Thursday, September 30, 2010

From the (Literal) Closet of GMB #2

I shared with you recently my love of thrift stores (particularly Deseret Industries), and mentioned that they are an excellent place to buy suits.

It is a real challenge for those of us 42" and smaller who enjoy the "slim" look.  That said, the thrill of the hunt and the sweet taste of victory make it all worth it.

DSCN1635Some notes:

  1. My favorite suit is, alas, no longer intact (charcoal with red and white pinstripes).  Find out the embarrassing story of the pants' demise here.  Cole nicknamed said pants my "ass pants."  You can probably guess why.
  2. For a graduation gift, my parents insisted on buying me a non-thrift store suit.  We got a two-for-one deal and they are the only suits I did not buy used.
  3. You'll notice that there are in total a dozen suits here.  The black pinstriped one and the red-tinged brown are from Men's Warehouse.   Other patterns include grey and blue checks and navy with blue and pink pinstripes.
  4. All but three have a vest.  Three-piece is a must.  
  5. As I always say-- the vest is the man's corset.  Hides the fat, fixes the posture.  There are another three vests when I have a particular tie in mind.
  6. The newest addition to the set was a $10 green sherbet checked three-piece.  Still need to hem the pants, but it has a lot of retro potential.  I'd like something with a pronounced red-- maybe I'll play Mr. Applegate someday in Damn Yankees
  7. This post reminds me of a song from one of my favorite off-Broadway shows.  The song is: "The Man in the Starched White Shirt."  Now name the show.

Food for Thought #28

Ken Brewer

“Fences never kept the moon out of the rye.”

-- Ken Brewer

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Man Harem Inductee #6; 9th Annual Equality Utah Allies Dinner

Dustin Lance Black

This one has been on the docket for a while.  Most of the crushes I’ve shared have been fairly superficial.  This one—at the risk of sounding creepy—goes deeper. 

Since I am a writer (or rather an aspiring one) it’s very easy to get emotionally involved with great writers from a distance—particularly the handsome, strong, activist-types. It’s also important to acknowledge the idea of hero worship here.  His writing is as constructive and powerful as I hope mine will be someday. 


Considering he’s nine years older, I think that' is a genuine possibility.  His work on Big Love and Milk have pushed my writing in some directions I wasn’t really willing to consider years ago with regards to scale and subject matter, so I’ll give him some credit there.  (These projects include some work on the lives of two of the greatest MoHos of all time).

It’s not all about the writing, though.  I’ve overcome a lot in my life with regards to being shy and putting up barriers—barriers that have kept me from being as open (or “out”) as I’d genuinely like to be.  Last night I found another piece of encouragement along those lines.  It’s not often a man harem pick gives a call to action, and let me tell you something: a cute guy encouraging you to be a happier, healthier person making a difference in the life of others is hot.


I did get a chance to introduce myself—knees shaking—and say to him last night at the Equality Utah Allies Dinner, “I’m a real fan of your writing.” He joked that my hair made him feel short and we took a picture.  (Expect to see that soon, FB friends). 


To end, though, I’ll share some highlights from the meeting (some very inspirational topics which Dustin Lance Black and so many other great women stand for):


The night was a collision of sorts for me.  So many worlds, groups, and experiences comingling to form a night of  motivation.  Everyone I spoke to left with the drive to make a difference and prove ourselves as the good and loving people we are.  People will think what they will, but actions speak louder than any words including those of supposed biblical condemnation.

Not long ago, I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting down to dinner with Gary & Millie Watts, proponents of Family Fellowship.  That experience was wonderful in its simplicity and the significance of breaking bread with one’s neighbors and family. 

DSCN1657Last night they shared some kind words and family experiences that provide the hope so many of us need.  Probably the most touching moment of the night was hearing the words of their son in a letter from 1997.  Recently excommunicated, he said to his parents, “Thank you for not leaving me out” as he reflected on the tears of his mother—not tears of disappointment over some construct of worthiness but tears of frustration for her son being turned away.

They have come a long way from thinking their son was the only homosexual to making their son’s life and the lives of thousands of other LGBT individuals “a path of love, honesty, and friends—a family path.”  

The theme of family permeated the night as the next pair of award recipients, Jane & Tami Marquardt, pointed out a very interesting and incredibly loving aspect of their lives (one I think should be shared by all).  “We have two families: our family of origin and our family of choice.”

DSCN1662I left very thankful for those words in particular.  So much is given to us at our birth, but regardless of our circumstances, we bring the best people close to us to preserve each other and to commune with them. 

