Friday, September 29, 2006


click to make big.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


I posted this on some LDSSSA yahoo group that was talking about the Evergreen conference:

This was my first time ever attending an Evergreen conference. It was a little unsettling at first, but I liked it because it showed a very human side of the church that you don't see very often. Everyone at the Evergreen conference was almost literally wearing their weaknesses on their sleeves. A lot of the time church can be about keeping up appearances, but how can you attempt to come across as perfect when you're at a conference for gays and lesbians learning how to deal with their marriage, or porn issues, or just how to become comfortable with the opposite sex? How do you play Peter Priesthood or Molly Mormon in a 12-step class? It was really incredible to see that sort of raw honesty. These people looked like they could have been my aunts or uncles or bishops or stake presidents or grandpas and grandmas. It was uplifting to see real people really trying and really pushing themselves against significant obstacles. It almost makes me wish everyone at church just walked around wearing a nametag that said "My name is_____ and my problem is _____" That way we could just skip over a lot more trivial stuff and get right to knowing how to deal with them and love them.

It was refreshing to see people be frank, whether they dealt with SSA issues or were dealing with some kind of addiction and teaching a class or had a whole host of issues or even were just having to deal with the people dealing (Definitely a challenge) I might add that I thought that the spouses and loved ones of all these people were some of the coolest and most patient I think I've ever seen. I'm sure my wife is going to have to have patience to no end someday as well. It gave me hope to see that people actually marry "our" kind.

I also really enjoyed the talk from the girl who was reconciling her love for her sister with her love of the gospel. I thought it was really eloquent and well done.

My favorite presenter was probably David Christensen who gave a class on "Maintaining Daily Hope in the Journey." I liked how personable and passionate he was. Also he cussed (really, I think this is what it came down to as far as being my favorite speaker of all) and he was hilarious throughout the lesson.

He impressed me so much that I actually used one of the stories he told for my Hometeaching lesson today.

(And I think I've told all of you, reading my blog, this story because I seriously could not get over it)

The story went something like this...

Christensen and his wife have a mentally handicapped son who is a grown adult in his 30's or 40's. The son has about the mental capacity of a 4 year old, but the body of a grown man. The Christensen' s raised their son as he got older and older and bigger and bigger. Meanwhile they just kept getting older.

One day their son became upset over some trivial matter as little kids often do. He was distraught and irrational, but larger and more powerful than his mother. He picked up a kitchen chair and hit his mother over the head with it. Her head split open down the middle. Blood oozed out of the gash spilling all over her face and neck and clothing. She called the police and Brother Christensen was notified of what happened immediately.

When Brother Christensen got home the police and ambulance had already arrived and he saw his wife standing over the sink dripping with blood everywhere. The first thing she said when he came in was "Don't take my son! Don't take my son!"

Brother Christensen compared the story to the atonement, and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane atoning for the sins of all of us who can be irrational and disobedient at times.

My favorite part of his presentation however, was when he talked about how all of us should expect exaltation. He said he expected to go to the Celestial Kingdom, and so did his wife. He said they expected their son to go to the Celestial Kingdom. "Sure," he said, "some people might say, 'well of course your son will go to the Celestial Kingdom, he's handicapped, all handicapped people get to go to the Celestial Kingdom.'" And then he said my favorite part...

"The poor damnable soul who thinks that he isn't handicapped. "

(note the cuss word)

Wow! What a profound idea.... we're all handicapped, and we have a Heavenly Father who knows that and who only expects us to stay clean and repent when we mess up and keep trying. We should all expect to be exalted someday by virtue of the fact that we're His kids, and that we were atoned for. At any rate, that might have been kinda simple, but it was really uplifting and something I needed to hear.

The Evergreen conference had a few things that sort of irked me a little bit, and honestly there were times when it was downright depressing, but I think that's sort of to be expected given the nature of the thing. The good outweighed the bad. Also the people I was around helped things.

I think I'll call this post done for now. Be good, everybody.

- Pinetree

P.S. Did anyone see the James McGreevey thing on Oprah? It was intense. I went running and mulled it over and over in my mind. I feel like we shared a very common childhood. He talked about going to the library every night as a kid to read up on homosexuality, trying to turn straight with Playboys, having a passion for politics and justice and great aspirations for a normal, successful future. This was me! This is me... (Im sure the rest of you can identify at least somewhat as well) I'm hoping I won't share a common fate. That's all.

Sidenotes on Evergreen:

It was really great meeting all of you. I can definitely say you weren't at all what I expected, especially Samantha who was much more giggly, feminine, and irreverent than I expected!

ATP- Also very giggly, especially around Samantha. Funny and very thoughtful. Also has style (I thought your bag was cool) I have a lot of respect for your mom and dad. They've been through a lot and it seemed like they were unsure at times but always very willing and very supportive.

Darrin - You are a heck of an example. Incredibly kind and patient, especially with your wife, and that was cool. Also very witty.

