Saturday, December 31, 2016

But Nobody Came

Christmas day, 9:33 PM: arrived at the nearest major city.

Monday, 5:29 AM: departed said city.

Tuesday, 8:01 AM: out for delivery.

Tuesday, 12:20 AM: delivered to front door.

I tried not to have overly high expectations. I would have simply been grateful to hear from Joseph at all, but I didn't want to hold my breath.

I never heard anything. For all I know, the package went unopened.

What did I do in response to that? Why, I downloaded a few gay dating apps/sites, of course.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. It's still with only strictly platonic intentions, although I am remembering quickly why I opted out of these things in the first place--so often it seems like there's no sense of politeness or courtesy. I even decided to use my real name and a picture of myself. However, the only guys who express any interest in me are old enough to have sired me (shiver--creepy) and can only use one-word lines. When I try interacting with someone closer to my own age, I never hear anything, or the conversation dies before there really ever was one.

I know I'm not ugly. I work hard to take care of myself, in diet, fitness, and various other ways. I am absolutely positive that I am someone worth being friends with, however, these guys passively reject me before even getting to know me. Is it because I say I'm looking for non-sexual friends? Is that really too much to ask for? Why do they all seem to be this way?

What is the art to making good, real friends? I am a genuine, honest, loving, caring person, so shouldn't there be other people like me out there?

I don't think I'm too picky at all. Given, it's hard for me to become very invested in someone who isn't at my level of fitness or better, but I would never judge someone for being overweight, not fit, or for not being "jacked" (I'm not just yet--that's a work in progress). I'll also confess that I am almost immediately uninterested the instant I see someone who's used Snapchat to give themselves a dog face (I mean, come on). But otherwise, and except my hard and fast rule that it must remain platonic in every way, I am really quite flexible and open-minded.

So why is there rejection on every side?

Why can't they just meet me in person (I would be willing to order them an appetizer at a restaurant) before deciding that I'm not worth their time?

I want a massage, dagnabbit!

I absolutely love the Church and the Gospel. I am no more capable of living it perfectly than the next guy, but I certainly make the effort. This isn't a problem with the Church--this lies with our culture. We're growing less friendly and more distant from each other. There is nothing wrong with my desire to interact with guys in healthy, appropriate, platonic ways. Actually, that's incredibly natural and essential to one's overall health. I shouldn't have to seek that from other gay guys, but I do because, at the very least, they acknowledge that they have a need to interact with other guys. "Straight" guys seem to be much less likely to recognize that, at least nowadays. It would definitely be too much to ask for to suggest regularly spending time together, or going to grab a bite to eat, or doing something fitness related, or (heaven forbid) having a massage exchange (Ooh! Yeah, I said it!). Jokes aside, that last one sounds extremely appealing. I'm sore all over right now. For all the right reasons, yes, but some relief would be welcome, especially at the hands of someone strong enough to manage my currently-growing muscles (by the way, I reached my goal of putting on 15 pounds this year. It feels good.).

But nobody came.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The "M" Word

Now, before you read the title of this and your mind can go to the gutter for a swim, I'll give you a hint

"Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togewah today."

"When I finally married Mr. Right, I had no idea his first name was Always."

I would include more funny quotes and puns...if I knew any more. As it is, I had to look these up. Because I'm not funny.

There's a risk of my thoughts going all over the place, so I apologize in advance. My mind first goes to another blogger whose post I read a few days ago. He was married, yet he mentions going through a divorce, alluding to the underlying reason of his coming out. I suppose that's his prerogative, and I'm definitely not in a position to criticize, especially knowing as little as I do. But he mentioned his disapproval of a relative who was engaged to a man to be sealed in the temple, which man openly admitted to his fiancee that he's same-sex attracted. His remark (the blogger's) is that he (the young man) is making the same mistake as he did.

I commented on this post of his, in as un-argumentative of a way as I could, in regards to my perspective, which is very different than his. I suspect my remarks won't be published there, but hey, I have my own blog for that sort of thing, right? This is my sentiment:

Who's to say that it's a mistake to enter into a mixed orientation marriage?

Now, allow me to elaborate. Not every person is going to be emotionally and spiritually prepared to be married at any given time. I know that if I got married tomorrow, it would be like getting dunked in a pool of ice water. But it won't always be that way for me, and it doesn't have to always be that way for anybody else. In any event, the eternities are available for the faithful. But if a man, generally attracted to other men, decides to marry a woman, who's to say that won't be the best decision of both of their lives?

However, I think these are indeed mistakes that ought to be avoided:

Lying about, or covering up important details of one's past, including before marriage;

Neglecting to be transparent with one's struggles and difficulties in the present;

Masking the true nature of one's sexual appetites and/or emotional needs;

Refusing to divulge acts of infidelity, past or present.

In other words, being in a mixed orientation marriage requires being especially vulnerable in order to be effective, and create the same sort of synergy that the best of marriages are capable of.

Quite bluntly put, putting aside severe acts of infidelity, if a woman is unable to handle a man being vulnerable about real difficulties and struggles that he goes through, then it would indeed be a mistake to take her to wife. Being fair, though, not every woman is capable of dealing with such things in a Christlike way. But that's what the "let's just be friends" card is for.

Now, moving on to my own personal feelings:

Call me brainwashed, call me indoctrinated, call me selfish--call me anything you want, but I am looking forward to having a woman I can call my wife one day.

Why is that, you may ask?

The best way I have come up with to explain that is that I want to get married for all the most noble reasons that a man could have, minus having a bunch of hormones telling me that I need to get hitched.

I'm not getting married to check off some figurative box.

I'm not getting married because someone told me I have to, because I'm expected to do so.

I'm not getting married just so I don't have to be lonely.

I want to have a companion by my side at all times, one I can confide in, one I can raise a posterity with, one I can love with all of my heart.

I want to have a marriage that can truly have the Lord's blessing.

Most importantly, I want to have a marriage that can last in the eternities, that can have "eternal increase".

I know that, if nothing else, those last two things could never happen with another man. As controversial a statement as this may be, "traditional marriage" and same-sex marriage are not the same thing. If two men or two women are in love, that's one thing. But to call any such union between them a marriage goes against the very purpose marriage was established in the first place. Any two men or two women can live in complete harmony with the Gospel. Love is something that has been romanticized and sexualized with greater intensity with the passing of time, which causes a great deal of strife, confusion, and trouble. Sex and romance have much greater significance when left for the right time and circumstances.

Now, you might be asking me, "Is this really fair to her? How's that supposed to work?"

This is my argument: I have a tendency to put other's needs before my own. I feel I possess a great deal of respect for women and their role in society. I have already actively abstained from infidelity now, before I've even met her. I would do anything in my power to make her happy, and would avoid anything that would unnecessarily upset her. I would be very open and vulnerable about my experiences and emotions, and would expect her to do the same (and isn't that every woman's dream?). You could ask my mom if there was any doubt about any of these things.

Plus, I've been legitimately attracted to, and seriously interested in pursuing a relationship with certain girls in the past. I don't have to be attracted to every woman out there for it to work.

Anywho, I have more I'm sure I could add, but I'm absolutely positive that it will be one of the best decisions of my life.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

You Got Mail: Epilogue

I'm sure a chunk of me got left behind in November. Despite all my zeal to get things done and to realign my life and routine at the beginning of the month, I got sick and stayed sick for two-and-a-half weeks. There's few things more effective at killing the ol' motivation.

