the post beforehand, I did something similar this weekend. Bought something big, just to make myself feel better about my life.

For those of you who don't know, my beloved BMW has bit the dust. Just a few days before I was to move back to Idaho, the clutch fried and then, just a few miles later, the head gasket blew, clogging the fuel injectors. Total bill was well over what the car was worth and I didn't have the cash to keep investing in it. So I sold it for about a tenth what I had in it, not including gas, tires and insurance. Broke my heart.

Having decided that I didn't want any more temperamental European cars, at least until I could better afford to keep them, I started looking for reliable, economical cars like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Nissan Altima.

For those of you who do know who I am, you know how this broke my heart even more. 

No offense to anyone who drives these cars (unless you drive a Corolla, in which case I've lost a lot of respect for you), they are boring, soulless machines that tell the world that you've given up on ever having fun behind the wheel. They are great modes of transportation, a reliable way to get from A to B. They're as inoffensive and dependable as a white Frigidaire. But when was the last time anyone got excited about a white Frigidaire? 

My car hunt was looking grim. There wasn't anything out there that had that balance between fun and responsibility within my admittedly tiny budget.

Then, one day, I casually made my way over to the motorcycles section of craigslist. I never found anything good there; everything was either in pieces or too expensive or too big or too small for an inexperienced rider like me. But still, I trolled it occasionally, hoping for something to pop up that would be a good fit.

I saw a bike. On first blush, it wasn't what I was looking for. It had a big windshield and was fully faired and kind of ugly. It was a biggish bike, definitely designed for an old man rather than a young, hot stud. It had a vaguely Harley vibe about it, but without the Harley swagger or street cred. And it had a pretty small engine for how big its bodywork was.  But still, the price was right and it looked interesting, and it was in town, which meant I didn't need to pay a roommate or scumbag a ride off a friend to get to it.

I walked to the house, eager for the owner to lift the garage door and show me what could be my future. As he did, I couldn't resist bending down to look at the bike before the door was open. There it stood, leaning over on its kickstand and taking up almost as much space as one of those small Toyotas. It was far too big.

I resigned myself to the fact that I'd wasted my time by walking over to look at it, but still, I asked the man, a sergeant first class in the U.S. Army, if I could take it for a ride. Still dressed in his fatigues, he sized me up, asked if I could handle the bike, and somewhat reluctantly showed me how to start it and ran me through its quirks.

I took it out, completely surprised by how heavy it was given its relatively small engine. It wallowed in corners a bit and it was difficult to get used to. I started towards the freeway, aimed it up the onramp, and punched the throttle. It settled back on the rear wheel and moved forcefully down the road, like a big locomotive. It wasn't fast, but it felt strong.  

Then a gust of wind came and picked up that large windshield and wide fairing and attempted to throw it across the highway, almost taking the bike with it.  Oh no, this bike was not for me. 

Still, against every judgment in my head, I took it over to a mechanic friend to have it inspected. He gave it a thorough once-over, took it out on a ride, and decreed it to be mechanically fit and worth the asking price.  I wasn't convinced.

I rode it back to the owner's house, having already decided to offer him an insultingly low number, a number he'd never accept. I was right. He countered me with a number more to his liking, and in spite of how much I disliked the bike, I found myself fighting him on the price. And then, before I knew it, I was pulling my cash out and handing it to him in exchange for keys and a title.  Almost by surprise, a 1982 Honda GL500 Interstate, sterling silver metallic, was mine.

And again, surprisingly, I found myself completely in love with it after an hour of riding. It was love motivated by sheer possession, to be sure, but it also was more than that. I learned its secrets. How it dislikes being chucked into a corner but will happily follow your lead if you are deliberate and sure in your movements. How it'll hum along the freeway at 65, but it likes 70 better and will cut the breeze more. How to position your hands and feet if it's too hot or too cold to be riding. 

What I loved most about it, though, was that I was mobile again. After three dreary weeks of walking everywhere and confining myself to the mile-wide radius in which I could walk, I had a way to escape again. I still walk to the store and to school and work, just because they're all close enough. But just knowing that I have a bike waiting for me to throw a leg over it and fire it up makes me feel better.

I feel more confident and happier. I like waiting for people to notice the helmet in my hand and ask about my ride. I enjoy giving a cool-guy head nod or the four-finger-extension-wave to every motorcyclist I pass. Even the little things make me feel cool, like using my heel to put the kickstand up with a solid "thunk." I am genuinely grateful that Heavenly Father led me to this bike and that it was affordable enough.

If a few hundred dollars can make all that happen, I'd say it's money well spent.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fambly Home Evuhning...

In my student ward, we do family home evening by dividing into a group of one guys' apartment and two girls' apartments. It's kinda fun, although I prefer FHE when it's done ward-wide.

Anyway, last night, one of my FHE sisters gave a great lesson about adversity and letting go of the past and moving forward, which was awesome in and of itself. I know I've posted before about that principle, so I'll leave it alone a little bit.

The interesting part came from a conversation I had with that same FHE sister later that night. She was asking me what I thought about the FHE sisters from the other apartments (I think they're unique, interesting, fun and beautiful [RIP Oxford comma]) and she said that she's pretty sure they don't like her. I couldn't argue. There is some tension between the two apartments in our family for a reason that is difficult to place. I think it's sheer competition; even though no one from either apartment has expressed interest in any of us guys, it's just difficult to be around other people without "sizing them up." I remember that when I was in an FHE group of two guys to every girl; the guys didn't talk with each other nearly as much as they did with the girls. There wasn't any overt drama, nor is there in this situation, but there was just... tension.

As we were talking, it reminded me of the two-word sermon from the April 2012 conference. When dealing with tension, insecurity or distrust, we should just "stop it!" My good FHE sister was agonizing about what she could do to be more likable when that same insecurity would probably make her less attractive to those she wanted to have a good rapport with. Giving attention to the tension feeds it, regardless of your motivations.

This semester, I'm living with really cool guys. Unlike past semesters, there's precious little drama about who's eating whose food and why didn't the dishes get done and so on. But leave it to me to find something to be annoyed about. I have a roommate who rarely interacts with us unless another roommate is there. The rest of us are accessory friends to that one real friend, useless unless he's around. That bugs me. It makes me assume that he's out to get me. It makes me paranoid and try too hard to be nice to him or be paranoid and not try at all to be nice to him, all because of this perceived slight I see in his demeanor.

Cue two-word sermon, and watch tension go away.

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