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  1. No More DOMA

    June 27, 2013 stevesem

    I have not been very actively present here on my blog, but there has been a great deal of new and exciting things going on. I decided that today would be an especially relevant day to pick up on my conversation about my “enGAYged” life and the efforts in planning a gay wedding. Today the Supreme Court ruled on DOMA and found it unconstitutional. Though personally I have not fully investigated the details of this amazing news, I am overwhelmed with joy for this huge victory.

    Living in Pennsylvania now, we knew that a legal marriage was not likely going to be available to us by the time of our wedding. However, now that the federal government recognizes gay marriage, even if Pennsylvania does not support it, an out of state marriage will be legal for taxes and other federal benefits. This is especially critical seeing as Joe works for the federal government, and we hope that now many benefits from his job will be extended to me, pending our nuptials.

    I’m also a bit excited that Joe was interviewed by the local news, about his reaction to today’s victory; and here is the article. In the article, he says:

    “I think most people actually take for granted all the legal issues that go along with a marriage. Until you don’t have it, you don’t realize what you are missing out on,” said Joe Parisi, 29, of Philadelphia, who is currently planning an October 2014 wedding… ”This was a thrilling victory for me and my partner,” said Parisi. “In a perfect world, I would like to see more states see this as a tipping point and start to legalize gay marriage, like in Pennsylvania, or at least recognize legal marriages in other states.”

    I am so proud of this great nation for finally making change and showing this much needed progress on equality. I am eager to share many of the new wedding plans we have been making.


  2. compromise

    January 17, 2013 stevesem

    our new fierce red roadster...?

    COMPROMISE: Our First Big Purchase

    The New Car…

    Recently – we made a big occasion for us as a couple… we just experienced our first major purchase as a together – a new car! I wish I could tell you how well Joe and I were on the same page and knew what we wanted and this was the easiest decision of our lives – however – it wasn’t!

    our new fierce red roadster...?

    Just as some background – I no longer have a car. I got rid of mine when I moved to New York – because it was an expense I simply did not want to deal with. Parking in Hoboken has got to be the worst in the world (no, I’m not just exaggerating! look it up!) so the stress of having a car – without paying for off street parking, was not worth it. A local car share program has been pretty good to me (most of the time) and with lots of options for public transportation, I hardly miss having one. Joe on the other hand, can’t live without his car in the city. He has the convenience of being able to walk to work, so he doesn’t need his car to commute, but he does like having it when driving to NY to see me or his family, or for running errands and visiting friends within Philly. Parking there is much better so its much less of a concern. Joe bought his car a few years ago – right when we started dating – and it was very much his car. Although very pretty – the Infiniti G35 coupe was a bit impractical for my taste – and very much a gas guzzler. It did go fast and look sexy though.

    So – with our distance and Joe doing a lot of driving, he’s also spending a lot of money on gas. We’ve said when the time came to move in together – a new car would come as well – but seeing as we have yet to make any moves with our location – the mean time, we are looking for ways to save some money (and be able to save for a wedding!). Joe proposed to trade in the car he owned for a more affordable lease – lowering the monthly payments and saving him on gas.

    With this decision came a lot of thought and discussion about WHICH car!

    Kia Optima Hybrid -

    Acura ILX Hybrid

    Prius C

    Hyundai Veloster

    After comparing all the options, on many points – from budget to styling – and best fuel economy to practicality – the winner came out to be the Hyundai Veloseter. A unique mix of sporty and practical – this hatchback like compact car allows back seat access through a 3rd rear door – and offers up many bells and whistles all for a rather reasonable price!!! We’ve had the car now for nearly 4 months and put plenty of miles on it already. We love the panoramic sunroof which came part of the additional style package – and the large touch screen display/navigation which came with the tech package. Also with that package – we got the remote start and bluelink features – including pandora links!


  3. A much needed UPDATE!

    stevesem

    Skyline

    It has been a long time since my last post – but I have some rather JUST cause for this. A lot has happened since last fall, and I’m very excited to report – our greatest challenge as a couple has been over come! I got a job in Philadelphia!

