Thursday, December 6, 2007

A short stack of snowflakes

Yesterday we had the first snowfall of the year here in good ol' Lunchbag. It was beautiful. The flakes were HUGE and fluffy and cottony and made me start singing songs from White Christmas. It looked like snow I had seen in Utah; God took the lint out of the celestial drier and sprinkled it all over my city.

Usually we get sleety snow here in the more humid climes, but these looked so good they looked fake. I think a marketing firm is behind it all. They got together to make "Snow the Way Snow Should Look!"

Luckily it didn't stick around. Like pancake crumbs descending through syrup, snow is beautiful when it's falling. But once it's been lying in the streets for a few weeks it's just as attractive as a group of pancakes after my niece Sadie gets to them: all sticky and messy and nothing but a problem. Oh the humanity!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Brother Yossarian's Lament

I recently saw The Stripping Warrior in a Youtube clip where he talks about the dilemma that all gay mormons face (at least the Kinsey 5ers and 6ers). Here, in easy to read bullet format, is the theory part of the prob:
  1. Mormon theology and culture state that to be happy/attain the highest glory in the Celestial Kingdom, one must be married. (Guys, you can have as many wives as you want as long as you're the only one with a penis!)
  2. Also to be happy you must be a practicing member of the Church, hopefully with a valid temple recommend. To stay and strive is to be happy- to leave is to be unhappy.
  3. Gay members of the Church (who were once counseled to get therapy and go ahead and get married) should be aware that therapy and marriage will not make you straight.
Most mormons would agree with the above statements. In practical terms this means:
  1. Gay mormons must stay in the Church and not act on their attractions to the same sex. Acting on your attractions is not just having sex with a man.
    • It goes much further than that: "It is not helpful to flaunt homosexual tendencies or make them the subject of unnecessary observation or discussion. It is better to choose as friends those who do not publicly display their homosexual feelings." (recently released pamphlet entitled "God Loveth His Children").
    • In other words don't be gay, act gay or seem like you might be gay. Cause really you're not GAY, you're just.... ummmm.... afflicted with same-gender attraction. Like a handicap or a disease. Yep, just like that. So please keep it down.
  2. Stay celibate. Be alone.
    • And lets be honest here, you can be inundated with close friends and relatives and be a busy little bee all the time yet still feel isolated and alone. I have been told by several priesthood leaders to be careful of getting too emotionally close to other men, especially those that I might suspect as being gay. (Do all straight people believe that gaydar actually exists?)
  3. For the love of God don't tell anybody you're gay!
    • You'll never be able to marry because if people know you're gay and you try to date a girl with the intention of marriage you will be dogpiled by people concerned with the well-being of the girl. And with good reason. Or as The Stripping Warrior succiently put it, "Who are you to sacrifice this wonderful girl on the altar of your homosexuality?"
  4. You're fine!
    • That aching you feel, deep in your chest, that makes you sob at times, just ignore it. Oh. It's getting stronger? Um....
    • "Fill your spiritual garden with good seed... participate actively in the Church" (same pamphlet as above).You're already doing that you say? Hmmmmm...
    • "Partak[e] of the sacrament, [sing] the hymns of Zion, and [listen] to uplifting talks." Oh. That kind of advice belittles your situation cause you're already doing that too and it seems like whistling in the dark? Well then,
    • "Visit with your bishop and other priesthood leaders who hold the keys of inspired counsel for the members of your local Church unit." I'm sure they won't just give you the same ineffective advice that we've already given you.
    • Don't worry, following all of this counsel WILL help! Have faith! 20 years of fighting and never giving in to those feelings but not getting any results isn't all that long. That aching won't get stronger. It won't keep you up at night. You won't feel like you're starting to go crazy. You're happy! Everything will be fixed in the next life...Why in the world would you try to kill yourself? That just doesn't make sense. Life is wonderful! You're not sad. You're a member of the Church in good standing with a valid temple recommend! You've done everything we told you to do! Smile! Be happy! Now, have you done your home teaching for this month? Remember, there are people out there that need help!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanks so much!