Honestly, I am not in the mood for an obligatory Christmas post. My Christmas has been hijacked by a particular sibling of mine who can't seem to pull his head out of a certain orifice of his. I'm tempted to put his phone, which is now in my pocket, between the asphalt and my back tire.

No, I have something different that I want to talk about.

It seems like everything I see and pass triggers thoughts of Joseph. I have had this letter that has underwent several variations. The first was the slightly disappointed version that I started two months or so ago. Earlier this month, it was the slightly angry version (which was definitely the longest variation, mind you). But I couldn't find it within me to send it, although I knew I needed to say something.

However, lately, I have come to realize just how much I miss him. It's been particularly rough, in sight of the family issue that I just made reference to, acknowledging a relationship that, as impossible as it seems, is deteriorating even past the level of decay that it had reached before. It is beyond me, why it is so terribly difficult to connect with people in more meaningful ways than through the incredibly superficial devices our generation is infamous for. I wish there was someone that validated me. The way Joseph did.

On Thursday, I had a considerable break between appointments. I decided that it was time for me to finally make my move. I don't know what will come of this, but I edited my letter one final time, which was an extensive process, conveying my feelings to him with absolutely no intent to make him feel bad for things real or perceived. I hope, if nothing else, it will erase, for either one or both of us, any ambiguity surrounding our friendship. I printed it out, satisfied that I could have absolutely no regrets for expressing myself as I did, took it to the post office later that day (before I could change my mind for the umpteenth time), using the address I got from his aunt and sending it with the Frisbee I had intended to give to him in the first place as a birthday present. I was a bit terrified when the man who helped me confirmed that it would likely arrive on Tuesday (What!? That was only five days away! Isn't it supposed to take an eternity for packages to get sent during the Christmas season, especially to a state well over a thousand miles away?) But off it went. Needless to say, during my relatively short trip to the temple the following day, Joseph's name went on the prayer roll. There's certain to be a follow up to this, especially if something develops on Tuesday. Any-who, this is what I sent to him:

Hey Joseph,

I hope you’re doing well, and that you’ve enjoyed your time back home with the family. I’ve written and rewritten this note, hesitated and deliberated—needless to say, I've put a lot of thought into this. It isn't easy for me to write what I’ve written, but I’m just going to send this before I change my mind again. Anyways, here goes nothing.

You've probably taken note of a few comments I've made in Church. I have never clearly said it around you, but about a year ago, I started to come to terms regarding something about me. I was impressed during a fast and testimony meeting in January to bear my testimony as I have gone through this process and how it has influenced my spiritual growth. Of course, you had left town for school, so you probably didn't hear of this.

I'm sure you understand by now, but I'm referring to the same-sex attraction I experience.

It's something I regard as a gift I have been given for a purpose, and I believe it truly has helped shape me into a better person, has led me to help others in unprecedented ways, and has been a catalyst to my spiritual journey.

Yet it certainly doesn't make my life any easier. It would definitely be the prime evidence if I was taken to court for being single, or not dating. But that doesn't really bother me a terrible deal. That's not why it has been the source of quite a lot of heartache lately. I want to be upfront and honest with you as to why it has "messed me up inside", as I alluded to you once.

The truth is that I fell in love with you a year ago.

It started that one time when you so sincerely thanked me for stepping in for that one Gospel Doctrine class. I have never met someone with such sincerity, before or since--not in my entire life. You were also without a doubt one of the most caring people I've ever met, and had this way of making me feel like a million bucks, like I was one of the greatest people on Earth. I can't begin to tell you how much it meant to me, every time you complimented me, every time you just sat down next to me and struck up a conversation just because you could, all the times you expressed the desire to spend time with me, the times you took me up on my offer to go on a walk, perhaps especially how you opened up to me about some very private, personal struggles you were going through at the time. The trust you expressed in me was something invaluable to me.

But before I get too far, let me explain my intentions for sharing this with you. When I first was trying to come to grips with all of this, I felt a powerful spiritual impression--the Lord was trying to teach me that this was His way of telling me that I needed to become friends with you. As I have never felt this way before--especially not with this intensity--I simply had to trust Him. It was terrifying, truly, but I certainly would have regretted not acting on that prompting...promptly. You did leave just weeks later, after all.

All I ever wanted--no--all I've ever allowed myself to want, is to be friends with you. The Lord has taught me that I can have a healthy, platonic relationship, even with someone that the natural man in me might desire something more with. I have learned the depth of Alma's admonition to "bridle all your passions"--the Lord doesn't want me to crush or demolish my feelings, any more than bridling a horse means to brutally slaughter it. He wants me to reign it in and use it to help others and more productively make it to my destination, just as that would entail with bridling a horse.

I can honestly say that I have had no ulterior motives in our friendship—I promise you that. This all has led me to care very deeply for you. When I hear that you're going through a difficult time; when I have seen you sitting alone in Church; when I’ve noticed you're missing for most, if not all, of the Church meetings and activities--my heart goes out to you. I worry about you. I wish there was something I could do to help you. Maybe that's why I was impressed so often to reach out to youmaybe the Spirit acknowledges how much I truly care about you and your well-being, both temporal and eternal. I hope you’ll understand that, if there ever was any other motive I had for texting you on a frequent/infrequent basis (whichever word you would insert here), it was because I never had a friend that was the same caliber of person that you are, and I didn’t want that friendship to simply slip through my fingers over nothing. I valued that enough to not want to lose it so easily. So if I was ever a bother in any way, I apologize, as that was, of course, the furthest thing from my intent.

Now, I recognize that it will simply be a fact of life for me, that I will end up falling in love with guys with whom I can only hope, at the very most, to have a great friendship. I accept that--I'm not ashamed of that. The best I can do is to allow that to be an engine to help me more fully care about and appreciate them.

I don’t know if any of this comes as a surprise to you; perhaps it's something that you've been afraid of, that's made you feel awfully uncomfortable around me. I can understand how I might feel exactly the same way in your place. Perhaps just knowing I'm gay is enough to accomplish that. I can’t blame you if that is the case—it is definitely a complex thing to deal with from any angle, especially since I’m entirely committed to celibacy.

I’d also like to say that I've never expected you to be my only real friend. I've learned that to most effectively handle all of these emotions, I need a number of guy friends. I knew you weren’t always going to be around, or have enough time to text me back—you have your own life to live, after all, and having two jobs and impending (expensive) semesters at school certainly wouldn’t make it a walk in the park for you. As a result, I would redouble my efforts to reach out to others, thinking that if I could find someone that I could connect with on the emotional level that I thought I had with you, things would be better. I can't tell you how much I invested into making that happen; I tested the virtue of the singles' ward, of Facebook, Craigslist--I even tried using a few gay dating websites and apps as a platform for making platonic friends. I was amazed at the outcome. I scarcely if ever was able to spend time with, much less connect with anyone from the ward like I’d hoped; Facebook only proved to add to that frustration, with even less results. I can at least say I had some pretty profound conversations with some of the guys on Grindr. But so many of them couldn't even so much as respond back. So many others would all but demand a "face pic", after which I would never hear from them again. Whenever I would explain to them that I just wanted some platonic friends I could relate to, I was made to feel like I was of no interest or worth unless I indulged in some sort of romantic or sexual activity. I never once met a single one of them in person. That, of course, definitely didn't help me in the self-esteem department.

