Thursday, September 29, 2011

Seven Years...No, Seriously

Dear Sentry,

This past Wednesday marks the 7th anniversary of me entering the MTC. It was that decision that led me to a lot of where I'm at today in so many ways, both good and evil, for better and for worse. I remember that summer just after high school. I had no direction and no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had just finished public school and was feeling a sort of elation. I had just finally forgiven myself for ever liking this one guy almost two years before that. I no longer hated myself as I had felt during high school. My only biggest concern was feeling guilty over watching porn and masturbating.

I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had no idea where I was going. I had no firm conviction of what I wanted at all. I was adrift without purpose that summer. I believed in the Church, the prophet, and the Book of Mormon though I harbored doubts because I had never once felt any conviction that the Book of Mormon was from God.

It was a summer that should have been one of transition and adjustment but instead I did what I normally did and refused to change, refused to adjust to what life was offering me. I allowed myself to be talked into going on a mission. I went and spoke with the bishop and passed my interview but I harbored feelings of guilt over porn and masturbating. I thought I could beat it back and do what God had asked of me. I thought all sorts of things back then.

The dry, terribly hot summer continued on and I soon met with the Stake President. In the interview, I felt overcome with guilt and was frustrated and depressed. I confessed of my sins and was given time to think over it. I felt I needed to repent. My parents were alarmed by this. What would make their son not want to serve a mission? At first they gave me space, wanting to let me figure things out. But as the weeks dragged on, they finally confronted me. My mom suggested I pray about going on a mission. So I did so...or felt too guilty to bother God with such a question. I knew I needed to go. So I figured that was my answer and was soon called to serve in Colorado. I was to report to the MTC on the 29th of September in 2004. I tried to get ready, I tried to do all that I thought I should do. But I never could seem to do it.

Sentry, it's been seven years since that day. Seven years since I chose to serve a mission for the LDS Church. It's kind of funny now, looking back on that decision. I still can recall the desire to do what was right, or what I thought was right then. I can still recall the curiosity and desire to believe in visions, revelations, God, and the Holy Ghost. I can even recall the weight of despair that I felt whenever I tried to imagine I life without ever having a person I truly loved in it. I believed that I would be dead by twenty-five. So powerful was that idea that even after I shed my beliefs, I still harbored a nervous fear that such a view would come true in my twenty-fifth year of life. I'm twenty-six now, so I guess that was an unnecessary attitude to have.

Serving a mission and going to BYU were to decisions that have impacted my life. They have so powerfully and so completely altered my life that I can't even begin to fathom it now. I divide my life, when looking back, between before serving my mission, serving my mission, and after serving. How many times have you, Sentry, felt the same thing? Felt that realization that one particular decision has so powerfully impacted your life? It has created a whole new category to make decisions in.

What about you, Sentry? What decisions have you made that have impacted your life in huge ways?

Updates and Clips

Dear Sentry,

I was going to write you last night but a friend needed my help. It's been a while. I moved a month ago to a new place and getting adjusted has been my primary concern.

It's been interesting these past several weeks. For the first time in my life I have lived as an openly gay man. I haven't had to bow my head and hold my tongue like before. This doesn't mean that I'm walking around town with my very own glitter cannons and stuffing rainbow flags in every mailbox and mail slot I pass. It also doesn't mean that I have been living in such a way as to put my life at risk. I hate that people found it justifiable to attack and harm people just because of their sexual orientation. I simply live honestly and with hope and optimism.

I have learned a lot since the start of this journey two and a half years ago. Many wonderful things have occurred in my life and some not so great things. But I'd like to believe that it has all been for the best.

Sentry, it's pretty well known just how naive I am. I know that I am still ignorant of so much. Sometimes it's hilarious and sometimes it's embarrassing. I learned a strange thing about a friend of mine. It has reminded me once more how little you can know about a person. I don't mean that as in they are someone totally alien and horrible, but different and more complex. I constantly want to figure people out. I try to factor in the simple but overlooked fact that you cannot know everything about a person. You cannot place people in boxes and you cannot fix their destiny.

It seems that people are made up of opposites. I do not harbor and do not desire to believe in some kind of divine Being or Beings yet I have a deep fascination for religious music, artifacts, history, and myths. I believe me to be very kind. If you're ever in trouble, I'll be there to help you. I'll pretty much drop everything to do so, Sentry. You already know this. But I also have a knack for knowing just how to irritate you and get you upset with me. I know exactly what it takes to irritate a person. The list goes on.

So, Sentry, what opposites are you made of?

