Thursday, March 28, 2013

This is a post about how awesome people are

This weekend, I finally finished a project for a former customer of mine. She had a garage-sale endtable that needed some sprucing--cracked finish, damaged hardware, wobbly legs--but would still be a pretty easy restoration project. It took a bit longer than expected and the end result wasn't exactly what I planned, but it still looked good.  Having spent a few hours on it and a few dollars on supplies, I decided I'd charge her $60 for the work I did, pending her satisfaction with the finished product.

She loved it. It turned out much better than she expected, especially given the few delays I'd informed her of, and she proudly began to arrange it in her living room. I told her the final bill and the caveat that if she didn't feel as though it was worth $60 to her, I'd take whatever she felt was fair.  She began writing the check and said that my price was more than fair and she'd round up a little bit. I reassured her that wasn't necessary, but she insisted. I began gratefully planning how I'd spend that extra 40 bucks, assuming she was going to round to $100.

She handed me two checks, explaining that the other was for my boss as a little extra tip for the good work we did on her living room floor and bathroom tile. I looked at one, reading, "Pay to the order of GMP the amount five hundred dollars." I began to explain that she'd written my name on the check she meant for my boss, stopping short when I saw the smile on her face. I began to protest but she instantly cut me off, reminding me that college was expensive and I'd earned that money, having done some odd jobs for her (none of which were worth anywhere near the $440 she'd tacked on to my bill).

I am not a speechless person. I generally have the words for most of my emotions. In fact, I'm far too chatty 99% of the time.  But in this moment, I had nothing to say. My mouth hung slack-jawed and I pawed at my brain to find something that could adequately describe the intense gratitude I felt then. After too long, I said, "Thank you. I've been stressing about paying for school and..." and then I trailed off again. I couldn't find the words.

I finished some of the other work I'd come over to do, offered another thanks and retired to my car, completely overcome. I did the math and found that she'd given me a 733.33% tip on my work, a tip that meant that I wouldn't have to buy my own groceries for a few months and that meant I had a little cushion in my savings for insurance deductibles, car repairs and the occasional Blockbuster movie or steak dinner. I sat behind my wheel, thinking about that gift, and alternated between overjoyed laughter and humble tears.

I must admit, I feel much more pressure to be a good person. When I told my dad, he said that she probably won't miss that $500 at all, that the positive effect it has on me outweighs any negative effects it'll have on her. In that wise, I'm wondering what I can do to pay it forward more. What small thing to me will make a big difference to others? For me and for now, I probably can't give much financially, but what can I give?

I'm just so humbled by her generosity and example. I hope I'll make them feel like their money was well-spent.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Panic! at the dinner table

I had a new experience last night: panic attacks.

I'd only had a few panic attacks before in my life and they were all very mild and manageable.  I felt them come on, reminded myself to breathe, and they subsided. These, however, were very different.

I came home from a rough day at work.  I was feeling pretty low already about some friend drama on the homefront. All I wanted to do was snuggle up in a blanket and watch trashy TV, but there was too much to be done. I checked Facebook and read some of the comments that had been left on my most recent ultimatum post (which has still been weighing heavily on my mind) and I just felt so bombarded. I'm sure a large part of that feeling had to do with the fact that I had five tabs open with a zillion unread e-mails and music playing and the TV on and my dad talking on his phone loudly, but all of a sudden, I felt so overwhelmed.

I closed my computer and went upstairs to take a shower. I took off my shirt and the panic started coming.  I started breathing really deep and really fast and my extremities started tingling. I tasted metal on my tongue and things started going black.  I laid down and felt this intense wave of paranoia and turmoil wash over me and all I could do was breathe. I had one hand on my forehead and the other on my stomach and the panic sunk in.  I had no idea what to do next.

I don't remember how long I lay there like that, but I staggered up towards the door, breathing and moaning the whole way.  I wobbled down the hall and started down the stairs, but my dad's voice from the first floor scared me back up. I didn't want him to see me or think I was crazy. Finally, after a few terrifying minutes, I found my way downstairs, got his attention, and told him I was having a panic attack.

He helped me onto the couch and wrapped me in a blanket and coached my breathing till I fell asleep. I woke up when my mom got home and heard him relate the event to her, but he didn't need to.  Right after dinner, it happened again and she got to witness the whole thing.

