Thursday, October 8, 2009

Babies


I remember my very first date with my very first boyfriend. We went to the movies to see "Atlantis." It was a really cute flick, and we had a good time. I was eager for lunch, and in a great mood when we walked out of the room, and into the lobby. That's when it happened: a mother with two children walked past us, and the kids were so cute, so happy, and their mother had a big smile on her face. They were adorable as they walked past us, all giddy from the movie.

I watched the little family walk by, and I burst into tears. My boyfriend gave me a look, and asked, "Hey, what happened? You okay?" I tried to smile as I mustered, "They're just so beautiful," and nodded at the little children. My bf asked, "Are you upset." I nodded. "Why?" And I died a little inside as I answered, "I just realized, for the first time, that I'll never have kids."

That was 8 years ago. To this day, that very thought depresses me. When I hear a baby cry, I long for that baby to be crying for me. When a child acts up in public, I feel a slight twinge of guilt when their parents make a disconcerted face at them. When the teens at church come to me with stories or questions, I consider the blessing their parents must enjoy from having them around all the time.

I know, I can adopt. Or get a surrogate. But it's just not the same.

I may finish this blog later... BTW the baby's my newborn nephew Braviun :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Love, Sex, and Magic: Part 1

Part 1: LOVE

DAY 1 - 2:48 AM

It's Friday night, late. I'm flying out of SeaTac at 9:30 tomorrow morning, and I haven't even begun to pack. It shouldn't be a big deal; it's a simple 3 day trip, so I won't need too much clothing. Just something to wear all day tomorrow, something for church on Sunday, and something to roam around in on Monday. Oh wait, I need something for Tuesday, too, since I'll be headed straight to work when I get back. Hey: I can get some of this stuff there in Cali! Besides, I'm too tired to think about it right now anyway.

All I've been able to think about is him: Peter. He's the reason I can't sleep; the reason I can't stop smiling right now; the reason I'm looking forward so much to this mini-vacation. I met Peter about 3 years ago, when I was a secretary to the EQP, and he was a newbie in the ward. I was a young, enthusiastic socialite with a big personality, and he was a handsome 30 year old introvert with no interest in making friends. He intrigued me for obvious reasons, and I pursued a friendship with him for months before I finally found a common interest that broke down the walls: music. He loves to sing, and so the first time I got him to come hang out with me was by inviting him over to play and sing songs around my piano with my fam and friends. We also share a mutual love for "Settlers," and once we made that connection, our friendship was sealed!

Years and many miles later, Peter and I still keep in touch, and visit each other as oft as possible. This weekend, he is flying me out to his place in San Jose to perform an original song of mine in his ward, where they've finally broken him down enough to get him to sing in church. I am SO EXCITED! To get to spend 3 days with one of my most favorite people in the world...

See, here's the thing: I've grown to love Peter so much over the last couple years. No, he's not your typical "Peter Priesthood" (despite the name!), but he is one of the most mature, sensible, funny, and all-around beautiful guys I've ever come to know. He treats me with tremendous respect, he encourages me in all of my dreams, and he makes me feel like a kid again. My favorite thing about him is that he inspires me: he has a way of getting my creative juices flowing, so the music, lyrics, and expression come out of me more naturally. It's a wonderful phenomenon, and I thirst for it insatiably. I guess you could say I thirst for him; I believe I'm in love with Peter.

My best friend Sebaztyan thinks that Peter has the same feelings for me. After all, he's 33, handsome, well-adjusted, and single. He never talks about girls, never has a girlfriend, and never dates. He gives me more attention than he does anyone else we know outside of his family. He spends crazy amounts of money on me to show me he loves me. Still, Peter has never confided any same-sex attractions to me, and I've never discussed mine around him. And it's not like I'm closeted at all. It has just been something we haven't talked about, ever. Sebaztyan thinks that now is the time to tell Peter. He says that if Peter has SSA, and has never had a comfortable opportunity to figure out that part of himself, that I could be doing him a great service by allowing him to talk about it. Besides, what if he's in love with me, too?

So I've decided: this weekend, I'm telling Peter.

DAY 2 - 12:02 AM

My heart skipped a beat when I beheld the sight of him this morning. It has been only 2 months since my last visit, but the 2-hour plane ride felt extremely long, and I was overcome with joy when I saw Pete pull up to the curb. He had the entire day planned: we went shopping, rehearsed through our music, had dinner with friends, and played "Settlers." Pete introduced me to the WiiFit, and we took turns exercising and gorging ourselves on ice cream. Peter called it a night at the stroke of 12, and I let him go to bed before I could have "the talk" with him. It just didn't come up, I guess...

DAY 3 - 12:04 AM

Pete sang like an angel today. I was honored to have my song performed by such a beautiful and talented man, and this only increased my fondness for him. After church, Pete prepared a picnic for the two of us, and we took it to the beach. We ate, we strolled through the sand and water, and talked about everything under the sun... except that. Tonight we watched "Meet the Robinson's" and the pilot to "Glee" before doing some more WiiFit. Pete went to bed again at midnight, and now I'm contemplating why I still haven't opened myself up to him. Maybe I'm just scared. I'm enjoying what we have now so much that I'm afraid of the possibility that it will change. For worse... if I tell him.

DAY 4 - 11:27 PM

Today's my last day in San Jose :(. This morning, Peter took me to the gym and assigned a new workout regime for me. Then we shopped, had lunch at Chipotle, and walked the Monterey wharf. I kept picturing myself sharing times like these with Pete more frequently, if the opportunities presented themselves. It dawned on me that we spent a lot of time doing romantic things without being romantic. Was there a chance that Peter hoped for a romance to bud as much as I did?

Tonight, we watched "17 Again," which we both really enjoyed. During the movie, I kept trying to figure out a tactful way to cuddle with Pete. I never found it, so at the end of the movie, I did a little head-on-the-shoulder lean as we sat together on the couch. He didn't flinch. Things seemed to be going well, when I decided to be a jerk and tease him about something. That led to the silent treatment from him, which led to wrestling from me. He got annoyed, and that put an awkward end to any romantic ploys for the remainder of the evening. My flight leaves at 9:30 in the morning, so we both retired to bed early: Pete to his bedroom, and me to the couch. Alone. Again. Why am I so self-sabotaging?

DAY 5 - 12:41 PM

I'm waiting at SeaTac for Sebaztyan to come pick me, and it's been an hour now. I'd be more upset, but I'm too preoccupied with thoughts of Cali. I woke up 15 minutes later than I should have, which put Pete and me 15 minutes behind schedule. I thought he'd be mad, but he just relaxed and kept an attitude of "let's not worry about what we can't change"... which just made me feel even more guilty. Before he dropped me off at the airport, he handed me a container with chocolate chip cookies and a breakfast shake. As he drove away, I couldn't help but think of what an amazing human being he is, and how much I wished I was as thoughtful, generous, or beautiful as Peter.

I made friends with a handsome college grad from China on the flight home, and we talked about our mutual love for ballroom dancing, travel, and the Seattle social scene. We exchanged contacts, and promised to hang out soon; I should have been more excited, but I felt a twinge of guilt - the kind you feel when you're being unfaithful to someone.

So now I'm sitting on this curb alone, urging myself to grow more accustomed and comfortable with this scene, because at this rate, it's what I have to look forward to doing for the rest of this lifetime. Do I love Peter? Yes. That is why I'm following the advice of someone who once wisely stated, "If you love somebody, let them go. If they return, they were always yours. If they don't, they never were." Why am I letting Pete go? Because he's always been God's man. And God deserves him: Peter is the best of the best. So who am I, then, to try and tempt Peter away from the one man that loves him the most? I now realize the truth: Peter was never mine. Even if Pete loves me the way I love him, what would confessing that to each other accomplish? We would both keep our devotions to God, and our relationship would stay the way it is now anyway. I should be happy - at least I can count on having Pete as an eternal friend :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Guess What?

I'm EJ.
If you can tell me what it stands for, I'll give you a cookie.

Speaking of which, I love cookies.
Especially chocolate-chip cookies.
Mmmmmm.....

My sister's nickname was cookie.
Her favorite ice cream is chocolate chip cookie dough.
My favorite ice cream is probably Goo Goo Cluster.
But I really like Tin Roof Sundae, too.
My sister used to work at an ice cream shop.
Both of them.
At the same time.
I didn't, though.
Neither did my brother.

I worked for a fast-food joint.
My brother worked for Cinnabon.
Now I work for the Gap.
My brother works for Sprint.
One sister is a supervisor for mall securty.
The other doesn't even work at the mall anymore.
She works for Costco.

My parents own their own janitorial company.
I love my parents.
Really.
They're nice.

I sing.
A lot.
It's quite enthralling, actually.
I play the piano as well.
Most of the time, I sing while I play.
Or others sing while I play.
True story.

Speaking of stories....

Did I tell you about the guy who's
going to name his band after me?
Or about the girl that tried to
jack from the Gap?
Or the 4 kitties that were
abandoned in a paper bag?

