sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.

I’m making moves people! I’m trying to get my life going in some sort of direction. Right now I feel like I’m ping ponging all over the place. Or worse, not moving at all.

I drove to UCO last week. Man, do I hate driving in Edmond. It’s full of students this time of year. And soccer moms with nothing better to do with their time than to get their big SUV’s out on the road so they can go check out the latest sale at TJ Maxx. There is always traffic. If anyone tells you any different, they are in extreme denial. It’s Oklahoma City traffic in a town about 1/6th the size. I went early because I knew I would have to apply and be readmitted. I also wanted to talk to my advisor about switching my major, which is the very first thing I did when I got there.

Thankfully there was no line to see her, which is what I was afraid of. I talked to her about coming back and my plans to study graphic design. I wanted to know if it would be feasible to finish my mass comm degree while also pursuing a degree in design. She informed that I had two years left with my degree now. That was a little disheartening as I thought I was a bit further along. Then she told me I also had to take one more semester of math and I nearly cried. I’m so horrible at it and the thought of having to take yet another semesters worth, is daunting to say the least. My brain just can’t wrap itself around one of the most logical subjects in the world. It just doesn’t work that way. It never has. After asking her about graphic design she basically said no matter what, I’ll have four years left if I go for that. At this point, I don’t really care. I’m already almost 27. It’s taken this long, why not just keep going? I’ve never been in a hurry to go out and get a “real” job. I like the freedom that waiting tables gives me. Obviously, it’s not something I want to do forever but it’s worked for me thus far. But it is time to move on. As I said, get my life going in some sort of substantial direction. This limbo has lasted too long and the bar is getting to low.

After speaking with her I went to apply and to be readmitted. I’m glad I got there as early as I did because it allowed for this process to go much smoother than it has in the past. I talked to an admissions counselor and she got everything squared away for me. I had originally planned to be readmitted and then just start classes in the spring since I had started all of this a week into the semester. I was told however that if I was going to be readmitted in the fall I would have to sign up for a block 2 course or take an intermission course over Christmas break. I chose to do a block 2 course and wound up in Women in Film. It’s in the English department so I have a feeling it will be a lot of watching movies and writing essays. I can get down on that I guess. I don’t mind writing. It’s not my favorite thing but it comes fairly easy to me. See? English is a subject that just clicks. My brain totally gets it. Guess that’s where the whole right brain thing comes in. Basically, for school, I’m all set. I start October 15th and I’ll go if not completely full time, close to it, in the Spring.

An even bigger change happens in just nine days. Five years ago, I left my job at Convergys as a call center supervisor for DirecTV. After applying unsuccessfully for a series of office jobs, I decided that it was time to go back to serving and back to school. I knew as a server, most restaurants will let you make your own schedule, more or less. It’s the perfect job for a student. Flexible and you always are bringing home cash. Waiting two weeks for a paycheck from a retail job is much harder for a college student than going to work for one evening and bringing home $75-100 or more depending on the shift and the restaurant. At this point I hadn’t waited tables for two years so I was nervous about going back. Turns out it’s much like riding a bike. I applied at Santa Fe Steakhouse and got the job immediately. For some reason and I don’t recall now why I did this, I went and applied at Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grill in Bricktown. If you aren’t from Oklahoma, Bricktown is an entertainment district full of restaurants and clubs. It’s home of the Redhawks and right down the street from Chesapeake Arena where the Thunder play basketball. Basically, one of the best places to wait tables in the cities as it draws big crowds on the weekends and is a big spot for tourists to visit.

