Life as seen through my lens…
Category Archives: About Me
Last week saw the passing of my 50th birthday. In the run-up to the day I had the usual probes about gift ideas from certain family members, but as there really isn’t much I actually wanted to receive, apart from a couple of specific suggestions, my response was “I don’t know, surprise me”.
Well, they certainly lived up to expectations, but not in the best of ways. My 4-year-old granddaughter was the only one who really seemed to get it. She (bless her), knowing I liked Star Wars and was partial to the odd game of Angry Birds Star Wars chose a plush Angry Birds Star Wars toy, wrapped in Star Wars paper. and in the few days since my Birthday we have had fun hurling it at one another.
I won’t pick on my wife – she has her own challenges right now, and at least she had the thought to latch on to the one piece of photography gear that I said I needed and to claim that as her present to me.
My daughters though… well I know that two of them live back in the UK and budgets are tight, but did I even see a card from them? not yet! I know in this world of the Internet and Facebook people think all that is needed is a nice message on your wall and that is “good enough”. Well perhaps for acquaintances that’s OK, but for your parents, for their 50th Birthday? Surely you make a little bit of an effort?
As for the two that live here with me (yes, still WITH ME – that’s a whole other rant that I won’t get on to now), what did I get? A movie (but I had to tell her which one) and a chunk of money that I can put towards “whatever I want”. Not wishing to sound ungrateful, but what I wanted was for those close to me, those who I have managed to think of something meaningful to give to them every year since they were born, to use a few seconds to think of something meaningful and special to give to their dad on his 50th birthday. Heck – if a 4 year old could manage it, they have no excuse.
As you get older it’s the thought more than anything else that matters, but I guess ultimately I got what I asked for. I asked for them to surprise me, and they certainly did, just not in the way I was expecting.
Today is a good day. The US Supreme court has acknowledged that the Federal government has no right to see a union between a same sex couple as different to a union between a mixed sex couple. Love is love, regardless of who that love is for.
I posted my feelings about this in a brief but appropriate message to Facebook earlier this morning, to which one of my old friends from the UK asked me “is there anything you want to tell us John?”
My response was this…
“For sure.. that I believe everyone should be treated the same, regardless of race, color, sex, or sexual orientation. Any law that enforces a difference in treatment is a law that we don’t need. Some of my best friends here are gay/lesbian. Why should my love for and commitment to my partner be recognised legally but theirs not be?”
With today’s ruling, I hope we truly are seeing the sun set on a world of inequality.
I know I’ve been missing in action here for a while now. I struggle to come up with something worthwhile to say, but every day I don’t post here I feel a little more guilty, so this is as much to ease my guilt as it is anything else.
On paper this year is a big one for my wife and I. We both turn 50 (she does so first), and we also celebrate 30 years of marriage. All big numbers, but at the same time this is “just another year”… another year that we can enjoy life, another year that I am getting to spend my life with the one I love, my best friend, and another year where we will be taking time to enjoy this beautiful world we live in.
It’s also another year we get to spend with some of our loved ones living with us when my wife and I would be more than happy if they could finally manage to stand on their own two feet and move into places of their own. Instead we get to play supplemental parents for our two youngest grandkids, and get to be taken advantage of by two adults that should be capable of living their own lives without us.
My wife and I like to get out of the house and visit places that are special to us – partly because we enjoy doing so, but partly because we want to get out of the house and away from the noise and chaos that we thought we’d seen the end of when our youngest daughter became an adult. We’ve done our share of child rearing. While we love our kids and grand-kids to bits, the constant strain of having them living with us is pushing us close to breaking point.
In a similar vein, I’ve now been with my current employer for 14 years, which means with our economy the way it is I’ve seen that company have to do painful things to remain in business three times now as our economy cycles through good times to bad and back again… Each time I’ve been relieved to have kept my job, but each time I’ve felt guilty when I’ve seen some very good people have to go look for new employment at at time when good jobs can be hard to find.
