This week my friend Ryan shared with my the following post:
I was sitting at the DMV, registering the new car we had just bought and I was reading this jaw-on-the-ground. If you ever want to know what it’s like in the mind of (as my friend Wendi put it), a batshit crazy person, this is a fascinating article. Someone so terrified by the “normalization of homosexuality,” that she is seeing it everywhere.
As I read this insane (and repetitive) rant it wasn’t that her points were completely lost on me. Most everything she points out I can actually see. But it made me start thinking about all Disney movies. Are they not almost ALL about someone with a “difference” about him or her? The struggle to either come to terms with who they are, or teach the people around them that they may be different, but that doesn’t make them dangerous (or stupid, or evil, etc.), rages on in every Disney movie.
Was the real point of Dumbo that this “difference” that the other elephants hated and thought of him as “less than,” for what turned out to be his greatest gift. And he figured it all out, and his power came to fruition after a drunken night of his friend riding him. Now THAT’S gay…
Bambi was a story about how a child with an absent father and a mother who died grew up to be ok. Is this a story that was meant as the ultimate “cute” allegory saying that a child would be fine without a mother and a father? Those families that are different are ok? What in God’s name is this world coming to?
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a guy is thought of as a “freak,” but after showing the world that his differences are what make him about the most awesome Disney character in history, the city finally accepts him. This has to be about normalizing gay, right? In this story, even government officials are working to convince him he is worthless and keep him hidden. But he finally “comes out” and defies the government and society’s general ignorance and shows them all how wrong they are.
I think the real theme Disney is trying to push is that our differences, and things assumed by society are not always correct (a ‘la Aladdin as the street rat prince, or a lion who decides shirking responsibility in hiding is the best way to protect the people he loves, from the truth of who he is and what he has done) are the things that make us great. The theme that society and popular opinion does not mean, “right.” I can’t really think of any Disney movie that doesn’t at least have a lilt around these ideas. So maybe what she’s saying is fairer than I’m giving her credit for. Not allowing idiot bigots, (who make sure to always tell you they aren’t bigots) dictate our own self-worth, but know who we are inside and never be afraid to be ourselves.
I’m going to take it one step further – as I don’t think this is a Disney-specific theme. I am pretty sure most all great stories again have strong roots in this theme. I’m going out on a limb here, but isn’t the unifying story of Christianity really solid in this same theme? The story of Jesus?
I do not really consider myself a Christian, but I don’t really consider myself not a Christian either. Maybe I’m just a commitmentphobe, but I really just like to believe in the possibility of anything, and I don’t limit myself in thinking I “know something” that I just don’t “know.” That is not to take anything away from those that do “know” a thing. If you honestly know in your heart, who Jesus was, what he did, what it meant and what is waiting for you after you die, an hold in the deepest places in your heart a reviled truth where there is no room for “maybe’s,” who am I to tell you any different? Just because I don’t feel I’ve ever “known” something like that for sure, doesn’t mean YOU haven’t! It just means I haven’t. I just always say, “I know what brings me comfort, but I don’t know for sure anything else…”
I want to be clear. This is NOT my attempt to conclude that Jesus was gay (and yes, I know there are those out there that have pushed something like this before). I personally don’t think Jesus’s sexuality, or absence of it is any more my business than it is with anyone else. We are all too focused on what people “are” or “are not.” And we focus on it because we believe it means something, but it really doesn’t. Anyway, as many of the people closest to me in my life have a great amount of faith in Jesus, and I just wanted to be clear that this was not an agnostic rant. This is my example of what I think this Well Behaved Mormon Woman would see if the story of Jesus were presented to her for the first time today.
Let’s see… A child is born and is the Son of God. So first we have a reoccurring theme throughout the story of Jesus, that beyond anything else, he was “born that way.”
Later he is baptized, an idea of essentially being “reborn” and the revelation is given of who he really is and what that actually means – he is no longer “in the closet” about his true nature.
He then goes out and becomes the quintessential rabble-rouser, and starts trying to “convert” people to his way of thinking. He is trying to “normalize” new ideas and different ways of thinking. Many called his rebellious points of view evil and saw only darkness in these ideas, but staying true to who he knew he was, he fought societies view of him knowing what was really true – even though it was not generally accepted.
Then “the people,” find his attempt to change traditions with these new scary teachings (you know, love and kindness, an taking care of those less fortunate than you) to be so fearful they have to get rid of him. After sticking with his guns, because he wouldn’t let society dictate him to be anything other than what he knew he was, he is arrested and tortured. Even a close friend denies he even knows him because of the shame he feels in regards to standing up to a wider held societal belief. But in his heart he knows “it gets better.”
He carries his cross (literally) to his own death where again he lets no amount of pain and suffering allow him to know anything more than who he is and what he is worth. Even the impending knowledge of death will not change his own self-worth as he knows this is who he was born to be, and knows that he is right. The ongoing ending is that not only does he continue to change minds with his wild ideas of right and wrong, but through time the “traditions” that so many were terrified would change – did. For the better and they continue today. A story that defies that simply “traditional” doesn’t mean “right.” Hmmmm… Let’s think on that for a moment…
Really though, I’m curious – how would this Well Behaved Mormon Woman view this story if she saw it for the first time today. Of course there is the Catch-22 that without knowing this story, she wouldn’t be a “Christian,” and probably wouldn’t have much to say about a movie based on the story The Snow Queen – gay or not. But that aside, what story can’t be twisted into being an advocacy of what you fear. As Freud said it once, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” When we start to see only darkness in even that which is only good and pure, we start to become a less like Jesus, and a more like those who feared and opposed him.
Our story begins where I guess it’s not supposed to – online. I was told that the only people online were freaks, so I knew right where I was going! That is where after 2 years of bad, one-time dates I found mikeypoo18 (he’s going to kill me for telling anyone this). He was an adorable little blonde that had a smile that could shame the sun. In fact, I’m pretty sure that every year just before winter hits, he runs up to Alaska, gives that little smile and a wink, and hence the beginning of the months where the sun only dares to shine for moments a day. It’s like solar-tag.
We chatted online for a few weeks and decided to meet. I was trying to work around my school schedule and I said, “How about Thursday?” He said, “That would be… Uh… wait… Are you available any other night?” I said, “Well, I’m trying to work around my work and school schedule – are you already busy Thursday?” He said, “Well… The American Idol Finale is that night – it’s Justin and Kelly!!!” I wasn’t sure whether I should laugh or cry. Was I being spurned for effing American Idol? Really? Then he said, “What about after? We could meet at like 9:30 – if you don’t mind being up a little late.” Whew! At least Justin and Kelly weren’t going to keep him all night. I agreed. I decided to figure out what the hell T9 was and started sending some of my very first texts, and sat down to watch American Idol for the first time, cheering on Kelly – at first because that’s who he liked and I didn’t want to immediately be at odds with him! But after Justin took stage for the first time I decided I didn’t like his hair, so I was on Team Kelly all the way.
The end of the show came torturously slow, but when it was over, we decided to meet in the most romantic spot in the city. The Smith’s parking lot. He came and picked me up and we drove around the valley looking for a good place to have a cup of coffee and chat. We kept getting sidetracked and finding places we wanted to go were closed. We didn’t want to go to Denny’s for a first date – we needed somewhere really classy! Like… the Target parking lot. We got out of the car and sat on the grassy median in front of Barnes & Nobel (which I didn’t know then, but I now blame for the book hoarding that has taken place in our home). We started talking and it just flowed so naturally. Anyone that knows me knows I can talk the rabbit ears off a TV set, but often I found myself stumped for conversation on dates, because many of the cute guys I met were…. Well, stumps… But not this time. It was like we were best friends that hadn’t seen each other for a few years and were just catching up since… Well, birth. In fact, our initial conversation never stopped. Each time we see each other again, we just pick up where we’ve left off and it’s the best 12-year conversation I’ve ever had. We talked until almost 5 am, and then headed to our respective homes to get ready for work. I’ve never been so excited to be tired before!
In my teens to early twenties, I had gotten mixed up in meth. With the help of my parents, I asked to go to rehab and spent over a year inpatient working on myself. I was terrified when he found out my history he would run screaming. But he told me how powerful he thought that was… We went several other times, and spent a lot of weekends together. I wasn’t yet sure this was going where I’d wanted it to. We’d been out several times and so far it felt like he might only be interested in being just friends. I was hoping for more, but knew that friends like that were hard to come by (and by “friends like that” I mean, people who will let me dominate a conversation for weeks on end). But my sobriety anniversary was coming up, so I told him I was pretty sure it was federal law that I was required to be taken out on a date to celebrate being clean for 3 years. He picked me up and took me to dinner and to see “Signs.” All of a sudden in the car, he leaned over and kissed me for the first time. I thought my heart was going never going to stop racing! He said, “You really are amazing… And a good kisser too! Bonus!”
We decided to move in and a few months later we bought a house in Sugarhouse. After being there for a little over a year, he kept telling me he hoped someday we could have a wedding. He knew it wasn’t a legal thing, but really wanted to have a wedding. All I could think was I didn’t want to do it until it was recognized by law. But it was so important to him. I’ll admit it sounded like a big hassle to me, but how could I deny him anything. A few days before Christmas, I talked to his dad and asked him permission to marry his son. Mike, coming from a very traditionally LDS family, and his father being a very faithful member, I wasn’t sure how he was going to react. He looked a little confused at first, but then said, “I think that’s really nice. Of course.” I proposed to Mike on Christmas and started getting ready. I think there was a really “guy” part of me that just wasn’t initially big on the whole wedding thing, but as we started planning things and talking about dates I started getting more and more excited!
