Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Viva Fashionista

For a gay man, I'm surprisingly horrible at fashion.


I stole this picture from a post I wrote two years ago. So sue me.

This is a picture of me in high school. I weighed about 40 lbs. more than I do now, and I literally wore plaid shirts like this, tucked in, every single day. Except on days when I wore the other kind of plaid shirts with bigger squares. I'm not joking. I'm pretty sure I was in denial about the fact that I was alive and that people had to look at me. I just kind of existed back then, unaware of how I appeared to the rest of the world. Which is probably for the best because I looked kind of like the marshmallow puff man, and I had a white-man fro, and I basically had no game or swagger or coolness or anything like that whatsoever. And I played the violin. And wrote poetry. And was a lead in the school play. And won the choir award for the year...

Okay, okay, as of June 7th 2012, I can finally just come out and say it:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Back + Good News

I've returned from the camping trip to some very, very good news.

Our friend from the other day has been located and is safe. He is alive. I don't know many details other than that he wishes to remain anonymous, and that he is being taken care of by some close family members. Here is a comment that was left on that post by Sara Long:

HE IS CURRENTLY SAFE. A member of the Feminist Mormon Housewives Society brought him cookies and a note full of love from people who'd heard his story. He lives with his family and they have confirmed he's currently alive and physically well, psychologically not so. He has made efforts to make his name unknown publicly so I am respecting that, and I ask that you all do so as well, for those who know who he is. I will send his name and location to Josh.

I am so glad to know that of the possible "maybes" that could account for his being incommunicado, it wasn't the one we all dreaded. Thanks to all who left such heartfelt messages, who prayed for him, and who wished him well, and especially to those who spread the message so that he could be located and know of the great efforts that went on to ensure that he is safe and that he knows that he is loved.

He is not the only one. He represents an entire population of individuals who feel hopeless and alone and like death is their only escape, and who need our support and love. 

And when I say "our support and love", I say that as inclusively as possible. ALL of us. That was one thing that truly touched my heart about this situation. I saw lines previously drawn in the sand be ignored as good people came together to help in a matter of life or death. I think excerpts from the following comment on the original post said it best:


Josh - we haven't met yet but I have been very glad to read of your story - EVEN THOUGH we might not be considered "in the same camp". . .

I think we have an urgent calling - all of us - to put aside our differences and simply step up to the plate and organize on this - with no agenda! Let us begin to build such common ground. Let us start meeting live in the year to come . . .

I think it would be almost similar to the story many of us learned along the way about the British and German soldiers during WWI who put their guns down and all sang carols together that Christmas morning. This issue HAS to be our Christmas carol. And it has come time. . . 

I think that this issue--the issue of life or death--really can be our Christmas carol. There is a love that binds all of us together, ideological differences notwithstanding. Let's not forget this moment, and let's attempt to keep the bridges that this kind of situation enabled fortified. You might think differently than me. I might think differently than you. But when a soul is hurting and in trouble, let's focus on healing that soul. 

There are many such souls, and there are a lot of us. Let's make love our clarion call. Let's say kind words instead of words of harshness. Let's find a suffering soul to soothe--there are so many. Let's focus our attention on healing the wounded instead of focusing it at launching the next napalm attack at our ideological enemy. 

I really, really think we can do this. 

Idealistic? Probably. But seeing things like the rallying that has taken place around this young man makes me believe that there is hope. 

Anyway, just wanted to throw this post up so everyone could take a sigh a relief.

Thanks again for all the kind words and for the beautiful outpouring. You guys touched my heart, and I hope other suffering suicidal souls encounter people like you, and see the love that you all demonstrated.

Time for me to go down and eat dinner with the fam. 

(Also, camping was awesome AND I ate s'mores AND I went on a big slip-and-slide AND I prevented Tessa from falling into the fire-pit to die a fiery death of pain and suffering AND I only got lost once. It was a really good weekend all around, and this post's news just topped it off.)


Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm going camping

I'm going camping, so I won't be around for a few days. In honor of my camping trip, I'm posting my camping tutorial from last year. I hope it gives you hope and direction from your own camping endeavors. I'll be back with something real on Saturday.

I have high hopes that something good happens with the situation from my last post while I'm gone.

Peace.
________________________________________________________________________________


Are you nervous about going camping before winter comes? Don't worry. I'm here to help you.

If you're anything like me, you have gone camping very few times in your life because your mom was the type of lady that thought "roughing it" was a Motel Six with grungy bedspreads and your dad didn't have a dad. Not so much in the immaculate conception sense, but more in the he-was-an-abusive-drunk-that-my-grandma-left-when-my-dad-was-three sense.

I didn't mind the not camping thing. I'm about as handy with a hammer as a fish is handy with a Chinese finger trap. I mention a hammer because in my mind, you use a hammer to nail in some kind of stakes that help you prop up a tent or some crap like that when you're camping, but for all I know you don't even need a hammer when you set up a tent and I just made a fool of myself in saying that. That's how inexperienced I am at camping.

All of that aside, I recently camped, and I took some notes so that you, too, can camp successfully. If you follow these helpful tips I'm sure that your camping experience will be delightful and you won't be mauled by honey badgers.

1. Find the right site

One of the first things you need to remember to do when you're camping is to find an adequate site. It is important to find a place in a forest that isn't inhabited by people in houses, and that doesn't have sidewalks or very much pavement or restaurants or power lines. This type of area is called "the forest" or "the wilderness" or "a campsite" or "an especially large shoulder off the highway."

If you think you have come across a place to camp but aren't sure, there are a few questions you can ask yourself in order to not make the mistake of trying to camp on somebody's personal property.  Things like "is there a mailbox in my line of vision?" or "is that barking animal a domesticated dog, or a wolf?" or "if I were to start a fire here, who would notice?" On that last one, if there are pedestrians walking around that might notice the fire, you're probably not in a campsite. You're probably on a street. Or in a hotel lobby. And if you start a fire, you will be arrested or cause the fiery death of all the occupants of a Hilton or private residence. So be careful.

You're doing it wrong.

Photo attribution here

2.Make sure to figure out what you'll sleep in.

Camping can be cruel. Just ask the Donner party. Or Moses. Or this guy.

Because of this reality, it's important to know where to sleep when you camp. Many people camp places where you need to set up a tent or some crap like that. Like maybe you need to find shelter, or make a lean to to protect yourself from torrential rains or something. The problems with this are many, not the least of which is the fact that doing so requires physical labor. That's right. If you choose to camp, in many cases you have to build a freaking house for yourself made of cloth or leaves and branches. And that makes little to no sense.

I recommend that you go to a camp that has a bunch of tee-pees set up like I did. It was called Ensign Ranch.

Easiest way to set up camp is to make sure someone has done it for you. 
(Thanks for the photos, Crabtrees.)


If you fail to do this, you will be forced to put up your own tent (aka wrap yourself up in your disassembled tent like a giant sleeping bag and hope that bears don't attack you in the still of the night and eat your eyes out your face like plump, wet grapes.).

3. Food.

You've gotta be careful to bring the right food. Wife and I, fraught with inexperience, brought stale pretzels, one-fourth of a power bar, and an empty water bottle. So we were screwed. Fortunately, our friends the Warners brought dutch oven food which they made in pots and stuff and there were some coals or something--I don't really understand this very well. I was getting real nervous because the pots were covered in ash and looked totally disgusting and like I was about to eat dirt, but then--and I'm actually not sure how this works and I think it might involve Voodoo--but somehow this

Can I take another helping of coal, please?

turned into a bounty that included cobbler and potatoes and chicken and it was delicious, and I'm really sorry they didn't get any pictures of their meal, or that they didn't get to enjoy any of it by the time they were done taking their kids to the potty because I accidentally finished it all, but we did save them some of these:


Yes, these are Mickey nuggets on a stick.

