Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Timpanogos Storytelling Festival

If you live in Utah (or if you are coming to Utah this weekend for the Blog Party), be sure to check out the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. If you don't know what storytelling is, well, it's basically a hybrid of standup comedy and a conversation with your mother-in-law. Well, perhaps not your mother-in-law, lest that image conjure up negative associations for you, but my mother-in-law, who always has entertaining stories to tell. Every year professional storytellers come from around the world and talented amateur storytellers come from the Wasatch Front to tell stories at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. If you've never experienced something like this before then you really need to, and if you have then I don't need to convince you.

For eight bucks you can attend one of the evening events--Look Who's Talking on Thursday, My Favorite Stories on Friday, Laughin' Night on Saturday, or, if you have small children, Bedtime Stories on Friday--or for twenty bucks you can attend a day of storytelling on either Friday or Saturday. Forty bucks will get you into both days and all three nights, and a hundred will get your whole family into everything.

Check out the link above for more details, then call the Orem Public Library to order tickets, or you can buy them onsite at Mt. Timpanogos Park. Tell them Master Fob sent you. It probably won't mean anything to them, and will more than likely get a confused stare, but I'll be amused when you tell me about it later.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ohana Utah

The Fob family--not my wife and children but my parents and siblings--consists, more or less, of five girls and two boys, plus the parents, a stepmother, and several in-laws. Of that group, those of us who live in Utah are known as Ohana Utah (if you don't know what ohana means then you obviously haven't seen Lilo & Stitch).

Ohana Utah began for me back in 1997 when I came to Provo to attend BYU. At the time, Lika (#2 of 7) was living in Provo, having graduated from BYU a few years previous. I being #7 of 7 and there being 14 years between us, Lika and I had not actually grown up together much at all. Lika was very excited for me to live in Provo so that she could feed me and give me rides and buy me things, and, even though I could have done without the constant pressure to go Latin dancing with her, I'll admit that I was not unhappy with the arrangement. From the day I arrived, Lika took good care of me.

In the summer of '98, M (#3 of 7) moved to Provo with her husband, M. Though M is eight years older than me, I had always felt rather close to her just because she is the type of person who, if you know, you feel close to. There's something about her empathetic nature that encourages intimacy. When I decided that rather than go to school fall semester I'd work and leave on my mission as soon as possible (I turned 19 in November), M&M were gracious enough to let me stay with them. I was thinking it would be just a month or two--September and October--but as it turned out the church needed a little more time to ask my therapist if I was mission-ready, so I didn't go into the Missionary Training Center until mid-December. Thankfully for M&M's sake, I spent a month of that time working with my uncle somewhere along the border of Nevada and California.

On my mission, Lika and M competed to see who could send me the most letters and packages. Lika won by a long-shot, sending me letters often two or three times in a week, but M certainly didn't skimp. M&M served as my hub, scanning in my letters home and putting them on the internet for all the family to read (my first blog, I suppose).

When I returned to Utah in January of 2001, Lika and M picked me up from the airport and took me to lunch and M announced that she was pregnant. That summer, Ohana Utah added not only Baby M, but also my brother Svoid (#6 of 7), who moved to Spanish Fork from Wisconsin just so he could be close to us. Svoid is three years older than me, so we were pretty close when we were little--close in the way that brothers who constantly fight but still ride their bikes to the toy store together and have a secret G.I. Joe club are--and we had become friends again during my high school summers when I had gone to visit my dad and brother in Wisconsin. It's been great over the last five years for me to get to know Svoid again as and adult, and to see how much we are able to relate, despite the seemingly different worlds we occupy. Svoid has also joined the ranks of people who spoil me rotten--he is responsible for a good portion of the small appliances and electronic devices I own, including the computer I'm using to write this post, and has taken Foxy and me out for dinner more times than I could possibly count.

When I started dating and then married Foxy J, she was accepted into Ohana Utah without hesitation. She was the first sister-in-law to join the Fob family, and there is quite a gap in ages and interests between her and my sisters (I'm going to get in trouble for that "gap in ages" line, I know), but none of that stopped Lika and M from loving Foxy and treating her like the sixth Fob sister.

Ohana Utah has seen other additions over the years--Lika's husband and his son, and later Lika's son, Svoid's new girlfriend, and of course S-Boogie and Little Dude--and, sadly, we suffered a loss when M's husband was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2002, but through it all we've remained a pretty tight-knit group. We get together fairly frequently for Sunday dinners and holiday barbecues, and we do wacky things--usually spurred on by Lika's wackiness--like dress up to make Valentine's cards to send to the non-Utah ohana, and we trade babysitting (though if we were counting trades, Foxy and I would be in serious debt to all three of my siblings here).

In short, I have grown much closer to my brother and sisters in the last five years then I ever was growing up. Leaving them to move to Seattle pretty much sucks. I'm going to miss my Ohana Utah.

My only hope is that Foxy and I will lead a mass migration, and soon I'll be telling you about Ohana Seattle.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mormonism and Me: The Shocking Truth About the Self-Made Poster Boy for Married Gay Mormondom

When Another Other emailed me after reading my essays on being gay, married, and Mormon to tell me how much he identified with what I said, I felt obligated to quickly dispell any false ideas about my religious beliefs the essays written two years previous might have given him. Oddly enough, "coming out" about my religious status is even more unnerving for me than coming out about my sexual orientation ever was. I have this notion that people will not like me if I tell them how I really feel. Thankfully, AO was quick to point out how silly it was of me to think that we couldn't be friends just because I don't fully subscribe to the same dogma he does. I hope you'll do the same.

See, the shocking truth about the self-made poster boy of married gay Mormondom is that I'm not really Mormon. Well, I am, but I'm not. Like everything else about me, it's complicated.