Things I'm thankful for:

  1. My crazy, loud, weird family. Being around us is a bit much for most people and to be honest being a member of this family is a bit much for us at times.
  2. Being out to my crazy, loud, weird family. I feel so much more comfortable with them. I can be myself.
  3. That Thanksgiving dinner has tons of dishes other than turkey. I don't like turkey so I eat everything but. I'm the person that eats all of the brussel sprouts so your aunt thinks it was really popular and brings it every year even though no one else likes them. Yep. I'm THAT person.
  4. Naps.
  5. The internet. I've learned so many things being online. The most important one being that I'm not alone. Thanks mohos!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Kiss from Erato

The Returned Missionary's Prayer

God, gird my loins to have sex with a woman.
Bless me with lusting heat for the daughter of Eve's tits.
Let my dick ooze for the desire of penetration.

Give me the strength to kiss her without thinking of the naked boys in the locker room as steam rises from their chests, their shoulders, their backs, nipples firm and hard asses with meaty necks framing velveteen lips and deep-pooled eyes.

Oh God, please let me want to jump her bones and mean it.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Brother 1, Jake 0

I've been writing a lot in the last week or so and it's been really fun. One of the things I've discovered is that half of the words I write are either unnecessary or unusable or just don't make sense. But I don't feel any futility from chucking all that chaff. In fact it makes me feel energized just to get pen to paper (uh, i mean fingers to keys).

I'm liking my new job. The people are great and fun. And since employees of the college can take courses during the work day I'm going to be able to get my Master's degree for freakin free!

My bro just saw Nickel Creek in Virginia Beach so I'm green through and through. But it'll be ok. The Polyphonic Spree are gonna be in North Carolina next week and I'm gonna go. So it makes us even. Unless he decides to come with. GRRRRRR... Then he'd still be ahead. How funny that weren't competitive when we were kids but now I'm keeping tally of concerts. I need something to distract me from this. Hmmmmm..... what could possibly fill the void?? How bout a boyfriend! Sounds good to me. I'll get right on that.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Monkey see, monkey do

Family Blend is one of the best blogs. It always makes me smile and occasionally teary-eyed. The blogeurs (you know, like auteurs, bloggers with style!) are a couple of well-adjusted, handsome, loving gay men that cope with their lives (children, exes, Mormon families, friends) with honesty and humor. I seriously look up to these guys. They are what I want to someday be. I only wish that I had role models like this when I was coming to terms with my sexuality.

I know things would have been much easier knowing that there were gay mormons (ex and otherwise) in healthy, loving relationships. Of course the only role models I had were those "gay" mormons who lived by themselves and seemed lonely. You never knew if they were gay or not cause that isn't talked about and you never knew about the, as they call them now, "mixed-orientation" marriages. So once I realized that I would never be able to marry a woman honestly, I had the Sheri Dew lifestyle to look forward to. That really was it. No one else to see and emulate. I was scared shitless.

Of course I know better now. I've experienced how love shared with a man can make me feel whole and good and not dirty and unhappy(although being in your 30's when you realize it is a bit late in my estimation) . I just wish that I had been able to see that earlier. There is a tendency among the members of the Church to feel that they have a monopoly on happiness. The gospel is where TRUE happiness (whatever that means) is found and those people who don't have the gospel and look happy aren't TRULY happy. It's a condescending attitude that most people in any group have I guess. And as a true believer I shared this worldview.

My folks always say that they just want me to be happy. Which is not as simple as it sounds because from Mormon parents the subtext of happy is "living the gospel". There's the disconnect. For me to be happy is to live in a state which my family considers the opposite of happiness. And when it seems that I'm happy, well, I'm not TRULY happy in their eyes. Ah the joys of families.

