Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Years Resolutions I might actually do:

to do list:
1. Make vanilla pudding. Put in mayo jar. Eat in public.
2. Hire two private investigators. Get them to follow each other.
2. Wear shirt that says "Life". Hand out lemons on a street corner.
4. Get into a crowded elevator and say, "I bet you're all wondering why I gathered you here today."
5. Major in philosophy (or psychology works too). Ask people WHY they would like fries with that.
6. Run into a store, ask what year it is. When someone answers, yell, "It worked!" and run out cheering.
7. Become a doctor. Change last name to Acula. (I don't get this one. Feel free to explain it to me if you do.)
8. Change name to Simon. Speak in the third person.
9. Buy a parrot. Teach the parrot to say, "Help! I've been turned into a parrot."
10. Follow joggers around in your car blasting "Eye of the Tiger" for encouragement. (This one is my favorite).

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Day After

My "Tuesday with presents" was even better than I could have imagined.
My Christmas tree. With presents under the tree. (They almost all fit.)
I went to my parents house and opened presents with my siblings and parents. It was nice and fun and relaxing. I was given gifts that felt like ME. Every single gift was perfect. I felt very loved. The book  (Elephant Whisperer) from my dad. The DVDs (Wild Horse, Wild Ride and Despicable Me) and dishes (something I've been looking at for a year) from Dann and Justin. The book (Hiking: Ruins Seldom Seen) from Jeff and Robyn. The game (Bananagrams) from Zack and Delta. The ornament (a teddy bear riding a stick horse) from my mom.

I also love watching by family open presents. Jeff gets so excited. I love watching Dann and my mom watch everyone else. I love the looks when someone opens a gift that is perfect. I also love the looks when someone opens a gift that isn't quite perfect, but they try to pretend like it was. I just love seeing everyone just being.
My brother built a fort of presents on top of me. There were more down around my feet.

BJ and I went to see Les Miserables together. I wanted to see the movie with him. I wanted to experience that story with him, because I wanted to talk about it all with him after. When we went to the play, he had a hard time following the story. In the movie, you can see their faces and understand their emotions better. I wanted to watch him watch the movie.

The movie was amazing. I've seen the student version of the play countless times. We went to see the professional version last year. I've listened to the CD a million times and played the music on the piano and in various orchestras. I forgot that I know the music and the story by heart. The actors were so incredible, I felt like I was hearing it all for the first time.

I love seeing movies with him, because of the way he draws parallels to his own life. He learns things everywhere he goes, and he listens when I talk about the things I thought. We sat and talked and cried after the movie. Then he went to spend more time with his kids and grandkids, and I went to visit my grandparents.

We all met back at my parents, and hung out for a little bit, and then he and I came home to open our presents to each other. We had decided we wanted to end the day together... I gave him his presents. He gave me a camera. A really nice one with two different lenses and a ton of camera-y functions. (I don't know the words for everything yet, and I definitely don't know how to use them, but I'm excited.)

He said he's been thinking about this gift for years. He appreciated my eye... the things I see, and he wanted to give me an even better way to capture what I see. I cried. I took out all the pieces: the lenses, the lensehood, the flash, the tripod, the carrying case for it all, the memory card, even the battery and charger, and cried with every piece.
My Christmas tree. After opening presents. It's in there somewhere, I swear.
Then this morning, I woke up and started crying again.
I have never asked for a camera. I love taking pictures. I love sharing the things that I see. I feel like there's a piece of me in every picture I take. We have several of the pictures I've taken hanging on our walls. Horses. Fishing. Mountains. Skies. They aren't bad, but I feel like I was just handed a tool that will make the things I see even more capturable (yeah, I just made that word up). He saw something I wanted, but I didn't even know I wanted it. That feels... good.

I feel SO loved. Not just by BJ. But by my parents and siblings (and their spouses). And Dann. And grandparents. And aunts and uncles and cousins. Sometimes, feeling loved is such a surprise, I feel overwhelmed. I still don't quite know how to handle it.

So, Merry Day After Christmas. Thank you for loving me, and for making the day even better than "just any other Tuesday, except with presents".

Friday, December 21, 2012

What would it look like if you weren't hiding?