Not yet?
That's okay.
Maybe some other time.

Right now, it's time for bed.
Tomorrow, I've got to go to church.
I'm LDS, by the way.
If you can tell me what that stands for...
I'll give you a cookie.

Speaking of which...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Change Is Gonna Come

A month or so ago, I wrote here about the decision I made to go 100% public with my sexual orientation in church -twice. Now don't get me wrong, I've been pretty out for a long time. Before these instances, my coworkers knew, my close friends knew, my family knew, my church leaders knew, pretty much most people knew. There was something strangely empowering, though, about allowing the entire ward, and then the entire Seattle/Tacoma metro area in on my life.

A lot of people had opinions on what short and long term effects might occur. I had my own ideas of how things would change with some people. The funny thing is that since then, I haven't noticed a dramatic change in the way people around me are acting. In fact, I have received more positive reactions than not; but in all actuality, most of my relationships are the same. The one person that changed? ME!

I've been a pretty outgoing person for the better half of my life, and I like to think that I make friends easily. But I have noticed how much more confident I've become over the last month. I have expressed my opinions more unabashedly, had more fun when going out, danced more shamelessly, laughed louder and longer, said "no" more emphatically, and much more I'm sure. I think that the reason the Lord prompted me to be so forthcoming with my Sunday School class was for this purpose: to prove to me that a raging homo like myself belongs in the neighborhood, in the church, in the world!

It's been a great feeling! I've still had some depressing moments, but overall, I've been happier. My friends have wanted to be around me more often, my family has requested more of my quality time, I've been hit on more often when out in public! Haha I know, I sound like a little girl~

Really, I'm grateful for this experience, and I'm looking forward to many more great opportunities to grow!

P.S. And I'm NOT 30! Yes, I'm talking to you, Chase!

Friday, August 7, 2009

I can't sleep. Again. I get up (relatively) early to go to the gym, put in a good day's work, come home (or go out), and take care of little things before going to bed. Often, I put in a movie, and try to lose myself in it. Most of the time, I cannot get emotionally-engaged enough to find the experience fulfilling, or satisfying. I end up feeling more numb than before I watched the movie. Symptoms that my life is not all I would like it to be; I'm depressed.

So many neat things have happened recently, and I keep forgetting to blog about them. Like my wonderful brother and his awesome best friend going out to a gay club with me last week, just so we could go dancing, and hang out together. Or the wonderful people who have recently reached out to me, as if inspired by God to talk to me. Or the workout routine that I've begun and so far am keeping to.

But everyday, I find myself in the same old slump. There are many reasons for the slump that I am not ready to let lay out on the table. I guess I'm just too tired right now to talk about it. Let's just say that there are 3 big contributing factors, and they pretty much are all my fault, so I shouldn't complain. Everyday, it becomes more and more clear to me how truly imperfect I am. I know that I need more of God's help in my life. But I've allowed distance to creep in because I've disappointed Him in so many ways, and it's tough to kneel before him with the conscience I currently harbor. I hate disappointing those I love. It's something I'm all too good at doing. It's only made worse by the silence that often accompanies it; maybe He is trying to tell me something, and I'm just not very good at listening.

Anyway, I don't even know what I'm trying to say right now. I'm just exhausted, and haven't written in a while, and I hoped it would help. It isn't, haha~

Thursday, July 23, 2009

EJ 101

1) I am vain:


The other night, I hung out with a bunch of younger peeps. The youngest was just shy of 18. He was really cute, and took really good care of himself. We compared bods: he had much nicer muscles. When we talked about age, he revealed that he was born in '92, I laughed loudly, and announced I was born in '83. He stopped and gaped open-mouthed at me! "Really?!" he said. "I would have never guessed you were that old." I felt so good, and took it as a huge comment. WHY?! Because I'm vain.

2) I am lazy:

Earlier today, I got into my friend's car, and strapped myself in. It was so hot, my head immediately started to hurt. I was wearing a dark shirt and tie, and big black dancer's pants. I was so tired, though, that I didn't loosen the tie, turn up the A/C, or roll down the window. I just lay back and waited til I fell asleep to receive relief. When I woke up, my head felt like it was going to explode. All because I'm so freakin lazy.

3) I am retarded:

My co-worker dropped bombs in the bathroom at the end of the night. I decided I was going to clean the restrooms, but thought to myself, "I'd better wait to go in the men's room til the fumes clear." Not a minute later, he invited me into the boy's bathroom to prep it for cleaning, and what did I do? I walked right on in: smack dabb into the nasty, left-over Asian food + farfanuggen stench. All because I'm a moron with a terrible short-term memory.

4) I am impatient:

I'm not going to finish this post, because I don't have time for patience~

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

26 and a Half

I can remember being only 5
When I had my first crush on a guy
He lived next door, and every day
We'd talk, we'd laugh, we'd play

We moved far away from my dear friend
I never did see that guy again
It happened 21 years ago,
I never forgot him though.

It happened again at 6, at 10,
These little crushes on little men
Now I'm 26 and a half years old
I had no idea how my life would unfold

At 12, I felt strange curiosity
My teacher called it "puberty"
But while other boys solely vied for girls
I grasped for the best of both worlds

When 13 came, I was no longer a child
That summer, things got pretty wild
A little fling turned into 4 years
Of a double life led in fear

I look back on my teenage self
And remember all the secret things I felt
Now that I'm 26 and a half
I'm grateful to call it my past

19 was probably the toughest time yet
It's when the fork in the road and I met
The journey ahead would be rough and trying
But it'd be worth the hurting and crying

At 21 God gave my Mormon card back
But my love for mankind He did not retract
I was grateful, for I had learned and matured
Through this "disease" He would not cure

Life has been good, though it's had its downs
Still, I smile more oft than I frown
Now I'm 26 and a half
I can't believe all that's happened so fast

In 26 and a half more years
I'm pretty sure I'll still be queer
Will I ever be able to come to a place
Where I'll have a wife and kids one day?

Will I be able to someday enjoy
A traditional family, like other boys?
Or am I forever to benchwarm on the side
And watch others play, like old times?

If I must wait for the eternities
To wed, then I'll do what God asks of me
But I'm only 26 and a half
I sure hope I've the strength to last

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pride

About a month ago, a friend asked me to save today on my schedule so I could go to Pride in Seattle. It was going to be an educational experience for me because, though I've been out for quite a few years, I've never actually been to Pride before. He thought it would serve me well to go and honor the gays that came before me that helped open the eyes of the world to acceptance of men like me, like Harvey Milk and other people I fail to remember.

Then I found out that this weekend was our Multi-Regional YSA Conference. I thought I'd book myself for the conference on Friday and Saturday, and go to Pride on Sunday. I wrestled a little with the decision until my bishop called and asked me to teach Sunday School today. It was over - no Pride for me.

A very funny thing happened, though: over the last week, as I prepared the lesson for the class today, I kept getting little prickles from the Spirit. The lesson was about apostasy in the church, and how to fortify yourself against it. I was impressed to share my life openly again with this class. I was very nervous about this, but I knew that if I could do it once, I could do it again.

I remember looking out at the crowd today as I played the organ during the meeting. The entire chapel was full, and so was the overflow. Half of the gym was full as well. We had somewhere around 400 people today, from all over the state and parts of British Columbia. I was asked to teach in the chapel. Many people filed out of the chapel after Sacrament was over to attend other classes, but we still managed to fill the entire chapel for Sunday School. I was still nervous...

I spent a good deal of time this morning praying for the Spirit's aid today. Along the way, I randomly met an LDS family living near me, on their way to church. I took it as a good sign. At church, I continued to pray for help. As the opening prayer to class was spoken, I prayed for one last burst of strength. God's so good: we had an awesome lesson. The class was upbeat, and everyone was very helpful, and insightful, and inquisitive. I really enjoyed it.

At the end of the class, after we had talked about things like pride, getting offended, lacking in testimony, judging others, and other reasons why people leave the church, and counter-balancing them with a list of things to do to battle them like personal scripture study, praying often, obeying the commandments, and so on (I know, they're so simple, I love this list!), it came time to close the class. We had laughed a lot, and chatted amiably for so long, I felt pretty comfortable. I asked the class if I could get personal. I proceeded to tell them of my life at 19, coming to terms with being gay, and going through the process of repenting after making some unfortunate decisions. I told them about two friends I have, and of the experience of watching one of them take offense, and leaving the church; and the other who built a relationship with his savior, and is still here reaping the blessings that come from doing so. I chose the latter path, and was taught by him and others in my life who loved me so much that they were there for me. Now, 7 years later, I'm still here, and I'm deeply blessed because of that experience.

