Friday, August 29, 2008

Preliminary Palin Post

Oh you can bet your bonnet I am going to have more to say about Mc Cain's VP pick in just a bit, but I have a busy weekend ahead of me. However, I have to make a note of this little gaffe before I forget to bring it up.

I just heard her acceptance speech. First of all, kudos to Mc Cain for such a gutsy pick. I have to acknowledge this will make the race even more interesting. I have so many opinions on this Palin pick. But as I was listening to Palin's speech, I couldn't help but nit-pick about one little thing: the woman cannot say nuclear!!! Is this evidence of her lack of education? Or is this some weird GOP nod to their idiot leader, Bush? Some show of fealty? Let's all mispronounce nuclear! Maybe it will catch on, and George W. won't look like such a dunce!

I have noticed others in the Republican party pronounce it "nuke-ew-lar." Makes me nervous that people making decisions on policy about "nuke-lee-ar" weapons can't even follow simple reading rules for English. Shouldn't a party pushing for English-only regulations in the U.S. have representatives that have at least a college-level command of the language?

Also, before I forget, I cannot BELIEVE all of the Republicans that cheered when Palin brought up Hillary Clinton as a predecessor and a person due praise and admiration for her campaign. Wasn't this the party that was RIPPING Clinton apart?? Weren't Fox News commentators declaring they would rather slit their own wrists than have Clinton leading the country?

Maybe they drugged up the audience beforehand so they would cheer at anything presented.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dad Update

Just got back from the hospital. Dad had six by-passes. Which, yeah, is a lot. But the doctor is confident that he is strong and will be just fine. In six weeks he should be pretty recovered. I coudl give more gory details, but that is the important stuff. Now I am just relieved and exhausted.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Call for Prayers

Well, it looks like despite my best efforts, I cannot keep a steady stream of up-beat posts.

I am asking anyone who is reading this to please pray for my father.

Last night, he had a mild heart attack and stroke. My mother called me this morning. At first they thought a simple angioplasty like the one he had ten years ago would do the trick, but after the angiogram they decided that open-heart surgery would be necessary.

I am obviously very concerned. This is a lot more serious, with greater risks and a much tougher road to recovery.

I am going to see how I can make my way over to St. George to see him.

I just ask that you please pray for him and for our family.

Thanks to all of you,


Enchiladas and Hammerstein

I am running out of blogging steam. We'll try to keep this one brief.

Nathalie came to visit this weekend!! It was so good to see her! It's funny, we have both gone on these crazy personal, emotional journeys, and yet, it seems like in so many we're still just the same old people as always.

Nathalie was going to spend the night and Alice (our dear friend all the way from France) was supposed to, as well. So I took it into my crazy head to make a Mexican dinner from scratch. I thought it would be simple and economical. A better option than going out to eat. I never claimed all of my ideas were works of brilliance.

I was kind of stressed about making the enchilada sauce. I had never before attempted it, and I could not get my mother's recipe in time. So I rolled the dice a bit. It actually was my favorite part of the meal. I think everyone was more impressed by the homemade horchata, perhaps because it is rare to find homemade horchata. It was all pretty darned good. It was all pretty darned messy, too.

Nathalie's friend, Karl, visited for a while, too. He showed surprising acumen for power cheese grating, and everyone in general was a huge help in preparing the meal; Brandon in particular, whose knifing skills I think would make my father proud.

After a lovely post-meal musing on dance, religion, and music in the darkened living room while listening to Sigur Ros and Alexi Murdoch, we ventured into the damp of the city to get some ice cream and watch the fog shrouded city. Nathalie just about died from the cold of SF.

Nothing of earth-shattering consequence was discussed that evening, but I think that is great. We have phones for conversation. Live interpersonal contact is for ... enjoying the intangible qualities of a person's presence. It was a wonderful night for me, being there with one my dearest friends and with this wonderful man I am seeing who makes me smile and laugh.

Saturday passed without much of consequence. I was pretty exhausted in general from lack of sleep and an early morning. We did hang out with Brandon's sister and her bf and friends for a bit. She is such a delightful person with infectious enthusiasm. I hope to get to know her better.

Sunday was the day I was really looking forward to. We were supposed to go listen to live opera in the park! We packed up a blanket, some fried chicken and other goodies and headed for Stern Grove.

Of course, it being Sunday, the babies of San Francisco who have been cloistered away all week by their nannies were out in full force. Brandon had to endure my constant ooh-ing and aah-ing. How he managed to endure it patiently I'll never know. But, you know, when you live in a world of nothing but adults, it is such a wonderful treat to meet these little beings of curiosity and mysterious drives.