This is what so many organizations concerned with protecting families have wrong.  While we many times accuse them of espousing hate, their real and true crime is destroying love—destroying love that inspires us to leave messages daily for our same-sex partner like “Hey gorgeous.  How’s your day going?”, love that inspires us to serve our communities, and love that transcends labels like “sinner,” love inspiring us to do more than tolerate or accept difference.

Dustin Lance Black’s keynote speech was particularly inspiring.  So often, activism comes off as in-your-face or counter-revolutionary.  In many ways it’s made several people I know cautious of being visible—the ones who’d rather not be associated with shouting matches and shutting down traffic.  Activism has also taken on forms of violence and passive resistance, but none of these images have really fit my vision of who I am. 

After sharing his story (realizing his homosexuality early on in a conservative religion and state later saving himself from self-hate and powerlessness through the redemptive words of Harvey Milk), Black presented a different vision of activism placing emphasis on visibility.

DSCN1674“It is time for every single on e of you to come out,” he declared.  “Think outreach.  Go out there and do good.  Put on your rainbow flags and buttons and make sure people know who you are,” he said.  That, more than anything else, will change the hearts and minds of the people. 

“Visibility is the challenge of this movement.  People fear what is unknown and different,” he said, offering his solution.  “This is why it is imperative we pass all-inclusive anti-discrimination protections in housing and employment.  There are more progressive places that don’t have these protections, but things are happening here in Utah.

“Some people say ‘As California goes, so goes the nation,’ but if we in Utah can show our country where Utah is going (citing the non-discrimination legislation now protecting 650,000 individuals in Utah) we will show them all,especially those who have dismissed us, and as Utah goes, so will this nation.”

I left proud to be a part of the fight in Utah and ready to commit more to the causes of love, equality, and family.  May we all share such a vision of our present and our future and do the good this world needs to truly embody these principles.


Other highlights that didn’t quite make it into this summary:

Jane & Tami Marquardt:
“Love deserves respect”
“Behind every great powerdyke there is often a loving and supportive Barbiedyke.”

Dustin Lance Black:
“It’s interesting coming to Utah sometimes.  Look at all of these clean cut young men growing up with appreciation for musicals and ballroom dancing.  How do you know anybody’s gay?!”
Bouncing off of a narrative line about not having the courage to bear testimony as a kid he bore testimony last night:
“I love who I am, cannot change and wouldn’t change.”
”We are blessed with an outsider’s perspective.” 
“We are an important people.” 

Food for Thought #27

Rita Dove

“Without imagination we can go nowhere.”

-- Rita Dove

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

From the (Literal) Closet of GMB #1

This series documents a bit of my style and accompanies “MoHos and Their Clothes.”  I’ll share some actual pieces of my wardrobe bit by bit, working up to full ensembles. 

The first selection reflects my appreciation for Express and their great dress shirts, though admittedly only a couple are actually from there.  The rest are Kohl’s and JC Penney’s clearance finds:


Some observations:

  1. Yes, there are four blue shirts.
  2. Only two have French cuffs.  (They are lonely and characteristically snooty—rightfully so).
  3. Each one has a matching pair of socks…and a tie… but the socks are what really matter.
  4. Although I like to flatter myself in  the 14-14 1/2 range, my real size is 15-15 1/2. 
  5. Yellow sort of makes me look sallow, so my closet bouncer keeps it out.
  6. My newest purchase—Mr. Gray from the DI ($4)  
  7. I’m wearing the lavender one in the back tonight on my date with Dustin Lance Black tonight… explanation tomorrow….

Food for Thought #26

In honor of completing the first draft of Book I:

Willa Cather

“A book is made with one’s own flesh and blood of years.”

-- Willa Cather

Monday, September 27, 2010

Man Harem Inductee #5; Man Harem Must See #2

This week, I just needed out of my house.  I’ve been gym-faithful and good about studying for the GRE, but I really needed some me time.  When a friend texted me asking if I wanted to go see a movie, I couldn’t say no. 

I’d been dying to see a certain movie since I heard Bob Mondello’s NPR review of the movie the other day on the freeway.  A very loose adaptation of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, I perked my ears at a brief explanation of “Easy A.”


As Mondello puts it, “in most high-school comedies, the high jinks tend to be so lowbrow that even a nod in a literary direction deserves extra credit,” but this smart take on a classic has some serious merit.  Teen movies tend to either be preachy or cater to a low brow audience, but this one strikes the perfect balance (like Mean Girls but less humor-based). 

This movie gets at the issue of sex roles.  While main character Olive is seen as a slut for sleeping a guy (or rather saying she did), the guy is treated as a hero for doing such.  This is a brilliant internal and personal take on our cultural assignments. 

