Monday, December 31, 2012

An Ode to 2012

Looking back at our calendar,
2012 was full of fun.
Let’s take a little look
at all the things that we have done

In January we started fresh
and made our resolutions.
We started hanging out with Brett
who’s full of contributions.

We found a new apartment
and in February moved in.
“Happy Valentine’s Day to us,”
we said, and then we lived in sin.

In March we had some visitors
and got a little loud.
We threw so big a party
the Great Gatsby would be proud!

Michelle and I went travelling
in April, yes indeed,
to Manti and to Logan
to see our friends in need.

May had Cinco de Mayo
for which we threw a fiesta,
and then we celebrated mothers
by taking a little siesta.

In June we went to Salt Lake City
and celebrated Gay Pride.
Brett and Wes accompanied
—we had so much fun we cried!

At Stadium of Fire
we celebrated July 4th,
then off to a family reunion
and Yellowstone up north.

In August we went to Colorado
for my sister’s wedding day,
then celebrated my birthday
with lots of PB&J!

September found us busy
with school again in session.
We went to a dog’s birthday party,
which is a strange confession…

Brian’s birthday is in October
as well as Halloween.
We also had a Bachelor’s Party
which was just a tad obscene.

November was the greatest month
with a trip to New York City.
Brian and I were married there
and our reception was oh so pretty!

In December we gave gifts
to our family and friends
and ate so many feasts,
we fattened our rear ends!

And now the year is over,
so we sing that famous song.
We’ll take a cup of kindness…
and thank God the Mayans were wrong!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Gifts, Part Two

My family mailed all their Christmas gifts and I opened them a little early.  Then we spent Christmas Eve and Day with Brian's family, waking up in the morning and opening presents just like we were little kids.  So fun!

A.  I managed to snag the game Yahtzee at the Kesler Family Christmas Party.  I was pretty pleased with myself.  Brian's cousin Emeli brought it... so, thanks Emeli!

B.  My mom and stepdad sent us a murder mystery party game called Pasta, Passion and Pistols!  They had me at pasta!  Ha ha... And I've never actually hosted (or been to) a murder mystery party so I'm really excited to throw one.  It should be a lot of fun!

C.  Continuing with the game theme, Brian's mom got us Chinese Checkers.  How did she know I was Chinese?

D.  My mom got me Backgammon, which I've never played before in my life.  I'm sure it can't be that hard... (see E)

E.  My mom also got me Backgammon for Dummies.  I stand corrected.  Apparently it's pretty complicated if you need a whole book to explain how to play!  But I look forward to the challenge.

F.  Brian's mom got us a new blue soap pump and toothbrush holder for our bathroom.  I'm hoping this new toothbrush holder gets less gunky than the last one... yuck!

G.  She also got us a new bathmat in brown.  (Both F and G came from our wedding registry... she's smart).

H.  New socks!  Most of ours are all holey and dingy... so I'm happy to Brian's mom got us some new ones.

I.  Brian's mom always gets us all pajama pants for Christmas and we open them on Christmas Eve.  This year she opted for athletic pants.  I think she's hinting that I'm fat and need to work out more.  She'd be correct.

J.  Brian's mom got me a really cool new shirt!  Gray and blue: my favorite color scheme!

K.  Brian's mom also got me a new tie.  Pretty snazzy.  Maybe I should start wearing ties to work more often.  Sometimes I'm too lazy and go to work looking like a hobo...

L.  My dad and stepmom got us a food scale (also from the registry).  Brian's really thrilled about it.  Like REALLY thrilled.  He's gotten so skinny from all his dieting that he needs a tiny little food scale to weigh himself!

M.  Jenny (my sister-in-law) got me the first season of I Love Lucy, just like Brian did.  Oops!  We're going to exchange it for the third season though, so no worries.

N.  Brian's mom filled a stocking for Brian and I to share... all I wanted were the peanut butter Santas!  Luckily Brian hates peanut butter, so he didn't even put up a fight when I claimed them all for myself.

O.  Brian's grandma gave us a book Cooking for Two, a homemade loaf of bread and a jar of cookie butter.  Kinda like the Santas (M), I claimed the cookie butter for myself!  I couldn't resist.  My two weaknesses--cookies and butter--all wrapped into one delicious, spreadable delight!

P.  Renee and Jaylon (my sister and brother-in-law) got us Mancala.  Games were a pretty popular gift this year!  Looks like we'll be hosting some game nights really soon!

Q.  Brian's mom got me a new votive holder.  It's long and wavy, and I think it'll go on top of the entertainment center once the Christmas stuff gets put away.

R.  Brian's mom also got me a candle warmer and lots of different scented cubes to melt.  Our house is going to smell delicious... like Grandma's Sugar Cookies or Apple Spice.

Not pictured, a gift card to The Cheesecake Factory from Daniel and Sofia (my brother and his girlfriend).  It came in the mail a few days ago and I forgot about it when piling gifts together for the photo... but that doesn't mean I'm not grateful!  Because let's face it, any gift involving food is one I'm going to enjoy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Christmas 2012 is my fifth Christmas spent with Brian, the fourth spent with the Kesler family and our first one as a married couple.  So far it's been a pretty fantastic holiday season.  We didn't see the lights at Temple Square or make gingerbread houses like we've done in past years, but other Kesler family traditions have held true.  We all attended the Kesler Family Christmas Party on the 22nd, which included the traditional gift exchange (where Brian scored ten bucks and I got the game of Yahtzee) and a new tradition of having the grandparents talk about some of their fondest family memories.  It was a fun and interesting night.

As for Christmas Eve, we watched How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Muppet Christmas Carol like we've done every year since I've known them.  We watch them in the basement family room while gorging ourselves on a spread of holiday treats.  Once all the secular fun is out of the way, we head upstairs to light the candles on the German nativity set and read about Christ's birth.  In the candlelight we sing "Silent Night" in both English and German (only Courtney and Mama Kesler know all the words in German) and then write down our "gifts to baby Jesus" on little slips of paper and then tuck them into Jesus' stocking.  Our gifts include things we are going to do for him, like be more generous or use our talents.  We work on them throughout the next year.