It was also a pleasant surprise to take the subway to park. Something of a cognitive dissonance that actually seemed to really work in the confines of the city of San Francisco.

The grove was beautiful. A piece of California woods in the middle of the city. The air was pungent with eucalyptus. Particles of dew seemed to gently kiss my cheeks. I couldn't help but smile, both in revelry of the moment and in anticipation for the music to come.

The grove was packed! The NPR crowd was out in full force! Yeah! Mah peeps!

Everyone was picnicking on wine and baguettes and fruit.

We were soon joined by Brandon's friend, Mike. He was a pleasant person, although apparently to some he has a reputation for brashness. His friend, however, was another story. He was loud and talkative, making no effort to stifle his laughter. During the performances. I wanted to cringe.

Eventually one of our blanket neighbors (a pair of very classy lesbians?) asked Mike's friend to quiet down. He scoffed and seemed to flippantly refuse to quiet down even as he put on his shoes to depart.

I wish I could say I was sorry to see him go. He seemed like a nice guy, but rudeness and inconsideration are major sins in my book (much like sloth and apathy are to my parents (and to me, come to think of it)).

After he left, the experience was much more pleasant. When Mike did have to leave, I was sorry to see him go. He had some funny jokes up his sleeve, and apparently a tantalizing story about Brandon. Renato joined us, however, and I was glad for that. Renato is one of Brandon's best friends and he is this great combination of easy-going hippy and sharp-as-a-tack funny guy/intellectual. He's also really sincere and kind (both great virtues in my book).

The first performance itself was really good. It was a rendition of Summertime from Porgy and Bess. It turns out the whole concert was to be a selection of songs from American composers. It ended up being an afternoon of Gershwin and Rogers and Hammerstein. Which was fine, but I would have preferred an afternoon of Verdi and Puccini. I am not that into musicals. I know. Shocker. A gay guy not into musicals, but there you have it.

Like I was saying, the first performer was really good. Her rendition of Summertime was unusually haunting and ghostly. The main performer of the afternoon was a woman Mike and Brandon dubbed the 'crispy' lady. Picture a tanned out, buffed out Rue Mac Clanahan. Her voice was pleasant, but lacked some strength. Overall, though, it was a fun experience. The park was beautiful, the music was good and generally lively, and the people were some of my favorite people of San Francisco.

We ended the evening watching Across the Universe, which was pretty amazing in HD. I wonder if I would liked it was much if it weren't in HD. My favorite was Bono's performance.

Well, this ended up being a much longer entry than I had anticipated. I am off to work off some of those gummi colas and cookies and cream ice cream I ate over the weekend. Mmm. Ice cream sounds good.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Subway Scintillations

Here's is the lovely subway station which is the first destination for me on pretty much any venture into the city.

Included are a few photos of an eviscerated escalator.

Man, my blog is so educational!

The Unfolding of Video Possibilities

In my attempt to record the fun sights of life around me, I accidentally shot this brief clip. While it is nothing of substance in and of itself, it has made me consider the possibilities inherent in my own little digital camera.

Having long been an admirer of YouTube clips and Luis Merino's masterful homemade videos, perhaps I, too, could venture into the world of amateur film making. Let me assure you these forays will more likely be in the vein of cheesy home movies than the film making of say, Ang Lee or even Ingmar Bergman. Well. Maybe sometimes in the vein of Ingmar Bergman.

Let's Change Directions

I just finished a whole avocado. Slices of which were generously salted and wrapped in warm, skillet-grilled corn tortilla, they way the good Lord intended tortillas to be warmed. Said avocado was accompanied by homemade refried beans topped with mild, crumbly ranchero cheese and vegetarian enchiladas smothered in an earthy, deep red sauce.

Needless to say, I am very content right now.

Last post was a major bummer. Things have gotten better. My mom and I have talked since then. Now I just need to talk to my dad some more. But things will get better.

Anyway, on to other veins of thought and "conversation". I realized that while I live in an incredibly photogenic city, I have made little effort to share with you, my gentle readers, some of the incredible sights of the city. In that vein, I will now be sharing fun little photos of the city in which I live and just the stuff I see in life that catches my eye. There may be times when I will post a photo in a blog post, and it will have nothing to do with the content of the post. That is just to offer you the reader a fun little story/observation, and also 'Hey, here's a fun little photo, too.' Kind of like a party favor you might get if you went to party hosted by a neurotic Martha Stewart devotee.

Not that I am such a devotee nor that I would foist upon others gratuitous favors in order to further spike up the level of crazy pomp and circumstance at my own event. Sigh. I digress.

So here's a pic of me. What does it have to do with this post? Um, I look chill in this photo. I feel more chill.