Other members of our family back in England have seen our moderate success as an opportunity to take advantage too. Knowing we won’t say “no” to a family member in need, we have found ourselves digging deeply into our own contingency funds to help out folks who would rather turn to us to help maintain their over-committed lives than deal with their underlying problems themselves.
… and then there’s my photography. I love taking pictures, and technically I think I am getting better at it – I’m able to capture scenes that I actually enjoy looking at, and that other people enjoy looking at too, but while many tell me I should take this ability of mine to the next level and turn it into a means of generating income, a part of me doesn’t want the pressure, the hassle, and the possibility of failure, and is happy to keep photography as a hobby. Deep down I know I could make something more of it, but while I’m dealing with all the stresses of our home situation while maintaining my current position where I work, knowing that it is my income alone that is really supporting everyone in our house, I don’t want to risk all of that to pursue the possibility of commercial success with my photography… and so I remain trapped as a hobbyist photographer.
Is it bad to feel trapped by my kids and family? Knowing that my life, and more importantly my life with my wife, could be so much more were we able to live it without their constant presence has me feeling resentful towards them – not something I like to admit, but it’s where I am mentally right now.
My life is one where it really should be feeling half full, but right now it feels half empty, and it’s draining fast!
35 years ago today I was in my first year of teenage life, and having been brought up on a diet of Doctor Who (yes, it’s been going that long), Star Trek (original series), and stories by Issac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, I watched with interest as news of a new epic science fiction movie, soon to be released, made its way over the Atlantic Ocean to the UK. I quickly latched onto the seemingly simple yet compelling story of “farm hand discovers his inner strength and saves the galaxy” and went out and got the comic books of the story, the photo novel, all the “special behind the scenes” magazines about the film and even without seeing the film became a huge fan.
Move forward a few months to September of 1977 and my mother and I traveled to the west coast of America for a three week coach tour of the western states, taking in many sights that went on to shape my desire to live here as an adult. During that trip I was to turn 14, and on the day of my 14th birthday we had a “free day” in San Francisco with no scheduled activities, so my mum asked me what I wanted to do. My first thought was to see if Star Wars was still playing anywhere, as it had yet to open in the UK (that wouldn’t come until later – this was in the days before digital projection and world-wide simultaneous releases). Sure enough it was still showing at the Coronet Theater (where it had opened in San Francisco back on May 25th) so I almost begged her to let me go see it.
I got my birthday wish, so we walked down Geary Boulevard from our hotel to where the theater stood (it’s not there any more), got tickets for the next showing, and we had some lunch while I eagerly waited to see “THE movie”. As we drew close to the show time, I couldn’t get back to the Coronet quick enough. I handed over “the ticket” at the kiosk and rushed in to pick a seat. Now keep in mind that by now the movie had been showing for 4 months, so the theater that could seat almost 1,500 people was pretty much empty – there were three other people in the place to share this experience with me!
So I took position in what I thought to be the best seat, towards the front and in the center of the row so the screen filled my field of view, and waited for the show to start while my mum went off to kill a couple of hours (as she didn’t want to watch the film – it wasn’t ‘her thing’!).
The lights dimmed, the curtains opened, the screen burst into life, and that now instantly recognizable music started booming through the many speakers. The preface to the story scrolled across the screen, faded to a spectacular view of stars that panned to pick up a beautiful alien planet, and then WOOSH – sounding like they were flying over the tops of our heads the space ships almost had us ducking in our seats. I was immediately sucked into the story, and sat riveted for the next two hours, not wanting to move as the final notes of the closing music faded to silence.
Thus began my love for the Star Wars story, which may have faded a little over the years (helped in no small part by the appearance of Jar Jar Binks in Episode 1) but has never gone away.
So, on the day that has become known internationally as “Star Wars Day” through a fun play on words, may the Force be with you, always!