On a lighter note (though I think this letter has been optimistic), there is something addicting about Rumbi fries. Have you ever had sweet potato fries? Why? Why? Why? Why are they so addicting?

I will become fat because of them. Damn you, Rumbi Fries!!!

Your friend,

"Have anyone of you even seen a chicken?"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Dreams of Jeremy

Dear Sentry,

No, I'm not being lazy. It's dreams week over at a shared blog that I write on on Wednesdays. I thought I'd copy what I wrote there and post it here:

What kinds of dreams do we have? I'd like to think we have fantastic dreams such as finding love, healing all pain, and having hilarious stories to tell in our old age to anyone that will listen to us. So, as befitting my habit of sharing videos with you. I will do so.

Do you have dreams of evil red heads with green skin attacking you? Favorite line in that scene? "However, there is one boy who does not have a fairy." Let us take a lesson from this dream: boys should have fairies with them at all times. But not the fairies in the game. Hot fairies.

(Can he be my Navi instead?)

All right, moving on. When I was a little boy, I used to dream of designing my own home, traveling the world, and marrying and having kids. I dreamed of all sorts of lavish things. Over the years those things have changed. I now dream of finding a career I can lose myself in, something that I can be passionate about. I dream of meeting some wonderful guy one day and marrying him. I dream of growing old together and traveling wherever we want in life. I dream of publishing my stories and of people actually liking them.

Those are dreams right now. I have ever expectation and hope that they will one day become realized. However, I do have some other strange and odd dreams that I wish to share with you...some might be naughty dreams:

1) I want to organize one of the largest capture the flag games on BYU campus and then watch the whole thing from the top of the Spencer W. Kimball Tower (I might laugh evilly during it).
2) I want one day for Hug a Lesbian Day (it's every day, fyi) to become so big that a sweet innocent gal will be running from a crowd of hetero men and women friends trying to hug her for that day.
3) I want to see every country on the planet
4) I want to date a hot Deaf boy (why am I lacking on this one?)
5) I want to one day be asked by a guy in his underwear (somewhere in Utah) why I'm wearing pants and have other people look at me funny too.
6) I want to do the dirty in every building of my college campus
7) I want to lead a parade
8) I want to be chased by a large crowd of straight people intent on hugging me
9) I want some random stranger to turn to me somewhere where we'll be sitting and go, "Wow, you have a sexy belt. May I touch it?"
10) I want to recreate scenes from Will and Grace.

What did you think? Oh and if you do number 9 to me, Sentry, I will promptly ignore you. All right, I'll probably giggle.

Your friend,

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Sin of Being a Jew

Dear Sentry,

I just finished reading the book The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I will be watching the movie soon enough. The book was heart-wrenching to put it mildly. I highly recommend that you read it, Sentry, if you haven't already.

When I read such material, I am appalled and shocked that anyone or any people or any country or any area could logically, reasonably, or deliberately decide to exterminate another group of people. I feel like Bruno in his naivete to the hatred, cruelty, and absolute disregard for the humanity of those around me.

I fully admit to being naive. I admit to being blind to the understand of just how much hatred and inhumanity exists in this world. What are we, Sentry? It seems so sad, so pathetic that we - all of us, it seems - spend our time bickering and arguing over the dumbest things. Jews, blacks, Asians, Muslims, atheists, liberals, conservatives, Europeans, Democrats, Chinese, gays, Native Americans, lesbians, transgenders, Latinos, whites, Indians, Christians, Americans, and so on. Titles. Descriptions. Divisions. Does it really matter what I am? Does it really matter what you are?

Why does it have to matter? Why must we all insist on dividing us?

I am at a loss of words...

Your friend,

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lucid But for a Moment

Dear Sentry,

I apologize for this somber letter to you in advance. How are you doing, though?

There are times when I wish I didn't feel. Dramatic right? The only sense of reason I can apply here is gratitude that I do not possess the power to eliminate emotions because I know it would be rash and just wrong.

Sunday night I learned at last that I do not know what it means to be "in love." I learned that the person that I did like far more than others...sigh...well, I was way more into it than he was. I realize it was silly of me to think as I did. Silly of me to want for something like that. I confess that it's just not easy to write this letter, Sentry. I feel as though my heart is in pain from this. Again, melodramatic, I know.

Look, I realize I'm also sorts of thing that make me utterly human. I'm not asking you, Sentry, to perceive me as superhuman or even above average human. Could you at least, though, deal out some pity to me? I know that in the weeks to come I'll be grateful for this epiphany, this understanding. But right now, it feels like daggers in my heart. This truth has been hard to swallow these past couple of days.

