Three years ago I was in the Australian Outback. On my first night there, I stared up into the stars because they were so bright I couldn't stop myself. Almost immediately I saw a bright object soaring across the night sky. "Was that a comet?" I asked myself. A few taps on an astronomy app on my iPhone later I found out it wasn't a comet... it was the International Space Station.
I wonder if there are people on there right now?
And at that moment, I came to full realization just how insignificant humanity is to The Universe.
It reminded me of a line from Alan Moore & Dave Gibbon's Watchmen where Laurie Jupiter is trying to convince the god-like Dr. Manhattan to save an earth that's on the brink of nuclear war...
Today I got that same feeling of humanity's utter insignificance... but it came from watching the news... not looking up at the heavens.
People are so horrifyingly terrible to each other on this planet that more and more I think the universe is better off without us. Certainly better rid of us before we are technologically advanced enough to head out and spread our poison beyond this solar system.
Star Trek this ain't, and I'm more than a little sad about that.
Thank heavens tomorrow I'm leaving for one of my favorite places on earth.
I don't celebrate my birthday, which is part of the reason I like leaving the country every year... it's a lot harder for your friends and family to throw a party or make a big deal over it when you're not around. That being said, the outpouring of birthday wishes from everybody is such a wonderful thing that I wish it could be my birthday every day! It's hard not to be happy when your email in-box, text messages, Facebook, and Twitter are jam-packed with well-wishers wanting to congratulate you on surviving another year. My hetero-life-partner even wrote a blog post for my birthday which, considering he almost never blogs anymore, was a really great end to an amazing day.
Which, oddly enough, was 31 hours long, since I started the 24th in London (7 hours ahead) and flew home to re-live a big chunk of my day all over again. I guess if it can't be your birthday every day, crossing time zones to make the one day you get last longer is the next best thing.
The flight home was somewhat torturous thanks to The Most Boring Man In The Universe sitting in the seat behind me. Seriously, this bastard rambled non-stop for nine-hours-and-twenty-minutes, loudly (LOUDLY) going on and on about mundane shit that even my iPod at full volume could not obliterate. Since he had an English accent, it was if I were trapped in the most horrifyingly boring documentary ever. I still have no idea how the poor person he was talking to the entire time kept from killing herself. I would have dashed my brains out on the seat-back tray after the first hour.
Coming back the USA was about as painless as it's ever been. I used to loathe going through border control and customs because the agents were always such assholes. But they truly have been improving over the past couple years, which makes foreign travel so much nicer. It's as if they knew people hated them and their hostile, shitty attitudes and decided to try being more pleasant. This time, I actually felt welcomed back to my own country, which would have been impossible for me to even dream of just five years ago. Having to wait less than ten minutes in line was also a nice bonus... especially after having suffered through Heathrow's 25-minute wait at border control twice. You'd think that one of the world's busiest airports could have more than two measly desks open for plane-loads of passengers, but apparently they just don't give a fuck. I kept looking for the sign saying VISIT THE UNITED KINGDOM AT YOUR PERIL, YOU FILTHY FOREIGN BASTARDS! But, being British, they're much more subtle about it. They just make you suffer a long wait in silence to show their disdain for your existence and their contempt at your desire to set foot on their soil.
But at least I didn't have to give my fingerprints, retina scan, and a stool sample like foreigners visiting these United States of America. I guess that's something.
My birthday also happens to be the birthday of Mac OS X, which turned ten years old yesterday! It's odd how Apple's OS is so young, but seems to have been around forever. I usually celebrate the occasion by booting up an antique Macintosh running an old, old, old version of Mac OS, just so I can appreciate how far we've come. The problem is that last year when I did this I actually came across some old features that I miss in the "modern" OS, so I'll probably skip this year. Nothing quite so sad as longing for technology advances from twenty years ago. What I wouldn't give to have each of my fucking folder windows remember their fucking Finder view selection and fucking sorting preference every fucking time I fucking open them... but, alas, that's only possible with technology from fucking 1990. Nothing like taking giant steps backwards as you head into the future, eh Apple?
And now I get ready to face my Friday, knowing full-well that there will be no Matt & Kim concert at the end of it. It's times like this I wonder how I manage to go on day after day, but I've got another birthday coming up next year where people will (hopefully) take the time to once again send happy thoughts my way... so I'll just hang on to that for the next 365 days* and see where that gets me.
*Usually, I'd be waiting 364 days, but 2012 is a leap year, giving me a whole extra day before my next birthday. How much does that suck? Thanks a lot crappy flawed Julian calendar system!
It's a tale as old as time, really.Against all odds two people find each other. They fall in love. They get married. They want to start a family but, for one reason or another, they can't have children. But their hearts are full and they have much to offer and so they find a way. Maybe they hire a surrogate to bear them the child they want so badly. There's much to do. Diapers to buy. Clothes to find. A nursery to build. Then all that's left to do is wait.
Nine months later, a son is born.
The happiest day of their lives has finally come.
Except in this case the happy couple in question is two Belgian guys living in France, the surrogate mother is in the Ukraine, and homophobic red tape has left a nursery empty for two years while the child is stuck in an orphanage...
In the above photo the biological father, Laurent Ghilain, is on the left. His husband, Peter Meurrens, is on the right. The empty crib in the middle is where their son, Samuel Ghilain, should have been.
A while back I read about their struggle to get a passport issued for their son so they could bring him home. I made a comment about how fucked up it was that a baby was in an orphanage when he had two perfectly good parents who were waiting for him. Literally begging for him. But nobody would hear their plea.
Then today I was emailed a link to a follow-up story.
Little Samuel is home at last...
