Friday, February 28, 2014

Lunch Date

This morning I got a rare and unexpected phone call from Jan. She wanted to know if I'd join her for lunch at UVRMC before she did another healing this afternoon--a teenage boy in critical condition after being hit by a drunk driver. It meant missing a class, but this would be my first chance to see Jan in more than a month, and who knows when I'd get another chance?

I drove to the hospital with all sorts of mixed emotions--anxious to see her again, still angry at her for ditching me without even breaking up, worried that seeing her would make me fall in love all over again, nervous that we'd have nothing in common now that she's dropped out of BYU and is doing the mutant thing full-time. What I wasn't prepared for was that I'd hardly recognize her. I entered the hospital cafeteria and almost walked right past Jan. She was sitting at a table near the door, but she looked nothing like the Jan I knew. Her eyes were sunken into dark circles, her hair pulled back in a ponytail that looked brittle enough to break off if I touched it. She wore gray sweats two sizes too big for her now-frail body. And, to be blunt, she smelled like a homeless person. The Jan I knew was never one for dressing fancy and wearing perfume, but at least she showered regularly and took care of herself. She always smelled nice. I suppose this is what happens when you devote literally your entire life to helping others.

"Hey," I said once I recognized her.

She smiled feebly. "Hey."

I gave her a hug--more than that would have felt awkward after so much time--and offered to go get her some food. She didn't seem strong enough to stand up. Judging by her looks, I expected her to be starving, but once I set the tray down in front of her she just picked at it while we talked. When I asked, she explained that she'd eaten this morning when she woke up from the latest healing coma, and while she was out they had her on an IV so it's not like she was nutrient-deficient. I suspiciously eyed her bony cheeks, usually a healthy tan but now paler than my own pasty white, but said nothing.

Jan told me about the people she had healed--nine in the past month--and I gave her updates on mutual friends from UUPP, her brother, and Lucy. I was careful not to talk too much about Lucy or mention how much time we'd been spending together, but I'm not sure Jan would have cared anyway. She didn't seem especially interested in anything I had to say.

After watching her stare blankly into space for far too long, I finally said, "Jan, I don't think what you're doing is healthy. You look like crap."

For just a second I caught a glimpse of her familiar, sarcastic smile. "Always the charmer, X."

"That reminds me," I said, "I came out on my blog. With my real name and everything. Also in my creative writing class."

Jan nodded. "Cool."

Something about her tone made me feel kind of small and ridiculous--like here I was, proud of myself for telling people I'm a mutant, while she's spending every day of her life actually using her power to make the world a better place. I'm not sure that was her intent, but it was the message I got.

That's when I finally accepted what I've known for a month. "It's over between us, isn't it?"

Jan reached across the table and barely touched my hand. A brief spark of connection passed between us. Then she took her hand back. "I don't think I can be with anyone, X. That's not the purpose God has for me."

I could have argued that no matter the good she was accomplishing, no loving Heavenly Father would want this life for anyone--barely awake long enough between comas to have a meal, then on to the next healing and coma. I could have fought for our relationship. But you know what? I didn't care. For the first time since our relationship actually ended a month ago, I was ready for it to be done. Don't get me wrong--I don't hate Jan. I really do respect what she's trying to do. She has the noblest of intentions and she's more dedicated to her cause than anyone else I know. It's just that I've spent the past month mourning the loss of someone who no longer exists. Jan is gone. I don't think the blog name I gave her even fits anymore. For a brief time she was Jan and I was Mormon X, but now she's Melanie Jensen, the young woman you've seen all over the news as she goes from hospital to hospital healing people, and I'm Ben Christensen, that guy who has a blog that one person at BYU once recognized.

And that's okay. We're different people, going our separate ways. After lunch, we hugged. I went to my Friday afternoon class, and Melanie went to save a young man's life.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Workshop Part Deux

Well that was... interesting. As promised, I workshopped my essay about being a Mormon mutant in my BYU creative writing class today. The results were varied: The majority of classmates just gave me feedback on the writing itself (which is, you know, the point of the workshop). Several gave me kudos for being so bold and open. A couple mentioned that they have mutant family members or friends. One girl who last semester workshopped a personal essay about her horrible experience dating a guy who only told her he was a mutant once they were talking about marriage (she promptly dumped him) unsurprisingly found all kinds of things to criticize in my essay--ranging from run-on sentences to pronouns with unclear referents to my apparent lack of empathy for non-mutants (and she also doesn't like my overuse of parentheticals).