I asked him what date he wanted to pick. He said, “Well, you took your life back on 9/10 – so then we had our first kiss on 9/10, 3 years later. It’s now 3 years after our first kiss, so let’s keep the anniversaries the same! We decided to marry on 9/10. We had a beautiful wedding with friends and family – speeches and readings – rings and stomping glasses – food and dancing – everything either of us had ever wanted!
3 years later they announced that California had just legalized gay marriage. Mike happened to be at training in California for work. I was supposed to be going to Chicago for my job in a few days, so I changed my ticket to fly out of LAX instead of Salt Lake and bought a one-way ticket right away to LA. And there on the first day a gay couple could get married without having to be a resident of the state, we were married in shorts and t-shirts and the dumpiest little wedding chapel in LA, with the sweetest minister who was overjoyed to be marrying his first gay couple!
This last year, in 2013 I came back from a work Christmas party and was perusing Facebook when I saw the post that Utah had just… Wait, what? No… Yup! They did it. They are issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples in… Where? Oh yeah, Utah! I ran down to pick up Mike, it was about 4:30 and we were in North Salt Lake. I said, “Mike? You want to get married here in our home state? Would you marry me again?” My incredibly long lashes, that have got me a lot in life, hypnotizing him into submission. He looked tenderly at me and said, “Can we do it Monday?” He obviously was not paying attention to my lashes. I mean seriously, they go on for days. I batted a little faster. He said, “Honestly, I just don’t think we’ll make it! We can’t just do it Monday?” I said, “Actually, I don’t know. We might not. Let’s run down! It’s spontaneous! If it’s too late, we can celebrate with others that were able to marry today! We have to be there!” He must have finally started nodding off to the metronoming rhythm of the lashes of destiny because he finally said; “I’ll leave it up to you.” OH JOY! Whoever says romance never dies was… Well… Let’s just say they never got married 3 times.
Once we got to the courthouse, we got in line and he started to get more excited knowing they were going to stay open for a little longer! We made it through the line, and our friend Connie was there to marry us! I called my friend Jaymi and asked if she could come down and be a witness. We had lost touch before our first wedding and she wasn’t able to be there. She and her daughter rushed down and we got married! In Utah! When Connie asked if I would take Mike, to be my husband – I blurted out, “THREE TIMES!” Before we knew it – we were married again – but this time, in our home.
We had our kiss on my 3rd anniversary. We had our wedding on our 3rd anniversary. 3 years later, we were married legally. In 2013 we were married for the 3rd time. Without even trying, our magic number is 3. And Mike hates that I tell everyone his reaction to my asking him to marry me again on Dec. 20th, 2013. But I remind him, I had near the same reaction for our first wedding – this is how I know it’s the last one we’ll ever need.
We are both from Utah. We were raised to value family, and love. And raised that when you love someone, you marry them, and create a whole new family. We didn’t get married for political reasons, or just for tax protections. We got married because we have many of the values that being raised in Utah were instilled within us – even if it isn’t exactly how many people saw those values being upheld. We are celebrating 12 years this September 10th. Not just 12 years of being together – but 12 years of the continuing conversation that I’m certain will last 3 lifetimes.
Since the legalization of gay marriage has been sweeping the nation and hit none other than…. Utah? Yes – Utah… I’ve seen a lot of people, mostly politicians stating, “Now, I’m not homophobic, but I am afraid of what this will mean to traditional marriage and families across the nation. We need to protect children!” While not a direct quote – something like this keeps getting repeated over and over until I’m dizzy.
We all watch arguments thrown one way, “It’s in the Bible! It’s unnatural! It’s against Christ!” And then we see them thrown the other way, “It’s a mis-translation! (or more commonly), Yeah, so is eating shellfish or sex before marriage, or eating meat on Friday! It’s as natural as anything; homosexuality exists in other species as well! Christ never said anything about homosexuality! There are a million ‘rules’ in the Bible, most of which are no longer adhered to – you can’t pick and choose! Christianity means you follow the teaching of Christ, and since Christ never said anything on this (that is recorded) you can’t say…” blah blah blah.
Now, these are all fine arguments, but I’m not here to debate this. Some believe it’s wrong, some believe it’s right, some believe it’s wrong, but it’s also wrong to try and make laws about it, and some don’t care. I’m not here to fight on it – since I’m “gay married” I think it’s pretty clear where I stand on this. What I want to go over is the statement, “Now, I’m not homophobic, but…”
First of all, as I think we all learned in about third grade, when you say “but…” you negate everything you just said before it. Is it a technicality? Sure, but let’s be honest – you are homophobic. “No I am NOT! I don’t hate gay people! I just think marriage is between a man and a woman!” Ok – fair enough. You and Sarah Palin have at least one token gay friend so you can tell the world you like gays. Or maybe you mean it from the bottom of your heart. You really do love and support gay rights, and even support a “something” that gives all the same rights as marriage, but just isn’t called “marriage” because that’s between a man and a woman. Let’s say that, for arguments sake. When we ask “But why make it such an exclusive club?” The answer ranges from “Because it’s against God,” to “Because it could open the doors to polygamy (bestiality, pedophilia, incest, or whatever thing that has nothing to do with the conversation, but can be scary enough words to some that it grabs their attention).
We should also define “phobia.” It’s a “fear of…” No, I know – you want to put a bunch of qualifiers on it. “No, it means an IRRATIONAL fear! I’m not being irrational!” Well, most of the time, people who have irrational fears, don’t KNOW they are irrational. But even if they do, that isn’t what “phobia” means. It simply means, “fear of…” Seriously, look it up.
So let’s break down the first part of the statement. “Now, I’m not homophobic, but I am afraid of what this will mean to traditional marriage and families across the nation.”
First, the “but,” does negate what you just said, technicality or no. You state you have no “phobia” of “homo’s” but are afraid (or phobic) of what it will mean. The “it” you refer to is “homosexual’s” and their ability to form a legal relationship. So if you “fear what it will mean…” in any way, then you are homophobic! I don’t mean that as a sling – just a statement of rationality. You are afraid of something, or fear what it means for… Whatever. But that’s a fear and it stems from something being done by homosexuals, so however you want to twist it, you ARE homophobic. Don’t worry, I’m vaginaphobic. I don’t hate them, I don’t think their rights should be denied – they just scare me.
Here is the reality. If you are saying traditional marriage will be changed, you may be right. If traditional marriage means it is only limited to a man marrying a woman, then you are correct! It’s being changed! Of course, not for the first time, but that’s again another big argument that both sides has too many stock answers and responses to bother repeating here. But yes, I admit it! Depending on how you define “traditional marriage,” that is changing. How that affects YOUR marriage, of course is totally up to you. It doesn’t have to change anything, but you can let it. If you now see your marriage as worth less than it was 10 years ago, then I guess it did effect your marriage – now you have to ask yourself not only why, but why did you allow it to? Anything only has the meaning you yourself give it, so in this case, you must have taken something away from the meaning you gave it in the first place. But again, your statement is true. In 50 years when people talk about a “traditional marriage,” they will most likely be saying, “you know, between 2 people.”
The second half of the statement of course is, “We need to protect children!” Now you have moved from simply stating your phobia about traditional marriage being changed to trying to project a new fear onto others. Again, this is a wonderful buzzstatement that get’s people’s attention. And it’s VERY effective!
“We need to stop the use of GMO’s – we have to protect the children!”
“Public schools are not meeting the needs of children – we have to protect them!”
“Gay’s getting married will be too confusing to kids – I just want to protect the kids!”
Seriously though – can you think of a wedge issue where some politician (on either side of the isle) has not brought up why we need to fear it, because we cannot know yet what it will do to children? Or maybe even state the DO know what it will do to children (and it ain’t good – to be sure).
There are of course legitimate things to be worried about for children, for adults, for society, and everything that surrounds it. But this statement has started to throw a red flag for me, towards whoever is making the statement. Pay REALLY close attention to the arguments that follow this statement, given by anyone. They almost always follow up with something like, “This could cause irreparable harm!” or maybe “We don’t know how this could impact them.” Well… Damn! Could? Might? Don’t know? How do we make arguments about what we don’t even know? Does the argument that it “hurts kids,” really have any peer-reviewed study proving that? There are of course things we KNOW hurts kids. If you punch a kid in the face, I’m pretty damn sure, it will hurt them. And thus, there is a law against adults punching kids in the face. Right? We can PROVE this hurts kids. There are (too many) medical and psychological, peer-reviewed studies, not to mention kids themselves who are, or have been subjected to abuse that can tell their stories and we have a reason to legislate that. But since when do we make laws about what we don’t and CAN’T know? So far I have heard thousands of stories from kids, straight and gay that talk out about what it was like having gay parents. The only thing I’ve ever heard that was really common in the negative, was sometimes they were teased at school, or were made fun of, maybe called “gay,” themselves. That is for sure unfortunate. But I was made fun of because I was fat. I made fun of a girl with red hair. Kids make fun of kids for anything they perceive as different, right? And that usually stops around 3rd grade. So the only real danger for kids that I’ve ever heard actually comes at the hands of… Oh what? That’s right – another kids’ homophobia…
I was watching Chocolat the other night, and saw a very interesting (though fictional) account of a small society that decided they could legislate morality. Not morality that harms other (like abuse, murder, theft, etc.), but someone’s beliefs about how things should and should not work. Instead of letting people follow their hearts and out of experience, or the strength of their own faith, make their own decisions, they tried to operate within the law but at the same time project their own fears onto others and expect everyone to comply. Everyone of course kind of puts on the “show” that they believe that too! Because who wants to rock the boat? But behind closed doors, they really just do whatever they want anyway. When things aren’t working the way Count wants them to, he helps to write a speech to the congregation. The priest states something along the lines about how these indulgences can hurt children.
