Thursday, May 31, 2007

Perusing Higher Education

(Post #495)

The word is pursuing, folks. Pursuing.

That's all.

Shocked and Appalled

(Post #494)

There was a CHUNK in my CREAMY peanut butter. Seriously, folks, what if I were allergic to chunks? I could have DIED. I'd totally sue if I weren't so ridiculously busy this week.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

End-of-the-Quarter Sprint

(Post #493)

I did not expect to be done with that paper--the ten-page single-spaced group paper that I had to write half of and had barely a page as of two hours ago--already. I don't even think it's nearly as crappy as you'd expect of a paper written so quickly. The assignment was basically to write a narrative of my experience using a certain database, and if there's anything I know how to throw together last minute, it's narrative. Perhaps it doesn't have quite the finesse I'd like and could achieve with another draft or two, but it does its job, and that's the important thing.

The other important thing is that it appears, against all odds, that I will be going to bed on time tonight and getting eight (crossing my fingers) hours of sleep before getting up and heading out for another fifteen-hour day tomorrow. And tomorrow is the last day of the quarter, and I only have two papers to write in the next week. Except those both require actual research (which I've yet to do), so I should probably not wait until the last minute to start them.

This Would Be My 500th Post

Except that included in the supposed 499 posts before this one are eight unpublished drafts, four of which are dummy posts I used to publish template images, two of which are notes for posts I was going to write, one of which is the stub of a post I never got around to writing, and one of which is a complete post I decided against publishing. So really this is my 492nd post. But it's the thought that counts, right?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Apocalypse Averted by U.S. Government

So it turns out that the Silver Surfer quarter promotion is not a hoax, but it is illegal. So rest assured, gentle readers, that while there may be 40,000 quarters with a third-rate superhero opposite George's profile in circulation across the country (and on eBay), Uncle Sam frowns upon each and every one of them.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Hostess With the Mostess

In case there was any doubt, FoxyJ proved her ability to push past cookers' block for Little Dude's first birthday bash tonight. She made about twice as much veggie-kabobs, shrimp-kabobs, chicken-kabobs, couscous, fruit salad, and oh-so-rich chocolate and vanilla cupcakes as could possibly be eaten by seven adults and two children. It remains to be seen whether I will ever find room in my stomach to eat again.

Spider-Man 3


The best part is when one of the bad guys goes to a cathedral and asks Jesus to kill Spider-Man, suggesting in my mind an amusing--albeit sacrilegious--lost episode of Celebrity Deathmatch. "Yes, yes, I know you can do whatever a spider can, and yes, I know about the radioactive blood too, but seriously, I'm God. D'ya really think you have a chance?"

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pentecostal Thoughts on This Fine Pentecostal Afternoon

As I walked from church to the gym this morning, the rain pouring down on me, I thought of S-Boogie, whose first name we gave to her because it means wisdom in Greek and whose middle name we gave to her because it means heavenly mists in Hawaiian, reminding us that if we are full of charity, "the doctrine of the priesthood" (or, one might say, the wisdom of God) shall distill upon our souls "as the dews from heaven." I'd never thought before of how appropriate her name is for Pentecost Sunday, the day when we celebrate the Holy Spirit descending upon the church. The common metaphor for the Spirit is fire, but wouldn't wisdom descending as rain be so much more pleasant?

This made me think of Little Dude, who was born one year ago tomorrow and whose first name means fear of God in Greek and whose middle name means fearless in Hawaiian, reminding us that "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind."

At the gym I listened to The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, who is one of the new agey philosophers my therapist talks about. Tolle suggests that fear, as well as most other negative emotions, comes from an unhealthy preoccupation with the mind and with time. Our mind tends to dwell on the past and future rather than the present, and this leads to sadness, grief, and regret on one hand or fear, anxiety, and stress on the other. When we recognize that our mind is doing this, we step outside of our minds and realize those thoughts are not us, and we become present awarenesses, fully conscious of the Now. When we are focused on the Now, there is no fear.

As I listened I set aside my skepticism and my questions for a moment and tried to be conscious only of the present. I watched the people around me, the gym equipment, the television screens. I looked out the window at the bushes and trees wet with rain. I tried not to think about these things, but just to observe and experience. I had no epiphany or great newfound appreciation for the world and everything in it, but I did sense some truth in Tolle's words. All clinging to the past and worrying about the future do is prevent us from enjoying the present.

I started the day feeling a little stressed about life and hoping for some kind of pentecostal experience, some wisdom from heaven, and I think this is it. Remembering that I have no reason to fear the future does not solve all my problems, but it does give me the sound mind I need to deal with them effectively.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


I've been feeling rather unSeattlish living five blocks from the weekly farmers' market and not taking advantage of it, so this morning S-Boogie, Little Dude, and I walked over to check it out. I left ten dollars poorer, carrying three apples, four tomatoes, a head of lettuce, and a loaf of bread in the stroller basket, and feeling underwhelmed. I like the idea of buying fresh organic produce and supporting local farmers, but I'm not so crazy about the prices. The lettuce was a good deal--a dollar for the head--but the bread was four bucks for the loaf. I mean, it's good bread, but seriously, four bucks?

I'm also unimpressed by the lack of variety at this market. There are maybe thirty stands and at least a third of them sell flowers, which are very pretty but for the most part inedible. The rest all sell variations of the same dozen or so vegetables--which, I suppose, duh, is what you get when you're dealing with fresh produce that's actually grown in the season it's supposed to be grown in. I guess the problem is that I'm too indoctrinated by two and a half decades of eating pretty much whatever I want year-round to accept that all I can eat in May are leeks, garlic, and green onions. Or maybe it's just that this isn't a great farmers' market. Do other markets have more variety this time of year?

In unrelated news, the man selling newspapers in front of Safeway knows Little Dude's blog name. Hi, Mr. Newspaper Man, are you reading?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Out Again

Admissions Coworker decided that the best way for me to come out to my friends in Seattle was to have a coming out party. So I gave her the email addresses of my library coworkers (not everyone who works in the library, just the seven other student reference specialists) and she sent them and the three other graduate student readers at admissions an Evite with the following message:

Dear Friends of Ben,

He's Here, He's Queer - Get Used to It!
Or...join us in drinking to it!

The Grad Readers Club requests the honor of your presence at Ben's official nobody-in-Seattle-knows-I'm-gay coming out party. Come prepared to drink plenty of beer (or a Shirley Temple for the recovering addicts, ex-BYU students, and those with a bun in the oven) and make witty comments. Extra points for those of you who come bearing gifts AND witticisms.

And thus I was outed to all my coworkers. I worried the message was a little more... confrontational? than I would have worded it, but no one seemed bothered by it and the important thing is that I didn't have to do it myself.