Of course, Olive has a love interest, Penn Badgley who makes the movie doubly-worth the price of admission: 


His eyes have this steely appeal I couldn’t help but notice (and since Chedner wasn’t there, I couldn’t feel too guilty about…).  He’s also been in Gossip Girl and John Tucker Must Die (which I apparently need to see now).

While I could go on about the hair, the biceps, the understatement in the smile, etc., I will just say he comes off as the prince charming that every boy needs—not worrying about what others say, letting you be your own person, being thoughtful and sincere at every turn.  I guess he made me appreciate what I have. 

Enjoy this adventure of a movie which is pleasingly full of allusions not only to literature but also romantic tropes and teen movies that you’ll come out with a thoughtful smile on your face. 


Notes on "A Series of Sundays"

Sunday in the Park with George Mandy Patinkin PaintingA few notes on the latest series:

  1. The title is derived from the musical Sunday in the Park with George.  From the plays setting description page: "Act I takes place on a series of Sunday from 1884-1886 and alternates between a park and an island in the Seine just outside of Paris and George [Seurat]'s studio."
  2. The epigraphs are derived from the same musical.  The choice seemed fitting as much of the show focuses on the concept of vision.  Although that theme is somewhat undeveloped and non-cohesive in the series, it plays an important role.
  3. A significant aspect of this series is admittedly controversial in Mormon circles.  My main goal was to find a balance for readers familiar with the significance of garments as well as those completely unfamiliar.  I hope I remained respectful and provided enough context to understand the significance in the story. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Series of Sundays, Part 5

May 10, 2009

I Chose and my world was shaken,
So what?
The choice may have been mistaken...
The Choosing was not...


As I closed the bathroom door behind me, I realized I was in the midst of a time of endings and beginnings.  Some I was prepared for and others I had not.  Graduation and the end of my job on campus had been in sight for months, as was my impending departure for South America.  My brother Darin was in a similar point in his life. 

Just an hour ago, he'd made a decision that would affect the rest of his life.  I sat outside the Stake President's office with my father and mother as well as my older brother's family.  After several persistent months of doctor's visits, interviews, and paperwork, Darin was now prepared to submit his application to serve as an LDS missionary. 

He would be the third of three boys and the third generation to go out clad in black nametag, shirt, and tie.  It was a fate ascribed to us from the moment we were born.  Five years ago, I'd been in his place as my brother had fifteen years ago and my father nearly forty years. 

My mind turned to that moment-- to the utter unpreparedness of my nineteen year-old self preparing to commit two years of my life to a cause which I had my doubts, though it was still something in which I held faith, albeit incomplete. 

stake president interview

"Do you feel prepared, GMB, to serve the Lord with all your heart, might, mind, and strength?" President Matheson asked me earnestly.

"I don't know how I could be feel more prepared," I answered.  His smile consoled my doubt as much as it could.  "Everything's been ideal for me.  My parents are great.  I've had great leaders and teachers.  I'm not without doubt, though.  I've fought with that for a long time."

"GMB, no one's faith is perfect.  And sometimes that's all we have to act on, but know that you will be prepared.  By committing yourself to the covenants you've made, you'll find all of the answers you need.  They come in time, and I'll still admit I'm finding them all the time."

"That's something I really needed to hear," I blurted out from across the mahogany desk, my every gesture communicating the relief I felt. 

"I know you're under a lot of pressure, but everything that makes me the man I am today stemmed from that decision to serve a mission and commit myself to the covenants we make in the temple."

My arms folded across my chest, I nodded-- confident in the decision I was making.  Four years later, I sat with the same expression and the same confidence rushing through me. 

The door opened and Darin emerged letting out a sigh as he stepped across the threshold into a new segment of his life.  Soon he would be our missionary, the topic of conversation at every family gathering for two years in his absence, but in that moment we hugged, realizing that this was one of our final moments together for a long time. 

graphic concept 03 - continents in boroughs

Of course, I would be leaving for Chile and Darin soon thereafter to some unknown corner of the globe.  However, what was less apparent in that moment was the other change on the horizon. 

We drove home a happy family: my mother changing the Sunday station back to her weekday oldies, my father making a pun, Darin and I shaking our heads but still laughing in our "intellectual disgust."  We then said our goodnights and went our separate ways.

Looking in the mirror as I contemplated the day and prepared for my shower, my future and my past collided.  I looked at myself, at the person I'd become and I was satisfied.  I had accomplished more than I would have ever anticipated: success in school and work as well as the most complete understanding of myself I'd ever achieved. 