Bob - You're 17? Really? You're way too smart and mature for your age. I was really impressed with you and also with your dad and the relationship you guys share. You two are amazing, and you really lit the place up wherever you went.

Seth - Good to actually get to talk to you finally. I'd seen you tons on campus before but had never actually carried on a conversation with you until the conference. I'm sure I'll see more of you in the future. We're officially friends now.

All in all conference was good. I'm glad to have met you all.

Honestly I guess I felt weird about the Evergreen thing some of the time, especially towards the end where I was sort of comparing myself to everyone else there? and I just was not liking the comparisons and had all these weird self-depricating thoughts going through my mind that weren't very good for me. So sorry about ducking out a little early, I just needed to go be by myself for a while.

Not to spoil the mood or anything, you guys are great and I would not at all be opposed to seeing any of you again.

Stuff not at all related to Evergreen:

•I'm getting to like my new ward. I'm on the activities commitee.
•I got a ticket (okay, this is a little related because it happened when Smurf and I were driving up to Salt Lake for the conference) for over 300 bucks. We were speeding and crossed the stupid double-white lines to get into the carpool lane. I might add that these lines are BRAND SPANKING NEW! I hate the Po-po. I'm gonna give up eating for the next few months.
•Gilmore Guy and I went on this amazing run to the lake the other day. I did it once with El Veneno before our half-marathon, but this time I was in better shape. I think the run to the lake is probably my favorite run in Provo. It's beautiful and you get outside of town to where everything smells like cows and dirt and campfire. Also it was twilight and raining, and when you get to the end there's a little peninsula that goes out into the lake from which you have a gorgeous view of the mountains and city, and it's wonderful to think that I can run to a big body of water somewhere out here in Utah. Also it's like 12 or 13 miles long and I was feeling good at the end, like I could have run several more miles. We'll see what happens at the marathon. I hope I lose my gut from all this running.
•I'm teaching myself algebra again in my college class. It's getting harder.
•Tonight Brown Sugar made lasagna for dinner because Smurf is in Seattle and he hates lasagna. I love lasagna. It was so freaking delicious, as Brown Sugar's cooking pretty much always is. I love my girls Wiggle and Brown Sugar and I'm glad they still hang out with me even when I'm being hella weird. We all watched Iron Chef - funny show.
•My niece Kylie's family birthday party was on Monday. She is all into Mermaids right now, So I spent literally like 2 hours at Toys R' Us looking for the perfect present for her. I settled on an Ariel Mermaid crown/necklace/jewelry thing because my nieces love to dress up. When I finally got to the party, I found out that my little sister had purchased the exact same gift. Busted. This "coolest uncle ever" business is pretty tough and competitive sometimes. Birthday parties for 3 year olds are off da hook.
•Folkdance is so much fun, especially now that I don't know anyone else on my team. Not awkward at all. Making lots of cool friends. Can't wait until the opening social on Wednesday.
• I waited a table for this really silly family at work the other day. There were 12 of them and they ordered 3 cheese crisps as appetizers and 5 medium dinners to share. They also all wore Los Hermanos T-shirts and so I had to make them all specialty drinks because the bar person had already gone home. They were all really polite and helpful and cleaned their plates. Usually I half love these sorts of people for their thrift and cleverness (reminds me of my grandma and my own big poor family) and am half annoyed by them because they don't leave a tip while making me work tons doing orders for picky eaters and cleaning up after all their little kids. BUT, these guys were thrifty and clever and polite and helpful AND left me a generous tip AND left it all in 2 dollar bills! I love 2 dollar bills! I loved this family! They were so hip.
•2 dollar bills make me think of my grandpa who used to send us one in a funny card every birthday. Other things that make me think of my grandpa: pennies on the ground and in random places, giant trucks and construction equipment, steel mills, old-school democrats (the unionized, mildly racist kind) and retirement homes.
•I got this Saturday night off! I don't think I'll miss any conference at all. Maybe I'll even go up to Salt Lake for a session or two.
•This guy I find incredibly attractive is kinda flirting with me I think. Oh man, I don't know why this is happening but it's super frustrating.
•I desperately want to get married and have babies with a girl who's pretty.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

There you have it.

And so I was a bum, for a few days at least. On the first night, a Saturday, Smurf was manager and I was the lead server, so we were the last people to leave the restaurant. We left Los Hermanos sometime around 2:30 AM on Sunday morning and then changed into our church clothes so that we could sleep on the church lawn of Smurf's new ward and wake up just in time for church at 9 AM. By this time, Smurf had actually rented a new place, but was just willing to be my homeless buddy for kicks and giggles.

The last few weeks have been a dichotomy.

I did stupid things, things I should repent and talk to the bishop about. I haven't yet. I feel sort of like a joke. Have you ever felt like this? I mean, I've resolved to do better so many times since I was 16 that it almost feels ridiculous to let myself believe that I can keep a promise this time. I had been doing so well for so long, and then, boom. i pull trigger and blow myself away. Again. The sad thing is I'm not sure I'd even forgive myself this time. At least I'm not sure if I'd take myself seriously. If I was another person looking in at pathetic little me, I might forsake the cause after this much abuse. And I like to think of myself as a person who would forever give the benefit of the doubt and be reassuring and merciful, mainly because I'm such a screw up myself.

