Angels to bear me up


was walking through a building on my way to the business school for a class, when I noticed a sign for a “National Coming Out Day” workshop. I was surprised when the thought “I should go to that” popped into my head. How could my brain betray me like that? I knew I wasn’t gay.

That was 2005. Here I am, ten years later. And yeah, turns out, I’m gay.

have an amazing capacity for compartmentalization. When I first suspected I was maybe not like the other guys, I was in high school. I remember talking to my bishop and he asked me if I was struggling with same-sex attraction, and I cried and said that I was. We were supposed to meet again to talk about it, but I never set up another appointment. At the time, I thought it was controllable and changeable, and I could do it myself. So I put the episode in a box and set it on a shelf.

Another time, I was harassed in the halls by my classmates. I still don’t know what they knew that I didn’t, or if it was just plain old teenage cruelty. The episode shook me, so I wrote a letter to my seminary teacher, asking for help. I don’t really remember what I said, nor do I recall his response, but I was comforted by it. I knew I wasn’t gay. I knew I’d be ok. And my shelf got another box.

Continue reading Angels to bear me up

I read a whole bunch of books. You won’t believe which are my favorites. Number 3 made me laugh

I’ve been doing a lot of reading this year, thanks in no small part to Audible and Overdrive, which let me read while I am commuting, cooking, and working out at the gym.  So far, I have 46 titles accounted in my Goodreads account, and I am 171 days ahead of my annual reading goal. Granted, at least 10 of those are graphic novels (I had a mild Flash obsession going there for a bit.).

Here are some of my favorites so far this year, in no particular order.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store  by Robin Sloan – If you love quirky mysteries, Google, Helvetica, awkward protagonists, or glow-in-the-dark dust covers, this is the book for you.

The Stand by Stephen King – The forces of good and evil gather in a post-apocalyptic show down. This was the second of three books in a row that I read that start with a virulent pandemic.  That was not on purpose, and it stressed me out. I could not be an epidemiologist.

The Martian by Andy Weir – Fantastic science fiction.  There’s a movie coming out later this year.  I bought a second copy for my Mars themed bathroom.  XKCD described it thusly :

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company by Bryce G. Hoffman – This was the story of the first few years of my career at Ford Motor Company.  It was interesting getting the behind the scenes look at some of the things that happened.  It is also a fantastically well written book if you are interested in the auto industry in general.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – I don’t rightly know how to describe this book.  Gaiman writes books that demand to be read but elude description of why you should read them. I put this one off for a long while, but I picked it up and couldn’t put it down.

What have you read and loved so far this year?

Sheep and Goats

I’ve been preparing a lesson for my Primary class, and the text pulled together a lot of the tumultuous feelings I’ve had over the last few weeks and set them to rest.

The lesson is the parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46). In the end, the Lord says at his coming, the nations will be divided Sheep to the Right hand, Goats to the left hand.

What got to me was the sorting criteria. There was only one.

On the right hand – those who were kind to others, those who fed the hungry, those who visited the sick. In other words, those who upheld the baptismal covenant to “stand with those who stand in need of comfort, to mourn with those that mourn.”

On the left – those who did not.

There was no talk of any other commandment. No other set of rules, no other set of things to do or do not.

Just to love, to stand with, to uphold the least of those among us. That’s what sets the sheep on the right from the goats on the left.

This has long been the bedrock of my personal faith. In the end, I don’t know a lot of things, but I know that what it takes from me is an added measure of kindness, an extra dose of empathy. That’s what I hang my gospel hopes on, and I’m hoping that my fellow Latter-day Saints do the same this day and always.

Grant Me Sanctuary

Grant Me Sanctuary

Beneath the grim exterior
Under the erst facade
Xanadu! Xanadu! the hidden, the missing, the lost!
Kings and Queens no longer
Tho’ my sanctuary has disappeared
Pater Zeus can see its repose
Kindly hear my cries–
Zeus, pater! Hera, mother!
Allow my tears their meaning

Precious time has passed away
Since walls began to fall
Persephone’s muted cries fill my broken heart
In retrospect, the pomegranate was not sweet at all
Summer sun and winter chill
Damning seeds, forbidden fruit, widens the gulf…
Xanadu, no longer, thy walls I cannot see.

Spring was here. The world rejoiced.
September’s setting sun brought Demeter’s stinging tears
Alone once more, both she and I,
Find even the nectar, sweet nectar of the gods, bitter.
Vinegar and gall, Ambrosia without taste
Vinegar and gall do not bring solace

Sanctuary, Xanadu, so very far away

Just over that high mountain…
Toward the brightest star…

Orpheus, with enchanting song, was given one last chance
Just don’t look back, Just follow me,
‘Til lost again is found
Music almost won her passage home,
Lost one more for looking back

Apollo, who sees it all, from your chariot on high
Help me find my missing walls, the lonely Xanadu
Lead me back to my abandoned gem
Guide my feet, O great Apollo
Forsake not the lost and vanished peacefulness!

Do not leave my soul melancholic,
Naked, exposed to the morning’s innuendo.
Discover the place, O mighty gods, to my view.

— Brady Emmett – October 2005

I remembered this poem a few weeks back and wanted to make sure I don’t lose it, so I am including it here on my blog. Because blogs are forever. Right?  I originally wrote it for a contest on the puzzle solving website  There are mysteries here. 😀

A Constantly Renewed Stream

This is the text of a talk I gave in my ward (Ann Arbor 2nd) on February 15, 2015.