I've talked about my religious turmoil here before, but it's been a while and I think people tend to take the fact that I'm still going to church regularly and appearing in newspaper articles whose headlines profess my supposed religious affiliation as an indication that whatever doubts I had have passed and I am once again as Mormon as they come (and then, you know, there are a couple people who haven't read every blog post I've ever written--may God have mercy on your poor souls). I'm not entirely bothered by this assumption, but at the same time it's not entirely true.

I have questioned several tenets of the LDS church since I was in high school. Among the things I've questioned are the historical veracity of the Book of Mormon, the exclusive claim to prophetic revelation, and the mixed message you-can-pray-and- receive-your-own-personal-revelation- but-if-it-contradicts- official-church-doctrine- then-it's-wrong philosophy, but always central to my doubts about the church was the contradiction between what the church taught about homosexuality and what my instincts told me. At each major decision point--when I chose to go to BYU instead of a non-church university, when I decided to go on a mission, each of the 600+ times I decided to stay on my mission, when I decided to get married--I prayed and received what I interpreted to be confirmation that I should put the doubts aside and proceed according to plans. I believe that some of these confirmations came from God, and I'm not opposed to the idea that all of them came from him, but really who knows? Basing life decisions on feelings and faith is the only way to go sometimes, but it leaves a lot of room for second-guessing later.

Almost two years ago now, all these doubts came to a head when I decided that I was unhappy with my life and surely this gay, Mormon, and married thing just wasn't meant to work. I saw before me two choices: stay in the church and stay married to Foxy J, or leave both of them. The problem was that I simply couldn't convince myself that leaving my wife was the right thing to do, but the more I thought and prayed about it, the more I felt the church wasn't everything it claims to be. Sorting out what I wanted from what I believed from what I thought I should want or believe was nearly impossible. When a simple question about the truth of a religious dogma carries with it not only the question of church attendance but also your marriage, your family, and your entire life, it's suddenly not a simple question at all (if it ever was). Eventually what I had to do was decide what I wanted in regards to my marriage, regardless of what the LDS church said I should or shouldn't do, in order to take the weight off the religious question. So that's what I did.

Without my marriage hanging in the balance, the answers to the religious question came more clearly. I found that all the doubts I had about the church were genuine concerns, that they were not merely an excuse to justify something else I wanted. I asked to be released from my callings because I didn't believe some of the things I was expected to teach others. I decided to continue attending the LDS church in support of my wife's beliefs, and found that many things that had bothered me about the church no longer did. I could disagree privately and let others believe what they chose to, and it was okay. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was being completely honest with myself and others.

I believe in God. I don't know that he exists, but I have seen enough evidences of his existence and his love for me to feel it would be foolish to say he's an imaginary construct invented to make us feel better about ourselves. I suspect that God is more complicated than any single religion can grasp, but I believe most religions, as long as they're trying to make people better and happier and discouraging them from hurting each other, are good. I don't know what God thinks about homosexuality in general, and I don't care because I know that for me, the right thing to do is to be faithful to my wife.

I'm not opposed to being called Mormon or even calling myself Mormon because I have been Mormon all my life, and I do attend the Mormon church every Sunday and really, just like "gay," I can make the label mean whatever I want it to. Words are words--they have only the meaning we attach to them. Even though I don't believe the LDS church is the one true church, I still think and act in very Mormony ways. I learned how to approach God through the LDS church, and I see no reason to change that. When I pray I pray like a Mormon. When I interpret answers to prayers I use the methods taught to me in Mormon Sunday school. When I think of God I envision a very Mormon God, much like you'd find in any painting of Joseph Smith's first vision. I don't know that the God I'm imagining looks much like the one who actually exists, but I'm not sure it matters.

In the end, there's only one God even if Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Mormons and Pseudo-Mormons pray to him in different ways and call him different names. I don't think he cares whether I call myself Mormon and gay or Branch Davidian and quadrisexual; I imagine he's much more concerned with what I do and who I am. So here's hoping that whatever I call myself, I'll be a good husband, father, brother, friend, yadda yadda yadda, and a decent person.

And I hope we can still be friends.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Back to Square One

So we discovered yesterday that the apartment offered to us by university housing is not available until mid-October. I need to be there in two weeks. After spending yesterday discussing our various options--finding a place that will rent to us for a month, finding a motel that does long-term rentals, having Foxy and the children stay here while I go to Seattle and live on the street for a month--we decided that all of those options involve way more cost, both financial and emotional, than the close, cheap on-campus housing is worth.

So now we're back to looking for an apartment. Except now we're working with a smaller pool of possibilities and with less time before we need somewhere to unload our seventeen-foot U-Haul.

Blaugh. Somebody shoot me.

Plane Specs from Jesus

There is a nice gentleman who comes every day to Library #2 and draws a boat or plane, complete with detailed specifications, on a large white piece of poster board. Most days, he personalizes the drawing for a staff member, then gives it to us. I have now received three:




When he gave me the last one, he explained that it is a personal revelation from Jesus Christ that he received for me, so I should not rip it up or throw it away. Which poses a problem--if Jesus gave this man a revelation just for me, then I probably ought to figure out what it means, but I'll admit I'm at a loss. Any ideas?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

One More Thought

The blog party is in a week and a half. That makes me happy.