Before heading to bed, the siblings all exchange their gifts to one another (we always draw names) and then we open our new pajamas and one other gift from the parents.

There's something comforting about traditions.  In a world that is chaotic and ever-changing, both for good and for bad, it's nice to have things that are familiar.  Things that bring us together and remind us what life's really about.  It's about family, it's about friends, it's about love...

It's about giving.  A new tradition was added today that I really enjoyed.  We brought gifts to a family in need.  A recently divorced mother without a job wrote to her Stake President for help and the Keslers volunteered.  We all pitched in for gifts for the four children and delivered them today.  To add to the Christmas spirit we sang them carols and the mother had tears in her eyes as she hugged Brian's mom and thanked her for what we had done.  It felt good to help out.

I also personally paid for a customer's ring sizing today at work.  They're a couple that I've grown fond of and I knew their holidays would be a little brighter without the extra expense.  I didn't tell them the person that paid for their sizing was me... but they figured it out.  You should have seen the look on their faces!

So my new tradition--and not just at Christmas time--is giving more of myself to others.  I'm blessed with so much, it would be a shame not to share it.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Gifts, Part One

Brian, Michelle, Wes, Brett and I got together on the 21st to exchange Christmas gifts.  Here's my impressive haul!

A.  Brian got me a new printer!  My old printer lasted a good four years or so... but it finally died out on me.  Printing at the UVU library got old really quickly, and it will be nice to print photos and stuff again (especially now with all the wedding pics).  And this new one is wireless!  So fancy schmancy!

B.  Michelle got me Horrible Bosses, which is a hilarious movie.  Luckily I now have a super awesome boss so I won't have to murder her any time soon.

C.  Friends With Benefits, another fun movie from Michelle, features my Justin Timberlake.  He's my other husband that Brian doesn't know about.  Well, one of them.  I have a lot of celebrity husbands.

D.  Ink for my new printer (A).  Brian had me open the ink first and I said, "But honey, our printer is dead..." and that's when he said, "Your new printer is hiding in the trunk of my car!"  I was so happy!

E.  Aveda shampoo and conditioner from Michelle.  It smells of rosemary/mint and should help my scalp while strengthening my hair.

F.  Aveda exfoliating cleanser, also from Michelle.  Hopefully my face won't be as ugly anymore.

G.  Michelle continued to pamper me with Aveda Lip Saver.  My lips really love that stuff!

H.  One last Aveda product from Michelle (who is a very recent Aveda graduate, can you tell?): grooming clay!  It keeps my hair lookin' all sexy.

I.  Brian got me the first season of New Girl!  I love that show and even Brian likes it... and he pretty much hates television.  We both just laugh and laugh while watching the current season.  "Puppy in a cup!"  Sorry, only those who watch it will get that reference.

J.  Even though he's not a fan of Home Alone, Brian knows that it's one of my favorite Christmas movies so he got it for me.  Isn't he a sweetie?

K.  Brian got me the second season of Glee (I already had the first) and now I can gleek out whenever I want.  Well, I can gleek out whenever he's not home at least.  Or within listening distance.

L.  Michelle gave me a new gray tie from Old Navy to wear to work.  I really like it!

M.  Michelle also got me a baby blue Stafford dress shirt to wear with my tie (L) and I look pretty dang sexy in them both.  Minus my love handles...

N.  Michelle got Brian and I tickets to an upcoming production of Spring Awakening at the University of Utah!  I'm so excited to go because I love that musical so much; I sing songs from it in the shower all the time.  I hope U of U does a good job staging it.  Of course, nothing can compare to my shower performances, but hey, they can try.

O.  Brett got me an awesome blue hoodie from Express!  He was spot on with the color choice, because I love it!  It's also super comfy (and I'm sure expensive).  Thanks, Brett!

P.  Brian got me seasons one and two of the classic TV series I Love Lucy.  We both love that show a ton, so it's really a gift for himself as well.  I can't wait to start re-watching them!

Q.  Brian also got me an iTunes gift card.  I could use some new tunes, so I'll definitely be using that!

R.  Wes got me a Best Picture collection of movies on DVD.  It came with Braveheart, Forrest Gump, American Beauty, Gladiator, Titanic, The Godfather and Terms of Endearment.  So many great movies!

S.  Brian got me the Barnes and Noble edition of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Anansi Boys.  He was quick to capitalize on my new-found love for Gaiman's writing, and I haven't yet read Anansi Boys so I'm excited for that.

Early Christmas with Brian and Friends

Since we'll all be with our own families for Christmas, we decided as friends to celebrate Christmas a little early with dinner, gift-giving and much merriment.  On Friday the 21st Michelle, Wes and Brett came over to our place where Brian made us delicious pork chops and mulled wine.  Then we exchanged our presents which had been piling up under our tree over the past couple of weeks.  It's amazing how quickly a pretty present can be unwrapped!  So many great gifts were given, but most importantly we shared our love and friendship.  Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

20 Things I Learned This Semester

Guess what, guys?  Remember that horribly needy girl I was telling you about a while ago?  You know, the one named School?  Well, I finally broke up with her!  That's right, we are as done as done can be.  And do you know what?  I learned a lot this semester.  I really did. 

1.  I learned that it is possible to get an A- in a class even if you wait until the very last week of school to do the assignments.  Depending on your professor, of course.  It also helps if you are a recently married gay man and your teacher is a long-married and very outspoken lesbian.  Actually, I'm sure that had nothing to do with anything... I'm just awesome.

2.  I learned that getting married is stressful.  Coordinating the efforts of all those willing to help is a challenge, as is making decisions about tablecloths, flower arrangements, bands, venues, food, lantern colors, etc...  It's also not the smartest idea to get married in the middle of a school semester and then have a reception a week before Thanksgiving.  So much stress piled on top of other stress!  All this leads me to Number 3...