I too, got that job. Of course, being whose name was on the building and the location I knew it would be much more lucrative than the job at Santa Fe. I accepted and went through training. I started at the end of the summer which is the busy season. I got my ass kicked all over that restaurant the first few months. It was unlike any other place I’d been to before. I never knew a restaurant could be so busy all of the time There were some servers taking home $1000-1500 a week. That was unreal to me. That left the potential to be making $4000 a month. Waiting tables? Sign me up! Ultimately, it was the kind of money I was making that kept me at Toby’s. I’m not really into country music, among other things. I loved my co-workers and most of my managers. For the first two years, I was strictly a server. Eventually, they made me a shift lead and a head wait. Then ultimately, a bartender. That was my goal from the day I started working there. I had always wanted to bartend. It just seemed like more fun the waiting tables. I’ve met a lot of great people over the past five years from having worked there. I’ve seen many faces. Some have stuck around, some went as quickly as they came. It takes a different kind of server to be able to survive at a restaurant like that. There could be nights you’d run $2,000 in sales. For those not in the industry, some restaurants will do that in a lunch. A whole restaurant. We had individuals doing this. There would be days I’d be on my feet for 15 hours. The only time relief came was when you were able to sneak away to the bathroom so you could sit on the toilet for a few minutes. For the past year I’ve really struggled with my job. I’ve had highs and lows there. But mostly lows and that’s what caused me to reflect. The past five years at Toby’s have been enlightening. The money I have made there has afforded me things I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The managers have given me the opportunity to learn new things and as such, I’m a well rounded server and individual. I decided a few weeks ago, however, that it was time for me to leave. I needed to find something new. So that’s what I did. My last day at Toby’s will be September 14th. I’m going to be working at a new restaurant for a close friend of mine. She was my manager at Toby’s and she is giving me the chance to come to her restaurant and bartend. While quitting my job now will be bittersweet, I look forward to the future. Leaving is going to make me infinitely happier. I’m excited to work with Nicole again and to start school. The sooner I start, the sooner it will be over.

Two big changes. I’m ready to embrace them both. I’m sick of this rut. I’ve got the shovel and I want to dig myself out as quickly as possible.

Who do people think they are?

Seriously, who do people think they are? What kind of person walks into a dark theatre on a summer night and starts spraying bullets while people are trying to enjoy a movie? Did he think he was making a statement? That something was going to change because he killed those individuals? It disgusts me that things like this happen. Literally makes me sick to my stomach that someone could commit such an atrocity against their fellow human beings. What kind of animals have we become? You shouldn’t have to fear going to the movies or doing any sort of daily activity. 

I know there will be two groups of people. One group will agree that this is a tragedy that should’ve never happened. The other group will say that stuff like this happens all over the world, everyday and why should it matter? Well it should matter. Because it’s happening in our backyard. I can sympathize with the plights of millions all over the world. I know bad stuff happens every day. To good people. Who don’t deserve it. But that doesn’t and shouldn’t make the lives lost yesterday any less tragic. 

I think as a country we should continue to focus on the victims and their families and not the person who created this chaos. Ultimately, that’s what they want. It’s an unnecessary cry for attention and we as a society should not give them the satisfaction. Send positive vibes, keep them in your thoughts, pray. Whatever it is that you do. We need to lift these people up and show them that we are all behind them. 

We all have to share this planet and its resources. We don’t all have to like each other. But if we, as a people, cannot learn to get along this Earth will be gone long before it should be.

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Drip, drip, drop. There goes an eargasm.

I used to see the night so anxious, but now I know
The only thing it ever taught me was a grand illusion
That comes and goes, the city blanketed of snow

What if we die, no end and no conclusion
How could you smile, just walk away
Well I don’t know, I don’t know

I met you at the railroad station, now years ago
And something happened on the night I last drank with you in the neon glow
Now I don’t see you anymore

The Midwestern sky is gray and cold
The sun never shines, but that’s alright
And I couldn’t find the letters that you wrote me
What did you write, where’d you go, well I don’t know, no

Take a little time, gonna roll the dice
Taken for a ride, any normal life will do, too
Find another way, try to break the ice
Every day and night, the banana peels were true, true

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Up is the general direction in which you need to Thunder.

I’m feeling the need to write some more.

You know, I’ve never been much of a writer. I was in some sort of honors/AP English from 7th grade onward and in that respect I am a good writer. Essays and other such things came naturally to me. Outside of school though, I have just never done much of it. Journals I bought would have three pages of content and then get buried in the mess of notebooks and drawing pads I have at my home. I would always draw a blank. It would be quite frustrating. My mind is very active. It’s hard to shut it off and I figured if I could write some of that out, it would be help me sort through the clutter. I think I would feel pressure about what I was going to write, regardless if it was a personal journal or a public blog. With this blog, however, I seem to have gotten past that. My approach is to think of a few topics that have been weighing heavily on my thoughts or heart and go from there. This seems to work best for me.