 *starts singing* "That's what friends are for..."

(Thanks for the photos, Warners. Oh, and for your dinner. Mmmmm.)

4. Bathroom etiquette.

Here's the hard truth: when you're camping, you're going to have to go #1 and possibly #2, and sometimes you have to get creative. Easiest solution is to camp at a place like Ensign Ranch where there are outhouses all over the place. But even then, things get tricky. For example "occupied" means that there is somebody already in the outhouse. Please note, when you enter the outhouse, make sure to lock it, which is what enables the "occupied" sign to be seen. Otherwise you might have an unsuspecting person barge in while your wee wee is doing wee wee, and that's just embarrassing for everyone, but mostly for the older woman there to relieve her bladder. (Sorry!)

No outhouse? No problem! Just take a dump in the forest and clean yourself up with leaves. I've been there. Oh, oh, how I've been there...

Executive decision: I have decided not to look for a picture to supplement this section about feces and urine in a forest. You're welcome.  

5. Have some fun!

Suggested activities:

Cards?
Uh, smores?
Other things you do outside....?

Yeah, I'm drawing a blank here. Why do we camp again?

Oh yeah, it's to become one with nature. So, nature walks are a great idea. Just remember, if a bear charges you on your jaunt, DON'T RUN. Play dead. Which won't be very hard to do if you've forgotten this tip and chosen to run, because you'll no longer have a face and you'll be dead.

If you happen to be with a group of people who, for "fun," decide to do a root-beer chugging contest, be on alert. When they ask you to represent your team of 10 people because you're so masculine *curtsies*, have a ready excuse at hand. In my case, I chose to opt out because--rational as always--I was terrified I might vomit.

I discovered that the best way to handle this scenario is, instead of explaining your "reasoning", just stand there awkwardly not participating for several loooong minutes while people wonder exactly where you fall on the autism spectrum until Tami Baumgartener shows she's got more cojones than you ever will by volunteering to go for you.

Way to go, champ!!!


Afterwards, when the chugging is over, ask her if she threw up so you can feel vindicated in your decision. When she says "no" tell yourself that the root beer would have made your nose tingle real bad, and so it was still a really good idea to wuss out in front of 30 people. Then go cry in your tee-pee and wait for the shame to give way to sleep.

Now remember, future campers, the root beer chug is just one of the four or five many things people can do while camping. Keep your mind focused and maybe you'll discover more!

6. Packing up

When your trip is coming to a close, it's time to pack up. It's important at this point to get lost in the forest on a nature walk so you don't have to clean or do any heavy lifting.  Shockingly, Wife was the one who employed this strategy on our camping trip.

Okay, okay, That's not exactly what happened unless when you say "get lost in the forest" you actually mean "took the girls to a huge slip and slide on the campground without you so you could pack up by yourself, mainly because you didn't have the right shoes."



I'm not bitter.*

Welp, there you have it! I hope you find this tutorial helpful. Now, get out there and go camping before winter comes! Otherwise you will probably die. From hypothermia. Whatever disease that is.

*Yes I am.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Haunting


So, yesterday I received a tip from a really great guy that there was a blog post written by a highly suicidal young man. The guy who tipped me off said that he himself has commented on my blog before, and that he often disagrees with me, but that he prayed about how to help this young man and felt directed to bring the post to my attention.

Coincidentally, I had just seen a tweet from Jenny Lawson about a suicidal comment on her blog and I absolutely loved her helpful approach, so because that was in my mind I knew exactly what I should do. I posted a comment on the kid's blog, and then I posted on my blog's Facebook page and let people know that there was a kid who was deeply suicidal, and that he needed to know that he was loved and not judged.

And boy did you guys take the cue. Messages started pouring in, and within 24 hours, there were at least 45 heartfelt messages (from varied sources) letting this young man know that he was loved, that he was needed, that his value wasn't dependent on his decisions in life--that he was amazing and had a place with us no matter what. That God loved him and that we loved him. Stories about depression and making it through the darkness. Stories about loss. Real people telling real stories about pain and about recovering from pain. Telling this young man that he is loved, and that things will get better, and that he has a community that loves and supports him no matter what.