Last night we all got together at Dad Watson's and had a great time. Plenty of beer was drunk and many witty comments were made. One of my library coworkers brought a gift--three glow-in-the-dark rubber duckies with devil horns (she promised there was no message implied here) that I was happy to bring home and share with S-Boogie and Little Dude. My gayness was mentioned a couple times during the night (mostly when people joked that they weren't sure what the appropriate thing to say was: Congratulations? Happy Birthday?) but it was hardly the focus of the party, which is just how I'd like things to be. I was very happy to feel that my friends know I'm gay and it really means nothing to them--they care only that I find happiness, whatever that means for me. I was certainly not surprised to get this reaction from my friends, particularly here in Seattle, nor does it differ all that much from the reaction I've gotten from friends and family in Utah and Hawaii over the past ten years, but it's still nice. And nice is good.

Course Selection by Popular Consensus

The FLAS grant I've received for next year requires that each quarter I take a 5-credit course in Spanish language and another 5-credit course in West European Studies. This latter requirement can be pretty broadly interpreted, I believe, to include history, geography, political science, or just about anything else relating to West Europe. Considering that this is my chance to sneak in some courses I might take if I had the opportunity to get as many degrees as my heart desires, I'm having a hard time choosing just one. Which is why I need your help. Please vote on the following:

DRAMA 377 History of Medieval and Renaissance Theatre (5) Johnson
Survey of the rise of theatre from the early liturgical drama through the High Middle Ages to the Reformation and the great flowering of secular drama in Elizabethan England and the Golden Age of Spain. Prerequisite: DRAMA 302.

Pros: Will go along nicely with the Spanish Drama 1600-1635 class I'm taking for the Spanish requirement.
Cons: I haven't taken the prerequisite--though I imagine I could finagle my way in with my English degree and previous coursework in drama studies--and I'm not positive this will count for the FLAS requirement--which means I'll have to check with my adviser before registering. Easily solved, I know, but a con nonetheless.

C LIT 320 Studies in European Literature/Literary Modernism (5) Staten
Various modern authors, from Wordsworth to the present, in relation to such major thinkers as Kant, Hegel, Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, Bergson, and Wittgenstein, who have helped create the context and the content of modern literature.

Pros: It's comparative literature, which I not-so-secretly lust after. Also, it's a literature course, which lies nicely in my comfort zone.
Cons: It's modernism, which I haven't been a big fan of in the past. Also, even though it's comp lit, it's cross-listed as an English course, and I feel a little silly using a FLAS grant to take an English course after I already have two degrees in English. And I'm not positive it counts.

EURO 403 Modern European Migration, Integration, and Citizenship (5) Mitchell
Offers a theoretical and empirical understanding of migration processes and patterns in Europe, with a focus on Muslim immigration in the post WWII period. Analyzes the impact of European Union mandates, globalization processes, and international, national, and urban policies on Muslim immigrant rights and identity formation. Offered jointly with GEOG 403.

Pros: Very much out of my comfort zone, as far as the kinds of courses I've taken before. The thought of learning about an area totally new to me is exciting. Also, I'm positive it counts for the FLAS requirements because it's offered by the West European Studies department.
Cons: Very much out of my comfort zone, as far as the kinds of courses I've taken before.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dear Applicant,

Please note that the Academic Planning Worksheet instructs you, when filling in classes that you are currently taking or plan to take before transferring, to enter in the grade slot either IP for "In Progress" or P for "Projected." If you insist on making up the grades you'll be getting this summer quarter, though, at least have the confidence to give yourself A's. I can't imagine why you'd not only plan on getting a B, but go so far as to admit it in your transfer application.


Mr. Fob


Tuesday is the day that Theric finds things. It is also, apparently, the day that people find my blog. Thanks for sharing the good fortune, Theric.

The Nice Thing About Not Having Many Dishes

The mess can only get so big, even after half a week of not having time to do the dishes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Thoughts on Therapy
Divine Intervention

I've had five therapists so far in the course of my life, and each of them has been a positive experience. I would not have liked the earlier ones if I had had them later in life, and I would not have liked the later ones if I'd had them earlier in life, which I take as evidence of divine intervention. It also may just be that I'm the highly suggestible type. ("Yes, I am the highly suggestible type.")

I've never felt the social stigma that some people attach to therapy. Going to a therapist is not admitting that I'm broken or that there's something fundamentally wrong with me. Therapy is not just for crazy people. (But really, who isn't crazy?) I think everyone should see a therapist at least once in his or her life. It's like having a personal tutor in emotional maturity--as evidenced by how incredibly mature I am after five of them.

Therapist #1 (T1) was a counselor at LDS Social Services (now LDS Family Services) that my bishop referred me to when, as a seventeen-year-old, I told him I was attracted to men. It would be easy for me now to accuse T1 of encouraging me to deny my true self, to try to be something I'm not--easy, but also rather illogical. I went to T1 because I wanted to change my orientation, and if he had tried to tell me that I should accept my homosexuality as a normal variation of nature, I would have found someone else who would tell me what I wanted to hear. T1 helped me begin to deal with the angst of my adolescence, to recognize the connections and disconnections between feelings and reality.

When I came to BYU I knew I wasn't done with therapy, so I asked my new bishop to refer me to a new counselor at LDSSS. I got T2 (no relation to the Governator), a grad student in social work who had the same first name as two of my best friends, which I took as a sign of divine intervention. (It may just be that I have a tendency to attach a lot of significance to random things.) T2 introduced me to all the literature on homosexual reparative therapy, and I give him credit for helping me get to a point where I was confident in myself as a human being and no longer afraid of men--or at least not as afraid as I had been up to that point.

Then I went on a mission, came back, got married, and had a kid. It probably wouldn't have hurt to see a therapist at some point along the way there, but I figured that I knew what I needed to do and it was just a matter of doing it. Then I decided I really did need help making sense of the mess I call my mind, and went to the BYU Counseling Center. There I met T3, who was the first therapist whose explicit purpose wasn't to make me straight--he was not afraid to admit that that was beyond his expertise and perhaps beyond the confines of reality. His goal, rather, was to help me figure out what I wanted out of life and how to achieve that. He also helped me learn what it means to have an emotionally intimate relationship, and he was perhaps the most empathetic of all my therapists, which is something I really needed at that point in my life.

I thought that T4--who has the same first name as T3, another sign of divine intervention--was going to be Foxy's therapist and that I was just going to be supportive, until right before we went in for the first session and Foxy decided that she wanted couple counseling as opposed to individual counseling. I figured that if she felt a need to get help for our relationship, then we needed help. T4 helped us to be more honest with each other, which involved me being honest first with myself and then with Foxy about how I really felt. It's a little too soon to say whether that was a good thing, but I think it was.

