Whew! That was stressful.

November 25, 2008

Now I know why most people don’t pick up their whole lives and move to New York City.  It’s very stressful.  The reason I haven’t been blogging is because to recap stressful times on my blog while they’re happening only seems to compound my feelings.  

There were moments in the past month when I thought the whole move to NYC might blow up in my face.  At one point I had to seriously evaluate what my options were if this move to NYC didn’t pan out for me.  My housing situation proved to be by far the most stressful aspect of the move, but I have settled into an apartment with one roommate.  

Chris, a reader of this blog, sent me a great link: www.housingmaps.com.  It combines Craig’s List with google maps.  Very convenient and not just for finding a place in NYC.  Before I moved out here a friend of mine told me how difficult it is to find a place to live in NYC.  He made it sound almost impossible.  I’m happy to report that it is possible, although I underestimated just how hard it would be.

As for finding the right roommate situation…  The only thing I can liken it to is going on one blind date after the other.  You think it’s a good fit, the other person doesn’t.  The other person thinks it’s a good fit, but you don’t.  You both think it’s a good fit, but external circumstances beyond everyone’s control prevent it from going further.  And those scenarios say nothing for how you feel about the apartment you’re looking at, those were just the roommate feelings.  Very difficult.  Very unpleasant and draining.  But when you find a good fit…the world is right again.  

Also, I’ve gained a new appreciation for Utah and the quality of life there.  I know that there has been a lot of negative energy going Utah’s way with the Prop 8 stuff, but when it’s all said and done it’s a beautiful place with many incredible people and a high quality of life.  Keep in mind that I liked Utah before I left it, and my appreciation has still grown.  

I can’t write much more tonight, and I hope to expound on many of the things I’ve touched on in this post in the future, but for right now I will conclude with just two more thoughts:

-I really miss my friends and family back in Utah, especially my family.  Not to diminish my love for my friends, but friends can be made anywhere, your family is who and where your family is, period.  And no matter how close I get to any of my friends, and I have some very close and very incredible friends, my family knows and loves me in a way that only they can, because they’ve known me and loved me longer than anyone.  

-The other thing I will mention is a recurring thought that I have had repeatedly over the last month, and especially frequently since moving into my apartment (the point at which I actually started to feel like I was living in New York and not just like I was visiting).  I am living one of my dreams, one of my greatest dreams.  And that’s a pretty incredible thing.  Especially when you consider the countless number of people that aren’t in a position to make their dreams come true, people whose energy and day-to-day existence is consumed by their efforts just to survive. I guess it’s fitting, what with Thanksgiving being this Thursday, that I’m feeling so thankful.

Afternoon in Park City

September 1, 2008

Today, as my life of yet-to-be-employed leisure continues, I went up to Park City to have lunch with my friend Jen and to check out a fair/market they were having on Main Street.  A few pictures…

The guy on the left in the ball cap with the guitar is the Mayor of Park City.

What I’ll Miss

July 3, 2008

Published in the April 24th edition of QSaltLake.

With my impending graduation and relocation I’ve been thinking a lot about Utah and the things that I’ll miss the most once I’m gone. The main things being: work, school, the terrain, and the people. 

The Dodo Restaurant

When I was a little boy I used to think that it would be fun to be a waiter. A year and a half ago I was getting sick of my current job and looking for a change. I had a friend who worked at the Dodo Restaurant downtown at the Gateway who suggested that I come work with her. I did. 

Now, I’ll tell you that a year of waiting tables was probably enough. The thrill is gone. But I’ve stuck with it for two reasons. 1) Because I didn’t want to bother trying to find a new job so soon before graduating and relocating, and 2) because I really love the people I work with.

One of the things I’ve become aware of while working at a restaurant that’s been locally owned and operated for the last 25 years is that Utahns love their national chains. Don’t get me wrong, The Olive Garden has it’s place in our economy, but I think it’s important to support locally owned and operated businesses. 

I should probably say that neither the owners nor the management of the Dodo Restaurant know that I’m writing this. But I value business owners who value and support our community. And the owners of the Dodo certainly do that. The management and staff are an eclectic and accepting group of people. In fact, they’re some of the best people I’ve ever met. 

Apart from the Dodo at the Gateway, a new location will be opening May 1st in Sugar House on about 1400 East and 2100 South across from Sugar House Park. The food at the Dodo is good, especially the Baked Cream Cheese appetizer, but it is the desserts that truly set the Dodo’s menu apart. My personal favorites are the Chocolate Coffee Toffee Tort, the Banana Cream Cheese Pie drizzled with caramel, and the most popular dessert on the menu, the Tollhouse Pie. But really, you can’t go wrong. (Alright, so I’ve always been really honest in this column, so I’ll tell you that the Lemon Chess Tart is just a glorified lemon bar and the Hazelnut Raspberry Tart has never really thrilled me. It’s not that they taste bad, I just need more “wow” with my after dinner cup of coffee. But other than those two I don’t believe you can go wrong.) Now if only you people would stop being such homos and order some dessert once in awhile!