    Yes – As of this past December, I am working at an architectural firm in center city Philadelphia and Joe and I have been living together. Since then, we also found a new apartment and spend just about every free moment we have either moving stuff in or trying to unpack. It has been a huge process but well worth it. It was not easy to leave NYC behind and all my friends and connections – but it is finally time to feel settled and know where home is! I’m still working on making Philly feel like home – but Joe has been great and very supportive!

    Moving has seriously been a strenuous process – as I moved the contents my entire apartment in Hoboken into a storage unit – and then found out the 2 of us were far from comfortable in Joe’s small studio. So with a bit of searching, we happened to find an amazing apartment on the first go at it – and rented it right away!! In our ideal neighborhood – the former sugar refinary building now makes for a great loft like home – with exposed brick, wood floors, and modern amenities – not to mention SPACE! With 2 bedrooms and an office nook – we have lots of room to spread out into.

    Now that all the pieces are falling into place – we’re both very excited to start looking to the future and planning the next steps together!


  4. Location Update

    September 20, 2012 stevesem

    So – It’s been a long while since I’ve updated the blog with some information about our location progress. This is for a good reason – it hasn’t changed! Despite our journey to Baltimore and although a viable option – it is something that is more challenging than we thought.

    Although Joe’s job has the capabilities of letting him work from a different location – it is a bit more challenging and bureaucratic than that. He is looking into options for both Baltimore and NYC, but there is no immediate need on their end to make any changes, and therefore are taking their time. In the mean time, I’ve continued to look for job opportunities myself, and even after an interview, none have come about.

    So we continue to go the distance  and live our bi-urban life! Wish I had better news – but fingers crossed and hopefully something will come of all the hard work and patience!


  5. Equally Wed: Engagement Story

    stevesem

    I’ve blogged about our engagement story here, and really excited for all of the great response and interest people have given so far!! We were lucky in that a great website, www.equallywed.com took that story and posted it in their engagement section.

    Click HERE to take a look.

    Keep up to speed on the plans and engaged life – follow me on twitter @SteveSem and here on my blog!


  6. our rings

    August 24, 2012 stevesem

    new rings

    our rings…

    So yes… I proposed a while ago, and we did have rings. I don’t think a marriage proposal is legitimate without the exchange of some form of jewelery to seal the deal! Right? But I also knew that I wanted Joe to be apart of the ring decision process.  So as tacky as this might be (ahhh – feeling judged) – Sunday after the proposal, we went ring shopping – and I returned the rings I bough originally. Although they were really nice, they were very simple, identical, and lacked personality.

    Selecting rings was always a challenge Joe and I had discussed. It was just jokingly at first – then we came to realize we had very similar opinions on the subject. Neither of us felt we wanted any type of stone in our rings, and though we have rather ‘traditional’ ideas of engagement, we felt an “engagement” ring should only have a stone when its for a woman. So with simple white gold bands in mind – I didn’t think the challenge would be too hard… but I was wrong. There are endless ways to take a small piece of white gold and make it a ring!!

    We also wanted to find something a bit unique, but tasteful, and most of all – reflective of us. In our mind, we pictured reciprocal rings of some kind – so that they would match and be similar, but some how be mirrors or inverses of each other – like a ying and a yang (but not an actual ying yang).  When shopping around – this concept was very challenging – since most men’s wedding bands were designed to be stand alone jewelry.

    As we set out into the streets of New York City – with the quest of finding the perfect rings – jewelers row (47th Street – between 5th & 6th). However, being late on Sunday the street was pretty quiet and the stores were not all that inviting. We decided to keep looking and when to Michael C Fina (www.michaelcfina.com) on 45th Street.  They had beautiful options and a lovely staff who really let us look things over. They offered the ability to have most rings customized to fit our needs and we learned about all the types of metals they offered. Platinum, titanium and tungsten – but the best option for us, was going to be white gold. However, our budget was not exactly in-line with that of that store – so we kept looking else where.

    Tiffany’s was stop number 2. And who wouldn’t want a Tiffany’s ring (a gay man’s dream – right?). And surprisingly, our issue here was not with the price, but rather the selection! They only offered a handful of men’s white gold wedding bands, and while simple and classic, they lacked the uniqueness and character we were after. So after another defeated experience, we checked out some of the high end department stores in the area; Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, and Bloomingdale’s – none of which had a selection.