I'm sure the Family Blend guys aren't supermen and I don't mean to put a pedestal under them. I'm having a good enough time reveling in their ordinariness. I just want to warn them. I'm watching you, rooting for you, hoping every joy in life for you, cause every time you win I win too.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Doesn't everyone think they're a poet?

So I decided to start posting some of my writings on my blog. Why, you ask? Why to stroke my ego you know. Anyway, here's a sample!


As the taste of you traces its waltz from the tip to back of my tongue
and the feel of you replays its chords and arpeggios under my fingers,
a bit of your breath has lodged itself in a moist, hidden corner of my lungs
settling down, seeping in
becoming a bit of me.

What if your kindness, your sweetness were as contagious as the rest of you?

You, being you, would throw wide your arms seeding the world with spark and fulgor.
No war in Sudan, no drunken famine lulling babes to rest, no love ever lost
for you would have become like the gods,
omnipotent, all loving, everything to everyone,
removed, unattainable, fiery death to behold.

But in their knowing way, the gods bound you in restraining flesh
jealous with their golden thrones, timid of your spark
retaining their position by shackling you to death.

lying back, i cradle my head and send a whispered prayer to those covetous gods
and thank them for their misguided wisdom.

Heav'nbound you are owned by all- but Earthbound you are bound to me.

i breathe deep and feel that spark of you, that Part i breathed,
that bit of you,
as it slowly drips its way to my heart
becoming a bit of me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I heart Panera

Thanks to my parent's unbelievably slow internet connection I have spent much time at Panera Bread. They boast a fast wireless connection, great pastries and loads of cute college guys. Unfortunately, most are students from Liberty University (yes, THAT Liberty University- Jerry Falwell's university) but that's ok. Eye candy is still eye candy and for the price of a cup of coffee I can sit to my heart's content.

It's a warm, friendly environment that's given me the chance to look up grad programs, job opps, email and generally mess around on the web. So to make it official... I LOVE PANERA!

Had a good talk with my mom last night about the Church and being gay and such. I'm really lucky she's open to talk about this stuff. She said that it was nice having me around. I said that I'm always nice to have around and she stopped short and said that it didn't used to be that way. I was moody, mean and irrational. But no longer. I used to be that way because i hated myself, being gay, and therefore life in general. But since I've come to terms with it, I've been much nicer. Funny isn't it? Trying to be everything the Church wanted me to be made me mean, hard and bitter. Now that I don't care what the Church wants me to be I am kind, caring and emotionally stable. There's a moral there, but I hate morality tales so I'm leaving it alone.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Quest for the Holy Goal

Driving from my flexible strength class at the Y yesterday, my mum and I started talking about the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I'd finally convinced her to start reading it. It's an unforgettable story about Christopher McCandless who died at the age of 24 in the Alaskan wilderness. He grew up in the wealthy suburbs of DC and after graduating from Emory University, gave all his money away, changed his name and disappeared. During his travels he abandoned his car, burned all his money and tramped around. His body was eventually found in a school bus in the Alaskan wilds. (Look it up on Wikipedia for a better description or better yet get it and read it. It's very Thoreau, very Kerouac, very Jack London.)

This is what I told my mumsie to get her interested in the story. And of course her first question, anyone's first question after hearing this, was WHY? Why in the world would someone give up their life like that. Give away everything they had, even their name, and take off. And this is one of the few questions that Krakauer's book cannot answer. Obviously projecting, I said "Well, sometimes intelligent people can't take life. It's hard you know to have all these pressures to deal with AND be expected to make goals and be successful or what YOU think OTHERS think is successful. And when someone can't make them it all work or has too many conflicting pressures it is sometimes better to just cast it off. You know, a clean break, tabula rasa. Then you can go about figuring what life is all about for you. Sometimes I get that way cause I think WAY too much about it all. Ignorance is definitely bliss." My mom said, "Yes, ignorance can be bliss."

