Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In which Brett and Jonathan adopt

First of all, sorry it's been so long since I last posted. Between finals and a very stressful spring break weekend, I just haven't had the energy necessary to keep up the blog. I think that might make me unreliable. Huh.

Anyway, Jonathan and I were looking at puppies online last week. (This is something we do on a semi-regular basis even though our apartment does not allow dogs. It's really a very sad scenario, but there isn't room for one here anyway. When we buy a house, we'll get a dog.) After finding several very suitable candidates for adoption, we got sad and decided to give it up. Somehow, I honestly couldn't tell you how, the conversation turned to Jonathan's older brother's former pet snake, a Burmese Python. I put my foot down on snakes that get to be up to 22 feet long. That was not acceptable to me. But I was open to the idea of something a little bit more apartment friendly.

We decided to go to Petsmart, where we looked at a few different varieties of snake, including ball pythons, milk snakes, and corn snakes, each of which only get to be 6 feet max. I played with a corn snake and milk snake both for a while, and I was pretty quickly convinced that getting one would be OK. Being the type of guy I am though, I wanted to check out some other places first, and Jonathan wasn't quite convinced because setting up the vivarium for the snake was a bit cost prohibitive. We went to a Petco, which was kind of sad and dirty and didn't have any corn snakes, only ball pythons. She suggested we check out a totally local place called Tropical Hut, which was only about a mile and a half from our place. We headed down there, where we met and talked to the owner and one of her good friends who were working on breeding some ball pythons. She was the most amazing source of information, and was able to give us a deal that brought our total cost to less than half of what the Petsmart was saying. And we got a more interesting, rarer snake in my opinion.

After a day to think on it and make sure we were ready for that sort of commitment, I talked to the land lady. She was cool with it, so last night when Jonathan was done with class we drove down to Tropical Hut and picked up Dorian. He seems pretty happy in his new home, seeing as how it's at least three times as big as his old one. It's pretty spartan for the moment, and this morning he's burrowed himself into the bedding to feel safer in this strange place, but we're going to get him some decoration and creature comforts in the coming week to help him feel more at home. Dorian is a Blood Corn snake, which refers to his skin color. Both his mother and father were Bloods, meaning that in their adult life their pattern faded and their main skin became a darker red, making for an all red snake. I'll keep you posted on his developments, but we're super excited to have Dorian living with us. It's a nice feeling, that we're responsible for a life together.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In which Brett and Jonathan Get Kicked Out of their Bedroom

A little while ago, Jonathan and I had a slight mold problem in our apartment. The wall was bubbling with it, in fact. It was pretty gross. The manager came out and had a look at it, and popped a couple bubbles. A putrid smelling liquid came out, and that was the end of her experimenting. She had the maintenance lady cut a piece of the wall out, an found that there was mold on the back side of it too. So, for the past couple weeks, we've had a hole in our wall. It's that little black patch in the corner, and, needless to say, it really didn't bug us that much and we quickly stopped thinking about it. Until Friday, when the land-lady came by to tell us she'd found somebody tear our wall out and replace it and that we needed to have everything out of the bedroom when they got there (they'll be getting here in about ten minutes.)

So, last night Jonathan and I emptied out the Bedroom, dresser, closet, bed, etc... and moved everything to the living room. Our sleeping arrangement now looks like this, with our mattress on the floor nestled between the bookcase and the couch. Supposedly, this is for the next three days, but possibly longer depending on how bad the mold problem is. We are getting 100 dollars off the month's rent though, so that will be pretty nice.

Anyway, it turns out that our living room is not exactly level. The night was restless, tossing and turning and nightmares, and body aches and a horrid headache when we got up this morning. We've decided we probably slept with our heads downhill. We're switching the pillows and bedding around today to see if it gets any better. If not, we'll have to figure something out. It's finals week and I need to be getting the right amount of sleep.

Monday, March 15, 2010

In which Brett celebrates his 21st Birthday

This last Tuesday, I had the great honor of joining the ranks of "adults" for the second time. Next one's at 25 and the last one's at 40. I can hardly wait. The 21st birthday is, in the American tradition, one of the more important ones, on which the birthday boy(or girl) is supposed to be out at a dozen different bars at midnight and get so trashed that they have, in fact, no memory of their birthday to begin with. I, however, am boring. (And that's another post I'm working on, maybe later this week.)

Having already been so drunk, at one point in my life, that the room spun and I threw up, I had no desire whatsoever to get even drunker than that just because I could finally legally purchase alcohol in the states. So I went with Jonathan to see Alice in Wonderland (Really not that great) instead. On Friday, we went to dinner with Jonathan's older brother (Jeremiah) and niece (Serena). The Montage is a different sort of establishment, if you want a local micro-brew on tap instead of something crappy in a bottle or can, you have to go into the bar in the back, get it yourself, and bring it back out. So, we did.

