To my mother over spring break: “I’m trying to think of a symbol that makes me think of you that I could get tattooed to me somewhere.”

My poor mother sighed and said, “But you’ve already done so much!”

“I know, I know, I was just kidding, Mom.”

And she was right. Since I graduated high school, I got an ear pierced (which earned me a “I didn’t think you were that kind of person” from a schoolmate’s mother), started to smoke a pipe once a month or so with friends, got my septum pierced, among other things that might be familiar to you if you’ve followed this blog at all.

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I was born on an Easter. Instead of preaching a resurrection sermon as she would have been doing had I not been itching to reach daylight, my pregnant mother rolled away the stone and Behold! The womb is empty! He is no longer here. Go and share the good news. A little baby boy was born. Well, I’m sure my mom wouldn’t use “little baby boy” to describe the bouncing bundle of joy that emerged that day. The way she describes it, I was more barge than baby. Continue reading

the end of a silence

I was wondering when the appropriate time to write this blog would come, and with the recent death of Jadin Bell, I’ve decided it is time enough.

the preface

For several years I have kept a journal, and that practice eventually gave birth to this blog. From the start, it has been my desire to openly discuss the trials and joys of my life, finding beauty in the ashes, strength in the fear, and clarity in the confusion. My purpose in doing so is to encourage you who also live with ashes, fear, and confusion. It has been a process of exposing, healing, and ultimately seeing God redeem the irredeemable. I pray frequently that through sharing my story, others—all one hundred of you who will read this—will also be emboldened to open up and feel the freedom I have experienced and the grace I have been shown by my friends, family, and God.

the kicker

I am gay. I do not “struggle” with homosexuality, but that has not always been the case.

the life story

For a general framework of my life, see this post, written before I went to college my freshman year.

a. childhood

I was born in Manchester, New Hampshire. My mum is a pastor and my dad is an editor of theology books used in higher Christian academics—early Christianity, mainly. I have an older sister, two years and a half my senior. She began ballet dancing at five or six and has never stopped. That same year my parents put a violin in my hands and I have never stopped playing.

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chrysalis paper

It is wintertime. Although the earth is frozen and seemingly barren, curious little cultivators plant unseen seeds with knit-mittened hands. Snowmen and angels, nurtured by innocent fingers, rise from the ground like annual flowers beneath a sunless sky. After day-long outside labor, the children retire to kitchens and hearths to remember the warmth of their own forming, the wombs in which they were once knit.

There is a house on Porter St. where a child is engulfed by blankets in the warmth of a hearth—the heart that pumps life into the ice-encrusted brick and mortar of the New England home. It is a boy, towheaded and drowsy. The blanket is an old brown and white afghan given to his parents on their wedding day some fifteen years ago. In his hands is a book. It could be the Chronicles of NarniaD’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Mythsthe Hobbit, or a collection of Calvin and Hobbes comics.  He reads and collects memories, as the stories of hobbits, Olympians, a stuffed tiger, and a great lion become indistinguishable from his own.

to fly, to leap, to soar

Who will love a little Sparrow?
Who’s traveled far and cries for rest?

– “Sparrow” by Simon & Garfunkle


A small house in southern New Hampshire, close to an airport. A record of someone playing the organ is blasting in the modest living room. In the center of the room is my father, holding my hands as he swings giggling toddler me round and round and round in the air like the blades of a helicopter or the hands of an old clock that is speeding furiously just to prove it can still tick or a raucous pas de deux between God and child, creator and created, his hands dwarfing my wrists as I fly over the carpet screaming with delight.

When I shared this memory with my dad he denied it ever happened. It could be a dream that I’m remembering, as many of my early dreams were about flying out of my bedroom and down the stairs like Peter Pan—because if you could fly, isn’t that the first place you would want to go, downstairs?
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lions and vomit and crows, oh my

Earlier today I was walking from my survey of music literature class to the office building of my faculty advisor when I realized that I was the only student in that part of campus. But I was not alone. I was surrounded by figures shrouded in black from head to toe. It was the closest I’ve ever come to running into the mafia. It wasn’t the Italian mafia, Chinese, Swedish, or 3-6. It was a large group of crows—what has been eerily labeled a “murder.” All black, hateful stares, forced nonchalant demeanors, sharp memories, and when you get a group of them together you’re going to have a murder… mafia.