I know I deserve better. I do not say that arrogantly but honestly. I know it so I work to make my life better. To make my life the kind of good that I want others to share with me.

But today, this day, I feel weak and pathetic. I feel...well, human: vulnerable, pathetic, and weak. Tomorrow I will feel those things but enthusiasm, hope, and optimism. But that's tomorrow, Sentry. So, I know I'll heal. I know I'll recover. I know I'll make my life better and richer in experience and joy than it already is. This incident, this epiphany will become yet another force of strength in my life. But today it is an erosion of strength.

Forgive me, Sentry.

Your friend,

Monday, September 5, 2011

Character in a Story

Dear Sentry,

So, I write stories. But you might have known that. I don't actually remember. Forgive me for my bad memory on this. Anyway, I wanted to share something with you. To help me get into the mind of the character, I create a playlist with songs that remind me of some facet of what the character is feeling or some aspect of an event in the story. It's meant to help inspire me while I write.

I wanted to share one of these playlists. You tell me what you think. This particular playlist runs about an hour and twenty minutes or so. So, if you listen to it all, plan on having the music in the background while going about your day (or days).

This playlist focuses on the character Caleb Martin. He's this young twenties guy, fresh-faced, and naive as all get out. But he's sweet and kind and will help you out if your in a bind. Also, not surprisingly, he's gay and still Mormon. At the beginning of the story, his best friend has just committed suicide and he's struggling to find his place in the world. His family disowned him when he came out to them and he's not all that close to his other roommates. So he's feeling very vulnerable and alone. The playlist starts with when he first moves in with his new roommates (the other main characters) and goes until the end of the story. Enjoy! Or...get really bored, Sentry!

1. New Soul - Yael Naim

2. Goin' Home - Bill Ferguson (from the movie Shelter)

3. Je n'aime que toi (from the French musical Les Chansons d'Amour)

4. Safe in a Crazy World - Corrinne May

5. Pure Imagination (Glee Version)
6. Death Shall Not Destroy My Comfort - BYU Concert and Choir

7. Stillness of Mine (from the movie A Single Man)

8. Jesus, The Very Thought of Thee - Mindy Gledhill version

9. Mother Knows Best (from the movie Tangled)

10. Gentle - Marie Pearson

11. My Joy is Full (from the Seminary Book of Mormon Soundtrack)

12. More Than This - Shane Mack (from the movie Shelter)
13. I Want to Hold Your Hand - T.V. Carpio (from the movie Across the Universe)
14. Pon de Replay - Rihanna
15. Pyromania - Cascada
16. Hymn - Brooke Fraser
17. Mother Knows Best (Reprise) (from the movie Tangled)
18. Everytime - Britney Spears
19. Somewhere Only We Know (Glee version)
20. Jar of Hearts - Christina Perry
21. Firework - Katy Perry
22. You'll Always Be My Best Friend - Relient K
23. Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Your Friend,
I love this scene because it's pathetically adorable...sad! Ha ha!!!

Friday, September 2, 2011


Dear Sentry,

There are days where I want to run and run and run and never quit. Those are the days where I would break myself, crush myself, and end all that is me...if I could actually do that. These are night times where I am depressed but rather times where I feel the pent up desire to throw my world upside down and start over.

Except I can never succeed, it seems.

Then there are the days where I wish I could scream, shake my fist at the world, and walk away from everything. On these days, I'd give up everything and just say to the world "here's the middle finger. You know what that means." But I can't do that. I feel that I would regret it in an instant once I saw the bridges burning.

I want a day where I don't feel either of these feelings but something new. I can feel the familiar beginnings of these emotions developing in me again. It comes out of jealousy or envy. I feel trapped right now, Sentry. I feel trapped at the exact same moment I am beginning to feel like I can breathe and taste freedom. I can sense it deep in the core of my being. The world around me is shifting and out of fear of losing that world, I'm running with it and making a damn good effort at keeping up with it.

So why, then, Sentry, do I feel like I'm losing still? I know that I am at last being true to my self. I'm at last reaching goals and dreams and better understanding myself. So why do I feel stooped and anxious?

Honestly, I think that with all the change that is happening, it's not the change I'm seeking. There is still something amiss in my life. Something that some part of me tells me I should have. No, Sentry, it's not Jesus or any god or something like that.

I hate this feeling of restlessness. But I know that if I wish to better understand, I can't hate it.

I just wish I knew what I wanted.

Your friend,