Friday, September 30, 2005

Smells at the Library

1. I was down in the internet area when a nice-smelling fellow signed up and I thought, "I should buy some cologne and use it." Any thoughts on cologne? Particularly from those of you who live with me and/or have to smell me often?

2. Then I switched to the main floor desk where I was helping an older fellow find books about violas and he burped quite noisily. A second or two later the foul odor reached me. I often find that gas released through the oral cavity can be even more repulsive than gas released through the anal cavity.

3. (Not smell related.) For those of you who have complained about the poor lighting in the cave, I changed the font from light gray to white. Hopefully that will help.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Mrs. Robinson and Mr. McCullough

Today I got an email from another coworker, including the following excerpt:
I don't know how many people have come to you with their own personal stories since reading your article but I am about to add my name to that list.

I have a [teenage] son who only last year admitted to his father and me [he] is struggling with same sex attraction. He apparently has felt challenged with it for years but thought he'd outgrow it. While I am thankful that he felt safe enough to share this information with us, we have had a difficult time knowing how to help him. Your article is a great resource. He, like you, has had a hard time finding an accepting "box". He also struggles with why a loving Heavenly Father allows some of his children to be challenged this way. The answers all seem so trite.

Her email made me smile--I was touched that she would share this with me. Then I sat on the floor, tried to clean up a mess S-Boogie had made, thought of this woman's son (whom I've never met), and sobbed uncontrollably. I don't cry easily (though more so lately than I used to, which I think is a good thing), but for some reason the thought of this poor kid with such a hellish struggle ahead of him really hit me hard.

The fact is, it sucks to be gay. Either your religion tells you it's wrong, so you have to decide between deeply-held spiritual beliefs and deeply-rooted sexual desires, or you have no qualms with homosexuality but you have to live in a society filled with people who do and feel it their duty to tell you so. Or you immerse yourself in a subculture that is still young and, to be frank, immature (not speaking of gay people but of gay culture). Or you try your luck at some other untried, untested path and hope for the best.

I don't mean to say, "Boo hoo for me, poor Master Fob." Much of my pain is caused by decisions I've made--and the important ones I don't regret making--but even the pain that comes through no fault of my own I can handle. What makes me ache is to see others go through this hell.

As I was despairing over this on the floor this afternoon, Simon & Garfunkel came on the iTunes shuffle singing, "Jesus loves you more than you will know." I laughed. If I had written that juxtaposition in fiction someone would have called it trite or contrived. If I had read it in fiction I would have called it trite or contrived. "God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson, Heaven holds a place for those who pray."

One of the things that concerned me about the email is that my coworker asked, after the quoted excerpt, for my "help/direction." My fear in publishing "Getting Out" was that people would assume I am some kind of expert on the subject just because I wrote something. I can offer thoughts based on my limited experience, but I don't have answers. It didn't take me long to kick myself for being so damn presumptuous. She wasn't asking for answers--she's not stupid--she was asking for my thoughts based on my limited experience.

This made me think of a BYU forum I watched yesterday, given by David McCullough (author of 1776). He spoke about how the great leaders of the past were not aware that they were living in the past. They didn't go around saying, "Isn't it great to live in the past?" and "Look at these funny clothes we're wearing!" They lived in the present. George Washington and his contemporaries were not experienced revolutionaries. They didn't know what they were doing. They just did their best and hoped something good would come of it.

I'm not comparing myself to George Washington. I don't pretend I will have any fraction of the effect he had on history. But I, just like the pastors of Christian ex-gay ministries and the gay activists who are making the Governator's phone ring off the hook hoping to convince him to pass the Legislative-approved gender-neutral marriage bill, am doing my best and hoping something good will come of it. I wrote "Getting Out" with the intention of opening up a dialogue between those of us whose experiences don't quite fit the mold--people like my coworker's son and Melyngoch's & my Mutual Gay Friend and Freelancer & Mandi, none of whom I would know if I had not written the essay (and talked about it on my blog). Maybe all of us who have no answers but do have thoughts based on our limited experiences can figure out something together.

Post #23

I have just finished my fifth novel. You will be disappointed, though. It has nothing to do with rubber pants. Don't get me wrong--I love rubber pants. But where will we find rubber pants our size?

I should clarify, by the way, that by "finished" I don't really mean "finished." I mean I have completed rough drafts of five novels now. Only one of them has undergone enough revision to make it anywhere close to publishable, and even then my thesis committee had major issues with it.

But still, it's nice to feel like I've done something.