So I compared Chris McCandless' story to Krakauer's other well known book, Into Thin Air, about a tragic expedition up Mt. Everest. I told her that I admired people who had such a definite goal and the chutzpah to go after it. Mom said that she thought people like that (i.e. mountaineers, adventure seekers, Chris McCandless, etc) were essentially selfish people. "They weren't thinking about their families or anybody else. Just themselves. You wanna do something tough? Try living a simple life. That's a good life." I was a little taken aback from the heat that entered her voice. She was starting to sound angry. So the two questions ready to jump out of my mouth were left there, kneeling on the starting blocks. I wanted to ask: What if they didn't have families or anybody else? and Do you think that I'm not living a good life cause nothing is simple for me and I'll never have a family like yours? Honestly, I don't think I want her to answer those.

But the heat in her voice was transferred to me. I wanted to start yelling (very not me). I was mad about two things. One, that I thought I was over needing my parents' approval at my life and being gay. Now instead of wanting to do what they want, I was now afraid of what they thought of my choices. And that made me steaming.

And two, I wanted a goal and I didn't have one. Not like a "get a good job" goal or a "get in shape" goal. Those are easy. But a big, life consuming goal. My goals used to be the goals of the Church. Family, kids raised right, fulfilling callings, eternal reward sort of stuff. I'm an all-or-nothing sort of person. If I think something is worth doing I'll do it to the fullest. So I always threw myself into Church stuff with everything I had. Full-time mission that I extended 2 extra months; going to SVU cause I thought it would be in someway "building the kingdom of Zion"; doing everything right; and trying really really hard not to be gay. That was it. I had no other goals. Nothing else I yearned for. I didn't really have the energy for anything else. The don't-be-gay strife took too much effort and energy. I got good grades and stuff and every now and then I would see glimpses of things I was interested in but they were always eclipsed by my struggles. Anyway, what did it matter? I was on the Lord's side. I was fighting the good fight. I would be rewarded in the Celestial Kingdom where I would be eternally happy. Wasn't that worth some unhappiness here?

So now I don't have those Church goals. I don't want to have the Church telling me what I should want. Because what they want from me is too confusing. "If you're gay get married, no don't get married live a celibate and lonely life, but try to not be gay, cause you can change, well some can, maybe, or maybe not". (read between the lines of what the Church says about gays and it screams we-have-no-idea-what-do-with-you-people all over it) And so now I don't know what I want. I had severely confused myself. I had tried to fit into my community of Saints so much that I didn't know who I was anymore. I had so often heard the phrase "Fake it till you make it". It was my mantra, my war cry, my prayer. If I acted the part, I would eventually be it. I analyzed and adapted everything I said and did so I would fit in. Not only was I trying to stop being gay and just be a regular Peter Priesthood, I was making sure nothing would slip identifying me as gay. It was exhausting. And now all this effort had been for nothing. Now that I have accepted my queerness I am now left with trying to figure out not only what I wanna be when I grow up but what I like and what interests me. That's crazy. That's what I gave to the Church and got self-loathing and self-doubt in return.

So now I need to fill that void. I need a goal and a good one. Something that I could wear my life out doing. And I think I might have it. But I'll have to wait and see. I'll let it percolate for a while and see if I still like the taste. It would be a very worthy cause and I would help people too. I feel like a knight-errant searching for my own Green Chapel and Green Knight to toil against. But once found, it will be wonderful!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dream a little dream of me

So I usually don't remember my dreams. And those that I happen to recall when I crack open my eyes aren't typically memorable or vibrant or all that interesting. Several members of my family have these wonderfully exciting war dreams full of running from tanks, fighting Russians, shooting baddies and all in vibrant color and sound. They can smell the gunpowder.

Not me tho. Even in my fantasies I never get to be part of an elite fighting force or scramble trying to save my family or get to be heroic much. I don't fly, exhibit super human strength, or rule the world. For some reason, most of my dreams are prosaic and, to be honest here, lean toward the pathetic.