I'd gone as far as I could on that path, however.  Despite all of the growth I owed to the teachings of the church, and the success I'd garnered as a result of serving a mission, I felt limited by the options I had.  I'd lived the celibate life I'd been prescribed for a year and come to the conclusion (after deciding not to decide for so long) that it was not what was meant for me for an entire lifetime. 

I stared at myself from across the counter loosening my tie, unbuttoning my shirt, and pulling away the layers one by one until I stood in my white undergarments.  Five years ago, I put them on in an act of faith and obedience.   Standing as a constant reminder of the standards I was to hold and the godly power supporting me in this journey, I stood in awe of the holy garments for a moment.


Then, I removed them for the last time and stood before myself completely vulnerable: a small gut veiled by chest hair, breasts slightly plump for a man, tiger-stripe stretch marks lining the sides of my body. My strengths became just as apparent as I scrutinized my frame:  muscular legs shaped by years climbing up hills, arms colored olive by the rays of the sun, angular face framed by scruff.

For years, I'd been taught that this was God's greatest gift, that the human body stands as a vessel of godliness containing the power of creation.  Somehow, the elevation of the body as a glorious construction of a godless universe also seemed compatible in that moment.  So, I realized as I hunched over and stared into my own brilliantly hazel eyes a simple truth-- whether God existed or not, whether He created me or not, I had the potential within me to make a life of which I could be proud-- a life with which I could be satisfied and happy.

End of Series.

End, Book I.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Series of Sundays, Part 4

April 5, 2009

Bit by bit, Putting it together
Piece by piece, working on the vision night and day
All it takes is time and perseverance
With a little luck along the way


“Stu’s twenty-seven, totally loveable, and not married? What’s wrong with this guy?” jibed one of his counselors. 

“He must be gay,” called a young twenty-something from the back of the classroom. 

Another teased in melodic tone, “Better go see the Bishop!”

I let out a frustrated sigh drown out only by the Elders’ Quorum’s laughter around me.  Do they realize how alienating that is?  I looked around curious at who was laughing at me and many of my friends simply for being different.  While it was entirely alienating to face the “them” and “us,” “good” vs. “evil” implications staring me in the face, I found some consolation in the fact that not everyone was amused in homophobia. 


No one displayed the outrage I felt inside (including myself), though there were pockets of sensitivity and liberal thought.  A headshake here, a hand over ones eyes there, and a couple of other men gauging reactions in their vicinities. Was the alternative better?

After a year of knowing and accepting my homosexuality, I was forced to come to terms with the complexity of the matter, and while I’d nearly finished a degree in dissecting complex systems of thought and language, I felt unprepared to do so in a real-life situation.  That said, I felt more and more that those around me didn’t have the answers I sought either. 

That night, I sat at my desk multi-tasking.  I’d escaped my Usual Sunday funk.  I was smiling and as energized as I’d felt in months.  Between the class readings, general writing, and comic strip doodling on some graph paper, I noted a chime from across the room.  I walked across the room and stooped over my laptop in the windowsill—the one place in the house I could log into an anonymous unsecured network in the neighborhood. 

facebook message blurred

“You have a new message from Cliff:

“Hey GMB,

“So, I don't really know how to go about this without possibly being awkward, so let me just get straight to the point.

“I'm gay, and I know that you are too. You may have already figured that out about me, but if not....there you go! Ha ha!I knew that we had a few friends in common that are gay, and so I wondered. Then i saw your profile on connexion and obviously I knew for sure. Anyway, I don't know how you are feeling about things and dealing with it all, but I have a really great group of friends up here and around Utah that have been great for me in helping me come to terms with this and live as much of a normal life as I can. I just want to let you know that I'm here if you ever need me for anything. Call or text whenever!…”

Cliff was one of the guys I noted took exception with the joke this morning.  He sat with Abel and Marty, two guys I’d suspected were gay.  All four of us had grown up together, and now I knew I wasn’t alone in the ward.  Certainly, there was a great deal of consolation in Cliff’s outreach. 

However, something felt off.

I thanked him sincerely for the offer and had no doubt that his offer was one filled with love and concern for a fellow gay Mormon boy.  The support he offered was definitely what many people needed.  A tightknit group like Cliff, Abel, and Marty needed each other to work through the complicated situation we all faced at that time. 

That was not what I needed in that moment, however.  I was starting to make sense of the spiritual side of my life, and the answers I sought would only come from within. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Series of Sundays, Part 3

February 8, 2009

We lose things and then we choose things.


Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest, though somehow that day of relaxation and rejuvenation did little to prepare me for the rest of the week.  My life now stood inverted.  My weekdays were spent resting up and preparing for the draining effects of Sunday.  The worst weeks were spent sleeping through meetings so as to avoid the negative feelings that would come were I to think critically or feel openly and honestly.  I couldn’t be thoughtful.  I couldn’t be emotional.  Essentially, I couldn’t be me. 

For me, it only seemed right to stick it out.  It was what my brother Darin and my family needed.  Even though we both lived at home that last year of my college experience and his first, we didn’t spend much time together.  It was the one thing we could do together some weeks due to our busy schedules (in addition to a billiards class we both signed up for), and I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything.

men talking front seat car tshirtOn the way to and from church, we’d often catch up on what each other’s friends were up to, the movies we’d seen, the new CDs we were listening to, and how classes were going.  I was really happy to see him in a good place.  He was preparing to serve a mission.  He and his girlfriend were about to celebrate a year of being together.  He was finding satisfaction and success in school with all of his projects. 

“Two weeks ago, the Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled that same-sex couples should have equal rights and benefits under the law.  Christina Navarro has our report on the reaction to this controversial—”

“Let’s listen to something else,” Darin said, putting in a Jack Johnson CD.  I wasn’t surprised by his reaction, though I’d hoped for something different.  It was an opportunity to bring up some things I’d worried about without being so obvious.

“How’s your friend Kellen? I haven’t seen him since you guys were in that show together?” I asked well aware that Kellen was the closest thing he’d had to a gay friend in high school.  

“We don’t really talk much anymore.  We went different directions and he chose a life different from the one I did.”  He said it all so straight-faced and self-assured, I wasn’t sure how to react or proceed. 

"Well, I doubt he's changed that much," I concluded.  It made sense and concerned me that the source of their falling out was precisely what might day be our falling out and I ruled out the possibility of sharing with him the one part of my life I kept tucked away-- behind my vest, underneath my dress shirt pocket in a locked chamber of my heart.

The rest of the day was somewhat muddled.  Following my usual Sunday regiment of reading the paper, family dinner, and homework, I slept. 

I awoke to the sound of a buzzing phone hours later.  “Hey, GMB. What are you up to?”

It was Ezra.  Following a week-long romance, we’d remained friends and hung out regularly as I got more comfortable in the community, and felt free to be more “out” away from my closest friends and those living in The Wood House.

With his encouragement, I found myself among a new group of people.  I picked him up and he showed me where to go.  I wasn’t tired enough to go back to bed and I needed to connect that night. 

“Ishamael’s house is pretty chill.  It’s not huge, so there are a lot of small groups,” he explained as we approached the porch of the brick house lit by what seemed to be a red Christmas light. 

Ishmael's kitchen college party drinking

Following a long round of introductions, I found myself in the kitchen politely declining drink after drink.  A moment later, a guy with piercing white teeth and blue eyes, mouthed the word “garments” from across the room, pointing to the sleeve of his shirt.  I tucked the holy fabric back under my sleeve as he turned back to his conversation and his drink.  My initial thoughts of desecration of the undershirt's sanctity turned to comfort and respect.

Though we’d only seen each other in passing and we’ve never sat down and had a conversation afterward, it was the type of connection I needed in that moment.  To know that another gay Mormon boy would watch out for me, or rather the beliefs I struggled with, provided me with the consolation I needed that Sunday as I reconsidered the religion I’d shared and lived and wore. 


End, Part 3.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Series of Sundays, Part 2

December 21, 2008

Look at what you've done,
Then at what you want,
Not at where you are,
What you'll be


There is a distinct posture in church one will notice upon close observation.  Most common among teenage boys and the more tiring of meetings, it tends to accompany a sentiment of boredom or frustration.  Sitting in a pew, the subject enters the position first by slouching forward then placing the elbows upon the knees.  The forward-facing head  is then perched upon the hands as the subject's center of gravity moves forward.  Slowly the face drifts into disconnection, facing the feet. 

I looked up for a moment from this very posture, opening my eyes and looking around at those around me attentively listening to the young man giving the day's Sunday School lesson. 

Sunday School

"Could someone please read the paragraph beginning 'After'?"

"I will," a young woman recently returned from a mission in the Baltic states announced.

"Thanks," she said nodding as she looked up from her manual.

"After Heavenly Father gave Eve to Adam, he commanded them to have children. He revealed that one of the purposes of marriage is to provide mortal bodies for his spirit children. Parents are partners with our Heavenly Father. He wants each of his spirit children to receive a physical body and to experience earth life."  She read the final line with emphasis,  "When a man and a woman bring children into this world, they help our Heavenly Father carry out his plan." [Chapter 36, Gospel Principles]

Triggered by the topic of marriage, I retreated to my meditative state.  Lately, a lot of my most productive thought had been done while staring at my feet.  Practically all of my final papers had been outlined or to some extent composed in church as I tried to avert my mind from the dilemma at hand.