T5 (aka Therapist)'s last name is the same as the name of the street I lived on for my first three months in Spain, which even the most skeptical of readers will admit is a sign of divine intervention. I wasn't sure at first that he was the right fit for me, as his approach to therapy is recognizing that everything we think is just a thought, everything we feel reflecting our perception of reality and not reality itself, which seemed to me a little too much like the Be Happy By Pretending To Be Happy philosophy I've relied on for most of my life. Yes, I can choose to be happy in whatever circumstances I'm in, but I can also acknowledge that some circumstances make that more difficult than others and choose accordingly. Over the past few weeks, though, I've found that there are subtle differences between my approach, which wasn't working, and his approach, which I'm liking more and more.

And if that's not enough to make you want to run out and find a therapist, then you really are messed up.

Undergraduate Degrees I Lust After but Alas, Will Never Have

  • Psychology
  • Art
  • Drama
  • Political Science
  • Sociology
  • International Studies
  • Comparative History of Ideas (CHID--because the acronym is part of the appeal)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Anger & Hurt

Don't fear your best friend
Cause a best friend
Will never try to do you wrong.
Don't fear your worst friend
Cause a worst friend
Is just a best friend who's done you wrong.

"Never Too Late"
Michael Franti & Spearhead

A little over a month ago, someone I love and respect hurt me. Even at the time I could see that he didn't mean to hurt me, that in fact he was speaking from a place of hurt himself--the worst kind of hurt, the kind you feel when someone you care about is being hurt and there's nothing you can do about it--but knowing that didn't make it hurt me any less. All those vague referents might not make any sense, but suffice it to say that there was a lot of hurt going on.

It didn't take long for that hurt, on my part, to turn into anger. How dare he attack me like that? How dare he accuse me of those things? I've spent the past month and a half carrying this anger around, thinking of all the ways I could tear down the logic of his arguments and prove he was in the wrong. Then I would realize I didn't really want to do that. Then I would feel guilty for feeling so angry. Then I would get angry at myself, and sooner or later the anger would shift back to the person who hurt me and the whole thing would start over again.

The problem was big enough that Tolkien Boy grew concerned for me. He insisted I talk to my therapist about this anger, which I then did, briefly, in our first session. We didn't talk about it much, though, until today. Today Therapist suggested I try a process that involves writing down everything you feel about the person you're angry at, then you question the things you've written, then you turn them around to essentially see yourself from the other person's perspective. I told him the problem is that I always jump straight to that third step and all I end up with is guilt and anger at myself. So he suggested we just do the first step--writing down what I was feeling--for the sake of allowing myself to feel the anger, since I seem to try to skip that step. I wasn't too far into my list before I realized I was stretching to find things I was angry about.

"It's like eating," said Therapist, "or, if you don't mind the metaphor, like taking a crap. You feel a strong urge to get it all out, and once you do, you're done. The important thing is to make sure you dump your shit in the toilet, not in the living room."

I don't pretend that writing a list magically cures me of all the anger I've ever felt, but it was nice to experience it and then be done with it, at least for today. Tonight I'm at peace.

Which brings me to the answer to Leslie's question about how people have hurt me in God's name. This afternoon I composed a response in my head, venting some of the anger I feel at the people--to be clear, people other than the one the rest of this post is about--who have hurt me in God's name. Tonight, though, I realize that I don't want to write that post. Perhaps I'll write it for myself, to allow myself to experience that anger, but I need to keep my shit in the toilet, as it were. To air my grievances here would do no good. So my answer to your question, Leslie, is that whatever hurt has been done to me in God's name, it was done with the best of intentions, I was complicit in it, and it is nothing compared to the hurt done to the gay people who have been attacked, beaten, or killed in the name of religion. And holding onto it will hurt no one but myself.

The Downfall of this Fine Nation

Apparently, Franklin Mint is going to be issuing quarters with the Silver Surfer on them to promote the new Fantastic Four movie. I'm not so much bothered by the fact that a superhero is given the same importance in American history as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as by the fact that it's a mediocre superhero connected to what will surely be a crappy superhero movie.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


As a general rule, I don't use people's real names on this blog. In the case of fellow bloggers, I want to respect the anonymity of their blog persona. In the case of friends and family who read my blog, I simply assume that they don't want to be connected to me in any sort of public way--perhaps a paranoid assumption, but a safer assumption than its inverse. In the case of people who don't read my blog, I don't want them to come here after Googling their name and wonder why this freaky dude is writing about them on the internet.

I made an exception when writing about the girl I liked in kindergarten, ostensibly because I couldn't imagine her being weirded out by the fact that some childhood friend had a childhood crush on her. Really it was because I could not imagine that anyone I haven't seen in twenty years still exists. And if she did exist, somewhere in the nether regions of the universe, surely she was still five years old. In the last few weeks, though, I've noticed two visitors coming here from a Google search for her name.

Despite the lack of any logical reason, this bothers me.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

So a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, and a Unitarian walk into a gay bar...

This morning Sir Jupiter and I attended a workshop on religion and homosexuality at the Unitarian Universalist church in Edmonds. The workshop, sponsored by the UU in association with the Religious Coalition for Equality, focused on the intersection of homosexuality with various faith traditions. Four speakers led discussions on homosexuality in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Unitarian Universalism, respectively. Perhaps the most enlightening part of the day was the lunch hour spent with a Muslim lesbian and her brother--there are a lot of interesting parallels between Islam and Mormonism--but I also got a lot out of the actual sessions. Here are some brief thoughts from each of them (several of my insights, by the way, had little to do with homosexuality):


Rabbi Harley Karz-Wagman, of the Reform tradition, talked about the question of whether homosexuality is a natural state of being or a learned characteristic, which is important to Judaism not because it answers the question of whether homosexual relationships are sinful--a lot of things that are natural are sinful--but because it is a starting point in the quest to find such answers. He explained that Yetzer HaTov (the inclination to do good) and Yetzer HaRah (the inclination to do evil) both come from God and are both necessary for good to be done in the world. Yetzer HaRah encompasses lust, greed, pride, and appetite, and without these drives human beings would not be motivated to do anything. Our job, I suppose, is to make sure they drive us to do good. Returning to the question of whether homosexuality is sinful, the Rabbi responded to apparent condemnations of same-sex relations in Leviticus with two sayings from the Talmud:

"You have to judge according to that which you see with your eyes." (i.e. not according to an ancient text whose meaning is unclear)

"If a sick person says he must eat and a hundred physicians say he does not need to eat, we must listen to him. For the heart knows its own bitterness."


Reverend Richard Gamble of the United Church of Christ spoke about what he sees as the two Christian churches: the first views God as the Strong Father, where the answer to every question is "Because I said so," obedience is the motivating factor, order comes through coercive power, security comes in following the rules, and the hierarchical structure of the church is the unquestionable source of rules; the second views God as the Nurturing Parent, where the only rule that matters is that we love God and our fellow man. I think it's obvious where Rev. Gamble places himself in this binary system. In defense of what appears to be Us vs. Them mentality, the reverend tells the parable of three men dying of thirst in the desert. One man says there's an oasis to the north, another says there's an oasis to the south, and the third, attempting to resolve the conflict through compromise, suggest they find some middle ground. So they stay where they're at and die. Perhaps it's possible to acknowledge that there is an Us and a Them without necessarily making it Us versus Them. Perhaps I spend too much energy trying to find that middle ground when really there is none. I don't know. This is a new idea to me.


