30 June 2013

There and Back Again

Regrettably, Utah has recently experienced an unfortunate heat wave.

That, in combination with the fact that Utah sits comfortably at 4,226 feet above sea level means that there is very little atmosphere or clouds to shade us from the suns rays. All you may have already surmised, the natural counter to such heat is an ice cold waterfall. So yesterday my dear friend Robyn and I took the opportunity to hike Adam's Canyon. I've hiked this canyon before, although looking through my blog records, it looks like I failed to write about it last summer. But, if you want to see some of those pictures, they are here

It was seriously a blast. Hiking this for a second time, knowing the trail meant that I was a lot more comfortable with my ability not to get lost, which made the whole trip a lot smoother. And more than anything it was just incredibly fun! After almost an hour and a half of hot, steep walking it was incredibly refreshing to stand back against the icy spray of the waterfall. It was a really cool feeling with the breezes up there with the 108° gusts coming in from the canyon combining with the icy cold wind from the waterfall. Silly little me seemed to always forget that I wear glasses, and consequently I had to keep taking them on and off when they got wet.

Into the more sincere side of this blog.... 

This past week I tweeted something along the lines of, "If I am to be honest with myself, I am really falling in love with Utah." And frankly that is very much true right now. From last post talking about a small adventure I had in the city to getting to hike through these absolutely beautiful canyons, Utah and Salt Lake City is an incredible place to live. I know I've talked about it before, and there are certainly downsides to living in Utah. I feel that this is an absurd lack of authenticity in the people. It is not that being overwhelmingly LDS make this a bad population, but the culture of expectations and more importantly appearing to meet all expectations makes this a difficult place to enjoy. Many of my friends express that when they openly express religious doubt or do something just a bit outside social norms, instead of being approached by cautious exploitative freedom, it is frowned upon quite vocally. And for the vast majority of people, there is a healthy measure of exploitative doubt that we as humans experience in order to learn. 

Which is a reason I'm glad I grew up on the east coast. I'm so glad that I got the chance to meet other people and learn about their beliefs, ideals and standards and realize that everyone is different and that is absolutely fantastic. I think I should give a special shoutout to my old friends at West Forsyth High School, whose religious beliefs and practices spanned Protestant Christianity, Catholicism, Wicca, Agnosticism, Atheism, Islam and Hinduism. It gave me a very open look at the world from a pretty young age, and for that I am incredibly grateful. 

Although despite my reservations, and despite all frustration and doubt, I am really coming to fall in love with the Beehive state and all of its wonder and originality. 

I really do love you guys.

26 June 2013

Hypothetically Hipster

I really like to think of myself as environmentally conscious. I mean, I grew up in the generation that had drilled into their heads, "Never let the water run" and "reduce, reuse, recycle". In elementary school, I made my mom change all the light bulbs in my room to the compact florescent ones. Although since getting a car with the advent of high school, I experienced the liberating experience of a driver's license and I realized that all of middle school ridding a bike was horribly slow.

Since moving to Utah that experience has almost revered. Instead of living in the sprawling south, I now live in a compact valley system. And what comes with living in a denser area is the awful smog. Every winter and many summer days, the air is hazy and smokey and it makes you cough like crazy. So I guess my motivation to start using public transit has come from both my dislike of the over congested high way system and my own personal desire to have cleaner air for when I live here for the next 4 years.

Over the past two years, I've become very comfortable with using public transit in Utah. The UTA system is simple, efficient and pretty reliable. It's also incredibly bike friendly, and today I decided that I would venture in a new form of transit, using my bike to get around downtown.

My destination for today? The Salt Lake City Library

I wish I could explain how much I love this building. If you want to get a better idea of what it looks like, here are some pictures. It's easily my favorite place in the city. It's 6 floors of glass and books, and I love it. They have an amazing architecture section that I love to use for inspiration and ideas. I love to spend as much time as possible on the 4th floor sitting in my favorite section overlooking the city. And on my lap, pure beauty.