I’ve also heard that a group of lions is called a pride. When I hear “the pride of lions” I think that the lions must especially pleased with themselves for some reason. Or maybe one of the cubs is displaying great potential in training for the hunt, so she is regarded as “the pride of the lions.” If lion parents had bumpers, her parents would have “Proud parent of a gifted prowler” or something to the effect.

The only thing I really pride myself in is a personal record—a PR for you sports-minded people out there. I have not vomited since the Ravens won the Superbowl. That was, what, 2001? Nerves spit-ups, sure. Acid reflux, a little. But not a full blown PLUGHHHH. I bring this up whenever a friend mentions a bad case of food poisoning or the upward stomach flu. “My dad is the same way.” Just so they know.
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art songs

For Mom, on her birthday:

My mom told me that when she was pregnant with me I would kick her in time with the church organ.

My mom told me a story that I now tell anyone who will listen.  It is about me when I was a toddler.  I didn’t like being alone.  If I was bad, my parents would threaten to close the door during nap time.  This achieved its desired result because to me a closed door meant being cut off from the world.  During this stage of my life, Mum and Dad sang me to sleep every night after the Lord’s prayer and final bathroom run—which had various code names like “Ooka laka.” (Don’t ask.)  After this ritual, Mom often rested on the rug next to my bed until I fell asleep.  If she didn’t, I wouldn’t.

On this specific occasion, my mom thought I was asleep.  She got up and started to quietly leave the room.  I noticed and said, “Mommy, back to your mat!”  That was the last time Mommy slept on her mat.

But the singing didn’t stop.  I don’t even remember what my parents sang to me besides Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. There were a good number of hymns, like A Mighty Fortress is Our God, often sung in harmony.  I remember one non-hymn that Dad sang by himself.  It went: Continue reading

little dude

In an earlier post, I made a passing reference to a comic series I tried to begin when I was… 8? 9? 17?
Who knows.
A long time ago.

I went through several obsessions back in my single digits.  Geography/maps; Greek/Roman mythology (also a couple brief affairs with Norse and Tiki myths); magic tricks; cartooning; Crazy Bones.  For journalistic integrity, I should say that the last three of those aren’t necessarily in chronological order.

Posted below is the epitome of my cartooning phase.  The pièce de résistance, if you will—and it’s my blog, so you better will!  This comic is also a survivor of the Tragic Rainfall on Cartooning Folder as well as the Regrettable Basement Flood of ’07.  After the TRoCF I moved many of my cartoons into a plastic accordion-style portfolio.  The portfolio has many sections, including “Villains,” “Paper! paper!,” and “Other Artists.”  This comic was found in “Ready to Sell.”

I hope you find it amusing.

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ebb and flow

A year ago around this time I wrote a little summary of my life so far.  I posted it on my tumblr account, which I have since deleted.  I’d like to write about my previous year at Seattle Pacific and my hopes for next year.  This is a little exposition.

He woke up for the first time, covered in goop, and opened his eyes to bravely examine his surroundings.  “This will certainly do.”  He gave his thanks to the white-clad women and men surrounding him, took the hands of the people who brought him and walked out of the building with them to breath the cool air and climb into the yellow automobile awaiting the newcomer.

“It really is great of you to take me in like this,” he told the people in the front seat.  The woman looked back, gave the kind of smile where her eyes didn’t, and proclaimed, “He’s trying to talk!”

“Trying?” the little person hazarded his first question.  In response the woman just laughed and grabbed his left foot between her forefinger and thumb and shook it gently.  “Your sister will love you!” she said after a minute of this.

“This is going to be a long childhood,” the baby groaned inwardly.  He began to cry.

But it wasn’t a long childhood at all.  Before he could grasp the concept of a year, several had passed.  He could not only walk, but bounce and run and hop.  His parents, sister, and most other people could now understand his speech.  Music would float into his room on many days, and it was through music that he learned how to use his ears.  He listened, and — when ready — grabbed a few notes and tried them on.  They fit awkwardly, like the clothes his sister shoved him into sometimes and giggled so much at.

When he began to feel like he had a grasp on how to go about doing things, his world widened.  His parents, who he had trusted up to this point, brought him to an unfamiliar woman in an unfamiliar building and left him there.  He felt betrayed.