Back in the bar, it was just Jeremiah and I. I turned to him and said, "Somehow, I really hadn't imagined that I'd be buying my first beer with my boyfriend's older brother."
He just grinned a bit, and we ordered our beers.
"That's funny. I really hadn't imagined I'd be buying my little brother's boyfriend his first beer."
It was a nice sentiment, and really made me feel like part of the family. And the beer was crisp and delicious.

The next day, we went to celebrate with my family, an affair consisting of German food and tremendous awkwardness. My older brother came in with a chip on his shoulder, first he got into it with my parents, who had asked him to take my little sister to an event at the church. He felt like they were trying to wrangle him back in, and rather than making his point maturely about it, he acted like a little kid. After this, he got into it with me about gun rights. After that, he started going off about conspiracy theories including aliens in Olympia Washington, and a secret plot to take over the world from underneath the airport in Denver Colorado! The short version: He's finally lost it and gone totally off the deep end.

Recognizing the need to get out of there, my mother suggested that she take Jonathan and I to a movie, so we went to the theatre. She's Out of my League was the movie we decided on... awkward, is the best way to put it. I almost died sitting next to my mother in the scene where the main character cums in his pants... Fortunately, she was cool about it, and actually said she enjoyed the movie. Even so, let me express that you shouldn't take your mom to it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

In which Brett and Jonathan Go to the Beach

Saturday was very nice by Oregon standards for this time of year. It was 63 and sunny in town, so we decided to pick up our friend Jessica and head on out to Cannon Beach. It was a great time, albeit windy, and since Jessica was there, there are pictures! This featured one is of Jonathan doing a handstand and me tickling him, in case it wasn't obvious. As the day warmed up, we got ice cream cones and Jonathan got himself one of those giant suckers.

Once we actually got to the beach, we walked across a small but absolutely freezing river that split the beach in two as it met the ocean. On the far side of the river, the beach was more or less deserted. We walked all the way to the end of the beach, enjoying the sun and our ice cream. It was serene and peaceful, and we decided it had definitely been worth the mild discomfort of that little stream to get to where we were. On the way back, I found a whole sand dollar buried in the sand. For those of you unfamiliar with Oregon beaches, it's pretty rare to find a whole sand dollar unless you're scuba diving and the thing's still alive. In the past nearly 21 years, this is the first one I've found, and Jessica, who's in her late twenties, confirmed that she had also only found one or two in her life. It made me feel special.

After playing on the beach for a couple more hours, we decided to pile in the car and head down further south in search of either another beach or another adventure. We wound up at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, where we watched a man vacuum seal 42lbs blocks of cheese to age in the cooler. That's a ton of cheese. We ate our free samples and left, the cheese having tickled our appetites. We drove back up the coast to Rockaway Beach, where we stopped in at a hole in the wall none of us had ever tried before. The Old Oregon Smokehouse, hardly even visible from the main drag of HWY101.

We went in and the sweetest lady, probably in her 40s and presumably the owner, helped us out with our food. The prices were reasonable, and the food was really good. There was a slight problem though. She undercharged us for our meal. We didn't notice it until we were almost done eating. Jonathan hardly hesitated at all. He pointed out to us the mistake, and said he'd wait until the other customers left the shack (seating was outside) and he'd go in and talk to her. True to his word, he did just that. At first, the lady refused to take the money, but Jonathan was insistent, and she eventually gave in and took the money.

While Jonathan was inside, taking care of the money, I turned to Jessica and said to her, "That's why Jonathan's my boyfriend; he's the kind of man who does what's right." She looked at me and nodded, smiling. "He's a real catch."

Friday, March 5, 2010

How I came out to my father

Jonathan said to me, during a recent fight, that he sometimes feels like he doesn't know very much about me. He says, to me, "I've been told by [friend] several times that you have one of the best coming out stories, but when I ask you about it you just say, 'I did it in Florida'." I realized, that I hadn't told my "coming out story" for at least a year and a half, maybe more, and I thought I'd scan my blog to see if I could find it. And it's not on here. I figured then, that that I might try to get down as much of it as I can remember while I can. God, I often wish I'd kept a journal like the church leaders always told me I should. :)

Travel with me back in time to December 2007. My relationship with Ishmael (who's name I will keep as Ishmael for the sake of his privacy) was still going on, and he had decided that we were no more to be namelesses, instead boyfriends. We were going to move in together. My parents had come down to Disney World to see me and have a vacation, my father still did not know I was gay. Because of the great big bundle of money I was saving them on the trip, they decided to make it even by spending a bunch of money on me at Ikea, to help me get set up in my new place. And thus, my brilliant plan came about.

