Saturday, July 12, 2014

I Moved to Arizona!

Goodness. This past week was intense. Packing. Moving. Unpacking Shopping. Assembling. Prepping. Meeting new people-ing.

It all began as I packed up my stuff back in Provo, Utah. Select people of Provo were a little unkind to me that last day and wouldn't let me park my truck and trailer in order to allow me to load my stuff into them. I was initially planning to leave Friday night around midnight (night of July 4th), but because I was sooo done with Provo, I left around 7:00 pm just to hasten my escape from the doldrums.

A small fraction of the many farewells that were said.
It wasn't until my room was completely cleared out did things really sink it. It was then I became excited, and even more anxious to leave. Though I didn't have any concrete travel plans, I still just wanted to get on my way. I guess all of my solo traveling in China has taught me to "just go" and enjoy the adventure ahead, whatever it may be.
Standing in my empty room at Timpanogos Gateway apartments, the last of my college apartments.
As a result of time complexities and parking difficulties, my stuff sat in my front room for a day or two. Luckily my roommates were pretty cool with everything.
Finally, after 5 1/2 years of BYU I was finally leaving Provo, for good! I spent a fair amount of time during the previous two weeks driving around, reflecting of all the things that had happened while attending BYU. I could write a book about it all. Oh wait, I am.
After two hours of driving, I stopped for dinner at Fillmore. That Carl's Jr. Closed at 9:00, so after I took this picture I ate at a nearby Burger King. While ordering my food everybody stared at me like I was some kind of exotic outsider.
Taken in Fillmore at 9:00 p.m. #nofilter
At around midnight I was pretty tired. I pulled over in Cedar City and checked into a Hotel 6. The lady at the front desk was very nice. I got into my room, set my alarm for 2:00 a.m., and took a nap. At 2:00 a.m. I was awake and back on the road. I listened to Linkin Park over half of my total drive.

I've had gallbladder issues lately and pulled over a few times to vomit (I tried to hold it back because throwing up kills my voice.) I puked while passing through Las Vegas, but other than that I kept it down. Pleasant, I know.

Hours of sun flower seeds, Linkin Park, driving, beautiful scenery, and a very slow mph.

I pulled up to my Arizona apartment just after noon on Saturday, the 5th of July. I was beat. Time to unload the trailer! My sister Christy and bro-in-law Ben came and helped me unload everything in my apartment (They live in Phoenix.) It was hot, and I loved it. Both my mom and dad gave me some of their older/unused furniture for my place, so I actually had a chair to sit on and a bed to sleep on. I am very grateful to have them (both my parents and the furniture.)
My sister Christy is in her third trimester. I'm going to be an uncle!
Ben & Christy took me to a place called Bahama Buck's. I can't describe it. Other's might say "It's a snow cone place that's really good! The ice they use is the best!" But even that doesn't do it justice. You simply have to try it yourself to find out how amazing it is. I don't like snow cones, but I absolutely loved what I had there.
Eating snow cones at Bahama Buck's!
Saturday morning, after my first night's sleep in Arizona, I woke up because there was a cockroach on my leg. Goooooooodness.

Moved in. Now what? I had an entire week until I started my new job. Well, I had a lot to do, so I got to work. Though I didn't get internet until Wednesday. It was seriously the most horrible thing ever.

I went to church, but was on the verge of puking, so I kept to myself. I was a bit bummed about that. Though I went to FHE and Institute later in the week where I made some new friends.

 I went to IKEA! I really enjoyed going there. It was fun to dream and look at all of the really nice expensive stuff. I am still on a student budget, so I only purchased necessities, and cheap ones at that. Regardless, it was a very expensive week for me. Assembling all of it took all week. But at least it gave me something to do.
I brought all this home and set it up, all by myself. :)
I finally live in a warm/hot place that has palm trees! I love them! My mom still says she misses palm trees (she lives in Utah but grew up in L.A.). There are so many shops and places to eat here. Freeways run all over the place and the giant malls are filled with people. I live by a really big mall that has a lot of really cool stores in it.

