Friday, August 31, 2012

Teacher's Pet

The following is a text conversation held August 27, 2012.  It was the first day of school.

Jack:  I love you!! :)
Brian:  I love you too.  I'm kind of pissed at my first professor.
Jack:  I'm sorry.  What happened?
Brian:  Now I'm pissed at both my classes.
Jack:  Why?  What's going on?
Jack:  ?????????????
Jack:  Talk to me!!!
Jack:  Brian Christopher Kesler, don't make me beat it out of you!!

Brian's last attempt to go to college back in 2009 proved unsuccessful.  He was enrolled at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and midway through the semester he just kind of stopped going.  He hated it.  It started by missing a day here.  Then a day there.  And before long he hadn't been in weeks.  So when Brian announced that he wanted to attend Utah Valley University with me in the fall I was excited for him, but also a little worried that his enthusiasm might again fizzle out.

Well, hearing that his first day back to school had left him "pissed" wasn't exactly pointing towards a rosy future in academia.  So what had made him so upset?  Upset enough to go to his mother's house to vent?  So totally upset that he ignored all of my texts?

"I didn't get the opportunity to make an impression on my professors," was his response.  I raised an eyebrow and he went into more detail.

His first teacher that afternoon failed to call on him when he raised his hand, therefore denying him the opportunity to share his awesome rebuttal to another student's argument.  The second teacher had them split into pairs, learn a lot of "deep stuff" about each other, and then introduce their partner to the class.  Brian's partner didn't say any of the interesting stuff that Brian told him.  "So now the professor probably thinks that I didn't take the assignment seriously.  She probably thinks I didn't tell him anything at all," said Brian dejectedly.

I couldn't believe it.  That was Brian's idea of a bad day?  I do my very best to keep myself completely invisible in the classroom, and Brian's upset because he didn't get a chance to shine.  Go figure.  We're like complete opposites in the classroom.  I mean, who knew Brian was such a teacher's pet?

My first day back to school was quite a bit different.  I sat in the back of my first class silently praying that the professor wouldn't force us all to stand up and introduce ourselves.  I hate that.  I also hate when they want you to say something "cool" about yourself.  Some unique little fun fact.  I never know what to say.  I'm just not that interesting.

In fact, I'm so uninteresting and so invisible that professors I've had before don't even recognize me. It's true.  My second class of the day was Academic Writing for English Majors and the professor is the same German-American woman that taught my Literary Theory class in the spring.  I loved her class.  I think she's awesome.  But did she recognize me at all?  Nope.  She made a big deal recognizing other students that were in that class as well, gushing about how great it was to see them again.  And then it came to be my turn to stand up, say my name, and yada yada yada all that stuff I hate to say.  A blank stare and a "So nice to have you in this class" was all I got.

Was I upset?  Not necessarily.  The other students from Literary Theory all spoke more.  Their hands were constantly shooting up into the sky like Hermione Granger.  They were constantly waxing philosophical.  Me?  I'm just not that interested in vying for my teacher's attention.  Like I said, I try my best to stay anonymous.  I went to a small high school where my stepfather was one of my teachers, so anonymity wasn't a luxury bestowed upon me.  Now that I'm away from all that, I'm just not interested in the teacher's pet position.

But Brian sure wants it...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Arsenic, Old Lace and My Birthday

Although my big PB&J party was on Friday the 17th, my birthday was actually on Monday the 20th and the day was a pretty casual one.  Once Brian got home he took me to see the movie ParaNorman (which I loved by the way) and then we had dinner.  We ate at Gloria's Little Italy in downtown Provo.  Neither of us had ever been, and we enjoyed it.  I ordered Carbonara and it was scrumptious!  So rich and meaty!

