Monday, January 24, 2011

Church Yesterday

So when I went to church yesterday, I attended Priesthood meeting for the first time in who knows how long. I typically haven't attended Priesthood in several years because my experience has been a lot of unprepared, boring lessons with a lot of guys I don't connect with; plus it's the earliest meeting, and I work late. It just isn't my bag.

However, yesterday was ward conference, and I thought we might have a combined meeting with a more inspirational lesson. I was right that it was a combined meeting. When the man giving the lesson stated that the basis of the discussion would be Boyd K. Packer's last talk in General Conference, I bristled because I wondered if it would head toward homosexuality-bashing, and when he started talking about the Proclamation on the Family and the things Satan does to weaken and/or destroy the family, I thought for sure we would be heading that way.

Much to my surprise, the topics of homosexuality or same-sex marriage were not mentioned once (although I have a feeling if there had been more time, they might have been mentioned). Instead, we spent most of the class talking about pornography and the dangers that come along with it.

I swear, there must be a massive pornography epidemic among members of the church because it comes up so often in conference talks and church lessons. In any case, the class didn't do much to change my lack of desire to attend Priesthood. Talking about pornography for 45 minutes didn't do much to make me feel closer to God.

Sunday School was good. We talked about John the Baptist. It was also a bigger group due to ward conference, and my friend (the same one who attended my disciplinary council), who normally attends another class, was there, and had some good comments. One thing I like about her is she's not one to give your standard "Sunday School" answers; she actually has thought-provoking comments to makes. One stake leader pompously answered a question as if he were an authority, and she rightly disputed what he said because the fact is his answer was not as definitive as he may have thought. I like that my friend isn't afraid to speak her mind. In any case, the discussion was more lively than usual, and I enjoyed that.

The talks in Sacrament Meeting were by our bishop and stake president, respectively; both men I know well. The topic was that this life is the time to prepare to meet God. I suppose these talks should have made me feel bad since, according to LDS doctrine, by acting on my homosexual feelings I am sinning, and therefore am probably not using my mortal probation the way I am supposed to be. Yet, as these talks were given, I felt very good about where I am in life, how God views me, and where I will end up. I am judged within the parameters of my own situation and knowledge, and I believe that there is much more to the plan of God and his perfect knowledge of our lives and circumstances than we realize. There was an assurance that as long as we are doing the best we can, that is sufficient, and I feel I am doing just that. It was nice to be reminded of that during talks which could have potentially made a person feel less sure of themselves. In fact, one of the biggest promptings I felt was that personal revelation is just that - personal - and as I reread the scriptures upon which our ward conference theme was based, I was uplifted.

32. For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

33. And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.

34. Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

It occurred to me that I am doing very much to "improve [my] time while in this life" and that I am perfectly happy that the spirit that possesses my body now will be the one to possess it in the eternities because my spirit is a very good, happy, and joyful one. If that's who I am in the afterlife, that pleases me immensely.

Anyway, it was a pretty good day at church overall.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Let me start off by saying that I don't watch "Glee." I saw the first two episodes, and just didn't care for the writing. I found it cheesy, and the characters seemed two-dimensional and unrealistic to me. Perhaps that has changed as the show has developed and evolved. Needless to say, it did not hook me like it has so many other people. It seems like a show I should like. After all, I like music and musicals and good a capella groups. I've seen a couple of clips from it, but it just hasn't grabbed me.

That being said, I have a lot of friends who watch it, and I read Entertainment Weekly regularly enough to know who some of the main characters are and even some plotlines.

It warmed my heart today to see the following Entertainment Weekly cover in my mailbox today:

I just thought it was very touching and affirming of who gay people are and can be.

I wrote about this recently here, but when I was growing up, it was hard to find gay characters on TV at all, let alone ones that actually made you feel good about being gay. While I understand it is still difficult to address and accept one's sexuality, I feel very grateful and comforted that a struggling gay kid today can so easily see gay characters portrayed so positively on a television show or look at a cover like this on a newstand and see that being who they are is not a bad thing at all.

Kurt and Blaine (I think those are their names) look so normal and content, and it fills my heart with love and appreciation that impressionable gay people can see an image like this and know that they can be fine and that they can have something to look forward to.