There's been a growing frustration in my head.
It started as a nagging in the back of my mind, and has grown just a little each day. It suddenly got huge yesterday. I couldn't put it in words until I was talking to my sister.

She helped me find the words, "I feel like I'm hiding. I don't want to hide anymore."

That prompted a conversation with BJ. I told him what I had felt while talking to Mellen.
"I feel like I'm hiding, and I don't want to hide anymore."

He asked the question, "What would it look like if you weren't hiding? How would things be different?"

Not much. There's not much that would be different on the outside. The difference would be in my head. I spend a LOT of time trying to anticipate how everyone else will feel and what everyone else will do.

If I say this, will it make someone mad?
If I do this, will it hurt or offend someone?
If I do this, will she make life difficult for or hurt someone else I care about?
If I don't do that, will people be disappointed?
If I am this way, how will it affect them? How will that affect others?

So, how would it look if I wasn't hiding?

I'd be less worried, afraid, scared of angering people that will hate me no matter what I do. I'd be less concerned about what labels people attach to me, and just BE me. I wouldn't worry about how anyone else defines me or my relationships and just BE.

And I would just hold BJ's hand whenever we wanted to hold hands.

Monday, December 17, 2012

"At the right time, in the right light, everything looks extraordinary."

BJ and the pelicans.

The neighbors' sprinklers

Them just being them at a lake in Montana. This picture just makes me happy.

My favorite.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Just like any other Tuesday, except there's presents

Christmas. It's a hard time of year for me. I generally like to avoid it.

I haven't had a tree in three years. This year, BJ and I had talked about cutting down tree and having the horses help get it out. We never got the permit, so that didn't happen. Then we talked about buying a tree, but neither one of us have any decorations. No lights. No ornaments. Nothing. (I had a box of ornaments from an ornament exchange, but they got ruined.) We went to various stores (both together and separate) to find Christmas decorations that fit him, me, or us.

I had about given up. And then, by accident, I saw this:
Charlie Brown Christmas tree. With presents (Thanks to BJ's sister.)

I loved it. BJ loved it. It was perfect.
And for a moment, I forgot that I get stressed by Christmas. I got excited. I got all my Christmas shopping done in the next twenty minutes. (I love Amazon.)

Christmas could suddenly be what I wanted. There were no shoulds. No have-tos. No, "If you don't do it the way everyone else does it, there's something wrong with you." Just the question, What do YOU want?, and the answer can be anything.

Since that day, I've gone back to feeling anxious. Afraid I'm not doing it right. Pressured to try to make everyone happy. Depressed. Sad. Overwhelmed. Frustrated with myself for not being "normal". Angry at myself for feeling sad and depressed.

So now, besides my funny little satirical tree, I'd like to make some other changes to my Christmas season. No more anxiety. No more expectations. No more guilt. No trying to make everyone happy. No trying to hang on to "normal".
I'd like to let go of all of that.

Maybe it could just be like any other Tuesday. Except there's presents.


On my mind is Christmas, Pants, tragedies in Connecticut, and a few other thoughts that won't leave me alone.

What's the most important thing to write about?
I don't know.
Which is why I haven't written anything yet.

Monday, December 10, 2012

An exercise in empathy (guest post from a friend)

The following was written by a friend of mine as a response to the church's new website.

From Esteban (a gay ex-Mormon)

"As a heterosexual, you've never had to even think about it. Because heterosexuality has never been deemed sinful in your life, you simply have always had the freedom to express yourself through touch, feel, affection, and sexual expression with anyone of the opposite sex. You've only had to stop yourself from full sexual realization until you were married, assuming you were actually able to do that. In other words, your sexual orientation was never in play as a possible threat to God, only your possible breach of sexual activity outside of marriage.

If your own desire for women/men was deemed a sin, you might begin to empathize with what it's like to be gay. Without telling yourself the story as to why gays are wrong per God's command to multiply and replenish the earth, imagine for just a moment if your desire right now inside you for women/men was sinful. Not just sinful outside of marriage, but sinful all the time, every minute of your life. Imagine that your deep core gender attraction itself was deemed an abomination.