The funny thing is – I don’t think anyone who has watched this movie or read the book would say, “Oh the Count was being totally reasonable!” It’s a pretty slanted view of woman who moves into town, opens a shop that the Count thinks may tempt people… If they can be tempted from a solid belief, how solid is that belief really? He wants her out and when he really has no legal basis for stopping her, he invokes the phrase that will catch everyone’s attention. “…the children.” Because there are very few in this world that WANT to hurt children! We ALL want to protect them! Anyway, we watch the movie, we hiss at the Count, we see him for what he is, a fear-monger, and all laugh while the town hides their true feelings about the whole situation and circumvents him at every turn until he finally breaks down and goes nuts eating all the chocolate he can get his hands on. But really… How different is this that the subject at hand?
“What would the founding fathers say?” Thomas Jefferson stated that homosexuals should be castrated. “Ah ha!” you think! SEE? They would never have wanted this for our country!!! You are probably correct. They also all owned slaves and I don’t think they would have wanted to see any freedoms or rights for blacks either. Nor women. The bottom line really is, what the founding fathers WOULD want to see, and they framed the greatest documents ever crafted in a way where we as a society can change things, and make revisions as society moves through different phases of learning.
Let’s say all gay marriage is legalized everywhere and indeed we were all so very wrong. A hole opens up in the middle of the earth, and all the light in this world starts to pour in and vanish. Children and running around banging into each other and can no longer tell which way is up and which is down. Everything opponents of gay marriage stated was correct! And hellfire is now raining down upon the earth, children are no longer protected and existence is now in limbo… In the most simplistic terms, everything can be reversed. We have a history of experiments with laws. You make a law, an act, or something and if it works, you keep watching and make refinements as needed. If it doesn’t work and it’s doing something bad, it can be overturned and new laws put in place to protect people. So the real red herring of this whole argument is that it couldn’t possibly be undone if indeed it really did start to tear at the very fabric of reality.
Maybe a more accurate “phobia” that is had by the gay marriage opponents would be that of Metathesiophobia… The fear of change. But to stay still because of that fear, is maybe the most irrational fear of all. If we never change, we never learn and to me, the halt of growing and learning and knowing more tomorrow than we know today would be a tragedy that would rival most any other I can think of. The tragedy of complacency is terrifying. And really, if we allow this to happen, who will protect the children?
So… As most have heard by now, Utah… Yes – Utah, is now the 18th State in the US to recognize gay marriages. I would never say, “…the 18th State to approve gay marriage,” because that is not the case (though I’ve seen several write-up’s stating that). My prediction was that we would be around the 50th State to approve it – but more likely just hold until a Federal Act forced the issue… But in this case, Amendment 3 was overturned by a Federal Judge.
Anyway, this isn’t about news – it’s about ME. I mean, after all a blog is a totally self-indulgent tool. It’s my assumption that anyone cares what I have to say about anything. Generally my posts just hit Facebook – but on the occation to say something wordier, I have this… Again, I don’t know too many blogs that aren’t totally self-involved, but I read other people’s posts on their blogs as I am also totally nosy. I assume there are at least a few that hit my page NOT totally by accident (or a mistype) that are curious. My server stats show my traffic only increases on the days I post these blogs to Facebook, LOL so it’s a little redundant, I still enjoy it – again – it’s all about me.
Anyway! Now that gay marriage is legal in Utah (for now), we went and got married again! I felt a little guilty as there were people who had been waiting for years or decades. I felt like since we were already married in California, we really already had this… We had a wedding here in Utah in 2005. Then got it legalized in California in 2008. But we were both born and raised in Utah and having a Utah Certificate was important to us. Because of this, we ran down, stood in line – took up a spot and got it all done the same day! It was a wonderful and romantic evening!
I of course like to keep these things copied here so I have a copy of the articles we are ever featured in… In this case, we are NOT in this story (I don’t know why – everyone wants to here about ME! I’m just SURE of it!). We are however featured in the photo gallery – so I wanted to post it here 🙂
From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Utah’s first same-sex nuptials both historic and personal
Near the end of a long line, Vanessa Vanderburg and Katie Turner wait outside the Salt Lake County clerk’s office with their arms wrapped around each other. Every time they are jostled by a camera crew, by a politician, by another couple — by the general chaos that is their wedding day — they jostle in unison.
As Friday’s ruling against Utah’s gay marriage ban raises loud questions about civil rights, state’s rights and family values, Vanessa and Katie quietly embrace. They aren’t here to make a statement. They’re here to make a promise.
‘It just felt right’ » That marriage is a big step in Vanessa and Katie’s relationship may go without saying. But the 100-plus couples waiting in line represent 100-plus relationships, all in different stages.
Vanessa and Katie are typically young, blushing Utah brides. At 19 and 20, they began dating seven months ago. Talk of marriage started only two months later — “It just felt right,” Vanessa says — and this week they were tentatively planning a summer ceremony in New Mexico, where Vanessa’s family lives. The conversation was precipitated in part by the engagement ring Katie ordered Thursday as a surprise for Vanessa.
Gripping the marriage-license application on Friday, Vanessa still doesn’t know about the ring.
Other couples around them are in very different places. Ahead of them in line, Lisa and Valerie Lanoue had a ceremony a year ago, on the fifth anniversary of their first date. Just behind them in line, Corey and Trish North are raising children together. They had planned to marry in California but were reluctant because their 6-year-old son and two daughters, ages 6 and 10, would not be able to make the trip. On Friday, the whole family is together, which matters way more than the fact that Corey and Trish are wearing, respectively, a hoodie and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles T-shirt.
More than paper » It takes more than 2½ hours for Katie and Vanessa to reach the clerk’s desk. Office staff members are growing weary after processing more than 120 marriage licenses and keeping doors open well after normal business hours.
A screen at the front desk lights up with a certificate showing Vanessa and Katie’s names. The two women gasp and fall into a hug.
This is real.
Of course, Lisa and Valerie Lanoue say, these relationships were real beforehand. One of the hazards of making history is that the event can eclipse commitments that were meaningful in their own right. The Lanoues’ wedding Friday is a modest do-over of last year’s ceremony; their best friend is officiating again, and a few relatives have dashed out to witness. This time, though, the vow is between the state and the couple.
“This is our right,” Lisa says. “It’s more than a piece of paper. It’s everything from taxes to hospital visitation to Social Security.”
“And adoption!” a sister-in-law pipes up. “I want them to adopt!”
For Corey and Trish North, the wedding is all about the children. When they kiss at the end of the ceremony, their three children promptly burst into heckling “ooooohs” and smoochie sounds. Their 6-year-old daughter imitates her mothers, grabbing her now-stepbrother in an exaggerated embrace.
The Norths’ wedding hasn’t just made history, it has made a family.
Years of waiting » What all of the couples in line share is urgency. Vanessa and Katie learned of the federal court ruling and borrowed a car to drive from Roy at 4:05 p.m., less than an hour before Salt Lake County would cut off the line of applicants. All wedding planning went to the back burner.
“We can do that still,” Katie says. “We just didn’t want to wait and then, on Monday morning, find out it’s over.”
The Utah attorney general’s office has requested an emergency stay halting same-sex weddings while it appeals the ruling. If the federal court grants the stay, it could be months or years before gay couples can marry in Utah again. The line began forming at the clerk’s office almost immediately; Michael Ferguson and Seth Anderson were at their business, The Queen’s Tea, when they heard the news just after 2 p.m. They closed up shop, ran to the clerk’s office and became the first same-sex couple legally married in the Beehive State.
Katie and Vanessa get in just under the wire. After a sheriff’s deputy herds them into the clerk’s office, the door is shut. The crowd protests.
“We haven’t been waiting for ‘a few hours!’” one woman shouts. “We’ve been waiting for years.”
Behind the crowd, Terri Henry and Penny Kirby are crestfallen. The Springville couple rushed to Salt Lake County after the Utah County clerk’s office denied them a license.
“They gave us this instead,” Terri says, holding out a letter in which Clerk Bryan Thompson explains that he knows the gay-marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional, but he will not issue licenses to same-sex couples until he receives further clarification from the state.
“Then we watched them give marriage licenses to two straight couples,” Terri says, starting to cry. Penny holds her hand.
Promise to love » A woman who goes by Rev. Heron stands outside the clerk’s office, wearing a rainbow scarf and holding a sign advertising, “FREE OFFICIANT.” Katie and Vanessa cuddle in front of her for the ceremony.
“I promise to love you
in frailty and in health,
in plenty and in poverty,
in life and beyond
where we will meet, remember, and love again.”