“This is going to be a terrible way to spend my time,” the toddler thought bitterly.  He began to cry.

But he realized this new place wasn’t as terrible as he thought it would be.  The others, for there were other small people who found themselves in the same place, they all seemed to be generally decent playmates.  He played and laughed with them for years, but also listened whenever the tall woman felt like saying something.  He counted, he read, he wrote.  But in the end he always went home to be with his parents and sister, who he discovered had already learned whatever he had.  Sometimes his sister poked fun at him, but she also helped him understand whatever happened.  He learned how to clumsily make music with an instrument instead of his voice.  His favorite thing was when his dad patiently played along.

When he began to feel at peace with these new rhythms, the song changed.  His house rejected his family, and he had to cut off the friendships he spent years building and prepare to find new ones.  His parents told him they were going on a grand adventure to a land surrounded by water, but he didn’t really care for this plan.  The choice wasn’t his.  So he packed everything up like the rest of them and got into the red van, which was awaiting the long voyage.

“Life is going to end,” the kid thought with the melodramatic certainty that can come easily to a small person facing a large change.  He began to cry, but felt stupid for it.

Of course, life continued after the three-day journey.  Their home had followed them in the move, even if it did take them some time to unpack it.  There was a new building here where he went to learn new things and build new friendships.  The music also followed them, so he used it to plug into new places.  He realized that his parents had known all along that he would like it there.  He shifted around and became comfortable and happy.

Time kindly slowed down so he could take his time living in it.  He matured a bit in this new home and began to grapple with faith.  He loved the church they attended and spent a good deal of time there.  It welcomed them as if they were family.

The years began to feel cyclical.   Music, laughter, family, church, sadness, love, school, all of them swirled him around in an intricate dance.   He learned from the rhythms of time and attempted to prepare himself for the next inevitable change.  He packed his bags calmly to let himself know that he could.  He said ‘goodbye’ to the big building and the teachers in it.  ‘Goodbye’ to his church.  ‘Goodbye’ to his friends.  ‘Goodbye’ to his home.

He woke up.  The day had come.  The only thing he was scared of was his own sense of readiness.  He hugged and thanked his parents, sent a kiss to his sister who had moved out before him, let a tear fall, and bravely boarded the grey plane that was awaiting him.

“This is going to be—“ the young man began.  But he thought better of it and decided to let time speak for itself.


picture day

Walking down the hallway had never felt as victorious as it did on school picture day in second grade.  Per usual, I was rockin the pinkish chipmunk cheeks and hair waxed into what the barber lady called the Macauley Culkin (back when that was a compliment).  My mom had taken me to a thrift store across the street from my first violin teacher in downtown Manchester to search for suitable attire.  I girded myself with the spoils of our hunt for that school picture—a tailored Italian khaki suit.  Mrs. White said I looked like a little business man.  I wasn’t exactly sure what a businessman was, but I figured they at least looked good.

The rest of my elementary school pictures didn’t quite live up to the standard I set in second grade.  I peaked early.  Around third or fourth grade—it depends on the person—many children lose their ability to be cute without any effort.  Maybe this wasn’t your experience, but third grade was the year I first snatched the packet of school portraits from my teacher’s hand, glanced at them once, and slammed them on the desk with the little plastic window facing down.  Besides perhaps one or two kids who always looked good (or felt so strongly that they always looked good that the rest of us believed them) most of the class did the same with their pictures.  Some of the girls would let out a small sob and/or mutter something about retake day—an occurrence that became the first meaningful experience of redemption for many of us.  The guys would either simply flip the pictures over like me or take them out, laugh, and show their friends.  After seeing a few pictures from the latter group, most of us realized that we all looked a little ridiculous and felt better about ourselves.  Trade with a friend, pass it around, laugh a little, stop laughing, grab the picture back, place it back on the desk face down until the bell rang.  And, of course, sign up for retakes.

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bleeding ink

I began my first journal on December 30, 2001.  It is spiral bound, but the spiral is covered by paper that joins the front and back covers of the journal, which has an old map of the world printed on it.  The designers chopped a square out of the front cover, leaving a window to the first page, on which a sailboat is floating under the early morning moon.  I remember loving this journal and having no clue what to write in it.  The first entry:

journal 1

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