The accompanying article was good, too.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Feeling My Age

I'm going to be 40 in about two months. That certainly isn't old, by far, and truth be told, I usually feel pretty youthful in my attitudes and personality. I'm also told often that I look about ten years younger than I actually am. Most people put me around 29 or 30 these days; sometimes 28. So I can't complain.

That being said, there are times when I do notice the effects of aging in my own body. I notice I don't see as well as I once did. Night driving is more difficult for me than it was even two years ago, and if I don't wear my glasses when I read, I find myself squinting a lot. I used to wear my glasses only when I read, but lately I find I'm wearing them pretty regularly even though I probably don't need to (I primarily do so because if I don't, I'll catch myself reading without them, and that's when I need them most).

Though certainly not deaf by any stretch of the word, I notice that I don't hear as well as I once did. This is probably due to listening to a lot of loud music during my lifetime (and I'm sure seeing The Green Hornet yesterday on an IMAX screen with deafening-level sound did not help a bit). It's mostly when I'm talking on the phone that I need people to speak up. I'm constantly having Jonah repeat things (often more than once), and in conversations with various people, I need things repeated as well. At first, I thought people were just mumbling, but it's happening often enough that I think it's probably my hearing that's at fault.

Of course, I have a lot of aches and pains, many of which I'm sure are the result of the many prat falls, dancing, and various stunts and falls I have done during my stage career. I've had surgery on my left knee due to an injury that I know was caused on stage. As I take a physical scan of my body right now, I can tell you that I have neck pain, shoulder pain, upper and lower back pain, pain in my right hip, and pain in my left knee. It's all minor, but it is still there.

I've broken my right foot twice and dislocated my right ankle. Because of the dislocation, I can now make a snapping noise when I bend my right ankle. My right hip also makes a similar sound (I did get this fix at the chiropractor, but I think it has reverted back to the way it was). I can make a snapping noise with my left knee (due to the surgery) and my right shoulder (due to a recent injury). There is also cartilage in my neck that makes a crackling sound when I rotate it or push on it with my fingers. I've also had a corneal transplant.

I'm probably about 30 pounds overweight and, as I've mentioned before, I have been diagnosed with high cholesterol. It does not help that I still don't eat as healthily as I ought to. I find I get winded more easily than I used to. It does not help that I do not exercise regularly.

I've lost some hair in the last 20 years, and I have a bald spot in back and my hairline seems to recede a bit every few years. I also notice my hair doesn't grow back as quickly as it once did after getting a haircut (but then, it never grew all that fast anyway). I notice I have to trim my nose hair more often than I previously have.

I like napping. But then, I've always enjoyed sleeping. But I don't have the same kind of energy I had 20 years ago.

My sex drive is not as strong as it once was. Although things are still well in that department, I'm certainly nowhere near as consistently horny as I was 20 years ago.

I was thinking of 19 year-old me. He ran 3 miles just about every day and had boundless energy. He was thinner, more youthful, and had more hair. He didn't have all these aches and pains 39 year-old me has. He enjoyed sleeping, but was also an insomniac. Actually, his left eye was much worse than my left eye is (that was prior to a much-needed transplant). He was pretty immature and self-centered emotionally, but physically he was in pretty good shape and pretty much felt immortal.

Don't get me wrong; I still feel pretty good, and any complaints I have made are fairly minor. However, just the thought of running 3 miles makes my knee hurt, and without some major training leading up to it, I doubt I could run a full three miles today without stopping.

I told Jonah I really want to get back into shape, and I am trying (though often failing) to eat better. We're planning on walking or running when I get back home. I have a big show in about 2 and half months, and I really need to get back on my game.

Anyway, I'm not sure what even prompted me to write this today, but I felt like doing so.

I'm sure some of you out there can relate.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I Wouldn't Go Back

Well, what do you know?
Well, what do you know?
In front of me now
Is an open door.
I'm moving ahead,
Not sure of the way,
And yet there's a light
That I'm heading for.

Now if someone had said to me a year ago
That I would take the trip I'm taking now,
I would have said "You're crazy.
I'll be better off right here."
But here I am amazed to find that
I can turn and walk right through the door,
And what is more -

I wouldn't go back.
I wouldn't go back.
As strange as I feel
I'm simply couldn't go back.
I'll never go back
Where I was before.

from "I Wouldn't Go Back" from Closer Than Ever
Music by David Shire and Lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr.