After the closing prayer, I received an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the class. One boy thanked me for my testimony, and told me of his own struggles with SSA, and his 5 year excommunication from the church. He's been back for 2 years now, and he's happier than ever. Another guy told me about a friend of his whom he thinks is lonely, and needs support from another guy like him, dealing with SSA, and asked if he could give his friend my number. One girl ran up to me, and gave me a hug, telling me how brave I was. Another hugged me as she cried. I couldn't believe it! We are so scared, for so long, to share our plight with people because we think the outcome will be bad. I experienced the complete opposite. I even had many beautiful, manly heteros that thanked me for the lesson. One told me that he admired people with guts, and that I had guts! Another told me it was the best lesson he'd ever had, and that he wished more people were open like that in church, because it invited the Spirit in for stronger and more meaningful bonds and experiences.

I am so grateful for this experience. I think it's ironic that I almost missed it because I was going to go educate myself on the gay world, and instead, I had the opportunity to provide one for so many Mormon kids inside the chapel of God.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Beat It!

Okay, I know that I am not the most sensitive person. And I know that I have my share of not-so-tasteful jokes, and terrible timing.

But can we please lay of the Michael Jackson jokes for AT LEAST 1 DAY?!

I know that he's not everyone's favorite person, but I love that man. His music inspired the entire world, shared messages of love and unity, bridged the gap between people of all colors and cultures, breathed life into POP!! He could dance and entertain like no other ever could or WILL. He was able to turn much of his troubled childhood into great songs. And despite whatever drama he caused the world as an adult, Michael Jackson positively contributed more to the world than anyone else in Pop music. He deserves the title of "King of Pop", and he bore it well.

So is it too much to ask for all of the haters to BEAT IT for just ONE DAY?!!!

Moment of Silence for Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and MICHAEL JACKSON

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I love and miss you guys so much, especially you, Michael~

Monday, June 22, 2009

Emo


I wrote this song a few years ago. I'm in a great mood, it just came to mind, and I couldn't get it out of my head, so I thought I'd share it anyway. Haha, it gave me a good laugh, even though I was doing anything but when I first wrote it...



(Don't) Take Me For Granted

You think I'm stupid; you think I'm shallow
You think that I'm so young and naive
You think I'm hopeless; you think that I don't know
You think it's okay to walk all over me

But not anymore, that just ain't the case, no
Not anymore, just look me in the face to know

I'm not who you think I am
I won't let you take me for granted again
You're not gonna use me, or abuse me, or push me to the floor
I won't let you take me for granted anymore

Not anymore...

You say I'm easy: you say I'm awkward
You say that I can't handle the facts
You say I'm cocky: you say that I'm disturbed
You say a lot of things behind my back

But not anymore will you sit in the judgment seat
Not anymore, you've got the wrong impression of me

'Cause I'm not who you think I am
I won't let you take me for granted again
You're not gonna use me, or abuse me, or push me to the floor
I won't let you take me for granted anymore

Not anymore, no...
Not anymore...

I'm not who you think I am
I won't let you take me for granted again
You're not gonna push me to the ground, kick me when I'm down
Make a fool of me whenever your friends around
I'm not listening anymore to the words you said before
So just shut up, shut up, shut up, you whore!

I'm not who you think I am
I won't let you take me for granted again
You're not gonna use me or, abuse me, or push me to the floor
I won't let you take me for granted
So don't take me for granted anymore

Not anymore, no
Not anymore...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Sunday Outting


All year long, I have wrestled with the thought of coming out to my Sunday School class, and using my life as an example in so many our lessons. Then, almost 2 weeks ago, after another semi-depressing conversation with my best friend, I decided that the time had arrived for me to grow the balls to finally do it. So for roughly a week leading up to last week Sunday, I prayed for the courage, and derived strength from my close friends as I prepared for that fateful time.

Sunday, June 7th, 2009 marks the day it finally happened. The lesson discussion was focused around the second coming of Christ. I used the story of Peter the disciple and Jesus Christ walking on water:

22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

I encouraged the class to pull apart the story, and to tell me what they got out of it. Their responses were wonderful. Some spoke of the miracle it was that Peter was able to walk on the water at all. Some talked about the example Christ was in setting aside time to commune with his Father in Heaven. Others spoke of their personal desires to remain faithful to Christ always, and to never be paralyzed by fear.

At the end of the lesson, we came back to the story, and pulled it apart some more. We related it to ourselves. Christ was with us once, but left to be with his Father. We know he will come back one day, but we don't know when, just like the apostles didn't know when he'd join them again. The disciples were out there on the seas during the fourth watch: this time period fell between 3-6 AM, just before dawn. We live in the last dispensation of time. In their geographical area, the winds were often very violent, and the waves very daunting. When the savior came to them on the water, it was no wonder the disciples were freaked out. Yet amidst the storm, Christ said, "Be of good cheer...". How often do those words have to give battle to the virulent torrents in our lives?

Then came the exchange between Peter and Christ. After Christ invites Peter out onto the water, Peter actually stands on it and begins to walk! That's so AWESOME!! But his environment scared him, and he began to sink. Peter IMMEDIATELY called for the savior's help, and Christ was there instantly, helping him back onto his feet. Christ's scolding, though often taken as chastising, to me sounds more like a gentle chiding: "O ye of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" Did he say, "O ye of little faith in me, wherefore didst thou doubt in me? NO! I think the implications were more along the lines of "O ye of little faith in yourself, wherefore didst thou doubt in yourself? We agreed as a class that more often than not, that's what happens in our lives. It's not that we lose faith in Christ, or doubt in him; we lose faith in ourselves, and our own abilities. We start drowning, because the waves in our lives get so high so quickly. So often, we are quick to judge Peter for sinking, but we all in essence experience the very same thing in our lives when times get scary, right?

I love verse 32: And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Which says a few things to me: (1) The winds didn't let up at all the entire time Christ and Peter remained on the water. They calmed once they got to the ship. And (2) they had to get back to the ship. Now in every picture I've seen of this story's depiction, Peter and Christ were a good distance from the ship. Did Christ tow Peter through the water until they reached the boat? I don't think so. I think after Christ lifted Peter out the water's grasp, he set him on his feet, and together they walked on that water, all the way back to the boat.

When they got to the boat, what happened? Not one of the disciples judged Peter for ever sinking in that water. Instead, they were happy that Peter was there, and that Christ had come, and they all worshipped Christ together. After discussing the consequences for the righteous and the wicked when Christ comes again, our class agreed that the prize for the righteous was much better, and that we would love all of our friends and family to be there on the boat, together in love and happiness. I asked if anyone had friends or family out there in the water, drowning, or if they themselves felt like that. Most of the class responded with an understanding affirmative.

And that's when I told my class about my own experiences with drowning, with SSA, and with those in my life who came to my aid and grabbed me by the arms, lifted me out of the water, and helped me on my feet, even when I wasn't crying out for Christ's help. I got to bare my testimony to the class about how happy I am that I am still here in the church today, walking on water once again, on my way with those I love to the boat that's big enough for all of us. I told the class that my experience should not be special - that all of our friends, no matter what they deal with, whether it's abusive and addictive substances, violence, same gender attraction, depression, whatever it is - that we all belong here, that we all have a place on that boat.

This past Sunday, my bishop approached me after sacrament meeting. He is brand new to the ward, and it was only his second Sunday here when he sat in the back of my class and observed the class. He thanked me for teaching the class, and told me that the lesson was wonderful. He said he could really feel my spirit, and that he was glad I was able to share what I did with the class. I was so grateful to God for giving me the strength to do it, and for sending the bishop as reassurance that what I had done was for a good cause.



P.S. The two boys that I spoke about in my last blog? They came to my performance on Sunday! Their mother said they'd been talking about me nonstop all week, and so they came to the fireside just to hear me sing again! I was so touched.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Such an Awesome Day

Yesterday, I performed at a large Arts Festival put on by a Multi-Stake group in the greater Puget Sound area. It was the first time in 4 years that I'd done something like this, so I very nervous about it. I was asked to do a 20 min set at 10:30 in the morning. That's so early for me on a Saturday!! But I was glad to do it, and it was an even bigger treat when my family showed up, and my non-member co-workers came out to show their support. Afterwards, one of the talent managers of the day approached me, informed me that an act later in the evening canceled due to a family emergency, and asked if I'd do a repeat performance. I originally hadn't planned on sticking around for the time, but something told me to gladly accept, so I did.

So many great things came of it the rest of the day, that I am still high on the gratitude I feel.

First, I got to have a very enjoyable lunch with my co-workers, where I was given the opportunity to share the gospel with them again. They had questions about polygamy, and I was able to give them a historical and spiritual account of the events that revolved around the laws of plural marriage. Then I was able to catch the performances of other good friends I haven't been able to hear play in a long while. During another break time, I was able to go to the studio and take care of some phone calls and paperwork. My studio is close to the house of a friend who was celebrating his 21st birthday, so I was able to visit him for a while before going back. He's a recent convert, and the only member of his Buddhist family, who received me very well. We had a great time, and I was glad I went.