Nayer Taheri, an Interfaith Chaplain and Islamic scholar, spoke about homoerotic traditions in medieval Islamic cultures and juxtaposed these with the modern Islamic misconception that homosexuality exists only as a result of western influence. She noted that just as conservative Christians cite the few biblical passages that seem to address homosexuality, Muslims will insist, "But the Qur'an says..." She reminds us, though, that neither the Qur'an nor the Bible say anything--they are inanimate objects, incapable of speech. They "say" only what we interpret them to say. Like in western culture, Muslim persecution of homosexuals seems to be a case of homophobia informing scriptural interpretation, rather than vice versa. Ultimately, all religions boil down to the same thing: treat others as you want to be treated. I wonder if she was at the interfaith sermon I blogged about two weeks ago?

Unitarian Universalism

This section of the workshop unfortunately felt like a promotion for the Unitarian church. Yes, they were fighting for gay rights long before anyone else was, and yes, I'm intrigued by the all-encompassing nature of their approach to religion--it would seem to fit nicely with my All-Paths-Lead-to-God philosophy of late--but at the moment I'm happy with the church I'm attending. Nonetheless, I'm grateful to them for putting on this workshop. I enjoyed learning about other faiths and how LGBT members of those faiths reconcile their sexuality and their religion. As one participant pointed out this morning, one of the greatest struggles of queer people is to rebuild our relationship with God after so many of us have been hurt so deeply, ostensibly in his name.

Friday, May 18, 2007

M is for eMpathy

I've been meaning for a while to introduce you to my family. I was thinking of posting about each of my siblings from oldest to youngest, but I've already talked a bit about Lika (#2), and tomorrow is M's (#3) birthday, so I figure I might as well throw chronological order out the window and tell you about M. Then at some later point I'll tell you about SenecaSis (#1) and all the rest. (In case you're wondering, I am #7.)

I don't feel bad about not making a more creative blogonym for M than just her first initial because in real life we refer to her family--whether her and her husband, M, or her and her daughter, M--as M&M (get it? like the candy? okay, just making sure). Though I must say, it's much easier to keep the three of them--M, M, and M--straight when they have other letters following those first initials, to distinguish them from one another. Which is why, I suppose, S-Boogie calls Little M "Baninga."

Having wasted two paragraphs on nonsense, I'll now say that I don't want these family introduction posts to be too long, because I want people to actually read them. So I'm just going to pick out one thing that I think defines each of my siblings. In the case of M, in case you have not already guessed from the title of this post, it's empathy. M is the sister the rest of us go to when we need to talk about something. She is and always has been a good listener--rather than judge or give empty advice, she tries to understand. When few knew about my homosexuality and no one talked about it, M frequently asked me questions about what being gay meant for me, and considering that I am not one to offer much information voluntarily, I always appreciated her earnest attempts to comprehend my struggles. After her husband passed away a few years ago and she decided her career in human resources was not the best for a single mother, M went back to school to become a school counselor. The students at the schools she works at are lucky, I think, to have such a great listener there for them.

Cushions on the Floor

For the first few years after my parents divorced and until my father moved to the mainland when I was eight or so, my siblings and I spent about every other weekend and a good chunk of our summers at his house. My memories of this time are brief and scattered: eating out more often than we did with my mom; being dared by my stepbrother to poke a whole in the water bed, then being yelled at by him for actually doing it; going to Castle Park to ride the bumper cars and water slides; being frustrated because my stepmother didn't have a chart on an index card for me to follow when setting the table, like my mom did; and distributing the couch cushions around the living room floor, then pretending they were rocks and the carpet was lava as we hopped from one end to the other.

Apart from never feeling too comfortable around my stepmother and stepbrother (I think I liked my stepsister, though), I don't remember being particularly bothered at that young age by the fact that my parents were divorced. It was not until I began to approach adolescence that I concluded, like many tweens and teens, that my life was Absolutely Horrible and The Worst Ever, and decided The Divorce was responsible for all my misery. Sadly, I didn't begin to grow out of this phase until I went to college, and I didn't really come to terms with my parents' divorce until my early twenties, some time after I was married. I eventually got to the point where I no longer feel the need to call my parents' divorce bad or good--it simply is--but it took me a long time to get there.

This evening as I was making dinner, S-Boogie scattered the couch cushions across my living room floor and hopped from one to the other while Little Dude followed on hands and knees. I'm generally disturbed by parallels between my parents' divorce and mine--for instance the fact that S-Boogie is just a year younger than I was--but tonight I was not bothered by the strong visual reminder of summer days spent cushion-hopping at my dad's house, perhaps because it's a happy memory. When I look into my children's future and see my own past, I remind myself first that the journey to peace doesn't have to be so painful for them, and second, that if my children are going to hate me when they're teenagers because that's what teenagers do, there's really nothing I can do about it. Like so many things in life, the only person I can control is me. All I can do is love them, be the best father I can, and hope for the best.

Biblical Interpretation

Daddy Fob: (reading from Kenneth N. Taylor's My First Bible in Pictures) "Now Moses has become a big man. One day he saw a bush on fire, but it didn't burn up! God spoke to Moses from the bush. God said, 'Go and help my people.' Moses was afraid at first, but God said, 'I will help you.' What did God tell Moses to do?"

S-Boogie: (pointing to the illustration of Moses and the burning bush) Go help the people 'cause the fire is gonna burn them.

Bathtime at the Fobcave

While S-Boogie sits in the water playing with her foam letters, Little Dude stands up next to the edge and grins as a steady stream of pee flows out of him and into the water. The stream goes for a good fifteen seconds. Am I grossed out enough to drain the water and refill the tub with fresh, pee-free water?


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Things I Forget I Don't Have Until I Need Them

  • Oven mitts
  • A baking sheet
  • Crisco
  • Garlic powder
  • A stapler
  • A large pot
  • A VCR
  • Cough drops
  • Vitamins for S-Boogie
  • An iron
  • An ironing board
  • A car
  • Decent serving dishes and utensils
  • A freezer that fits more than two ice cube trays and two cans of juice
  • Magnets
  • A hall closet
  • A light plugged into the outlet controlled by the light switch by my front door
  • Time
  • The willpower to go to bed when I'm supposed to and not procrastinate large assignments
  • The ability to stay awake in class when I haven't gone to bed when I was supposed to
  • Running shoes other than the ones I keep in my locker at the gym
  • Children who stay asleep when they're supposed to
  • Patience for children who don't stay asleep when they're supposed to
  • Something clever to end this list with

Second (and Third and Fourth) Chances

One thing I enjoy about reading transfer applications is that the applicants all have such unique stories to tell. Some didn't have good enough high school grades to make it into a university so went to a community college to improve their record, some started college twenty years ago but life got in the way and now they're coming back, while others simply aren't happy at the university they're currently attending (I just barely read, for example, an application from a BYU student who has left the LDS church and come out of the closet, thus necessitating a change in school). Most of these stories give me hope--these are people whose lives, for whatever reason, have not gone quite the way they planned, but here they are pushing forward, making the best of what they have. When I read college transcripts that show a 1.2 GPA from two semesters in 1984, a gap, and then a 3.8 GPA from 2004 to 2007, I'm reminded that redemption is always within reach. It's nice to get paid to have that reminder daily.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Back on Track

Yesterday I read twenty files in five and a half hours. It should have taken me four. This morning I read the same number of files in three hours. It's nice to be efficient--it's one of the things that make me a good person.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Faith: The Evidence of Things Unseen

Me: It's very difficult for me lately to see myself as a good person... whatever that means.