Tired of hearing all the REM exploits of my family and not being able to contribute, I once made the unfortunate mistake of relating a dream to my brothers. In it I was on my college cross country team running through trees, over streams and rocky ground, dodging deer trying to play chicken, passing other runners left and right to a climatic finale full of cheering fans and waving banners where I crossed the finish line in 2nd place. Yep. 2nd place. I finally had an exciting dream in full color and sound and I didn't even win the race.

Of course they teased me mercifully even though I am the eldest. (The fact that they are younger than me has never been a hindrance to them. They never cowered in fear from an oppressive, teasing older sibling -see Wayne Arnold, Bart Simpson, G.O.B., etc. Geez,even Wally bawled out the Beav from time to time. My bros should consider themselves lucky!)

Well, the cross country dream has even been enshrined in one of the many nicknames my brothers have for me. The initials LP meaning last place is part of my memory teasing nickname: RMNFLPCBMSS. In case you were wondering, to say this name you pronounce each letter. In my family nicknames aren't short little pet names used to speed conversation. Nope they're full on sentences. The longer, the better!

Since most of my dreams are dull and rather Charlie Brownish (the CB part of the above mentioned nickname, which for some obscure, arcane reason, doubles for Chicken Burrito as well) when I have vivid dreams with substance I tend to remember them very well.

I had one of these real dreams last night. In this dream I was standing in a really nice living room watching tv with my whole family, a girl that I was aware, in that way you know in dreams, was my girlfriend and this really hot guy. This guy was a mix of my high school best friend and this guy whose blog I follow. As this girl (whose face kept switching back and forth between girls I had dated) stood next to me, she leaned in and said, "I've had a Vision that you are going to be my husband. I love you and now you have to love me. We'll be together forever! Isn't it wonderful? You've made me so happy!"

As she said this I could feel my teeth loosen in my mouth. I jerked my tongue away from poking my front teeth with the thought: I can't touch them. They'll fall out if I fiddle with my teeth. I HAVE to forget them. You have to love her. She's so happy.

So we stood there with my whole family smiling and watching us. She put her head on my shoulder and I clenched my jaw muscles and froze. One of the teeth had fallen in my mouth. I frantically tried to put it back in its socket to no avail. As I looked around in panic I noticed that the hot guy hadmy moved to where he was sitting right next to where I was standing. My hand resting on the back of the sofa was lightly touching his shoulder. An electric shock, as hot as plasma and quick as light rushed up my hand as the girl gripped me harder. And harder. I felt my ribs creak. She looked up at me and said, "You have to love me. I've had a Vision. I've prayed and the Spirit told me that you are my husband."

My hand was jerked away from the couch and one by one my teeth started falling out. I open my mouth and a river of teeth were falling, hitting the ground. They shattered when they hit. She didn't notice. She leaned in and kissed me on the cheek. My family sat looking at me, still smiling. They didn't notice the teeth either. The guy looked up at me and said, "Why don't you sit down next to me?" I unwrapped the girl's arms from around my torso and sat down. My family had stopped looking at me and were now watching the screen. Suddenly I had a full mouth of teeth again. His arm was around me and he was playing with my fingers with his hand. The girl sat down with my family on one side of the room. The guy and I sat by ourselves.

I felt my teeth with my tongue and they still felt loose. Ever so slowly I leaned my head on his shoulder and my teeth grew firm in their sockets. I let out a sigh and he put his lips to my ear and whispered, "Are you happy? Sit with me for as long as you want."

The room faded and he and I were standing in a field. I could smell fresh rain on the ground, a smell I've always loved. He stood on a hillock as I approached him. His pants took on the color of the earth and plants around him and his shirt took on the color of the sky. When a cloud passed behind him, his shirt took on that color too. The sun rose behind his shoulder and its color bled through his shirt. Wind blew through his hair and he looked at me as tears started to fall from his eyes. He was waiting for me. He was smiling.