I got a haircut and the girl cutting my hair was like, "So, do you go to a singles ward?" I immediately thought, 'I thought I put Provo behind me...' Anyways, there are still TONS of Mormons around here, which I like.

The warm weather invites people to be outside at night. The night life here seems to be the busiest time of day. Walking down the sidewalk you pass groups and groups of people eating outside on a patios of restaurants. I absolutely love it.
Palm trees!!!!
One night I went to a park with some new friends. We climbed up into a tree and chilled there for a while. There must have been 8+ people in the tree at one point.
Chillin in a tree with Taylor, Robby, and some others.
Then I asked a girl to get cheesecake with me late one night. She's really cool. By this time we were already Facebook friends, and since all of my public Facebook posts are generally somehow related to me being a gay Mormon, I assumed she already knew I was gay. She didn't. Oops. I came out to her while eating cheesecake and goodness, I forgot how much I hate doing that! She's totally chill with it, just like everyone else.

I love coming out to groups of people at a time, but coming out to an individual is so much different. It was a good reminder for me.
Two cheesecakes and Taylor.
Then I went and did lazer tag with a group of friends. I totally sucked at it. Like what?! In fact, the group I went with tended to be at the bottom of the rankings. It only brought us closer together, or something like that.

Getting ready to go shoot some people! Or, get shot by people rather.
A lot has happened in a week, but it's been a great week. I am extremely excited for my new life down here and can't wait to get more settled. I plan on joining Cross Fit. My new job starts on Monday which I am very excited for. I have no idea what's in store there, which is pretty exciting per se.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I've Graduated!!!

Observe, my victory pose:

I walked out of the testing center after taking my last final, ever! During my victory march when leaving the testing center, I decided to walk along the beautiful vegetated trail on the south side of campus. I took this photo there, despite the small group of people standing nearby staring at me. (June 18, 2014)
I have officially graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.S. in Computer Science and an Associates in Management. My first semester was Winter, 2009, totaling about 5 1/2 years of studying.

Me just before going in to take my last final.
After leaving the testing center one last time, I decided I would walk around in order to reflect the countless emotions I've felt at various parts of campus. While doing so, I walked through my favorite part of campus, the trail on the south part of campus which is filled with beautiful vegetation (see victory pose photo).

There are very few people on this trail at any given time. I used to spend a lot of time walking here during school. Whether I just needed time to unwind, time to see the sun, a moment to prepare for a test, a quick stroll to relax after a test, or just a casual walk to celebrate turning in a big project, this trail was always there for me.

So what's next? I have a job and start pretty soon. I'm pretty excited about this next chapter of my life.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Free Time

I'm taking one class this term. My last class of my undergrad career. Music 202. Beethoven was the man.

My class is held but twice a week and I have little to no homework. Thus I have a lot of free time. What do I do with that free time? I shall tell you.

    I've been writing, transcribing, arranging, covering, recording, mixing, and mastering.

    I'm trying to get better at arranging music, so what better than a super short primary song to arrange? While I'm not a fan a belting out names of deity, this clip shows kind of my style when arranging strictly four voices.

    Now here's a short song some friends and I made on the spot. We were just goofing around and having fun. Each of us only did one take in front of the mic, hence its random lyrics, harmonies, and rhythms.
    Now here is the song I released this past week on my YouTube channel. It's a song I've loved since high school. I wrote a brief blog about it here.

    I've been hanging out with my awesome mom!

    I've been going to Seven Peaks water park a bit.

    Google Plus has been making these videos automatically when my phone automatically uploads its pictures and videos. They're kind of fun.

    And then I went to an art museum with my friend. It was edifying.

This statue was scalding hot.
    I've been trying to make DDR cool again.
      I've been putting forth effort to get more involved in my ward. It's been a lot of fun and very rewarding. Here I am with my Elders Quorum President, who is also my home teaching companion. I also home teach one of the girls. 

I love this picture. What's on the screen and our facial expressions say it all hahaha!!!

    Here is another video Google Plus made for me.