The most... interesting reaction came from a girl I'll call Suzie. Suzie is a recently-returned missionary with long brown hair that she wears down and slightly frizzy. She has thick glasses and a judgmental smirk that comes out whenever someone mentions anything even remotely liberal or otherwise non-conforming, which I'm not sure she's even aware of. I suspect she's secretly attractive, but she hides it under baggy jeans and long-sleeve plaid shirts that she buttons all the way to her chin--you know, lest she cause a guy to have inappropriate thoughts. Here's an excerpt from the very long comment she left at the end of my essay:
Everyone has temptations, but you don't see normal people going around and flaunting their weaknesses. A married man who talked openly about his attraction to female coworker would just be inviting sin. A former smoker who keeps a pack of cigarettes in his pocket is asking for a relapse. There's a reason paedophiles don't get callings in the Primary. You talk about your challenge as if it's something to be proud of, even to the point of confessing past transgressions. The Lord doesn't want us to be proud of our weaknesses; He wants us to be humble enough to let Him take them from us. 

Yes, she used the British spelling of pedophile. No, she's not British. Just pretentious. I've kept her British spelling and introduced her with that description of a self-righteous Molly Mormon because I think she's kind of ridiculous and I want you to agree with me. But at the same time, her criticism has really upset me, and typically that only happens when there's at least a grain of truth to the criticism. I already know I'm driving a little close to the edge by openly claiming a mutant identity and hanging out with mutants and mutant supporters. It's a risk I'm willing to take in order to open up discussion about what it means to be a Mormon mutant. But the part I'm not so happy to admit is that I am proud of being a mutant. I'm not sure when that happened--it wasn't true four months ago, but it is now. And I think she's right, I probably shouldn't be proud. I should be humble. I should be humbly asking the Lord to take this from me.

But honestly? I don't want to.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Remember when I was thinking of bringing my essay about being a Mormon mutant to my creative writing class at BYU? That plan was put on hold as I worked through anxiety about airing my dirty laundry in public, and then my life exploded and I completely forgot about the essay. Until this morning, that is.

At our weekly meeting of FOX, Tara asked whether I'd ever had the essay workshopped in a creative writing class. I said no, and Galadriel called me a wimp. Even Chenry, who had once expressed reservations about the whole thing, was encouraging me to do it. "You might as well," Tara said, "now that you're using your real name on your blog." It's a valid point, but I doubt any of my classmates read the blog.

As it happens, my turn to be workshopped is this Thursday. I already had a short story up on Google Drive, ready to share with the class, but I can always use that next time. So just now I made a few revisions to my essay, uploaded it, and shared it with everyone in my class.

*Deep breath.*

I'll let you know how the workshop goes on Thursday.

Monday, February 24, 2014


It was with trepidation that I went with Lucy to watch Frozen on Saturday night. No, not because I was with Lucy--she's done a really good job of giving me space and not making me feel pressured to be anything more than friends since our DTR last Tuesday. Rather, the movie has gotten so much buzz about its supposed pro-mutant agenda that I felt like buying a ticket was equivalent to making a political statement. But Lucy really wanted me to see it with her (she'd already seen it twice since getting out of the hospital), so I went.

Now that I've seen it, I really don't know what to think. I mean, yes, the mutant parallels are obvious--Elsa has a power she's supposed to keep secret until (spoiler) she doesn't. In a heated moment she lets it go and comes to love and accept herself, mutant-like power and all. Note that the movie never uses the word "mutant"--it's supposed to be some kind of magic thing, I guess?--but c'mon, in today's world powers and mutants are pretty much synonymous. So the message is clear: let it go, embrace your power, be your mutant self, and be happy.

As soon as the credits started rolling, Lucy grabbed my arm. "Didn't you love that? Wasn't the pro-mutant message so uplifting?"

I didn't really have an answer for her. A few weeks ago I might have been more enthusiastic. But since then I've gotten back into my everyday routine, going to school and church, and I have a hard time seeing my power to fly as some kind of gift from God. Isn't it possible that Jan's power to heal is meant to bless humanity but my power really is just a test to see how obedient I'll be to the prophet's counsel to rely only on priesthood power? Don't get me wrong, I get the appeal of "letting go"--a big part of me wants to just let loose and leave the ground behind forever. But I don't feel like I can do that without leaving behind my faith. I mean, it's one thing to debate about whether or not it's okay to drink caffeinated soda, but it's another thing entirely to go against years of established church doctrine to live a mutant lifestyle.