Jonah and I had an interesting conversation last night. He was interested in my experience with reparative therapy. He asked me if I felt it had helped me or if it had been damaging, and he asked if I thought reparative therapy was damaging in general. He asked me about what specifically I had gone through in my therapy, and I told him I had written it all down at the time (back in 2001, before and after 9/11), and that if he were interested, I'd be glad to read him my journal entries. So I was on the phone with him for about two hours just reading my entries about my therapy sessions from long ago. It was interesting to see what changes have occurred to me since then and, surprisingly, what things have stayed the same. Much of it seemed like it had been written by a different person and some of it could have been written by me yesterday.

Here are some things I liked about therapy:

One thing I have always appreciated about my therapy was that it finally gave me an opportunity to really give voice to a lot of issues and problems I kept inside for so long. Just being able to discuss my sexuality and the issues that came with it was very freeing emotionally. Therapy also helped me learn to share my inner-most feelings and secrets with others - something I was not in the habit of doing at the time. That has been valuable.

Therapy helped remind me that God already knows the deepest parts of ourselves, even the parts we wouldn't necessarily want anyone else to know. He knows the fierce battles that go on in each human heart that no one else ever sees. And He still loves us just for who we are. We are not diminished in his eyes because of our weaknesses or foibles.

Therapy helped me learn that no man is an island. No man can live life on his own. He needs others to survive. So much of my life was spent closing myself from others because I had been hurt in the past, and if I only relied on me, I wouldn't risk being hurt or disappointed by others. Therapy helped me be more dependent and reliant on others; not just myself. Therapy helped me to be less selfish.

Therapy was useful in helping me understand that fears are far more scary than the actual reality and that you also can't live life based on "What ifs?".

Here are some things I didn't like so much:

I found my therapist somewhat condescending, with this attitude that I was some sinner that needed to be fixed, and he was going to be the one to do it. He would read me scriptures and talk to me at times as if he were higher above me on a righteousness plane and that he was imparting this useful information that would help "save" me. I just found his attitude very self-righteous, and I didn't appreciate it at the time nor do I appreciate it in retrospect.

It was LDS Family Services, so of course there was an agenda; a goal: to "fix" me and to make me not be gay anymore, but I do wish I could have maybe gone to a more neutral therapist at that time in my life, but I was trying so hard to do what the Church (and what I felt God) wanted me to do at the time that I went to LDS Family Services. I just wish it hadn't been a so biased form of therapy. But I guess any reparative therapy is going to be biased towards "fixing" gay people.

I didn't appreciate the fact that this particular therapy tried to make me feel that my dad had somehow emotionally "rejected" me or been "less than" as a father-figure to me and that I had somehow sexualized my desires for a father-figure by transferring it to people of the same gender as myself. I don't feel this is true, and it really bothered me at the time.

While a lot of what I learned in therapy was valuable and useful, some of it felt at the time (and still feels) like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo and overly-simple solutions and "easy fixes" to very complex issues.

I also think it was unfair of my therapist to proclaim me "not gay" after a few sessions of therapy simply because I was dealing with it better. I remember him telling me how much success he had had with helping people change, and it dawned on me that I have never spoken to him since I completed my therapy with him, and that he might still consider me one of his "success stories." I wonder how many people he "helped" that have acted on their homosexual feelings since then? I have a feeling it would be telling.

Of course, the main thing I don't like about reparative therapy is the idea that gay people can or should be "fixed." And in this particular therapy there was always the goal of steering me towards an eternal companionship with a woman, and I think that can be damaging in the long run. I wish society and religions could just let gay people be gay. I've found it to be a far happier way to live my life than when I was trying to force myself to live in a box I just didn't fit in.

Jonah asked me if I regretted going through therapy. I don't. Like I said, some valuable lessons were learned, some which I still apply in my life today. And I think everything I've done on my journey in life has some merit. Each experience is important.

Obviously, reparative therapy failed in its main goal, which was to make me straight. And I do think reparative therapy can be damaging for those who want to change and think they can, but can't. On the other hand, I know people who feel it has helped them control or suppress their homosexual feelings to the point where it is at least manageable. Are they fooling themselves? I couldn't say. I'm not them, I'm me. All I know is reparative therapy was a short-term fix, but ultimately unsuccessful in dissipating my homosexual feelings and desires, which I no longer believe even needed to be eradicated.