Therapist*: You see the problem there, don't you? "Whatever that means." You're judging yourself by a standard you can't even define.

Me: Yeah, I know.

Therapist: When you were a child did you believe you were a bad person?

Me: No, not at all. I worked very hard to be sure I was a good person.

Therapist: [laughing] I think that answers the question, doesn't it?

Me: Yeah, I guess there was some sense of insecurity there--that I needed to prove I was a good person.

Therapist: Which would not have even occurred to you if you believed you were a good person.

Me: No, I suppose not. I guess that's the problem--my whole life my sense of self-worth has relied on this view of myself as a good person, which was dependent on what I did. That worked fine as long as I was doing those things that made me a good person, but now suddenly I'm not doing those things anymore.

Therapist: Perhaps what you need to do is prove that you're a bad person.

Me: Should I rob a bank?

Therapist: No, prove it with the evidence that you already have. List out the evidence that suggests to you that you're a bad person.

Me: Hm. The first thing that comes to mind, of course, is that I'm leaving my wife. I'm hurting her. I--

Therapist: Can you think of anybody who has made it through life without hurting anybody else?

Me: Well, no, but--

Therapist: Do you believe it's possible to make it through life without hurting other people?

Me: No.

Therapist: Then you believe that all human beings are inherently bad.

Me: No. I suppose the problem is that I judge myself by a different standard than the rest of the world. I can forgive other people for hurting each other, even for hurting me, but it's harder to forgive myself. I expect more from myself.

Therapist: Is it that you think you're so much better than everyone else, or so much worse?

Me: Both, I guess.

Therapist: What makes you so special? What makes you so different from everyone else on earth, that you deserve this special standard of judgment?

Me: I don't know. Now I feel like I'm a bad person for believing I'm so special.

Therapist: [smiles] And yet you don't even know what it means to be a bad person, or what it means to be a good person. You don't have evidence, and yet you cling to this belief that you are bad. You're a man of great faith, you know.

*Although my Therapist has the same blogonym as Samantha's Therapist, they are not actually the same person, at least to my knowledge.

Transfer Application Quote of the Day

WARNING: Language that some find offensive to follow.

"Now math is pretty much my bitch."

On Publicness

A couple weeks ago a friend of Foxy's--a member of the LDS ward she attends and I attended until a couple months ago--told Foxy that she and her husband read our blogs. I was happy to hear this because it means there are more people who know about Foxy's current situation, something she doesn't easily tell people about on her own, which means that there are more people willing to offer her support, whether that support is in the form of watching Little Dude while Foxy plays the piano at church or simply being able to offer empathy when she needs it.

I was also happy to hear this for more selfish reasons: I like it when people read my blog. I like to know (believe?) that people are at least mildly interested in what I'm thinking, and I like to know that people can see the parts of me I display here but not necessarily in my daily interactions with neighbors and friends, the evidence that suggests to me, at least, that I'm a bad person (a logical fallacy I'll expound on later), and that these people still manage to be nice to me when they see me in real life.

So if you know me in real life and you read this blog but I don't know you read this blog, consider this my invitation for you to tell me. My blog is not a secret; my name's right there in the upper right, next to my photo. As a librarian, though, it's important to me to be able to classify my friends--those who read my blog and those who don't. So leave a comment here or just say something next time you see me, even something cryptic like "I know who you really are, Mr. Fob," or "The sparrow flies at midnight." Trust me, I'll be happy to know. And I'll read your blog if you invite me to.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

If everyone is special, then no one is

On this special day, I'm thinking of all the mothers in my life. And by mothers I mean not just my mother and the mother of my children, but all women who are mothers or who have ever been mothers or who ever will be mothers or who, by virtue of having two X chromosomes, are mothers in the Sheri Dew sense of the word. Because, as my friend Melyngoch frequently points out, all women are mothers, whether they have children of their own or not. And why stop at women? Aren't all men mothers, whether or not we have children of our own or even the biological apparatus to bear them? So this post is dedicated to the mother found within each and every member of the entire human race.


In case my sarcasm is not made apparent by the title of my post, by my reference to Melyngoch, or by my hyperbole, I think the claim that all women are mothers by default is preposterous. To claim that one's gender magically gives one special nurturing powers above and beyond those available to a member of the other gender is offensive to both sexes and to women who are mothers as well as to those who aren't. In my experience, mothers are not born; they are made, or rather, they make themselves.

My mother dropped out of college after a semester, got married, and had two kids. A few years later, she realized it was in hers and her children's best interest for her to leave her husband, so she did. A couple years later she remarried and proceeded to have five more kids. When her oldest was nineteen and her youngest was four, circumstances called for her to be a single mother again. At first she did what she could to work at home--running a small sewing business, for example--but eventually she realized that would not support her large family. Once her youngest was in school, she found a job at a bank, but eventually she decided that the flexible hours and good pay (including tips) of a job as a waitress would be more beneficial for her family. A decade later (give or take a few years), when her youngest was in high school and all her other children were in or graduated from college, she enrolled in classes herself and worked her way up to a bachelor's degree, then later to a master's degree. Now, all seven of her children have bachelor's degrees and two have master's.

Throughout all this, despite her crazy work (and later, school) schedule, my mother made sure that the family traditions she considered important--regular healthy meals, weekly family home evening, daily family prayer and scripture study, and the constant maintenance of a clean home--continued. For the last five years I was at home it was just me and her, and still we kept the same family routines. It has surprised me in recent years to hear her say more than once that she does not consider herself a good cook--that she doesn't particularly like cooking. Growing up I had no idea that this was the case because I always enjoyed the meals she made, and she made them consistently; extremely rare was the evening we had a premade meal from a can or freezer. To me what makes this remarkable is not that she cooked--I'm sure many great mothers do not--but that she did so even though she didn't think she was good at it, because regular home-cooked meals were important to her personal value system (and, lest we ignore the whole picture here, to her budget). She did not maintain the standards she wanted for her family through the natural abilities God gave to all bearers of the double-X chromosome; she did so through hard work and dedication.