On Tuesday, our married friends Stephen and Lexi took us out to dinner.  I was in the mood for some pizza, so I chose California Pizza Kitchen.  The four of us ordered three different pizzas and shared them.  We got the Spicy Chipotle Chicken, the California Club and the Roasted Artichoke & Spinach.  They were all very delicious!  If I had to choose a favorite, I'd probably choose the California Club, mostly because I'm obsessed with fresh avocado.  Mmm... avocado.  After dinner we all headed to Stephen and Lexi's house for some homemade M&M bars, ice cream and great conversation.  We talked for hours!

Birthday cards from family members trickled in throughout the week as well.  Some even had cash or gift cards in them, which is always nice!  This week has also been one of back-to-school clothes shopping.  So far I've treated myself to two new pairs of shoes, two new pairs of jeans, and a nice sweater.  I still want to get some new shirts and maybe a new coat for winter.  And since Brian is going to school this semester as well, we figured that sharing a laptop might be difficult.  The solution, of course, was to buy a second laptop.  Happy birthday to me!

The last of my birthday celebrations came yesterday, on Saturday.  Over a month ago my mother called to tell me that I needed to request the 25th off from work because I had a birthday surprise.  I didn't know what it was until I got my birthday card from her.  She had gotten me two tickets to see Arsenic and Old Lace at the Hale Center Theater in Orem.  Brian and I love theater and we hadn't been to a show in quite a while, so we were very excited!  Isn't my mom sweet or what?

So we picked up our tickets last night and enjoyed some good theater.  The Hale is a pretty small theater-in-the-round, meaning that there are seats on every side of the acting space, and it had a cozy atmosphere.  The performances, however, were larger than life and I was very impressed.  If you've never heard of the show, it's about a guy named Mortimer who gets engaged on the same night that his estranged murderer brother comes into town with his surgeon sidekick.  It's also the same night that he discovers his sweet little old aunts have been poisoning men and burying them in their cellar.  Throw in some bumbling cops and a brother who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt and you've got yourself a hilariously macabre show!

Go see it!  It runs through September 22nd.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ask Joaquin: Who is Veronica?

From Cheryl:  Hey, so I just read your newest comic and I don't get it... I mean, who's Veronica?

Hey, Cheryl!  Great question.  Let me give you a quick rundown as to who Veronica is.  Veronica is a white statue of a woman's torso.  As you can see from the comic, she has no legs, arms or head.  I bought her for an online drawing class I took a few years ago and since then she's just been a part of our household.  In every past apartment we've ever lived in she's been displayed on a table or shelf in the living room somewhere.  And since she's a naked lady in a gay man's house, she's quite the conversation starter!

Our first roommate, Tess, is responsible for naming her Veronica and since then she's been a running joke.  She even had her own Facebook account once.  Brian's mom is especially fond of Veronica.  For Christmas one year she bought Veronica a gift which turned out to be a bra.  For Valentine's Day once, his mom sent us a photo of Veronica dressed in sexy lingerie.  When we moved into this apartment, we didn't bring Veronica with us, so on April Fool's Day Brian's mom doorbell ditched Veronica on our doorstep with a coat and a note that said, "How could you leave me locked in a closet?"  The latest comic is somewhat based on that experience... we were indeed shocked to find Veronica on our doorstep!

As far as comics go, before I called them Chihuahua Comics they were called Veronica and Friends and they featured our then-roommate Mesun as well.  I even did an animated short of Veronica and Friends entitled "Poop" which featured neither Mesun nor Veronica (except for the opening title).  I've posted the short on this blog before, but here it is again:

Veronica's really only been drawn in a comic a handful of times and for a short stint she hacked into my blogger profile and began posting horribly-drawn and mean-spirited comics of Brian and I.  I have since deleted them from this blog and destroyed all remaining copies.  That's partly why we left her behind when we moved.  But now the diva is back to ruin our lives...

Chihuahua Comics 2012:28

Monday, August 20, 2012

Birthday Dinner with the Keslers

My birthday celebrations continued yesterday with a family dinner at the Kesler house.  Jenny brought her dog Lou; Amy had a friend, April, visiting from New York; Courtney invited her on-again off-again beau, Kevin; and Mama and Papa Kesler invited the grandparents.  It was a full house!