I got many positive responses and kind remarks about my previous blog post. I would just like to send out my thanks to those that took the time to read it, whether you knew Stephen or not. It was rather lengthy, so for people to actually get through the whole thing, meant something. While writing it, was for me, a form of therapy; I had hoped that it would bring a sense of peace/comfort/insert whatever other cheesy word you can think of here, to people. I hadn’t anticipated on writing about him so soon. I just felt that I had to do something quick. After it happened I was flooded with so many memories, threatening to escape me. I knew I had to grasp them and hold on tight. I didn’t want to let myself forget. Writing that all down helped me sort out my feelings.

Stephen and Henna.

Our group of friends is having a wake at Brass Bell Studios on June 3rd for him. While I was glad to be able to go to his memorial service last weekend, it just didn’t feel like…Stephen. I think being with everybody will be good for all of us. The days have been getting better. It somehow still doesn’t seem totally real to me. Maybe because I didn’t see him everyday to begin with. Going a few weeks without seeing each other was not uncommon. A group of us went to Belle Isle Brewery to watch the Thunder pounce the Laker last night. The whole time I was expecting him to come in and sit down next to Ashley. I sat across from Stephen’s best friend, Shannon. They pretty much look exactly alike and every time I would catch him out of the corner of my eye I would think it was Stephen. This has all been very surreal needless to say.

I’ve been finding it hard to be around people that didn’t know Stephen. I don’t know how people are going to take that. I don’t even know how to take that. I just feel like at least when I’m around people who knew him, if for some reason I fall silent in conversation, they aren’t going to say anything. They won’t ask what’s wrong. They know how I’m feeling because chances are, they are feeling it too. Not only that, I don’t want to burden people with this. It’s not my place. When I’m at work, I don’t really want to talk to anybody. Not my co-workers, not my managers. I try to muster up as much happiness as I can for the guests, since being a bartender calls for that sort of thing. I went to my nieces 6th grade graduation tonight and I was finding it hard to talk to my own family. I know it’s not fair to those around me and I don’t want to hurt anyones feelings. I thought maybe telling you this would help you understand better. I never anticipated how hard the loss of Stephen could be. I must have never realized how much he meant to me until he wasn’t there anymore and I suppose I’m having a hard time coming to terms with that. I will figure it out eventually. I don’t want anyone to worry about me because I’ll be ok.

Feathered Rabbit

This weekend is Schwarzstock. A music festival put on by local photographer, Doug Schwarz, at his parents 40 acres out in Yukon, OK. This is the third year for the event and our second year attending. It was fairly large last year for being a private festival. This year they have been advertising so I’m sure it will prove to be much bigger. Last year I had an absolute blast and I can only imagine that this year will be that much better. I refuse to let what happened a few weeks ago put a damper on my day. I’m going to let myself enjoy the company of some amazing people. I plan on taking lots of pictures. When I actually get money I will get some film developed. Perhaps I’ll do a post on here with some of my photography.

The Thunder are going to the Western Conference Finals for the second year in a row. What a wonderful thing for Oklahoma City. This team has done so much for the community. It’s fun to watch a bunch of energetic, young athletes doing what they love to do. I hope one day I’m able to have a job that I love as much as they clearly do and that can afford me a reasonable lifestyle. I suppose that’s what they call the “American Dream”.

It’s almost 1:00AM. If you know me, you know that’s a little past my bedtime. But me and 1:00AM have been hanging out a lot lately. I don’t know what it is. I have to work at 10:00AM which means I have to be up by at least 8:30AM. I don’t do good on less than eight hours of sleep so at this point, I’m pushing it. What I’m trying to say I guess, is that I’m going to wrap this up for now. I wouldn’t expect another post as soon as this one came about. There was just a little more I needed to say that didn’t get said a few days ago.

Hope this post finds everyone well.

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I’ll find strength in pain.

Stephen Tyler Hughes

1974-2012

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In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life.

My stomach is in knots. I’ve been pointing toward this post since May 11th, 2012. The day Oklahoma City got a lot less cool. The day I discovered a huge hole in my heart. Someone I consider to be a very good friend, passed away on Friday morning. Nine days ago. His funeral was yesterday. It was a huge slap in the face from reality. Those are the worst kind. I’d much rather take a slap in the face from a hand than the harsh one reality usually gives you when you’re least expecting it. Because this was absolutely the last thing I was expecting to wake up to.