I would like to explore one of the concepts from President Eyring’s October talk on the subject of continuing revelation [1], and share with you some of my experiences as I have sought revelation.

President Eyring said “We need revelation from God. And we will need not just one revelation in a time of stress, but we need a constantly renewed stream. We need not just one flash of light and comfort, but we need the continuing blessing of communication with God.” [2]

Today, I would like to focus on that concept of a “constantly renewed stream” of revelation. Continue reading A Constantly Renewed Stream

2014 Christmas letter

I suppose it is traditional to write a Christmas letter and enclose it with my Christmas cards.  I have failed to do that for the last several years. It feels presumptuous to me, I guess. I don’t really know. Maybe in the age of Facebook, I don’t feel like the Christmas update is as necessary.

There is some value in introspection though, so I’ll give it a shot.

Dear Friends and Family-

Well, can you believe it? We managed that annual trip around the sun once again.  I hope this season finds you all in good health and high spirits.  Just remember, winter is coming. 😉

This year has been a good one for me, I think.  A lot of things have come to completion, which is nice, and I have probably grown a lot too. Continue reading 2014 Christmas letter

Arts and Crafts

Last week was kind of arts and craftsy for me.  That makes me very happy, which isn’t too surprising. I do love creating.

Here are some of things I did.

#1 – Paper Marbling
A while back, I kind of got obsessed with paper marbling. I’m not even sure why. I probably saw a video on Youtube or something. It just looks like a lot of fun, and really cool.  So for my birthday(ish), I ordered a paper marbling kit.  I invited Katherine and Elizabeth, my two favorite artists and crafters, to come experiment and learn with me. Continue reading Arts and Crafts

Starting with Why: A Path to Authenticity as an LGBT Mormon

(This is the text of the TED-style talk I shared at  “This is the Place” Affirmation International Conference 2014. I don’t yet know if there is video of the event, and I haven’t rerecorded it yet.)

Like many of you, I enjoy cooking and baking.  As you learn to cook, you go through several stages of growth.  At first, you follow simple recipes, you lock onto the basics.  Over time you progress, learning new and different techniques.  At some point, you realize that the skills you have learned are all parts of a toolbox that you can pull out and use as the situation requires. You no longer have to slavishly follow a recipe, and you can begin to improvise and experiment with techniques, flavors and ingredients that fit your taste.  The day that I realized I knew enough to not be bound by a recipe, that I had a cooking toolbox available, was one of the most liberating of my life.

Today, I would like to introduce a framework that has been just as liberating for me in my experience as a gay Mormon as the day that I learned that I could adjust a recipe to my taste. Continue reading Starting with Why: A Path to Authenticity as an LGBT Mormon

Top 10 Books Meme

So there is a meme going around Facebook, asking you to list out 10 books that have had an impact on your life.  My cousin tagged me, and I think someone tagged me last year.  I honestly have struggled both times with this question, mostly because I read so many books that it is hard to choose 10.  Thinking about it, I came up with 5 books fairly easily.  I’m not sure about the other 5, so we’ll do this in phases.

Here are the five that I came up with quickly:

The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin:  The book helped me think about setting specific goals to be manage my own happiness and also to think about what happiness means.

Start with Why, by Simon Sinek: This book is one of my favorites and has greatly influenced the way I think about communication and leadership.  My Affirmation talk was largely based on this one.

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card:  As a kid, this was probably one of my favorite books, and one of the books that got me into Sci-Fi.  I think it speaks to smart kids a lot.

The Dark is Rising series, by Susan Cooper: Another one of those series that I read as a kid, and I loved, and probably got me into epic fantasy.  It is Arthurian legend tied up with good vs evil. You should never ever ever watch the movie that was based on this book.

The Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling: I started reading the series in a three day jag, right after I came back from my mission, and it really defined the next 6-7 years of my life.  I was obsessed with theories and websites, and everything to do with Harry Potter.

Those were the 5 that I immediately thought of.

While I was writing up the list, I remembered one more.

The Oz series, by L. Frank Baum: My hometown library had a fantastic old set of the Oz series, and I read every single one of them. It was a great series for a kid.

I’m really struggling to pick others, so I think I’m just going to pick some of my favorite  books from the last several years.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline: I picked this one up after my local library sponsored a game based on the same concept.  Anyone who grew up in the 1980’s and 1990’s would absolutely love it. It is replete with references to the pop culture of the time, and it is a pretty snappy read.

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, by Kate Wilhelm: Have I raved about this book on my blog yet? Maybe? I don’t know. I picked it up at random while choosing audiobooks at the library. Didn’t know what I was getting into, but it wowed me. I made my book club read it the next month, to some degree of controversy. (It features some odd discussions of cloning and casual clone sex, so you are warned.)  It was one of the first sci-fi books to deal with manmade environmental disaster, and raised some really interesting moral questions.

Anathem by Neal Stephenson: A really strange, kind of dense, have to learn a new language kind of book, but it was oddly satisfying and gripping.  It’s gonna take some time to read, but in my opinion is worth the payout.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan: A koala only has one choice for what it eats: bamboo leaves. But we humans are omnivores, so almost everything is open to us.  If we have all of that choice, how do we use it? What should we eat? Per Pollan: Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.  Got me thinking about how the way eat interacts with the environment, our health, and etc.

So, fairly successful listing, I guess. The last 4 are good ones, but I could have listed 6 or 7 other unique sets of 4 too.  It’s hard to choose.

What books influence you?

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