Vaguely Related Thoughts

  • I packed the first two boxes this afternoon. My last day of work will be two weeks from today. We'll be loading up the truck and taking off two weeks from Saturday. The reality of the end of my seven (total) years in Utah has yet to sink in. It feels like I've lived here forever and it still feels like I will live here forever.
  • The guy who got the position I should have starts on Monday. I have no intention of making any effort to like or even get to know him. I realize it's not his fault that one or two people in positions of power think I'm incompetent--in fact, I'm pretty sure it's mine--but just the same I don't want to bother. The last time someone else got a position I should have, I invited her to join my writing group. Immediately after she told me that she got the position, in fact. I didn't know her very well at the time, and knew nothing about her writing, but I knew she was interested in a writing group and I didn't want to hate her for something that was not her fault. I knew I'd be seeing her on a regular basis--she was going to be one of my supervisors--and I just didn't want to resent her. I'm glad I got to know her, too, because she's a fun person and a great friend. I imagine this new guy is a decent fellow, too, but this time the point is moot. I'm leaving in two weeks.
  • I'm having a hard time getting any specifics from the housing office, other than they're offering us a two-bedroom apartment. I don't need a lot of specifics, but little things like what date we can move in so I can reserve a moving truck and what our address will be so I can get utilities set up would be nice.
  • It seems some days that Foxy and I don't have the collective emotional energy to deal with two children in any sort of productive, happy, non-scarring sort of way.
  • I'm going to go pack more boxes.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Genre Identity Confusion

I hate to admit it, but I'm afraid I might be--man, it's painful to even say this out loud, but I have to face the truth. Okay, here goes. I... [deep breath and a paragraph break to gather my courage]

I am...

No.

I think I might have homomusical tendencies.

I've only admitted this recently, though now that I look back I see that it's been going on for a while. See, I've always assumed that I'm normal, that I'm a heteromusical. I am white and I like black music--hip hop, soul, reggae, gospel, even a little jazz here and there. Really, I do. I promise, Lauryn Hill is not just a beard. I was telling the truth when I told you how much I love Michael Franti and Erykah Badu and Damian Marley. I've never even understood how people could be inclined toward music of their own color. It just didn't make sense to me. To be honest, it still kind of grosses me out.

But then there's Alanis. I've had a secret crush on Alanis Morissette for several years now. It doesn't make sense, really. Sure, I've always tolerated white music and I even kind of like a few white artists, like Madonna and U2 and Michael Jackson. But I love Alanis. I put Alanis on even when Foxy J isn't home and I feel no obligation to play non-rap music. I listen to her on my MP3 player and at work. I think of her lyrics when I'm shelf-reading.

It all started innocently enough. I was in high school when "You Oughta Know" came out and they played it everywhere, even on the R&B stations in Hawaii. It was raw and angry and vindictive and passionate in a way that I generally am not but sometimes secretly want to be. Especially when I was in high school. I heard the next few singles as they came out and enjoyed them, but what hooked me was "Uninvited," which hit the radios sometime during my freshman year of college. The pianoline (as opposed to bassline?) in the background is entrancing, as is Alanis's voice. Then about halfway through, the violins and drums and guitars and I-don't-know-what join in and everything gets loud, then quiet again, then louder, and through it all her voice is filled with this raw emotion that I can't get enough of. She sings with this same passion, whether she's singing about falling in love despite herself, bemoaning her failings, or intentionally (or so she claims) misusing the word ironic (isn't it ironic?).

So now I don't know what to do with myself. I still love my Lauryn and my Michael and my Erykah, so obviously I'm heteromusical, but try as I might, I just can't shake myself of this Alanis thing. I know it's wrong, but I can't help it. Am I homomusical? Bimusical?

Please help me--I'm not sure I can survive without an adequate label to define myself.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Who is Invited to the Blog Party?

Relation to me: If you are reading this, or you know someone who is reading this, or you know someone who knows someone who is reading this, you are invited. Sorry, I won't accept any guests above the third degree of separation (Will Smith and Kevin Bacon be damned).

Gender: Male, female, or any combination thereof.

Race: Black, white, yellow, or brown. No purple people. I hate purple people.

Religion: Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews, and atheists are welcome. Zoroastrians must first be cleared by me. Agnostics can leave their indecision at the door.

Sexuality: Gay, straight, or bi. Please, no bestiosexuals. That's just gross.

Height: Everyone's welcome, but I do like tall people better than short people.

Weight: I'm not going to touch this one.

Age: 0-99. In past blog parties, we have had S-Boogie and the Big O representing the 0 side of the range, and Edgy Killer Bunny and Th. closer to the 99 side, and have thus far avoided any age-based conflict.

Marital status: Here at the Fobcave we welcome singles, marrieds, and all degrees of sinful livers between the two.

Musical preference: Must be willing to tolerate the music of the Fob household, which includes a variety of artsy hip-hop, folk, soul, reggae, rock, gospel, and Moulin Rouge!

Proximity: Come on, folks, I've had people drive from California and fly from Indiana, just to come to a blog party and show love for Master Fob. What's your excuse?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Blog Party IV
(because it worked so well for Superman and Jaws)

The time has come, my friends, for the last Fob blog party in Utah. So unless you want to drive to Seattle for the next one (or even if you do), plan on coming to the Fobcave on Labor Day Monday, September 4th, between 5 and 8pm. If you don't know where the Fobcave is, email me for directions. We will provide pizza and paper goods. Please sign up in the comments section to bring:
  • drinks
  • fruits or veggies
  • salad
  • dessert
  • other
And while you're at it, please bring boxes, as we'll be moving five days later. FoxyJ suggests that we have a raffle that evening to give away refrigerator items, including such fabulous foodstuffs as:
  • a four-year-old bottle of A1
  • freezer-burned hot dog buns
  • one pound of frozen yeast
  • three half-used bottles of Hersheys syrup (two chocolate and one strawberry)
  • a very large jar of dill pickles
If that doesn't convince you, I don't know what will. See you on Labor Day.

Redirect

Please go wish Tolkien Boy a happy birthday. You can do so either in his comments section or in the SayBox in his sidebar. Even if you don't know him (but then who doesn't know Tolkien Boy?), go say hi.

Tolkien Boy is one of the greatest friends I have ever had and among the greatest people I have ever known. He is a witty writer, a charismatic conversationalist, a genuine gentleman, and an all around nice guy. In the time that I've known him not only has he befriended and loved me, but he's shown that same love for my wife and children, and he has quickly become one of S-Boogie's favorite uncles. Nothing makes me happier than to see people treat my daughter as well as Tolkien Boy does.

