20 December 2013

That one time when marriage equality came to Utah.

I was on campus when I heard the news. I got down to my apartment in Sugarhouse to do some stuff with my dad and as soon as I could, I headed over to the Salt Lake County Justice Courts on State Street.

The lobby was full of reporters and celebrators, and even one special couple that was the very first to tie the knot.

Going up stairs was an absolute roar. The halls were packed with people, mostly couples waiting to see something amazing happen.

After working my way through the crowd, I got to the front to the marriage license bureau where some very happy couples were getting to the end of the line.

And within seconds of emerging the hallways erupted in cheers.

And at the end of the cheering? The mayor of Salt Lake City to marry them.

Couple after couple,

Wife after wife,

Husband after husband,

all beginning a brand new chapter of their lives.

People were running around everywhere. Reverends and ministers and justices of the peace hand their hands raised so that licensed couples could get married on the spot. People were scrambling to find enough pens to sign their marriage certificates.

And the crowd only got larger. And the feeling of absolute joy would not go away.

It really is a beautiful night to be in Salt Lake City, Utah.

18 December 2013

"Come March"

"Come March"

-A. Browne Sebright
Its usually around 10:00 p.m.
when the cold of reality
begins to nip at your toes.
Typically it starts
the first or second week of December
as one by one 
unresolved memories ice over.
It might not be very comforting 
to say or to hear 
that the cold of reality sets 
at a brisk 4 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit. 
At this temperature, a day too many 
can pass by without a phone call or message
--One extra bill comes in to break the 
bank-- And one broken car can bring 
you to tears.
Many find themselves faced with 
the cold reality at a bus stop. 
But a transfer later after one 
meaningless conversation too many, 
you find yourself just a few 
layers too thin. 
The cold is long and the pain is real.
I've only found a handful of things 
that temper and mitigate that 
kind of chill.
A dance. 
A song. 
A warm embrace.
Long showers and baths and phone calls 
from home. I hope of love.
Day after day you might 
find yourself trudging through 
thick unresolved memory. Many were 
cast aside from other people's front 
lawns and many more came from the 
shadow of a building that simply turned 
its back on the Sun.
Yet even in shadow can love be 
found and a smile made.
Come March and April 
the ice will melt away.
Friends will be had 
and tears dried.
But in the meantime, 
it never hurts to shovel your driveway 
and sort things out for yourself.
Even the cold of ice and snow 
can be beautiful too.

12 December 2013

A little thing called Inspiration

Come a full four months later, and I am just about done with my first semester of college. 

And boy, what a defining time of my life this has become.

The inspiration for this post (no pun intended) came at the end of my final Urban Ecology class. Of all my classes this semester, it has become my favorite. This last class period was no different. I decided about a month or so ago that instead of pursuing architecture as my career goal to go about becoming an Urban Planner. After city planning meetings, classes, in the field experience and finding what peaked my interest, I realized that instead of just becoming the architect for buildings, I wanted to become the architect of whole cities.

It's a little ambitious, but I think all along it is what my experiences have been pointing me to.

So if you are one of those beautiful Carolinians who still manages to keep up with my life despite my two year absence from that beautiful state, you'll remember my endless summer passion for playing in the creek near my house. But I didn't just wade or fish or sit and watch (although I did all of those things as well), I built and I created. I made canals, aqueducts, bridges, imaginary countries and peoples and cultures and damns and roads. I knew I had an affinity for Urban settings (you can see this a bit in my application essay to the University of Virginia) and moving to Salt Lake City only furthered that love for walking among city avenues.

Consequently, I've indulged myself more than ever in the work of designing cities and transit and urban settings. My Little Book of Thoughts has become absolutely full of them. 

But I've done a lot more than switch my major this first semester. I think now more than at any other point in my life I am really beginning to understand myself. I think it is a long process from April 8th of 2012 to now, when I realized for the first time the need to live an authentic life. Consequently, I really am a different person now. I think I am more open to new ideas, more humble in my interactions and more appreciative of the value of life.

I am a humanist deist. 
I am not LDS.

I am falling in love with life and with humanity. I am more optimistic than ever before and more content with knowing that more things than not are going to be out of my control. I am learning a worthy pattern about myself and understanding how my emotions operate.

I write a lot of poetry now. Like, a lot. That more than anything has become my most productive outlet for emotions and ideas.

I'm becoming more and more inspired, as each additional sunrise gives edge to greater understanding.

There is a poem I wrote yesterday that I think I'll post on here in a few hours. It's called, "Come March". I think it sums up quite a total of my feelings recently. 

As a last moment of thought, this is one of my favorite pictures that I've stumbled across this semester, this particular one from my architecture class. It is the Stahl House in Los Angeles, California. 

A perfect juxtaposition of the intimacy of human contact to the infinite possibility of life.

I really do mean this-- Thank you for reading and feeling what I have written.


A. Browne Sebright

21 October 2013

Collision and Closing

What has changed about me?