    Feeling defeated and like we wasted our afternoon, we decide to give the jewelry district on last chance. By the time we got there, most everything was closed, but the last store on the block, Malidani was still open (www.yelp.com/biz/malidani-jewelry-corporation-new-york). With lots of reluctance – mostly because we were not sure how a small store would handle the fact that we were buying “engaygement” rings. It turns out – my theory of “as long as you have money to spend – they don’t care who you are” was true. A lovely woman helped us try on rings of all styles, no questions or discomfort involved. When after going through one batch, nothing impressed us, she had another set ready to show us…

    Finally we found some stuff we liked. We explained how we liked the slimmer bands, and simple designs. Joe and I were going back and forth between a couple and narrowed it down to two. However – we realized, neither had an inverse design to go with it. The sales women questioned our reluctance – and after explaining our quandary – she told us that it would be no problem to customize a second ring in an inverse fashion – with no additional cost. This was great news and a wonderful surprise. After a little friendly haggling and picking who would get which ring – we agreed we found what we were looking for.

    We ordered the two white gold bands – both with gentle, yet distinct beveled edges – one with a polished center and brushed edges – and the other with polished edges and brushed center!
    We have had the rings for a while now and despite needing some resizing (tip don’t pick out rings on the hottest day of the year after running around NYC – your fingers will be swollen!) – we’re both very happy with out choice. Now – on our wedding day we will be able to switch our rings from our right hands to our left!


  7. the DISTANCE

    August 7, 2012 stevesem

    vintage baltimore postcard

    vintage philadelphia postcard

    So here’s a little bit more information about Joe and me. For those who don’t know, we don’t actually live in the same place. I believe I’ve mentioned this before – but to add to the story – Joe and I haven’t been in the same place since the first summer when we met…in 2006… 6 years ago!! It still boggles my mind when I think about that. It’s so rare I think for couples to survive that long period – even despite our time apart, and then adding distance… I would have never guessed.

    Joe was lucky enough to graduate in a good economy, receive several job offers right out of school, and had his pick of places to live. Deciding between DC and Philly was difficult, but ultimately, he wanted to stay close to his college friends and get to know Philadelphia better. Well now 6 years later, he is very comfortable calling Philly home.

    Me on the other hand, was not so lucky. Graduating in 2009 with a masters degree in architecture wasn’t the easiest thing. I was scouring the country for jobs (and I say country because I was willing to work nearly anywhere!), while completing my thesis. However, nothing came of it. It wasn’t until I was graduated, frustrated, and living with my parents that I got my first interview – and shortly after, my first (and only) job offer. Fortunately/unfortunately for me, it was only a 25 minute drive from my parents home, and considering the salary I was making – I guess I was lucky because I could barely afford the gas and bridge toll!

    So, when we first got back together, I was living at home with my parents, fresh out of school and working in White Plains, NY – and Joe was still living in Philadelphia. It was a bit risky for us to get back together, because distance was ultimately what drove us apart the previous time – however, the distance included the Atlantic Ocean and 6 time zones. This go around – it was pretty much just the state of New Jersey that was in our way.

    People ask me all the time how we’re able to handle the distance, and now that we’re engaged, how we were able to make that big step without ever ‘living’ in the same place. I guess it’s strange, but we live for our weekends and with that – we get 48 hours of each other non-stop – and I think if we can handle this, we can handle living through a week. Also, Joe’s job allows him to occasionally work from home – so we’ve shared many a weeknights together as a result.  Also – because of my insane travel bug that I almost always have, we’ve been able to travel together quite a bit. And if there’s anyway to see a person true self – go someplace with them. I am an insanely organized planner – especially when visiting a new city. I have every detail and a very specific list of things to see, and Joe patiently (for the most part) follows along. Joe on the other hand – not the best flier there is – so I, with all my might, try to be as compassionate as I can to help him through the trip (even if he might disagree with that). Therefore, together, we’ve grown and learned more about our quirks and habits, and we accept each other for who we are. That, plus trust, equals the strong relationship we have.

    vintage new york city postcardNow – just because we’re surviving the distance, doesn’t mean we like it! We have been trying to fix this problem for years. We hit a bit of a hick-up the winter of 2010, where Joe received a well deserved and long awaited promotion to a job he is most suited for. On the other hand, I fell into a job opportunity in Manhattan which was too good to turn down – and we moved even further apart, though my moving to Hoboken, brought us physically closer together. Now just under 100 miles between us, we were both in brand new jobs and the timeline for moving to the same place was thrown off.