Happy birthday, Tolkien Boy.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Every Man for Himself

Both the publishing world and I seem to have a thing lately for collections of short stories intended for teenaged guys. On the publishing world's part, I suppose it's a combination of an altruistic intention to get teenaged boys to read and a desire to capitalize on the altruistic intentions of teachers, librarians, and parents to do the same. On my part, it's a little more complicated. Firstly, as a young male librarian I'm expected to be able to recommend books that young male reluctant readers will enjoy. Secondly, these collections tend to include my favorite authors, like Walter Dean Myers, Craig Thompson, Mo Willems, Terry Trueman, and David Levithan. Thirdly and fourthly is a combination of a desire to peek into the world of men and a relatively recent realization that I actually belong in the world of men.

So far, Every Man for Himself: Ten Short Stories About Being a Guy is my favorite of the lot. Guys Write for Guys Read has too much crap that feels like filler and Noisy Outlaws... is just a little on the weird side for my tastes. Good, but weird. Every Man for Himself sticks to only ten stories, so each story has room to develop into a complete piece, and has an amazing line-up of writers (half of which I've mentioned above). Of course, not every story is phenomenal, but even the one I was most disappointed in--a piece by Mo Willems about kids at a superhero high school that had a great premise but fell apart toward the end--was fun to read. My two favorite stories are one by Walter Dean Myers about a kid who lets his friends talk him into auctioning himself off as a prom date, and another by David Levithan about seventeen-year-old Graham, whose almost-thirteen-year-old brother tells their parents that he will not attend his own Bar Mitzvah unless they allow Graham's boyfriend to come--a noble gesture, but now Graham must come up with the boyfriend he doesn't really have.


(out of five)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Farewell to Melyngoch

S-Boogie (pointing to the cuddle roll):

That's Melyngoch.

Melyngoch fell down and got hurt.

We need to get her a car 'cause she got hurt.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Wally's Storytime: A True Story

It was the typical library storytime. Two- and three-year-olds ran around the media auditorium while their mothers tried to listen to the storyteller, each convinced that her child was making the most noise. I watched silently from the piano bench at the back of the room, glad that for once my daughter was sitting relatively quietly and that I was being paid to be there.

The storyteller had done a couple songs and a couple finger games, so now it was time for a puppet show. This, however, would be no ordinary puppet show--and not just because this time the storyteller would invite the children to hold the puppets themselves--for this would be the puppet show that changed history.

After giving a wolf puppet to her son, a sheep puppet to a little girl, and a woodchopper puppet to a special little boy who we'll call Wally, the storyteller held up her own puppet--a little shepherd--and began her story. This, you see, was the ages-old story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.

The story started out as usual. The little shepherd watched his sheep, got bored, and cried, "Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!" and the woodchopper came running up the hill to save him. Each of the junior puppetmasters played his or her part quite well. A second time the little shepherd settled in to watch his sheep, got bored, and cried, "Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!" and again the woodchopper came running up the hill. Then, the third time the little shepherd got bored and cried, "Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!" and the narrator explained, as the story goes, that this time the woodchopper did not believe the little shepherd, and so he--

But wait! Lo! Our dear little Wally would not hear of it. He would not let his woodchopper puppet sit idly by while the wolf puppet mauled the little shepherd puppet's little sheep puppet. Wally jumped to his feet and promptly bludgeoned the wolf puppet with the woodchopper puppet's wooden head.

What could that poor storyteller do? Wally, in his youthful innocence, had changed the story.

And I, dear reader, I could not help but wipe a tear from my eye. For you see, Wally may only be two and a half, but Wally knows the true meaning of Storytime--it's not about telling the story the way it's been told a million times. No, it's about something far greater, far more important: it's about beating the crap out of that damn wolf.

Let us all remember this lesson, and dear little Wally who taught it to us, the next time we hear a little boy cry wolf.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Another Open Letter

Dear Property Managers and Owners of Seattle,

Mems how yesterday I was giving you a hard time about not letting me rent anything? Yeah, never mind. Apparently you were holding out on me because you knew that UW family housing was going to contact me today to say that the Fob family has come up on their waiting list and can we please come live in one of their apartments. So it's a good thing, after all, that we hadn't signed a lease on any of your expensive, far-from-school places, 'cause that would've put a damper on us saying yes to a cheap on-campus place.

Cheers. Keep up the good work.

Love,

Master Fob

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

An Open Letter to the Property Managers of Seattle

Dear Property Managers and Owners,

First of all, I would like to thank you for your concern for me and my family. It is very kind of you to consider our situation from our point of view, acknowledging that it is never wise to sign a lease before you have seen the apartment you're signing for. It's nice of you to not want us to get trapped in an apartment that we will end up not liking.

I would like to say, though, that if you continue being nice in this way, my family and I will not have a place to live once we get to Seattle. You see, we have neither the time nor money to fly there now and go apartment-hunting. We have accepted that all we have to go on is the little information you can give us online or by phone. And we're okay with that. If we're stuck in a crappy place for a year, we'll survive. At least it'll be something.

So please, I beg of you, let us give you our money. We really want to. Even if the place is old and run-down. Even if we'll be surrounded by loud college students. Even if the neighbors sometimes set off fireworks in the middle of November. We're grown-ups. We'll deal.

Thank you. Have a nice day. I'll put the check in the mail as soon as you tell me I can.

Sincerely,

Master Fob

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ask Master Fob


Melyngoch: By the way, can I get a ride tonight?

Master Fob: Yes. Where are we going?

AmyJane: Did we go to elementary school together?

MF: You and I? No. You and Th.? Possibly.

Th.: What if love is like poop? You know how when you step into a smelly restroom--not overwhelmingly smelly, mind you, but something is lingering...? And after a while, your olifactories adjust and the smell disappears? And then you take your crap and are struck anew by the unpleasantness of that old poop smell?

MF: Your powers of metaphor astound me.

Gilmore Guy: How can you live in Seattle and not be a bus junkie?

MF: I'll get back to you on this one.

NatGo: What would Al Gore do?

