Milestones

How do you celebrate a “milestone birthday” while the world burns?

Streets fill with protests demanding recognition that black lives matter, while a government that feeds off division is determined to neither listen nor lead. Voices raise to demand an end to police brutality, which becomes an excuse for further police brutality. Millions are jobless while thousands die weekly from a pandemic that is still not under control.

A year ago, I expected my 40th birthday to be filled with some level of existential dread, but also a welcome chance to reflect on my peculiar life. As I emptied my tank over the last three months focused on COVID-19 at work, I planned a week off knowing that even if I wouldn’t be able to travel or even get out of the apartment much, perhaps I could recharge.

The world had other plans. I’ve spent the week like so many of you: listening, watching, learning, giving, amplifying.

So here I am at 40: broken hearted at the state of the world, yet hopeful for a better tomorrow.

Eternally grateful for my incredible circle of friends and my supportive family, yet feeling isolated because I miss everyone tremendously.

Trying to document how I feel, yet being anxious about every word I write because it all feels really self-indulgent.

Struggling with the dark, and responding to the light.

Now We Are 30

Thirty thousand feet up, I am sitting in the corner. Sandra Bullock’s “The Proposal” is playing soundlessly on nine-inch screens throughout the cabin. I am seated next to an older European woman who keeps using her tray-table as a pillow and a nondescript man. The seatbelt sign is on. A poor simulacrum of dinner is sitting in my stomach despite my watch saying it’s barely 4PM. In five hours, I will stumble in to my hotel room for a few hours of sleep before jet lag snaps me awake and I get ready for the week ahead.

This is not how I had intended to spend my thirtieth birthday.

WWDC 2010 was announced to be the week of my birthday for the second time in my life, and as is tradition, I am heading to San Francisco to attend. The trip that encompassed my 25th was unforgettable, if for no other reason than the keynote where Apple dropped the Intel bomb. This is my fifth trip to WWDC, my seventh trip to San Francisco, my eighth time to California. It is both a blessing and a curse, a week full of seeing distant friends while simultaneously running myself into the ground. I am already looking forward to next weekend.

Last night, my mother decided to scan the first photo ever taken of me, being held by my father and screaming shortly after my birth. This morning, I asked Katie to take a new portrait of me. (I tend to reuse the same picture of myself everywhere online for years at a time, and the old one was getting long in the tooth.)

So this is what thirty years looks like:

To all my friends, know that you are all always in my heart even if circumstance keeps us apart. I could not imagine for a greater group of friends. I love you all.

To my family, who have always supported me unconditionally, know that I could have never become who I am without you. I love you all.

To my wife, who has stuck with me through every twist and turn I’ve thrown at her, know that you are my everything. I can’t wait to be home with you, and I’m already counting down the hours. I love you.

Let’s Have A High Party

I’m looking at another day to find that I’ve got nothing to say
Or I’m looking for another way to process what happened on that birthday
And either way, if you’re gonna call it art
Then there’s a cup in front of you and right away
If you’re gonna play your part, you must drink it down
But mind eyes have seen the glory
Of the fields of flowers and factory floors
And my mind’s content to lie at rest for hours
Behind my loved ones’ doors and if there’s a war
Another shitty war to fight for babylon
Then it’s the perfect storm in a tea cup
But you must drink it down

And what do you make of the nights
When you thought you’d make much more
Than being too tired to turn the lights out
And too drunk to drink more?
And what does it take to not hear the cynics at your door saying
“It’s time the turn the lights out, and you’ll want to keep it down!”

So I’m lifting up that poison cup to drink a draught of propaganda
Or I’m giving up that other stuff in hopes that it will make me madder
But either way, if you’re gonna call it art
Then there’s a cup in front of you and right away
If you’re gonna play your part
You must drink it down

And what do you make of nights
When you thought you’d make much more
Than being too tired to turn the lights out
And too drunk to drink more?
And what does it take to not hear the cynics at your door saying
“It’s time the turn the lights out, and you’ll want to keep it down!”

And what does it say of all the things you’ve said before
When you’re too drunk to turn the lights out
And too tired to drink more?

And what do you save, and what does it feel like to be saved?
And can you “pull – 2 – 3 – 4! pull – 2 – 3 – 4!”
Can you drink it down?

Happy birthday, Ted.