3.  I learned that friends are a very valuable asset.  I couldn't have survived without them!

4.  I learned that I can indeed write a twelve-page research paper about Kafka's The Trial and do it well.  I also did my first ever annotated bibliography (and yes, I'm 26 years old and somehow never had to write one before).  I also presented a paper for an academic audience for the first time!

5.  I learned that I really love Franz Kafka.  I also love Neil Gaiman who wrote American Gods which I read in my American Literature class.  And David Foster Wallace.  I also learned that I love American literature more than British literature.  Sorry, Brits.

6.  I learned how to make a Prezi presentation!  It's pretty awesome!

7.  I learned that it cost Ray Bradbury $9.80 to write Fahrenheit 451 using a rented UCLA typewriter for 10 cents/half hour.

8.  I learned that some people might not care about that random factoid.  Those people are lame...

9.  I learned that Touchstones might just be a UVU publication but they're still too good to publish my work.  I learned that I am not a perfect writer; there's much to improve upon.  I also learned that it's impossible to finish NaNoWriMo when you start halfway through the month...  but I managed to write over 25,000 new words of my novel-in-progress and it's looking mighty fine if I say so myself.

10.  I learned that some bus drivers are crazy.  They sometimes stop in the middle of the road to talk to a friend or slow down next to joggers and ask them if they need a ride.  I also learned the difference between courteous and overly-friendly-in-a-creepy-way.  A lot of the bus passengers are of the second persuasion...

11.  I learned that my bus commute is the perfect amount of time to watch an episode of New Girl or Modern Family on my phone.

12.  I learned that it's possible to run out of printing credits in the library and that $5 doesn't really buy you a lot of pages...

13.  I learned that it's possible for me to make an occasional comment in class without sounding like a douchey know-it-all or a suck-up.  The key is to keep it short and admit your own limitations.  Some kids in my class don't have that skill.  I wanted to punch them.

14. I learned that it's never okay to punch a classmate.

15.  I learned that Naked juice is really delicious, even if it's overpriced.  I also learned that the little breakfast sandwiches sold on campus are scrumptious.  They make an 8:30 AM class bearable.  Just a little.

16.  I learned that students read at about half the speed of our professors.  That partially explains why they assign us so much reading: they don't realize it takes us as long as it does.  They're also just jerks.

17.  I learned that if I stay up all night I can draw a ten-page graphic novel.  I also learned that it's not wise to give the one and only copy of said graphic novel to your professor.  I wonder if I can ever get that back.

18.  I learned that I am "funny and smart" from one of my professors.  Thank you.  Wish I could say the same...

19.  I learned that lists are one of the many aspects of post-modern writing.  I guess you could say this blog post is post-modern.  I also learned that my friend Wes uses the term "post-modern" far too often.  Like every other sentence.  He should read number 13...

20.  I'm just kidding.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

On November 25th, Brian and I put up our Christmas tree and other decorations with the help of Amy, Brett, Emeli, Michelle and Wes.  It was a holly, jolly time!  We had Christmas music playing, hot cocoa brewing, chocolate chip cookies baking and Brian even made us Belgian waffles with a yummy apple topping.  We sure do love Christmas!

Our last Christmas tree was sold when we moved to California, so we had to buy a new one.  Brian got a good Black Friday deal on an artificial, 7-and-a-half-foot, pre-lit, slim Virginia Pine from Target.  Some of our decorations came from Target also, but many were purchased at Hobby Lobby and Tai Pan Trading.  The leaf candle holder was a wedding gift from Brett, from Bath and Body Works.  The wreaths were decorated by yours truly.

Our color theme this year was brown, gold and red, which was quite the departure from previous years.  Our Christmas decorations in our Salt Lake City apartment in 2010 were red, white and silver.  Click here to look at old photos!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wedding Photos: Friends

From the rest of our friends in attendance (at least those willing to jot something down!):

"Congrats on this new chapter!  I am so excited for you and hope the next years are the best.  Love you!" -Kayla

"I'm so happy everything worked out in the end in NY.  I wish you all the best moving forward." -Ryan

"Felicidades!  Les deseo lo mejor del mundo.  Espero que cada dia tienen exito.  Les quiero mas que un completo de vienesas!  Que Dios les bendiga amigos." -Gabriel

"Congratulations!  I'm so glad everything worked out.  You two are so cute together.  I wish you the best!  And many, many happy years!" -Caitlin

"Congrats!  We are so happy for you!  Good luck with everything!" -Tyler and Vicki

"I love the both of you and am glad to have amazing friends like you guys!" -Mesun

"Best wishes to you!  I'm glad I got to come, everything looked wonderful!" -Rebecca and Joseph

"... I think that you are GREAT and I can't wait to get to know you better.  I'm so happy for you.  Congratulations!" -Hannah

"I'm so happy for you two... and excited for your future together.  Love ya!" -Andrew

"Best wishes for a happy life together!" -Martha

"What you've done here, what you've achieved together, is wonderfully inspiring." -Jonathan

"You guys are gonna have a beautiful life together." -Jake

"I love you guys and am so glad to have gotten to know you better." -Karrie

"Woo Hoo!  I am so happy for the 2 of you!  You are such a good example of selfless and sincere love: I hope to be like the both of you!" -Annette

"I love you guys so much!  I am happy for you and am grateful to be a part of your lives.  You can make it through any challenges with love, trust and respect." -Krystal

"Hey Jack and Brian.  Best of luck to you two.  You make a great couple." -Stan and Ryan

"We hope you both enjoy this time as newlyweds and will continue to grow with one another.  Congrats!" -Andy and Amberly

"Leave it to you guys to have a fancy cake.  Renae and I just saw it and thought you were all fancy.  Oh, and I just burned my hair in your candle as I was writing this.  Sorry, now it stinks.  You guys both look amazing tonight and I love your hair [Brian's]..." -Candace