You're just going to have to take these pics for what they're worth.

By the way, for those of you who don't know. This is what my hair would look like without the aid of modern styling conveniences.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Follow up to coming out

So some people have been wondering how everything has progressed since I came out to my parents. I am sorry guys if this post is not the most concise or clear. It's just kind of hard. Just talked to my mom. And, yeah, I am crying right now as I write. Perhaps, however, in being honest about how much this hurts, it will encourage compassion for those who know someone in a similar situation.

So initially my parents' only response was "We love you. You're our son. Nothing changes that. We miss you and just wish we could talk to you more."

I felt so relieved and loved and accepted and just warmed. I thought that no matter what, and I had two really amazing parents. I still know that I do and that this is not easy for them to accept.

Last week, however, my mom finally asked me all of the questions she had been wanting to ask me and I think realizing that I had a boyfriend really hit them in a way she didn't like. Like maybe it was more real.

Basically, my mother is convinced I will never be truly happy, that I am turning my back on the pattern God has set of a man and a woman, she is worried people will take advantage of me or that I will get AIDS. I did have to respect my mother's vocal resolve to stick to the tenets of her faith, but I also told her that I coudl not live my life for her and her desires. And it's true. I just can't. I can't give my life over to the desires of someone else. It is beyond me.

She apparently came across my blog somehow and was appalled to realize that all of my friends read it. I guess she thought it was like a private journal (My mother's comfort with the Internet is hit or miss). So she actually knew about Brandon before I told her and has been shielding my father from this news. She said it made her very sad to learn about this.

I have always been a source of pride for my parents--a top student, a well-behaved child, talented, a spiritual leader. In the last few years, since I had a nervous breakdown on my mission and had to come home early, I feel like I have been a source of disappointment and shame for my parents. Even then, though, I knew my parents were proud of me in many regards. Then I changed my major to art. Then I distanced myself from the Church. Now this.

How do you go to being the apple of someone's eye to being someone who just makes them sad? How do you live with dashing every hope your parents had for you? Crushing everything the sawin your future?

My parents expected me to become a great psychologist, a bishop or stake president, marry a Mormon Selma Hayek and give them beautiful grandchildren that would be sealed to them for time and all eternity.

I told my mother I still want a family; I still want a loving companion and children. I have no idea if that was any mollification.

Tonight my mother told me she told my father I have a boyfriend. I asked her what his response was. "He was very sad, John."

I understand that my parents are sad. I understand why my parents are sad. I don't know that I can ever really expect them to be happy for me. Their religious teachings tell them they cannot be.

I am happy. I have been happy. Why can that not equal my parents also being happy? If only it were so simple.

I love my parents so much. They are such a part of my soul. To inflict this kind of pain on them . . . is so bitter and hard.

What can I do? Live a life of solitude? Stand in an organization, professing to believe something I do not, morally conflicted always? Is that what is required of everyone in growing up? To eventually accept that there are no easy answers to happiness, and that basically all avenues are forever also weighed down by sorrow?

How can I live my life feeling that everyday I pain my mother's heart? For those of you who know my mother, you know how true this statement could well be.

She has suffered so much. I have suffered, too. And my father. I don't even know about my father. He has also suffered and I fear that whatever pride I, as his son, may have inspired may now be dashed.

When I came from my mission, rather than tell people that their son was mentally ill and emotionally distraught, they told everyone I came home because of migraine headaches. What stories will they tell now to cover up this shame? What fantasy will have to be conjured and projected to cover up the disgrace that is John Quintana.

I am now the disgrace. The disgrace of the family.

Ha! To add insult to injury, only one of my siblings has shown any support. The other two have not called, emailed, anything. All I know is that they have been murmuring behind my back all these years. Some happy, eternal family! That was bitter, I know. I apologize if it came off harsh. But the irony of what is supposed to be this loving, supportive family unit to be perpetuated after this life and on into the eternities is just so rich.

I guess it is easier to muster some anger and resentment at them than it is to accept the deep, likely irreparable wound I have inflicted on this family. Just by virtue of being me.

I have always felt like the odd man out in this family, never really understood. Let's face it, even in college I was something of an out-of-the-box, too-analytical-for-comfort thinker, but I don't remember the last time I have felt so misunderstood than I have tonight as I tried to explain where I am and why I wouldn't marry my ex girlfriend even though at one time I did love her. My mother has no real idea of my feelings about the church or how committed I am to living my current life. I don't believe she ever will. I don't know that she can. This has been a long and difficult journey, from which she has been entirely excluded. Her approach and perspective on life are so entirely different from my own. In so many ways we inhabit different worlds. And now I can't even share joys like how excited I am to go listen to an opera in the park with Brandon.