My disappointment with my reaching out to the singles' ward and the rejection I felt is what caused me to explore the option of another ward. All of the Grindrs got deleted permanently. I even completely deleted my Facebook account.

This has become a bunch of rambling. I've been through so much lately that has tried continually to tear me downrejection from family, failure in social endeavors, getting my car totaled, frustrating hand problemsthe list goes on. I'm not as busy as I would like to be, so perhaps that's why I have needed more social interaction. But I know that the timing of this is such that you can't really do anything about it—you said yourself that you will scarcely if ever be in the area. But I kind of felt that if I left the singles' ward, chances were good that I would never see you again. I suppose I just need to be alright with that. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve missed you, and that I will miss you. The same can be said for the months prior to you returning home. It has been hard, not staying in touch with you, or even trying.

I also want to mention that, concerning some of the more private and personal things you have confided in me, I can relate to you much more than I ever had the chance to let on. I hope you are doing well in those departments, but if not, or if you ever find yourself battling, or, if you ever need a friend that you can have a more meaningful conversation with than just shooting the breeze…just know that I understand and that I’m here.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and sorry if any of this was overwhelming. I wish you the best in life; in school, your career, and dating. I believe you'll make some lucky girl really happy one day. Oh, and per the enclosed and really late birthday present, I had never intended to keep it for myself anyways. I hope you keep playing Ultimate Frisbee.

Yours truly,


Merry Christmas to you all.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Mixed Signals

Wednesday was one of those days that I was trying to get back on the wagon. Sure, I woke up sore all over from my workout on Monday, and I was not nearly as prepared to share the music I was working on in anticipation for November. The whole day I was trying to forget one single fact:

Today is Joseph's birthday.

I'm glad I decided to delete his number from my phone, as I wasn't tempted to text him. I no longer can be prompted to reach out to him for any reason.

I don't think he deserves it.

In retrospect, I have learned something about myself--I deserve better than a one-sided friendship. I know that, and I want something far deeper than that. The sad thing, too, is that I admired him for his good traits, I understood him and loved him even more for his weaknesses...all except one. There was one trait of his that I simply did not want to accept, because the ultimate price that characteristic exacted was that of my friendship. But I have had to accept that one single fact:

Joseph is just...flaky.

I need to move on. But there just seems to be this nagging thing that keeps me from completely throwing out that box that insists on residing in the front room of my mind, rather than the attic, or better yet, the garbage. I can't help but wonder God isn't trying to tell me someway, somehow that our destinies are inseparably intertwined in some manner unknown to me.

My performances were organized in an odd way today--I had two in the late morning/early afternoon, with two more in the evening. During the break, I went to the local temple and did an endowment session for the first time in several weeks (I have done sealings the last few times I have gone). I went to receive the name of the deceased man whose vicarious work I would be doing. The temple worker gave me a card for a man with five names.

His first name was Joseph's. Not "Joseph", but his real name.

I walked away from the temple worker and said under my breath, "You've got to be kidding me."

Of all days, I just so happen to go to the temple and receive the name of the one person I was trying hardest to forget. On his birthday.

I don't even know what to think about that. The likelihood of all those circumstances lining up is so finite as to seem like the deus ex machina in one of those cheesy romance movies that unites the couple at the last moment, when all seems to suggest them going their separate ways.

But that's not going to happen. I don't want that to happen. But what does this all mean, then? What is God trying to tell me? I can't buy the "it's all coincidence" scapegoat--there's no possible way. And yet chances are good that I'll never see him again, or at least, not within the coming years. I surely haven't seen him since I last walked away from the singles' ward a month and a half ago, as I suspected would be the case.

What is it then?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Music and Bridled Passions

Things have been pretty tough for me lately. I definitely am no Job when it comes to the challenges I face, but they are certainly difficult for me as a person. As a result, my last few posts have been sad and depressing, and while I started this blog as a sort of coping mechanism (I love writing), I don't ever want to come off as a perpetual griper, complainer, or pessimist. I'm hoping this post, that I have had a few drafts for, will help change the tone of my other recent posts, and reveal a bit more about who I am and what has crafted me and my character. Here goes:

Passions are funny things. Some people follow theirs with complete carelessness and abandon. Others view passions as things to be scorned and trodden under foot, whether their own or someone else's.

I believe that God could not be considered extremist under any circumstances. Take any two characteristics that are polar opposites, those that appear to contradict one other, and there is some beautiful place that acknowledges a balance and reconciles the two. Justice and mercy, to introduce a prime example.

Is there a reconciliation to be found between overt carelessness and deathly rigidity in regards to one's passions?

One ancient American prophet counseled his son, "...and also see that ye bridle all your passions." the prophet Alma isn't saying to "let the dogs out" (whatever that means--I just know it has some extra connotation to it), nor to squash, smash, crush, exterminate, or extinguish our passions, either. And what a beautiful image the word "bridle" adds to the idea! Perhaps this passion thing has some use to it after all...

Would it be fair to add that we ought to seek to do with it as the Lord pleases? After all, if we were to bridle our passions as we would bridle a horse before going to battle, wouldn't it be self-defeating to ride out to fight for the wrong side of the conflict?

Now, these concepts are rife with applications and implications geared toward same-sex attraction. However, this is the story of the love affair I have had with a lady called Music, and the things we have accomplished in our short but all-too rewarding time together, as she is the one who taught me these things first.

I was considerably blessed to attend a junior high and high school that both had impressive music programs. Throughout those six years, I was thoroughly involved with the choral programs, which I enjoyed immensely and which taught me a great deal about musicianship. I was in my junior year in high school; it was December, and the elite choir that I pertained to was particularly busy, with a performance nearly every day of the week. There was another student in that choir by the name of Natalie Miller (I'm not afraid to use her actual name here) that was playing her instrument of choice alongside another choir. And to listen to her play! It was breathtaking without fail. In that particular instant, I thought to myself, "I want to be able to play like that one day."

Of course, I never thought it would ever be more than a hobby. I was given an early birthday present of an adult's manual to learning this instrument, and although my mom is quite versed in this instrument, I set about teaching myself. I made a considerable amount of progress in the next two years, but not so much that I didn't struggle with more than just the simplest of music.

Then I reported on my mission. The nature of the demographics in which I served meant my musical ability, albeit very limited by this time, was quite heavily relied on. I felt just a little inadequate, making quite a few mistakes when I was called upon to perform. Every Monday, our preparation day, I would be fortunate to be able to practice for two hours. So I would kneel and pray at the beginning of each practice session that the Lord would magnify my abilities and consecrate that time, that I might not drive away the Spirit when the need for me arose.

Over the course of many months, I began to see considerable progress from those practice sessions. At some point the thought occurred to me, "If I am advancing at this rate in just two hours a week or less...

"What would happen if I practiced forty hours a week?"

Then this mighty passion awoke inside of me. It made me feel like a dog kennel trying to contain a raging lion inside. This was no appetite I could sate in two hours a week, nor two hours a day. This voracious, newfound passion born inside of me wanted to practice for hours and hours and hours on end, for years. I found myself composing music in my head during personal study time, triggered by anything that made me think of practicing.