I met Stephen four and half, maybe five years ago. That’s when I decided to pursue a degree in photography. I enrolled again at the University of Central Oklahoma. He taught Basic Photography and Basic Dark Room Procedures in addition to his duties as the lead dark room tech. My first semester back I wasn’t enrolled in his Basic Photography class, but Jesse Miller’s. I, however, still saw Stephen quite a bit. Jesse’s office was tucked away upstairs so he would often spend his time between classes in Stephen’s “office”. It wasn’t one in the traditional sense. It’s an extra room attached to the dark room that is set up like an office, so it had room to spare. Since it could accommodate a handful of people there was always someone coming and going. Stephen would always be talking to a student. Whether it was giving advice on an image or telling one of his outlandish stories, each one as funny as the last. I don’t know why, but for whatever reason he intimidated me. I’m not sure if it was his loud boisterous laugh or his sense of humor which at times could be brash. He was just so sure of himself. Stephen loved life and those around him so deeply. He was…intense. People like that can be overwhelming. I was unsure how to approach him. I wouldn’t have long to figure it out though.

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Stephen in his office.

That next semester, I was ready to take on the daunting task of learning how to develop film. Stephen was the one to teach me. His patience was unshakeable. If you’ve never developed film it is one of the most tedious tasks to learn how to do. The procedure is delicate and must be done precisely. I can’t imagine what it takes to teach that to a bunch of kids in their late teens and early twenties. He never wavered though. Stephen would take a jab at you now and again but would always help you come up with a solution to your problems. He wouldn’t baby us because he knew we could do it. Picking up photography in the digital age, that is what I was most accustomed to. The closest I had ever really come to using a film camera was a disposable Kodak at the lake when I was twelve or something of the sort. My dad had bought me a newer 35MM Canon but I never used it too much. Stephen was quite the opposite. He lived and breathed film. Given the choice to shoot with digital or film he would always, 100% of the time pick film. He saw something in it most other people don’t and he showed it to me. I hated being in the dark room and I never missed a chance to tell him so. He would usually reply with a laugh and say something like, “Suck it up.” He knew I didn’t need his help. Not most of the time. He’d show me how to do things but he wouldn’t hold my hand while I figured it out. Stephen wasn’t that type of person. He wanted you to succeed and he wanted you to figure out how to do that on your own. I spent most of my free time in his office, getting to know this guy who, for lack of a better term, absolutely captivated me. Maybe it was his zest for life but I just couldn’t get enough of him. I learned of his love for bikes, skateboarding, punk rock music, tattoos, and his dad. He absolutely adored his father, who had passed away from cancer. When he told a story about his father, his face would light up with that crooked smile I will never forget. While he did most of the talking, he always would ask about me as well. He was genuinely interested in his friends. Their lives. Their interests. I was relieved to find that we had quite a bit in common. I too love bikes, riding any kind of board, and tattoos. We had many conversations in that office. We learned a great amount about each other. Even when that semester was over and I was no longer his student, I would still stop by his office to chat. He was never too busy to talk to someone. If he was doing something he would drop it whenever you came to his office. There were semesters that I didn’t have a class in the Mass Comm building and would find it hard to make time to go and see him. I began to miss my friend. The last semester he worked there, I remember I would go in to find him with a new tattoo what seemed like every week. He talked about this new woman in his life, who happened to be a tattoo artist. Her name was Ashley. I could tell he was crazy about her. I wanted to meet the person who had stolen his heart.

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Stephen and Ashley at a Thunder game. You rarely saw one without the other.

In 2010 he left UCO. Thankfully, we had each others phone numbers so we were able to keep in touch. I met Ashley when they were on a date. They both had come to my work where I served them. Ashley was nice. I thought she was perfect for him. Their relationship just seemed so effortless. Eventually he met my boyfriend, Jeremiah. Stephen had been wanting to meet him ever since I told him that Jeremiah had used to ride BMX. They clicked instantly. There were no pretenses. It was like they had been friends for years. Effortless. Like Stephen and Ashley. I realized that about him. He was just so comfortable when it came to his friendships. Being around people and making friends came naturally to Stephen. It was hard not to like him.