    I've been making a Mormon themed game for Android with my best buddy Nozomi.

    We got trapped in an elevator.
    We made a camp fire in Provo Canyon.
    After we took the bottom picture you see here, a raccoon came and took the entire bag of hot dog buns we had on our table. My phone/camera was still propped up on the table at the time, but I really wanted to video the little dude! I slowly crept towards the table/raccoon to get my phone, but it quickly grabbed what it wanted and ran away. It would have been a hilarious video.

Tyrells face is black for some reason hehe.
    I escorted my friend Tyrell as he purchased a new car.

That's pretty much all that's been going on. Things are pretty dang chill at the moment. I'm trying to make the best of these last moments here in Utah and I'm definitely going to be missing a lot of people, but I'm extremely excited for what's to come. :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Will I? (song/video) -- Another Song That's Helped Me Through

I remember the first time I heard this song. One day during my high school years I was sitting on a couch at my mom's house watching a movie that featured this song. My buddy Colten was on the couch next to me. After the song finished I said out loud, "That was amazing." To which Colten responded, "Yeah it was."

I've loved the song ever since.

As I was living in my confused state of not being consciously gay, love songs never spoke to me. Instead, only music that held particularly beautiful harmonies, obscure dissonance, or a special personal meaning to me made it onto my playlist. This song was one of them.

Even though I'm now in a very good place, I still hold strong to the music that helped me through the years. The music I've been writing, recording, and covering still has a bit of a downcast feel to it despite me having moved on from those rougher times. I've discovered that expressing to you such deep parts of my life through the songs that gave me strength has had a liberating effect of me. Each song is a journal entry and I need to write them down, or rather, sing them for you.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Blooper Reel (video)

Here are some behind-the-scenes of some of my video making joys. For those of you who don't know me in person, this will definitely show you more of who I really am hehe.

I've been pretty sick these past 3 weeks with a strange flu. At times I feel great, so I'll do something active, but the day after I'll feel horrible. It's been making me tired and it kills my already small appetite. I guess I'll just keep on resting until I get better. I'm going crazy sitting in my apartment with such limited social interaction. All well. It could be worse :)

But I got to Skype my little bro (and family) for Mother's Day, which was really fun.

That's all for now :)

Monday, April 28, 2014

We Are As the (Gay) Army of Helaman (song/video)

When it comes to discussing the topic of homosexuality as members of the LDS church, those of us who are gay have an advantage over those who are straight.

When a straight Mormon speaks of how gay Mormons are expected to remain celibate or pursue a marriage with the opposite sex, whether they speak empathetically or apathetically, they can very easily be labeled as heartless and receive a lot of negative backlash. When a gay Mormon stands up and says, "I plan on remaining celibate unless I end up marrying someone of the opposite sex" the tone is very different. "Faith without works is dead.", and so we see a gay Mormon's faith through their works, something that speaks a lot louder than hearing someone state the shoulds and shouldn'ts.

The story of Helaman's army is found in the Book of Mormon. It's a remarkable story of two-thousand young men, all who looked to God knowing He would deliver them when going into battle to defend themselves. Not one was slain.

Today, Mormons are a latter-day army of Helaman, preaching the word of God to the world and helping people understand Him. If we put God first, we will not be defeated.

Just before I came out on YouTube in this video, the much loved primary song about Helaman's army "We'll Bring the World His Truth", took on a special meaning to me. I now sing it as though I am part of the latter-day gay army of Helaman, knowing that if I put God first then I won't be brought down. The topic of homosexuality and Mormonism is on fire right now, and who better than us gay Mormons to put our testimonies on display for the world to see? Quoting the song's lyrics, "We have been saved for these latter days, to build the Kingdom in righteous ways." Gay and Mormon, a contradiction? Absolutely not.

I feel like standing up along side my fellow gay Mormon brothers and sisters and sharing shouting our stories and our faith to the world. "We are as the army of Helaman...and we will be the Lord's missionaries to bring the world His truth".

