11 June 2017

Toaster Strudel Hair, Graduation and Sandcastles

I graduated!

If you didn't see on social media, a few days before my birthday I walked across a stage in order to receive an empty display book. In full honesty, I had a great time. My parents flew out from South Carolina for the event, along with my sister, brother in law, nephew, father in law and his fiance.

 
My pre-graduation selfie and said graduation stage

The final two weeks before graduation were hell on earth, and the two 4000-level classes I was taking felt like a massive burden. I'm not sure I felt any specific weight off my shoulders when I graduated, but I can definitely feel a general ease in my day to day life that I haven't had in a long time.

Said family who came into town for my and Jake's graduation.
It was great to have my family there for such a big event. My parents supported me every step of the way through my undergrad and I owe so much to them for it. And then just a few days after graduation, it was my birthday!


My father in law Don made me this cake, which was absolutely lovely. I haven't had a big cheesy cake covered in candles in a few years, so this was really nice. We actually flew out to Denver to spend the weekend away from SLC. When I got back home, my diploma arrived, so I think that means I'm a definitive graduate now!


I'm going to briefly fly through the events of the next few weeks. There were a lot of small things that happened. For example, going to the Utah Pride festival and parade!



 Dying Jake's hair to a summery blonde shade. When I first put the stuff on his head, I realized I had just made him a human toaster strudel.  He was very patient with me as I laughed and tried to snap a photo of it. Also, a Great Salt Lake sunset featuring me.


Going to Great Salt Lake AGAIN, this time with warm weather AND warm water. I built this lovely sand castle, with its own reflecting pool and everything. I was pretty proud of this little number.

 

 While building it, a tourist came over to chat with me and Jake, and lo and behold he is from North Carolina! He even had an aunt who lives in Clemmons. After we left, I saw a young kid, maybe 5 or 6 go over to start playing with the castle. It was a very tender moment seeing someone else take a little bit of joy from my favorite hobby.

Jake taking a nap above his plot at the Hooper Cemetery on Memorial Day.
Another big event in my life is that Jake and I have started seeing a marriage therapist together. Senior year was very hard on both of us, and after graduation we realized that we had a lot of things we wanted to work on. 

I want to mention this in part because I enjoy documenting my life on this website, but also because I want to point out that relationships can be hard. In the gay community, and in Utah's gay community specifically there can be a kind of fetiziation of relationships-- the idea that they are some kind of ultimate end goal that will make you unconditionally happy. My relationship with Jake has made me happier than anything else in this world, but to erase all of our disagreements, miscommunications and the work it has taken to make things right would be to vastly oversimplify things. 

Jake and I are two very different people with very different life experiences that are now inhabiting the same 400 square foot apartment day after day, year after year. That has brought us all kinds of joy (and also our cat, Joy) but it has also brought out habits and traits that can make coexisting difficult. I think we are both feeling very optimistic that our therapist can help us deal with some of our tougher issues and give us a stronger foundation to deal with challenges down the road.

And finally, Joy:


A tiny cat meow, or a ferocious roar? I'll let you decide.

Thanks for reading about my life! 
All the bests to you and your loved ones.

-Browne





19 April 2017

In which I don't post for a year, and I pretend like it isn't a big deal


It's been almost a whole year. Well, ten months and some change. Either way, it was a much longer break than I anticipated and a lot longer than I would have preferred. 

I'm currently in the coffee shop you see above. I took that photo a few ours ago on my way in because I thought the lighting was nice. I wanted to give you guys a sense of what I've been doing for the past year, and this sums it up well. The amount of time spent in Nostalgia rivals the time I've spent home senior year and despite its uncomfortable chairs and interesting music selections it has been a great place for me. Jake is here more often than me it seems-- he has been pushing hard the past two semesters as he finishes his degree in Computer Science.

I, on the other hand, am already done with my major! I finished my Urban Ecology capstone studio last semester, and we just gave our final presentation to the community a few weeks ago. For my final semester, I'm taking two sociology courses to round out my second minor. The decision to leave two non-major classes to my last semester has been a terrible decisions, as it turns out. It's not that these course are particularly difficult, but I've certainly had a bad case of seniority this semester. 

An old pioneer era mid-block stairway that I use to get home from the coffee shop/downtown.
(Side note: every time I try to explain my senioritis to friends or family, I always come back to the 2004 classic, "A Cinderella Story" staring Hilary Duff. There is a scene where her evil step mother played by Jennifer Coolidge protests Samantha taking off work to study for school. Coming out of the tanning booth, she says "People go to school to get smarter, so they can get a job. You already have a job. So it's like skipping a step!").


I swear I've been doing things worth writing about in the last ten months. After the wedding, Jake and I took our honeymoon in Boston, Portland, Provincetown and Cambridge. We took plane, train, bus, subway, ferry, taxi and even a friend's car to get from adventure to adventure. I started a part-time job last fall with Bountiful City as an assistant planner.

We went to Denver. Twice, actually. (Edit: we actually went three times! We had a very brief 4 hour layover in Denver on our way out to Atlanta). Then, in January I finally got the chance to take Jake to North Carolina so he could see my home town of Clemmons. Then there was a quick trip down to Los Angeles for a little weekend getaway. We currently have a weekend trip to Seattle in the works, so stay tuned for that.

Another view from my walk home
It feels like every moment in between has been filled with homework. I know that isn't true, but it sure feels like I've had a lot on my plate this past year. Between internships, new jobs, school and life-- I often feel like I'm running on autopilot. I have to remind myself pretty regularly that life after college will be here sooner or later. I hope that I can make the best of the last two weeks I have before graduation. Even graduation feels like a distant dream, though. 

Jake will be going full time at his company in a few weeks here, and my job is expected to go full time sometime in July. Unfortunately, I will have to apply for the full time position as this is government. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet-- on one hand it seems like a great opportunity and a step forward for my career. On the other hand, the position is designed to be long term, and I'm going to be leaving Salt Lake in the next year or so for graduate school. 

I'm starting to feel this itch to make plans for my next adventure in life. I have a feeling I might want to pivot slightly in my career path, maybe to something in the private sector. Urban Planning graduate programs are largely designed to encourage focus and I feel like that will be good for me after such a broad undergraduate degree. I just need to keep reminding myself that I'm STILL 21 YEARS OLD and that I have a lot of time ahead of me to make decisions. Patience has never been one of my strong skills, and I certainly wouldn't mind getting ahead sooner rather than later. 

I'll leave with one final bit:

video

Jake and I have made a tradition of going to Catholic mass every Christmas and Easter. In part it is a way to celebrate our Christian upbringings, but I'd wager that it is mostly to hear the 79 rank organ and trumpets belt out incredible hymns. I snuck a quick video of the opening hymn to give you an idea.

Thanks for sticking around with me! I'll catch you next time.