At any rate, I was pretty depressed and discouraged. And just disconnected I guess. There was just sort of this shame hanging over me that makes me want to run away really bad. I used to do that as a little kid, when I felt crappy or was mad at my older brother and parents. I would pack a paper bag full of belongings or my backpack and run away for a day or part of the night if my parents didnt catch me first. It felt very romantic even though I would only run somewhere inside the apartment complex or across the street to Central Park or to the high school.

But now there's just stoicism and a resolve to keep doing things. I at least have to hang onto my grades. It was this same fatal mode that destroyed them last year, and I really can't afford to let myself go like that again.

I don't want to talk to a bishop. I've been wondering about that lately, why we have to talk to bishops when we commit serious sins. I've done it before. The talk is usually the same; I do my best to bare my soul and the bishop sympathizes and mumbles things and reads me some scriptures. Sometimes I am chastised or punished, but never given any terribly helpful insight. When all is said and done, however, I always walk away feeling better and like I can start again. Why can't I just do this on my own? Can't I just pick myself up off the floor? Doesn't the rest of the world get over these things without going to the bishop's office? Why should I do this again? I'm not going on a mission or anywhere fast really, I'm getting along alright, I just feel like shit at church, that's all. I wonder if maybe I should just see if I can actually be good for longer than 6 or 7 months, and then think about talking to a bishop again. I'm burnt out on ecclesiastical authority.

I don't know. It's frustrating, but I'll probably once again end up telling another bishop much more about myself than he or I ever cared to know in the first place. I hate this.


As for the other side of the dichotomy, I've moved into my new apartment (actually at the same complex I lived in last year) and things are running very smoothly. My roommates are very cool and also pretty clean, which is a good change. I didn't end up moving into the ward that Smurf was trying to stack with all his friends, but he has plenty of friends in that ward already and my ward is pretty cool even though its full of strangers. I'm doing well in school so far. I'm running pretty regularly again, either by myself or with Gilmore Guy (who is now happily married) or Blueshorts. Brown Sugar, Smurf, Wiggle, Blueshorts, hot Rachel and I have all started this dinner group where we each make dinner one night of the week. My night is Tuesday, and you're always invited to my place if you let me know you're coming. It's one of the best ideas we've ever had, as it saves all of us money, gets us fed just about every night of the week on a delicious balanced diet, and gives us all a chance to get together regularly which I like.

There is a Los Hermanos Book Club now. We are currently reading Freakonomics, which is fascinating. We have also read Black Like Me and The Alchemist. Next we will read Brave New World (incredibly book, read it). I like reading. I'm about half way through Freakonomics right now.

My little brother has moved up to Rexburg to go to college for a year before a mission. He likes it a lot so far. My little sister is the only kid left at home with my parents. Last night I went over there to do laundry and have a good talk with my mom, which I think is good for her sanity. I let my little sister listen to some cool music I've heard lately and stuff I thought she would like. Then we watched The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio and my mom liked it a lot and that made me happy. My family is kinda lame, but they're so wonderful. I think I admire consistent, steady, wise lame-o's better than the highly spirited, witty and capricious. Though it's always wonderful to be in the company of the latter. Maybe because that's the only thing that makes me feel like the former.

My older sister is going to have another baby! Except, shhh!, don't tell! I'm not supposed to know this until Kylie's birthday on the 18th. Hehe. Nieces and nephews(?) make me really glad. Man, I want babies... If anybody wants to be my baby's mama, let me know. We can get married and all that, it's cool.

I just got back from regional stake conference. It was so good. Cecil Samuelson spoke on gifts of the Spirit and Elder Wirthlin spoke on "carrying on" which was really something I needed to hear. He talked about how the people we revere and look up to, our heroes, alway manage to pick themselves up in the direst of circumstances and bear a heavy, often times disproportionate burden. The entire time he spoke on the theme "carrying on" he was having a horrible time squinting into the monitor he was reading from and also remembering what he was going to say. He tremored visibly and misspoke a lot. His age was obviously getting to him and he was exerting every ounce of control he could muster to focus his mind on the words he was saying. His delivery was, in essence, an illustration of what he was trying to say - no matter what the problem, or stumbling block, keep doing what you need to do. Don't quit. I liked it.

After that, the star attraction was President Monson, who just spoke. There wasn't really a theme, but he talked about all the musicals he likes and how much we can learn from movies and books. That made me smile. He showed pictures that little kids had drawn for him and told all kinds of great faith promoting stories. He talked about patriarchs and listening to the spirit and interesting individuals he knew. Also he was hilarious the entire time. It wasn't scripted like in conference. The man is funny. And incredibly uplifting.

And I'll stop there for now, because I like the word "uplifting."