"You guys look so great!  I am so glad we're friends... Oh, congratulations (the decidedly most important part of my sentiments)!" -Renae

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wedding Photos: Family

From family in attendance:

"Congrats, Jack and Brian!  We love you." -Renee, Jaylon and Amaya

"Welcome to a new happy life!" -Janice and Chris

"I hope you'll always find happiness together.  You've both been so great for each other.  I'm excited to see you 'officially' begin your lives together..." -Jenny

"We wish you guys the very best!" -Clark and Shanna

"Best wishes for a happily ever after!" -Greg, DawSuwan, Lauryn and Mike

"You know I love you!  And... I'm jealous you guys got to see Once.  Next time you go, take me with you.  Please?? ... And Jack, I'm so glad that you are now part of our family officially!  Congrats!" -Amy

"Love you guys!" -Liz and Wyatt

"We love you both very much." -Deborah

"Happy wedding reception!  I hope you guys could stop stressing about everything in life and having to make sure everything was perfect for a few minutes and just enjoy this marvelous union you've made together!  You guys are the best brothers I could ever ask for!" -Courtney

"Congrats!  And Best Wishes!" -Bruce and Connie

"We love you guys!  Wishing you peace and happiness." -Suz and Ryker

"Congratulations to you two!  You are such a great example of gay men, it's amazing!  To many happy memories before, and many yet to come!" -Brett

"...we care about you guys and wish you the BEST." -Kevin and Diane

"Welcome to the wonderful world of marriage!" -Daniel and Kait

"Dear Sons,
Blessings of love, Blessings of grace, Blessings of joy, Blessings of peace, Blessings of strength, Blessings of hope, Blessings of patience, Blessings of a bright future." - Dad and Patricia

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wedding Photos: Party

From our friends in attendance who weren't afraid to shake their money makers:

"I love you guys so much!  I'm glad that you two were finally able to get married." -Dyann

"Umm... yeah pretend I said lots of nice, heartwarming stuff.  I'm not much for words." -John

"Congrats!  I love you two!  And wish a happy life for you both!" -Riley

"You guys are so brave for going out on a limb like you did!  I'm so happy you went to NYC to show your love for each other.  Just remember to love each other over everything else and don't forget that life's about the little things." -Kevin

"Love you!  I'll miss you guys but I hope to see you more before I leave." -Brandon

"May your love be everlasting.  Too cheesy?  No?  Okay.  I wish you happiness all your days, much laughter, and many smiles." -Katie

"I am happy that in my lifetime I got the pleasure of seeing two lovely human beings fully commit to each other.  Thanks for paving the way for gays both here in Utah and the country at large." -Dean (Lamar) and Adam

"Congratulations!  Now keep it together and make the rest of us look stable!" - Curt

"I love you!  But you guys know that.  I would love to write something clever, but I'm not.  So let me know when you guys want that baby!" -Mineh

"Congratulations on your marriage!  I'm so happy for you and I know you'll have a lot of great years together!" -Dani

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wedding Photos: Cake

From some of those involved in putting everything together:
"I am so happy for you!  Thanks for letting me be a part of your special day!  I love you both very much.  Take care of each other.  I wish you nothing but happiness!" -Michelle, unofficial wedding planner

"I'm glad I've been able to meet you both and be your friend.  You guys are amazing!  May many happy years follow.  I love you guys." -Wes, guy who did the grunt work

"Congratulations.  I'm so excited for you guys.  I feel so lucky to know both of you." -Jocelyn, wedding cake baker and caterer

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wedding Photos: First Dance

My Precious Child
-Katherine Kesler

There he is, my sweet little gift from God.
A towheaded little boy with talents galore,
How could a mother ask for anything more?
But along with the joy there was heartache to be found.
Confusion, heartbreak, unfairness abound,
Seeking for guidance on both sides was great,
But love everlasting held open that gate.
This was not the vision either of us had planned,
But reality stepped in holding our hands.
God loves unconditionally and so we must too,
But with a child so fantastic that is not that hard to do!
How could I ever have dreamed ten years ago,
A man named Jack would walk through the door,
To help us accept this next phase more.
They have been judged- we have been judged,
But I have given it over to God,
For he has the wisdom to know what we should do,
And so... "As I have loved you, love one another.
This new commandment, love one another.
By this shall men know, ye are my disciples,
If ye have love one to another."

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Like the last few Thanksgivings, this year will be spent with Brian's family.  We'll eat yummy food  and then go see a movie.  Last year we watched Hugo.  This year we'll be watching Lincoln.  Part of that tradition involves sitting in the front few rows of the theater...  Not by choice, mind you, but because we forget about how busy Thanksgiving gets at the movie theater.  Crazy packed.  It's funny, but I didn't even know that the Pilgrims had movies back then.  But the Native Americans did invent popcorn so I guess it all makes sense.

Anyway, no matter how we celebrate it, Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what we have in life. And I have a lot to be thankful for.

I'm thankful for Brian, who has recently become my husband, and who loves me despite all my many flaws. He makes me feel safe and respected and better than I really am. He believes in me and he believes in us.

I'm thankful for my family, who love me and accept me even when it's difficult for them to do so. I'm especially grateful for my dad, Patricia, Renee, Jaylon and new baby niece who made the effort to come out from Colorado to be at my reception. It meant a lot to me. I'm also incredibly thankful to be a part of Brian's family. They've welcomed me even though they didn't have to.

I'm thankful for my friends, especially Michelle, Wes and Brett who have become like family to me. I'm also grateful for my coworkers, past and present, who make every day a good one. We always have so much fun together.

I'm thankful to be employed, to be in school, and to have a roof over my head. I'm thankful for my abilities, my inabilities, my strengths, my weaknesses, my ups and downs and everything that is essentially ME.