Let's take this empathy exercise even further: Imagine for a moment that you were told that God only saw homosexual relationships as righteous and worthy. I know, it's hard, just try it for a moment. You wanted to please God, your parents, everyone around you. And you were told you could change your sexual orientation to be homosexual even though you're skeptical and know somehow that it might be impossible. But you know to be saved and to follow God's Plan, you must. And so you launch in to trying to like women/men with a reverent, God-centered mission. You even marry a person of the same sex and everything, but deep down you know you're kidding yourself and you start to want a person of the opposite sex, because let's face it, you're wired that way.

OK, back to your own life. That is never going to be your fight, but would you compare that empathy exercise of being attracted to the wrong gender the same as being addicted to drugs or alcohol? No, of course not, because love isn't a substance like drugs or alcohol. Your sexual attractions are hard-wired and you cannot change that.

Up until a few days ago, the Mormon Church told you that you were NOT born that way. That you were choosing somehow to be homosexual/heterosexual. But look now! The church is saying that you ARE born that way! Woah! That seems like a big change! That seems like it might be the answer to a lot of frustration and angst! So if you are a gay Mormon and you're now born that way, what changes for you?

Besides now being on the side of Lady Gaga, nothing changes for you. But wait! Why not? You were just told that you were born that way! That's freaking awesome, isn't it??? Well, lets examine it a bit closer:

So even IF you're born gay, the church still believes that ACTING on your core, born-with sexual orientation is still sinful. That hasn't changed. So if that hasn't changed, what has? Nothing has changed. You see, telling gay people they're born that way and still maintaining that homosexuality is sinful as an action hasn't changed at all.

Gay Mormons weren't waiting to be told they were born that way, gay Mormons were waiting to be told they're just as in un-sinful, valid, and valuable in God's eyes as heterosexuals are, even if they can't multiply and replenish the earth. You see, your sexual attraction to women/men was never about having babies in the first place, it was about being able to freely touch, feel, express, and fully sexualize your domestic relationship with your chosen partner. That whole "having babies" thing is superfluous to love, to loving the way you need it.

And so sadly, the new website, the new big change really isn't any change at all. When Lady Gaga sings about being born that way, she then goes on to sing about loving that way, too.

And so gay Mormons are just as stuck as they were before. The new big change is just a tragic sadness. It's a fa├žade. It's a new smile on the same old doctrine of pain and suffering. Can gay Mormons now go to church and hold hands with their domestic partners, their husbands, wives, and loving spouses? Can they hold them, kiss them, express to them how much they love them like all the other heterosexual couples God loves unconditionally? No.

As a matter of fact, IF a gay Mormon, whom are all now born that way according to Mormon leadership, actually try to love their partners, dates, spouses like those same Mormon leaders do, they'll be sinning. And not just sin because they're doing it outside of marriage, but because they can NEVER touch, feel, show affection, or have any sexual contact with them ever. Ever as in forever.

And not only that, but the Mormon Church believes that homosexuals will be corrected as part of the resurrection process to become a perfect heterosexual person. So what they're really telling you is to never have a relationship at all because you cannot ever love them eternally, even if you feel like you love someone that strongly. Even if you feel in love, a love as strongly as those Mormon leaders love their spouses.

Because IF you remain a celibate gay Mormon in love in this life with the person you wish to eternally love, your core being will be changed to heterosexual and you will not be able to love them anyway because they still believe homosexuality is a sinful abomination that must be changed.

You are born doomed. Forever doomed now that you're born that way. You see? Nothing has changed at all. Gay Mormons are just as doomed now as they were before this latest big change that hasn't changed a thing."

Love, the church PR dept (an angry rant on the church's 'gays and mormons' website)

I feel angry and sad and ANGRY. (You have been warned. I'm pissed.)

The church recently released a new website... A few of the straight Mormons I know are super excited about it. "SEE. Look. We are nice and loving. SEE!!!"

Many of the gay Mormons are not so excited. (At best, this as seen as a baby step. The hope is that MAYBE there will be less gay teens on the streets.)

This is what I see this page as:
An abusive man. He beats his wife. He degrades her. He makes her life a living hell. She stays because she knows nothing else. He beats her because that's what husbands do.

There are rumors that he is a wife-beater. He doesn't want to be known as that. He KNOWS he is a good, kind, wonderful man. People just need to understand him better.

So he puts out a website... all about how wrong it is to beat your wife. He talks about loving her and accepting her, but he makes sure to point out the sin of divorce.