I went back to the church to watch another performance before my next call time. There were several children and youth walking around without adult supervision. I noticed two young girls and two slightly older boys. The two girls were probably 12ish, very good friends, and they smiled shyly at me every time we crossed paths. I recognized them from my morning set. After my second set, they gathered the courage to approach me and introduce themselves, get pictures taken with me, and encourage me to audition for American Idol (I felt like a mini celebrity!).

The two boys were 14 year old fraternal twins. They were beautiful, tall and skinny creatures with perfect hair (I learned later their mother's a hairdresser). We struck up a conversation while looking at the art on the walls. I thought perhaps they created some of it, but they hadn't this time around, they were just admirers. I asked them about their art, and they told me their individual styles. They were doing a scavenger hunt game with the art on the walls, and solicited my help, so I roamed the gallery with them, helping them find the answers to the art questions. From the talks we were having, and their behaviors, I gained a sense that they were very special, and that they needed affirmative older-brotherly love. So it only mildly surprised me when the boys latched onto me the remainder of their time at the festival. I educated them on ballroom dancing while the dancers performed, and they told me about their musical interests (country!). They confirmed my suspicions when they told me they were adopted, and that they went into the foster program when they were 4, and could still remember it. I asked if something bad happened, and they told me something terrible. But they were adopted at 7 by a nice LDS couple, and they are great kids now. My heart cracked a little bit for them, and I praised God that they were being well-taken care of.

Whenever I needed to excuse myself for even a moment, I would turn around the next second, and they were with me again. When I left them to go to the green room, they came looking for me there as well. During my performance, Max sat and watched wild-eyed, while Jake walked around. Afterwards, Max excitedly told me about his desires to become a great singer, and Jake triumphantly handed me my scavenger hunt checklist with every item marked found. They sat with me and my niece and nephews for the next half hour before they left. I was so grateful I met them, and I suspect they have meaningful futures ahead of them.

There was also a woman in the crowd who was so impressed with my performance, she called her son in L.A. to tell him about it. Apparently, she's an A&R Rep for him, and he owns his own production studio there. She also contacted her Seattle talent agent, and is now trying to hook me up with the two of them, fly me down to L.A. to see if we all mesh well, and help me get my music out there. I honestly don't know what to think, and I don't want to put my hopes in something that may not amount to something, but I'm grateful for the opportunity at any rate.

At the end of the event, I stuck around, got a couple friends together, and helped them tear down the place. I actually really enjoyed it, and I felt that kind of tired afterwards where you are exhausted from doing something good, and you know you're going to sleep well. And I did, and I woke up and had to write all about it so I never forget what and awesome day I had.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Poetry

So I found some poetry I wrote a while back, and I thought I'd share some of it here. If it peaks your interest, let me know, and maybe I'll share more~

P.S. Thanks guys, I love you all tons~


It's Not You...


Blue as the skies above, your eyes
Shield something deep inside them;
And just as I think I've glimpsed their prize
Something new catches their attention.

It's not you, it's not me
But I don't know what it could be...

Your legs, so limber and so long
Glide across the carpet that at one time
We shared; now a memory gone
That I never again will find.

Your feet take you to the door,
An exit once before an entryway
To my heart; but no more
Can your feet permit you to stay.

It's not you, it's not me,
But I wish we still could be...

Darkness now, where light once dwelled.
It faded as your golden hair
Slipped from view; now all that's felt
Is the emptiness of no one else there.

My eyes, which once deceived my body
Now shed tears of emotions deep,
I never knew existed; the honesty
Is too much for my heart to keep.

She's gone, she's gone
Forever...

No more her, no more we,
It's not you, it's just me.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Where You're Going

Before Jason passed away, I wrote a song for him. I never had the guts to sing it to him, or to anyone else but my brother and his girlfriend. However, the song has served as such a strength to me in helping me cope with his passing, and I'm beginning to wonder if it would do the same for anyone else who has mourned his passing, or the passing of another loved one recently.

So here are the lyrics. Soon, I'll post a video of me performing it...

Where You're Going

Where you're going is beautiful
And the gift of knowing helps keep me whole
'Cause I know that one day I want to be
Where you're going

So will you please save a plot for me
Next to your place, or across the street
'Cause I know that one day I want to be
Where you're going

Promise me you'll wait
To usher me through heaven's gate
I'll meet you there one sweet day
We'll be together again

But until then, I'll do all I can
To be a good friend; I'll try to be as good a man
As you are 'cause I want to be
Where you're going

Where you're going is a special place
There's no crying, there's no sickness, and there's no pain
Everybody's happy to be
Where you're going

So promise me you'll wait
To usher me through heaven's gate
I'll meet you there one, one sweet day
We'll be together again

But til that time comes, I'm gonna live each day
As if it was my last one, and I promise to keep the faith
And walk as you did, 'cause I want to live
In that special place where now you wait
I would give anything to be
Where you're going
Where you're going

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Parable of the Chicken Pot Pie


Jason and I have known each other half of our lives. When we were 12 or 13, he moved from the beautiful islands of Hawaii to the overcast wetlands of Tacoma. Our families became close, and we told people we were cousins.

Then my cousin Sailau came home from Japan when we were 15, and she moved in with us. We became brother and sister, we grew so close during those years. So when she and Jason started dating, we had to make the adjustment from calling Jason our "cousin" to calling him "our sister's boyfriend." Complicated? Try explaining to people why your cousin is dating your sister!

Jason and Sailau were on-again, off-again high school sweethearts that became a beautiful wedded couple. They are so cute together, and watching them grow from teenage lovebirds to parents of 3 children has been entertaining and inspiring. Though their lives have had their own share of drama (like everyone else's), I've been so proud of how much Jason and Sailau have grown and matured as people, as a couple, and as loving parents.

Jason has always been very athletic, very vibrant, and very active. So when I found out that he had cancer, I was a bit shocked. I was even more perturbed when Jason started getting hospitalized. At first, I reacted the way I always do: I went numb, and I steered clear from the situation as much as I could. A month ago, however, Sailau called me, and asked me to come visit her and Jason at the hospice where he was staying. She sounded like she really needed some support, and it was on the way of an area I planned on visiting that afternoon anyway.

I remember walking into that room for the first time: there were only 3 people there: Sailau, Jason, and our cousin Christian. i awkwardly greeted everyone, and sat in a chair. We talked pleasantries for a while before we started making fun of the rich kids on an MTV show that was on. Time went on, and more of it passed by than I originally anticipated before I made a weak exit. They were very appreciative of my little visit, and though I felt anxiety from being there, I felt that I needed to come back again, soon.

I returned the next day, Easter Sunday. Much more of the family was there this time, and I remember feeling closer to them than I had in a very long time. We had a great meal and spent much time talking together, singing for Jason, and enjoying the company of loved ones. Because of my crazy schedule and my lazy habits during the few leisurely weekends I do get to myself, I had chosen not to spend a lot of time with my family, and I'd forgotten how good it could feel to do so. I think I was touched more that day by the love in that hospice room than I had been in a very long time.

I came back to visit Jason every single day after that. I found myself thinking about him and Sailau and the kids constantly while at work, at church, or wherever else I was. After work, my arms and legs would automatically drive me to that hospice house, and I'd visit that room full of love, and be filled by it. Other members of the family would visit daily as well, and we all grew to love each other so much through the service we rendered Jason and his family. During this month, I gained friendships with family I had either barely met or had never known. I saw people of all races, ages, and religious affiliations come through that room to visit Jason, and bond with everyone else there. It has been one of the most incredible phenomenas to watch unravel.

Jason demonstrated this phenomenon to me one afternoon during a quick visit I made before work. He was wide awake and aware, and was in a great mood when I walked into the room. I told him I was there for a quick pitstop, and he offered me food and drink before I lef, like any good family member would. I declined, having no honest appetite at the time. He sighed and told me not to refuse, and once again requested that I visit the kitchen to make myself a plate. I politely turned it down again, explaining that I was truly not hungry, and that I'd take another break soon for lunch. He started getting upset with me, telling me that he really wanted me to eat something, and that he was not kidding. He told me that there was a chicken pot pie on the kitchen table that he was not going to be able to eat, and that wanted me to take it to work with me. After insisting twice more, I finally obliged, and promised I'd take it to work with me. The rest of the family members there coaxed me on, reminding me that Jason really wanted me to do it, and to make him happy. After thanking Jason again, and reassuring him that I really did have the chicken pot pie with me, and promising him that I would eat it, I left the hospice house, and arrived at work 30 minutes before my next lesson would begin.

I remember sitting in the back room, and setting my things down. I noticed a sudden and slight pain in my stomache: I WAS getting hungry after all. I had been up for 4 or 5 hours, and had skipped breakfast. I looked at that chicken pot pie, and immediately thought of Jason. How did he know that this would happen? That I really would get hungry, and need that pie? Gratefully, I sat down and finished that pot pie in 5 minutes flat. It satisfied me more than a chicken pot pie normally would, because I appreciated it more today. To me, that pie represented the love and wisdom of a loved one who refused to back down, and who looked out for his own, despite my stubborness.