Distractions tugged away by the holiday break, I was forced to confront the emotions simmering over the past months.  My rational mind had worked through the numbness to arrive at an understanding of what I truly felt. 

pensive man

It was indignation-- anger in righteousness.

Simultaneously, I conceived myself as a good person and an evil person.  I hadn't done anything wrong, but felt as if I'd be denied a life I'd been promised my entire religious existence (one of family and companionship) for living a life of integrity. 

A friction between the segments of my identity frustrated the sense of balance I'd managed to maintain for so long.  However, like two tectonic plates thrusting toward one another, it seemed as if a disaster lay beyond the horizon-- as if the earth under my feet were about to reform as one continent of my consciousness prepared to subduct under another. 

End, Part 2.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Series of Sundays

November 9, 2008

Mapping out a sky.
What you feel like, planning a sky.
What you feel when voices that come
Through the window
Until they distance and die,
Until there's nothing but sky
And how you're always turning back too late


“….This week, we saw the majesty of the democratic system in action…”

I perked up for a moment, setting aside my scrawled lines of prose on the back of the program.  Did he believe what he was saying. 

“….The scriptures teach us:

“Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord. [Mosiah 29:25]

Sacrament Meeting

“It is our role as God’s chosen people to take be actively engaged in the election process.  We do not take sides in the red and blue, Democrat and Republican debate, but we do stand for what is good and right in this world,” the speaker declared from the pulpit.

My mind returned to the events of the preceding Tuesday.  Following a year of debate and drama, the country's  political endgame was finally coming to pass.  The campus election party—a night of fun, games, and food muting the hostile overtones of the parties attending—was a mixed night for all. 

The liberals (gathered in their corner and outnumbered ten to one) celebrated the statements from McCain and Obama over the election outcome as the conservatives trickled out (with the exception of a self-proclaimed white supremecist who made it his mission to snuff out a smile left on anyone’s face that night).  A small group remained, aware and preoccupied with the state of California.  The passage of Proposition 8 shocked some and angered others.

For me, the announcement was like anodyne.  It left me numb all over.  I didn’t know how to feel, but felt prepared to endure great pain.  The idea of equality made sense but so did the Church in most ways. 


Absorbing the rest of the talk—calls for righteous living in difficult times, warnings against democracy making the wrong decision and the Lord smiting them down for their pride, cautions of hero worship pointed at the new President elect—I puzzled over the clear reservations held over the democratic process.  The speaker believed in a good form of democracy and a bad form of democracy.  Was I to feel inferior (despite having devoted a year of my life to studying the constitution)? Angry that he was twisting around beliefs I held close to my heart? 

I didn’t know.

So much beauty lay in the doctrines of salvation that I’d grown up with and that I’d taught and of which I’d testified.  The God of my religion seemed superior.  He was truly omnipotent because he could create other Gods.  He was truly all-knowing because he used the laws of science from physics to evolution to bend all of creation to his will.  He was truly loving because he knew me among billions of other souls and cared about my happiness.

I wasn’t all that certain about that anymore.  As I attempted to return to the moment and listen to the speaker’s conclusion, my body was a sheet of static—numb and uncharged. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Return, Collision of Proposition 8 and Mormon Faith

I’ve been putting off discussing the Prop. 8 leg of my story for a while.  I feel I can finally (almost) do it justice and talk about some very difficult issues for me. 

Gay and Mormon Collide in Prop 8

The next series, “A Series of Sundays,” will get at some of the issues of belief I’ve been a bit more guarded about over the past year and take the blog in a different direction if only temporarily.

…How fitting the timing as we gear up for season premiers this week….

Food for Thought #24

Today’s thought from the patron saint of MoHo poetry:

May Swenson

“One must be honest somewhere.  I wish to be honest in poetry.”

-- May Swenson

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lessons from Childhood

I flashed back to a moment when I was about ten, tonight.  (Flashing back has happened to me a lot lately, and not without consequences). 

I was standing in line with my mother at a restaurant.  I turned around and saw a woman.  Her brow protruded sternly.  Her posture hunched and defensive.  An disconsolate sigh escaping her lungs and wafting my direction.

I avoided eye contact.  I was shy and in some measure scared to connect to someone with such a hostile demeanor.  I avoided her glances worried whatever emotional malady she experienced in that moment was contagious. 