As I read through my journal, I felt sorry for this poor kid who thought he needed to change; who felt that God would be unhappy with him if he gave in to his homosexual desires; who was trying so hard to fix something that didn't need to be fixed; who believed there was only one path to happiness, and it didn't involve homosexuality. Life wasn't all bad when I was in the closet and trying to be straight; but it is certainly better now.

Falling in love with Jonah really changed my perspective. It gave me a good reason to come out. It gave me a good reason to pursue a committed relationship. And what I've learned since then and since I was excommunicated has actually strengthened my knowledge of who my Father in Heaven is and my relationship with Him.

If I was told I could be rebaptized into the LDS Church today if I gave up my relationship with Jonah, I would not do it. At one time I would have thought that meant I was choosing Jonah over God, but I do not believe that for one second now. I have both Jonah and God in my life. The love of both is very present and very strong and very worth what I've done to get where I am now. Others may not understand or appreciate that without being in my shoes, but I know it is true.

I look at who I was and who I am now, and I can say very firmly, "I will not go back to that repressed, sad, angst- and confusion-filled life." There's too much joy, fulfillment, happiness, and love to be found where I am now.

Life used to be filled with so much guilt, fear, and unworthiness. Perfect love casts out all fear. I have a life of love, worth, authenticity, and I know who I am and am happy being who I am. No, indeed, I wouldn't go back.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

To Life, To Life, L'chaim!

I was thinking last night about how much my life has changed for the better since I found Jonah and came out of the closet. I remember how much I used to wish that God would just release me from this mortal life. I wasn't necessarily suicidal, per se (nor do I believe I would have had the bravery (or cowardice, depending on who you look at it) to actually take my own life. But I was tired and weary and broken and felt perfectly okay that if God would just bring me back home, that would be fine with me. I was tired of fighting who I felt I was and didn't see much joy in life.

I'm happy to say that since I feel in love and came out of the closet, my thoughts on life have completely reversed. A few months ago my doctor told me I had high cholesterol and that I was at risk for a heart attack or a stroke and that I needed to change my eating and exercise habits. I'm only 39, but my father died at 55, which is only 16 years away, and he died from complications due to strokes (which started several years before he actually passed).

I realized I don't want to die. I have so much to live for now. I love my life; absolutely love it! I love my life with Jonah, I love where my career has gone of late, I love my family, I love my relationship with my Father in Heaven, and I love being who I am. I feel I have so much more I want and need to do in this life, and that is something that I didn't feel as strongly when I was trying to live my life the way I was "supposed" to. There's just to much to do and too much to live for now.

I still don't relish the idea of growing old, but I certainly am in no hurry to die like I once was. Life used to often feel like a chore; something I was just walking through and tolerating. Now it's something I feel that I enjoy and celebrate. And isn't that what God wants us to do with our lives. Aren't men and women created "that they might have joy"? I believe so.

So here's to life! May it be a joyous adventure for all of us.

Much love,


Thursday, January 06, 2011

This Just In

James Marsden is hot!

That's all.

A Chance To Meet My Hero

I'm reposting this because I started this post in December and didn't finish it until recently and wanted it to be reflected properly in my blog archive. Apologies if you've already read it.

Well, I told you it was coming!

Anyone who has read this blog from the beginning knows that I am a huge fan and admirer of Stephen Sondheim. If you don't know who Stephen Sondheim, you can't be my friend anymore. Just kidding! (...but seriously, find out more about him! Really!)

In my opinion, Stephen Sondheim is the greatest composer and lyricist in Broadway musical theatre history. I say that with complete and utter bias, but I also believe it to be true. There have been many great composers and lyricists in musical theatre history, and having taught that particular subject, I know a lot about most of them. But Sondheim is pure genius, in my opinion, and has taken the craft of lyric-writing and composing to a higher level and has opened the doors to other composers and lyricists of his ilk.

That being said, I will admit some things. Stephen Sondheim is an acquired taste. Not everyone likes his stuff, and I understand why. But I think those people are missing what Sondheim is all about (or simply don't appreciate what he's about). I also concede that Sondheim is not the most popular or commercial of Broadway composers/lyricists (at least outside of theatre circles). And this is probably one of the things that draws me to him so much. I know some people don't "get" Sondheim. I do, and when I meet someone who does "get" Sondheim, I know I have more in common with them than those that don't. That's fine. To each his own. Some people put Andrew Lloyd Webber or Stephen Schwartz or Jerry Herman above Stephen Sondheim in their order of appreciation, for example. That's fine. Everyone has different tastes, and I can appreciate what those particular men have brought to musical theatre. But I think those people that put them above Sondheim in terms of pure craftsmanship and innovation are misguided (perhaps by their need for a catchy tune or their unwillingness to work and think harder rather than just sit back and be entertained).