MF: The same thing he does every night--Try To Take Over The World.

Brooke: You are gay. But, you are married. So, do you act on your homosexuality or do you refrain?

MF: If by "act on your homosexuality" you mean "have sex with a man," then no. If by "act on your homosexuality" you mean "love Barbra Streisand and have an uncanny fashion sense," then the answer is still no, but less emphatically so. If by "act on your homosexuality" you mean "throw an amazing Oscars party" then yes, but only with Edgy Killer Bunny's help.

AmyJane: Can you say emergency room visit?

MF: Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I can.

AmyJane: "If these shadows remain unchanged..." Is that from "A Christmas Carol"?

MF: I suppose so. I got it from Tolkien Boy.

The McCulloch Family: But I can't live without air conditiong so you are tougher (more tough?) than me.

MF: Tougher. I am tougher than you. Your whole family. I'll take you all on. And your little dog too.

Samantha: Did you count the words?

MF: You must think I have a lot of time.

Bob Millward: Maybe we can help you move in? Maybe we can bring you some food from our garden?

MF: Sounds wonderful.

Weed: Have you been?

MF: No, but I have Ben. Right here. Tied up. And I'm beating him with a stick.

JB: Doncha feel special?

MF: Special bloggers need the most love.

Tolkien Boy: How serious could I have been, though, really?

MF: Your mom is serious. (And in case TB's mom is reading, I don't mean you, but the universal "your mom." Nor did I mean you any of the twelve hundred other times I've referred to TB's mom. Please don't hate me.)

Th.: I didn't know Nemesis knew you--or did she just mean your blog?

MF: I think she just meant my blog. And an email or two about librarianship. Unless, of course, she's stalking me. Which is scary.

Th.: Anyway, can't I have any friends that are mine exclusively and not desperate to be FOBs as well?

MF: No. It's on line three of your contract.

Th.: The new public nature of your blog is also curious because it affects what there is to say in the comments section as well---it is no long private conversation at a private table, is it?

MF: Yeah, remember when we could have private conversations on my blog about that pus-filled infection in your anus? It's too bad we can't be so cavalier anymore.

Oldenburg: Tell me, how did those crack reporters contact you, or discover you?

MF: The story involves potentially private information belonging to people who are not me, but there has been a hint in the comments section of this blog. The short version is that she found my blog and emailed me from the link in my profile.

Anonymous: Can't we all just get along??

MF: We could, but it won't make a very good story.

Tolkien Boy: Have you decided for or against Seattle?

MF: For. Gosh! Aren't you paying attention?

Th.: If it's time for Ask Master Fob, then I want to think of a question too....

Wait a second....

Okay, this:

Is S-Boogie having a happy birthday? Because if not, tell her I wish her one. (That should make all the difference.)

MF: And it did. Thank you.

Anonymous: I stumbled across your story and, to say the least, it’s very interesting. I personally don't agree with supposedly gay men marrying women, but it's your life. Anyway, I have a question. As a gay man, I do not really understand your identifying yourself as gay, or any other man who identifies himself as gay and then gets married and have kids. I guess it’s mainly the sex part. If you’re gay, I really don’t see how it’s physically possible to have sex with a woman, unless you’re bisexual. Please enlighten this confused gay guy.

MF: Um. This is a kind of personal question, but I do understand where you're coming from. When I say that I'm gay--as opposed to straight or bi--I mean that, besides being generally drawn toward men, I'm turned on by men's bodies and, generally speaking, not women's bodies. As it turns out, there's more to sex than visual stimulation, and there's more to my wife than a body. Suffice it to say that, for me at least, it is physically possible.

If you count sexual activity as a factor in determining sexual orientation, as Kinsey does, then I'm probably technically bisexual. For that matter, if the only thing that counted was activity, I'd be 100% hetero. I self-identify as gay rather than bi because I feel that's where my natural inclinations point, and because, besides making me sound all noble and heroic, saying that I'm a gay man who is making a straight marriage work (as opposed to a bisexual man doing the same*) emphasizes the fact that if God wants you to do something then you can do it, regardless of who you are or what obstacles lie in your way. Which I think is my point. I

*I have no doubt that the decision to be married is no less difficult for a self-identified bisexual man than for a self-identified gay man, but people who have no experience with either tend to think that for the former, it's easier because it's just a matter of choosing one thing you want over another thing, while for the latter it's this great big sacrifice because you're giving up the one thing you want. I think part of my point is that it's not as big a deal as all this makes it sound, that it's just a matter of deciding what's right for you and sticking to it, but I'm not sure I make that point very well. Perhaps I would be better at making points if I knew exactly what they were.

Mandi: How did you guys get involved in this article?

MF: I think they chose us mainly because I'm gay and we're married. And Mormon, to some degree or another. And because we're so gosh darn photogenic.

Rachel: And, was there going to be another blog party before the end of the summer?

MF: As a matter of fact, yes. Watch this space for details, and keep your Labor Day open. (Labor Day's the one in September, right? I alwasy get it confused with Memorial Day and Veterans Day. And Christmas.)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Falling in Love
OR
Still Staying,
a follow-up essay to "Staying In" and a response to some of the ideas being thrown around lately

Last week, just a few days before the Salt Lake Tribune article came out, the New York Times ran a piece called "When the Beard is Too Painful to Remove," about men who either choose to stay with their wives or simply have a hard time leaving them despite the fact that they're having gay relationships on the side. I don't identify with everything these men experience, but I do identify with the reasons they stay (or want to): because they are truly in love with their wives, and because they have invested a lot into that love and the family they've created together, regardless of what they feel for other men.

It's not as simple, though, as the way I phrased it a couple years ago and was quoted on last week in the Trib article--a choice between one's heart and one's libido. The part of the Times article that most struck a chord with me was from the final paragraph, talking about a man who was struggling with the decision to stay with his wife or leave her to be with his male lover: "John said he had no moral choice but to leave his marriage once he 'let the emotional aspect' of his attraction to men into his life. 'That had been the realm of me and my wife,' he said." In other words, once he realized the thing with men was not just a libido thing, but also a heart thing, that's when he realized he was in trouble. The decision was no longer a simple one between love and sex.