Westminster College

When I tell people that I go to Westminster College they’ve either never heard of it or they say something about how expensive it is. The truth about Westminster is that it is more affordable than people realize. The campus is beautiful. The learning atmosphere is exceptional. And it’s the furthest thing from BYU (see previous sentence.) Sometimes in life you do get what you pay for. 

The Terrain 

Utah is undoubtedly a beautiful place. I’ve come to appreciate views of the valley that I never noticed before I knew I was leaving. Have you ever looked out at the twinkling valley lights from the Avenues or East Bench on a clear night? Have you seen how those same twinkling lights are ampliphied by a reflective blanket of freshly fallen snow? Or have you ever noticed how the diverse mountains that make up the Wasatch Range look remarkably different depending on your vantage point in the valley? And all of this is saying nothing for the beauty of Southern Utah or the uplifting experience of looking out from the top of any of the elevated mountain peaks found throughout the state. I think it’s true that the more you’re surrounded by something the less you see of it. 

The People

But what I’ll miss the most about Utah is the people. Because it’s the people you share your meals with that make them truly beneficial to you. It’s the people you go to school with that make the hard work bearable. And it’s the people you share the view with at the top of the mountain that make it memorable. It’s people we miss, not places. 

Sometimes I don’t appreciate what I have until it’s gone. But I’ve found that more often I don’t appreciate what I have until I realize that I can’t keep it forever.

Oh, Put a Cock In It!

June 26, 2008

Published in the April 1, 2007 edition of QSaltLake. 

From what I can tell, there are quite a number of people living here in Utah that don’t have a whole lot of good to say about this place. It also seems to me that this number is higher among gay men. I’m not exactly sure why this is. Although I suppose many of these people haven’t really experienced other parts of this country and/or the world, I bet it probably has more to do with that heavily favored idea in the gay community that the grass is always greener someplace else. 

I know that Utah has it’s shortcomings: the pollution that builds up in the valley, the small fortune you have to invest at the bar to get an adequate buzz going, the legislators that have mistaken the capitol building for their local chapel. At least those are a few that stick out in my head. 

Let me tell you something about gay men across this country: they all say the same things about their communities. Things like, “Everybody knows everybody here, there’s only like two degrees of separation,” “The club scene sucks here,” “We don’t have any good bars,” or “The gays here are so shallow.” Really, it doesn’t matter which city you visit, you can find men that will say the exact same negative things about their community that you’ve heard said about your community back home. 

I believe there is truth to the saying that we take those things that are a part of our daily lives for granted. This includes the places that surround us. I bet nobody who lives in the Salt Lake Valley looks up every morning at the beautiful Rocky Mountains with the awe that they deserve, the type of awe that they would create inside someone who’d lived their whole life on the flat plains of the Midwest. 

A simpler example may be illustrated by an experience I had a few years back while in Phoenix, Arizona. My friends took me to a restaurant/martini bar called AZ88. I’d had a martini or three and excused myself to the restroom. When I entered the men’s room and the door closed behind me I found myself surrounded by more reflective surfaces and stainless steal than is healthy for even the gayest of gay men. I had a spiritual experience in that bathroom…after which, I couldn’t find the door to get out until someone else came in. Granted, the whole experience was enhanced by a little liquor, but I doubt that any of the people who frequent AZ88 on a regular basis appreciated it the way I did as a visitor.

A year from now I will be completing a degree that will enable me to find a job anywhere in this country, from the smallest town to the largest city. I’m currently city shopping, researching several cities that I think would be fun to live in. If in a year I decide to move I’d like to have a pretty good idea of where I am going and what draws me to a particular place. But I can assure you that if I do decide to pack up and go it won’t be because I think I am going to find any place better than Utah – different, of course, but not better. 

A friend brought to my attention the fact that many people will move from a place in order to “get away” from their past. Running from your past is like trying to lose your shadow, it’s easy in the sunlight, but a lot more difficult when night inevitably sets in. Pasts must be dealt with; they have to be laid out behind you in a way that doesn’t make you afraid to turn around. 

I’ve heard of people moving to a new place with the hope they will ‘find themselves.’ I’ve even heard people say, “I found myself in (insert name of city here.)” But the truth is that finding yourself has little to do with where you live and a lot to do with the way you live. 

We reflect ourselves in our surroundings, both people and places. If you look around yourself and don’t like what you see, then do everyone a favor and stop blaming it on inanimate objects and random strangers. Every day I believe more that we have to be the change that we want to see in the world. The truth of Utah is that some of the most amazing and accepting people ever to grace the face of the earth are found here, they’ve chosen to make this place their home. There is beauty in this state that is as uniquely breathtaking as anything in the world, even the highest peaks of the Andes Mountains in South America. (And I make the second part of that judgment on very good authority.) But it doesn’t really matter what I think of Utah. Everyone lives in a very personal reality. I just wish people would stop complaining about the perceived negative aspects of their reality and instead work to change them for the better.