I will admit this, too: Sondheim's shows are not always pleasant to watch, especially if you are not ready to be challenged or deal with complex issues; especially if you just want to leave your brain at the door. I admit this as well: it has been seldom that upon a first viewing or listening of a Sondheim show that I "got" it or even particularly enjoyed it. I'm ashamed to admit that the only two scores I thoroughly enjoyed on a first listen were Assassins and Merrily We Roll Along. Embarrassed, even. (I'm not including West Side Story, Gypsy, or Do I Hear a Waltz?, for which Sondheim did the lyrics and not the music). I mean, now I realize what a groundbreaking show Company was. I think the score to Sweeney Todd is an absolute masterpiece. Into the Woods is one of my favorite musicals. Sunday in the Park with George is brilliant. The complexity, craftsmanship, and skill of Sondheim's music and lyrics astounds me. Like an onion, he has so many layers; and like a fine wine or an aged cheese, he is an acquired taste.

My first exposure to Mr. Sondheim was in 1989, toward the end of my last year of high school. In the summer I would be going on a theatre trip organized by my drama teacher, and one of the shows we would be seeing was Into the Woods. I had purchased that album (yes, kiddies, album!) along with Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera, which we would also be seeing (but not Cats (I already knew I wasn't so fond of the music for that show). I purchased the albums to familiarize myself with the music of the shows we would be seeing. At the time, I thought Les Miz was terrific, Phantom was so-so, and Into the Woods was cute, but I was kind of nonplussed by it. Oh, how times change! I now know that Into the Woods is far superior than the other two. I still have a fondness for Les Miserables, but it certainly isn't as sophisticated or as well crafted as Into the Woods, in my opinion. I still think (and thought at the time) that Phantom was overrated. In general, I think Andrew Lloyd Webber is overrated and isn't nearly as talented or brilliant as Mr. Sondheim. Yet, he is the more popular of the two (or at least the most commercial).

When I saw Into the Woods, I really enjoyed the first act, but thought the second was a bit of a downer. In my immaturity, I completely missed the point of the show. Like so many theatre-goers, I think I just wanted to be entertained, not educated or enlightened. But I did discover as life continued, the more I listened to, read the script for, or saw other productions of Into the Woods, the richer the experience became and the more I gleaned from it. I almost equate to reading the scriptures. I think the more you read them, the deeper the meanings become, and sometimes passages you've read again and again will suddenly take on new and inspirational meanings simply based on where you are in life. I think most, if not all, of Sondheim's work is like that.

When I went away to college, I had the great fortune to become best friends with a guy who introduced me to more of Sondheim's work. In the course of our first year of college together, he introduced me to Sweeney Todd, Company, Sunday in the Park with George, and also helped me gain a greater appreciation for West Side Story, which I was only vaguely familiar with at the time. I am truly embarrassed to admit that aside from West Side Story, my first impressions of these scores and shows were less-than-glowing.

My friend forced a bunch of us to watch Sweeney Todd, which he adored. While I found much of the music interesting and enjoyed the performances, some of it felt too operatic to me and the story was too dark for my tastes, and, frankly, I found it depressing. I could sense my friend's disappointment that I hadn't latched on to it the way he did (the same reaction I have today when someone doesn't appreciate or enjoy it).

I remember thinking Company sounded very dated; very "70s." I freely admit I didn't get it at all. What was this show even about? I also thought the lady who played Joanne (Elaine Stritch) had a terrible voice, and I had no clue what "The Ladies Who Lunch" was even about.

Sunday was a bit more enjoyable for me. There were some tunes I liked, but I found much of the score too busy for my tastes.

I liked West Side Story a lot, and greatly enjoyed Leonard Bernstein's music. I remember hearing the score before I saw the movie, and thought the song "Maria" was so repetitive as far as lyrics went. "Why does he keep repeating 'Maria'?" Oh, how dumb I was! Yet when I saw the song in context in the film, I thought it was one of the most moving things I had ever seen. The sheer simplicity, yet great power, of it still astounds me, and it's a song I now adore. Although the sad ending bothered me at the time, I did like the story and the lessons within it very much.