It was as clear to me as if God had appeared to me in person and told me:

My life's calling was to be a musician.

The difficult part came when I had to focus on the work at hand, restraining the desire that devoured me, for the remainder of my missionary service, which was more than year at that time. It was somewhat comical when I was asked by companions, members, and fellow missionaries what I had ambition to do, telling them that I had intended to do something I had practically no experience in doing.

It occurred to me that the Lord could have revealed this massive bombshell to me after I came home. I came to the conclusion that the timing was indicative of His trust in me--I had poured my entire heart and soul into learning the mission language (my favorite of them all), preaching the Gospel, working in harmony with my companions, and virtually everything else. And I continued to do so. I may have never had that revelation had I not worked to be so diligent, even in the years preceding my missionary service--I might be doing something entirely different by now.

Despite the overwhelming desire I felt to indulge in my newfound desire, I gave the people I served my all until the day I returned home.

Then the ever-constant practice ensued. I no longer had to contain the floodgates; the dam was allowed to burst. I was faced by so much doubt--extended family, close family, even my own--surrounding the essential impossibility of pursuing what they considered improbable, even had I possessed years more of experience. Over the first few months, I went through a great deal to uncover the answers. I eventually found a niche, and progressively made a living from there on, and I currently make a living this way.

This all has taught me a great deal. How God could trust Nephi, son of Helaman, with the sealing power. About the marvelous blessings that come when we follow Alma's admonition to his son Shiblon. And the depth of Nephi's (son of Lehi) experience when commanded to build a ship with no tools nor lumber on hand, an unfamiliar blueprint, and no prior experience. I feel like I've set sail on that very same ship, aimed for the promised land, notwithstanding I've still yet to complete the barge. Certainly there is a time, place, and manner in which the Lord wishes for us to put our talents to use.

Without doubt He knows best

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Joseph: Final Chapter

I hope this is the last of it.

So a few weeks ago, I mentioned the prompting that I had during General Conference, one that I resisted. Well, I gave in Wednesday of that week (the first Wednesday of October). I stopped by his aunt's house, which is not quite a block from where the Spanish branch meets. Joseph's car was nowhere to be seen, but I felt I should knock anyways. I talked to his aunt and her husband for a few minutes--really good people, those two. They confirmed a few things for me; first off, I wasn't going crazy. Apparently it's been particularly difficult on him since his best friend essentially fell off the face of the earth (i.e. got engaged and finally tied the knot at the end of last month), leaving him high and dry. There's any number of other things that could be behind their saying that things were rough for him. Second, it confirmed something vague that he had mentioned concerning a job other than his original one. They offered to tell him that I had stopped by, but I told them not to worry about it. I'd like him to reach out to me for a change.

That happened the following Sunday. He texted me to ask how I was doing (in other words, "why aren't you at Church?"). I told him that, honestly, I'd been going through a few things that had really messed me up inside (all of which was due to my feelings toward him and his failure to even just treat me as a friend, and my social failures in an attempt to compensate for that). When he didn't respond, I explained that I changed wards hopefully to help me to resolve that. He asked if it was helping. I responded. 

Then he told me that, in a few weeks, he was going to be moving back home until resuming school, and that he would be staying there during all of his future breaks from school--"So there's that", as he put it. Now consider that "home" for him is some thousand miles or so from here. 

Me: "So I guess I probably won't be seeing or hearing from you for a while, between work and your plans."

Joseph: "Well, I'm hoping to get a group of friends together one last time before then, Nothing's set, but I'll let you know what happens."

My feelings about this are mixed. It feels like he already left months ago. I was already beginning to think that it was such a loss that he decided to take a second job for what short time before he headed back to school in January. I almost wanted him to leave. I was tired of his charade of acting like he still regarded me as a friend.

This past week, while I was still reeling from the whole car situation I was in, I decided to e-mail a letter to myself, as if it was designated to him. In it, I explain my feelings for him, how all I've ever allowed myself to want is his friendship, how I've appreciated the time that he has indeed spent with me, both with and without company, and how I've suspected that he wasn't just accidentally giving me distance, that he's had motives for doing so. In it I explain why I share these things, and that I wanted to give him a way out--there was no need for him to keep pretending if it was simply too uncomfortable for him to be around me.

I've actually thought a great deal about printing it and leaving it for him. I've oscillated a lot, deciding that I would not show up if he did indeed invite me to some sort of get-together, or perhaps not even respond to the invitation. Maybe I would leave the letter behind after the fact. Maybe I would leave the frisbee I bought for his suggested weekly gatherings for Ultimate Frisbee as a memento to remember me by.

Last night I was reflecting. My birthday's next week, and I was considering whether or not I wanted to gather any friends. Then I remembered--Joseph had a birthday right before mine. For all I knew, it had already come and past.

So what did I do? Like a big dummy, I decided to text him.

I waited a few minutes--why, I don't know; if he ever bothers to message me back, it's not usually for a few hours. I went to bed, and woke up this morning to his response that his birthday was next Wednesday, making him a full two days older than me. I didn't him what he was doing, or invited myself to be involved. I simply asked him what I could get him.

First punch to the gut: "All I could ask for is your friendship." I sincerely doubt that he even cares for my friendship. He's just about lost it.

Second punch to the gut: "Actually, I'm going to be headed home today." Ouch. No get-together. No notice. I wouldn't even have known he was gone if I wasn't the one to text him just hours before he left. I told him I did have one thing I wanted to give him (i.e. the frisbee. I had no use for it, and it just makes me think of him).

Third punch to the gut: *three hours later* "Actually, I'm already on the road. I guess you can send it."

I'm fighting back the powerful urge to use expletives here.

"Well, I guess I'll see you around then. Or probably not."

Those last three words were the closest I ever came at expressing my anger and hurt at him. What person does that?! I was so hurt that I deleted the entire conversation. I made to delete his number from my phone as a contact. No sooner had I done that than did he have the nerve to send me this:

":( Hey, I'm sure we'll see each other. I really appreciate having you as a friend (:"

I deleted that too.

"Not if I can help it."

Of course, I only think that last line in retrospect. He was right to call me a friend--I was, in the truest sense. So hollow, however, were his words of appreciation. He could hardly grant me the time of day, and even then, it felt so much like discreet avoidance. He doesn't deserve to hear what I'm feeling. It would truly be like casting pearls before swine.

I'm so hurt and frustrated. I wish I could disappear. I can take a stab from a sharp blade. Those wounds heal much faster. Why, then, does he insist on striking me so deeply and repeatedly with the dullest of butter knives, with such ambiguity? What did I ever do to deserve being treated this way? Why did I have to ask him about his birthday? Why couldn't I just leave him alone and forget about him? Is this what I get for trying to be a true friend? Is this my curse for caring for others more than they care about me? I'm aching all over, and not just from doing loads of deadlifts and leg presses I did at the gym yesterday.

Some birthday present.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Masculinity: Something I Aspire To

As time goes on, I hope to share more and more about myself. I have been intentionally vague about certain things, as I haven’t, as of yet, decided if I would rather have a smaller amount of anonymity. I might do away completely with my pseudonym and the more distinct elements of my life that identify me specifically, but until then, I hope you wouldn’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to get to know me better. I don’t mind opening up on a more personal level, but my wide-eyed, innocent trust in humanity is quickly dying (insert sly remark about presidential election).