I'm grateful for the life I've been given and the time I'm living in. Things are good. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Grand Central and Central Park

Our wedding/honeymoon in New York City ended with a lot of walking. Oh, and a cab ride in a real New York City cab, which I must say is much cooler than riding in a taxi back home in Provo. After checking out of our hotel we needed to stow our luggage somewhere so we took a cab to a storage place and then took the subway over to Grand Central Station.

I'm sorry, I mean Grand Central Terminal. Although I've been calling it "Station" my whole life (as many people do), Brian was quick to inform me that it was "Terminal" and when our newlywed bickering ensued, Google came to Brian's rescue and soundly kicked my butt. It's Grand Central Terminal, and it's pretty cool. We had lunch there at Junior's before heading out to Central Park.

That's where we did a lot of walking. So much walking that Brian's legs started to hurt him until they fell off completely and he lay there, legless and crying, as people threw their spare change into his hat. Okay, that part's not true but he did wear a hat. A "Sherlock Holmes" hat as a young Black boy pointed out. The kid was raising money selling fruit snacks for his basketball team (he was very tall, you see, with long pencil legs) but unfortunately we were out of cash by that point. We had given it to the luggage storage lady and it wasn't even enough. We were short a dollar but she let it slide...

Anyway, not sure how I got lost on that tangent. The park was awesome and the weather was beautiful. We saw ducks and geese and more squirrels I think than we ever saw in Yellowstone this summer. If you're looking for wildlife, go to the city! Ha ha. And there were musicians with saxophones or guitars and artists with their canvasses or sidewalk chalk and there were runners and horse-drawn carriages and children watching puppet shows or riding on scooters or playing with sailboats and it was so much fun!

That's pretty much where we ended our trip to New York. We retrieved our heavy bag and with it made our way to JFK airport where our flight was delayed. Then delayed again. And delayed one more time. With lots more time on our hands we had our final meal at Stone Rose Bar & Grill in the airport. I had barbecue pork sliders and Brian had a turkey and bacon panini. Then a bomba and tiramisu for dessert, respectively. We were a little bummed by this point (you might say we were eating our feelings) because we had to go home to Orem, Utah and say goodbye to New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there's nothing you can't do...

Sorry, that Alecia Keys song just flows through my veins now.

There's more though! Guess who we ran into at the airport restaurant? Hugh and Barry! The Irish guys! So not only did we happen to get married on the same day in the same place but we also flew home the same night and ate at the same restaurant. This was too much of a coincidence so we decided the universe wanted us to be friends. We exchanged email addresses before boarding our plane (now more than an hour behind schedule).

But the plane delay didn't end there. We just taxied on the ground for another hour or so while we were all on board. You know, just driving around in circles waiting for what the pilot said was a long line of backed-up planes. Brian said it was a sign that we were supposed to stay in New York forever. I just thought it was fitting, considering all the drama of flying out to NYC in the first place. But our plane eventually took off and returned us safely home. Looks like Utah had some snow while we were gone, huh? Our car was buried under 2 feet of it! What a sweet welcome home present. Thank you, Utah.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Once and The Fantasticks

Ever since I saw them perform on television at the Tony Awards (where they walked away with 8 Tonys including Best Musical), I have wanted to see the musical 'Once.' Based on a film, 'Once' tells the story of a Czech girl and an Irish guy who fall in love while making music together. The show is unique in its staging and narrative form, and also in the fact that all of the actors are also musicians who perform live on stage, giving the show an organic feel. It's like going to an open-mic night with acoustic guitars and soulful ballads. Just perfect. The only way I can describe this show is by saying it's magical and moving. It just became my new favorite musical!

So after our matinee we had time for another show. There were many that caught our attention, like 'Evita' or 'War Horse,' but none of them were playing Sunday night so we decided that 'The Fantasticks' off-broadway would be fun to see. It wasn't until we bought our tickets that we realized Aaron Carter was in it! Yep, once the biggest kid in pop music, he is now performing in a tiny off-broadway show. And do you know what? He was actually pretty good in it. Not the greatest singer (far too nasally) but full of energy. I wasn't familiar with the show at all, but it's one of Brian's favorites. It's quirky slap-stick fun with some great tunes.

The only problem seeing this show was a group of women who came stumbling in, drinks in hand, giggling like schoolgirls. They had fits of laughter several times throughout the production and at one point one of them tried getting out of her row. She stumbled over her friends and spilled her drink on them, which caused a loud shriek of "Shit!" and more laughing. It was a small theater so this was definitely distracting. A little funny, but mostly distracting.

Oh, one more thing I want to mention. For lunch yesterday we ate at a yummy little Japanese place called Saporro. I had Katsu-Don and Brian had Miso Ramen. Yummy stuff. At the table next to us was a little family from Brooklyn: Dean, Caroline and their middle-school-aged son Harper. They struck up a conversation and they were so fun to talk to. Dean is a film-maker who once had a movie at the Sundance Film Festival and Caroline studied English like me but then got into landscaping instead after working at a publishing house for a while. Their son is involved with theater in his school and loves it. As you can see we had lots to talk about. Before they left they gave us their number and email, encouraging us to give them a holler next time we were in New York City.

I'm telling you, the people here are the best.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Chaplin and Avenue Q

Patrick, Brian and I enjoyed two musicals yesterday, the first of which being 'Chaplin' with the slogan, "The big musical about the little tramp!" And when they said big, they really meant it! Black and white staging and costuming combined with projected reals of old Chaplin films gave it a highly stylistic look and the choreography was splashy and fun! Rob McClure, who played Charlie Chaplin, was fantastic and full of energy, but the story, based on his life, was a little messy and schmaltzy at times with average music. We all still had fun though.

We knew 'The Book of Mormon' was difficult to get into, being one of the most popular shows on Broadway, but someone told us of the ticket lottery and the standing-room-only tickets available if you went early. So we each entered the drawing, and although they pulled out several names from Utah (causing us to hold our breath in excitement each time) none of them were ours. There were also too many people in front of us in line for the limited standing room tickets, so we didn't get one of those either.