None of the normal wedding stuff is there. The brides are wearing jeans and T-shirts. Their photographer is some guy holding a cellphone. Rev. Heron snags two strangers to sign as witnesses. Someone shoves a white flower into Vanessa’s hand.
“You are now bound together in sacred union,” Rev. Heron announces.
Vanessa and Katie share a long kiss and hold each other tight. Katie finally confesses that the ring has been ordered.
Vanessa freezes and covers her mouth with her hands.
“I bought it yesterday so I could officially propose,” Katie explains.
Vanessa’s eyes fill with tears. So much of their wedding day has been defined by the outside world: set into motion by a judge’s order, made frantic by state legal action, held up by some as a symbol of equality, decried by others as a sign of degeneracy, examined, fought over, picked apart. All day, Vanessa and Katie have held onto each other through a flurry of other people’s interests.
But the ring is just between Katie and Vanessa. It means nothing more or less than love.
Original Article Posted at:
So… As so many Christmas stories start, I was working at the local bathhouse because I had run away from home to become a homeless meth addict. I know, it’s so cliché, but that really is the setting! Of course legally it’s a “gym” but I had a few very simple jobs. I checked members in, gave them a towel and was supposed to make sure that in all the “lounge areas,” people were doing just that – no funny stuff (after all, this is a Utah bathhouse). The only place anything else was allowed was in the steam room. After it closed at 4 am, I would clean everything including dusting the weights that never got used.
People often asked me, “You’re parents must be awful to where this is the better choice…” And they were! They wanted me to like, get a job and stuff, and not do drugs. I mean, really? Obviously they are boring people with jobs and pay taxes and do stuff like that. That’s not me. I’m a “free spirit.” But as the holidays approached I got a little sentimental watching nothing but Lifetime TV since the bathhouse didn’t have any porn. They just kept the TV’s on Lifetime (seriously – again, this is Utah). I called my mom to ask how things were going. We talked for a while and she asked me if she could spend Christmas with me. I was feeling so happy talking to her I told her I would be happy to and gave her the address to the gym. I hung up and immediately recalculated everything in my head and just realized I told my mom to come pick me up at the bathhouse I was staying at. The job didn’t really pay anything, but I got tips, and I got a free room. I was about to call her back and cancel but then thought, “It’s my mom… From Utah. She won’t even know what a bathhouse is! She’ll pick me up during the day, the place is closed, and it’s not a “dirty” place, no naked pictures, no anything that says ‘seamy,’ except when people are there.”
Christmas day came around and my mom and dad showed up. I was the only one at the gym, so I left the door open. They came in and looked around. “So… This is where you are, uh… now living?” I said, “Yup! It’s great! I can… You know, work out, and stay healthy… Uh… And, you know, they let me live in the back and… Uh… I can, ya know… Get my life together and stuff…” My mom had her nose wrinkled up as she scanned the den of sin that I was so sure revealed nothing of what it really was. It’s funny when you start looking at things through someone else’s eyes, but you can’t prior to them actually seeing it. Yes, it all looked so innocent until my mom was looking at the giant bowl of condoms just below the poster of the twink wrapped in a rainbow flag reminding everyone to “play safe.” I jumped in, “It’s kind of a gay themed gym, but the members are really nice! Shall we go?”
We drove along and I said “Where are we going?” My mom turned around and said, “I thought we could do Christmas like we used to…” She looked like she was going to cry. “…you know, just how we did when you were a kid.” That meant we were going skiing! I actually loved skiing but hadn’t been in years. We drove up and they rented me some skis and boots and we hit the hill. I made some runs by myself; I rode the lift up a few times with my mom, and a few times with my dad. They told me what was going on in their lives, but it was really civil chit-chat. After we were done they wanted to go to dinner. I said, “I don’t think anywhere will be open on Christmas day.” My mom kind of laughed and said, “Were you not paying attention every time we watched, ‘A Christmas Story?’ We go get Chinese!” I couldn’t stop laughing!
We found a small place on State Street that had an open sign in the window. We headed in to this lonely little dive and sat down and my parents ordered a family dinner special. It was served and I thanked them for a wonderful Christmas day. It had been a lot of smiles and fun. Really, the best day I’d had in a while. My mom looked at me seriously and said, “I don’t know what to do.” I kinda knew what was coming but played dumb. “About what?” She said, “Your life… Oh sweetie. You are such a sweet kid! You are smart and talented and I want you back in our lives! But I can’t have you bring your… lifestyle around our home.” I froze. “What!!?? You have a problem with me being gay?” She started laughing through her tears, “Oh honey, no… Never… It’s the drugs. We can’t be around you when you are on drugs. And… And now you work at a bathhouse?” I would have frozen again if I had ever started moving since the last time. “It’s… it’s a gym…” “Jeremy, I know what a bathhouse is, and while this is the first one I’ve seen, I know one when I see it. This cannot be a good environment for you! I want you to be happy, but I want you to be healthy! I DON’T WANT TO LOSE YOU!” She was loud and crying and my heart was pounding out of my chest. My dad, always the quiet one just put his arm around me and pulled me in. He was crying too. “I.. I… I’m not… I….” was all I could stammer. My dad said, “We went to Les Misérables. It was beautiful. But when they sang ‘Bring Him Home,’ we held each other and cried. You have such a reckless life! You… You have to take care of yourself! We want to bring you home… But we can’t.” My dad, who I had only ever seen cry one other time was bawling. I lost it. I’m sure we were the most interesting portrait to see for the owners of this little establishment. The family that came in for Christmas dinner, started cry-yelling, and ended up in a big mess of tears. Merry Christmas!
After dinner they drove me back to the gym, we were all quiet. I got out and said, “I love you both. Merry Christmas and thank you again.” My mom jumped out and wrapped her arms around me. And she hissed in my ear, “You be safe. Make good choices. You are my baby…” My face had two perfect streams of ice on my cheeks, getting thicker and thicker because the tears wouldn’t stop. I went inside and locked everything up. I went into one of the lounge rooms and turned on the TV. It was the 24 hours of “A Christmas Story.” I laughed and then started crying again. I curled up on the couch and watched it the last 3 times it was on repeat. That night I gave my parents a Christmas present. The whole day we were out, I kept fiending for the little stash I had in my room, but just kept saying, “That’s your Christmas Present! Don’t open it early! It would suck to get high and then have to try and act ‘not high’ around the fam… Just wait until tonight and then you can just let loose and enjoy it!” That night, my gift to my parents was I didn’t use it. I couldn’t sleep. I wanted it. I just kept thinking about it and there were about 100 times that evening where I almost broke. But I didn’t. I just kept thinking of my parents. They were so sad. They weren’t mad at me, they didn’t hate me. They just… Were so worried. I knew that they left and still worried about me, but I wanted to give them one night. Just one… One night where they had nothing to be worried about. I knew they wouldn’t know about it, but it was the only gift I felt I had.
It took about 2 years after that Christmas, but I finally made that gift permanent.
Jeremy and Mikey
By 2002 I had spent the last two years going on an endless string of bad dates. Eighty percent of the time, within three minutes of the beginning of the date I realized I had no interest in the person I had just met. Twenty percent of the time I was extremely excited to be with the person I had just met. That is, until I tried to set up the second date and found out I was part of his 80 percent. Prior to hitting the dating market I was in rehab for a crystal meth addiction. I spent 13 months trying to put my life back together. I know, how sexy would that have been to hear on a first date?
“Hi! Not but a few years ago I was a homeless meth addict – but even though the odds are that I will always be at risk of being a loser again, I think you should take a chance on me!”
Regardless, I actually had many things back on track – I was in school working on my bachelor’s degree, I had a job, and damn it, I was 23, hot and looking for love.
I was terrified of bars and clubs. I had spent so much time getting high in my old life while at those bars and clubs. People asked, “Where do you look for guys?” After I said I met men online, the guffaws were not far behind.
People would always tell me, “No wonder you keep ending up in bad dates!” But where was a guy who was scared of bars and clubs supposed to go to meet guys? I just didn’t know. Online was the only place I knew!
One day I saw a profile of a cute, blonde, smiling guy named Mikeypoo18. I figured he would be the next in my 20 percent and I had to give it a shot. I sent him a “wink.” Winks were safe – if they never winked back, you hadn’t exactly put your heart on the line – it was just to see if there was any interest. A few days later, I got a wink back! We spent about a week emailing back and forth – then another week on messenger. I was so excited to meet him. I asked if we could meet on a particular day. His response? “Uhhhh, I want to – but that’s the American Idol finale…” WHAT? I still tease him about that to this day – he swears the only reason he put it off was because he was having a finale party that was already set up – but it still makes him blush every time I tease him.
After the finale was over, he came and picked me up. We had no idea where to go, so we drove around for an hour trying to decide where to go. After we couldn’t decide on a place, and places were closing down – we decided to go sit on the lawn outside of a Barnes and Noble and just talk. We kept talking and, before we knew it, it was 4 a.m. We set up a second date and I realized ,no matter the percentages, I had just found the only one that mattered.