Well, I have been crying for like an hour now. I am exhausted. I don't even want to think about this stuff anymore. Every time I think about something new: my dad, what my mom must be feeling, what it will be like when I see them over the holidays, . . . it just hurts all over again. For those of you who have read this entire mental meandering, my commendations for your patience and indulgence.

Thank you to my friends who have listened to me and supported me in this time. I know I am a friend who at times really needs a sounding board and a shoulder to cry on, I hope I have been a good, decent friend in return.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Neti Pot!!

I have been insanely congested since ... last Thursday, I believe. I have been over dosing on Sudafed (the good stuff you have to be tracked by the government for) to no avail, and I am afraid I will soon lose all dermal layers on my nose from excessive tissue use. It was time for desperate measures. My friend, Travis, suggested the neti pot.

Of course I had heard of the neti pot, thanks to Oprah and her evil mind control powers on middle American housewives, the neti pot hit general public consciousness a while ago (I think last year). For those of you who don't know, the neti pot originated in the India and southeast asia (Of course. I mean, it wouldn't be cool if it like originated in Dallas or something). It is a process of nasal irrigation. Basically you stick this little pot in one nostril and pour saline water through your nose until it comes out the other nostril. Pretty gross-sounding stuff, if you ask me, and exactly why I did not want to do it.

But I was running out of options and was tired of hiding my equally gross-sounding nose blowing from others. So I went out in search of a neti pot. I did some on line research and became more comfortable with idea. It actually was starting to sound pretty freakin' hippy, which was mollifying, and, besides, I had recently resolved to get more reacquainted with my inner hippy. Also, the lady in the video [please see below] seemed pretty darned happy with her neti pot. Okay, so she actually seemed like the Portland, Oregon-librarian-hippie-granola version of Children of the Corn, which was kind of scary in some ways, but I have always been pretty confident in my abilities to not succumb to lobotomy-like stupors of action.

Travis said that I could find a neti pot at any Wal-Greens. I was surprised when my local pharmacist promptly pointed to aisle 4 when inquired about their stock of neti pots. Hell, this is San Francisco. I was surprised my pharmacist spoke English as a first language.

I wasn't too happy to be paying $17, but I was desperate and figured I had already spent more than that on Benadryl and Sudafed combo packs in the past week (two boxes of each so far). When I got home, I was actually pretty eager to open my new neti pot box. I reached in and pulled out a blue plastic pot. Hmm. Plastic. Not very hippie-friendly. I was expecting some little ceramic pot. With an "ohm" symbol would be nice. Or a smiling fat buddha wishing me good nasal health.

17 bucks. For a cheap plastic toy tea pot. And 50 packets of salt. Hm. Supposedly they are special salt packets: non bleached, non idiozed, Ph Balanced. What a rip!

Whatever. I paid for it, now I had to use it. I went into the bathroom hoping I wouldn't cause irreparable damage by, I don't know pouring water up into the cavities between my eyes or ripping some sort tender tissue in my nose or something. Hell, maybe I would really mess up my nose, and I could get that rhinoplasty everyone has been begging me to get.

I leaned over and I poured. It didn't take me long to figure out that even with my mouth open, I was holding my breath (which you're not supposed to do). So I started just talking, to make sure I was breathing through my mouth. There I was. With a blue spigot up my nose and water pouring out of my opposing nostril rambling inanely about how odd this experience was, hoping to dear God that my roommate couldn't hear me and thus firmly cement in his mind the notion that his roommate was indeed too daffy for words.

I finished my business and breathed clearly for the first time in days. Aaaaaah! And then it happened. The overwhelming need to blow my nose and expel all resident matter (ew, i know) continued for the next two hours! I finally had to go to work for a long night of setting up visual displays. I was pretty irritated. I showed up late and was definitely not breathing easy, like the box and video said I would. In fact, I was back to my once an hour nose-blowing ritual. 'Neti pots suck!' I decided. (Perhaps the better conclusion would have been that neti pots blow.)

Tonight, I decided to give neti one more chance. After all, I had paid good money and it's not like I could use those little salt packets for margaritas. This time I doubled the salt. We were going to do this hard core! And you know what? It worked! Sure, I have a bit of a sinus headache right now (more so than I did after my intense round of steam inhalations last weekend), but I think once I neti tomorrow morning, I should be good. And either way, it's so much better than feeling like some alien being is slowly trying to escape your body via your nasal passages!

Anyway, thank you gentle reader for bearing with me through this graphic retelling, and, Rae, if you see this, once again, I am so sorry for bailing on Saturday night because of my swollen sinuses!

You guys enjoy this clip. Seriously.