"Ishmael," I asked him one evening while my parents were in town, "would you mind coming with to Ikea when my parents take me to get stuff for the apartment."
He was pretty reserved, knowing that I was not out to my father. "Are you sure that you're comfortable with that? I don't want there to be any drama with your dad."
"I'm sure. It'll be fine, I'll tell him I'm just borrowing your car and he won't think anything of it."

Well, the day of Ikea came about, and we took Ishmael's car to get stuff. My mother knew instantly who he was, my father remained clueless at first. There were a few things I had already picked out, but there were many others I hadn't.
"Ishmael, what do you think of this mattress?"
"Ishmael, do you like these towells?"
"Ishmael, how do you feel about this clock?"
By that point, Ishmael knew exactly what was going on and told me he did not like the clock at all, and that maybe I should wait and see how everything looked at my apartment before I got anything else.

I could take a hint, and I backed off. Several days later, after my parents had gone home, I called my father.
"Hey dad."
"Hey son."
"Dad, there's something we need to talk about. You remember the guy who went to Ikea with us?"
"Yeah. Brett, it was pretty obvious you had a thing for him. I want you to know that's totally normal, even I, at one point, had a friend I was really attracted to and I felt like he really understood me, and it's totally normal."
"No, dad, see, he's kind of my boyfriend."
"Oh. I see... Well, you could have done worse. I have to go now, I'll call you later."

And that was the end of that conversation. When I moved back to Portland a couple months later, my father made a real effort to be supportive, giving me advice and encouragement and whatnot, but he always seemed to think that I was going to want to go back to women at some point. It wasn't until he met Jonathan, I think, that he really became OK with the face that I'm gay and staying that way. That was almost two years later. And now, things are good, between my dad and me. It took us a while get here, but I'm glad I told him. I'm glad I'm totally out now, it's freeing very freeing, and I don't think I could have experienced that if I hadn't told my dad.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Great Day for Gay Rights

As some of you may already know, gay marriage, not civil unions or domestic partnerships, but gay marriage has become legal in Washington DC. Also, within the same 24 hour period, churches in the UK were granted the right to celebrate UK Civil Partnerships if they so chose, a choice which was previously denied to them. And one more whopper, As of today, it's legal in Mexico City. Try that on for size!

The District of Columbia will be joining Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont as a place where same sex marriages are preformed. The congressional review period has already passed, and the measure passed in the DC Council with near unanimity. Is this a change in general American opinion? Unfortunately, not really. DC has always been very liberal and moderately pro-gay. But it's still significant. 10% of US States now have legal gay marriage, and now our nations capital city has it too.

Because of the new DC law, Maryland is considering whether it should be changing it's laws to recognize same sex marriages preformed in other states. Meanwhile, this provides great momentum for the 2012 ballot fights in Oregon and California. But what this really means to me is hope.

It provides me with a sense of hope that maybe some day there won't be discrimination anymore. Living in Portland, where with the exception of marriage rights we're treated as equals, it's easy to forget about the plight of Gay people in other parts of the country. Firing somebody, or even being impolite to somebody for that matter, because they're gay is inconceivable here. I look forward to the day when it's like that everywhere. And that's not to say anything about equal tax treatment or employment benefits!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

On the rejectionist phase

I realize that many of my readers are interested in issues pertaining to the church.(So much so, that I don't even really need to specify which church!) In order to increase my readership, I should therefore try to talk about issues that affect or are affected by both my homosexuality and the church. Everybody seeing how that works? The only problem is, I really don't think about the church much anymore. It isn't really a part of my life like it used to be. During and since my rejectionist phase, the church has been a matter of relative unimportance. I don't even realize it when it's conference weekend anymore, much to my mother's dismay. :)

So instead, let's talk about my rejectionist phase, how it's affected and is continuing to affect me, and how I think that if I'd taken smaller steps and not got so caught up in "being a good gay" (That's its own post), I really could have mitigated it.

I consider myself to have left the church in late 2007, a good date to put on it, since I haven't been to church since I went to Florida. Interestingly, I didn't really go through rejectionism until the following summer. I think a part of it is which crowd you end up running with. Nobody is really above peer pressure, especially not an 18 year old in a strange place. In other words, I think the reason that I was able to avoid it was good friends and decent boyfriends. But even so, I started building a picture of a life that wasn't really the life I wanted.

So, we'll skip past the part where I still lived a pretty good normal life to the part where I turned into a "bad person" for a while. It was May 2008, and I had moved back to Portland and had a good job. I was dating a person who was not my equal and with whom I had nothing in common, other than that we both liked sex. We came from completely opposite socioeconomic backgrounds, but the real problem was that he was dumb a doorknob, if you'll pardon me for being rude. Even so, I didn't really start making bad decisions until I started dating him. That's not to say that it was his fault at all. I take full responsibility for all of my actions.