And despite the fact that such insanity is nothing new, I watched this footage and wondered all over again how anybody could be so fucked up as to believe this child belonged anywhere except with his father. Later on, there was one part of the story that caught my attention. It was a set of still-photos showing Laurent and Peter visiting Laurent's newborn son...
And that's when it kind of hits you.
Breaking the situation down to its base elements, you end up with this...
Two images of fatherhood that would tug at the heartstrings of just about anyone, anywhere.
But put the two together, and a segment of the population inexplicably loses their fucking mind...
A child lucky enough to have two daddies who will love and cherish him forever is unacceptable. But a child who is orphaned, unwanted, or unloved is somehow better off.
A kid in a loving home is a bad thing when his parents are gay. But shoving that same kid in an orphanage somewhere is what's "best for the child."
How can anybody think this way and not be seen as anything less than a monster?
How can we tolerate a society that justifies such heinous treatment of children?
How can we live knowing that anybody could look at an image like this...
...and not see it as anything but a joyous and wonderful event?
Sometimes the people on this world we live in fill me with such depression and despair that my heart feels as though it can't take it any more. I get to the point where all I can see is the hatred that plagues humanity day after day and the weight of it crushes me so I can barely breath. All the pain, the suffering, the sadness, the death, the destruction... so many senseless horrors... they wear on my mind so heavily that I don't even want to exist anymore.
But then I watch something beautiful like this and it's all forgotten...
I like to think that one day all the bigoted assholes of this earth will be dead and forgotten to the betterment of all humanity. Indeed, some days it's the only thing that keeps me going.
In the meanwhile, welcome home, Samuel.
Today was a good-news/slash/bad-news kind of day.
Fortunately, the good news slightly outweighs the bad, so I'm just going to run with that.
I supose somebody has to...
My burrito just asploded in the microwave.
It seems like a good enough reason to reevaluate my life.
And so I'm sitting here trying to type up self-analytical prose while eating my blowed-up burrito dinner and watching The Godfather:
Which would be great, because how awesome would it be to get to watch The Godfather for the first time again?
And now... dessert!
Tonight's dessert will consist of a giant spoonful of Betty Crocker vanilla frosting...
Needless to say, I'm giving me high marks on my life reevaluation.
Every once in a while don't you wish you could say "screw the rules" and do something quasi-insane just to break free from the mundane confines of everyday life? Stop the world and do something a little bit crazy so you can feel alive again? Not care what anybody else thinks and do something odd and disconcerting just for the heck of it? Ignore what you're supposed to do and instead do what you want to do?
Yeah, me neither.
Well, except for today.
Today that was all I could think about. Guess it's a good thing I'm flying away for the weekend.
All I did was work today, and the only remarkable thing that happened was that I lived to tell about it.
Though I suppose I didn't actually "live" through the day so much as I "existed" through it. That's a big difference, and yet I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who noticed. This is either to my credit or my detriment... I can't quite tell which. All I know is that if I think about it too much I'll get depressed.
So I don't think about it.
Instead I remember back to days where I was truly alive.
And know that I'll live again, even if I don't feel that way right now.
Maybe it will be tomorrow. You just never know.
There's only so many times you can see acts of random aggression, belittlement, and torment before you start thinking that the extinction of the human race wouldn't be such a bad thing.
I guess it's only natural, because it's always easier to destroy something than to build something.
But is it really so damn difficult to offer up words of encouragement every once in a while?
In other news... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Brad and Angelina are splitting up!
If they can't make it in this world, what chance does anybody else have?
No chance, that's what.
UPDATE: Now rumor has it that Brad and Angelina are NOT breaking up! Yay! I can sleep tonight. And dream of a better tomorrow. A tomorrow where Brad and Angelina are happy together forever!
Last year I made five new year resolutions for 2009. I accomplished them all by February 9th.
Perhaps I set my sights too low. More likely I was just trying to be realistic in my goals. But whatever the case, after I fulfilled my resolutions I pretty much coasted for eleven months. Mission accomplished! This year I'm not going to let myself off so easy. Instead of giving myself a list of fixed goals that can be checked off, I'm instead going to commit to more general goals that don't have a finish line I can cross. Things that keep me growing and learning.
Like figuring out how to make the world's best grilled cheese sandwich.
Hey, there's always room for improvement... even when you've got a spectacular recipe already under your belt.
Superior cheeses come along.
Improved grilling technology.
All you can really do is create the world's best grilled cheese sandwich for the moment and move on to the next one. Sure that's a lot of cheese, but it's the journey (endless grilled cheese sandwiches)... not the destination (heart failure from high cholesterol levels)... that's important here.
Time to cut the cheese.
Umm... yeah... where to start.
Somebody I haven't seen or spoken to in over fifteen years tracked me down and gave me a call. After pleasantries were exchanged, we started chit-chatting about the good-old-days. About ten minutes into the conversation a bomb was dropped that left me (literally) speechless. It turns out a mutual acquaintance of ours ran into some trouble which eventually snowballed way out of control. The tale had everything... passion... drugs... sex... crime... money... revenge. It was like a prime time soap opera... but with real people I actually know.
After several rounds of me saying "You're kidding, right?" and "No shit? Are you serious?!?" the conversation eventually wound down and we said our goodbyes.
Now, I've been around. I've seen and done a lot of cool stuff all over the globe. But my adventures positively pale in comparison to this guy. He not only lives life to the fullest, he kicks it in the testicles while doing so. Compared to him, I might as well be locked in a monastery somewhere.
I don't know why, but this bothers me.
It's not like I'm dying to trade places with him or anything... it's just that, for the first time in a long while, I'm feeling regret about some of the choices I've made. I'm looking back and thinking "my life would have been more interesting if I had only done things differently."
I suppose it's never too late to change course, but I'm just not wanting to do that at this point in my life.
Okay, maybe I do know why this bothers me.