That said, things lately have got me thinking about masculinity. Very gratefully so, I have recently gotten into bodybuilding, which is something interesting, when you consider my stature, which is tall and relatively slight. I have never liked the idea of being weak or “skinny” but that is something I eventually resigned myself to in my formative years. Fast forward to my mission, when I started designating time toward exercise every day, and have retained that habit ever since. I stopped seeing myself as someone who was physically weak, and as the years have passed, I have become increasingly enthusiastic about my workout goals.

Just a few months ago, I decided to invest in a testosterone boosting supplement, and subsequently a gym membership. I had virtually always stuck to bodyweight exercises that I did from home, but with a little extra supplementation, a lot of food, and the stress of performing the same exercises but now with twice my body weight, I have seen some palpable progress. Once I reached the age of an adult, my weight completely stagnated. My mom would tell me that for my height, I would be considered anorexic, although never for any lack of eating. The many members who fed me throughout my mission are what you would consider food enthusiasts, and a few looked at me and treated me as though it was their life’s goal to plump me up. They never really stood a chance though—I definitely held my own with what they dished out (which was absolutely delicious without fail), but never did my pants grow tighter. I did grow an inch, however.

Now, on the other hand, I have gained a solid twelve pounds that I never had before, which is nothing less than a miracle. If for no other reason, I’d like to share a few of my goals here, so you folks can help me to stay accountable. Percentages are in relationship to my body weight, which is 100% now just as much as 100% will be my future weight at the time I reach these goals:

Squat: 90% --> 133%
Deadlift: 100% --> 150%
Bench Press: ?% --> 100%
Pull-Ups (Consecutive): 6 --> 20
Side-Splits (Degrees): 165 --> 200
Center Splits (Degrees): 150 --> 180

I am particularly grateful for my timing to take interest in bodybuilding when I have. It has been one of my more effective coping mechanisms when emotionally handling the whole Joseph situation (which I need to write another update for), and it has proven to me again the power that simply taking care of our bodies can carry into the rest of our lives. My motivation for my business and my progress within it have increased dramatically, I feel more self-confident, my negative feelings towards things out of my control diminish, and I feel more like a man.

Let me elaborate more on that last point. I’ve discovered in the last year of me coming out that one of my biggest pet peeves is when someone infers that a) they suspected all along that I was gay, or b) they consider me flamboyant.

News flash for those people: I’m not flamboyant!

Now, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with being flamboyant, but by my own preference, it is a quality that makes me uneasy and that I don’t associate with at all, even if I have at times. The only feminine qualities that I ever want to identify with are the ones that every guy could use a healthy dose of. Considering the other half of my pet peeve, one of the highest compliments you could pay me is that you would never have guessed that I was gay. Not because there is anything wrong at all about being gay, but because I don’t consider any of the outward signals and indications of being gay as having been assimilated into my personality.

As for what I think of masculinity, I think of a few traits. I think all men should be courageous, honest, trustworthy, worthy of emulation, deliberate, respectful, dependable, strong-willed, determined, motivated, putting God’s will before his own, seeking to be worthy of the Priesthood, etc. I also thing a man should take good care of himself, as he is able, and I would also side with the bumper sticker that “real men follow Jesus”, the Man among men, and that besides, he ought to do his best to live true to his own personal values and to the values that until just recently have been qualities taught in society as being worthy of admiration.

On the other hand, I think every guy could learn a thing or two from some of the many qualities that are traditionally associated with women: being kind, caring, considerate, loving, patient, intelligent (don’t argue with me on this one), creative, nurturing, selfless, spiritual, appropriately affectionate, etc. Perhaps there are indeed qualities that each sex is naturally predisposed to, but then again, I believe there is consequently much that we can learn from each one. Maybe that’s why I feel strongly about homes with both a mother and a father. Perhaps we stand to gain much if we, as a society, didn’t polarize and stereotype the positive aspects of each gender, and emulated the good qualities of those around us.

Now, I mentioned earlier how I consider Christ to be the Man. I love how He held no preconceived notions of what kind of person He ought to be. He didn’t rely on the judgement of those around Him; instead, He eschewed earthly opinions and demonstrated every quality and characteristic worth having. I think what I am trying to get at is that a real man is full of charity, or at least actively aspires to it. One of the most manly men who ever lived once said, “For without charity ye are nothing.” I couldn’t say it any better.

So if someone tells you to “be a man”, I hope you’ll think twice about what that ought to mean.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Welcome to My Madness

So, on Wednesday I get up really early--I practice a bit and head to the gym and finish with time and to spare to attend to my business. But I notice my car was making some strange noises on the road while on my way to the gym, and they persisted afterward. I started praying that whatever was making that noise would remain intact until I was finished for the day, as my only three appointments were unusually close together so I might accommodate a new stop. As the noise worsened, I just prayed I would get to my first stop in one piece. Needless to say, I had a tire that completely exploded beyond any hope of resurrection.

Of course I, like the smart guy I am, forgot what I had learned exactly a month before when my other rear tire went flat on my way to my first appointment on that day, and I wanted to put my spare tire on:

My spare tire kit is missing a lug/star wrench.

I panicked as I went through the options that would most quickly put a lug wrench in my hands, as to not completely offset my entire day. I can't tell you how happy I was to see the highway patrol for a change.

As soon as I could catch my breath later that day, the first thing I do is by a lug wrench for (knock on wood) the next time one of my tires decides to spontaneously combust. As my car was getting fitted with another tire and I donated plasma, I was talking to one of the phlebotomists as she poked one of my fingers (my favorite part...not really). I incurred the "knock on wood" countercurse again when I told her, "At least it wasn't my car."


Remind me not to do that again.

The next day was a great one. I had six total stops. At one place I was given a gift card with a note thanking me for all I did for the residents there. I had enough time to spend my break at lunchtime to write most of what will probably be my next post on the grounds of the local Temple, located conveniently between my morning and afternoon business.

Thursday was a beautiful day.


Fast forward to the end of my day. I'm not quite even a mile away from home, yet traffic slows to a complete halt, like it's wont to do on that 35-mph street during rush hour, which I conveniently avoid most of the time.


And for good reason.

This is the equivalent of my Friday this week, as I have no urgent business on my actual Friday, I don't schedule myself on weekends, nor on Mondays or Tuesdays. I'm looking forward to a long weekend of practice to prepare a series of projects I hope to present in November.

Then, I look in the rearview mirror...

Just in time to see a red truck approaching...

Much faster than someone who's trying to stop...

He swerves hard to the left, but not in time. He hits me, pushes me into the car in front of me...

And that one into two more cars.

***Congratulations, Aaron! You just survived your first car accident!!!***

Irony is a funny thing. This guy just so happened to work at the place that I had gone to the day before to have my tire replaced.

Poor kid. Four cars he had involved, and not a lick of insurance.

You should have seen the cute decal on the back of his truck: "F%*# off", it said.

I was still in mint condition, save for some minute soreness in the right side of my neck that surfaced the next day. I was laughing and joking with the other drivers and the insurance guy. I was largely concerned about the offending driver, who was all but in a panic. I drove without insurance for a little while when I was driving my first car, so I could imagine how I would feel...very vividly.

The last two cars drove away with hardly so much as a bump. The SUV in front of me was built like a tank, taking very minimal damage considering the force with which I was shoved into it. It drove away, sporting as a memento my Toyota insignia in her bumper.