On Sept. 10, 2002, I was celebrating my third anniversary of sobriety and told him he was required to take me out. We went to dinner and a movie and, on this date, we had our first kiss. I started to joke the next year as I was having my fourth anniversary of sobriety that it was my fourth/first anniversary — four years clean, one year since our relationship was sealed with a kiss. Christmas of 2004, I wanted to keep the anniversaries together, and Christmas morning, I proposed on one knee with a diamond ring that we get married on Sept. 10, 2005. We both cried and hugged and he agreed to be my husband.
On my sixth/third anniversary, we got married at the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake. Three years later, just before my nine years sober, six years with Mikey and three years of marriage, we had the opportunity to get married during the short window California allowed gay marriage prior to Proposition 8. We went to Los Angeles and got married again. This year we will be celebrating our 14th/11th/eighth/fifth anniversary! In case you lost count, that is 14 years clean, 11 years since we first kissed, eight years since our wedding and five years since we got legally married in California. Someday they will allow adoption here in Utah and both of us are excited to have a child. We’ll have more and more numbers to add on to our ever-growing string of anniversary celebrations.
We have lived in Eagle Mountain for the last six years and nothing is perfect and smooth. We have had rough times and arguments, but we have always stood by each other and worked through everything. We have been through unemployment and tight budgets, but we have never had a lack of love and support. While we have a lot of anniversaries to celebrate, our favorite to remember is our wedding in 2005 – surrounded by friends, and family and a chance to have the dream wedding neither of us thought would ever come. And all the percentages? I found 100 percent of what I want and need in my Mikeypoo.
Ok! Here it is – the end of the year… Or is it just the beginning? This month doesn’t show a lot of loss from the 1st to the end – but the low I hit on the 15th puts my total loss at 63 lbs!
And really – I knew this month would be a little more difficult with Christmas and New Years, work parties, family parties, friend parties, all that jazz… I actually didn’t really cheat this whole month other than the fact that again there was not a full 5 days between one carb nite and then Christmas. I thought I had it planned out better, but made the mistake and still ate on Christmas – who cares?
Again, with the 6 month at a time limit Kiefer has stated for the CNS diet, I didn’t dare drop off and kept going through 7 months. I still have a ways to go, but am more than half way to goal! I don’t know exactly if that is my goal or not – I decided I just needed this magic number in my head – the goal is 100 lbs. Once I hit that, I will look and see, “Am I happy with this weight? Do I want to keep going?” Who knows – maybe at 240, I’ll look and say, “Wow! I’m effing hot! I’m going to stay right here!” But I wanted a goal when I started this, so 100 lbs is what I said – that would put me at 220…
I decided for my “one month break” I don’t want to take a break by any means – just trying to figure out something else – so I broke down and read the CBL (Carb Back Load) book. I’m kinda confused, there are times it feels like things are contradictory – and they probably aren’t, but I feel like I really nailed down CNS after a bit of initial confusion – it’s scary to look at something new when something is working so well – but as it is working I am trusting I really need to follow this and take my month break – at least a break from CNS.
Anyway, I’m not scared of working out – I’ve wanted to get back into it for so long, but I work in benefits, and from Sept. through January, things are so busy – so as of Jan 1st, the Backload begins, and a new workout plan – I hope my guided plan is enough resistance training for the Backload to work – I just don’t want my weight to spike – I know there are some gains when reintroducing carbs in the diet (as you can see from my average 7 lb gain on 1 carb nite), but I also know it’s water – I just hate feeling like I’m going backwards. But, as Kiefer had said in CNS, “if you start to gain weight, you’ll know the secret to taking it back off…
Here goes nothing! Happy New Years all!!
|12/03/2012||268.8(After Carb Nite)|
|12/09/2012||266.4(After Carb Nite)|
|12/16/2012||265.6(After Carb Nite)|
|12/22/2012||265.0(After Carb Nite)|
|12/26/2012||265.2(After Carb Nite)|
Total Weight Loss for the Month – 0.4 lbs – Total Overall Loss 60.4 lbs.
So I got busy… I don’t mean too busy to diet, but just too busy to post… So here is my double post! I also can’t find my end of October picture, so I’ll just post one – the differences between Oct. to Dec. didn’t really show in the pictures as much, but they changed a ton in my clothes and on the scale!
This was the pic I took on my birthday – I’m still very happy with my results from The Carb Nite Diet. I’m a little nervous because the guide tells you this should be a “six month at a time” diet. They want you to take a break after 6 months, but technically that would mean taking a “break” (at least one month) during the Christmas, and I didn’t get fat because of my awesome willpower. If I break at Christmas, I fear I’ll gain and gain big… I want to follow the guide, but really there are little tweaks one has to do for any diet – books are great and plans are great, but they all assume that every day is exactly the same. I have to be careful about giving myself “allowances” because again, my fat didn’t happen by accident. I essentially “allowed” myself whatever I wanted – I tend to do this a lot in life. I know I’m not good with making choices without a plan – I could try and FORCE myself to just “make better choices,” but without a plan, I already know I won’t. Some people may say, “Well, that’s just weak-willed.” Fine! I’m weak willed… And as long as I know that, and plan accordingly, I can be strongly weak willed. Am I making any sense?
Take my financial situation – I don’t want to talk about how much I make, or exactly how much debt we are working on paying off – but for years I was very careful with credit cards. I had a few cards with a massive limit and one card with no limit. They gave me points, and/or cash back. We put everything on these cards, but only as much as we could pay off at the end of the month. That way, just paying bills I earned rewards! YAY! This worked well for quite some time. Then we started to get in a few pinches due to some changes in life – but we didn’t change our spending habits. Yes, the cards were great for us while we were living in the days of milk and honey, but having that much credit under my name when things were not so good caused a problem that we are still fighting to get out from under (but getting close to being paid off! Maybe a year to go…).
The point is – I have some willpower, but I have to have a plan. I’ve cut up all the credit cards, and designed a budget to allow us to pay our bills and pay off our debt. Initially we kept the cards assuring ourselves that we could pay everything off and still be careful – but we just spun our wheels for almost 2 years. I need a budget to keep finances under control. I have to have an eating plan to keep my weight under control… I should never be left to my own devices…
Anyway… So while I’m trying to follow the plan as closely as possible, I’ve made some “lifestyle” allowances. Once in July I had back to back carb nites. Since my birthday and Thanksgiving fall so close together, I didn’t put the required 5 days between carb nites. However, I’m pretty proud of the fact that in 6 months, these are the only two “allowances” I’ve really made for myself!
That all being said, I still don’t know what I’m going to do after November – Kiefer has another plan called “Carb-Backloading” but I am having trouble telling if this is something designed for me or not.
|10/01/2012||275.4(After Carb Nite)|
|10/08/2012||278.9(After Carb Nite)|
|10/15/2012||276.4(After Carb Nite)|
|10/22/2012||274.8(After Carb Nite)|
Total Loss for the month 5.4 lbs. Total Loss 50 lbs.
For November – here is where I’m at – I know what I’m doing for December, but I wonder what I’ll do after that…
|11/01/2012||274.0(After Carb Nite)|
|11/09/2012||271.4(After Carb Nite)|
|11/17/2012||270.0(After Carb Nite)|
|11/23/2012||267.4(After Carb Nite)|
|11/25/2012||262.6(Happy Birthday To Me!)|
|11/26/2012||269.2(After Carb Nite)|
Total Loss for the month 6 lbs – Total Overall Weight Loss 56 lbs.
Still going strong!
Things were not going exactly how I planned… In high school I had done terrible. It wasn’t that I was stupid, and it wasn’t because I was lazy – I mean, I was, but that wasn’t really the problem. I felt very lost in school. In Elementary, I had started out as what I would have considered fairly popular. I got teased because of my weight, but I wasn’t really “unpopular.” Or if I was, I didn’t really know it, and was pretty happy. Then as fourth grade approached things got a little… Different? In fourth grade a lot of my other friends started to get more serious into sports, which I really wasn’t in to. I played Little League baseball, but I remember them passing out uniforms. I was so excited! I went through all the shirts and all the pants and nothing really fit. I ended up with a shirt 2 sizes too big and the pants were 1 size too small. I looked so awkward. It’s very possible I looked awkward before, but now I was starting to become aware of it. I was ok at baseball, but I never really understood the rules to any other sports. This was the first time I really remember starting to feel awkward. I know most everyone goes through an awkward phase, but for me, this was the beginning to my feelings of lowered self-esteem.
I played soccer before I was in baseball, but I didn’t get the rules so they always put me as a guard for the goalie. I spent most of the time seeing how long I could walk on my hands rather than watching the game. At this time, I look back and others probably thought I was the “weird kid,” but I didn’t know I was weird! I was very happy, and I had fun at soccer, even if I wasn’t really playing.
As the “crowd” I had hung out with ventured more into sports and hunting with their dads, I felt more and more out of touch. My dad took me duck hunting a few times, but again, more than actually hitting a bird, I just wanted to pull the trigger. I shot at everything that moved. This is a little safer when bird hunting than say, with deer hunting because you are aiming up in the air rather than into the woods – but I don’t think the rest of the hunting party appreciated me firing off a shot every 10 minutes. My parents tried to help me find things to be interested in. I don’t know if they could sense my feelings of not fitting in, or if it was just more of them trying to find some general activities for me. My dad got me into cub scouts – I liked it, but around 4th grade, the scouts were all held at the local church. Some of the friends I had in scouts had to introduce me to the scout leaders – I got asked several times why they didn’t know me from church. I let them know I wasn’t Mormon, just a scout! They seemed to kind of… Not notice me much after that.