    We’ve since adapted to the changes and after a year started to closely look at finally being in the same place.  As this past winter is now late summer, the challenges grow stronger. We’ve both looked vigilantly in either city for new opportunities – but a weak job market, and our currently well paying positions made it difficult to find anything suitable. I had dozens of interviews in Philadelphia, and many promising leads, that lead to strong disappointment. We had been leaning toward Philly, as Joe’s career was thriving there, as well as his social life, and with the substantial cost of living decrease – we could afford a more comfortable life style. New York, although filled with plenty of glory and constant activity, is an insanely expensive town – and rent alone would be hard to handle.  After my most recent let down – an interview with Urban Outfitters that yielded no job – I came up with an idea to discuss a permanent work from home position with my boss’s. Although our 3 offices keep them out of New York City, and our main communication is via email, they felt it was not something they could accommodate, but did offer me the option to work from our Baltimore office, should that be something I was interested in.

    This definitely raised an eyebrow – seeing Joe is able to work from his agency’s Baltimore field office, we could live very comfortably in the city, with our current salaries and take on a new city together. I’m rather excited for the adventure and the prospect of finally being in the same zip code, however, Joe is less thrilled.

    So now, we keep dealing with the distance and are going to explore Baltimore as an option. Hopefully life will finally work itself out and things will work out for the best.

    Feel free to leave any tips, suggestions, comments – job opportunities?


  8. I Like You

    July 18, 2012 stevesem

    i like you

    i like you…

    Going through some things the other day, I came across a little red book on my shelf and I got very excited and emotional. I hadn’t looked at it for over a year at least, but it is a very important book to me… let me explain:

    A couple of years ago, Joe and I attended an incredibly lovely wedding of Joe’s friends Meghan and Colin. Everything about the quaint outdoor event was unique and charming, full or romance and special to the couple. Besides the picturesque setting and the lovely white tent and a beautiful summer day… they had one of the most touching and individual ceremonies I’ve seen. They did not follow the standard traditions, but rather did what they felt was important in expressing their love for each other. Not partaking in any religious practices, they were left free to create their own program – and when it came time to offer readings, I was brought to tears by one of them.

    A friend read an excerpt from an adorable children’s book called “I Like You” by Sandol Stoddard Warburg and illustrated by Jacqueline Chwast. Something about the context of these words, at a wedding, made it a perfect fit.

    Since the wedding, Joe and I loved the idea and it made me all mushy inside (*mushy is the term Joe uses for when I get overly sentimental and become a helpless ball of emotions). So, he purchase a copy for me, and inscribed the front cover:

    My Steven, I like you because we are meant to be. Because you make me feel whole, happy, & loved. Because you are cute, funny… I dunno why I like you… but I’ll never stop! <3 Joey

    This might not make all that much sense, so I’m going to write the words to part of the book and then you will hopefully understand…