Yet in spite of my weak first impressions of these scores, I felt strangely compelled to keep listening to them, and as I did so, I began to appreciate and understand more about them. I began to pay more attention to the lyrics. It's true, for example, that it took me a while to appreciate or understand what Company was about, but I liked much of the music, and as time went by, began to glean deeper meaning from the lyrics. Now I know what a groundbreaking musical it was, and the deep insight Sondheim gives relationships and marriage is beyond fascinating to me.

Some of the dark wit in Sweeney Todd eventually resonated with me, and I found many of the songs, including "The Barber and His Wife" and "Pretty Women" so moving.

This time in my life was especially difficult and frought with confusion, depression, frustration, and angst, and I very distinctly remembering how the song "Move On" from Sunday in the Park with George seemed to speak to my heart directly. I felt like Sondheim had gotten inside my soul and spoken directly to me. I listened to that specific song over and over.

Eventually I became such a fan of Sweeney Todd that I begged my theatre professor to do it the next year and spent the summer ardently campaigning for it. In retrospect, we had neither the talent or maturity to pull it off, and it would have been a major bomb in that particular community, but I knew none of that at the time.

I bought the record and listened to it again and again and again and was obsessed with it. I made my mom watch it (her reaction was similiar to my first reaction, but I think she appreciates it much more now). I bought my own copies of the albums for Sunday in the Park and Company as well.

Our theatre department ended up doing The Pirates of Penzance as our musical, and I thought "Gilbert and Sullivan over Sondheim?! You've got to be kidding!"

As I studied his lyrics and watch productions of Sondheim's shows, I began to see how much they taught me about life and the human condition, and how much certain lyrics seemed to relate to me specifically. It took many more years of listening to his music to really appreciate the deepness and complexity of the compositions themselves.

As life went on, I collected more and more of his scores, devouring them (although, again, I admit, I did not always like his stuff on a first listen; I did not care for Pacific Overtures, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, or Follies the first time I heard them. I'm a hug fan of all three now). I thought A Little Night Music was okay, although I remember very much liking "Every Day A Little Death," which still remains one of my very favorite Sondheim compositions.

I thought Merrily We Roll Along was brilliant and moving the very first time I heard it, and although it is rarely done (and bombed on Broadway), it is probably my second favorite Sondheim score (Sweeney being the first; although they are so very different, it's hard to compare). I also remember loving Assassins the first time I heard it, both because it dealt with a subject that I found very interesting and because I liked the dark humor in it. Plus the music was terrific. I also enjoyed Anyone Can Whistle.

As the years have gone by, I have become a huge fan and connoisseur of Sondheim and his music. I've written him three letters in my life, all of which he answered personally. My first letter to him was a fawning fan letter telling him what a genius I thought he was. I sent it through his music publisher, and a week later I got a small letter from New York. At the time I didn't know anyone in New York and wondered who it could be from. When I opened it and discovered that it was from Mr. Sondheim himself (on his personal stationary no less), I was elated and amazed that he not only took the time to write back, but did so so promptly.

And what was written in his letter? Only three sentences, which I still remember (because I often take that letter out and reread it): "Dear [Cody], what a terrific letter! Thank you. It made my day." Signed by Stephen Sondheim himself. I once made Stephen Sondheim's day!!!

The other two letters were written while I was doing my senior project in my last year of my undergraduate. A friend of mine were doing a show about Stephen Sondheim and his work, and I wrote him to ask for some advice, and he wrote me back and asked me to report on how it went. So I wrote him again, and he wrote me back.

I have great esteem and admiration for the man. He just came out with a book, Finishing the Hat, which I've started reading and love. In conjunction with his book, he has been touring various places. One of those places, luckily, will be Salt Lake City on February 1. I bought tickets immediately, and Jonah and I will be attending what is being called "An Evening with Stephen Sondheim" where he will be interviewed and talk about his work (and likely field questions). I am thrilled to finally see my hero and idol up close. It's something I always hoped I would do, and as Mr. Sondheim gets older, I realized the chances were getting slimmer, so I'm very, very excited.

I could write a whole blog about Stephen Sondheim, let alone a post, and a lot of you out there probably haven't been interested enough to get this far. But I love the guy and am so eager to finally see him in person, and I just wanted you all to know.

Here's to you, Stephen Sondheim! Here's to you!