Finally, I lost the game of visual dodgeball as our eyes connected for a moment.  Paralyzed, instinct took over.  It's been said that a smile is an evolutionary reinvention of the act of bearing one's teeth in threat.  In defense, my lips quivered back from their equator, revealing the smile underneath.  I closed my eyes, worried at what cruel thing she might say. 

Ten year old smile

As I opened my eyes, I saw a completely different person.  Her bronze skin was red with joy rather than the rage I'd perceived.  A smile reflected back at me, and I suppose some weak understanding of "you reap what you sow" or the like was formed.

Today, I saw a woman at the store whose body told a different story.  She trudged through the parking lot as if she'd had a long day.  A hand draped her forehead in frustration and perplexion as she hunted for stray carts in the parking lot. 

Driving past, I slowed and looked right at her flashing an unmistakable and confident grin.  I was there a week ago, I told myself.  Again, the effect was instant and we both came off energized by the thrilling joy of the simplest of human connections.


A smile to those of you I haven't seen or heard from in a while, esp. those of you facing emotional times.  We might not talk often, but I hope to be able to share a real smile very soon. 

Fique firme.  [Stay strong].

Mashup #4

From one of my(and Chedner’s)  new favorite sites: FashionablyGeek


If you don’t get it, your homework is to brush up on Doctor Who.

Food for Thought #23

Marcel Proust

“The true voyage of discovery consists not of seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

-- Marcel Proust

Friday, September 17, 2010

MoHos and Their Clothes, Part 2

Thrift Stores

Deseret Industries Thrift[3]

To some, fashion is an elusive, mystical skill akin to divining water with copper rods.   Sitting down in the mall recently, I observed three groups of shoppers: 

The Nomads meander from store to store browsing indecisively at what they think looks would look nice, though lacking that natural evolutionary skill of planning.  They stumble into good finds, but generally nothing that sticks out to the rest of the population or each other for that matter.

The Cultivators make their way around a store looking at every piece seeing what they like and what they don’t like.  These consumers only make their way to the mall every few months and tend to have a few select stores they visit.  They tend to trust and depend upon these select stores to guide their fashion for them.  You might hear a member of this group say something along the lines of “Everything but the shoes I found at JCrew” or “I only trust H&M.”

The Hunter/Gatherers get a rush out of the chase.  Often lurking in thrift shops, their trips to the mall and other stores are often limited to window shopping as they have a select set of items they are looking for.  They cast their net wide and often, going without new purchases often for months at a time, but rejoicing when they do find that one savory article—a pair of suspenders with an eye-catching pattern, a tie that brings an entire outfit together, the last pair of pointy Steve Madden shoes at 75% off.

My bias here is apparent.  In terms of shopping, I stand in the extreme of hunter/gatherers.  The individual pieces of my wardrobe—everything from the socks to the scarves—comes from a niche I’ve discovered in some way or another, and together they make something distinctly GMB. 

I suppose it’s a habit I picked up in college.  After a bad day at the office or a round of exams, window shopping became a way to cool off.  A form of retail therapy minus the consequences.

For that reason, you’ll find me in a thrift shop after a long day looking at the various sections of the store for accents (yes, I really dropped the gay bomb with a word like that) to the wardrobe I already have.

a beautiful mind window writing

What comes to mind in this moment is a subtle parallel to A Beautiful Mind in which the brilliant economist, John Forbes Nash, Jr. (played by Russell Crowe) slips into states of reverie as he contemplates the mathematical and economic concepts that later earn him the Nobel Prize.  In my own state of awe over clothing, I contemplate the combinations and resulting significations of these expressions as I work through the potential of each article in my head.  Following a moment in still time and a James Horner soundtrack pulsing in the background of my mind, everything makes sense and has purpose.. 

That is the moment in which ideas and reality converge—perhaps the crux of any given science or art.

My Thrift Store Pick:  Suits both retro and timeless, the three-piece variety highly encouraged for versatility.  Pull the vest away from the full ensemble for more combinations.


End, Part 2

Food for Thought #22

Eudora Welty

“She read Dickens in the same spirit she would have eloped with him.”

-- Eudora Welty.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

MoHos and Their Clothes: An Excursion into Fashion

Recent discussions with Chedner and Romulus have in one way or another been cloting related.  Another friend has requested a series on fashion (although that was many months ago).  I’ll take a stab at that in this ongoing series.

Hopefully, I don’t make too many enemies. 

As I’ve shared before, I’m a fan of cultural analysis and feel as Derrida that “Everything is a text.”  Today, I’ll delve a bit into what your clothes say about you, taking a few stores into account along with a personal anecdote or two. 

