Hey! I'm posting again like the champion blogger that I was always destined to be. YAY!!!!!
I have a few things to post in response to my last entry, because apparently I can't blog about anything except blogging itself. That's how the professionals do it, you see... (false)
The truth is, this post gets really serious, and is all about who I am as a blogger and as a person and what you should expect from me. It's something of a refresher course for those who might not know me well. Buckle up, because I get a little passionate, but it's all stuff that needs to be said.
How to begin?
Okay, so remember the time I made a joke in the middle of the night three days ago about sending an inappropriate picture of my body to an advertising group and them confusing it for a deflated party balloon? And then remember how the day I posted it I talked about seeing an actual picture of a deflated balloon on the WWW (translation: World Wide Web) but decided not to post it because I'm a respectable human being who doesn't post stuff like that on his blog?
Screw that. Here's the one I found.
I couldn't have taken a more perfect picture for that joke if I tried. Amiright???
Image source: here
The reason I suddenly feel it is imperative to post this picture is twofold.
First, the day I posted the joke, an awesome Weeder named Leisha Mareth delighted me by finding another picture than the one I found and posting it in the comments on Facebook, and it was so hilarious I decided then and there that I needed to share it. (I also concluded that the Internet is totally crazy, and you can find ANYTHING there.)
But before I shared hers, I felt it only fair that I share mine. Kind of an "I'll show mine if you show yours" type of thing, if you know what I'm saying...
You ready for this?
Yes. That just happened.
Dear Internet, I'm sorry I can't source this picture. It was posted to Facebook.
Somehow, she found a deflated balloon picture that was even better than mine.
Which begs the question (except that it doesn't beg the question because "begging the question" is a philosophical fallacy referring to an attempt to prove a premise using another premise that itself requires proof and yes, I am a huge huge huge nerd why pray tell do you ask???)--ahem. As I was saying. It begs the question: just how many pictures of deflated balloons looking like human anatomy exist on the World Wide Web?
Your mission, should you choose to accept it--(yes you, with the nose)--is to find a deflated balloon anatomy pic that is more hilarious than either Liesha or me and post it in the comments here or on Facebook.
Consider the gauntlet thrown down.
Side note: My favorite part of challenges like this is the haunting possibility that nobody will take the challenge and I will experience the awkward shame one feels when he says something like "yeah, I'm sure I'm not the only one in this room who still wipes boogers on the carpet sometimes, right?" *chuckle chuckle* followed by complete silence while everyone looks around awkwardly leaving you hanging as the seconds tick by and you try to figure out how to recover and then you blurt out "Oh, yeah, me neither!" and it totally works.
(No. It doesn't. It doesn't work at all.)
The second reason that I felt it very important to actually post the picture was a comment I received via email from a Weeder. Now, before I share this comment, I have to say that literally almost every response I received on my post the other day was positive, warm, beautiful and filled my heart with joy. No joke. It actually filled me with joy. I had felt scared to post after so long, and I am so thankful for all you people for somehow still being here with me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for still reading. Thank you for being kind and generous, and for saying the exact right things to help me feel your love and support.
This community is a blessing.
Also, I must say that I have no doubt whatsoever that the person who sent me a message is a sweet, wonderful, amazing human being, and I really appreciate the intentions behind what they were saying. Really, I do.
That being said, their comment made me want to douse myself in gasoline and set myself on fire with frustration. Their comment represents one of the things I hate most about blogging and humans and myself and my own sensitivities and religious culture.
I've decided not to share the actual email itself because it was sent to me privately, and I can truly see its good intentions. I don't want the sender (who I assume will be reading this) to feel embarrassed or ashamed--really don't feel bad, friend. I know your heart, and I'm not angry at you. But your message has made it clear that I need to clarify some things.
I will summarize its basic message (this is not an exaggeration, btw):
Your last blog post makes me concerned about you. It had gay jokes and swear words and it destroys the image that I have in my mind about you as being a righteous man. Seeing that post makes me question your church life and your marriage and your mental health. You are changing from when I started reading your blog--for the worse--and I am sad for you and very worried about you. Please seek help.
Getting feedback like this makes me feel two things. First, it makes me feel very grateful that people are concerned about me--it is touching to know that people want what's best for me.
But secondly and more importantly, it makes me extremely extremely frustrated, and allows me to see that I need to make a few key concepts clear, because if I got this message from one person, he or she surely represents more people who feel the same way.
Here is something that I wish I could effectively communicate with my life:
Human beings are complex, beautiful creatures. They cannot be put into boxes. And when you send me messages like that, it makes me feel like you want to put me in a box.
I am many things. Things that might seem contradictory to you.
I am a gay man. Yet I am a Mormon man. Both of these things co-exist.
I am deeply religious. Yet sometimes I say "inappropriate" words. Both of these things co-exist.
I write passionately about incredibly deep subject matter of a highly spiritual nature some days. And other days I write silly, absurd posts about funny things and make crude jokes because they make me laugh (and I firmly believe that some days you just need to look at the absurdities and cruelties of life and choose to laugh.) Both of these things co-exist.
The theme goes on. I am deeply faithful, and I am crass. I am deeply empathetic, and yet sometimes painfully honest. I am kindhearted but sometimes brutal. I am tender, but sometimes bitingly sarcastic. I have a deep, meaningful inner spiritual life and am very much in touch with spiritual things but sometimes I watch rated R movies. *the crowd gasps in dismay* I read scripture and say prayers every single day of my life but I also research serial killers and depraved accounts of abuse in my spare time sometimes too.
