Archive for January, 2015

This is one of those posts that I should have written a long time ago but didn’t. My sister reminded me of this all-but-forgotten event over the Thanksgiving holiday this last year. When she told me I said, “You know, I should blog about that.” My dutiful wife sent me an email labeled “Unicorn poop, Migration of Jupiter into Uranus, and Ice chucking in Vegas.” What can I say: it was a fascinating conversation that wouldn’t have ever happened if I was at my parents house for the holiday. For the curious, I found that I had blogged about Uranus already. It’s somewhere: I’ll link it later. (Found it  Warning you here tho, that post is NSFW. If you cannot handle raunchy suggestions, just don’t go there.) Just don’t ask about the Unicorn poop. Mostly because I don’t remember. I think it was just a tag to make me go “wtf? I wasn’t that drunk, was I?”

As I believe I have mentioned before, my parents run a home improvement business. They’ve sold and installed carpet, Vinyl, stoves, tile, cultured stone: the whole thing. My father was a jack of all trades- master of EVERYTHING. Last year I called him and said, “Hey, I need to fix a water leak in my sprinkler system.” He talked me through it. I called him and asked, “How do I replace an electronic trigger on my drill?” Again, he talked me through it. He’s probably forgotten more on home improvement and small electronics in the last year than I have ever known how to do.

I should state for the record that this happened in the early 90’s. Every year around the beginning of the year, my parents would attend the Surfaces Floor show in Vegas. In years past my parents had someone keep an eye on us or my eldest sister would. I looked up the show this year to find that it traditionally takes place this week. Ironic that I decided to start writing this at 1:00 am, no? My parents usually attended the show with my uncle who ran a store of his own in a different city. This year, for whatever reasons I cannot remember, my parents took all of us with them. The plan was to meet my uncle, who brought his two children with him and we’d stay in the hotel room for a few days while they were at the show. We were left mostly to our own devices.

After much debate, I’ve decided that my uncles children will go unnamed; not because I fear them getting in trouble but because I’ve not really communicated with them in a few years and I just don’t really feel right about it. So I’ll just call them thing 1 and thing 2. Thing 1 was older, about my age (at the time), and generally more level headed, although I believe at the time I thought that she was just mean.  Thing 2 on the other hand was hyper active and often being yelled at by thing 1 to calm down.

Vegas! This was a treat in itself. When it’s 20F degrees and snowing in Utah? Yes please! And to skip out of school in the process? OOOH yes! In full disclosure here: I don’t remember why this happened, and how my parents were suddenly okay with pulling us out of school for this. it’s likely that I simply didn’t question it. A chance to skip out of school for a week and run to Vegas? It felt like an illegal con that I could get away with even if I told everyone. Now, if my memory serves me, and it usually does, I would have been turning 15 that year which means it was my Freshman Year in high school. My eldest sister was 17 and had a job that she couldn’t skip out on. I remember that my mom wasn’t too thrilled about leaving her home, but there wasn’t much she could do about it.

The show lasted almost a week. My parents left us and our cousins, who had the adjoining room in the hotel, while they went to the convention. I think the idea was that one of us kids (likely the next oldest, Heather) would keep us in line. The first day we all had a little trepidation about being left in a hotel room in Vegas and we stayed in one room and played card games most of the day. I got seriously bored after a while and left. I wanted to explore a bit so I went out meandering around. I decided that I had been gone long enough so I went back towards the elevator. When I got in with someone else I asked them what floor, he told me and I punched the number. He thanked me and gave me 50 cents. And the light-bulb clicked on in my head. I went back down to the bottom floor held the door open and waited. I spent what seemed like an eternity escorting people up and down the elevators, taking them to their floor hoping that someone would tip the “Bellman.” I’d seen TV shows. I knew how this worked: rich people checking into hotels, rolling out 100$ bills like it was nobodies business. I had it all figured out. I couldn’t believe that no one else had come up with this idea first! I had it all to myself. I was going to go home a filthy rich person- Scrooge McDuck Style swimming in my money bin! Until my sister showed up and escorted me back to the room. When we returned she announced to everyone where she had found me. Someone asked me what I was doing. “I was making money.” Heather rolled her eyes at me so I held up the $2.50 in quarters that I made in the elevator. Everyone was shocked. I was disappointed: no $100 bills for me today. I saw it on the TeeVee so it had to be true!