But here's why I'm not sad it happened.

First off, the second panic attack was accompanied by a lot of rhythmic ab-clenching, which didn't make breathing or talking easy, but damned if my stomach doesn't look about a billion times better today than it did.

Secondly, my parents have been giving me more attention lately. I know that sounds selfish, but today, my dad called me while I was at work to check in on how I was and my mom sent me out the door this morning with a big hug and a kind word. If all this was just a subconscious ploy to get attention, then that might be a little childish, but it felt good and it worked.

And finally, both my mom and my dad now know what kind of effects my emotions have on me. They got a firsthand witness of how involuntary those emotions are. They've always been good to not tell me to "just get over it," but I've sometimes wondered if they secretly thought that I was just making up excuses to take meds and waste money on therapists.  Now they know.

So, while I really don't want to have panic attacks ever again, these first two definitely had some positive ramifications. Plus, they always end eventually, so at least there's that.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A most dangerous ultimatum

Ever since about July of last year, I've been really in the doldrums.  I have myself to blame for a lot of it. I've been pretty good about porn and masturbation, but it's still a presence I'm not keen on, for reasons beyond religion (and laundry). I've also been more involved in the gay community, for better and worse, and that's to blame for some of the stress I feel as well.

Even so, I haven't felt much peace, in spite of the efforts I've been making towards finding it.  There have been moments where I've felt the Spirit's influence in my life to be certain, but I don't feel as though that influence is directing me as well as I might have hoped.

The other night, during my evening prayer, I gave God an ultimatum and I've been pondering it ever since. I'd love some input on it, and so I turn to the blogosphere...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pastor in Process

My friend Brad posted something pretty cool on his blog this week.  After being excommunicated from the Anglican church, he posted his rationale for the actions that led to his disfellowship from the church in which he grew up and studied to become a priest.

Go have a read.  I wish y'all could see the Facebook conversation it's generating.

Pastor in Process - Why I Date Men: A Conversation Starter

EDIT: His Facebook link is active. Here's the conversation that it started. He gave me permission to link to it, but please be respectful of his choices, his friends, and his privacy.  And give my blog a shout if you leave a comment, I'd be interested to see how many people came from here, haha. Shameless plug over.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Truth as an anchor

I made a new friend a few months ago. We actually made our initial connection via the trashiest mobile chat app ever, but what initially stuck out about this guy (call him Alan) was that in his profile he says he's a Christian. Also, he claims fidelity to the Oxford comma, which therefore made him my sworn journalistic enemy and gave me a good icebreaker.

Alan lives in another state so I've never actually met him in person, but we've kept in touch since that first grammatically violent conversation. As a recently out Christian, he had a fascinating experience with his religion that somewhat would correlate to how a Mormon would experience life after deciding to openly participate in a gay lifestyle. Being as that I've been wondering what life on the other side would look like, his experience was very intriguing and I could see a lot of myself in his reactions to the events in his life. More on that conversation in a bit.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Playing the heathen today

Well, I'm living in open rebellion today.

For various reasons, both significant and selfishly petty, this weekend sucked balls. It was awful.  There were glimmering moments of niceness, but by and large (and due to my own bad attitude, I freely admit), it was a terrible, terrible three days.

So instead of going to church today, I'm staying home and listening to Spotify and dancing around, cleaning the house. Remember a few days ago how I said I'm staying the course? Well, I'll restart tomorrow.  Today, I refuse to think about anything that will make me sad, even if it makes me a better person. Sure, I feel guilty, and I'm a little paranoid what my parents would think if they were in town to witness this, and I feel like I have to make up excuses for each of those friends who ask where I'm at. But I made it to age 24 as a single, gay Mormon (three of the most sex-obsessed and repressed demographics ever) without ever getting it on with someone, so for that I've earned myself a day off.

Later today I'll attend the CES fireside broadcast and tomorrow I'll participate in FHE and on Thursday I'll go to Institute, and if all goes well this week, I'll take the sacrament next Sunday.  Right now, however, Ke$ha, Smashing Pumpkins, BeyoncĂ© and Imagine Dragons will accompany my one-man dance party.