Over the next couple weeks, I saw Jason help facilitate growth, healing, and maturation in the lives of all of those around him. Looking back now, I am amazed at the things he was able to accomplish from his hospital bed. He helped mend rifts in relationships that had fallen apart over the last few years, bring together old friends who hadn't spoken in a long time, create everlasting bonds between strangers, release the positive sides of pessimistic people, inspire hope in cynics, and encourage the good in an otherwise cruel world. All through simple things like a forgiving word, a pretty song, or a delicious chicken pot pie.

Last Tuesday, Jason was called back to our heavenly home. At the young age of 25, Jason had already fulfilled his mortal life's measure. There's no doubt he was good at taking care of things in a timely manner; it was obvious how well he'd done that in the way he prepared his wife, his kids, and his family for his departure. Over the last month, Jason taught me a lot about life's biggest priorities: life well-lived before God and yourself, love everlasting that is grown and nurtured through family ties and bonds of true friendship, and the pursuit of happiness that is fulfilled by the measure of your granting it to others. All it took for me to learn this valuable lesson was the cost of gas to get to the hospice house, time well spent visiting my brother in law, and a chicken pot pie I'll never forget.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Help Thou Mine Unbelief

One of my favorite passages in the Bible comes from Mark 9:

23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

It expresses how I feel so often in my life. I KNOW that the gospel of Jesus Christ is real, and I KNOW that Heavenly Father hears my prayers. I KNOW that the atonement is big enough for all things, even my own plight. Still, I have days where I'm weak, and my faith is tried. On these days, I want to cry, and I plead that the Lord will allow blessings into my life despite my unbelief.

Now, more than I have in a very long time, my hope is that God sees the good in me, and will grant unto me the righteous desires of my heart, despite my imperfections.

"Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief..."

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Know That I've Got Issues...

Again, I have so much on my mind. Easter was very eye-opening for me, for many personal reasons. I've seen how selfish I have been over the last year, and I've come to learn much about the importance of eternal families, the power of self-analyses, the magic of social relational fortifications, and the gentle yet moving power of God's hand. I've grown so much in the last month that it has been overwhelming, but I still carry on day to day, the burden made lighter due to the grace of God. I am very grateful to be where I am today.

I have been online less frequently over the last few weeks. My heart aches when I read of the pain and turmoil others are going through. I pray on everyone's behalf in the hopes that Heavenly Father finds my pleas worthy of His time, and that those on behalf of whom I pray receive some benefit, despite how much or how little we are acquainted. I wish I could do more, though. I wish that it wasn't such a socially frowned-upon thing to care so much about others. Every day, I think about people I may not know very well, and wonder how they are feeling, and hope that they are coping with life healthily and happily. Some of these people I've only ever talked to on the internet, or met once or twice at church or work. It's funny, because people joke about my "black heart" a lot. If only people realized how much I truly do care...

So instead, I pray for people, and I keep it to myself. I don't know if that makes things any better. I hope it does. For all of those within the sound of my voice (or these words), please know that you are thought of daily, and that you are far from alone. There are days where life feels harder for me than on other days. But I'm constantly reminded of a God that wants me to be happy, a God that wants me to feel important and alive, a God who is wonderful! When I think of Him, and of all the miracles I've seen in my life, I cheer up, and find the strength to keep pushing forward. Even in my errors, I have learned to see the good, the growth, that I undergo because of the experience.

I'm so tired right now, I'm afraid to keep babbling...

I Stand All Amazed

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Smack Into You

I was a little bored tonight, and I thought "Hmmm.... maybe I'll mess around with my new iMac cam."  So I started singing this song to test out the recorder, but my roommate was sleeping, so I couldn't use my full voice.  Anyhow, one thing led to another, and bam.... my first ever youtube vid!





video

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Google Me

I did, just for fun... and I found a poem I wrote back in 2001, just two days after the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. It's kinda crazy... it's a poem I wrote to friends and family, and sent over an email. At the time, I was a freshman in college, far away for the first time from family and friends, and only on my 13th day in a place I was still growing accustomed to. I was very scared, but that was not something I displayed to my loved ones. It's still a guilty habit of mine: to always have to be the strong one, to never lose composure in front of others, to push everyone forward past the pain of life.

Anyhow, a couple days after I sent the email, I received it back from a completely different friend, who had received it from someone else. I checked the progress it had made, and realized that everyone had passed it on, like a chain letter that was being shared around the world. It was weird! I got it back a few more times after that. I didn't remember ever putting my name to the poem, either, but somehow I was given credit for it. Now it's published on a random poetry site, and it's received nearly 50,000 hits! I can't believe it, I've never even heard of this site! And it says it wasn't copywrited until 2005, 4 years after I originally wrote it.

In case you're interested in the poem, and don't want to bother googling me (but why wouldn't you?!), here's the poem. Please don't laugh too hard:


Love Is Living


This is for my friends everywhere
Who may now find themselves in the midst of despair
Because of the shameful acts of hate
That destroyed so much within the last two days.
Brother, sister, neighbor, friend,
Let us all remember when
"Love one another" said Jesus Christ
Including those that we despise.
Our enemies need our love the most
For it is hate that they do host.
So if you can find it in your heart,
Please forgive our counterparts.
Not all Palestinians act that way,
Only the radicals that on TV were displayed.
Please, instead, focus your energy
To the positive rebounding of our beloved country.
I ask that you join in the thousands that mourn
In prayer for the thousands in pain and scorn.
Help to find some kind of relief
In the midst of all these sad happenings.
That God will bless the ones who keep
On the search for people buried under the rubble deep.
And that families of the victims find
Some justice in their own due time.
I do pray for all of you within my reach
That you're faith in God you all do keep.
For it's our duty as surviving saints
To remember the tragedy of last Tuesday
So we can all better defend
Against the evil that will come again.
This time, we'll be prepared to fight
The hate with all our loving might.
For the truth is: the true battle's between love and hate
I pray that love will dominate.
Please pass this on to whom you feel
May need some love, may need to heal.
For it is with love this to you is given;
Please share this love, for love is living.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Especially For This Youth

Last Sunday, I was blessed with the opportunity to take part in a musical number for a friend's sacrament meeting in a neighboring stake. Two of my friends, my brother, and I performed "Prayer of the Children," and it went very well, especially considering we only practiced together 4 times. In our own stake, we were having Stake Conference, so I didn't feel too bad about skipping out on my weekly duties in my home ward.

Just after I finished dinner that evening, though, my bishop called to let me know he missed me at church today. He wondered why he didn't see me or my brother, and joked about us playing hookey. Then he asked me if I was planning on attending our ward's St. Patty's Party this weekend. "It's on Saturday evening, Brother Esera; I made sure they planned it that way just for you," he told me. We talked for a little while longer, I promised I'd be there, and then he spoke to my brother about the activity as well.

I know this may not sound like a big deal, but you have to know my bishop, and some background:

In my single's ward, we have had AMAZING bishoprics over the last 10 years. When I first came into contact with this ward almost 8 years ago, Bishop Wolvers served us. He is a brilliant man - affluent in music, great with people, and a life-long counselor to high school and college aged young adults. I joined the ward during my term of disfellowshipment because of the wonderful things I heard about him from 2 other mohos. I credit much of my spiritual growth to his patient ear, his honest tongue, his sturdy shoulders, and his loving heart. He was succeeded by Bishop Washer, a retired Naval officer with the most pleasant demeanor and genuine spirit. He is also a people-person, and a long time friend to my family.

When Bishop Anderson was called to our ward, I knew nothing about him - I'd never met him, and had heard about him. My early impressions of him were not the same as the past two bishops: Bishop Anderson is not quite as social as the men who preceeded him, and was not as easy-going. He came off as more conservative, more stiff, less understanding, and less approachable. I was unsure as to how comfortable I would feel coming to him with my personal issues, especially when it came to SSA. I was afraid he was just too different from the last two bishops.

The real trouble came when my friends and my brother started relaying the same concerns. "I know what you guys mean," I'd say, "but there has to be a reason why he was called to our ward at this time. He's going to learn to be better for us, and we're going to learn to love and appreciate him. Somehow, Bishop Anderson is going to be good for us." Inside, I told myself that I had to learn this for myself, and be sure if anyone was going to believe me.

I remember praying for help before the first time I went to see Bishop Anderson. I prayed that I would be open to accepting him as my bishop, and that we would both be guided by the Spirit during our meeting so it would be effective for us. I remember specifically asking the Lord to show me that the Bishop loved me so I could trust him and his divinely-inspired counsel.

Our interview went much better than expected! Though the Bishop was still a little stiff, he took my confession very well, and didn't freak out in the slightest when I described to him the issues I was having with SSA. He was very matter-of-factly, and I appreciated his honest and direct candor. I was set up to have an interview with the Stake President, and I prayed for a similar experience. That went well, too. I went back to my ward that Sunday, and felt great!