About a year and a half ago, shortly after I wrote "Staying In," I made a new friend. He and I immediately hit it off because we had so much in common. Besides some other more obvious commonalities which had led a mutual friend to introduce us, we both love literature, writing, and intelligent conversation. We have our differences, surely, but when it comes down to it, we both value a quiet, peaceful sort of approach to life. Very quickly, I felt a connection to him on a level that I had never before experienced with another guy. As I was at a point where I had been particularly craving some kind of male emotional intimacy--and was fully aware of that craving--this friendship was heaven-sent. I felt excited about life as I had not in quite a while.

Don't misunderstand me. There was never anything about our relationship that was not in line with my intention to be faithful to my wife. In fact, something about those first few late night instant messaging sessions with New Friend made me more content with my life as it was, happier each night to go to bed and fall asleep next to my wife. The danger was never that my relationship with New Friend would pass the line of propriety, but rather the danger to my marriage was what this friendship made me realize: that I could have this kind of emotional connection with a man. What, then, would it be like to have that in a relationship with a man who was more than a friend? What if, after all, I could have what both my heart and libido wanted?

The truth is, of course, that I could. Contrary to what I once believed, homosexuality is not strictly about sex. Gay couples are just as capable of loving each other as straight couples are. Coming to this realization, especially as it came at a time when I was in the middle of questioning long-accepted doctrines of the LDS church, was difficult for me. If I was not married to a woman because it was the only viable option for me, why then was I married to a woman? If, potentially, God might approve of a gay couple as much as he approves of straight couples, why was I trying to make a straight relationship work?

There were a lot of factors that went into my decision to stay. One was another good friend of mine who had recently moved away but I was keeping in touch with via email. It was not his logical arguments against my reasons for wanting to give up, nor even the sincere testimonies he bore that helped me to make the decision I eventually made. It was the motivation behind those arguments and testimonies, the fact that I could experience this love and this connection in a friendship with a straight man, at the same time that I was developing an equally-strong friendship with New Friend, that made me realize that yes, love plus sex is surely wonderful, but love without sex is nothing to bite your thumb at.

I'm not quite making my point here, so I'll let Old Friend make it:
Your thoughts on needing multiple relationships to make it through life reminded me of About a Boy. Have you seen that movie / read that book? I love the movie--it's one of my favorites, one of those that can be seen in whole or in any part and thoroughly enjoyed. And Marcus has an epiphany that drives the story--two people isn't enough; you need more, three at least.
See, I was realizing that I was happier at that point in my life than I had been in a while because of a combination of the always-wonderful relationship I had with Foxy J, plus the friendship with New Friend, plus the friendship with Old Friend, plus all the other important relationships in my life. I was realizing that what I wanted even more than sex with a man was love with a man, and I could have that without giving up on my marriage, or on the love I had with my wife. The fact that I had my wife's love and still felt a need for something else was not indicative of any lack in our relationship, but rather of the fact that humans need intimacy with many people on many different levels in order to be fully happy.

The next piece of the puzzle was New Friend's value of, nay, obsession with commitment. As far as New Friend is concerned, once you've committed to something, there is no turning back. And the more I thought about that, the more it made sense. What is the point of making commitments if you're going to bail at the first sign of difficulty? Isn't the purpose of commitment to carry you through the times when you don't want to be there, so you can get back to the happy times that led you to make the commitment in the first place? True, sometimes people commit to foolish things and the wisest choice is to break the commitment, but the more I thought and prayed about it, the more I felt this was not the case with me and my marriage.

Another reason I decided to stay is that I learned how much my mind plays tricks on me. For a while I had tried to convince myself of something I've seen a lot of people say in the last week--that it is literally impossible for a gay man to fall in love with a woman. I adjusted my memories of my relationship with Foxy J in order to convince myself that I had never felt anything more than platonic love for her, that I had married her only because I thought I had to. As I was honest with myself, though, I remembered not only the strong spiritual confirmation I'd felt that I should marry her, but also the excited, tingly feelings I'd had the first time I'd held her hand, kissed her, listened to the mixtape of love songs she'd made for me, and how satisfied I'd felt those first few nights on our honeymoon. I remembered how we'd prayed together and felt undeniably that it was time for us to have a child, how I'd watched as she carried our baby, first in her womb and later in her arms. There was no denying that not only did I love Foxy J; I had on several occasions been in love with her, and no doubt would be again if I stopped trying to convince myself that it was not possible.

And I did fall in love with her again. Ultimately, it was Foxy J who convinced me to stay, and not because she told me to. In fact, it was when she mentioned that she'd told someone that she and I would remain best friends, "no matter what happens," that the first spark returned. I knew that she wanted to stay married, but I saw then that she loved me enough, that my happiness was important enough to her, that somewhere in her mind she was willing to consider the possibility that my happiness might necessitate something that would make her very unhappy.

Then we decided to have another baby and it was all downhill from there. I was in love again.

As it turns out, staying married is a much easier decision to make when I know that it's not the only possible option, but rather one of many. I know that, in theory, Foxy and I could probably make it through a divorce without destroying our lives or even our kids' lives. I know that, in theory, I could probably find some wonderful gay man and have a wonderful relationship with him. I know all this, so it doesn't freak me out when I see a gay couple who are genuinely happy together. Similarly, I think gay couples who are secure in the fact that they have made not the only possible decision, but one of many, don't freak out when they see me and Foxy happy together. They are happy for us and we are happy for them. I choose to stay with Foxy because I'm content with my life, with the various good relationships I have and especially with the relationship I have with her. I stay because the capacity to fall in love is not a black and white, either-you're-gay-or-you're-straight sort of thing. I stay because I love Foxy J and because I'm in love with her. Again.