This is the second time I'm posting a video of me singing this song (here's the first one). At the time I posted the first one I was in the process of producing my coming out video and just wanted to try out my ability to arrange music and record live in front of a camera. It went OK. At the end of the video I hinted about me being gay, but I don't thing anyone caught on since it was so vague. My sisters have continuously asked me to finish the arrangement, so here it is.

By request, this song is available on iTunes, along with Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy sung by me and three guys in my current ward (Adam White, Josh Brogan, & Tanner Linton):
Google Play

Producing the song:

Allergy season is the death of me. My voice was more raspy than I like, but I couldn't do anything about that. I arranged the piano part in one sitting January 1st, 2013 while visiting my best friend up in Seattle, Washington. I'm still getting used to my new mic, the Avantone cv-12. It's a beautiful thing and I love it a lot. I used my Alicia's Keys plugin which I also absolutely love. The only instrument used was the piano in this song, everything else you hear is my voice.

I really need to do an upbeat song. I spent days and days on an upbeat original song these past two months, but I couldn't make it sound good for the life of me, hence I haven't uploaded a video for a while.
Jimmy Hales - "We'll Bring the World His Truth" (Army of Helaman)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

They Thought We Were Cute, General Conference, & Just Coasting Along

Me, Dan, and Scott. Dan is out, Scott is straight. The others present (not pictured) are either deeply in the closet or out to select people.
So I walk into a hip college hangout dessert place, The Chocolate, with a bunch of guys. All of us gay (except one, but whatever), and all of us Mormon, living the standards of the Church. We regularly find ourselves out and about eating dinner, eating dessert, going running, playing racquetball, and the suchlike. As we were walking in we passed a group of girls who were headed out. One of them said, "Hey look, a group of just guys! Are you really just a group of guys? That's so awesome!" Scott indirectly responded, chuckling, "If you only knew." The girls proceeded past us where I followed in the rear of my group of friends. Just as I was passing the last girl in their group I muttered, "We're all gay." A slow, yet steady laughter began to grow within them. "That's even cuter!" yelled one of the girls.

I always get a kick out of that sort of thing.

I just ran the Hollywood Half-Marathon this past Saturday. It was epic. I ran really well, the weather was beautiful, and Hollywood was actually peaceful with all of the roads closed. The race started at 6:00 am, so my sister Jolie and I woke up at 2:45 am hahaha! After the race we walked around a bit, went to Ripley's Believe it or Not, and then we went home and watched General Conference! Could the day have gotten any better?! I love my random getaways to California to run races with my sister. It's like the best bonding ever.
Watching General Conference after the Hollywood-Half Marathon
Watching General Conference was bliss. The weather called for the doors and windows to be open, allowing the cute dogs to run to and fro. Being sore after a race one just wants to lay on a bed, so we did, all while watching general conference.

Elder Anderson has already been a hero of mine. He reaffirmed that this conference. We regularly are reminded of the church opposing gay marriage (and I stand by that), but what about those of us who are are gay and living faithfully? Elder Anderson gives us shout outs more than anyone else :)

The race began at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
Here I am giving you some Asian peace.
My race time was 1 hour 32 minutes 40 seconds, so my average pace was 7:04. It's my second fastest half-marathon time. I run with negative splits, so my mile time gets faster and faster as the race goes on. Maybe it was the elevation change, but I was passing people the entire race. I was pleasantly surprised.

This was after the race, so we were a bit tired.
Jolie and I became plumbers for a day. We had to make two trips to Home Depot and watch YouTube tutorials. Because Jolie lives in a guest house, we had to coordinate when we could turn off the house's water so that we didn't bother the people living in the main part of the house. Jolie and I aren't very strong, so we had to call over Jolie's fun home teacher Pedro to help us crank something. He did it instantly. We laughed. In the end Jolie could use her small dishwasher again. Hooray!

Well, I'm kind of just coasting through my last bit of school; just jumping through some last hoops. I'm enjoying this last bit of time in Utah, though I'm very excited to begin this next chapter of my life. What's in store? What's in store? I've never known, and that keeps things interesting.