The undoubtable answer to my prayer came soon after. I remember Bishop Anderson randomly coming up to me one day, and wrapping his arm around my shoulder as he asked about how I was doing. Bishop Anderson is NOT a touchy-feely kind of guy! I knew nothing short of a miracle could get him to spontaneously and willingly do that, especially with me! I thanked God for showing me that my bishop loved and cared for me.

Since then, my bishop has shown me time and time again that he loves not only me, but my peers in the ward. He has lightened up SO MUCH, and has earned the respect and adoration of the ward in the same right that our previous bishops did. Even my best friend and my brother, who were very skeptical in the beginning, have grown to love him. I am so proud of my bishop! And I'm so glad that the Lord has blessed me with the fulfillment of my hope.

When Bishop Anderson told me he made sure that this weekend's activity took place on Saturday just for me, I was very touched. He knows that my work schedule prohibits me from being there on Friday evenings, and he knows how prone our activity's committee is to planning events on Fridays versus Saturday nights. It showed me that he really wanted me to be involved, and I felt special that he would take the time to do something like that just for me. If you're reading this, Bishop, thanks so much! And I love you too!!

Friday, March 6, 2009

My Alphabet

Anal-retentive: only about certain things. Like my dishes; it takes me FOREVER to wash them because I make sure I go over every inch of the dish with my sponge 2 or 3 times to clean it. Then I rinse it well, look at it again, and if I catch a hint of a blemish, I wash it again.

Brown: a year round tan is nice to have (thanks Mom and Dad!).

Cute: ask anybody! I'm adorable!

Dance-Floor Diva: I LOVE to dance! Which is cool, because I teach ballroom dancing for a living. Getting up, moving to the music, sweating out the toxins, it's the best way to get exercise and enjoy yourself!

Even-Keel: it takes a lot to make me angry. I'm pretty collected most of the time. But when I get set off, it ain't pretty...

Forgetful: I was going to tell you more about this, but I can't seem to remember what I was going to say...

Genuine: like... Miller Draft? I don't know, I was just trying to stay away from the obvious "G".

Helpful: friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent - Scout's honor!

Intuitive: I like to think that's why some people think I'm like a woman.

Jovial: Here's the definition from dictionary.com - (adj.) endowed with or characterized by a hearty, joyous humor or a spirit of good-fellowship; merry, jolly, convivial, gay, joyful, mirthful

Kid: A really big, balding, 25 year old one, with a big head and a little ADHD. Ooh, something shiny...

Loving: Almost to a fault. It's pathetic and wonderful all at the same time :):

Masochistic: Why else do I continue to go to a single's ward? :P

Naive: Or so people think...

Original: I'm like Spam - there's nothing quite like me. Thank goodness.

Perfect: I'm pretty much the modern, Samoan male version of Mary Poppins. I even have the umbrella to prove it!

Quick: I know, I know - that's what she said!! Hahaha

Random: Oh my gosh, today at the mall, I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in years! He's black. I met him on my way to Mrs. Field's cookies. I got 4 cookies for the price of 3! And they all had chocolate, just like my friend! I love chocolate!

Single: If you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it~

Thankful: Wow, thank you everybody! This award means so much to me. First off, I have to thank God. If it weren't for Him, I'd still be singing songs in the bathroom with a hair brush as my mic. I also have to give it up for my Mama and my Daddy, my sisters and my brother...

Untouched: I go ooh ooh, you go ahh ahh, la la la la, la la la la... ( I feel so untouched right now)

Vindicated: I promise I'm done with the song references! I'm vindicated from many things, especially from my own self.

Wonderful: I'm full of other things too, wonder's the only one that starts with a "w" though.

Xtra Clever: Ha! Bet you've been wondering what I'd do when we got to this part! Well guess what?! Whatever, I do what I want!

Young: But not naive. Which I guess negates my "n". So my new "n" shall be "Non-naive".

Zealous: Not just because it starts with a "z," but because I am! Especially when it comes to my music, I write new songs all the time.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Have So Much To Say....

...but it overwhelms me to the point that I am rendered speechless. Like that feeling after you've gone so long without food that you've gotten to the point that you are no longer hungry. Which only happens to me on Fast Sundays when I actually choose to fast...

But I will be back with more words soon...

Friday, February 27, 2009

What's At the End of the Rainbow

I'm a gay Mormon guy. One of many, actually. In fact, my bishop told me that in the greater Seattle area, we have over 600 LDS men and women that deal with same-sex attractions. That's more than any other area in the US besides perhaps the Salt Lake Valley. 600! So often, people like me feel like we have no one that can relate to us. If only we realized how non-unique our situation truly is!

Most people know someone who is both gay and Mormon, whether you're a member of the LDS faith or not. Of course, many people don't know they know a gay Mormon, but I'll venture to say everyone does. Many of my friends had other gay Mormon friends before they made my acquaintance. The thing that strikes me is the response I get from a lot of these friends. I get a lot of comments like, "You're not like so-and-so, and he's a gay Mormon," or "Wow, I thought that gay Mormons were more like blank, and you're not really like that," or "You're so different from my other Mormon friend, and he's gay, too." I used to be wary of that comment, but recently I've come to realize that I shouldn't be. Why not?

Well, I guess it's because of where I choose to put the emphasis on my opening statement: I am a gay Mormon guy. I've found that a lot of my friends who are in the same boat choose to put the emphasis on the first part: I am a gay Mormon guy. They talk about their gay life all the time, and place so much importance on that part of themselves. I guess I understand why: we go so long without addressing that portion of our beings, hiding it, even trying to destroy it for so many years. We fear rejection if we were ever to share that intimate part of ourselves with people. And when we finally are comfortable and capable of opening up and expressing that side of our soul, we find such liberation in the act that we allow ourselves to share it almost too generously with others. I remember this stage of my life; it was only just 5 years ago that I was like this.

But there came a point where I needed to figure out how the rest of that statement played in my life. I needed to know if the next part held any weight that I was willing to carry. For quite some time, I didn't know if I had room in my pack for "gay" and "Mormon;" I thought I'd have to leave one of the burdens behind. But as I studied the gospel, prayed to my Heavenly Father, and matured in spirit, I gained a testimony of things so strong and so undeniable, that the emphasis started shifting; my original statement turned into "I am a gay Mormon guy."

Reaching this point in my spiritual development mirrored coming out of the closet in so many interesting ways. I've had moments where telling people my religious affilitations shocked them more than coming out to them. A few people have asked if I was truly happy being a member of the church, and others have encouraged me to try other faiths. And some of those people didn't even know yet that I was gay! Then there are those who admire me for my convictions, and for being myself, and following my heart. They defend me when others are close-minded to my spiritual beliefs. It's been quite an interesting phenomenon to watch.

Nowadays, my statement looks more like this: "I am a gay Mormon guy." Although I know I am quite different from other people, I am just a guy, trying to get by in this world; doing his part to make a difference; doing his best to matter; trying hard to do all that he's set out to accomplish. I have made peace emotionally and spiritually with the decisions that have led me to accept the homosexual feelings I bear, and the testimony of God's church that I cannot forsake. Now, I'm just doing my best to live the way I know I should, not because someone else says so, but because it's truly what I want. Being gay is a part of who I am, but it's not the biggest slice of this pie. My relationship with God is more important. I want to live with Him again; I know it may be a tough road to tread, but I'm willing to go for a hike if it means there's a "happily ever after" to look forward to.

This is going to sound totally gay, but it came to me while I pondered the upcoming celebration of St. Patrick's Day:

Life is like a rainbow. It is made up of many different colors, some that you may love, and others you won't care for. The rainbow seems to extend forever, and you can't see where it ends, and you don't know where it originated. At the end, a little man has a pot of gold, and he'll share it with us if we find them. This is life. There are parts we love, and parts we don't love. We don't know how long this life will last, but we know it has an end. At the end, there is a man there. From where we stand, he looks small because he seems so far away. In actuality, he's not a leprachaun at all - he's a great divine being. Luckily for us, he's our Father. And He has a treasure worth more than anything on this Earth. Many may not believe in this man, or the pot of gold, but I know they're there, because I've asked, and even from way far away, He's let me know that they both exist. I am willing to wait til I get to the end of the rainbow to meet Him, and share in the treasure He has to offer.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Beautiful Weekend

This weekend has been so full for me. So much has gone on, I can barely begin to describe it.

This weekend was all about Meaghan for me. I learned - and FELT! - so much over the last few days. Friday was a normal crazy work day. On top of that, though, I was preparing a huge poster and her dance book for Meaghan's Memorial. It was quite a project that included finding the right pictures, sizing them appropriately, cutting them into the right shapes, matching the right colors, stenciling letters, pasting pieces together, and a few other creative skills. The project took me time at work, plus hours afterwards. That night, I didn't go to bed until 6:30 the next morning.