The next series of events is a bit of a blur of time. I don’t know how many days had passed or what transpired to cause the next series of events to occur. I remember being pretty upset at Pauline because she’d stolen my idea! She was in the elevator day after day. Much to my relief, she always come back empty handed so I still felt superior; I hadn’t been one-up’d by my littler sister. I was going to be upset if she got that one guy who was going to roll out a $100 bill to her because she was “cute.” My cousins went to great lengths to convince me that she would be the first one and for no other reason than she was cuter than me. Well, that and girls are far superior to boys. I think I put on a brave front but I still worried inside. The next thing I remember is white buckets.

To us, these were not any ordinary buckets. They weren’t money buckets though. As much as I’d like to say that I made some serious bank, it didn’t happen. No, they were White Ice Buckets. The outside of the building had tall trees and a 2 foot divider between the windows, so you couldn’t look into the window of the room next to you. If you leaned out far enough, it was just enough that you could throw ice into the adjoining window. We spent a good long time attempting to throw ice at each other via the open windows. We all took turns leaning out the window to throw Ice. At first, we were all a little nervous about it but not because we were leaning out of the 3rd floor window. We were nervous because there was a cop car parked in the lot below. We reasoned it’d been there since before we came and that it was just parked here for some reason. We didn’t really think about it a whole lot at first. We were all having very little success in actually hitting the open window. More often than not, the ice would end up hitting the divider or the tree so we started arching the ice up to try and bounce it off the divider on the other side of their window. In the middle of this, we started hearing taunting from below. A couple of teenage boys on skateboards were taunting Thing 2. Thing 2, not wanting to shirk off a taunt, responded by throwing ice at them. They started picking up the ice we’d thrown at them and throwing it back. They couldn’t quite reach the window. Thing 2 ate this up. Watching it unfold was heavily entertaining. Until thing 2 made a throw that went wild. I wasn’t at the window at the time. I just know I heard someone say “thing 2 just hit the cop car with most of her bucket.” All of us froze for a second, nothing happened, but the boys looked at each other and bolted… fast. Thing 2, not to be dissuaded by the lack of encouragement just started throwing ice at everyone, at everything. Not 10 minutes later, another police car showed up. Thing 2 made another wild throw hitting the police car. Everyone’s jaws dropped and then we all dropped to the floor as fast as possible. We heard the car pull in and Heather ran to get Pauline (who was in the elevator). Thing 1 and 2 showed up in our room seconds later with two packs of cards. With everyone gathered in our room, we quickly handed out cards trying to seem as if we’d been in here the whole time. Everyone was being super quiet. When Heather and Pauline returned, Pauline was super confused and demanded, “what’s going on?!” Kristi blabbed, “Thing 2 hit a cop car with ice!” Pauline’s jaw dropped as ours all had and thing 1 got upset with Kristi chastising, “You shouldn’t have told her.”

Shortly later, our parents showed up. Everyone acted like all they had done was play cards all day. My uncle made a wise crack about how he was surprised we hadn’t all gotten in trouble yet. Glances went around the room, everyone looking at thing 2. Thing 2 didn’t look at anyone. I don’t think that anyone slept that night; I certainly didn’t.