Basically I wish I could be an architect in New York City around the year 1900. But I guess I'll settle for the 2020's. Anyway, getting back to the whole me trying to be a bicycling hipster mormon boy....

My summer bucket list is essential to do quintessential Utahn things. After living here two years, I realized that there are a ton of things that Utah is famous for that I've never really gotten to explore. This summer, I've already crossed off going to the observation deck of The Church Office Building, visit the Hogle Zoo and go to Park City for a day. Apparently Salt Lake City is an up and coming bike mecca, and after ridding my bike around the city today, I can totally confirm that.

Salt Lake City has recently installed a city wide bike share system, with stations throughout the central business district and surrounding areas. They also hosted some fancy-shmancy conference for urban hipsters.  And best of all, pretty much all UTA vehicles are bike friendly. So when I wanted to get my bike to down today, I put it in my car and took it to the Frontrunner station (Utah's commuter rail) and parked it in the designated bike car.

Then after getting off the train, I simply walk across a small plaza onto the light rail Trax line. I boarded the Blue line train which runs from Salt Lake Central Station to Sandy and Draper via downtown. Once I reached the Courthouse Station, I took my bike off the train and rode two blocks over to the library. The red line train actually gets you closer, but I didn't feel like transferring trains for that short of a distance.

Look! A map of the train system!
Anyway, I made it to the library all safe and sound, and I enjoyed the company of several great books for a few hours. On my way back, I managed to ride the trax two stations when the train in front of us had a mechanical failure, and we were going to be delayed. Instead of waiting, I just took my bike off and rode through the city to the train station. And then I had a nice relaxing journey back to my car and then onto home.

Ironically enough, the most stressful part of my little trip today wasn't the fact that I rode on both State Street and 400 South, the two busiest roads in downtown. It was trying to get my dang bicycle to fit in my tiny car. That more than anything was the most stressful part.

Anyway, I love you guys. Each of you are very beautiful, handsome and attractive.
Have an adventure!

24 June 2013

At night

At night
all emotions and personas and vivid realities find finite rest.
At night
the birds and the bees and all of man kind takes a vow of unimpeded silence.
Venturing out into a lesser known element where the bounds of consciousness are loosed
one can see the singularity of reality;
under a single star in the cradle of his own terrestrial companion as viewed on the blank slate of darkness
one can see absolutely nothing out of regularity, nothing out of form nor anything novel or to cause alarm.

We see as is truth,
simplicity is not only a virtue, but a very reality of all that is.
That human condition is what sets us apart from unending simplicity, rhythm and monotony.

Yet looking up on a blank canvas of imagination-- that sight miles above our foreheads with the beating of thunder and the unending stream of celestial bodies-- nothing speaks of simplicity. Hesitation breeds outright anger seeing with our own very eyes, that what lies outside our quilted blankets and plastic framed glasses is so much more that simplicity. It is life. It is the condition of reality.

We recognize as is truth,
nothing puts forth the same diligence as does intelligence.

The sun will rise in a a half a dozen hours. The ache of loss is numbing the back of mind and uncovered toes. Sprinkles of rain anoint cold cheeks. The unspoken validation of warm summer winds breathes life on the hair once bleached in sunlight.

We feel and we do not understand. Simplicity and reality are two very different things yet at this moment they walk together hand in hand across the absence and void. Sharing a laugh and sitting together in the darkness, one is indistinguishable from the other.

22 June 2013

Falling Through Darkness

You could ask my best friend Aerielle what my favorite activity is and she would pull a quote from our inside joke list, "You like going up to high places and looking at things, so we may as well."

Realizing that I haven't blogged in about two weeks, there have been a lot of things happening in my life that are noteworthy. Since last writing I have graduated LDS Seminary, graduated from Viewmont High School, I have attended freshman orientation at the University of Utah, signed up for classes, gone on several small adventures and have watched an unfortunately large amount of conspiracy theory documentaries.