And I promise my next post will go to great extents to point out what a loser I really am because, believe me, I'm as tired of the bragging as you are.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Another Update

This afternoon I was covering the children's desk while the children's staff had their meeting, as I am in the habit of doing on Tuesdays. And one of the staffmembers comes up to me and says, "Master Fob, I haven't read your Dialogue articles yet, but my daughter's friend asked if I know a Master Fob who works at the library and he said he really liked your articles." Then she leaned in close and whispered, "Is it true?" Assuming that the unstated antecedent of "it" was either "your personal essay" or "the fact that you are gay" and not "this rumor I heard that you eat live rats" or "the Church of Scientology," I said, "Yes." She smiled and said, "Well, I think you are a great guy."

Then later, once I was back on my side of the library and a while after I saw another children's librarian take Dialogue from the shelf, that first children's librarian came to my desk, a bit red-eyed, and said, "Master Fob, all I have to say is that you are one of the neatest people I know."

And now I feel like I'm bragging, and that sort of cheapens her kind compliment. Sorry. The moral of this story is not meant to be that Master Fob is a cool person, but that Master Fob has some pretty cool friends.

The Time Machine

I don't like to think of myself as a follower and I promise I usually discard chain emails without forwarding them, clapping my hands three times, or touching my nose with my big toe, but Editorgirl did it and my curiosity has been piqued.

Here are the instructions:

1. Delve into your blog.
2. Find the twenty-third post.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

Here's mine:
"But where will we find rubber pants our size?"

Huh. Whodathunkit?

Proud Father

S-Boogie sings along to "Killing Me Softly." Very clearly. This is a two-year-old. She can barely say, "I want some more cereal, please," (and the "please" only with coercion) but she can sing, "Killing me softly with his song / With his song / Telling my whole life with his words."

Today I am a success.

Monday, September 26, 2005

My First Review (sort of)

From the Association for Mormon Letters mailing list (which I've only been checking again recently to see if they're talking about me):

Date: 2005-09-24 20:01 -600
To: aml-list
Subject: Re: [AML] Double Standards in Homosexuality (was Review: COX, LatterDays)
Did y'all read the articles on this topic in the new Dialogue? First one is a personal memoir of surprising candor by a young man telling about his same-sex feelings and how he decided to get married anyway. Then two experts write a response, and the overall feel is that they don't think--the first one, anyway--his marriage will survive, because he's a 5 on the 1-6 straight-gay scale, and the first guy doesn't think anyone at 5 or 6 should marry hetero-ly, but if they're more middle-of-the-scale bisexual then they may have a decent shot at long-term success (well, it's not that simplistic, but that's the bottom line I took out of it). Then the young man writes a last piece.

Quite a provocative quartet of articles that overall raise your compassion, if you're able to get your hands on them. I snuggled with my wife within the hour after reading them, and I found myself wondering in extremis what it would be like for people that far right on the scale to try to make a hetero marriage work. The main literary tie-in here is the great honesty and well-wrought details--his find in the park is haunting--of the young man's memoir portion.

Hee hee.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


I just got a long letter from my mom in response to the essays in Dialogue. She had read the first essay ("Getting Out"), but she had not read the responses written by psychologist-types, nor had she read my response to them. Her letter was mostly detailing the thoughts she had while reading the essays, and some additional thoughts about what a wonderful person I am and how she feels bad because she wasn't a better mom. (For the record, I'd say she did a good job, especially considering her circumstances.) And then, toward the end of the letter, was a bit of rather shocking (to me, anyway) information:

My bishop had told her, three years before I did, that I "thought I might be homosexual." Apparently, he needed to tell her in order to get her approval before referring me to a counselor at LDS Social Services.

I am annoyed. Philosophically, more than anything. One assumes that when one tells something of this nature (or anything of any nature) to an ecclesiastical leader that one does so in strict confidence. I don't care that I was seventeen at the time and it was my mom he spoke with. Surely there are kids who go to their church leaders specifically because they don't want to talk to their parents. What if I hadn't told her because I knew she was a violent homophobe and I feared for my life? No, this wasn't the case--I hadn't told her because I didn't feel comfortable telling pretty much anyone at that point, and more than anything I didn't want to add one more thing to her list of worries--but still whether and when to tell her should have been my decision. If he needed to tell her in order to refer me, he should have said that was the case and asked for my permission to do so.

It's a moot point. When I didn't say anything about it after a while she assumed it had been a passing phase. And I did tell her, eventually, so it doesn't change anything now. And even if I were angry enough to call the guy up and yell at him or try to get him excommunicated or sue him or something ridiculous like that, he died seven years ago. And now that you know he's dead, I feel obligated to say that, overall, he was a nice guy. He was.

Despite the fact that, the first time I tried to tell him I was gay, his solution was for me to join the football team.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I Should Complain More Often

Today one of my good friends at work told me she read my essays last night. She really liked them, and told me I'm very brave. We talked for quite a while about the essays and how even though she's not gay, as a 30-year-old single woman, she relates to a lot of the things I talk about, like the fear of never having something that at least part of you really wants. I was flattered and happy to know that she cared enough to read it.