Brian made us all Tikka Masala for dinner and it was delicious!  He was very proud of how fluffy the rice came out and couldn't stop praising himself.  We couldn't stop talking about it either!  For dessert there was a chocolate birthday cake, peanut butter ice cream, and various homemade pies.  I figured since it's my birthday I can make exceptions on my diet...  Lots of sweets for me!

Afterwards Brian and Amy entertained us all by playing show tunes on the piano and serenading us with their terrific voices.  I wish we had a piano at our apartment so Brian could play for me all the time!  I bet our neighbors are grateful we don't, though...

Anyway, I'm grateful for Brian's family and the love they show me.  With my family so far away, it's nice to have them close by, ya know?  To love me and spend time with me.  Oh, and I really like it when they give me birthday money.  That part's the best!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

My 26th birthday is coming up soon and last night I threw a fantastic birthday party.  Knowing me, it was a themed party because, well, that's what I do.  The party was dubbed "Jack's 26th PB&J B-Day" aka "Peanut Butter Jelly Time!"  You know it's a good party when it has two different names.  That's a sign of quality.

So what happens at a peanut butter and jelly-themed birthday party, you ask?  Well, for starters we served various bite-sized gourmet versions of the classic sandwich.  For example, "The Spicy Thai" with curried peanut butter, orange marmalade, Thai basil and sriracha on naan bread.  Or another one on French bread featuring cashew butter and brie cheese with apple jelly.  Sandwiches with bacon and caramalized onions and goat cheese.  Yeah, we're fancy.

We also decorated in brown and purple (peanut butter and jelly), gave out Smuckers' Uncrustables as prizes and served a peanut butter and jelly birthday cake!  It was a pound cake shaped like bread with a layer of peanut butter frosting and strawberry jam in the middle.  Very delicious.  Brian worked so hard making all the food for my party and I am eternally grateful.

Oh, and we even served a peanut butter and jelly martini.  A PB&J really can be for grownups.

Many friends showed up to celebrate and I couldn't have been happier with the turn-out.  My friends Kayla and Melinda from Salt Lake City came down, my cousin Tanissa who I haven't seen in years graced me with her presence, and my newlywed friends Lexi and Stephen even showed up to party and I haven't seen them in months!  Other guests included coworkers, tons of homos, and regulars like Wes, Brett and Rafael.

I had every one of my guests write me a little note, and here are some of my favorites:
  • "Jack is the most awesomest gay person in the world..." - Unknown Source (Brett)
  • "Today is your birthday and I am still prettier than you." - Nick
  • "P.S. Your veggie bowl is full of wieners and balls..." - Emily
  • "Dear Jack, F*** you.  (With love)." - Curt
  • "You are the pus in a pimple on an otherwise perfect complexion..." - Rafael
  • "Don't take life too seriously and drink some Kool-Aid" - Bryce
  • "ERMAGERD JACK!  You be 20-f***ing-6!  ERMAGERD!" - Wes
  • "Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm probably going to do straight things to you!!" - Nichole

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ask Joaquin: How Do You Make Your Comics?

From Jerry:  How do you make your Chihuahua Comics?  I mean, what's your process?

That's an excellent question, Jerry!  Obviously I draw them.  Usually with a pencil.  On paper.  But if you really want to know the whole process, I'd be delighted to share it with you.

Every Chihuahua Comic begins with an idea.  Not necessarily a good idea, but the best one my little pea brain can come up with.  A lot of the time I jot down ideas when I'm at work, like this:

Then I get a regular ol' sheet of 8.5x11 inch white copy paper and, with a ruler, draw out the frame layout.  I roughly sketch in how I want each frame to look (where the character will be, where the speech bubbles will go, etc.).

Once I'm satisfied with the layout, I'll use a pencil to refine the rough sketch and draw the cartoon.  Sometimes I'll take a photo of myself as a reference to make sure I get the gestures right.  And yes, I stand in for everybody.

Once the pencil drawing is complete, I'm ready to go over the lines with a black Sharpie marker.