It's been 24 hours since the message flood began, and there has been no response from him.

The post went up last Thursday. He sounded deeply, deeply suicidal. Suicidal to the point that he was seriously contemplating ways to die constantly.

This kid was at incredibly high risk.

There are many reasons we might not have heard from him yet. Maybe he doesn't check his blog every day. Maybe he felt so much pressure at having so much attention that he doesn't know how to react. Maybe his family went on vacation. Maybe he attempted to take his own life but was discovered in the process and now he is hospitalized, being nourished by those he loves, being shown the love and care he so badly needs and deserves.

Maybe.

But maybe all that beautiful love and support, which truly touched my heart, showed up too late.

Maybe we lost another kid.

Another one.

This isn't fake. This isn't propaganda or agenda-driven. This is actually happening. We might have just witnessed it. And I am truly haunted by the implications and the loss.

What can we do to make sure that our support for our gay youth doesn't show up a day too late?

If you choose to comment and share ideas, please resist finger-pointing and blaming. If we have lost someone, we are all in this together, and, in the spirit of the original commenter who disagrees with much of what I say but felt comfortable coming together with me to help try to save a life, let's all come together and brainstorm ways we can be of help to those who need us.

What do you personally commit to do to help make sure this doesn't happen to our gay youth and loved ones anymore? What can I do? What can we all do?

Let's help make change happen.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

And then Jenny Lawson and I pretended to be angry pandas together...

Subtitle: Sometimes it pays to have ADD.

So, yesterday was a big day for me. I went to a book signing to meet one of my idols, Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess (<---click that link if you want to read one of the funniest blogs you'll ever read, but with this caveat: the woman swears like a sailor on death row with Tourretes. You have been warned). She recently published her first memoir. She has worked on it for ten years, and it has now spent as many weeks (or thereabouts) on the NYT Bestseller list. She pushed through all her fears, ADD, and anxieties and made it happen, which is beyond inspirational to me. And last night was her very last stop on the very last leg of her very long book tour. And she happened to be? In Seattle.

Serendipity.

So, of course we drove out to the Costco in North Seattle where the book signing would happen...

Friday, August 17, 2012

A long day is speaking at a symposium and then going straight into being filmed for a documentary until 2:00am.

So, Saturday was an incredibly long day.

First, we went to the Compassionate Cause symposium where I was on a panel because I am an expert where when we say "expert" we mean someone who has had their own therapy practice for one entire year.

Actually, being on the panel was really cool because it was a symposium talking all about homosexuality in the Mormon church, and the panel was, as I said, a panel of therapists. So I ended up being the only person on the panel who was Mormon and gay and a therapist which meant that I accidentally probably talked way too much and people were probably like "how can we get this guy to shut up without saying 'hey, could you shut up now?'"

Also, there was this really weird moment where I was sitting there in front a roomful of total strangers and started telling my story...


Monday, August 13, 2012

Reality TV Clip

Yeah, Lolly got behind the camera today and concocted a clip all about why we probably should never be allowed on TV.

Here it is:



Basically, this clip is the sum of what the entire concept of a reality show about us would be: messes made by our girls, us saying stupid weird things, product placement, and over-emphasis of any physical affection between me and Lolly ever.

Enjoy!

Also, based on some of your suggestions, we're actually considering doing a weekly vlog video thingy. So, if you do actually like this (which, it's seriously okay if you don't) feel free to share and spread the word. Or not. You know, whatever floats your boat.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A busy day + our thoughts on a reality TV show

I don't have time for a real post. So I'm busting out another short one so that you know that I am yet alive. Lolly and I are presenting at a symposium today and then are being filmed for a documentary tonight. It's funny because when people ask "so, has your life calmed down and gotten back to normal?" I keep telling people "oh, yeah, things are definitely getting back to normal..." and then when I look at days like today I realize that things keep not getting back to normal at all.