The next day it rained and our ice-escapades were done. There wasn’t even a discussion about it. It was just silently mutually decided. My sisters all gathered in thing 1 and 2’s room except Pauline who had once again beat me to the elevator. I was upset: this had happened for multiple days in a row. I was feeling rejected and after the night of no sleep, I laid down and crashed. I awoke to a buzzing noise and then the sound of people in the hallway. I opened the door to see armed men in uniforms running the hallways. My first through was “THE POLICE FOUND US! WE’RE GOING TO JAIL!” I picked up the phone, called the next room and in a gasped voice explained to thing 1 what was going on. She relayed the information and Heather grabbed the phone, I was instructed to go to their room. I opened the door slowly, saw that the hallway was empty, and ran as fast as possible to their door. I got in, sat down, and thing 1 was handing out cards again. The buzzing noise continued for what seemed like forever. When it turned off we all stared at each other in silence, waiting for a knock at the door. The knock never came. So we sat in uneasy silence . Thing 1 looks at Pauline after she’d joined us from the elevator and says “What happened?” Pauline swears that she didn’t know. It just went off and she wasn’t sure why. They talked about hearing someone run down the halls but not thinking anything of it because people are just loud. Thing 2 just seemed to be relieved that it wasn’t her this time.

The next day, I didn’t have to race Pauline to the elevator, she didn’t want anything to do with it. Therefore I resumed being the Bellhop. About an hour or so in, no one had come and I decided I was done. I hadn’t made anything more than the $2.50 the first day, and as far as I knew Pauline had come up completely empty. As I reached down and hit the button for the floor I was staying on, the back of my hand hit something: a switch and then a loud buzzing noise happened. I panicked for a second then saw the huge red switch that said “Alarm.” I flipped it to the off position and it stopped. I laughed to myself and thought “Nope, I’m keeping that one to myself.”

It’s been 20+ years and some details are probably a little hazy. 99% of this happened exactly how I’ve described it. There is one detail that is intentionally incorrect. I’ve left it that way because it is something that everyone remembers; something that everyone else thinks happened. No one knows it isn’t true; except for me.

To start with, I really don’t know how many of these I will do.  But these are the some of the reasons, in detail, why I left the church.

I think part of this is was helped along by the fact that I have a very severe learning disorder. That I mostly didn’t get a hold on until well into my 30’s. I was ranked really high in some of the worst cases of ADD that the Doctor had seen at the time.  This diagnoses came to me in first grade, although I didn’t fully understand the statement. At least not until I pulled my medical records when I got cancer. I wasn’t just an audio learner, or even a visual one, I learn best by doing.  Ideally, I need all three. And being an 8 year old in the church who at the time was child number 3 of 5 in the house with a learning disability didn’t help matters. My mom tells me that she was at her wits end, she had 4 children under the age of 5 she almost lost it. I remember when both of my youngest two sisters were born.  I Remember being very angry that Pauline was a girl. I didn’t want another sister, I wanted a brother. because at least then maybe I’d have someone to play with. I already felt excluded in a house full of girls. When my youngest sibling was born, and was also a girl. I just kind of rolled my eyes. Figured I was cursed.

I knew I was different from my classmates, I was excluded from school events with my peers in first grade. no one wanted to sit next to me, I was bullied in subtext by being told that I Wasn’t cool enough to hang out with others. My mom said that I was “One cool dude”. But because I was being told by everyone else that I was a terrible person, I knew that I couldn’t’ believe her. I just figured it was the little lies that parents tell their kids to help make them feel better, like Santa Clause. This was how I was treated at school, you’d think an 8 year old would be treated better at church. Nope I wasn’t, because it was the same kids who were doing it. We lived across the street from a family full of boys who were bullies. They’d chase me and throw rocks at me. One of them shot me in the back with an overpowered BB Gun. He put a BB in my back that stayed there for a week before I told my mom, because I didn’t want to get blamed.  Because beyond my ability to understand how, but somehow, it would be my fault. Everything bad at school that happened was my fault, everything bad that happened  to other people at church was my fault. I knew this because I was told this, when I said I didn’t have anything to do with it, I was told that I was stupid for trying to hide it. and they’d concoct some kind of lie that no matter how many times I would say that I didn’t do it. I got yelled at for it. It went so far as to be a game to the people I went to school with. There was one night when I was high school I had jumped ship to get out of my house and got on some weekend evening. I got on my bike and just rode, I didn’t care where I went,  I did it to just leave, to just get out. Some kid, who was a bully to me in school saw me and started chasing me.  We will call this kid Jarrod. When he got close enough that he could kick me. he did. but he didn’t just kick me, he kicked me while I was riding, then turned around and ran over my arm. Told me that I had been talking shit about him to someone else.  The person in question I was afraid of, terrified actually. I wouldn’t talk to him.  Jarrod then punched me in the face and told me next time he’d hurt me. To which I said nothing. I learned quickly that fighting back made things worse.  This event was one of many that ended up with me telling my mom. My mom went into the school and talked to the school about it. This act, while it she was trying to make things better for me, had the exact reverse effect. This made things worse, much much worse, they were just better at hiding it so they couldn’t get caught. This was the first time when I realized that people were picking on me, because I was different, I was their punching bag of an easy target. But come Sunday mornings, I’d hear theses kids who tortured me, be praised about how much god has blessed them.  I couldn’t believe my ears, God blessed them. They were great children, both at home and at school and they were talked about as if they were the noblest of the most noble.  No, they were abusers, they were assholes, and I loathed all of them.