Call it brainwashing if you want. Call it blind obedience. But I can't just give up being Mormon, any more than I could just give up being a mutant. So for now I'll just stay where I am, frozen between the two worlds.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Today I was walking by the SWKT and some random guy stopped me. "Hey, is your name Ben... um, sorry, can't remember the last name... Petersen? Johnson?"

I nodded hesitantly. "Yes, I'm Ben. It's Christensen."

"Right, that's it! Christensen!" He laughed and patted my shoulder as if we were old friends, but his face did not ring a bell for me in the slightest. "You're Mormon X. I totally read your blog. Rock on, man!"

So it's just barely been a week since I came out with my real name and face, and now a total of... wait, let me count... one person has recognized me.* I'm totally a celebrity.

Image source:

*Not counting the woman who wrote this, but she seems to have me confused with someone else. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Last night at UUPP, Lucy hardly looked at me. (But to her credit, she came anyway; she's sincerely dedicated to the cause and not just for my sake.) After the meeting she tried to slip away, but I ran to catch up with her. "Hey," I said, "what's going on?"

"Nothing." She laughed bitterly. "Absolutely nothing is going on."

I couldn't help chuckling at the stab she'd taken at me. "Boy, I walked right into that one."

She smiled a little more sincerely and shook her head. "I'm sorry, that's not fair of me. It's not like you owe me anything. If you're not interested, you're not interested. I should be happy just to be your friend." She shrugged. "I guess I feel dumb more than anything. I thought I was getting other signals from you--signals that maybe you'd want to spend Valentine's with me."

I let out a big sigh, which turned to fog and rose up to join the clouds above us. "Then it's me who needs to apologize, Lucy. I probably have been sending mixed signals." I explained that I really do like her--she's pretty and smart and super passionate about the things she believes in (and the fact that one of the things she now believes in is mutant rights is a definite plus)--but I'm not really over Jan yet. We haven't even broken up yet, as far as I know. I told Lucy I don't want to use her as my rebound, and I don't want to date her if half my heart is still with Jan. Lucy told me that she'd always thought I was cute, but she completely fell for me in those months that I was visiting her in the hospital. If she's been over-anxious to jump into a relationship with me, it's because she feels like she's been blessed with this new lease on life and she doesn't know how long it will last, so she wants to make the most of every moment. (Which, incidentally, is another thing I find attractive about her.)

Image source:

So we walked around campus and talked for a while. It was freezing cold, but neither of us cared. It was awesome that we could be completely honest with each other about how we feel. Eventually we decided that for now we should just be friends. She agreed that it wouldn't be a good idea to start something when I still have feelings for Jan. "But don't take too long," she said with a coy smile. "I'm not going to just sit around waiting." We ended the night with a good long hug. A very nice hug.

Today I'm feeling like I actually want to get over Jan. Which is a start, right?

Monday, February 17, 2014

It's Complicated

I think Lucy is upset with me. She avoided me at church yesterday. I get why she's not happy. She likes me, and I blew her off on Valentine's Day. The truth is, I kind of like her too and I could see something happening between us if not for the situation with Jan.

Okay, I'm just going to come out and say it. I'm angry at Jan. We only dated for a couple of months, but we had something real. We even talked about maybe getting married someday if the church changes its policy on mutant marriage. Then, out of nowhere, she decides she has this calling to heal everyone she can, and she runs off without even considering me. She left school behind, she left all her stuff behind, and she left me behind. She didn't even bother to think about what her leaving would mean to me. She didn't even bother to dump me. She just left. So here I am, feeling like I got dumped but because we never actually broke up I don't feel like I'm really single and free to move on with my life. I used to get annoyed at people who use the "It's Complicated" relationship status on Facebook, like they're trying to make their life more drama-filled than it needs to be. Either you're in a relationship or you're not. It should be simple. Turns out I was wrong.

This is probably insensitive of me to say, but I feel like a widower--like I'm still in a relationship with someone, but she's, as they say, no longer with us. Except I can't really grieve because that would be selfish. Jan is doing the selfless thing, completely giving up her own needs for the greater good. And here I am, the self-centered jerk complaining about not having her in my life. But you know what? It would have been nice if at some point while she's thinking of everyone else in the world, she stopped to think about me for just one second.