So, in the mood for musical laughs, we ran to the TKTS booth for Plan B: 'Avenue Q.' It was off-broadway by a few blocks in a smaller theater, but it was so good! I've heard all the songs before but I had never seen the show performed and I loved it! It's basically a grown-up version of 'Sesame Street' with puppets and cartoon segments and singing, only the characters are living in the slums and struggling with bigger issues than colors and counting. If you get a chance to see it anywhere, see it. You'll be laughing your head off!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Greenwich Village

Saturday morning we were hoping to go to the Statue of Liberty, but it's closed (blame Sandy) so Brian decided to take us down to Greenwich Village instead. He had found a sort of tour online and following its directions, we had an enjoyable morning. It was nice to get away from the bright lights and touristy hustle and bustle of Times Square and enjoy a different side of the city.

We saw beautiful brownstone houses including the one used as the exterior of the Huxtables' home on 'The Cosby Show,' the home of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and even the house that a young Walt Disney lived in before making it big. We browsed in shops in the gay district, saw a street performer flip over a group of people in Washington Square and looked out on the Hudson River. We explored the gardens of St. Lucas and at one point in the day we were attacked by a flock of seagulls... not the band, but the birds.

The streets were cobbled, the air was crisp with autumn, the leaves were falling and squirrels and birds and trees reminded us of the pulsating rhythms of nature and life and the city.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

As newlyweds, the first thing we did was grab some lunch and then get in line at the TKTS booth for tickets to see a Broadway show. One of Brian's favorite plays is "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and we had heard amazing things about the current revival... and let me tell you, that production was fantastic! (And yes, I know it's a little strange to watch a play about a dissolving marriage on our wedding day.) Tracy Letts and Amy Morton star as the infamous dueling couple George and Martha and they were both superb. I was also impressed with the highly detailed set design, lighting and perfect pacing of the show which is darkly funny and transfixing. A definite American classic.

Topping the night off we enjoyed some delicious food and drinks at a little place called L'Ybane where we were serenaded by an eclectic group of aging performers including a clarinet player and his bluesy band singing "Pennies From Heaven." Life is good.

Just Married!

Brian and I are officially and legally married in the state of New York! I am filled with such an immense and all-encompassing joy. Seriously, I can't even begin to explain how I feel. It's... it's thrilling. It's otherworldly and exciting and important. I love him so much and wish to be by his side for many more years to come.

The experience was such a great one. First Brian, Patrick (our witness) and I went to the City Clerk's office and got the marriage license. The building was beautiful and the waiting time was short. Easy breezy. The next part got a little more complicated though. State law requires a 24-hour waiting period between obtaining the license and having the ceremony. We had planned to do it Thursday/Friday but our most recent flight cancellation caused us to arrive in New York too late. And we would have been fine with waiting until Monday, except for the fact that they are closed on Monday for Veteran's Day. So basically we needed to bypass the 24-hour rule. And how do we do that? Obtain a judicial waiver!

So we went across the street to a different building, got lost and then found out that the judge only approves waivers at 11am... and it was already 11:30! We were devastated, but then someone told us that the judge was running late from a hearing and we still had a chance! A few minutes later our request was granted and we ran back to the city clerk's office and awaited our turn to be married!

While we were waiting we saw so many other gay couples. It was awesome. There was an elderly pair of women helping each other along as they went to tie the knot, a younger lesbian adjusting her partner's hair, and two gay men from Ireland who had been together 18 years. They were our favorites. Their names were Barry and Hugh and they didn't know they needed a witness and had unfortunately come alone. Luckily a young guy in line ahead of them volunteered to be their witness while his future wife went to do her hair and makeup in the bathroom. Of all the things I love about this city, the sense of community is one of my favorites.

Last night Brian, Patrick and I went to a comedy club and everybody was talkative and friendly before the show started. When we announced that we were here from Utah to be married, we received a raucous round of applause and hugs from random strangers. It was fantastic. A husband and wife from Knoxville, Tennessee, celebrating their 18-year anniversary, gave us their blessing. It was touching to say the least.

So while Patrick was our sole witness to our brief court ceremony, I felt as if all of New York City had my back. I felt like I was part of a larger, global family. Today was truly special.

And to those of you who are reading this and would have loved to be there with us, just know that we carried your support and good wishes with us in our hearts. Oh, and if you wanted to watch a video of us getting married, I'm afraid that's not possible. Patrick thought he was recording us, but it turned out he wasn't!

But it's okay, because WE ARE MARRIED!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Airports, Athena and Other Annoyances

Midway through last-minute packing just an hour before we needed to leave for the airport, Brian decided to check the status of our flight. "Just in case," he laughed. After Hurricane Sandy threw a wrench into our plans last week you can't blame us for being a little paranoid.

"It's cancelled," Brian huffed, slamming his hands down on the table.

"What? You're kidding."

"No, I'm not."

And then I knew he really wasn't pulling my leg. It had happened yet again. New York seemed an impossible dream.

This time time the culprit was a snowstorm named Athena. Not nearly as nasty as Sandy, but still threatening enough to stop the plane from flying overnight. With all the trouble Athena and Sandy have caused me, it's no wonder I'm not attracted to women...

However, Brian and I weren't about to let some meddling natural disasters get in our way so we rebooked. Instead of flying overnight and arriving in New York City early this morning, we instead got a flight that left today (with a completely different airline, mind you) and made our way to the airport. After all of the annoyances of TSA, we made it to our gate just in time for boarding only to discover that our flight had been overbooked.

"We'll try our best to find a seat for you," said a sweet little woman in a Delta uniform.

Again Brian and I plummeted into pits of despair as yet another obstacle stood in the way of our trip. The woman made phone calls, consulted other blue-suited officials, discussed alternatives involving layovers in Cincinnatti or Kansas City, until finally a bald man with a suit and a walkie came out and said, "Someone's given up their seat and now we have room for you both. Get on board!"