The truck was ultimately impounded.

And my poor Cammie...She's now a Camry sandwich.

The back was still intact, but the front looked like I was pushed into a boulder--beyond salvation.

After some help from my mom, we unloaded almost all the contents of my (messy) car into her car, all of which now litter my bedroom. I was debating whether or not to practice after all. In the end, resorted to brownies (not a good choice for my stomach) and one of my most oft-visited vices: video game binge-ing (Why, Sans? Just why?).

I don't mind tough things happening to me in life, but I wish I could have a larger gap of time to allow me to get the ground beneath me--and keep it there for a few months--before I'm swept off my feet again. Maybe I'd actually stay standing.

My frustration is admittedly recoupled by the social thing again. Last Sunday a few people from the singles' ward actually reached out to me, including Joseph (that's something for another post) and my now-former home teachers, who finally took me up on my offer to have a guy's night which they suggested we have on Wednesday. One of them wasn't going to make it, so they rescheduled for Friday, when I really could have used some time to get my mind off of things.

Then the other wasn't going to make it.

I finally turned down their offer for Saturday. It was this sort of thing that motivated me to leave the singles' ward in the first place--what's a friend that you can't depend on?

This isn't meant to be a pity party--just me narrating my life's events, in an effort to explain why I'm where I am. I want this to be more of an invitation; I updated my profile just before I made this entry, which I plan to progressively update as I choose to share and reveal more about myself. My e-mail for this blog can be accessed there. This is an open invitation if you would like to do or say anything to cheer me up (anything but the old "just keep going--things will get better". I know that (*smiley face*)). I could use some cheering up, or something to look forward to.

Oh, did I mention my younger brother rode my mission bike to work yesterday and got it stolen?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

An Unfollowed Impression

I enjoy General Conference. I feel that if there are any men a solid two generations older than I am that know what they're talking about, the General Authorities would fall into that category.

After the Sunday morning session, I went to my friend Linda's house to watch the final session. Linda is a Catholic lady from New Mexico that I met when going on splits with the missionaries that pertain to my home stake. She had the TV on a channel that was two hours late, playing the end of the morning session before the afternoon session was scheduled to start. President Eyring was speaking.

For some reason something he said caught my attention on the second listening. I'll confess that it's hard for me to listen to President Eyring--maybe I just can't keep up with his train of thought. But when he admonished to reach out to those who felt lonely, a distinct thought came to mind:

Reach out to Joseph.

Ugh! That's the last thing I want to do right now!

That's also the very first thing I want to do right now!

But I'm tired of our one-way friendship. I'm tired of never hearing from him unless we visibly see each other. I'm tired of having to keep moving my pawns because my opponent won't get off the john.

I want him to reach out to me for once.

Then my frustration at my social failures hit me again with some great force. I don't want to think about him every single day. I want to move on. But the emotional state that throws me into makes it difficult to find motivation to do anything other than waste away in front of mind-numbing video games, like I have for the last two days.

I feel horrible after reactivating my dormant addiction to video games. The remark of another blogger that "the antithesis of addiction is connection" has really resonated with me, and explains the psychology of my thought process over the past year. But that connection is a tricky critter to find.

Long story short, I went home before I could change my mind that Sunday afternoon. That impression I received that "Joseph does not need your space" keeps ringing in my head. But I can't help but wonder if I'm imagining things. My intuition has been spot on where he's concerned in some instances, yet in others, I am left empty handed with unanswered questions of what could have been if he had just reciprocated the I-just-want-to-be-friends side of my interest in him. Overall, I'm prepared for the very real possibility that I may simply never hear from him again if I stop making the effort.

I just hope it doesn't take an eternity for me to stop thinking about him every single day.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The First Presidency: "The Savior Is Here Among Us!"

Ahh! I love talking about controversial topics! Don't you?

So if I'm going to do this right, why don't I start off with a really controversial statement?:

I believe the First Presidency was inspired by God as they ratified last November's policy changes.

Whew! Glad I got that out there! I haven't been eaten alive yet for saying that either, so life is good!

But in all seriousness, the Spirit has witnessed to me that is the case. In the months following the "scandal" the media created of the policy changes, I have read various articles presenting different viewpoints, and although my initial reaction was that of confusion, I have been blessed with understanding.

First of all, I have always understood that to adopt a lifestyle contrary to the revealed commandments as understood by every member of the Church is considered to be apostasy. Even though one might not be openly rebellious against the Church, its doctrines and teachings, broken covenants are the first evidences of apostasy, even when influenced by very powerful carnal desires. I think we would do well to disassociate the overwhelmingly negative connotation we so often associate with terms like "apostasy" or "apostate", though. It simply is what it is.

Secondly, in addition to what has been said about the new policy concerning children reared in the homes of same-sex couples, that is, that the policy protects the children from the obligation to choose between their guardians' lifestyle and the Church and the resulting dissension, I would also assert that the policy effectively makes the statement that a home of a family led by two men or of two women in any sort of sexual relationship is a place unfit for children. Considering how impressionable they are, children need both the qualities of a nurturing mother and a providing father. As sex is something God has ordained only to take place between a married man and woman, I find it unfair to expose un-consenting, innocent children to the false notion that sexual intimacy is simply a matter of preference, or a relationship that has that as one of its primary premises. This I say while fully acknowledging that, within myself someplace or another, both the idea of raising children and having such a relationship with another man each have a considerable appeal, but obviously to varying degrees.

Finally, what I love so much about the organization of the Church is that, with Christ as its chief cornerstone, the ideal that each case should be observed while following the Spirit is foremost. I say "ideal" because there obviously will be/are cases when some ecclesiastical leaders may view circumstances through the lens of their own ignorance or cultural stigmas rather than with an eye single to the Lord's will. In all due fairness, however, that is bound to happen in any group of flawed, mortal beings, no matter how good they tend to be, especially when looking at an organization as vast as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But with good judgement, proper discretion, and spiritual discernment, Church authority figures may sort out cases that may be an exception to the general rule the policy establishes.

I think, all in all, the fact that the policy was considered a necessary precaution by the inspired leaders of the Church indicates that if it is necessary now, the Church would be in dire straits in the years to come without that countermeasure.

I'm also absolutely certain, given the emotionally sensitive nature of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, that there were many tears shed, when considering the heartache that some members would experience, as well as relatives and the children who who be barred from baptism and Church participation. Without a doubt they were able to foresee the difficulties that would arise as a consequence. But, I opine that, even though there are times when the Lord has to be gruff, or policies do, it isn't due to a lack of love. Actually, very often there is an outpouring of love toward those who are reprimanded. Just as I am capable of having a very staunch, firm position on these issues, while also loving the individuals affected from the bottom of my heart and having every desire to help them in any difficulties they may face.

I want to finish my feelings here by saying that I know, just as the sun shines in the afternoon sky, that this is a Church led by a living prophet of God and other seers and revelators. Although there was no doubt in my mind about this, I had a revelatory dream a few months ago. Now, I am extremely hesitant to share something like this in a public fashion, as it is something that I regard as rare and sacred. I hope you can regard this dream in the same spirit that I have:

I immediately find myself somewhere that is very reminiscent of the Orlando Temple grounds, the most beautiful of any Temple grounds I've been on. It seems to be twilight, and there's this thickness in the air that appears to be the presence of the Spirit, but in greater abundance than I have ever felt even within the Temple walls. I have interpreted this, in hindsight, to be a representation of spirit paradise.