I wish I was more excited to write about graduation and the end of high school and what not, but frankly I think that it's been pretty obvious that my senior year has been relatively anticlimactic for me. My graduation ceremony was very nice, and the after graduation all-night-party was also very fun. 

Getting back to the fact that I like to go to high places and look at things, last week after coming back from Utah's Hogle Zoo, Aerielle and I went up to the observation deck of The Church Office Building in downtown SLC. The church office building is actually the second tallest building in Utah, but the tallest, the Wells Fargo Center down the street, actually sits on lower ground making this the tallest vantage point in downtown. Having figured out my phone's panorama feature, I took lots of photos.

Capitol Hill and the Utah State Legislature
Downtown East towards the University of Utah
Downtown South, and City Creek Center

After this lovely adventure, I got to go to a two day, overnight orientation at the University of Utah. Not gonna lie, before hand I was a little bit less than enthusiastic, but I can assure you I am very much excited to go there this fall. The cool thing about going to such a large university is that I'll get to take a larger variety of classes including Japanese. And I'll have the chance to double major if I want, (And right now, a double major in Architecture and Urban Planning sounds really appealing,) and I get to stay in a city that has really grown on me. 

I know I originally said that I really wanted to get out of Utah, and for a lot of my friends who were born in raised here, going to the U of U as a second or third choice means that they won't get to leave for a few more years. I really though that was my destination too. I think now my perspective is that in all reality, I had a good 16 years on the east coast, and now I'll get at least a full 6 in the mountain west. It's no New York or Virginia, but I'm really happy that I get this experience while I'm young. 

The Salt Lake Valley from Ensign Peak
When it comes to other fantastic recent events, I have to mention this one. Last Saturday I had a really fantastic date with a boy named Mark. We had dinner at The Garden on top the Joseph Smith Memorial building in downtown and afterwards we hiked Ensign Peak overlooking the whole Salt Lake valley at sunset, where I took the photo above. Like..... it was a really good date. Probably one of the best I've had in the longest time.

And I also got a bike! After having to give away my bike when we moved from North Carolina to Utah, this was the first time I had ridden one in almost two years. I'm kinda ridiculously excited about this new addition. Kudos to my parents for this graduation gift.

For the final event of this blog post, this fine afternoon my family, Aerielle and I all went up to Park City to have some summer fun at a ski resort. Which is pretty much a huge irony, but we'll get past that. They had this awesome alpine coaster you get to ride, and Aerielle and I had a blast on it. Hopefully this very expensive $15 courtesy photo depicts our exuberant expressions.

If you follow any social media, you may have noticed a change with my name recently. You see, it's always been on my bucket list to go by a different name for a year. I think it was in 7th grade when I first had the idea to go by my middle name, Browne (With the "o" pronounced as in "Rome" or "cone" or "trombone"). As much as a looooove my first name, Aaron, it really has very little personal meaning. I mean, my parents picked it out primarily because it sounded good with my middle and last name. My middle name, Browne, is actually a family name, being the middle name of my grandfather on my dad's side, Edwin Browne Sebright. I came really close on three different occasions to go by this name, first at the beginning of 8th grade when a few other kids in our grade decided to go by different names. Not having done that, I almost did it my freshman year, although knowing so few people and trying to make the adjustment into high school I totally gave up that idea. Then I almost did it again beginning in my Junior year when I moved to Utah, although as motivated as I was this time, I ended up not doing it primarily because I forgot about it. 

But with the start of college, I realized that this will be one of the last times that I'll have a chance to do something like this in my youth. So I thought to myself, "What the heck", and I've decided to start the transition this summer for the start of school in the fall. If you've called me Aaron for the past 18 years, by all means, please keep calling me that. But for future reference, I'll probably be introducing myself as Browne to new folks I meet. 

I think this blog post has ran long enough. 

I love each and every one of you,

A. Browne Sebright