We were overjoyed! So although Brian and I had to sit apart, we were grateful to be on the plane. There were no storms to stop us this time and away we went, high in the sky on a journey that would eventually lead to the Big Apple (after a bus ride from Newark that felt like an eternity...but I digress).

Yes world, a week and a day later than planned, we have finally arrived!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Get Out and VOTE!

Today is Election Day, people. Maybe you've watched some presidential debates or seen some ad campaigns on TV. Maybe you've read some articles to educate yourself on the issues. Maybe you've just seen people with "I voted" stickers and now feel left out of the loop and slightly jealous.  Well, do you know where you can get those super trendy ultra-cool fashion accessories? At the polls! And I don't mean stripper poles; I mean voting polls!

Just go out and prove to the world that you're a damn proud American with a voice! Sure it's just one voice among millions, but it's yours! It's all you've got! Make it heard! I don't care if you're voting for Mittens or Obamarama or Big Bird, just make sure you perform your civic duty and take a stand for what you believe in! Make sure you take part in this awesome thing we like to call democracy!

And if you do, not only will you get a sticker and a feeling of purpose... You'll also get my solemn promise that I'll stop bombarding you with my rousing rhetoric and overuse of exclamation points!!!! So get out and VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am Jack Garcia and I approve this message.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ask Joaquin: Who Proposed to Whom?

From Amberly:  Who proposed to whom?

That's a fantastic question.  Not too long ago we invited our friend Hannah and her boyfriend Andrew over to carve jack-o-lanterns and enjoy homemade pumpkin pie and apple cider.  It was an enjoyable evening, and being fairly new in our friendship there was a lot to talk about.  At one point we started to discuss how Brian and I got engaged... and funnily enough, the two of us got into a little argument over it.  His version didn't match mine!

Here's how I tell it.  One day in August 2009 I came home from work to find a dressed-up Brian and a table laid out with a scrumptious meal.  It was a random weeknight so I was a little surprised.  Then while we were eating, he got down on one knee and pulled out a box with a ring in it and proposed, saying something ridiculously sweet and romantic.  I, of course, smiled from ear to ear and said a most emphatic "YES!"  Brian says he had wanted to propose on my birthday (the 20th), but as soon as the ring came from online he just couldn't wait any longer!  He had to propose ASAP!

A few months later, November 2, we were celebrating our first anniversary in Park City, Utah.  We were in the hotel room when Brian asked for his anniversary gift.  I got on one knee and returned his proposal with a matching ring.  (The site he had used was still in our browser history, so finding the same ring was surprisingly easy.)  Unfortunately the ring I had gotten him was way too big and I had to send it back and get him a replacement.  I'm not sure how I was so off with the size.  I had printed out a paper ring sizer and while he was sleeping I measured his finger.  I realize now how creepy that sounds.

So to sum up, Brian proposed to me and then I proposed to him.

But here's where Brian swoops in to correct me.  That wasn't when he first proposed, even though that's what I consider to be the "official" proposal.  That's the story I usually tell people.  But in reality, Brian asked me to marry him much sooner than that.  And when I say "much sooner" I mean like Mormon-dating fast.  He unofficially asked me to marry him like a week or two into our relationship.  Kinda embarrassing, so you can see why I would choose to tell the version where we had been dating for almost a year.  I believe we were in his car and he just asked me if I would marry him.  And I said yes.  He talked about how it would have been cool to take me on a carriage ride in Salt Lake City to propose (which they have around Christmastime), but again, his anxiousness to ask me interfered with grander romantic plans.

So really, Brian and I have wanted to get married pretty much from the get-go.  Four years later, we're finally going to make that happen.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Four-Year Anniversary and Change of Wedding Plans

Today, November 2, 2012, is our four-year anniversary (which means traditionally I should receive flowers, or silk/linen depending on which website I choose to trust) and it was also the day Brian and I were supposed to get married in New York City.  Well, Superstorm Sandy came in with all her wrath and flooded the east coast, putting a damper on our wedding plans.  "Damnit, Sandy!" said our friend LoriAnn, echoing the sentiments of pretty much everyone we know.  "Do NOT name your first kid Sandy," quipped my friend Mary.  Don't worry.  We won't.

So now our wedding will be postponed a week, with the new wedding date of November 9th which I don't like nearly as much.  "Sorry your gift will make less sense now..." said my friend Rebecca, who engraved Jack and Brian November 2, 2012 onto a beautiful frame for us.  "It's still the anniversary of our first date," I said, trying my best to console her.  "It will still have meaning to me."  And it's true.  Even if the 9th will be the day we officially become a married couple, November 2nd will still be our anniversary in my heart.  Always and forever.

In a way, we were prepared for this.  Originally I had wanted our reception to be on the 9th, right after our return from NYC.  But that date was already booked at the venue we wanted, so we pushed the reception back to the 16th.  If we hadn't done that, we wouldn't have had the extra week in between to reschedule our wedding.  We might have had to get married after the reception, which would have been a little weird, but luckily it will all work out (barring the possibility of another freak disaster, of course).  We were also lucky that both of our employers are supporting us in this endeavor and are willing to redo the work schedules to accommodate the change of plans.

"That's the fun part of getting married," said my friend James in a text.  "Everything will go wrong until you get there!"

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Bride of Frankenstorm

To celebrate Brian's birthday, we had dinner with Nichole and Emily at Tucanos Brazilian Grill.  It was a nice night out.  The food was of course delicious and left me feeling so stuffed that I swore never to eat again.  That's pretty typical of the place.  I eat so much meat that I start to consider vegetarianism... and if you know me, you know that ain't ever gonna happen.  But still the thought creeps in there and just settles unpleasantly on my stomach until all the buttons on my shirt pop off.