What is of particular interest are the people I notice about in this courtyard. Although not a large crowd, there are maybe around two dozen people, all dressed in white, most of which I do not recognize. They have this glow, the sort of white radiance I would typically associate with celestial beings.

Whereas I have not met any of the individuals round about in person, I make out the unmistakable identities of the First Presidency, who are, at the time, Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring, and Dieter F. Uchtdorf. I notice at one point that they are standing in a loose semicircle, in an attitude not unlike that of a Priesthood blessing. My mind computes this as the performance of an ordinance.

Perhaps more interesting still are the images that appear behind each of the First Presidency--transparent, statuesque images of very large feet are clearly visible as a backdrop behind the three. And not just any feet; they are clearly distinguished by puncture marks that could only have been made by nails.

After some time, the small crowd disperses. I have observed all of this from a fountain nearby. And who approaches me other than Dieter F. Uchtdorf himself? This is perhaps the coolest part of my dream. I mean, who doesn't love President Uchtdorf?


He casually asks me what I have thought of this all. I remark that I had never noticed the images of the Savior's feet behind them before (as if that was something I commonly observed). His response:

"The Savior is here among us!"

There is a profoundness to his exclamation (what else have we come to expect from President Uchtdorf?) as one considers the figurative meaning behind his words. But beyond interpretation, he speaks literally as well. In my time on these hallowed grounds, I have caught glimpses of whom I have thought to be Christ Himself, but for one reason or another, I have not seen Him directly.

President Uchtdorf then asks me what I think of all these things, in a way that reminds me very powerfully of Nephi's dream. I spoke aloud the two main observations that I had made: 1) that these men were standing where the Savior had stood, and 2) that every ordinance that they performed, everything they did in virtue of their calling, was as if the Lord Jesus Christ did it Himself.

He then smiles at me, seemingly pleased with my response. And then the dream fades.

It has occurred to me during the time that I have used various gay dating apps as a platform for making friends that, for those who live lives steeped in agnosticism and skepticism, it is impossible for them to comprehend what it is like to have spiritual truth indelibly engraved upon one's soul as knowledge. As difficult as it is to grasp something that one has never experienced before, especially if that something is of a very sacred, spiritual nature, that difficulty is redoubled by apathy towards such eternal truth, either in heart or in deed. You may indeed find these things to be painful, but they are what the Spirit has manifested to me.

As for my testimony of the identity of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve as prophets, seers, and revelators, my knowledge is absolute.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"I Just Need Somebody to Lean On"

This is a follow-up to "Time for Transfers". I'm delving into my mind and heart for a moment.

I need closure, which is an elusive thing. My feelings towards Joseph have threatened me with insanity. My repeated failures to address those feelings in the most appropriate of ways (befriending him and finding others like him) has only fueled that fire of chaos. Even the best of the guys I have interacted with on the two gay-dating apps and the website that I tried either a) lived very far away (7%), or b) still had tainted desires (93%). The last of those conversations was with a guy I had actually known in person (NOT in the Biblical sense, mind you.). I thought that might lay the groundwork for a friendship, but when I bluntly refused to send pictures of any "bulges" that belonged to me (nor anything more revealing), he got mad at me and accused me of being manipulative.

Needless to say, those have all been deleted.

I do have to give them some credit though--I had some really deep conversations with those guys, even if they were all short-lived.

That's more than I can say about most of the Latter-day Saints I have reached out to.

But I will also say that my fellow faithful Mormon friends have never wanted me to take my pants off.

Earlier today, I also scheduled to have my Facebook account deleted (because heaven forbid that I should do it in an instant). It has proven to get me absolutely nowhere in my efforts to connect with others in meaningful ways, and as the amount of uplifting, informative content has become harder and harder to come by (actually managing to fuel my feelings of depression rather than suppressing them), I realized I was right in the first place that my life was truly better without social media. My only tie is the page for my business, which my dear mother has consented to allow me to manage through her account.

I had considered posting an explanation as to my leave, as I had thought to do with my ward.

But there definitely wouldn't be anyone who would care. I'm tired of exposing my raw feelings to the Levite priests who keep walking right on past me.

So I've left the apps. Facebook will be a thing of the past. Any semblance of a community I had with my last ward is surely being left behind.

What am I left with?

Why is it so difficult to find friends you can mutually depend on? Why is it so taboo to have people you can share your deepest longings with? Why is platonic friendship with other men almost equally frowned upon by both the liberal and the conservative sides of our society? Why can't we all just decide to take a page out of the women's' book and just set aside some guy time for ourselves every once in a while? Why do us guys have to look over our shoulders and worry about other people thinking we're gay just because we're with another guy in public?

Why can't other gay guys simply respect someone like me for wanting to stay true to my values while also being a friend to them? Why can't they have enough self-control of their reproductive organs to be around someone like me for two hours while they can do whatever they please for the other 166 hours of the week? Why do they act like I am a threat to their very existence just because I don't follow every single lust and craving my body has?

What went wrong with our society?

I've decided, in the rare chance that I ever hear from him again, that I will tell Joseph of my feelings for him, and give him an out if he wants it. I have serious doubts if our friendship can survive that. Then again, I am beginning to wonder if "friendship" is the right word. I can't handle the inconsistency. If he wants to keep his distance, he should. If my first impressions of his virtue are correct, then he should be able to handle it, and the space caused by my transfer of wards shouldn't be a problem. By removing the possibility of casually bumping into him on a regular basis, I am giving him the freedom to make a decision unaffected by the potential awkwardness that would ensue if I was around still. Also, such an explanation would offer clarity to my actions, while allowing me to explain that, notwithstanding my very intense feelings toward him, I have been able to put them aside enough as not to be blinded, and that my intentions are pure. I truly love him. I care about him and want him to be happy, and I can say that as a friend, without ulterior motives.

But what am I saying? Is there really that much of a chance that I'll even hear from him?

Maybe not. But the hopeful side of me is obviously a glutton for punishment.

I really want to move on, either way.

Now would be a good time to break the fourth wall.

Yes, I'm speaking to you, on the other side of the screen. You know well by now what I look for as I reach out to others. I want a friendship that has more meaning then accepting a request on a social media site. I don't mind having good, honest fun, but I also want to talk about life and the things that really matter, to me and to you. I am in search of the profound in a sea of shallowness, looking, ever looking for the kind of persons whose company is a respite to my painful loneliness. I will not judge you, no matter what your life may look like. I simply ask that I may receive the same courtesy.

Reach out to my reaching. Who knows, we might just live closer to each other than you think.

Send me an e-mail.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Time for Transfers

Just a warning here--one of the primary reasons I started this blog was as an additional coping mechanism to deal with some of my trials. Today, I feel a bit of a rant coming on.

You have been warned.

But first, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am an introvert through and through. Although I can operate very well as an extrovert in some ways (I love public speaking, teaching, and sharing my thoughts in classroom settings, etc.), reaching out to other people is very challenging to me.

No, wait. That doesn't quite sum it up. Let's see if I can explain better.