When I was 8 years old I went into for my baptism interview.  I remember being talked up how important it was, and that I was going to be quizzed by the bishop about what I believed. Quizzed? I didn’t know what that meant, nor did I understand what I was supposed to do. but for once I wanted to feel like I had done something right by someone. I remember sitting in this man’s very cold Cinder block painted pink office. He seemed really old to me,  I thought that he must have been a man of god because how was he still alive? he must have been over a hundred years old. I remember very clearly behind scared out of my mind. I remember being asked questions and thinking that I didn’t understand what he was asking, nor did I understand what it meant. But I knew, knew from years of being told how much of an honor it was to be one of gods chosen, that I had to pass this. Because it would mean that I was doing something right, and maybe for once I could do something right. So I did exactly what I thought he wanted to hear. Because that sounds like the right thing, like the right set of answers. I remember leaving his office and having him tell my mom that I did very well and I’d “passed”. My mom was beaming, it was a huge relief to me.  The only thing I got out of the experience is that, I would be perfect and all of my past sins would be washed away.  I remember the day that it happened.  My grandparents  stopped by and we had dinner outside.  And for some reason the power went out, I thought that part was awesome. that was a best part. I remember thinking that I could go to church the next day and get my confirmation and I would be treated fairly and stop being blamed.  Boy, was I wrong.  I remember the next day one boy hit me, and called me a name that was created for me from school last year.  I told him that I had just been baptized and he couldn’t do that anymore because all of that was gone. He reasoned with me that was school this was church it wasn’t the same thing, and so he could still do it. From that point forward, things got worse.  I remember being told that God didn’t make mistakes but people do. So I had to wonder, and began to think that Perhaps god forgot about me.  But then it occurred to me. That as far as I understood it, I was doing everything god wanted me to do, I didn’t question I just did.  But all of these kids who were terrible people to me were blessed by god. As their parents were so fond of telling each other. So I reasoned that I was being punished, I must had done something bad in heaven, and I was being punished. Which is why all of these children who were gods chosen, kept hurting me. At that point in my life, I believed that I deserved it

In 1997 I moved out of that town (for the second time) and to Salt Lake City, Utah. The only friend I made in high school that didn’t at some point, treat me like shit, helped me move. I was so grateful for him. One person in this world who accepted me for who I was. As it turned out, he was also gay.  I was told at the time by the church, that being gay was wrong. That gay people work for Satan, and that they were all inherently bad people. That they were all child molesters.  I remember when he came out of the closet. We were in the middle of no where in the woods, It was he and I, and my Girlfriend at the time. I remember she shrugged at him and said “okay, whatever makes you happy.” and carried on like it was no big deal. At this point in my life, I had met several other gay people. I was starting to shed this idea that all gay people were bad. I started to see that there wasn’t one thing about any of them, that made them good or bad. just like some people were just good people, while others just weren’t; and that regard they weren’t any different from anyone who was straight. I remember not saying anything for a long time while I reasoned this out in my head, I mentally fought against the ideals that I was raised with. He looked at me somewhat concerned, and asked if I was alright. My Girlfriend said that I looked shocked and I was.  I knew there was something different about him but I couldn’t put my finger on it. But I had decided years previous to this, that I didn’t care what was so different about him. I finally reasoned in my head that, here was this man. Who I respected, and as far as I was concerned he was my brother. He was more family to me, than my own family, and he was Gay. despite being raised with this notion that gay people are evil, and wrong, and should be persecuted, clearly they were missing something — they had to be wrong. I accepted that fact that he was gay, and that didn’t make him a bad person. I respected his courage, and to this day, I still respect him, and view him as my brother and my best friend.