Now anyone that knows me will tell you I am hard not to notice. I’m not exactly a wallflower. I’m loud and crack stupid jokes and talk incessantly. In fact, half the idea for this project was so I would shut up for at least a few hours a week and talk to my computer rather than bug others with my stories. So as for scout leaders not to “notice me,” could be that they weren’t interested in having as much to do with a non-member, or it could be that I was an ultra-sensitive kid who always expected to be the center of attention and when I wasn’t I was pissed. I don’t really know, but it felt like they were not so interested in having me around. The status of not being LDS started to have a greater effect as I got older, but I had one friend that quickly went from a kid in scouts I knew to being my best friend. Of course, it was generally just in the scouts group or on the playground at school, but Michael was my best friend. One day Michael let me know his mom wanted to meet me and invited me over to his house. I was so excited! A whole afternoon with Michael – the coolest kid I knew.
I went over to his house, his mom smiled as she opened the door for us and said, “So! You must be Jeremy! Michael has told me all about you. Come in!” I walked in – this house looked fun. He had all kinds of He-Man toys and a pair of walkie talkies, they were just right in the living room! My parents did not really allow toys in the living room – at least not to be left there all day! I wasn’t sure what we were going to be doing, but I knew it was going to be awesome. Then came the question that I’d been asked a few times in my life… “So, I have never seen you at church. What ward are you in?” Once when asked this question in 1st grade, my response was, “Ward? What does that mean?” My friend’s parent explained, “Oh, it means what church do you go to?” Of course she meant which LDS building do you attend, but I enthusiastically said, “Oh! Then I go to the Unitarian ward.” I got a good laugh from them – my parents later explained more specifically what that meant – so this time I was so proud I wasn’t going to screw up. “Oh, I’m not Mormon, we go to the Unitarian Church up by the University.” You have never seen a woman’s face fall so quickly. There was no hesitation while she worked this over in her head – there was no frozen smile that slowly faded. It dropped from a pleasant smile to a near snarl so quickly my blood ran cold. “Get out.” “Uhh, what?” “GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!! GET OUT! GET OUT GET OUT!” She was insane, head shaking, hands outstretched and she bolted after me. I turned and ran, she ran after me screaming, “GET OUT AND STAY AWAY FROM MY SON! DON’T YOU EVER TALK TO HIM AGAIN!!!” She chased me across her front lawn and I was just running and screaming. I don’t think she chased me any further than her front yard, but I never turned around to look. The only thing I left behind was the tears streaming down my face – I had never been so scared.
For many years I hated Mormons – I thought this was who they were. I found out years later, this is not who they are. This was one crazy lady who did not really understand her own religion. I’ve met awful Mormons – I met wonderful Mormons – I’ve known some pretty hateful Unitarians, and found in all faiths, some are awesome, and some will always be afraid of their own shadow. But in 4th grade, this was pretty traumatic for me… There are other people in the neighborhood that had an issue with me being a friend to their kids – but this was the scariest.
As the 4th grade rolled on, I became more and more withdrawn. I felt so self-conscious of who I was. Everything started to become only something for me to want after. I had curly hair, I wanted it straight. I had a larger body, I wanted to be lean so you could see my rib cage when I sucked in my stomach. I wanted to enjoy sports, but other kids seemed to think it was more fun to make fun of me for not knowing the rules rather than teach me.
I started off being really happy with life, but as I progressed through the grades, I started feeling more and more… Stupid? I still had a few friends, but they weren’t really people I hung out with. They were people I played with at recess, but I didn’t do anything after school. Then there was Shawn. He was the bad-ass of the play-yard. He would torment me every day at recess. He would follow me around and yell “FATSO! FATSO! FATSO!” I would try and ignore him and walk away, but he wouldn’t leave me alone. One day I turned around and shoved him and said, “SKINNYO! What’s the matter? Your mom can’t afford to feed you?” He stood there in shock. “Oh! OH! That’s it fatboy…” I thought I was going to piss myself. I had never stood up for myself. I hadn’t been in a lot of situations where I’d have to – but I’d always ran away… But I felt like I had crossed a line – this was it. If he turned this on me, I would forever be in fear. I shoved him again and he tripped backwards over his feet and I pounced. I sat on his chest and pinned his arms with my knees. “Hey Skinnyo! Why don’t you leave me alone? My fatass will smash you if you don’t.” I got up and walked back into the school shaking. I was sure I’d just signed my death warrant. But other people came up to me after and said, “That was funny!” I liked it. So every day at recess from then on for about a week, when I saw him I’d scream “HEY SKINNYO! SKIIIIIINNYO! SKIIIIIIIIINNYO!!” Once he ran after me, but I ran for a minute than turned back on him, and he turned and took off the other way. One day he came up hands in his pockets and head turned down. “Hey… Can I talk to you?” I wanted to play tough so I put a slight edge in my voice and said, “Yeah, what?” “Please don’t call me skinnyo anymore. I’ll leave you alone if you leave me alone…” I said, “Fine.” It was the last time we ever interacted. Now, you may think “Wow, and this is where he learned to stand up for himself.” No… I mean, kind of? But really, what I learned was that people didn’t tease me when I made them laugh! So I kind of decided to be the class clown. Maybe I could have more friends if I was really, really funny.
I would talk out in class and make smartass remarks. I was so busy making fun of everything I often forgot to listen to what was going on. If I just stayed funny enough, people would be my friends. Now, I still went through a ton of bullying, but I also always had a few friends where I at least didn’t feel so alone. I finished school, but just barely and found out in school that even better than being funny was to have drugs, know where to get drugs, and try and be the life of the party for as long as possible… But no – things were not going as I’d planned…
My friend Eric in high school had laid out this plan for us. We were going to finish school, then be homeless for 1 year. After that we’d go to college or something, but first we were going to spend 1 year just doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. I lost touch with Eric before our plan had started, but I decided I was going to do this anyway. It would be fun! It’s an adventure! I had been on the streets for about 3 months when my dad found me sleeping on the lawn of the library and asked if he could take me home. His eyes were filled with tears and I just couldn’t see my dad cry. No – I could – but I didn’t want to be the one to make him cry. So I went home with him but I would stay out for days (sometimes weeks) at a time, running around the streets high still trying to be the life of the party. But a lot of the friends I had started to go away. A lot of them were getting their lives straight, or moving off to new places… I started to look at my life and I was falling apart. I was so sad. I wasn’t having fun anymore. I was miserable… I felt like I just wanted to die.
I sat in my room one night and decided this was it. I was done with life. I hated this so much! I wasn’t just crying – I was hysterical. I was in my bedroom in my parents basement, and I had just started crying… It started off light, but I it grew… The crying became sobbing. Then the fangs came out and were biting at me – the sobbing became hysterics. I had backed myself into the corner of the room and I couldn’t breath. Oh my god, I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t live! I can’t do this, I just can’t! PLEASE! OH MY GOD PLEASE MAKE IT STOP! My mouth had wedged itself open with sorrow and I had drool pooling off my teeth as I just screamed alone in my room. Sometimes It was a whimper, sometimes it was a scream, but I couldn’t keep breathing I just was in so much pain I thought I was going to split. My head was on fire, and I was a mess. I had snot running down my nose, and I just couldn’t seem to get a hold of myself! This was not the first of these episodes, but it was certainly the worst.
I calmed myself down a little and did one thing you just should never do. Ok, you should never do drugs anyway – but if you are going to do drugs, especially acid, you have to be in a GOOD frame of mind – not where I was at. It can intensify your emotions, so if you are where I was at, this would be a bad time… But it is actually how I calmed myself down. I started to calm down because I had found the answer. It was time to leave. I couldn’t stand it here anymore. It was time to go – but I was going to leave in a swirl of LSD induced patterned mindfuck. I took 5 hits, and knew that people would blame the drugs. Part of me wanted to leave a note to explain everything and another part of me didn’t want to bother… Let them believe what they wanted. If they wanted a warning story for others, fine – I don’t have time to explain that this is SO MUCH MORE than drugs…
I turned on some music and waited for the doses to seep into my brain – as it started, I started to feel light. I danced with a box cutter in my hand in my room. I would soon be free. I would never have to deal with anything again. I don’t care if there is an afterlife – if there is, it had to be better than here. If there wasn’t it was definitely better than here. I swam around in a thick haze of breathing walls and bending music, and moved the way the music told me to. It was time. I had nothing else to say. I had nothing else to be.
I crouched down on the floor with my box cutter and the music was still pulling my mind in all directions. I would soon feel the warmth run out of my body and be in the most pleasurable cold that I could imagine. I pushed on the back of the boxcutter to say hello to the thin strip of metal that would finally give me what I’ve wanted. I pushed it against my wrist and pushed through a few layers of skin. I slowly started to drag it up, but I had maybe a centimeter, when I stopped. Something shifted in the room. I stopped to see what it was. I looked around, it was nothing. There was nothing that had really shifted – it was just a shadow shifting in the corner of my eye that was caused by the acid I dropped. I started laughing! I couldn’t stop laughing! How stupid am I!? I had stopped what I was doing to look at something that didn’t even exist! Wait… I stopped – stopped what? I stopped killing myself to see what this little twitch was in the corner of my eye. Why? I had stopped because it caught my attention. For one second, there was something that existed in my world that was worth living a few more seconds for. And what was it? NOTHING! I continued laughing! I just couldn’t stop! This was so stupid! But it’s true! The thing that existed that was important enough to experience living for a few more moments, didn’t even exist! What an ass I am! If there is something that doesn’t even exist that is worth living for, for even a few moments – might there be a lot that does exist that would REALLY be worth living for!?