I got up an hour and a half later to get to Meaghan's memorial. It was one of the most beautiful memorial services I've ever attended. The chapel was set on a small island, overlooking the sound. It was a beautiful day, few clouds, warm sun, and a light breeze. Everyone wore beautiful colors to the service, in honor of Meaghan's wish for it to be a celebratory event; and everywhere you looked, you saw butterflies - a symbol of new life that Meaghan loved and admired. Still, we all shed tears as family and friends shared cherished memories of Meaghan's inspiring life, and her motivating and wise words. Even I shed a few tears. It was so nice to be able to feel like that again, as strange as it may sound. I can't remember the last time I cried; it's been years.

That evening, I had dreams - swirls of detached, nonsensical memories that I will never recall. The only feelings I can remember are those of a calm, nostalgic, and underlyingly happy tone. After 4 hours on Saturday night, I woke up and quickly dressed for the 14 hour work day I had ahead of me. When I got into the car, the first thing I noticed was the program from Meaghan's memorial service on the passenger seat. Immediately I was hit with the realization that she was not going to be joining us this time for our Showcase, and the reality of her passing finally started to dawn on my slow brain. My eyes began to mist, and I prepared myself mentally and spiritually as I drove, asking God to help me make it through the long day ahead. The one thing that came to me was the words of Meaghan's mother the day she came and delivered us the news about Meaghan's passing: "Meaghan may not be there physically, but she will be at Showcase spiritually. Look for her, she will show herself there. She's already shown us she's still here."

At the Showcase, there was so much to do, so many people to take care of, so much to see! It wasn't until around noon that I finally saw it - the butterfly gown! As soon as I saw it, I knew! Meaghan WAS there, and I immediately felt uplifted! I almost heard a voice in my head say, "See? I told you so!" I touched the beautiful insects that garnished the elegant dress, and admired it with more fervor than a boy should. I was not ashamed, though; this was what I was looking forward to see - the sign that Meaghan was still alive somewhere.

I keep thinking back to the service, and pondering some very wise words that Meaghan shared with her best friend, and her best friend shared with us: whenever her friend would cry due to Meaghan's health, Meaghan would say,"Please don't cry. I don't want you to be sad. I don't want to be sad; I want to be happy. I want to smile!" And she would! Meaghan ALWAYS smiled! She was always so positive and upbeat. She never let you know that she was in physical pain when she was. She never felt sorry for herself, or let others feel sorry for her. She was a fighter! When the doctors told her she had less than a year to live, Meaghan didn't sit and sulk; she pushed passed their words, and proved them wrong by almost 15 years! She always had time to make someone else's day better, and she always did her best to make sure everyone else was happy. She taught us the importance of every single day, and every present moment. She didn't dwell on the past, and she never tried to rush into the future. She was grateful for today!

Meaghan is the type of person that I want to be! She proved that it didn't matter what type of trials you're asked to endure; that the thing that counted was the way you lived your life! She didn't make excuses, she didn't solicit special treatment, she didn't let herself get defeated. I admire her so much, and a part of me wishes she were still here so I could continue to have her positive influence on my life here with me today. However, I am grateful for the knowledge of a divine plan that keeps us eternally entwined, and look forward to the day I'll be able to be in her company again.

If you're reading this Meaghan, I want you to know that I love you so much, and am eternally grateful for the blessing that it is to have had you in my life these last couple of years!

Friday, February 13, 2009

One More Way

Hey everyone! I want to let you know more about what's happening this Saturday. No, I'm not talking about Valentine's. I'm talking about the American Heart Association Dance-A-Thon, hosted by the Tacoma Arthur Murray School of Dance.

I will be joining roughly 20 - 30 people of all ages on a dance floor for 3 hours, busting a move to tunes from the likes of Frank Sinatra to Britney Spears. Each song will play for 2 minutes, after which we'll switch dance partners and dance to a new style. We'll be doing everything from the Foxtrot, to Salsa, to Swing, to the Waltz, to the Tango, to the 2-Step. It'll be so much fun, and we'll dance a total of 90 times by the end of the 3 hours.

If you haven't taken the opportunity to sponsor, you can easily do so by pledging per dance if you'd rather do it that way. A flat donation would be great too! Or you can pledge a dime per dance, or whatever! Thanks again to all of you that have helped this cause, and thanks in advance to all of you who will help the cause!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

All I Need

I'm far from perfect
And I know You know it
I've messed up so much
I can't count how many times I've blown it

I'm sorry, so sorry
For all the times that I've been weak
And I promise to
Turn over a new leaf

Life is so tough
When you try to live it all alone
I found out how much
I've needed help along this road

You told me to find You
If I needed anything, just ask
I've been everywhere,
And now Father here I am

Now I'm falling, I'm fading
I'm praying for someone who understands

I think You're all I need
To make things right
You're all I need
To save my life
That's why I'm on my knees
Praying
I would give everything
Just to have Thee
'Cause You're all I need

I'm tired, torn down
I've been shaken up
But I'm still here, waiting
For the good in me to waken up

I'm trying so hard
To play the hand that I was dealt
But I'm overworked, and overwhelmed
And I'm desperate for divine help

'Cause I'm falling, I'm fading
I'm reaching for Your ever outstretched hand

'Cause You're all I need
To make things right
You're all I need
To save my life
That's why I'm on my knees
Praying
I would give everything
Just to have Thee
'Cause You're all I need

Father I can't do this by myself
Life alone would be a living hell
I never want to be without You again
You're my saving grace, and my best friend

Oh please
Stay with me

You're all I need
To make things right
You're all I need
To save my life
I'm on my knees
Praying
I'd give up everything
Just to have Thee
'Cause You're all I need

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dance Angel

I have the amazing opportunity of working with people of all different walks of life in my profession, and change their lives through dancing. As a teacher, you love all of your students. All of them are special, and all of them have a meaningful place in your heart. I want to share the story of one student who has been an inspiration to us all, and who prompted my charitable passions for the American Heart Association.

When she first walked into our studio in November of 2007, we had no idea that Meaghan Hicks dealt with a serious heart condition like Pulmonary Hypertension. She was much too energetic, much too happy, and much too full of life to be sick! Just like many of our students, Meaghan watched “Dancing With the Stars” religiously, and dreamed about becoming an amazing dancer herself. Though she had an early background in gymnastics, it had been a while since Meaghan had been able to participate in extraneous physical activity, especially one like dancing. But earlier that year, Meaghan received a blessing she’d waited years for: a double lung and heart transplant. Now the girl that was told 14 years earlier that she might never live to see her 14th birthday was given the chance to experience life as many doubted she would. Guess what was the first thing she wanted to do? That’s right, she wanted to dance!

Nine months after the day of her transplant (what she deemed her “2nd Birthday”), Meaghans body was ready to keep up with her vital spirit, and she started dancing. No one smiled bigger than Meaghan when she was on the dance floor! Every moment was magical, and she made the most of them. We had to start out slower than she liked, and it frustrated her every time she had to take a quick break. I remember the first day, after her 4th or 5th lesson, when Meaghan was able to go the entire 40 minute block without a pit stop. We whooped and hollered in celebration!

We celebrated often and loudly during every step of Meaghan’s dance progression, and it was those times we reminisced on when Meaghan would get sick, and have to take a break from her dancing. Sometimes, it was only a couple days or so. Then there were the months that wiped out her strength. These were the times that upset Meaghan the most. I still remember her first holiday season with Arthur Murray's: Meaghan was too ill to come in for dance lessons, but it would not deter her from stopping by the studio to spread cheer. Meaghan was too weak to leave the car, so she watched from the parking lot as her mother came in and dropped off gifts Meaghan prepared for her Arthur Murray family. We practically broke the doors down on our way out to greet her in her vehicle. She was so happy to see us, and so sad she couldn’t dance, that she cried a mixed batch of tears as her teachers cheered on the good health we knew would return, and conversed about the next time we’d get to dance together.

Meaghan is a huge supporter of the school. In celebration of her transplant anniversary, Meaghan joined us for her first Winter Showcase. She was majestic in her beautiful black gown. Her mother cheered along with our Tacoma Arthur Murray family as Meaghan performed her first Tango solo. No one beamed bigger than Meaghan did that day. Even as she departed before dinner that evening (due to fatigue), Meaghan smiled and wished the teachers the best of luck for our Professional Show. Later in the year, Meaghan joined us at our American Heart Association Pre-Gala as our special guest ambassador. She gave a very inspirational speech to an audience of strangers, and performed her improved Tango solo after being back in the studio for just 2 days. And as soon as our school was established on Myspace, Meaghan was one of our very first friends, and placed us on her Top 8 Friends list (which, by the way, is an incredible honor to many!). In her hobbies, Meaghan wrote, “Dancing at the Tacoma Arthur Murray’s: SO MUCH FUN!!!"