S-Boogie and Little Dude's mother, similarly, is not a great mother because she has two breasts that produce milk on demand; she is a great mother because she conscientiously sets out to raise her children as she believes they should be raised. My sister recently pointed out that while the nurturing aspects of parenting tend to come more naturally to me, FoxyJ seems to be more naturally inclined toward the nitty gritty details of parenting--what time and what foods children need to eat, how they should be disciplined, what kinds of educational opportunities are best for the developmental stage they're at, etc. While this may be true--and if it is, it's because Foxy has read countless books on these nitty gritty details in order to make herself into the best mother she can be--it is no slight to Foxy's ability, natural or otherwise, to nurture her children. When asked what her mother does for her, S-Boogie's very first response is "She gives me hugs and kisses." This is not because Foxy is a physically affectionate person by nature--I don't think she'd say she is if you asked her--but because she loves her children immensely and she will consciously express that love however they need to feel it.

Now, despite my criticism of Ms. Dew's claim that all women are mothers, I don't want to entirely throw out her point, which is that you don't have to be a biological mother to be a mother. One of my sisters, for example, did not have any children until she was nearly 40. This did not stop her, though, from being the most motherly of all my siblings. When I came to Utah as a seventeen-year-old college freshman, it was Lika who helped me buy all the things I'd need to live, who let me use her car whenever I needed it, who invited me over for dinner on a regular basis. It is Lika who is always concerned for everyone, who does all our worrying for us. When another sister found herself widowed and raising a one-year-old alone, Lika stepped up to be our niece's second mother--it was not uncommon, in fact, when our niece was learning to speak, to call Lika "Mom."

Along with Ms. Dew I applaud women (and men) like Lika, who do take on a motherly role to the children in their lives. At the same time, I applaud women (and men) like Melyngoch, who are honestly terrified of children, or otherwise have no interest in raising them, but have other equally admirable qualities. Not everyone has to be a mother.

By the same token, not every mother is a great mother. Here's to all the great mothers in my life.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Roughing It

The soon-to-be Master Foxy* is leaving on a jet plane tonight, headed to Utah to defend her thesis. We decided that it would be easier on me and the kids if I just stay at the two-bedroom Foxcave (nee Fobcave 2.0), rather than have them at my one-bedroom Fobcave 3.0 for three days. This means that I will be without a computer for three days, as Foxy is taking her laptop with her. I'm excited at the thought of forcing myself to live in such primitive conditions--I'm quite the martyr. :)

Actually, I'll be honest; I'll surely be checking my email at least once a day, either at my place (which is not that far away) or at one of the handful of libraries where I can use a computer. The big difference will be that after I put the kids to bed I won't have a computer to keep me up blogging, emailing, surfing, or homeworking. Which means I'll actually get some sleep, which will be nice because I haven't slept much in the last week and a half as I've been hustling to get everything done in order to take the second half of this week off. It'll also be nice to spend a few days with my kids and be able to focus on them completely without worrying about school or work or anything else.

And I hope Foxy has a good trip, flying without children for the first time in nearly four years.

*Is anyone else reminded of Hot Rod, who after inheriting the Matrix in Transformers: The Movie (the cartoon one, not the new one), became Rodimus Prime, or is the reference too obscure? Perhaps she should change her name to Foximus Prime?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Unforeseen Complications

I didn't realize that the name is already taken. Do you suppose I'm the cause of their concerns?


Mostly because I'm socially retarded, I haven't made many friends at my new church. The half a dozen folks in the Sunday school class I go to recognize me and at least the teacher knows my name, but other than that I pretty much just sit by myself during the service and leave quietly when it's done. I sign the register that's passed around every week and I've given them my contact info so I get newsletters in the mail and someone even called this Sunday evening to verify that the Mr. Fob at my new address is the same as the Mr. Fob at my old address (as if Fob is a common name...). Other than that, though, church has been a relatively solitary thing, and I'm okay with that; I'm not a hugely social person, and if I were then I probably wouldn't attend a church for a month and a half without introducing myself to anyone. On the other hand, part of my reason for attending any church is to have a sense of community, and while I do feel some sense of community simply by nature of being among people who are also there to come closer to God, I would probably feel a stronger sense of community if, say, I knew the name of the person sitting next to me.

So I was happy this Sunday to recognize a face in the choir--I wasn't sure because I was way in the back of the chapel, but it looked a lot like a librarian I work with. So today when I saw her at work, I asked if she sings in a choir. She said yes, and I told her that I'd seen her on Sunday. She was surprised that she'd never seen me at church, as she and her husband have been attending that church for nearly twenty years, as long as they've lived in Seattle. We talked a little bit about the choir--apparently it's a very good one, and has toured around the country and around the world--and then a bit about the church. I admit I was a bit hesitant to break the taboo of talking about religion at work, but I figured I was safe since she had, in fact, been singing in the choir.

About halfway through the conversation my friend smiled a little awkwardly and said, "I guess I just figured you were... Mormon."

I laughed and explained that her assumption was not too far off base.

We talked a little about University Congregational's lack of dogma, which is largely the reason why I enjoy it. She admitted that sometimes the church is a bit too liberal for her, but that overall she feels more comfortable than in the Baptist church she used to be in. She said that she and her husband had noticed the same tension between wanting to be open-minded and not wanting to dilute Christianity that I had.

She said she'd say hi next time she sees me at church. I find this very comforting. Now I have a friend at church. And I didn't even have to introduce myself to someone I don't know!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

So a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim walk into a bar...

"What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor."
Babylonian Talmud, Shabbatt 31a

"In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you."
Matthew 7:12

"None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself."
The Hadith, sayings of the prophet

Today's sermon at the local United Church of Christ I attend was given by one of the four regular ministers in conjunction with two guests: a Rabbi and a Qur'an scholar. The three of them spoke of how the Golden Rule is manifested in each of their traditions, as well as how that ties into the interfaith partnership they've shared for the past few years, working to build bridges among faith communities.

As they spoke several things struck me, all of which I was hoping to at least paraphrase here, but of course I can't remember anything now. If you're interested in hearing what they have to say, check out the website for their weekly radio show. What I do remember is that while they spoke I felt connected to God in a way I rarely feel lately. I recognized truths in what all three of them had to say, and those truths excited me. I wished I could have this experience every week, if not every day. I'll have to check out their radio show myself.

As each man spoke about the Golden Rule, I thought about what that meant for me. What would I like people to do for me that I am not doing for them? What stood out to me as the one thing I want from others is respect. Perhaps because I feel rather alone in my personal belief system lately--whether I'm among Mormons, ex-Mormons, Christians, or atheists--I am very conscious of how I perceive others to be perceiving me. Most people are outwardly respectful, but I constantly wonder whether they are secretly thinking, He is wrong and I am right, and that is why I'm better than he is. The obvious truth here is that I would not worry that others are thinking this unless I were thinking it myself. As outwardly respectful as I may treat others and their beliefs, I am often silently patting myself on the back for being so morally superior. Even as I am writing this post, on some level I'm thinking of how open-minded and wise and self-aware it will make me look, how everyone will realize how much better my worldview is.

