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  • May29th

    One year ago today, I boarded a plane bound for a new home. I was sad, I was nervous, I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. But through it all, I was excited.

    Through the hard times (aka Winter ;) and the good times, I took it all in.

    When I look back at the person I was a year ago, I am proud of who I was – I was young, graduated, smart, handsome, and thirsty for new experiences.

    But I think if the man I was could meet the man I’ve become, he would be even prouder.

    I’ve grown a lot as a person here in Belgium. I’ve proven to myself that I can start anew and still find amazing groups of friends and find happiness. It wasn’t easy at all times, no – it was extremely difficult at times. ¬†But if it weren’t for the struggles I’ve been through in life, I certainly wouldn’t be who I am today.

    I used to take a lot for granted, and I still do, I know. I always used to think certain things would make me happy: having a significant other, losing weight, graduating, moving, a new computer, a new camera….and back home, I did everything I could to get those things. I lost 60+ lbs, and I had an amazing boyfriend for almost a year, I graduated – I did all of the things I THOUGHT would make me happy. Then I moved, got that change of scenery I was so sure I needed. And I did need it, but through it all I never felt truly happy. Until finally, one day a few months ago after watching weeks worth of Arrested Development and 30 Rock marathons to make me feel better, I knew I had to change something.

    Now more than ever, I can honestly say I’m very happy. And I would’ve never thought I could be with my current circumstances – I’ve gained all of my weight back, I’ve been single for over a year now, I’ve got more school work piled up than ever before, I’ve got no definite plans for after graduation, I’ve got a limited income and no job, and my stress levels are up to *here*!

    But It’s the small things.

    It’s waking up and liking the way your bed-hair looks.

    It’s dressing for the day and going outside and realizing you ¬†unknowingly chose the perfect outfit for the temperature.

    It’s getting a little plastic sword in your cocktail.

    It’s having a friend laugh at your sarcastic joke.

    It’s recovering gracefully after tripping on a cobblestone.

    It’s being surprised by some random act of kindness.

    It’s having someone tell you that you’re an amazing person, for no other reason than being yourself.

     

    It took my traveling 5000 miles away from where I grew up to realize that “home” is what you make of it. I was 5000 miles away as my definition of “home” fell apart – my friends were graduating, getting married, moving away, the city was changing without me…I couldn’t return “home” if I wanted to – it no longer exists. And that is when my life view changed.

    My home has become wherever I am loved; and in this way, one can never be homesick.

     

    So on this one year anniversary of my life in Belgium, I thank all of my family and friends – here and in the US and around the world. If there’s ever been a question in your mind whether I am happy – wonder no more. I am. Thanks to you.

    I wish you all nothing but the best in life, as that is what y’all have given me.

     

    With the greatest of love,

     

    – Ross

    “If you wake up and don’t want to smile
    If it takes just a little while
    Open your eyes and look at the day
    You’ll see things in a different way”

     

     

  • May23rd

    UPDATE BELOW

    Two days ago I survived yet another apocalypse. I remember vividly that the world was supposed to end at the turn of the millenium…made it through that one. May 21, 2011 came and went…made it through that one. Now we just have to wait for December 21, 2012 – supposedly yet another apocalypse will occur…I think I’ll continue to live my life and do my best in this world…just to be safe, in case it doesn’t happen again.

    I’ve seen a lot of responses to the end-of-the-world-predictions, some humorous, some disappointing, and some just outright unacceptable and disrespectful.

    For Example:

     

    Speaking to him in such a tone and being so disrespectful hurts my heart. I mean, look at this video of him by a slightly more respectful reporter:

     

     

    He seems like such a normal, sweet man – someone we see everyday, maybe even a neighbor or a family member!

    I believe our reactions to such events as this, and CERTAINLY our reactions and actions towards individual people, should be more calculated. We should not always act with our first instincts, but instead reflect within before making judgements. We should not ridicule those that think differently than us, we are all entitled to our thoughts. It’s clear from the video that Mr. Fitzgerald was disappointed and in disbelief that the rapture had not started. He was simply misguided in his efforts by a fringe religious group preaching the calculated end of the world. He spent his life savings, over $140,000, on ads supporting the cause. He must now face the fact that his future is undoubtedly less assured than it was before.

    Never underestimate the power of religion, cults, and charismatic leaders with atypical ideas. Afterall, Jim Jones somehow convinced 909 members of his creation, The Peoples’ Temple, to commit suicide by drinking cyanide-laced koolaid – first giving the drink to the children, then to the adults. This is still on record as one of the largest mass suicides in history.

     

    So what am I saying here?

     

    Stay respectful and choose your leaders wisely.

     

    – Ross

     

    Post Script: If you’re interested in viewing a PBS documentary on The Peoples’ Temple, HERE IS A LINK. This link will take you to part one of 9 parts. The other parts will be links in the sidebar and you can go from there.

     

    UPDATE: Well, this is a twist I didn’t see coming…so let me add this to my advice: Stay respectful, choose your leaders wisely, and admit when you’re wrong.

  • May3rd

    I’m not known for my lack of opinions. I tend to have them, and I tend to share them.

    I think it’s fortunate that I am from and currently live in a place that allows me that luxury – a luxury denied to too many in this world.

    I also have the right to believe what I want, think what I want, harbor what feelings I may, and live my life in peace.

    I am not an advocate of gay rights, I am not an advocate of women’s rights, I am not an advocate of minority rights – I’m an advocate of HUMAN RIGHTS.

    I have a very global view of the world, at times I would say a universal view of the world. I look at the big picture and find it hard to believe that groups of men have the power to dictate basic freedoms in the lives of other humans. Our lives are so short in the grand scheme of things, no one should have to live it in fear or unhappiness.

    I believe in basic human rights such as privacy, the right to live without unreasonable fears, the right to work, the right to own property, the right to a family, education, safety, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, the right to vote, to marry, and to know happiness and success by our respective definitions. These are but a few basic rights, but alas for brevity, I shall leave the list as such.

    I do not get my morals from any single book or single person or single guru. My morals are a combined effort of my childhood, my parents, my family, my friends, everyone I’ve ever come into contact with, every action I’ve ever done, every word I’ve ever spoken, every word I’ve ever read, and every experience I’ve ever lived. From my past to my present, I’ve learned what I believe is right from the accords of many – and it will undoubtedly continue to evolve as I see more of the world, learn new cultures, meet new people, and live new experiences.

    Past experiences like being called names and being made fun of and having our “leaders” on the news act as if my rights as a gay man are of no substance to them have taught me many things. And although I do not appreciate the actions, words, and feelings which I’ve witnessed against me, I will never EVER deny one’s right to them.

    So why is it that others see fit to deny them from me?

    How bad, how good does it need to get?
    How many losses, how much regret?
    What chain reaction, what cause and effect,
    Makes you turn around,
    Makes you try to explain,
    Makes you forgive and forget,
    Makes you change?

     

     

    I don’t understand a heart devoid of compassion, and honestly…I hope I never do.

     

    – Ross