My dad asked me that question on the way back to campus after spending the last half of fall break at my parent's house. He was asking in acknowledgement that after 18 years, he has gotten to know me as a person very well, and in the short few months since I have moved out, realistically on a small part of me has change, primarily in the categories of education and personal independence.

As you, my beautiful reader, I hope I you have gotten to know me fairly well over the past four years. I know that most of you haven't been following my blog for quite that long, but at the same time I don't feel like I've gone out of my way to disguise my voice in my writing. 

On the station platform after a late night Walgreens run.
Taking a quick step back to fall break....

Aside from working a lot the first half, the second half of fall break I got to not only see an awesome concert, I also had a week to go back to my family's house and bring Tree along with me! With my sister Megan there with her husband and our good friend Haley and of course my dad, it was a great little weekend. My lovely mother is off in Michigan this week with my sister Catherine, of who I am quite envious of. During our visit, the lot of us took a little walkabout on the mountain side to see a waterfall!

Look at that handsome young lad!
The weather was just perfect and the fall leaves were to die for. Moments like these in particular make me just love Utah.

So this concert that I went to!
On Wednesday I went with my dear friends Clare and Allison to see Passion Pit preform at The Complex in downtown SLC. It was seriously a fantastic concert. I love Salt Lake because we are the biggest metropolitan area in the region so we get more national names, but our city is still small enough that our concerts still feel very intimate.

Getting back to the question I posed at the beginning of this post...
I feel very comfortable sharing parts of myself on this blog that I wouldn't necessarily shutout to the world in any other manner. For example, my coming out post or the follow up to that post are two very poignant sentiments that I wanted to share first in my own private forum. Currently I have a sentiment that I'd like to share. But I'm not quite ready to put it up on my little forum just yet.

The view between Orem and American Fork on Frontrunner
A while ago I went to the LDS Affirmation conference here in Salt Lake City. The final speaker on the final night of that conference gave an amazing talk and her name was Barbra Young. She expressed a similar sentiment to what I am feeling now. She talked about how she was proud of groups like LDS Affirmation, LDS Family Fellowship and MBB who were going out of their way to build bridges in communities and families between LGBT members and their LDS neighbors and families. But, she said, this was not how she felt. She didn't want to patiently build bridges, slowly making the world a more accepting and loving place. Instead, she was the type of person who wanted the continents to collide together closing vast chasms and oceans so that there wouldn't be a need for bridges!

A city that I made up. I've named it Pardoux.
Not going to lie, I feel a lot like her right now. My patience towards people who tell me I am wrong in my beliefs or that I need to be more cautionary in how I express my opinion is at an all time low. I had a good year an a half changing minds and hearts to take a moment and listen to my opinion. But right about now, I'm rather done with all of that. I just want the world to be more open and accepting and I want me to not have to be the one to do that. 

But when reality comes knocking at my door, I realize that outside of Salt Lake City, Utah is far from being the most progressive place on earth. When it comes down to it, it's more likely than not that I'll have dozens more bridges to build, stories to recount and hearts to touch.

What you see above is a work in progress on my latest creation-- a city called Pardoux. It's an imaginary city with a metropolitan population of around four and a half million people and an urban population of closer to two million. I could probably write an entire blogpost on it, but for now I'll refrain. Just know that this is what goes on in the inner workings of my mind. 

I love you guys. Thanks for taking the time to read.

Best Regards,

A. Browne Sebright

08 October 2013

My city has become smaller than ever.

And at the same time it seems bigger than ever.

It's been a month of me living in Salt Lake City and I have found myself becoming more and more comfortable calling it my home. Of course, I've not hesitated to mention that several times already.

The view from The City Library
All the streets, the sounds and the energy of my little city has become so familiar to me. From riding crowded trains at night to commuting to work or shopping in the city. I'm in love with life right now.

A late train ride home one evening.
But I haven't blogged in a very long time! It has been just over 4 weeks. And I can assure you, plenty has happened in that time frame. For starters, I am more than a month into being a vegetarian and that is going fantastic. Classes are swell, and I am learning a ton. I've gotten to go home twice since school started and it was very nice being able to see my parents again. I had an oral exam in French today, and I feel like I did pretty well with that. It was actually a really cool feeling being able to use what limited French I've studied to have a coherent if somewhat broken conversation with another speaker.

The view on the way home to my dorm ever afternoon.
I think I'm really taking root here. 

Like I was talking about in the title of this blog post, the longer I live in this city, the more I realize how interconnected all the different pieces of it are. I've seen more of it than ever and it is all coming down to scale for me. It really does seem smaller than ever.

Although, living without a car 15 minutes outside of the city center, I also realize how big a small city like Salt Lake City is compared to the human scale. In my Urban Ecology and Architecture classes, we talk an awful lot about the human scale. How it relates to buildings and cities and society as a whole. While the Salt Lake metropolitan area only has a population around 1.5 million, the city compared to a 5 foot 7 inch 18 year old is physically large. Especially when to be navigated on bike and foot.