There's an interesting tension, similar to the one I'm experiencing, in the efforts of a Christian church to participate in an interfaith community. Just last week one of the themes of the sermon was that we should be careful in embracing the good in other faiths not to water down Christianity. If Jesus is nothing more than a wise teacher among many wise teachers, then what's the point? The central message of Christianity is not that Jesus was a pretty cool guy, but that Jesus is the Christ.

Then this week, in that very same church, a Rabbi and a Qur'an scholar not only participate in the sermon, but they hold trays of bread as the congregation comes forward to partake of Communion, and we are reminded that although we all use different words to describe our beliefs and our rituals, we are all worshipping the same God. There's a disconnect here, and I'm not quite sure what to do with it.

The thought I had this morning is that, as a song I had quoted in my sidebar not too long ago says, "God is too big for just one religion." Whatever Greater Power exists beyond this sphere--and I call it God and use the masculine singular pronoun to refer to it because that's what I'm comfortable with--it's highly unlikely that any one religion, philosophy, or theory completely understands it. Just as Mormonism speaks of the dual witness of the Bible and the Book of Mormon, two nails that hold the board steady, it seems to me that this elusive truth about God or Universal Consciousness or Whatever can be best approached through the lenses of various worldviews. As I've done this on a very small scale--comparing the religion I grew up in to the one I'm participating in now, throwing in the little I know of other faiths, and the quasi-New Age philosophies my therapist has been having me look into (more on that later this week), the things that stand out to me, that ring true, are the things these all have in common. The Golden Rule, for example.

This still leaves me with the question of how one embraces one's own faith while truly respecting the faith of another for what it is, not as some gross approximation of the real, pure truth one knows. A believing Mormon, for example, might say that her faith encompasses all the good found in other faiths, and I might say that mine is equally all-encompassing. But the truth is that neither of is truly accepting the other on his or her own terms. We are condescendingly acknowledging the other's valiant efforts to understand God while maintaining that my way is the right way. I may claim that relativism allows for many truths, but in so doing I'm denying the truth of worldviews that do not allow for relativism.

I suppose what I'm saying is that I don't quite know how to do it, but I'm going to try harder to respect other people's beliefs, not just in a superficial for-show sort of way, but in truth. If you have a good idea of how I can do that, please share. If not, let's figure it out together.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Avocado in 2008

Seven reasons I'm voting for avocado:
  1. It's so versatile. It can go on crackers, in a salad, in guacamole, and the list goes on and on. (And even if it doesn't, who needs more than those three?)
  2. It counts as one of the 3-5 fruits you should eat every day, and, on account of its greenness, doubles as a vegetable.
  3. All green things are good for you.
  4. Avocado is very similar to abogado, which means "lawyer" in Spanish. Um. Hm. Well. Okay, maybe that's not a good thing. But it's still quite tasty!
  5. It has good cholesterol. I mean really, you have to be pretty darn virtuous to take something as bad as cholesterol and make it into a good thing.
  6. No wars have ever been fought over avocado.
  7. No wars have ever been fought with avocado.
Forget Hillary, Barack, and the Mormon guy--vote avocado in 2008.

Theric is not gay

I mean, not that there would be anything wrong with it if he were. But he's not.

Just in case you were making false assumptions based on his association with me.

I have my suspicions about that L fellow, though. Scot and Chris and Playa too. They're all pretty flaming. I don't really know GayLDSActor, but I suspect he's straight.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Things My Computer Can't Do Lately Without Considerable (and Time-Consuming) Effort

  • Switch back and forth between Firefox and Windows Media Player
  • Play movies
  • Figure out what the next song in the rotation will be
  • Open PDFs
  • Close any application
  • Open Word documents
  • Open Excel documents
  • Pretty much anything with Office 2007
  • Bake chocolate chip cookies

Attn computer-savvy folks: Will buying more RAM solve all these problems and more?

Healthy Bones

Today's menu:

Breakfast=Cereal with milk
Lunch=Leftover broccoli cheese casserole
Dinner=Quesadilla with strawberry-banana milkshake
Dessert=Angel food cake with ice cream and a glass of milk

Tomorrow's menu:

Same breakfast and lunch
Dinner=Macaroni & cheese
Same dessert

Do you suppose I'm getting enough calcium?


This quarter I am assessing transfer applicants (as opposed to incoming freshmen). One of the things we ask applicants to do is explain why they want to transfer here from their current college or university. A good number of the students coming from four-year schools--particularly elsewhere in Washington--talk about wanting to come to Seattle for its cultural diversity, in opposition to the homogeny of their current school. Surely many of these applicants are merely saying what they think we want to hear, but I believe some of them are genuine, and I find this intriguing.

After growing up in Hawaii, I was quite bothered by the utter lack of diversity at BYU. At first it made me uneasy and eventually it just became one more thing to make fun of. There were, in fact, a lot of things that bothered me about BYU, but I wouldn't have seriously considered transferring for any of them. College, after all, is only four years, and then it's done. To be honest, though, I don't think it's just that cultural diversity is less important to me than it is to these transfer applicants who are willing to uproot their lives for it.

I like to think that I'm not averse to change, that indeed I thrive on it. This is true to the extent that I like new things. I like, for example, living in a new home, getting used to the new layout and my new routine. On the other hand, I loathe the idea of moving. It is not so much the change I thrive on as the result of the change. The change itself is generally an annoyance at best and a traumatic experience at worst. As much as change means leaving bad things behind for better things, it also always--always--means leaving good things behind. I hate leaving good things behind.

As much as I disliked Utah and was frustrated by my job there, I might never have left if not for FoxyJ's firm insistence that yes, we need to get out of Utah (Foxy was also backed up by her mom, who doesn't believe anyone should live in Utah). I was excited by the thought of living in Seattle and getting an MLIS, but I hated the thought of leaving the stability of my jobs and my friends and my siblings. As I've mentioned before, though, looking back now I have no regrets about making the move. Yes, I miss all those things and people I loved in Utah, but I know that I am where I need to be now (and, lest we think this is all about me, I think FoxyJ is glad she's in Seattle, most days, but you can ask her whether or not that's true). Seattle is a great place to live, I have good jobs here, I'm enjoying my program, and I have good friends.

And, most importantly, Seattle has cultural diversity. Because it's all about diversity.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I have done something drastic: I've changed my blogonym. You will notice that the bottom of this post does not say "Posted by Master Fob." Instead it says "Posted by Mr. Fob." The choice is yours: you may continue to read "Mr." mentally as "Master," as I think that's a valid abbreviation, or you may read it as "Mister." You may also call me Fob (though that's always a bit disconcerting to me, because Fob is many things but I've never thought of it as a personal name, all by itself) or you may call me Fobby, or you may call me Ben. You may also call me Sexy, but only if you really mean it.