Meaghan passed away at her ripe age of 27 on Friday, January 30th, 2009. This month, Meaghan would have celebrated her 2nd 2nd Birthday, and her glorious return to dancing at Arthur Murray’s. For someone who suffered from a heart disease, Meaghan Hicks had the biggest, strongest, and most beautiful heart of anyone we’ve ever met. That is why we’ve chosen, with her family’s blessing, to honor her this week by dedicating our American Heart Association Dance-A-Thon to someone who’s heart will forever be missed, and will never be forgotten. Long live Meaghan Hicks, our Dancing Angel.

*UPDATE*: Last night, my friends and I held a benefit in Meaghan's honor at our home, to raise awareness and funds for the American Heart Association, and to allow people the opportunity to get involved, and serve in a great cause. Our goal was to raise $5,000 to donate entirely to the AHA. That money will go to serve people like Meaghan who deal with cardiovascular diseases and strokes. So far, we've only managed to raise $110. This simply will not do! So I'm asking for help once again:

For this entire week, all through Valentine's Day, I am asking for pledges that will get us to our goal of $5,000. Pledges can vary anywhere from $1 to $1,000,000 (I know there are super generous people out there!). Making a pledge is so simple, too: simply respond to this blog with a comment, or email me directly at ejmose@gmail.com, and I will respond with details as to how the your pledge will be collected and used. I will be so grateful for anything you can sacrifice to this cause, so others like Meaghan can lead longer, better lives, with the opportunity to fulfill dreams! And I'm sure they will appreciate it in turn.

Again, thank you everyone for your time, and your sacrifice. To find out more about Meaghan, the American Heart Association, or how else you can get involved, go to www.meaghanhicks.com or www.americanheart.org .

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My big little brother ~


Today is my brother's birthday. I call him my "big little brother" because his stature is larger than my own, and he is younger than me (it was very catchy in a song I wrote to my family; I'll share the lyrics to that song another time). So in honor of his big day, I am dedicating this post to the great wonder that is Vivic:

My mother calls him the "miracle baby." Vivic was born 2 months premature, and more than 2 pounds lighter than the normal healthy newborn. He was named after the doctor that helped preserve his life during his first wee hours. They are the only 2 people I've EVER known with the name Vivic. So when I tell people that they will never meet another Vivic, it's just as literal as it is metaphoric, haha. My mom was always afraid that the complications revolving his birth would implicatively affect him as a person. Boy was she wrong! Vivic, since day one, has NEVER let anything get in his way.

Vivic is the youngest of the four of us. So naturally, he was a little more spoiled (he will never admit that to you, but it's true). But he was a great kid. He always thought for himself. He would get into a lot of trouble because of it, too. Whenever my parents would scold him for things, and tell him to do or not to do something, he ALWAYS asked "Why?" And if he wasn't satisfied with the answer he got, he'd ask again. And again. And again. He's relentless, haha. But it was always something I found admirable.

Most kids who are born premature are typically shorter, or smaller than other children. Not Vivic. He's always been larger than life. He was never an obese guy. But he's definitely not starving, haha. And he's got such a big personality. My brother has always been a clown. He has quite an inate sense of human humor. He can get anyone, and I mean ANYONE, to laugh. And the best part about it is he doesn't even have to try! Vivic has more energy than most people I know, and others feed off of it when he's in the room. It is a wonderful sort of energy that draws you in and keeps you there. It is a healthy, positive, vital type of energy.

But I think all in all, it's his heart that counts the most. Vivic has the biggest heart. He may not be the warmest person, or the most affectionate. But he is probably one of the most generous. He is quick to forgive, and quick to forget. He does whatever he can for me because he loves me. I already shared in a previous blog one of my most memorable and intimate experiences with Vivic. He is living proof that blood really is thicker than water. He puts me before almost everybody and everything else. He respects me, and tries so hard to make me happy. He is my best friend! And he is so worth getting to know. To know him is to love him! He is popular in many social circles because of his wit and charm. And not that he's 21 years old, those circles are only going to grow even larger!

I doubt he'll read this, but in case he does, I want Vivic to know that he is the best brother in the world! I could not have dreamed up a better brother for me, ever. I thank God that Vivic is in my life, and that we will be together, eternally bound by the ties of brotherhood. I am so blessed to have the best big little brother, and I love him.

Happy Birthday, Vivic!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Things That Come in Two's

There are great truths about human nature that allow me the opportunity to learn more about myself and others around me. I am always intrigued by the dual nature of many learning experiences. I'll give you a few examples:

Death - Though it can be quite tragic, there are 2 beautiful things you learn from it: (1) The value of a life, and how much someone means to you; and (2) the blessing that having today is, and not to spoil it by rushing into tomorrow.

Change - Real change, life-altering change, only occurs after we experience one of 2 things: (1) pain, or (2) pleasure. It's true, and you'll realize it after you are either deeply hurt, or have an amazingly wonderful experience!

Life - Humans don't experience static, stagnancy, permanent status quo. We are always in a state of (1) growth or (2) atrophy. Every bit of ourselves works this way - our muscles, our brains, our spirits.

There are many more I can share with you. I'm just very tired right now. I just needed to begin this post before it escaped my brain.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happiness is a Choice


I knew a kid who was called to serve a mission in a foreign land, and had to learn to speak the language. Prior to this appointment, he had minimal exposure to the culture or language of these people he had been called to serve. His patriarchal blessing, however, promised that he'd accomplish the feat of mastery over foreign languages through his faith and diligence.

After a few months out on his mission, however, his parents informed me that he was struggling terribly to learn the language, and communicate with the people he met. Growing up around traditions from another culture (Samoan), and being familiar with the culture and language he was new to, I understood the difficulties that this kid was facing. His parents and I and my best friend tossed around ideas on how we could help him out (my best friend is fluent in the aforementioned language and culture), and we finally decided that there was little we could do but pray on his behalf, for the mental and emotional strength he needed to overcome his struggles with the language barriers.

I committed to praying for him on several occasions over the next year. Whenever I spoke with this kid's parents, they would inform me of the progress he was making, and they looked more and more relieved and happy for the success their son was finding in this difficult trial.

After he returned, I spoke to him about his mission, about his experience with the people and the culture. He lightly spoke about it, and made no deal about his mission, either good or bad. Then, later, I heard him speak sarcastically about the language and returning to that place, and was really saddened by his candor. Didn't this guy realize that there were people out there that were praying for him while he was on his mission? That we asked Heavenly Father to help HIM specifically with his trial? That the very thing he was taking so lightly, others had taken seriously enough to pray to God about?

I continued in this vain for about a week until my mind was taken back to an experience I had years ago. I remember being 20 years old, and very unhappy with the way my life was going. I had envisioned my perfect life as a child: doing a semester of BYU after high school before leaving on a mission right at 19; coming home at 21; getting married by 22; finishing college at 24; being discovered by 25; selling a million records by 26; having 6 children (including a set of twins) by 30; and yada yada, right?! Instead, I was 20, with a year of BYU-I under my belt, no plans to return; no mission call; disfellowshipped from the church; and worst of all, the gradual realization that I was gay, and probably never going to marry or have children! I was very depressed.

During this time, I was visiting my then bishop every week. He was the best thing that ever happened to me. He didn't always tell me what I wanted to hear, but he always told me what I needed to hear, and didn't do it until after he listened to what I had to say. He gave me the most sound advice I'd ever received: "Happiness is a CHOICE." He taught me that happy people don't end up that way by accident. They make the conscious decision to be happy, and that I could be like that if I simply chose to be." I remember trying, a little in vain in the beginning. But one weekend, I did find a way to be happy, and I remember things going well for me. A good friend asked me specifically about that weekend later that month, after not seeing or visiting with me for quite a while. After I declared to him my positive experience, he gave me a big hug and said, "Good, because that's the day where I felt impressed to pray for you."

Years later, I'm reminded of the choice that I have: the choice to feel the way that I want to feel. No matter what is going on in my life, I can either moan and groan, and complain about my circumstances, or I can choose to bear my burden with hope and faith, with the surety that pain is temporary, and that I will make it through whatever is happening. I'm sure that when Christ suffered for me in the Garden, that he did not do it begrudgingly. He willingly atoned for my sins, out of love and out of faith in me. Jesus suffered so much more than I ever will have to, so that I don't have to. So why should I choose to? I am going to follow his example, and bear my burden with a positive spirit, with the reassurance that I have a Savior who knows exactly what I'm feeling, and knows how to succor me. Even if I must bear a difficult trial like SSA, or being single, for the rest of this short mortal life, I will die in the real hope that Heavenly Father has prepared a way for me to experience eternal and everlasting happiness with Him, which gift is more precious and priceless to me than any other temporary things this world has offered me for pleasure. I have made my decision, and I am happier now than I was when I was that confused 20 year old kid.

I am never going to complain about having SSA again, or any other seemingly impossible trial I will face. I will choose to be happy in the knowledge that God would never give me more than I can handle, especially with Him there with me. Besides, I never know who is praying for me!