Probably what I mean when I have the impulse to say that is that this is starting to feel like a new normal.

Wish us luck today.

Oh! In response to last post's reality TV question...


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lolly is sick. Therefore our lives are a wreck. (Also, I share comments from the ADD post)

All right, we're in bare-minimum survival mode over here at Weed Central.

Lolly is sick with a fever.

Hello. Welcome to our house when Mom is sick.

(Photo attribution: here )

What this means is that our entire household has ground to a slow halt. There are messes. The girls have watched a lot of movies. And I've been spending every spare minute with girls when I'm not at work so that Lolly can sleep.

If you are a single parent, I admire you.

Anyway, I have a couple of business things today since I'm kinda phoning it in:

First, I wanted to share the suggestions that stuck out to me most from my ADHD post last week. There were an incredibly large number of awesome responses to that post and I actually had a really hard time narrowing them down--thanks so much for being willing to share your strategies. I truly learned a lot. (I actually tried a few things out to help me narrow things down.)

So, the first one that really stuck out to me because of its simplicity as well as the way it turned things on their head was this suggestion from Heather Jones who said:

So I do reverse checklist. I leave ten spaces open and when I do something I feel was worth reporting I write it down in that space. Then I don't overwhelm myself with a huge long list and feel like a failure when it is incomplete. It leaves room for imaginations and ADD. You will realize ALL the stuff you do when you get side tracked. Example: Cleaning room and while putting something away in bathroom drawer start organizing bathroom drawer. Add that to list when I wasn't even planning on doing it!

I tried this one out. What it allowed for was a lot less self-berating when, at the end of the day, it felt like not a lot was accomplished. The truth is, when you have ADD, a lot of the stuff you get distracted with is important stuff. (Not all the time though. Like the time I spent hours researching Wagner's Ring Cycle when I was supposed to be catching up on paperwork at an old job. Or the time I got stuck reading about graphic serial killings for like four hours when I was supposed to be studying for a final in undergrad. Take those scenarios, multiply them by about a bajillion, and you've just witnessed 60% of my life.) But with the reverse check-list, you end up seeing the value of your day in a new light, and then the positive reenforcement actually helps propel you into more productivity.

So, thanks Heather. I really enjoyed that.

Another comment that I enjoyed was one shared by Miranda Marrott who said, in part:

Recently read Jonah Lehrer's book 'Imagine: How creativity works' and I have to say it made me feel much better about my tendency to daydream and lose myself in thought. It can actually be productive. Lehrer gives some tips on how to use daydreaming/lostinthought time productively, but I can't remember what they are because I was daydreaming when I read that section.

Personally, I use calendars, all types. I have one on my night stand, two on the fridge, one in my purse, one on my computer, phone and iPad that are all synced. I find that writing things down multiple times keeps it in the forefront of my mind...


I enjoyed this comment because of its focus on the positive nature of daydreaming. Something I've tried to do in recent years is recognize the positive components of ADD. I haven't had a chance to read Lehrer's book, but I would like to. I also like the idea of using a lot of calendars so that I write my "to-do's" multiple times.

Finally, this tip from psychotherapist Diana Hoffman was surprisingly effective:

First, regulate the brainstem using rhythmic, repetitive motion: at least 20 minutes a day of rocking in a rocking chair or hammock, swinging on a swing, doing therapeutic dance or Tai Chi, or jumping on a mini-trampoline. The cadence is most effective if it approximates what a fetus experience in the womb as the mother is walking.

I was kind of surprised when I tried this and it actually helped me, but it really did! And then, as I thought about it, I suddenly had a flood of awkward memories of how I find myself rocking back and forth pretty violently like, basically all the time. So I think there might be something to this. (No joke, if you spend any time with me, you'll catch me rocking like I'm on a cruise ship or something.)