The website is simple. It says, "don't beat your wife, but wives, stay with your husbands no matter how much he hurts you."

ALL of the wife-beaters LOVE the article. It's beautiful. Warm. Fuzzy. And makes them feel secure in their current relationships.
Many people look at the surface of it and say, "Well. It's an improvement. Baby steps. At least he's making some effort to change."
But the woman, the one who has been beat by that man over and over and over, she feels even more hurt, betrayed and disgusted.

She knows he hasn't changed. She knows he still beats his wife. She wishes he would just own that. If he would at least have the decency to be honest about who he really is, then she could get help. Now, when she tries to talk about the bruises and the pain, people point to his website and say, "No. He doesn't beat you. Look. It's right here - he talks about the evils of beating your wife. How can you say he beats you?"

A few months ago, I was asked to sign a petition asking the church to apologize for the things general authorities have said about black people. I refused. Not because I don't want to see the church apologize, but because I don't believe that people should grovel for an apology from them. If the church CARED about the people they have hurt, and they WANTED to make a change, I'm pretty sure they could figure out how to apologize and just do it.

If enough people signed a petition, and pushed them to apologize. (By making it more of a public relations nightmare by NOT apologizing.) They would apologize. But I don't want THAT. That kind of apology would be just as real as the abuser's apology. No REAL remorse... just a fear of the consequences.

The leaders of the church have to know that people have been hurt by racist statements made in the past. (And continued racist doctrine.) At this point, it isn't hurting THEM enough to give a damn.

Gay relations are different. They created a nightmare for themselves with Prop 8. The whole country is shifting, and the leaders of the church know it. If the internet had been around in the 1970's, I'm pretty sure there would have been a similar webpage. (Here's someone's idea of what it would have looked like.)

This website is a nice mask, but they are not changing their abusive ways one fucking bit. And I know, they have God on their side, which makes it okay to be ignorant... But if you're going to be ignorant, at least own it... but instead...
Dear Gay People,
We now are willing to say you were born that way, even though we have said something different many times for many years. (We weren't WRONG, we just can't have all the answers.)
We're also aware that marrying someone of the opposite sex is a bad idea. We won't push you to do that anymore.
So, now we just want you to live alone the rest of your life. Never hold hands. Never have a close intimate relationship with anyone. No sex. No family. Nothing. EVER.

Good news though, in the next life you can be happy. But don't kill yourself... That's not the answer... Just live for the next fifty years feeling lonely, isolated, and sad. We'll call you a hero if you do that.We admire the strength you have to keep on living when living is hell.

You're amazing.

And parents, don't shun or disown your children just because they are gay... but acting on their gayness is a sin, therefore you can't REALLY accept your gay child. You shouldn't love them as they are, you should try to change them into something that they're not... Because God's love is conditional like that. Oh. And Family. Family really is the purpose of life. (But only if your family looks like OURS does. Everything else is an abomination.)

We love you so much, can't you just feel it? (It probably means there's something wrong with you if this doesn't feel like love to you. You should probably do something to get over that.)

With love,
The church PR department (because we all know the General Authorities are going to keep saying the same old shit they have always said. And their shit will contradict our shit. Good luck trying to figure that shit out.)
Now that I'm done writing...
I understand I could probably effect more change and understanding if I said this differently... But I'm angry and I'm tired. I'm tired of talking softly, so that abusive assholes will listen. The truth is the abusive assholes WON'T listen. If I talk softly, they ignore it. And if I yell and scream and swear, they say, "You're too angry," and they dismiss me. So, right now, this isn't about them. It's just about me writing MY thoughts. (And letting you read them if you feel like it.)

Maybe I am being selfish with my angry rant. At this moment, it is more important to me to express my anger and my frustration than to help others. But I also want to help others... So, here is a list of posts from Clive Durham . He says what needs to be said without the sarcasm or the fuck word. (And if you didn't make it this far.... That's okay, I'll put this list in a new post too.)

I love gay people,...but...
I love and accept you, but…I don’t accept your homosexual lifestyle
I love you and accept you, but…you have to acknowledge that you’re broken and as a result, live your life the way I feel is best.
I love you and accept you, but…stay away from my children.
I love you and accept you, but…you must live your life alone, without love, companionship and intimacy.