It started innocently enough with, "you've never smoked [green substance]?" You guys can figure out what it was from that, I think. I let him talk me into that, and it was all down hill from there. The next one on the list was a fungus. I was way more reserved about that, but I tried it anyway with enough coaxing. We went to his "Doctor's" house. That was an experience like something out of a movie. There were people out on the porch smoking, the house moved with reggae music, a couple of people were banging on bongo drums... There was a guy nobody knew in the back making burritos. Doctor herself was like something out of a story book. She was maybe 4'11", had long dread-locked hair, big thick glasses, and enough [green substance] to provide for the city of Portland. Along with other substances. The whole experience was entirely surreal.

Drugs were only a part of it. Our relationship was pretty much entirely about sex. When we didn't have anything better to do, we had sex. We usually did it at least twice a day, but sometimes way more. When he suggested we have a threesome, I turned him down a few times, but I did eventually give in. If he had known that I would ultimately cheat on him with the guy that we had the threesome with, I wonder if he still would have wanted to have one. We did it twice, and during the second time he got really jealous and upset. That was the end of that. Let me just say, that cheating on him subsequently is hands down the worst decision I have ever made in my life.

The sad part is, ultimately I was the one who left him. He had every reason to leave me, but he was convinced that he was never going to better. What's worse is, I think a part of him thought that that kind of behavior was normal or acceptable. Ultimately, I lead him on for quite a while before I broke up with him. Why he didn't break up with me when he found out is something I can really only speculate as to. But, for what it's worth, we're both in much better places now.

The choices that I made then were bad, and continue to affect me. Jonathan, for example, often worries, when his seasonal depression is particularly bad, that I have/am/will cheat/ing/ed on him. At the same time, he has feelings of jealousy about drugs and threesomes. It makes him feel inexperienced, because he never had a major rejectionist phase. He's also former LDS, btw. At the same time, he has the inhibitions that he should have, preventing him from actually doing those things. And hopefully, those will keep up, as long as I can try to influence him for good instead of for bad.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is, while it's tempting, when you leave the church, to throw away your moral compass, it's dangerous. The other point I'm trying to make is, don't make bad choices for a guy unless you're 1000% certain that he's the one. If he wants you to make bad choices, odds are very good he's not the one. When you finally get to a serious relationship, understand that he's going to want to know about your past, and that seriously bad choices can make for difficulties down the line. Be smart, and like your mom probably told you before every dance, make good choices.



I found that reading the Confucian Analects was very helpful in reestablishing my moral compass, for what it's worth if any of you are currently going through something similar.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The last year (or so)

Hey all, long time no see. It's been a year and no updates, and on the off chance that anybody still reads this (My StatCounter indicates I get like, six views a month), I figured I'd fill you in on the goings on in my life. I think, at this point, we're safe to abandon the pretext of Stephen. Most of you abandoned your monikers years ago, and I'm formally doing the same. In the last year, so much and yet so little has happened. I think maybe that's more normal than most people like to let on.

My 20th birthday was largely uneventful. In fact, the whole month of march was. In the spring, I took a yoga class amidst my other classes and that was a blast. I think, decently regularly, that I would like to start doing yoga again. I was more at peace while I was doing it; it had a way of relaxing me.

In the summer, I moved to an apartment right next to PSU. Ryan, my roommate, was a real clown, but a good guy overall. The apartment was fun, and I met some nice people. I never really connected with them though. It's strange how that happens.

At the end of the summer, I went to the Caribbean and Florida with my family. It was an awesome adventure, a Disney Cruise. Cruising is surprisingly affordable, and it's bad reputation for being a rich people thing is really undeserved. Upon returning from that vacation, I met Jonathan.

Jonathan and I fell for eachother very quickly. Unfortunately, I moved too fast, and I robbed him of things that he deserves. When I propose to him for the second time, I'll do it right. Flowers, a nice restaurant, an engagement ring. A few among the many things he deserves.

We moved in together officially on New Year's Day, but I'd been staying exclusively at his place for quite some time before that. We weren't even in Portland on the day my old apartment stopped being mine. We were visiting his family in Utah.

Meanwhile, work at FedEx had gotten out of hand. Shortly before we left for that trip, a manager assaulted me. When I filed a complaint with senior management, he was sent home for the night. That was it. So, I stopped working at FedEx, although really I'd been planning on doing that anyway. I never much liked it there to begin with.

Two months later, I'm still unemployed, a fact which is grinding on Jonathan's last nerves. I do have a job lined up, but it doesn't start until late march. Tax return season was very good to us, and things look up right now. Last Tuesday, we bough roundtrip tickets to Bangkok for the end of summer. We're going to take a month and see Thailand and Cambodia. Everything from the Emerald Buddah to the Angkor Wat, and we're going to ride elephants too!

That brings us to the present. I think, it's possible I may start blogging more frequently again. Probably not back to the every day thing, but maybe a bit more frequently than once or twice a year, huh? We'll see how readership goes. :)