When I reach out to someone else, hoping to form a deeper bond with them, I literally feel like I am carving a piece of my soul out and putting it on a platter, just hoping someone--often a particular someone or two--will accept my offering. What some people do casually, I do with extreme deliberateness. Although I have wanted to have trust in mankind, and particularly in men, painful experience has led me not to trust others. My mother's ex-husband is the sort that I would rather open up to a homeless person on the street before I ever trust him again. My older brother recently caused a falling out that virtually punished me more than anyone else, and with absolutely no provocation. The last time I had what I would consider to be a best friend (junior high school), our friendship ended when I started noticing that money had gone missing throughout the house.

And so now, as a full-grown adult, I try my hand again to see if there are indeed other dependable people out there.

Boy, am I disappointed to what has become of our culture.

This past Tuesday: considering that I had scarcely seen or heard from Joseph lately, I figured that, perhaps if I texted him earlier in the day when he would theoretically be less busy, I might successfully spend some time with him and the other guys we used to hang out with. I do this with much trepidation and hesitancy--I don't want to bother him.

But then I think to myself, "If he's truly my friend, this shouldn't bother him."

Do you think I ever heard from him? No?

Maybe you're catching on to things. I'd like to think I am.

That didn't settle well with me the rest of the day. So I think to myself, "Hmm...tomorrow I have most of the day to myself. I should arrange for a game night at my place and invite the ward on the ward page."

So I go about doing that. My lethal mistake? Having that much faith in Facebook.

It absolutely baffles how fickle a thing social media is. It favors those who are popular, and shuns those that aren't. It avoids the profound while avidly pursuing the superficial.

But what am I saying? That is the curse our society bears as a whole.

Wednesday: so I get done with my necessary business of the day. In the hours preceding the appointed time, I go through the house and straighten everything up. Gosh, I even cleaned the litter box in the first time for months, since little Sunset usually goes outside.

It's 6:57. I don't expect hordes to show up at seven. My greatest hope is for two or three people to come--my post did get a few likes, after all. Hopefully if I keep my expectations low enough, I won't be too terribly disappointed. I start watching a bit of anime to keep me from becoming too antsy.

7:03 comes and passes.





It's eight o'clock.

Not a soul showed up.

No one texted me to say they were on their way.


It was then that something snapped inside of me. I wanted to cry. I wanted to vanish. I felt completely humiliated, putting such a vulnerable part of me out there just to be totally ignored and rejected.

I finally decided I have had enough of going through this in this ward. Perhaps I might have just shrugged it off had it not been the third, fourth or fifth time this had happened. But the message was clear: if I was to make an effort to become friends with people that wouldn't give me the cold shoulder, it wasn't going to be in this ward.

So I've decided to start attending the local Spanish ward, starting a week from now. They do speak the Celestial language, after all.

I have had some misgivings. I thought to myself before I started writing, "Well, this is something that is wrong with our society and culture at large. It wouldn't be fair for me to chalk it up to my ward having its own problems."

But then I realized that Rachel So-and-so, Joseph, David This-or-that, and others have done exactly the same thing I did, but with abundant success.

It's not like nobody in the ward knows me. I have had quite a few at my house in the past. I haven't missed more than a composite two or three meetings out of the block in the whole 2-1/2+ years I have been attending the singles' ward. I have held a number of different callings, all of which I have fulfilled to the best of my ability, and I participate significantly in every classroom discussion that I am present for.

I have thought for some time that I simply have a difficult time relating to others my age. But I am starting to think much differently.

Other people my age have a difficult time relating to me.

Why? I am indeed an old soul. I see things differently than others. But I really don't know. Is it because I eat food all the time? Because I don't go to school? Having an unusual career? Intimidating others with the variety of talents I have?

Being gay?

Friday: after the business of Thursday, I followed up in my efforts to talk to the bishop. I knew if nothing else, he deserved an explanation, considering that mine wasn't a calling that would be easily replaced. That, and I really wanted someone to talk to--this whole situation has deeply bothered me, and I thought it would be very therapeutic to sort out my emotions-gone-haywire with someone. I've always had a lot of respect for my bishop.

But he didn't really seem interested in talking with me. I was kind of expecting some sort of attempt to talk me into staying, but it seemed a higher priority to make sure the key I held to the chapel (pertaining to my calling) was returned. I decided to believe he was busy and, being preoccupied with other things, didn't think through our text exchange...

Today (Sunday): I am still in a bit of a bad mood after everything earlier in the week, but I still wake up early and diligently practice the musical number I was scheduled to play during Sacrament meeting. In Elders' Quorum, one of the counselors in the bishopric sat down next to me, and we had a hushed conversation while he casually asked me what was going on and tried to make me feel a little bad for leaving in a good-hearted way, which I appreciate. He also told me that the bishop was planning to release me today.

Whoa! I didn't want to make a scene in Sacrament meeting. I was already drawing attention to myself with a musical number. I tactfully requested that I be released next week.

Sacrament meeting: of course the first thing I do is look for a certain someone and, sure enough, even though there was no sign of him during the first two meetings, Joseph was sitting in a pew by himself. I didn't approach him.

I'll admit that I feel a bit of frustration when I see fellow ward members who are getting married. And here I am hardly knowing thing one about platonic relationships, let alone marriage! My final contribution to this ward is sandwiched between two engaged couples.

Before the Sacrament is administered, my bishop announces that there's an item of ward business. My stomach clenches for a moment. Didn't Brother Such-and-such talk to him? I think to myself.

Yes, he did. The item of ward business? The vacancy that my departure would leave was already filled.

It wasn't even 48 hours ago that I told him my intentions. I thought he would at least wait a week, at least talk to me in person.

I know this isn't what he had intended, but I was left feeling very much discarded, disposable, replaceable.


I will admit that my performance wasn't the best that I have done. My hands shook, and my mood made it a challenge, but I still did a good job. But although I didn't immediately dash out the door, I received no comment. No one told me I did a good job. It wouldn't have hurt so much if I wasn't already ultra-sensitive, but in this case, it was the final indicator:

I didn't belong in this ward anymore.

So I left. Who knows if I will ever step foot in that building again?

I have begun to seriously reflect if this is all an orchestration of the Lord's doing. Nothing short of this would cause me to consider attending another ward, so I wonder if it was meant to be that I started attending the local Spanish ward. Perhaps there is someone I'm destined to meet, some need I'm designed to fulfill. I can say that I am very much looking forward to revisiting the hispanic culture that I love.

I'm also curious to see what comes of those I will no longer see each week. I had had every intention of making a post on the ward's Facebook page, but then again, I realized that not many would care too deeply. Some, definitely. I know who they are. But not many. As I will for all intents and purposes vanish without a trace, some will think I am on my way out of the Church; some may conjecture that I have gone to live a life of debauchery and lasciviousness.

Ha! The idea makes me laugh! I will see if anyone so gravely misunderstood me as to think that.

I will see also if any of the connections I have indeed managed to make will survive. One girl I share a number of interests with seems to be a true friend. But I have come to realize that I very well may never see or hear from Joseph again. The test will be next Sunday, at approximately 11:20, when I will suddenly be released from the last of a number of callings, only for there not to be a trace of me to be found.

Will that elicit any responses, anyone reaching out? Maybe.

But probably not.

I really do hope I'm wrong.

But I'm probably not.

I guess I'll be trying my hand at the Spanish ward from hereon out.