I’ll get this out of the way, first: given the choice of free clothes at any store for life (save the truly high end stores one finds in truly high end places other than Utah), I would have to go with:



Removing the hot model from the picture, what is the statement made by these clothes?  That is the implicit and unavoidable thought I have as I’m making calls on fashion.  Again, unavoidable as someone who plans to analyze culture for a living.

Before I answer that question, I think it’s important I address part of my fashion history.  Six years ago, I was considered borderline obese for my height.  I was reasonably intelligent, but I thought it was necessary to focus on my other strengths because focus on one’s outward appearance is, by definition, superficial.

This is one of the secondary conflicts of The Devil Wears Prada.  Andy (played by Anne Hathaway) arrives semi-frumpy to work at a magazine ruled by fashionista Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep).  As she grows confident in herself, her fashion changes and in the end, she fuses together a new, more confident identity through altering (not completely) her sense of fashion.


A very similar thing happened to me in, of all places, Brazil.  My first missionary companion berated me for my ties, shoes, and belts not matching.  He also made occasional jabs at my weight.  However, a month into our companionship, I was down forty pounds. 

In the second year of my mission, my favorite companion of all sat me down and told me that the very next day off we had, we were going to go to the store and buy me a new outfit.  One that fit my smaller waist size as well as the more confident personality emerging as a result of my Brazilian encounter.  Something changed in me the moment I saw the contours of my body feeling at home in a pair of jeans that actually fit.

express dress shirtsClothing in that moment began to communicate and accentuate the confidence within.  That was a moment in life in which I felt sharing what was on the inside was finally an option.  I had something to offer the world.  

I suppose the image I have of Express is the closest match to what I feel I offer the world.  

Co-workers often throw out words like “classy” and “vibrant” to compliment my sense of style—one inspired by the bright, defining colors and lean, angular dimensions of Express. 

My Express Pick:  dress shirts.


End, Part 1.

Mashup #3

So, here are the final online crossover pics from James Hance’s book, chew

Here is a link to buy the book via PayPal. 
(Only $10 with shipping!)
The final selections feature R2D2-let:
Wookie the Pooh Looks for the Jabbalump
Of course, I saved the best for last:
Wookie the Pooh and R2D2let I recommend visiting his site (here) for more crossover fun. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Food for Thought #21

Ray Bradbury

“There’s no reason to burn books if you don’t read them.”

-- Ray Bradbury

Mashup #2

So, with a little investigation, I found that the Star Wars/Winnie the Pooh idea the creative thought of artist James Hance. Some more pics:

wookieeWookie the Pooh Millenium Falconwookiee-promise 1

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Food for Thought #20

Jorge Luis Borges

“Life itself is a quotation.”

-- Jorge Luis Borges

Mashup #1

Chedner shared this with me and I must admit it caused some nerd flurries. He titled it “Wookie the Pooh.”

Wookie the Pooh

Monday, September 13, 2010

So Many Favorite Things in One

Jimmy Fallon + Glee + Tina Fey + Betty White =

as seen on Tales of a Super Nova (

GRE Attempt #1

So, for those of you following the current drama of my life, I thought I’d share my scores and thoughts. “Attempt #1” above implies another attempt is not far away. Friday, I ended up with 540 Verbal 580 Math (thought it’s possible I swapped those in a moment of self-disgust). Unfortunately, I don’t see getting into the schools I shared without at least a 600 Verbal.

GRE boyMy strategy to conquer the test bank vocabulary didn’t prove as fruitful as I’d hoped. I felt comfortable with all of the words, but I’m pretty sure that the hours of conditioning myself to name synonyms as I practiced with my giant box-o-flashcards in combination with nerves resulted in a pair of serious mistakes on the antonym questions.

The good news is, I feel like I have the vocab down pretty solidly, so the best way to improve my score is to keep that vocab in my head and do a practice test a day for the next month as I try to boost that score. Thanks for the encouragement.

Now for something fun:

birds and bees

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tomorrow’s THE Big Day

As many of you have noted, the blogging has really slowed down for me. There’s plenty to write and the chapter I’m working on right now is one of the most difficult considering events of the present. That said, what’s really been slowing me down is this:


It’s sad that a few hours of my life will in a twisted fashion determine the rest of it. Where I will be, who I will date, where the story told on this blog will change forever (even if that’s years down the road).

So, I leave you with a coping mechanism as I attempt to incorporate words like ‘propinquity’ into my vocabulary. That’s right… grad student humor:

GRE PHD Comics

For the record, my initial set of schools receiving my scores will include: Rutgers, Columbia, UPenn, and Michigan. Feel free to attempt to persuade me elsewhere.

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