In 1999 I  had my first child a little girl. I lived in western Wisconsin, I was married to a different woman. it was the week after the spring general conference sessions. I had my daughter who was only a few months old at the time was asleep in my arms, and I was sitting in gospel Doctrine  class. In the room was the bishop, the steak president, and the teacher of the class was the wife of one of the counselors of the bishopric. The week before the prophet had gotten up and talked about how The gays were destroying gods plan, and they they were an abomination to god. I found this very unsettling. She got up and started to continue to preach this. she spoke of them like they were less than people. I was quiet upset by this. I verbalized that she needed to back up because that was wrong. She was clearly aghast at the idea, I reminded her that everyone was considered one of gods children, and even if she didn’t like their lifestyle she needed to afford them that much respect. After finishing that sentence the Steak President who was sitting behind me, grabbed me by the ear like I was  6 years old, and dragged me out of the classroom into the hallway. I almost dropped by daughter on the ground due only to the sheer force that he used on my ear.   He yelled at me, told me that My blasphemous words had no place in the church, and I should be ashamed of myself. And he was considering excommunicating me for it. I told him to do it. I told him that I was upholding one of the tenants of the church that is taught to everyone starting in primary. And if my opinion on the matter, gets me excommunicated then fine, I didn’t care. He stumbled over his words and  then stumbled back into the classroom. I stayed in the hall nursing my ear which was bleeding. Within about a minute The Bishop came out. He told me that he respected my opinion, but then followed it up by saying that my opinion had no place in the church. I very clearly remember saying “So Church Doctrine, has no place in the church?” he told me that I was twisting his words, and this is the work of Satan, and he was instructed by the steak president to take my temple recommend. (which was fine, because I didn’t have one at the time.) I just walked off at that point, I was so angry and confused.  After the hour block was over, I was approached by the woman who was leading the class.  She said that she understands my opinion. Her brother is gay. So I asked her, is he a bad person? Does he hurt people?  She defended him.  I don’t remember if I responded to her at that point, I just remember being really confused. She loves her brother, and states clearly that he’s a good person, but then condemns him because of his choice of lifestyle. I told this story to my wife when she got out of her church calling, and I didn’t feel like she took me seriously. To the best of my recollection, her response was something a long the lines of “How else did you really expect them to respond?”

Up to this point in my life all of the stones that I’d thrown into the pond were pebbles, and the ripples were only felt by me, everyone else was on the fringes. This was a boulder, tossed by a crane into a puddle, and the mud splattered everywhere. I got scolded and talked to by at least a half dozen people from that classroom for my words. But just as many approached me stated that what I said made sense, and that the reaction of the people in that room was uncalled for.

Some people contribute, life events, or spouses, and children and luck, to God. Because clearly he made it happen, That’s fine, they have the right to believe that, that’s their fail safe. And if these people want to believe their silly ideas about how gay people cause natural disasters or are all child molesters, they have the right. But, they shouldn’t be allowed to use a public position to spread their hate. What the church did in 99 was hate and fear mongering. Pure and simple, hate discrimination.

No one should sit idle in a classroom and tolerate this kind of hate. it’s not okay. If you do not speak up when people are preaching hate and fear mongering, you are fostering the environment that’s allowing it to continue.