And, meanwhile, Lucy is here and Lucy is thinking about me, and I blew her off on Valentine's Day. What am I thinking?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Singles Awareness Day

Lucy asked if I wanted to hang out tonight. Nothing fancy--just watch a movie or play a board game or something. She was very casual in the way she asked, but I'm not stupid. I know what "hanging out" on Valentine's Day means. And it's not that I don't like her or I'm not attracted to her. I like her a lot, actually. But I just feel like spending tonight alone. Most likely thinking about Jan. So I told Lucy no.

How much of a jerk does that make me?

Thursday, February 13, 2014


I'm waiting for all heck to break loose after posting my real name and face here yesterday, but so far nothing. I'm left wondering if it really is a non-issue or if it's a ticking time bomb getting ready to explode in my face any minute now. Most likely scenario is that no one who knows me in real life reads this blog and everyone else is like, "Oh, hey, it's... some guy I don't know." I guess the next step is for me to come out to people who actually know me. Maybe post a link to yesterday's post on my personal Facebook page?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Okay, folks, this is it. I thought I was being brave when I first started this blog as an anonymous Mormon mutant, but that was nothing. I had a pseudonym and a generic profile image to hide behind. But my friend Lucy has convinced me I can do more. By being open and honest about who I am, I can show people I have nothing to hide. There is no shame in being a mutant. I am who God made me to be.

So here goes nothing:

My name is Ben Christensen. I am a 24-year-old BYU student living in Provo, Utah, majoring in English. I am a devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And I am a mutant.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In or Out?

At tonight's UUPP meeting we talked about the pros and cons of being out as a mutant at BYU. Technically the Honor Code does not prohibit students from admitting that we have unnatural power proclivities, or even identifying as mutants, so long as we don't actively use our powers. Some members of the club are totally open with all their friends, family, professors, and classmates about being mutants. Others are open about being members of UUPP and supporting their mutant friends, but they don't admit to being mutants themselves. Yet others do their best not to be publicly associated with mutants at all. One girl admitted that the only reason she ever uses her power is to turn invisible when coming and going from UUPP meetings.

Image source:

Lucy spoke out strongly in support of being out. "X came out to me on our first date," she said. (She didn't specify that it was also our only date, but whatever.) "And I admit, at first it freaked me out. I had a really hard time with it. And," she turned to me sheepishly, "I wasn't very kind about it. I'm sorry."

I smiled and squeezed her shoulder. "No worries. I understand." But I have to say, it felt really good to hear her apologize.

"As I lay in that hospital bed waiting to die, in those final weeks when it was a struggle to get a single word out, one of my biggest regrets was that I had treated such an unselfish, loving friend so poorly. I thank my Heavenly Father each day not only that he gave me another chance at life, but also that he gave me a chance to make things right with X."

Lucy sniffed. Hers weren't the only wet eyes in the room. All of us were touched by her story--probably me more than anyone. I had assumed until now that her change of hearts came only when Jan healed her, not before. But I guess she did have a lot of time to think there in the hospital.

"If X hadn't been brave enough to come out to me," Lucy went on, "I would have gone to my death believing that mutants are filthy sinners. Even if Jan had offered to heal me, I honestly think I would have said no, if not for the two months X gave me to reconsider my prejudices and to reexamine my ignorance. But in that two months I saw this mutant who never gave up on me, who visited me more often than anyone else outside my family, who never stopped being my friend despite the way I had treated him, and I knew he couldn't possibly be a bad person. And if he was a good person, then obviously I was wrong about mutants."

I had nothing to say when Lucy's speech was done, and I'm not sure I have anything to say now, except that I'm still feeling floored by the whole thing. When I came out to Lucy and she reacted so poorly, I was sure I'd made a mistake. I had no idea that so much good would come of it. I don't know whether her speech tonight convinced anyone else that coming out is the right thing to do, but I think she might have convinced me.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Putting the Pieces Back Together

Lucy and I saw the Lego Movie this morning. She called me at 10 to ask if I wanted to go and I didn't have anything else going on so we went. It's a clever movie, and I enjoyed watching it with her. Afterward we had lunch. Lucy is a lot of fun to hang out with, especially since Jan healed her. She says that nearly losing her life has made her appreciate it all that much more, and it really shows in the way she savors every moment. It's like every bite of cheeseburger she had at Five Guys was a gift from God. I don't think she'll ever take anything for granted again.

I guess Jan has that effect on people. She comes into your life, changes everything, then leaves. Thanks to Jan, Lucy has done a complete 180 on her feelings about mutants, and I have to admit the same is true of me. The way Lucy reacted when I told her I was a mutant a few months ago wasn't that far off from how I felt about myself at the time--like I was dirty, corrupt, broken. But Jan helped me realize that I'm perfect just the way God made me, that my powers are a gift. Just like she helped Lucy see that.