Master Fob just feels so presumptuous and self-aggrandizing to me, and I don't feel like being presumptuous and self-aggrandizing today.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


In my job at the admissions office I am learning many things. One is that Melyngoch left an important Mormon word out of her Mormonominary*: worldly. See, the word worldly has always had negative connotations for me. Worldly in opposition to Godly. If people are worldly, it means that they are of the world, meaning they are more concerned with temporal things than with spiritual, that they choose Mammon over God.

It's always jarring to me, then, when applicants write in their personal statements about how worldly they are. "I've become very worldly since traveling to Europe." "My exposure to diverse cultural influences has made me very worldly." "I've grown up since high school and become more worldly."

I understand that we are not concerned with how God-fearing applicants are, I want to say, considering the fact that this is a public university. But still, I don't see the point in drawing attention to your unGodliness. And really, God aside, am I supposed to be impressed that you value your material possessions and the praise of your fellow man above all else?

The problem, of course, is that my definition is not their definition. Worldly doesn't mean to most people what it means to Mormons***; for most people, it's a good thing. Not worldly as opposed to Godly, but worldly as opposed to nationly or stately or townly or homely. Which, as an admissions reader, I do care about.

All I'm saying, really, is that this would all be less confusing for me if Melyngoch had done her job right.

*Well, technically, worldly probably belongs in a Christianominary**, as I believe it is Christianity in general, not just Mormondom, that uses the term in this way.

**And technically it should be in a Christian glossary of some sort, not a nominary, as worldly is not a noun but an adjective. Perhaps a Christianadjectivinary?

***And other Christians, I guess.

Happy Birthday to FoxyJ

Today is FoxyJ's birthday, the last of her twentysomethings (and I don't think she'll mind me saying so). FoxyJ is a great person, by which I mean not only is she capable of doing great things, but she has proven said capability by doing countless great things. Our children are proof of FoxyJ's capability, not only to bear them in the first place (which was no small feat), but to raise them in the conscientious way she does. Yes, I raise them too, but mostly I just follow her lead, as I do in so many things. A week from tomorrow FoxyJ will prove another capability she has when she defends her master's thesis at BYU. In her willingness to marry a gay man, to do everything in her power to make that marriage work, to continue to be his friend after he pulled the rug out from under her life, to work to make this new life the best possible for her and her children, she has proven and continues to prove that she is capable of doing hard things.

If you know and love FoxyJ or if you're one of the many people who love her without even knowing her, today would be a great day to remind her of your love. As for me, I love her deeply, and I hope she knows that.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Path to Righteousness

Those of you who follow the gay Mormon blog ring by definition follow L the Ardent Mormon's blog, and therefore know about the recent brouhaha over the new blog with its "exclusive" sidebar. For those of you who occupy yourselves with other concerns, here is a very brief summary:
  • L, along with a bunch of other faithful gay Mormons, started a blog for, by, and about faithful gay Mormons.
  • They made a sidebar linking to faithful gay Mormon blogs; the blogs were chosen based on L's assessment of who might consider themselves faithful, gay (by this or any other name), and Mormon.
  • Despite L's explanation of how he had made the list and that if anyone wanted to be on it or not be on it all they had to do was say so, some people's feelings were hurt and other people just plain didn't like the idea, accusing L et al. of exclusivity and pointless us vs. themming. Who was L, after all, to determine who was righteous enough to be on his Dream Team of righteous gay Mormons?
  • L insisted and insisted that the sidebar was not exclusive, that it was not some kind of popularity contest or righteousness meter, and eventually he had the site administrator take the sidebar down until further notice.
The point of my recapping all this for you is so that I can tell you that, unlike L, I am not afraid to judge other people's righteousness. I make no qualms about the fact that the people linked on my sidebar are only the brightest and best candidates for celestial glory, from Earth Sign Mama all the way down to Yodame.

Having been raised Mormon, I naturally have separated my heaven into three degrees:
  1. The first degree of fobbiness is determined by one's level of righteousness as demonstrated by familial relation to Master Fob. These people can do nothing to earn or lose their place as Fobs by Blood or Marriage--they are righteous by association, whether they like it or not.
  2. The second degree of fobbiness is determined by one's level of righteousness as demonstrated by membership in the Friends of Ben writing group. Like the first degree, once you're in this one you're in for life. Official Fobs can rest easy knowing their fobby future is secure.
  3. The third degree of fobbiness is determined by one's level of righteousness as demonstrated by two factors:
    1. Having commented on the Fobcave more than once.
    2. Having commented on the Fobcave within the last month or so.
The moral of the story is that you Honorary Fobs need to keep on your toes. Like the title implies, this is an honor, and there's no room in the Fobcave for slackers. So if you're wondering why you used to be an Honorary Fob and you aren't anymore, I paraphrase the immortal Janet Jackson:

(to be read in a dry monotone)
Ooh ooh ooh yeah. What have you done for me lately?

Is There No Drinking Fountain in This Closet?

Friday night I made up for the two missed opportunities I had blogged about Friday morning.

To the library coworker who had referred to me remarrying [a woman], I sent an email explaining that while she had not said anything unreasonable, I felt bad because I had not corrected her. I acknowledged that she surely didn't care about my sexual orientation, but that this was more for my sake than for hers. She emailed me back Saturday morning and thanked me for sharing and invited me to go out for coffee some time.

To the admissions coworker who had remarked at my not having kissed anyone until 21, I sent an email just sort of randomly saying, "Oh, by the way, I'm gay." I felt confident in doing so largely because she is also gay--not that this makes her any more accepting than my other coworkers [as she later said, "Being gay is more normal than you think. I mean, people think it's more normal than you think. Especially here. I mean, it's like, boring to be gay in Seattle."], but that she's done the whole coming out thing before so I hoped she'd understand my compulsion to tell people what in theory should not matter enough to tell. She did. She invited me to go out for a drink some time.

Tonight Admissions Coworker emailed because she had outed me to two other coworkers and she wasn't sure if I would be upset. The truth is that I had wanted her to spread the word, because that spares me having to make a big deal of it. This way, people know, if it comes up, it comes up, if it doesn't, it doesn't, and we can all proceed with life. She was glad to know I wasn't angry, and suggested we all--the five graduate student admissions readers and anyone else I want to come out to--go out for drinks.

Apparently the thing to do when one comes out of the closet is to have beverages of one kind or another. The funny thing is that I hate coffee and, having never drunk alcohol nor felt the need to, I'm not too anxious to start now. That doesn't stop me from going out with friends and, while they drink the beverage of their choice, having a Shirley Temple or something. Which Admissions Coworker finds amusing, I think, but that's okay. I find myself amusing too.