Utah is really beautiful. Even (and maybe especially) the urban areas. Heck, the picture above was taken in City Creek canyon between the capitol heights neighborhood (named for the capitol building complex seen in the picture) and the Avenues. This spot is seriously 8 minutes walking distance from Temple Square and downtown Salt Lake City. I love living in the mountain west where natural settings are set in such close proximity to more urbanized living.

And speaking of beautiful..... 

Look at this handsome fella. His name is Tree and he is a fantastic human being. Keep tabs on him, because he is going to be sticking around. This past weekend, in between sessions of conference we walked through the Avenues to visit his childhood home. We also went through City Creek Canyon, Temple Square, ate yummy pizza and then saw the new movie Gravity.

Tree and I in Temple Square
Holy freaking moley Gravity was awesome. I highly recommend it. 

I really wish I had been keeping better tabs on what has been happening in my life. Frankly, the last few weeks feel like a blur anyway. With mid terms rolling past, I feel like I've been here much longer than I'm sure I have been. With the repetition of classes, work and studying, weekends are how I measure time. And most weekends I feel like awesome people are coming to visit me in Salt Lake, or I am going to visit awesome people in Provo or I am going back to my parents house for the weekend to rest and relax with some home cooked meals. After a dozen of these weekends, I can't seem to remember which happened when or with who. 

So I am making a resolution to give more updates and whatnot about my life. That way not only can all y'all here more about my college adventures, but I can also record more of my first year away from home for my own memory's sake.

I love you guys, and I think you are all fantastic.

Best regards,

A. Browne Sebright

08 September 2013

Withdrawn and Introspective

I've written a lot about catharsis. I just went to look for a blog post specifically on the subject, but I realized in my search that more often than not, my blog posts are rambling catharsis. 

A previous night I had a beautiful moment of catharsis that I didn't even know I was in need of. It was at the bottom of this bridge right here. 

The Legacy Bridge

It was a conversation of several components. Friends. Relationships. Decisions. The impossibility of the future. 

In the end, it was simply beautiful.

In the realm of friends and relationships, it was more of a bleed of feelings and it felt good to have a sense of resolution, albeit it somewhat tentative. 

But in the realm of decisions and the future, the resolution was highly unexpected. I've told myself what I want to do over and over again. If you read some of my older posts, I was quite clear in what I wanted to see in my future. 

A night with friends out on the campus

It is somewhat fitting, as I am writing from my Architecture class, to bring in a few architecture terms. What I wanted to be would be called a signature architect. Someone who created a building that was novel, zeitgeist, reactionary and powerful. 

When I made the decision not to go to New York City, the idea of being a signature architect was thrown out the window. I was turning down the chance to attend a top 10 undergraduate architecture school, and realistically if I wasn't in a top 10 school, I would never be a signature architect. At least not the kind I was envisioning.

In my first two weeks at the University of Utah, that view has completely changed. And it wasn't until last night that I realized that in so many words.

If you have somehow escaped my constant tweets and facebook posts, I am absolutely in love with my Urban Ecology class. Each time we meet, I think to myself, "This is exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life." 

As I was talking last night, I finally put together a few quotes from two of my professors. 

My Urban Ecology Professor said, "You are going to learn how to heal our planet and society with the buildings you design."

My Architecture Professor said, "Architecture is more than functional utility or structural display-- it is the vessel that perpetually and inescapably shapes human life."

and, "An architect's goal is to be relevant. Forever."

Putting that together, I think what I want out of my life is to make something eternally relevant and more importantly healing and uniting. 

That is to be my goal.

I feel like my melted rainbow scripture highlighters and in my Book of Mormon is a somewhat good representation of my duality.

I really, really do love you guys.

Have a good one. :)

Best Regards,

A. Browne Sebright

01 September 2013

A few reasons I love attending the University of Utah...

1. Crossing the Legacy Bridge every morning and evening on my way to class and on my way home from work.

2. The vast array of bike trails across campus. Some of which that are curvy and steep and make you feel like you are riding a roller coaster on your way to French Class.

3. Movie nights on many an evening with everyone on the floor, watching movies like Easy A, The Great Gatsby and Mean Girls.

4. Living 3 minutes biking distance to a Trax Station that is free for you as a university student and takes you right into the city.

5. Indoor bike storage, and the fact that I can ride my bike to 80% of the places I need to go to, and I can ride the train to the remaining 20%.

6. Having my Intro to Architecture class in this beautiful building right here.

7. Living right in the city, where they have amazing $5 concerts to shows like Youth Lagoon, Ludacris, Grizzly Bears, MGMT and on this particular night, Empire of the Sun!

8. Riding my bike from the Trax station through downtown every day on my way to work.

9. Crimson Night. It is seriously just a giant campus party/dance in our version of a quad, outside the Union building.

10. Meeting so many incredible, new friends.