Anyway, feeling like a Brazilian heifer we said goodbye to the ladies and met up with Michelle and Wes at the movie theater for a special screening of Halloween (1978).  Although I've seen the movie multiple times (and somewhat recently), it was the first time seeing it on the big screen.  Pretty fun.  The day before a bunch of us went to see Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) which were being presented as a double-feature in theaters for one night only.  I had never seen either movie before and I really enjoyed them.  Boris Karloff is legendary for his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster and I was pretty impressed with the special effects of the 30s.  They weren't really that scary to me, as a modern viewer, but they were sure entertaining.  And although sequels usually suck, I'd have to say the second one was my favorite... even if the "Bride" only shows up at the end!

But do you want to know something that really does scare me?  More than monster movies or overeating?  The thought that I might not make it to New York City to get married!  Right now a terrible storm is brewing on the east coast and it's supposed to strike New York City before Halloween.  It's a combination of Hurricane Sandy which is heading north from Haiti and Cuba and some smaller winter storms coming from the west and down south from Canada.  Weather forecasters are calling this combination "Frankenstorm" and it's supposed to bring high winds, heavy rain and extreme tides.  As of right now, JetBlue is cancelling flights for Monday the 29th and Tuesday the 30th.  We're supposed to fly out on Halloween, late at night, and we just hope to God that weather permits!  Because if we can't make it out to New York City to get hitched, I'm going to turn into something far scarier than the Bride of Frankenstein!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

25 Reasons We LOVE Brian!

1.  “Brian’s very enthusiastic and passionate about things he loves.  He refuses to go through life complacent.”—Wes King

2.  “My favorite thing about Brian is his kindness.  He’s always welcomed me into his home and made me feel comfortable.  He never makes me feel stupid even when I disagree with him or am not very knowledgeable on a subject.  And he shares his amazing cooking with me!  He’s just a nice guy!  My second favorite thing is this incredible potato dish he makes!  It’s so yummy!  Like a foodgasm!”—Michelle Stokes
3.  “Brian makes me wish I liked politics.  Oh!  And he’s the shit!”—Mineh Palacios

4.  “He’s passionate.”—Jenny Kesler

5.  “Brian has this unparalleled ability to express very fairly and evenly his opinion but without watering it down—he is honest and straightforward and always worthy of respect.  Also he has a great sense of humor.”—Hannah Wheelwright

6.  “His food is scrumdiliumcious and I love all his interesting movie facts!”—Courtney Kesler

7.  “Brian is the most handsome man I’ve ever seen.”—Emily Mattson

8.  “I think Brian has the nicest sexy man bum out there.”—Nichole Christensen

9.  “Brian is one of the most thoughtful people I have ever met.  I met and talked to him for a brief time at a meeting once, and from then on he has been a huge help to me—even though he hardly knows me!  He is supportive and funny and clever and oh so classy!  I'm grateful to know him!”—Annette Harris

10.  “I think Brian is an outstanding gentleman.  I don’t think he realizes it, but he is a near daily influence on my life.  He is a great example of what it means to be a mature, thoughtful and genuine man.”—Brett Kesler

11.  “When I think of the two most important decisions I’ve made, coming out and going to Europe, I realize Brian was influential in helping me do both.  I look up to him as a musician, intellectual, and a human being.  I hope the utmost happiness for him in his life.”—Patrick Barrus

12.  “Brian is a caring and giving man.  I have always felt welcomed by and warmth from him.  I am happy to know him!”—Krystal Olsen

13.  “He’s pretty, with a cute laugh!  Plus I like how he’s not afraid to express his opinions.”—Renee Garcia

14.  “To Brian—the guy who introduced Jack to politics and good cooking!”—Jack Garcia (my father)

15.  “Brian is one of the most passionate people I've ever met! He really stands up for what he believes in, from music, theater and cinema to politics.”—Rebecca Hackett Lisor

16.  “Brian is the most honest person I know, and I value that most.”—Brandon James

17.  “Brian has a passion for life and movies—and anything he's interested in, for that matter—that is inspiring.  My best memories of him were sitting in the attic of his parents’ house and learning how to defeat Ganondorf and navigate safely through all the temples of Zelda.  I still think of him when I play through Ocarina of Time.”—Freddy Kesler

18.  “Brain has been an awesome friend for me all of my life.  Brian has always been very creative.  I think it was fourth grade when we would walk around the playground after every lunch for probably several weeks in a row and discus our great ideas for movies.  We had come up with a very sad story about a poor orphan puppy with 3 legs and a bitten-off ear.  We wanted to send it into Disney, sure that they would make a movie of it for us because it was just SO wonderful. Another great quality about Brian is that he is very honest and well informed to this day and that is something that I admire very much about him.  I feel so blessed to still be his friend.”—Candace Bonsteel

19.  “Dear Brian, Thanks to me you’re a better person.”—Nick Frandsen

20.  “He’s a classy guy.  And interesting.  I like that we’re both into old school things like old Hollywood-type stuff.  I haven’t met anyone like that so I would say he’s an old soul.”—Ana Frutos

21.  “Brian is my favorite brother.  I’ve always looked up to him and wanted to be just like him.  I remember when I was in junior high I would go see him in shows and that was the only reason I ever wanted to do shows—because he did!  Oh, and he is just like amazing at everything he does.”—Amy Kesler

22.  “Brian’s cooking puts Julia Child to shame, he has a wit sharper than a razor and has a heart bigger than the sky!  How could you not love this wonderful guy?”—Kelsey Roberts

23.  “He is a great cook and is extremely funny when he makes fun of movies.”—Daniel Garcia

24.  “He’s kind.  Always has been to me.  For that I am eternally grateful.”—Rafael Butron

25.  “When I first met Brian we just instantly clicked.  As cheesy as it sounds, I knew that he was the one for me and I decided then and there to do everything in my power to keep him!  I love him so much.  He’s adorable, funny, intelligent, creative, helpful and an all-around good guy who makes me happy.  I honestly don’t know what I would ever do without him.  Just shrivel up and die somewhere I guess…”—Jack Garcia (me, the future husband)


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