I don’t know if this little tripped out calculation on life will really be anything that anyone else can understand. I hope so – I really do. But what I know is – this saved my life. Was it my angel? Was it my brain hitting the depths of it’s survival mode to dig through anything to help me realize what I was doing? I don’t know – I don’t care. I’m alive today because of this. I made a lot of other mistakes, and probably came close to death several other times before I got clean – but one thing is for sure – it was not by my hand. This was me. I started working to find the things in life that were even better than the little shifting shadow in my eye. And those stupid people in school said drugs were bad! Forget that me being on drugs was half the reason I felt so lost – without them I might have killed myself! I know, you’re thinking, “But if you had done something with your life, maybe you wouldn’t have felt so lost and hopeless.” Well – that’s just stupid. I hate it when people try and make sense using logic. The point is – my depression was not my fault! All the asshats that caused me to feel stupid drove me to use to help cure my depression – and while it nearly drove me to my grave, it was a drug trip that saved me! It’s like every time I turned around there was just more proof that my problems were other people’s fault, and that my choices were the right ones.
It’s incredible… You can be jobless, homeless, worthless, and everything-less in the world and still find a way to get dope when you really want it. There are a million ways I found to score… And if I couldn’t think of something, there was always another clever junkie out there that could find a way for me. I went to Paul’s shack to see if he would be willing to lend me a small bag for the next few days and I’d find a way to pay him back. Paul was in his late 50’s, maybe early 60’s (or life just hadn’t treated him so kindly). He had a little place set up that looks like it used to be a mechanics shop. He would often let me hang out while people were cooking – I would help and get some shit for free. I never really learned how to cook. At the time, it’s all I wanted to learn. This was the 90’s and you could still pick up most everything you needed at a few grocery and hardware stores around the valley. If you had the equipment, time, and knowhow for a couple hundred bucks you could make thousands of dollars worth of bathtub crank… If you were a little better, you could make even more with a cleaner form close to ice…
Paul laughed – in his half-century he learned a lesson I never took to very well – never trust a junkie. When he had extra he’d share – sometimes he’d buy things with the mountains of dope, but never ever in a million years would he say “ok – I trust you!” I mean, come on – we were all junkies. Let’s pretend for just a moment that he did give me a bag – big or small… Let’s also pretend just for a moment that when I said, “I’ll pay you back” I meant every word. Now fast forward and let’s pretend I actually had the money a few days later to pay him back. Well guess what? I’d also most likely be out of dope. As a dope-hound, do you think I’d use the last bit of money that I had to pay him back? Or would I go find someone who I didn’t owe any money to and re-up? I mean, we’ve all seen the movies where the junkie owes a ton of different people and it all catches up to them, right? He knew this all even better than I knew it at the time. I was sure that I was a “solid” junkie. I was honest! I was a good guy! I never cheated anyone – well, except those 367 times last year – but those were emergencies, and the fuckers deserved it – because they were not honest junkies…
But yes – Paul knew me better than I knew what I believed my self was. But he had a plan. Actually he had a friend who had a plan and needed a partner in crime. The deal was, he would give me a massive bump that evening and let me hang for the night. The next morning his friend would be over and wanted to buy a ton of shit from him and he wanted the money – but his friend’s plan needed a partner. So I’d get a big hit and then the next evening he’d be willing to pay me with a larger bag for my hard day’s work. I didn’t bother to ask what the plan was – it didn’t matter. I was getting high. I got the hit and it was tasty – I was blasted all night and ready to do whatever it was I needed to do to get more. Paul introduced me to Rodney (I think)
Rodney (?) was a fat guy. This probably doesn’t seem odd – but honestly it’s rare to see a fat meth addict. He had a thick red beard and plaid shirt and a thick truckers grip handshake. He told me to get in to SUV and he’d explain the plan to me. I got in the car ready to hear what amazing idea this guy had. If it was really good, maybe I could run this as my own side biz – or maybe if it always worked we could be partners and I would never go thirsty again.
He started talking about himself. I don’t know why – but every junkie when meeting another junkie has the propensity of trying to explain what a junkie they are not. He told me he had a good job, a wife, kids, and a house – the works. He just liked to get some here and there and wouldn’t dream of actually using any of the money he needed to pay the bills and put food on his table to buy dope – so every now and then he’d run this scam – get enough for his “occasional usage,” which would last for months and then he’d come back and do it again. It was important that we hit as many stores as we could this very day because he only did this once every couple of months. He’d by ounces of the stuff, and parse that out for the next several months. I tried to act as interested as I could, but honestly I just wanted to know what the fuck he wanted me to do. Were we going to rob a bank? Was I the get-a-way driver? Were we going to knock over a liquor store? Whatever it was I just wanted it to be over so I could get my bag and be done with Mr. Red.
“Here’s what we do – can you shoplift?” Christ – Really? That’s the big plan? We’re going to be shoplifters? And then what? Sell the goods downtown to passers by like peddlers? Lame… I thought this was going to be something good. And so I was honest with him – “No… I’m horrible.” I’d never really got in trouble for shoplifting – at least since I was in the 6th grade – but really – I was a horrible liar, and when I’d shoplift, I knew I looked guilty. Then I’d try and hide how guilty I felt I looked by acting natural. The problem was – I was well aware of the fact that in trying to act natural, I would act overly natural, which would then make me look about 1000 times more guilty – I would then realize this fact and go overboard trying to make up for it. A nice clerk would be like, “Hello, can I help you find anyth…” And I blurt out loudly, “WELL HELLO! IT’S A BEATUIFUL DAY TODAY ISN’T IT! I SURE HOPE IT ISN’T RUINED WITH SOME STUPID SHOPLIFTERS RIGHT?? I’M ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR… TAMPONS. YES. TAMPONS FOR MY GIRLFRIEND… AUNT FLO HAS COME TO TOWN AND BOY IS SHE PISSED! HA HA! YOU PROBABLY KNOW WHAT THAT’S LIKE BETTER THAN I DO! HA HA! CAN YOU BELIEVE I PEOPLE ACTUALLY SHOPLIFT IN THIS DAY AND AGE? IT’S SO SAD!!! WELL, I BETTER GET THOSE TAMPONS! PLUG THE OL’ GAL UP YOU KNOW!? HA HA… ANYWAY, GET SOME OF THOSE STUPID SHOPLIFTERS FOR ME, WILL YA?”
I know you may think I’m kidding – but really – that’s about what would happen… I am a horrible, HORRIBLE shoplifter…
He said, “Ok, no problem – I’m pretty good… I’m going to give you $40, we’re going to head to Office Max (or Staples, or whatever office supply store we went to…). You are going to walk in and find the printer cartridges. They cost about $40 – just find one that you’ll have enough for, but don’t pick it out yet! Just go in and find one that’s like $35… Then just hang out and wait for me to show up – after I get there, you don’t know me. But once you see me, get the cartridge and head up to the counter and buy it. Make sure you get a receipt.” Uhh… What? So my part in this is I go in and purchase a printer cartridge? Wow! This guy’s a genius… How the hell does he make money off of buying cartridges? I followed his instructions – found a printer cartridge and stood there for a few minutes. He turned the corner and smiled and nodded the friendly, “Hey! I don’t know you, but I’m going to smile and nod” gesture. I picked up a cartridge and went up to the counter and bought the cartridge. I walked out the door and walked to 3 parking lots away where he had parked, got in the car and gave him the bag feeling really stupid and still not really understanding what happened. He took the bag and the receipt and handed me back the cartridge and said, “Now – go tell them you need to return it. They will ask for the receipt, but tell them you threw it away, or must have dropped it. Just make sure you talk to the same checkout person. Since she JUST sold it to you, she’ll take it back if you press her. Just tell her just got a call or something that you didn’t need it – or it wouldn’t fit or whatever.” This is stupid… I still didn’t get it, but followed his instructions. As he stated, I got next to no hassle about not having the receipt because the girl had JUST sold it to me. She gave me back the cash and I shoved it in my back pocket and walked again back out to the car.
We then drove off – and went to different location – he said, “Now – do the same thing with the money you have.” So I again went back in and waited, but this time I heard him talking to someone – he was at the returns counter chatting away – I stayed where I was, and waited for him. A few minutes later he was back in the isle, I picked up a cartridge and bought it and met him back in the truck. He again took the bag and the receipt and told me to go return it – I did, and again got no trouble – I went back and said, “I don’t get it – what the hell am I doing?” Now you, gentle reader, may have already picked up the whole scam, but I was slow. I didn’t really care what I was doing because this appeared to have no risk for me, but it seemed like he was just collecting receipts. So in case you, like I, are not catching on – here’s how he explained it:
“Ok so you bought a cartridge and returned it – right? But I got the receipt. You wait for me to get in the isle so I can see what one you are buying – then I lift the same one. You return yours and there are no questions asked – then we go to a different location and I return the stolen one with a receipt and we just doubled our money! Then I say I’m going to try and find the one that actually fits, right? You pick up another and I steal another – but as I walk out the door I let them know I couldn’t find the one I needed. They are not suspicious of why I walked in and walked out. They are not suspicious of you, because you paid for your item and are just returning it. All the time, I just keep getting receipts I can return stolen ones for and every time we do we double our money! Printer cartridges are kinda pricy, but rarely watched because who steals them? People try and steal more expensive things like software, or electronics – but ink? Nobody cares! We can even go with some more expensive cartridges as long as they are still small enough to tuck in my waistband.”