The four of us were almost inseparable for much of the past year. They told of us their plans for a bicycle shop/art studio that they had named Brass Bell Studios in honor of Stephens father. Their plans were to find bikes to fix up and for a donation would give them to people. It was a way for them to spread their love of bikes and a way for people to get good bikes at an affordable price. On the art side they would have month long art exhibits with the opening being on the first Monday of every month. I remember when it opened. Stephen and Ashley were so proud of what they had accomplished. They received an abundance of support from the community. Brass Bell Studios was a success. Jeremiah and I spent a copious amount of time at the studio with the two of them for its first few months. Jeremiah would help Stephen with all of his bicycle projects and the four of us would shoot the shit about whatever was happening that week. I remember when I found a bike at a Goodwill in Midwest City for $10. I fell in love and had to have it. After purchasing it, we realized it couldn’t fit in the back of Jeremiah’s Mini Cooper. I called Stephen to ask if he could come out there to haul it back to the city for me. Without hesitation, he said yes and was there to pick it up in twenty minutes. Ashley had let him borrow her SUV to take it back in. That was the kind of person he was. He didn’t have to think twice about helping somebody. The four of us would spend a lot of time in each others company. We would go out to the bars, watched the Thunder games together. Doing what people our age do. They introduced us to Mary’s Swap Meet. The four of us all have a love for vintage/retro things. We would wake up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning and make the drive to Mary’s to see what bizarre things they had for sale that weekend. Eventually we would end up having lunch somewhere and inevitably end up at the studio for the rest of the day. I will always remember those days. Simple. Worth every moment.

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TOP: Jeremiah’s bike that Stephen helped him with. BOTTOM: The bike I had found at Goodwill that Stephen hauled back to the studio for me.

What Ashley and him had was rare. Don’t get me wrong. They had their fights. But they were on the same page most of the time and it was something to see. Whatever they had was so natural. I’ve never known another couple like them. He simply couldn’t get enough of his lady. I could tell the love she had for him was deep as well. She was constantly giving him a new tattoo and each one he loved more than the last. In fact, they had many matching tattoos. He had even done a few on her. She soon became just as good a friend to me as Stephen. She’s given me three out of my four tattoos and I’m pretty sure Stephen was there for all of them even if it was to just pop his head in so he could laugh at the pain I was enduring. He especially got a kick out of it when I was getting a meat cleaver on my ribs. He didn’t miss his chance to take video/pictures. I met many new people through Stephen. Ashley is by far the best person he introduced me to. I see a lot of him in her. Genuine. Strong. Stubborn. Willing to do anything for a friend. She has handled this situation with such poise and dignity. I can’t imagine what I would do if I had to endure what she has had to over the past week. I’ll admit, I never dreamed something like this would be so hard. I will always look to her as a source of strength.

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This sums up Stephen almost to a T. It was the day after my birthday. This is where he talked Jeremiah and I into getting our “Pug Life” tattoos. 

The last time I saw Stephen was the Monday before he died. I would never suspect that anything was wrong. That I would wake up on Friday to find a post on Facebook stating that he had taken his life earlier that morning. We were at the studio for their May art opening. I didn’t want to go at first. I was tired and just didn’t feel like going out. Jeremiah insisted though. I’m so glad he did. I couldn’t live with myself if I had passed up the opportunity to see Stephen that night. We didn’t talk much and I do regret that. But how I was to know that I wouldn’t see him after that? You don’t think about those kind of things.

I’ve already thought of a few tattoos I want to get to honor him. The first thing that popped into my head right away was a brass bell. It meant a great deal to him and seemed most appropriate. The second one I hadn’t thought of until yesterday. We had already been to his memorial service and decided to go to Saints afterwards. When I stepped out of the car and looked on the ground I found a tiny metal piece that resembled a bobby pin. Upon closer examination I realized it was the exact same crooked little piece of metal that Stephen had tattooed on the inside of his left index and middle fingers. I snapped a picture with my iPhone. It was like a small hello from Stephen. Letting me know that he isn’t really gone and will be watching over us all.

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Stephen’s pick tattoos.