Then I erase all the pencil lines and the comic is almost finished...

...except for the color!  Yep, just some Crayola colored pencils.

Once the comic has been colored, it's ready to be scanned into the computer.

The first thing I do once it's in the computer is take it to PicMonkey.Com to rotate it (it scans in vertical) and adjust the colors.

Then I use Paint to put black bars between each frame and add the "Chihuahua Comics" logo, title and date.

Now the comic is really done and I can put it into a Blogger post.

And voila!  Just like that each Chihuahua Comic appears on my blog for everyone to enjoy.  I hope that answered your question, Jerry.  If there are any follow-up questions, shout em out in the Comments section below.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Renee's Wedding

My family is a bit... unconventional.  We don't always do things the way everybody else does them.  And my sister's marriage was no exception.  For starters, my sister is still a teenager (and so is the groom Jaylon) and on top of that, she's like 7 months pregnant.  Yeah, we're awesome like that.

And the unconventionality of my family extended to the actual wedding ceremony itself.  Planning isn't one of our strong suits, so it was no surprise when Brian and I arrived in Colorado late Thursday night and heard that there was still a ton to do before Saturday morning.  My dad and stepmom were freaking out to put it mildly, so we volunteered to help as much as we could.

The church where the ceremony was to be held decided to do some upgrades the week of Renee's wedding, and while they thought they'd be done by Wednesday, they were not.  The inside was a mess and it reeked of fresh paint.  So my dad got the brilliant idea of pushing the ceremony outside in the little courtyard in the back.  We'd have to mow the lawn and move all the chairs, but it could be nice.  Somehow we'd get the piano outside too.  Maybe.  That might be tricky.  But we could do it.

So with the new plan in mind, Brian and I went with Patricia and Renee to Michael's to buy some fake flowers and stuff to whip up some last-minute centerpieces and some ribbon to adorn the aisle somehow.  When on a tight budget and pressed for time, some interesting things happen.  However, they didn't look half bad.  And other aspects of the wedding were going just fine.  A friend had brought the cake over, the catering was taken care of and maybe just maybe we would get it all together in time.

Later Friday night we had the rehearsal.  When Renee and Jaylon finally showed up an hour late, Jaylon's mother expressed that she was expecting 40 or so people from their side alone and we all began to doubt whether we could fit everyone outside.  So we changed our minds and decided that if we kept the doors open and the fans on maybe the paint smell wouldn't be so bad and we would just have the ceremony indoors after all.

Oh, and guess where the rehearsal dinner was held?  Burger King.  Yep, we're unconventional and super classy.

The morning of the wedding we woke up and headed to the church where the hectic craziness continued.  The tablecloths were square and the tables were round.  The caterers forgot a few things and had to go back for them.  Nobody remembered to get music for the reception.  Guests started to trickle in but they were all waiting outside and nobody could convince them to take their seats.  Then it was time to start and Renee was still getting dressed.  She had forgotten her slip and had sent Jaylon back to their house to get it.  My grandparents got lost on their way from the hotel, but by the time they arrived, the bride still wasn't ready.

The 11:00 wedding finally began at 11:45 and the guests were finally seated, tripping over the ribbon we swagged down the aisle.  The flower girl cried and refused to throw petals.  But when my dad led my sister into the room and everybody stood, all the stress melted away.  She looked so beautiful as she smiled with excitement and nerves combined.  I had the privilege of asking who gave the bride away, and my dad said "Her mother and I."  I almost wanted to stop him.  She was my little sister all grown up.

The rest of the ceremony went off without a hitch.  My dad gave a beautiful sermon, Jaylon and Renee exchanged teary vows, exchanged rings and kissed sweetly, and then my mom played them out on the piano as husband and wife.

I hope the best for my sister and new brother-in-law.  They are young, financially unstable, and about to bring in a daughter so I just pray they can make it.  And you know what?  I think it'll all work out for the best.  Because my family may not be conventional, but we sure the hell are strong.


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