    I Like You, by Sandol Stoddard Warburg

    I like you

    And I know why

    I like you because

    You are a good person

    To like

    I like you because

    When I tell you something special

    You know it’s special

    And you remember it

    A long long time

    You say remember when you told me

    Something special

    And both of us remember

    When I think something is important

    You think it’s important too

    We have good ideas

    When I say something funny

    You laugh

    I think I’m funny and

    You think I’m funny too

    Hah-hah

    I like you because

    You know where I’m ticklish

    And you don’t tickle me there

    except

    Just a little tiny bit sometimes

    stop, stop, stop – help, help

    But if you do then I know where to tickle you too

    HELP

    You know how to be silly

    That’s why I like you

    Boy are you ever silly

    I never met anybody sillier than me till I met you

    I like you because

    You know when it’s time to stop being silly

    Maybe day after tomorrow

    Maybe never

    Oops too late

    It’s quarter past silly

    We fool around the same way all the time

    Sometime we don’t say a word

    We snurkle under fences

    We spy secret places

    If I am a goofus on the roofus

    Hollering my head off

    You are one too

    If I pretend I am drowning

    You pretend you are saving me

    If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag

    Then you are getting ready to jump

    That’s because

    You really like me

    You really like me

    Don’t you

    And I really like you back

    And you like me back

    And I like you back

    And that’ the way we keep on going

    Every day

    …………………………………

    I like you because because because

    I forget why I like you

    But I do

    So many reasons

    On the Fourth of July

    I like you because

    It’s the Fourth of July

    On the Fifth of July

    I like you too

    If you and I had some drums

    And some horns and some horses

    If we had some hats and some

    Flags and some fire engines

    We could be  HOLIDAY

    We could be a CELEBRATION

    We could be a WHOLE PARADE

    See what I mean?

    Even if it was the nine hundred and ninety-ninth of July

    Even if it was August

    Even if it was way down at the bottom of November

    Even if it was no place particular in January

    I would go on choosing you

    And you would go on choosing me

    Over and over again

    That’s how it would happen every time

    I don’t know why

    I guess I don’t know why i like you really

    Why do I like you

    I guess I just like you

    I guess I just like you


  9. INSPIRATION – gay wedding

    stevesem

    While wading through uncharted waters of the gay wedding world, I’ve been looking closely at others who have had a wedding for inspiration. Joe and I are traditional kind of guys. We come from strong Italian backgrounds where family and traditions are part of our life – so looking at same-sex couples who have had weddings of that sort is truly an inspiration!

    I came across this video of Wes and Mark on their wedding day. Thought I would share it with you all (and dare you not to get choked up!)..

    Wes and Mark from Key Moment Films on Vimeo.


  10. a Church Wedding??

    July 11, 2012 stevesem

    Hoboken's All Saints Episcopal Church

    This is an exciting piece of news!!!

    Episcopal Church OKs Same-Sex Blessings

    I know for many people, debating hot-button topics on a blog is exciting – a podium to deliver their beliefs and opinions. Me on the other hand – I prefer to keep my political and religious opinions to myself, and share them only with those who are closest in my life. That being said however – I couldn’t help but get a little excited when I read that the Episcopal Church has approved same-sex ‘blessings’. They say they are not “marriages” because a marriage requires a civil (the state) aspect – however it’s a great step in the right direction!

    This is what CNN is saying about the news….

    Episcopal priests will be allowed to conduct services blessing same-sex relationships under a policy approved Tuesday at the church’s national convention in Indianapolis. With the vote, the Episcopal Church becomes the largest U.S. denomination to officially sanction same-sex relationships.

    The service is not considered a marriage ceremony, media affairs representative Nancy Davidge said. “We have authorized a blessing, and a blessing is different than a marriage,” she said. “A blessing is a theological response to a monogamous, committed relationship.”

    This is a very unique and ground breaking move for a church. It also poses a unique question to Joe and I, for when the time comes to ‘tie the knot’. Interestingly enough – the matter of faith has recently been a discussion. Both from strong Italian backgrounds, we have both grown up in Catholic homes. Not that either of our families are dedicated Roman Catholic – the values and traditions have always been present in our lives. Joe even chose to attend Villanova – a Catholic University.

    I’ve never questioned my faith or what I believe in, however, I have always been uncomfortable with the rules and lack of acceptance the Catholic church has. When I moved to Hoboken, I found the church nearest to my home to be an Episcopal one, and was curious about it. I attended a service, and found it to be very similar to what I have always known, but they felt much more welcoming and warm.

    I have since been attending mass on occasional Sundays, when life doesn’t bring me else where, and now that I’ve learned the news of this ‘ceremony’, it only adds to my appreciation for the organization. I’m not sure how Joe feels on the subject, and therefore I’m sure we have time and a lot of discussion before we decide if in fact, this is something we want to do for our wedding. However, knowing it is an option, to openly be able to commit myself to the person I love, before everyone we love, and before God, is a great thing!!