Friday, March 1, 2013


A few weeks ago, a friend showed me a website that allows the students of his school to submit confessions anonymously, which then show up on the website. I found a similar website for my school, and the difference is ridiculous.

I go to a church-sponsored school (that narrows it down to one of four) in southeast Idaho (one of one), whereas my friend goes to a state school in Utah.  The posts on his school's webpage were pretty scandalous, people peeing in their roommates' drinks to get secret revenge, twisted sexual fantasies, the list went on and made me (me!) blush.

My school's posts were along the lines of, "I sneak out past curfew," "I told my bishop I had an emotional disorder to get out of a calling," and "Sometimes I go on dates just for a free meal." And yet, in spite of the relative tepidity of my school's confessions, the comments on them were absolutely vilifying.  It was ludicrous that there was more judgement lashed at a girl who took advantage of suitors for free food than there was directed at a guy who had three falsely committal sexual encounters with three different "girlfriends" in the same night.

So, needless to say, I won't be confessing anything on my school's page, anonymous or not. Guess I'll do it here.

So, a few months ago, I made out with a guy. From the day we met, we had a near-instant attraction to each other, and over the course of a few weeks, we really made a connection. Then, one day (the very morning I decided that I wouldn't pursue anything with him), we made out for about an hour in the back seat of my car, a moment which, to be honest, I can't really stop thinking about.

In fact, the only distraction from that moment I can find is when I think about the other time we kissed, which was even more passionate and, if I'm honest, wonderful. To be fair (and to assuage my guilt), we didn't cross any serious morality lines, but it has given me a lot to think about for the past month or two. I honestly don't really know where to take it from here.

He made me feel in those moments of passion like I was the only person in the world, like no one else could take my place in his life. And if it was confined to those moments that I felt like that, then that would be one thing.  If all I was was a warm body and a nice set of lips to him, I could deal with that. I could have a casual, nonsexual relationship with him and still feel secure in my life path. In the grand scheme of things, a boyish lark is nothing to get upset about.

But the problem lies in that it wasn't just in those moments of heat that I felt special, nor that I felt a similar attraction to him.  I found myself thinking about him and his feelings, his schoolwork, his employment, his talents and skills, and on and on.  Whenever we talked, he asked thoughtful questions about my life and I felt special to him as well. It wasn't just lust.

But, as is my way, there's this big hangup I have preventing me from moving forward with him.

It's so strange; every second I sit in church, I find myself continually contending with the teachers and the doctrine in my mind (not out loud, that would be awkward).  I give all these reasons why it doesn't make sense and why the best decision for me would be to just get up and walk out the door and never look back. But I stay. I listen to the lesson or talk, not because I feel compelled to or because I'd be too embarrassed or afraid of rejection if I left.  I sit through church (and legitimately enjoy Institute) because it feeds my soul. It reminds me that there's something greater out there besides me and this handsome, gentle man I find myself attracted to.

I'm desperate. I want to find a balance between the two. Something I haven't told anyone yet: I dreamt that the prophet received revelation that gay marriage wasn't a big deal and God didn't care who His children loved, as long as they were good and kind and considerate of their spouses, and I dreamt it in the context of my own gay wedding. I woke up, bitterly depressed to be shaken back into the real world.

That revelation hasn't happened, and it probably never will.  So I'm stuck in this really obnoxious holding pattern between a religion that makes absolutely no logical sense and doesn't sit well with me some of the time and a potential relationship that, so far, makes perfect sense and makes me happy, but also doesn't sit well with me.

Right now I'm staying the course.  Church is what has felt right for the last 24 years and until that changes in a compelling way, then I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing and keep expecting the same results, namely, halfway decent peace of mind and a fairly stable view of myself. I know it sounds closed-minded and fear-driven, and quite frankly, that might be the case. But if in 10 years, I find myself in a happy temple marriage with three great kids, a dog and a wonderful, supportive wife, then I'll look back on this moment and be glad I made the choice to carry on.  And if in 10 years, I find myself in a happy civil union with an adopted child, a dog and a wonderful, supportive husband, I'll look back on this moment and understand I wasn't ready to move on yet.

So there it is.  I confess.

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