And now Jan is gone, no doubt doing the same for countless others. Healing people's souls at the same time she heals their bodies. In a way, I feel broken again, lost without Jan, but at the same time I feel like she left me with the instructions on how to put myself back together. Even my friendship with Lucy feels like a gift from Jan. Who better to help me deal with Jan's absence than someone else whose life she has touched so profoundly? Who better to help me pick up the pieces and move on?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Meet the Newest Missionary for Mutant Mormondom...

So. I went to UUPP on Tuesday night, like I said I would, and guess who was there? No, not Jan. She's still at Primary Children's in Salt Lake, healing sick children. I walked into the room full of my Latter-day Mutant friends, and there was Lucy. She was chatting with a guy who has water-breathing powers (he jokingly calls himself Fish Breath), but as soon as she noticed me she jumped up and gave me a hug. Apparently she's been going to UUPP meetings since she got out of the hospital and she was disappointed that I hadn't been attending.

During the meeting, Lucy was the most vocal member of the group. She teared up when she was telling a new member about how Jan healed her, and how Lucy now feels that it's her mission to help her fellow non-mutants understand and accept us. After the meeting Lucy and I hung around and talked for hours, and then we met for dinner last night and talked for hours again, and then again tonight. She wants to know everything about my power and about my experiences as a mutant growing up in the church. I don't think I've ever talked so much about myself in my life, but she just keeps asking questions.

I know what this looks like. My girlfriend ran off to save the world, so I rebound with the first girl who comes along (who just happens to be the last girl I went out with before meeting my girlfriend). That's not what's happening. Jan and I haven't even broken up, officially, and even if we had I'm not ready to move on yet. Lucy is a friend. That's all.

But it sure is nice to have a friend.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Foxing Back Up

As part of my resolution to Go On With Life, I met with FOX again this morning after taking a break for a few weeks. It was fun to meet with my friends and talk about writing. Tara is all settled into her interim office in the JKB while the Wilk is being rebuilt, Galadriel and I shared a few knowing smiles about our little secret, and Chenry is treating me like a normal person again. He just freaked out a little when I used my power on him, but he's had plenty of time to get over it since. I wouldn't say FOX is the same as it was pre-Explosion, but we're at a good place again.

I also think I'm ready to start attending UUPP again. I've been avoiding it since the group is so closely linked with She Who Shall Not Be Named, but I'm going to give it a try tonight. Here's hoping it goes well!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Gifts of the Spirit

I snorted. "You think it comes from God, then?"
"How do you know it don't?" I turned to her and I saw she was leaning forward, like she was excited. "Maybe it's one of the gifts of the Spirit, like Paul says in the Bible: to one is given the gift of healing, and to another the gift of miracles, or prophecy, and like that. Who's to say there ain't more that Paul didn't talk about?"
I raised my eyebrow. "'To some is given the gift of turning into a big scary rock monster?'"
"Well it sounds stupid when you say it like that, but why not?" 
 --Dan Wells, "The Mountain of the Lord"
Theric Jepson recommended a while back that I read Dan Wells's story "The Mountain of the Lord" and I finally got around to it this week. It's a great story, found in Jepson and Wm Morris's great anthology Monsters & Mormons. "Mountain" is about a kid who is presumably a mutant, about a hundred years before being a mutant was cool (or even heard of, for that matter). This kid is a Mormon pioneer in an early Utah settlement and has the power to turn into a big stone monster. He starts out hating his power, believing it's of the devil, but over the course of the story he comes to believe that his power just might come from God.

I've spent too much of my life feeling bad for myself because I'm a mutant, and now because Jan left. I love Jan and I miss her, but I can't live my life waiting for her once-a-week phone calls. Deep down, I know that she is doing something amazing--she's devoting her life to helping people, to using the gift God gave her to make the world a better place. Instead of moping around and feeling bad for myself, I should learn from her example. Just as God gave Jan her healing power for a reason, there's a reason why he gave me my power to fly. I just need to figure out what it is.

In the meantime, I'm going to focus on the day-to-day stuff--going to school, doing my home teaching, finding ways to serve the people around me. Maybe even dating. We'll see. For now, I'm going to stick to BYU standards, which means no using my power. I've got less than three months before I graduate, and there's no reason to throw my chance at a college degree down the drain. But after I graduate? I guess I'll see where God wants me to go from there.