It's highly likely that newborn Tessa thought she was back in the womb because I was probably rocking like a tree in a hurricane at this moment. (Also, I love Anna's face as she meets Tessa for the first time...)

Anyway, there is such a vast wealth of information on that comment section. If you haven't read the comments yet, you should. Amazing stuff. Truly. I wish I had room to highlight more. Maybe I will another time.

I was going to talk about a couple of other things, but it's late and I have to go to bed so I can be Mr. Mom tomorrow. But before I go I have a question for you guys.

If you were offered to be on a reality TV show, would you do it? Why or why not?



Saturday, August 4, 2012

To the girl who recognized me in the mall Thursday

Hi, friend.

First of all, thank you so much for pointing out where Viva had disappeared to. I was really distracted and when I turned around and noticed she was gone my brain immediately short-circuited and went to the following headline: GAY MORMON MARRIED MAN WHO RECENTLY CAME OUT LOSES DAUGHTER AT MALL BECAUSE HE'S TOTALLY IRRESPONSIBLE AND SHOULDN'T BE A PARENT. OBVIOUSLY HE SHOULD HAVE PARTNERED WITH A MAN. AND THEN CHOSEN NOT TO ADOPT.

But anyway, while I have you here, I wanted to defend and minimize explain a few things you might have noticed in my behavior while I was busy not remembering that people actually recognize me in public places these days.

First off, when I got angry with the old man who was setting up for a photo-shoot by the carousel, I need you to understand that it was the second time he had gotten mad at Tessa for crossing an invisible barrier he created directly on the path to the carousel.  Here's a diagram:

I'm pretty confident this diagram is extremely helpful. Also, not sure if you realized how good I am at graphic art... but yeah. Breathtaking. (You can see some of my other work here or here. Also, If you're interested in my help with an invitation or a card or some other graphicy thing, my services are for hire. Call me *does air-phone*)

I needed him to know that if he wants to do a photo shoot in a mall, that's totally fine. But if he wants to do a photo shoot in a mall where no children cross an invisible line into the "off limits" section, setting up said shoot directly in front of the carousel is a very, very bad idea. I don't know if he's met a child before, but the formula goes something like this: child sees carousel, child experiences adrenaline rush leading to near-cardiac-arrest, child runs full throttle towards the carousel in a direct line without consideration of invisible barriers or one pink "caution" sign arbitrarily placed upon said invisible barrier. Yelling at my child for doing this is pointless. A one-year old will not learn how to not have this response to a carousel. The same rule applies but is not limited to: Chuck E. Cheese, toy stores, Grandpas, large stuffed animals, any Disney character anywhere, and busily trafficked roads. This is part of growing up as a human.

Second, when you saw me scratching my nose, I was really just scratching my nose. I didn't mean to have to flick. Accidents happen.

Third, I washed my hands.

(Fourth, no I didn't.)

Fifth, doesn't everybody let their children crawl along the railing of a flight of stairs in the mall, even where the drop-off would probably break a bone? No? Okay, well, now we know! I think we've all learned an important lesson today! How very valuable! *The NBC "The more you know" logo chimes in the background*

Sixth, when you saw me actually lose my child, a few factors were in place that I am making up explain that phenomenon. First, Lolly had been in Claire's exchanging headbands for, like, a really long time. Second, that was the second time she went in there and that place is like a Time Vaccum for the mother of three little girls. Third, my ADD has really been acting up lately and I was distracted by deep and profound thoughts such as "Look! Carousel! *resists urge to b-line past the invisible barrier*" and "How many children do I have again?" and "I hate shopping so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so much." (<---Totally ironic because I'm gay, amiright?)

Anyway, you can see why when you approached me after pointing out Viva had disappeared into an automated photo booth, I probably seemed a little sheepish. But I wanted you to know that I really appreciated you saving Viva's life, and that I actually really enjoyed that you came up and talked to me, and also thanks a lot for reading my blog.

Yours affectionately,

The Weed