Triking


This morning I took S-Boogie and Little Dude to the park. We do this a lot, but not for the past few weeks, and never before with S-Boogie's new trike (Foxy J has taken S-Boogie to the park on her trike, but I haven't). I loaded Little Dude into his comfy sling, helped Boogie onto her tricycle, and off we went.

S-Boogie's snazzy new tricycle has a bar with a handle that extends up from behind the seat, allowing an adult to push it. This is nice, since Boogie doesn't have much of a concept of pedaling yet. There's also a mechanism which allows you to lock the steering handles, but this doesn't work so well going down a sidewalk because the trike doesn't go completely straight--it tends to veer to one side or another, and then you have to lift the front up to redirect it. So I let Boogie steer, figuring she's got to learn how sooner or later.

The problem is not that S-Boogie doesn't understand the concept of steering. If you tell her to turn away from the curb, she will turn the trike away from the curb. The problem is that she has the attention span of a toddler, which is little to none. This means that we have to go very slow, and I am constantly saying, "Turn away from the curb," "Turn away from the grass," "Watch where we're going," and "Please, keep the front wheel pointing forward." Meanwhile, S-Boogie is watching the sprinklers we pass, the lawnmower, the flowers.

If these shadows remain unchanged, this girl is never getting a driver's license. Maybe we should get rid of the car.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hypothetical Question

Assuming that you had (a) a car and (b) two small children and that you were (c) moving to a large city with a good public transportation system, would you consider going without the car (but not without the children) for a year or two in order to save loads of money on insurance, gas, and maintenance (and be environmentally friendly while you're at it)? Also assume that your employment situation is hazy and you are anticipating being dirt poor. Please answer in fifty words or less.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Going to Seattle... For Sure This Time

(But maybe don't update your address book until our stuff is in the moving van.)

Here's the story, some of which has been told here as it happened:
  1. Have worked at Job #1 for three years. Love it.
  2. Realized about a year ago that if I ever wanted to advance in my career, it was not going to happen at Job #1.
  3. Decided to pursue further education in order to advance in my career elsewhere.
  4. Applied to and was accepted to University of Washington's Master's of Library and Information Science program.
  5. Got Job #2, which complemented Job #1 nicely, and decided that maybe I'd be willing to stick around here a while longer, maybe do a distance MLS program instead of moving to Washington.
  6. Summer filled with inner turmoil and indecision about where we would be this fall.
  7. Applied (for the fifth or sixth time) for a promotion at Job #1, and was reminded--just yesterday, in fact--of Plot Point #2 above.
  8. Decided after all to go to Seattle, where we will be ridiculously poor and possibly homeless, but in two years I'll be in a position to get a really good job.
Today I informed my supervisor at Job #2 that I will be leaving in a month. I dreaded having to tell her this, as I love Job #2 and hate to leave it and hate to abandon them after only three months there. She took it quite well, though, and even gave me advice on schooling and whatnot. I hope that by the time I leave I'll have done enough good that they won't totally regret hiring me.

And I hope that we can, like, eat in Seattle.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The downside of being in the paper

is not that more casual acquaintances know that I'm gay, but that more casual acquaintances know about my blog. Don't get me wrong; I love the fact that my hits-per-day have gone up 600% in the last few days. Anyone who wants to read my blog is more than welcome to. It just bothers me that there might be people I know who are reading this, and I have no idea. Up until a couple days ago, I could go through my mental list of people who knew about my blog, or even people who could possibly know about my blog, and make sure I didn't say anything to offend or embarrass anyone--or, for that matter, embarrass myself. Now I have no idea who might possibly be reading.

Which means that I can't tell you about the really nice ending to the really crappy day I just had, because if the person involved in that happy moment were to read my explanation of what made it a happy moment, we'd both be embarrassed. But especially me.

Dooced

(No, I haven't been fired for talking about my job on my blog--as the term "dooced" usually implies--nor do I think I've said anything here that would warrant such an action, being as how I like both my current jobs.)

I am not a jealous man. This is actually a lie, but for the present purposes it is true. It does not bother me when my wife occasionally admits that she is attracted to Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt (though I do find her taste in men quite different from mine), and in fact I wouldn't mind if she did so more frequently. I know she loves me and is committed to me, so it doesn't matter if she's admiring some other guy from a distance.

What does make me jealous is when I see her reading the blog of a Salt Lake woman named Dooce (the woman doesn't need a link from me so you can find her blog yourself if you want to) and laughing hysterically. Sometimes I worry that she will stop breathing. Inevitably, when she can calm the laughter down enough to talk, she will call me or whoever else is near to the computer so she can show us what hilarious thing Dooce has said this time. Usually, it is quite funny, which is what makes it so bad.

Dooce, in case you don't know, gets enough regular hits on her blog that she can support her family with the advertisements on her sidebar. Everybody loves Dooce. I have tried to love her, but I can't. For a while I thought I'd read her blog regularly to figure out what she's doing right that I'm not. I just couldn't. In the first place, it is hard for me to get into the blog of a person I don't know in real life or have some other personal connection to. But even more than that, I have not been able to follow her blog because it makes me angry that I am not her.

In real life I am a funny person. This is not due to any greater-than-average portion of wit, but due to the odds being on my side. If I am comfortable with you, I will say out loud just about every thought that comes to mind--whether it be a random word association, a deliberate misunderstanding, or a nonsensical Your Mom joke--and the chances are, out of 100 attempts at being funny, at least 9 or 10 will invoke genuine laughter. This habit of mine makes any effort to have a serious conversation with me quite frustrating, as Foxy J, Lady Steed, my mother-in-law, or any number of people who know me will attest. Still, I like to think it makes me endearing. I don't believe that's true, mind you, I just like to think it.

My blog, though, tends to go something like this:
Hi. I am Master Fob. This is why I suck.

Da da da da da da for five paragraphs.