That was when I woke up crying. I laid there in the dark trying to figure out where I was and what was going on. Why was I crying? I wasn't sad or frustrated but they weren't exactly tears of joy either. I was just crying. Then I fell back to sleep.

I've been trying to analyze my dream. Apparently dreams involving teeth are very common. Falling or rotting teeth is linked to anxiety, frustration, impotency and fear of being embarrassed. Well that definitely makes sense. Those feelings are old friends. We know each other well.

There's also a lot of truth to it. Being a good Mormon boy in college I dated as much as I could force myself. Since I wasn't exactly motivated by girls' looks I had to make a goal of asking a girl out once every week. I wan't very good at accomplishing it. But in the course of dating girls, I was told by three of them (THREE of them!!!) that they had a vision/whisperings of the Spirit/answer to prayer that said I was going to be their husband. *sigh* Mormons and their visions. One of them I wasn't even dating! So that explains the girl in my dream and her actions.

The part the shakes me up the most is the field part of the dream. I've had this little dreamlet off and on for a long time. The first time I had it I was 13. It made such an impact on me and the feelings associated with it were so strong that it would frighten me. I would HATE myself for having it because the love I felt for that unknown man was very strong and I knew that loving another guy like that was wrong.

And so I think I know why I was crying. This time I didn't feel guilty for it. I now recognize it as a normal dream of yearning that everyone has. I'm no longer mentally flagellating myself for it, thinking that just having it I'm somehow sinning. Now it's a possibility. A hope on the horizon, just like his smile.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A New Chapter

So my life begins a whole new chapter! I've moved back to Virginia after being away in California for several years. And so far it's been great. Well, except for the heat and the humidity and fear that this whole change is gonna crumble in my hands like an empty egg shell.

I'm looking for work here in Lynchburg and have sent out my resume to several places. I'm also figuring out where I'd like to go to school to further my education. I really would like to teach at the collegiate level but since I've yet to decide WHAT I'd like to teach I'm at a bit of a loss as to which graduate programs to look at. (I know, I know, making decisions is not high on my list of talents). There is a Master's in Humanities program at ODU that looks good but I'm not completely convinced yet. As it is, I'd need to wait at least a year to get my Virginia residency back. Not to mention that my killer GRE scores have now expired! Who knew that they were only good for 5 years. GRRRRRRRR. My brother said not to worry, that if I got great scores before I'll be able to get them again. Easy for him to say.

Boy this is typical "Hedgehog" thinking. Worrying about performance on a test to get into a program I haven't even picked yet. Classic carriage before the horse. I guess this is as good a place as any to explain the name of my blog.

I view myself as a combination of two very disparate sets of personality traits: The Falcon and The Hedgehog. The Falcon is that talented, outgoing, confident, self-assured part of me that can soar. The part of me that views myself positively. This is the handsome Jake. The person that can do anything and knows exactly what he wants. Needless to say, I like The Falcon.

The Hedgehog is that part of me that is insecure, depressed, unsure, timid and a bit prickly. The wishy-washy fool who freezes into inaction. This is the Jake that doesn't think much of himself. The type of person to roll up into a ball and shut everyone out. And although I don't like being The Hedgehog he has dominated a lot of my life so far. (He is pretty cute tho).

I like to think that most people have this dichotomy within themselves. I'm not unique there. I use these two halves of myself to cope with my feelings and the depression that sometimes comes. They enable me to look at myself with just enough detachment to be able to deal effectively with whatever might come.

So lately The Falcon has been soaring. Looking for a new job, searching for education opportunities, even going to the Y to work out has left me flying high! I've even been able to love that part of me that's gay instead of hating myself for it. Instead of weighing the benefits of suicide (there are none, by the way, just if you were wondering), I've been factoring in the gay population at schools in my search. Breathe deep..... doesn't that lack of self-loathing smell great?!