Holy shit… He was a genius!! This was a great plan! And I never felt scared, and he was a very cool customer. We had gone from place to place and got several hundred dollars racked up by this time. We got to the next store and while I was waiting in the checkout line I started to feel a little funny. “God I’m thirsty…” It was pretty hot out – this was July in Utah which often goes over 100 and I realized it had been a while since I’d eaten or really had anything to drink. Pretty quickly I realized I was feeling really weird. I saw the endcap of the impulse items had drinks, so I grabbed a coke. I twisted off the top and took a huge drink. I was next in line and ready to be back in the car – I really wanted to sit down. I don’t know what is going on but, damn – I took another big swig – I had an extra dollar with me so I’d just pay for it when I got the cartridge. The thirst wouldn’t leave. My throat was dry and my head started to swim a little. God, I really wasn’t feeling very… “HELLO! HELLO! OH MY GOD! HELLO??” I opened my eyes. What the fuck? Why am I on the floor? What happened? Where am I? I was so confused… I sat up, totally dazed, and saw the printer cartridge. Everything came flooding back, and the cashier and the nice guy in front of me (who apparently caught me on the way down) were chuckling nervously… “So.. Ha ha, are you ok? What happened?” “I have no idea,” I said. I kind of laughed with them, “I wasn’t feeling very good, I thought I was just thirsty! I guess it’s hotter than I thought?” The guy finished up and started to walk out the door. “Sorry about that! I didn’t mean to worry you,” I said to the cashier. “Oh that’s ok sweetie! I just.. Ha ha, don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone….” “GET BACK! GET BACK! HELLO? OH MY GOD! HE DID IT AGAIN! HELLO!?” My eyes came open again and this time my head hurt. Apparently I cracked it pretty good on the floor – it wasn’t bleeding or anything, but it throbbed like a son of a bitch. I sat up and said, “Gosh! I’m so sorry I don’t know what…” “NO NO NO! You stay down there – here, we’ll get you a chair.” “Oh! No no, that’s ok, I…” “NO! You stay there… Don’t you move. Someone is coming to help you, you need to wait here.” “But I don’t want to,” “Sir, we cannot allow you to leave. You sit here and don’t move.” Shit… Do I have to stay here? Now I was perfectly clear. And perfectly scared. Why weren’t they going to let me leave? So I passed out a few times? Could they really keep me there? I started to stand up and the manager said, “Sorry sir, no – you need to wait here.” Crap – did they catch me? Did I pass out and fall into my old habit in my sleep? I pictured myself laying on the floor asleep saying, “HELLO! NO TAMPONS HERE AT OFFICE MAX IS THERE? I’M JUST GETTING A PRINTER CARTRIDGE FOR MY GIRLFRIEND… SHE’S ON HER RAG HA HA! BET YOUR THINKING SHE WANTS ME TO GET HER A RED CARTRIDGE, GET IT? NO – JUST BLACK TODAY – BUT I DO HAVE TO STOP BY THE STORE AND GET HER SOME TAMPONS… SHOPLIFTERS ARE THE WORST AREN’T THERE? I BET SOME PEOPLE BUY ONE TIME AND STEAL ONE ITEM JUST SO THEY CAN RETURN ONE TO A DIFFERENT STORE WITH A RECEIPT! WHAT JERKS THEY ARE, RIGHT? HA HA! OFF TO GET SOME TAMPONS!”
Did they know? Did they figure out what we were doing? I don’t think they can detain you – but even though my head was clear – it was also flooded with fear and I didn’t feel like arguing with the manager. Moments later the paramedics came in to the store and said, “Is this the guy?” I jumped in right away, “Yeah, look – I passed out – it’s hot. But I’m fine now! I really just want to go.” “We really need to look at you – what were you doing before you passed out? Anything to eat or drink?” I looked stupidly at the soda I still had in my hand, they gave it to me after they sat me down… “Yeah, I was feeling thirsty and so I grabbed this drink. I still need to pay for it.” The paramedic looked at me like I’d just told him “I don’t know what happened… I was just drinking this gallon of bleach and all of a sudden I didn’t feel very well…” He dropped his voice to an almost sing-song tone like he was talking to a small child, “Well… That’s not very smart! Didn’t you know there is a lot of sodium in those sodas! If you are dehydrated, that just makes it worse!” “oh..” I said, reflecting that he was right to speak to me like a small child by answering like one. “I didn’t know that…” He said, “That’s probably what did it! On a hot day like today you need WATER, boy! Jeeze!” In my head I wanted to kick a tampon down his throat, along with his teeth, but I just said, “I’ll remember that… ha ha…” He kind of adjusted me in the chair so that I was facing him and sitting up a little straighter – “Let’s see here, your eyes look ok – you are responsive, and…” He turned my wrist skyward and my injection site was still red and bulging, “… and ohhhh… That’s not good. What kind of drugs are you using?” I froze… “I…. Uh… I don’t use drugs…” He smirked. “Yes you do… And I’m guessing it’s meth. When was your last shot?” Fuck… “I uh… I don’t do that…” He just shook his head, “I’m not here to bust you – but I need to know when was your last shot.” FUCK! “I… Uh… I quit. 2 months ago…” “ no you didn’t – that’s a fresh mark.” “I know! But… I don’t use – I just scratch it a lot – it itches. I’m clean.” I stood up – I have to get out of here. “Sir, I really need you to sit down – we need to have you checked out.” “NO!” Oh! There were my balls – I thought I lost them for a moment… But I was NOT going to a hospital… “NO! I’m fine. Look, it’s hot – I won’t drink soda anymore – I’ll get some water – I don’t use drugs, but I really have to go… (where? To get tampons?)… Uh, go… get back to work. Look, thanks for the help, thanks for the tips – but I really just need to go.” “Sir, please let us help you. We are not here to bust you, we just want to help.” God, just back towards the door – they aren’t cops, they can’t make me stay… “No THANK you. I really need to go.” I turned and walked out the door and they just stood there looking a little sad and a little worried. Before the sliding door closed behind me I heard the lady say, “My God, he seemed so nice – I just thought maybe he was a diabetic or something…” The paramedic was saying, “We see this all the time – some people you just can’t…” I was gone. Fuck – such an easy thing and I’d fucked it up and drawn total attention to myself. I looked for the truck, but it was gone. I didn’t know where I was going. Was Mr. Red pissed at me? Did I get him in trouble? I was about ¼ mile away when he pulled up and told me to get in the car. I did. “What in the fuck happened? I was already out in the car and then it had been like over 20 min! I remember there was a line and all but it seemed like you were taking a long time, then the ambulance pulled up and I thought you’d died or something!” I explained the whole story. He looked irritated for a moment and then laughed and said, “Well, we won’t be going back to that store again! They WILL remember you there!” I felt so dumb… The easiest scam in the world and I’d fucked it up. We pulled back into traffic and started to head to what I assumed was the next store – all of a sudden there was a white car that was coming at us from the side – Red hit his horn and brakes screeched and then I felt the impact hit us – not really hard, but enough to jolt me.
He started screaming and pounding his meaty hand on the steering wheel. “FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK!!!” We pulled off to the side again, and these kids got out of the little white car. “Oh Crap! We’re sorry mister!” I thought he was going to kill someone, but he calmed down. We had pulled in front of a small house where an elderly couple came out. “We heard tires screech! Is everyone ok!” The white car had a good dent in the front, but Red’s car was fine. We searched everywhere for where they hit – and then found a white smudge on the tire. He kind of laughed, “You apparently ran into my tires!” The kids looked scared and the old couple said, “Should we call the police?” Red kind of chuckled and said, “Oh no – I don’t think that’s necessary – you kids ok?” “Yeah, we’re ok..” He said, “No need – if everyone’s ok we’ll just be heading out…” I got in the car and looked over at him as he was crawling back in, “Don’t we have to wait for the police?” He glared at me and said, “Are you stupid boy? We are in the middle of running a little scam – we have pipes and needles in the car, you already almost got caught and now you want to have the police get here again? I’m going to have to explain an accident to my wife which means I have to explain why I was where I was, get in the car, shut the fuck up and I will take care of this.” Then he turned to everyone, “Thanks everyone! We’re good if you are! You are right?” The kids nodded and he was off. Ok, at least THIS was not my fault. He drove about a mile and then pulled over and said, “Get out.” “What?” “Get out – you are bad fuckin’ luck boy… This wasn’t all exactly your fault – but there is just something wrong with you.” I got out of the car and he took off. Well crap! What now!!?? Of course it wasn’t my fault! I wasn’t even driving! This wasn’t my idea, it wasn’t my car, it wasn’t anything of my anything! This was all his doing – can’t drive, can’t deal with life’s little rolls and now I have to go explain to Paul why I still deserve at least a little bag and why his friend can suck on a tampon…