I drink Mountain Dew. A lot.
I am not ashamed of these things. These things make me a human being. These things, and more, make me unique. They make me who I am.
I am unconventional, and I had an experience last night (which I can't share) that showed me yet again that, at least with me, the Lord doesn't view my unconventional, "inappropriate," poorly mannered habits (that are a part of my personality) as a liability. He uses them to bless the lives of others, sometimes in very profound ways. God doesn't want me to fit into some cookie cutter picture of human perfection. He wants me to be me. That is a line from my patriarchal blessing even. I am told to "reach out in love" and to "be myself" as I interact with others.
The truth is, I come by these things naturally--perhaps even genetically. I come from a long line of amazing individuals with profound connection to God. And I also come from progenitors who are crude, blunt, funny people who are unconventional and uncouth. These things are a part of my heritage, and I am not only not ashamed of them, I am proud of them.
My dad has been a bishop and in a stake presidency and worked for the church education system his entire career ending it as the Institute Director at a university, and he is the person I learned how to have a sense of humor that pushes boundaries from. He is funny and crass and compassionate. He says things some judgmental people might deem "inappropriate" and does and/or watches things some judgmental people might deem "inappropriate." Yet, do you know what he has been doing for the last 9 years of his life? Can you even begin to comprehend the level of his devotion to God and other humans? Let me fill you in: he has been taking care of my mom as she dies of Early Onset Alzheimer's. He has been with her every single day, and he has cleaned her feces and has hand fed her her meals and has watched her body and mind deteriorate even though the stress of it is literally killing his body and now half his face is paralyzed and he started going blind in one eye. He just moved into a care facility with her (even though she's not even yet 60 years old), and is doing so because he found one of the only facilities in the West that will allow him to live in the same room as her in the memory unit. He left his entire support system and moved to a tiny town in Idaho so that he could keep the promise he made her that he will be by her side until the day she dies. He is a saint, and a man of God, and one of the best people I have ever known, and you are not going to look at me and tell me that because he has said a few swear words or told some unsavory jokes that his standing in the eyes of God is compromised because that is, if you'll pardon my french, complete and utter bullshit.
He is a whole, complete person--multifaceted and nuanced. And his crassness doesn't detract from anything. In fact, it complements his spirituality and makes him relatable and human. It is that very crassness that has allowed my dad to touch people's lives. It is that same sense of humor and crudeness that has allowed him to be human and relate to people, and touch thousands of students over his decades-long career in a way that, without his being himself, would have been unachievable.
And more importantly to my story, it is that same openness and realness and crassness that made my father relatable to me. It was what allowed a 13 year old boy to know that he could come out to his dad as a homosexual and not be judged. Do you think if my father was uptight and proper and well mannered and offended by crude words that I would have felt comfortable telling him that I was attracted to men at the age of 13? I'll answer for you: NO. It was this very openness and realness and crudeness that allowed me to be real with him, which in turn has allowed me to become the man I am today, writing these posts, saying these sometimes inspiring things that have touched you.
Don't try to put people into boxes. Don't judge people for their choice of diction (words are just words, people!) or for the things they do that are on your own, personal, culturally derived "list of things that are inappropriate but that are found nowhere in scripture that I kinda judge people for." If you do that, you will miss the boat. You will miss what humanity is really about. You will miss the diversity of our populace, and you will miss out on knowing amazing people, and it will be your loss.
In closing, I want to be very clear. On this blog, I will often write spiritual, moving things. I will also make jokes about human anatomy, and I will be crass, and I will say things I find funny. I will do it in the tradition of the Weed heritage, and I will do it because it is who I am, and I am not ashamed of who I am. On this blog, I might post pictures of balloons that look like penises, and I might say words you don't choose to use in your personal life, and I might describe truths you find to be uncomfortable in ways that are honest and graphic. I might talk about sex. I might talk about flatulence. I might say things that you find offensive. This is what my blog has always been. Heck, during its first year (2010) I held a giveaway and the prize I gave away was a vibrator that I won in a white elephant gift exchange. This stuff is not new. THIS IS HOW I ROLL. And contrary to what this person's email insinuated, I am actually no different now than I have ever been on this blog.
The logo at the top of the page here says that I am "all kinds of real." I intend to live up to that motto. I always have, and I always will. This is what allows me to be a good therapist and a good writer and a good father and a good husband and a good friend. This is who I am, and how God made me, and I know that He is most proud of me when I am fearless and bold and open and authentic and vulnerable. In this space, I plan to share who I am. I am not ashamed of who I am.
I am going to be me. Crude, crass, deeply spiritual, empathetic, nerdy, funny, happy, real me.
And if you can't stomach this idea, I will not be offended. If it's too much, please, choose to read something else for both our sakes! Seriously, no hard feelings. I get it. To each his own.
You might feel pretty open minded and chill, but chances are that one of these days, I'm going to make the joke or say the thing that offends you. But if you're game, I invite you stay. If you're open, I invite you to sit with with me, and sit with your discomfort. I invite you to challenge your own notions of propriety and your assumptions about manners and what makes a good person. I invite you to continue to challenge your ideas of sexuality. I invite you to ask yourself what theses things really mean to you, and I invite you to sit with more complexity and ambiguity. But most of all, I invite you--each one of you--to continue to be a part of this beautiful community of imperfect people living good, solid lives and sharing with each other because, though I've been absent for a few months, it is one of the most rewarding communities in my life.
Thanks for being there guys.
(Oh, and PS, don't forget about the deflated balloon contest! *crickets chirp*)