And this is why I really don't suck, and you don't suck, and nobody sucks. Let's all hug. The end.
I would like to tell myself that I am not funny on my blog because I am too busy being meaningful and poignant, but that's just stupid. Lots of people are funny and meaningful at the same time, such as Tolkien Boy on every blog post he ever writes, or Samantha Stevens when she is telling naysayers on Times & Seasons that they are being silly. Really, this is the blogger I'd like to be. I enjoy funny writing so much more when there's a point to it, whether the point be a philosophical epiphany or just a good story (I'm not saying that there isn't a point to Dooce's humor, by the way; I can't honestly say whether there is, as I don't read her blog).

I think my lack of humor here comes from two things:

1. My sense of humor depends on interaction with people, as I tend to play off whatever they are saying. I could never be a standup comedian.

2. Blogging is my chance to be serious, since in real life I usually am not.

Which means, dear reader, that it sucks to be you. Or rather, it sucks to be me, as you will surely grow bored with my meandering and go check out Dooce's blog.

Da da da da da.

And this is why I really don't suck, and you don't suck, and nobody sucks. Let's all hug. The end.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Validation

My father-in-law says he's going to get Michael Franti & Spearhead's new album. This almost makes up for the fact that editorgirl turned the album off right in the middle of my favorite song when she was here with FOB last week.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

On (the lack of) Anonymity

Despite the fact that I stick to the moniker "Master Fob" (which, for those of you who are newcomers here, stands for Friends of Master Fob), I think it's pretty clear that any pretense of anonymity is only that--it's sort of the rules of the game I play, considering that all my blogger friends refrain from using their real names on their blogs. If you're wondering what my real name is, you have only to click here or here.

In a thread on Times & Seasons (thanks to L for the link), I have been praised by some for being open about my sexuality and criticized by a few others for "gambling" not only with my own and my wife's happiness, but also that of our children, not only by choosing to marry and have children in the first place, but also by choosing to go public with the circumstances of our marriage. I knew when I decided to out myself, as it were, that I would get both praise and criticism, though I didn't necessarily want either. Okay, I'll admit the praise is nice, but it's not the point.

I chose to make my sexuality and my decision to marry public, and to attach my name to said sexuality and decision, because I felt that all the issues involved in homosexuality are only made more complicated by the fact that no one talks about them, at least within the framework of the LDS Church and other conservative religious cultures. As long as the only people who talk about being gay are doing so from outside the culture--because their decision to "live a gay lifestyle" necessarily removes them from the culture--those within the culture will continue to believe that homosexuality exists only outside the culture. As long as Mormons believe homosexuality is someone else's problem, they will continue to drive away members of their own faith who don't have the convenience of assuming it is someone else's problem (I am not, by the way, condoning the assumption that homosexuality is in and of itself a problem). And guess what? Those people they're driving away are their own sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives.

Because I have made a life choice that the LDS church approves of, I am in a position where I can speak and faithful Mormons will not immediately tune me out. Like Ty Mansfield, I can tell people I'm gay because, for the most part, even the most conservative of Mormons are not going to condemn me for it as long as I am living a life they approve of. I don't like the fact that most people need to know that you're "on their side" before they'll listen to what you have to say, but it's reality. Once people accept the fact that I'm gay and I'm still a good person, hopefully that will open up to the idea that other homosexuals are good people, even if they might not have made the same decisions I have. At the very least it will force them to acknowledge that gay people exist outside the realm of those distant, shady promoters of the "gay agenda," whatever that is.

I laud people like L, Another Other, Elbow, and Samantha Stevens (I'm feeling lazy so you can check my sidebar for links) who discuss the issues involved in being gay, Mormon, and married from an anonymous vantage point. As I've pointed out to a couple of them, they're able to talk about things with a bit more honesty and candor than I am. For the sake of propriety and pride, I refrain from talking about past or present sins on this blog, as well as the details of Foxy's and my sex life. I don't spend a lot of time talking about the guy I see several times a week who makes me feel giddy to look at, because I don't feel that that would be respectful to my wife (to dwell on it, not to acknowledge it).

I do, however, believe it is important that at least some of us are willing to put our real names and faces out there. Someone needs to say, "Hey, wait a minute, I haven't done anything wrong. Why should I hide? What do I have to hide from?" Hopefully, as more and more of us refuse to hide, fewer and fewer will need to. I take this risk because I want my children to grow up in a world where they know that whatever struggles they have, whatever choices they make, they are not alone and they have nothing to fear.

Am I gambling with the happiness of the people I love most? Yes. But rest assured, my concerned friends, I wouldn't do so unless I believed that someone who knows the outcome of all gambles is on my side.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Another Fifteen Minutes...

I suspect I'll have a few more hits here in the next few days. If you're not sure why, click on this link.

I feel somewhat obligated now to post more about being gay, Mormon, and married, as that's what people are expecting to find here. I do and I will, but I also intend to continue writing about other parts of my life. Enjoy. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

My First Collection Development Snafu

I meant to order this book, but instead ordered this book. I'm thinking I won't add it to the adult fiction collection.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Bachelorhood Report

What I did in the eight days I was home alone:
  • Wrote 12 blog posts
  • Cleaned 1 apartment (minus the bathroom, which I was going to do today but ran out of time)
  • Cooked 1 decent meal, which provided leftovers for several meals thereafter (please, no more lasagna)
  • Watched 3 superhero movies--X3 and Superman Returns (again) in the theater, and Batman Begins at home, though perhaps it shouldn't count because I decided on a whim to watch it last night after reading this article, but I knew it was time to go to bed so I compromised and watched it in bed, which meant I slept through much of it
  • Hung out with friends 2 times
  • Attended 1 birthday party
  • Did 3 loads of laundry
  • Bought 2 CDs
  • Worked 62 hours
  • Wrote 0 pages of the novel I'm supposed to be working on.
I think I'm ready to have Foxy J home.