AND "Take It Easy" by the Fugees premiered tonight on an NYC radio show. The file I just downloaded is taped off the show so it's not a high-quality recording, but it's very tingly to hear Lauryn, Clef, and Pras all on the same song, and even more to hear L flowing over a strong hip-hop beat, after a few years of hearing her mostly singing on unplugged-style acoustic tracks. And she sounds happy, which is cool because she's seemed kind of grumpy and stand-offish for a couple years now.

And now I can go to bed with a smile on my face. After I figure out a lesson plan for tomorrow morning.


By popular demand, meaning Th. has requested it, here is an update on "Out":

As far as I know, no one else at the library has read my essays. Which is, to be honest, frustrating. Because it means one of two things:
1. People are reading the essays but they feel too awkward or even (Heaven forbid) nonplussed to say anything to me.
2. No one has read the essays. Meaning that, even though everyone says they think it's cool that I've published something, they don't care enough to actually read it.

I'd really like someone to say something. Even if it's "Master Fob, I think you're a weirdo and a perv." At least that would mean they care. Sigh.

Actually, there are two people at the library who I suspect have read my essays. They are regular Dialogue readers and are good friends with the editor. He (the editor) commented to me several weeks ago that he was talking with them about the upcoming issue and my name came up. I'm not sure exactly what he told them about my essays, but I would hope their curiousity would be piqued enough to at least take a look. The thing is, neither of them is the type to be all that affected by something like this. Their reaction would probably be something like, "Oh, he's gay. Well, so are three dozen other friends of mine." But then, they haven't said anything so I don't know.

On a brighter note, I got an email this morning from Ty Mansfield, the author of In Quiet Desperation, which is a book that came out last year telling the story of his struggle with same-gender attraction (which is the Mormon/conservative Christian terminology for homosexuality). After reading his book last December, I emailed him to tell him I respected him for writing the book and using his real name, and I mentioned that I had an essay that would be coming out in Dialogue. We corresponded back and forth a few times, and I decided he was a top-rate fellow. Anyway, he emailed me this morning to tell me he read my essays and he likes them. I am flattered.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Confessions of a Fanboy

I fell in love with Lauryn Hill in 1996 when I was a high school senior and I heard her cover (with the Fugees) of Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly." Her voice was beautiful, the beat was solid, and the song had this sense of weight to it--some meaning that, whether or not I completely understood it or related to it and whether or not Lauryn or her co-Fugees had anything to do with the lyrics, made the song stick in my head and made me feel all tingly inside. Not long after that, the rapper Nas released "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)" with L-Boogie singing the hook, and I was hooked.

I didn't buy the Fugees' album because it had explicit lyrics and I was even more opposed to listening to swearing in music then than I am now and I'd never heard of edited albums, but my freshman year in college I bought Wyclef Jean's The Carnival, which featured Lauryn on several songs. It's a fantastic album throughout, but for some reason when Lauryn's deep, earthy voice shows up toward the end of "Guantanamera," those tingles come back. Whether she's singing or rapping, her voice manages to exude this sense of power and wisdom that I really dig.

I was serving as a Mormon missionary when Lauryn's solo album dropped (and was apparently pretty darn successful in the States, winning several Grammys), and technically missionaries don't listen to popular music, but a fellow missionary who was even more in love with Lauryn than I was bought the CD and I snuck a listen or two. I didn't buy it when I got home because that same fellow missionary ended up being my roommate so I could listen to his, and soon after that I started dating Foxy J, who had her own copy of Miseducation. I won't say the prospect of adding the album to my collection through marriage was the only reason I proposed to Foxy, but I do remember feeling a whole new kind of tingles when I put in a tape of love songs she had made for me and the first one was L-Boogie's cover of Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You."

Having been in Spain and unaware of popular culture for a couple years, I was entirely unaware that Lauryn had disappeared from the spotlight until she made her comeback (sort of) with 2002's MTV Unplugged 2.0. I bought the Unplugged album as soon as I heard of it and was introduced to a new Lauryn Hill. A lot of fans of her earlier work complain that the Unplugged Lauryn, devoid of hip-hop beats and backup vocals or band, is monotonous and annoying. Her voice is scratchy, worn from a previous performance. She's not a great guitar player. And, worst of all, she seems to have gone crazy between '98 and '02. Her lyrics are more obscure than ever, preaching in complex metaphors about religious and social repression. A lot of fans were disappointed.

I'm still in love with her. I'm not crazy about her guitar-playing skills, and her voice, though still beautiful, manages to miss notes enough even to bother me (I don't think I'm tone-deaf, but I'm definitely tone-ignorant), but I love her words. Maybe it's that Ms. Hill's disillusionment with religious and social structures coincides more or less with mine. Maybe it's that I'm just as crazy as she is. Maybe I refuse to allow my goddess to fall from her pedestal. But when I listen to "I Get Out," even after hearing the song well over two or three hundred times, those tingles still creep up right around the first time she sings in the chorus, "Father free me from this bondage / Knowing my condition / Is the reason I must change." As you know if you've read my essay "Getting Out," the song is sort of my personal anthem. You're probably tired of hearing about it.

But I don't get tired. When Lauryn started doing concerts again last year, I spent hours downloading and listening to fuzzy, echo-y recordings of her singing the same songs I already own. When her first studio release in years, "The Passion," came out on one of the many soundtracks to Mel Gibson's religious blockbuster, I downloaded it and listened over and over even though it's not that great a song. When I read that she had reunited with fellow Fugees Wyclef and Pras for the first time in eight years for a surprise appearance at Dave Chappelle's Block Party, I couldn't stop thinking about the possibilities of a new Fugees album for days (okay, months. Okay, I still think about it all the time). Every time I hear a vague rumor about a supposed release date for Ms. Hill's long-awaited follow-up studio album, my heart starts beating faster. A few weeks ago John Legend released a remix of "So High" with Lauryn singing and rapping on it--it's better than "The Passion" but still not L's best--and I secretly listen to the song several times a day (usually when Foxy's not home, so as not to annoy her).

And I just spent nearly an hour writing this post (including the time looking for the perfect picture; I'm still not satisfied with the one I found).

Yes, I am obsessive. Yes, it's probably unhealthy. No, I don't want to change.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


My first real (paid) publication, a pair of essays called "Getting Out" and "Staying In" in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought , is out. The issue came out last week, actually, but just today the library has gotten its copy and put it on the shelf. This being significant because not many people I know actually buy Dialogue so if they read it it'll be at the library and because I work at the library. And because the essays are about being a gay man who has chosen to marry a woman, which will be news to everyone I work with (not that I've chosen to marry a woman; the other part).

I'm excited just to see my name in print and anxious to see how my coworkers respond. It has been mentioned in library-wide meeting minutes that I have essays published in this issue of Dialogue, so it's only a matter of time before someone reads it. One coworker, actually, who happens to also be in my writing group, has already read the article and she said she liked the essays. But then, she's in my writing group so she'd already read some pretty crazy things I'd written. I anticipate that most people will react well--I work with intelligent, mature people--but nevertheless I'm anxious.

I'll let you know if anyone throws a rock through my window.

Monday, September 12, 2005


I am currently having an afternoon snack composed of homemade yogurt, homemade raspberry jam, and homemade granola. As much as I dislike traditional gender roles--and I don't think my marriage conforms to too many of them--I do enjoy Foxy J's wicked kitchen skills.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


I had the painful realization this morning in the shower that my blog is not very funny. Looking back through my posts, I see that several are sort of funny, but there's not much (if any) fall-off-your-seat funny. There seem to be more (failed) attempts at deep thought-provoking philosophizing than truly funny posts.

This realization would not bother me so much if I were not a funny person. But, dammit, I'm funny. If you were talking to me in person right now you'd be laughing. (I say that as if anyone besides my wife, my brother, and my two friends read this blog.)

And then, as I'm writing this, I wonder if I'm fooling myself. Maybe I'm not funny.


And there goes my identity.

[I am aware, by the way, that trying to be funny while bemoaning one's unfunniness is not funny. Sigh.]

Monday, September 05, 2005


After reading a couple rather heavy (subject matter, not actual weight) nonfiction books, I decided to read something light and fun. Enter Godless by Pete Hautman, which is definitely light and fun, but manages to be heavy at the same time, as far as subject matter relating to pertinent issues of my life goes.

Godless is about Jay Bock, a teenager who founds a religion called The Church of the Ten-legged God. The Chutengodians or CTG for short. They worship a water tower. Makes sense, right? I mean, water is the source of all life. The way Jay sees it, all religion is BS so you might as well pick some random object and worship it. Some of his friends who join, though, take the church more seriously. So do the local police and religious folk, including Jay's dad.

It's a delightful read, with fascinating characters and cool stylistic elements, like excerpts from the Chutengodian bible at the beginning of each chapter. And it raises a lot of good questions.

I was particularly struck by a scene in which Jay talks with his father about religion:

My father sighed and sat back and said, "You think you're an atheist, then?"
"I'm not sure what I am."
He looked at me for a long time then. I think it was the longest time he has ever looked at me without saying anything. Finally, he spoke.
"I'm sorry to hear that, Jason."
"Because it means you've got a long, lonely road ahead of you."
"It's my road."
"You're right about that."

Now, I'm definitely not atheist. At the moment I'm sort of in the process of figuring out what I am, but I'd say I'm something more along the lines of a Christian agnostic. Nevertheless, it's lonely to believe (or not believe) something different from what the people you love believe (or don't believe).

I don't say it to whine. It's my road. I chose it.

Jay's father is a wise man.