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What I found yesterday. I was floored when I saw it. My first thought was, “Hi, Stephen.”

Stephen was the first friend I have ever lost. To lose him in the fashion that we did has made it that much harder. That much more unfathomable. Of all the people, Stephen is the last person I would think would do that to himself. It just seemed like something that would never cross his mind. Even jokingly. The past week has been a blur to say the least. There hasn’t been a day that I haven’t cried. There hasn’t been a day that Stephen hasn’t been in my thoughts. I haven’t let a day go by without checking his Facebook. I want to see every picture. I want to read every memory of him that people are willing to share. Because I refuse to let myself ever forget about him. He deserves that. I feel like I know him better now than I could have ever hoped to have known him in life.

Stephen, your death has left a gaping hole in my heart. I’m really not sure how to handle my feelings. I’ve never hurt for someone so badly. Right now, a time when I will be more happy than sad seems far away. You were one of the most genuine and honest people I will ever know. Our time as friends wasn’t nearly as long as I had hoped it would be. You had so many plans that you will never get to fulfill. You left behind a family, friends, and a girlfriend that loved you with everything we had. I hope you didn’t leave this life without knowing that. I know eventually the tears will stop. I know eventually the hole in my heart will shrink but never completely fill. But right now I choose to feel everything. The sadness I feel knowing I will never see that crooked smile or hear that goofy laugh again. The hurt I feel when I think about how you have deprived of us of a wonderful human being. Someone that lit up a room. Someone who could make everyone around him laugh. I know you didn’t mean for it to end this way but I will never understand how you could do this to the people who love you so much. I don’t want to blame you but sometimes I find it hard. Maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe I’m being selfish. But I just want you back.

I will never forget what you taught me. About film. Photography. What it means to be a true friend. About life. I will take everything I ever learned from you and begin to fill the hole that is in my heart. I will move forward in life and let whatever it is that you saw in me, flourish. I know that’s all you would have wanted. The impact you have had on my life is profound. Stephen, knowing you was one of the greatest pleasures I have ever known and you will ride in my heart forever. I will never stop missing you. I love you, friend

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And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.

Ride in peace.

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Epiphany: A Realization

I’m on the ten year plan when it comes to college. Actually, it’s probably longer than that. Or will end up being longer than that. You see my grandpa, being the generous man that he is, set up nine trusts for his nine grandchildren. Each trust has $10,000 and it can only be used for school. Books, tuition, housing, etc.

I’ve always excelled at school. It’s just never been much of a problem for me outside of math. All through my schooling I got good grades, went to class, and did as I was told. I’d like to think I was a pretty good student. Come my junior year in high school is when I started thinking that I can’t stand school that much. It wasn’t really my peers or my teachers. I guess it was just the learning environment that school provides. Classroom. Desk. Teacher at the front lecturing on whatever the lesson is that day. It all just finally got old. But I sucked it up. I continued to get good grades. I kept going to class. I didn’t give in to the whole “playing hooky” idea. My senior year I had a serious case of senioritis and it probably ended up being one of my hardest years of school. I took Drama, Speech, Anatomy/physiology, Science seminar (an advanced science class where you came up with a project and worked on it all year long), AP english, and Pre-Calc. I didn’t even NEED a math class my senior year. I know that I am awful at math. Why did I subject myself to that torture? I tried to remain as engaged as possible. I ditched a few times but not enough for me to flunk out or for my parents to notice. It was mostly that damn math class. It was easy as it was my last class of the day. I graduated in May of 2004 and earlier that year I had been accepted to the University of Central Oklahoma. I started in August with my mind set on nursing. Good money, you get to help people. Why not? I got through one semester and didn’t return until I was twenty-two. By that time I could’ve graduated. I didn’t really care though. I had just finished thirteen years of school and now I had the choice to go? Why force myself to stay four years? So I didn’t. In the four years I was gone, I pretty much became a different person. My attitude, what I wanted out of life. Indeed a lot had changed. By this time I wanted to be a photographer. Seemed a much easier degree than nursing and quite a more enjoyable profession. At least you don’t have to worry about people dying on your watch. So I went back to school for photojournalism as UCO doesn’t have a Fine Art Photography program. I went through the classes. Basic, dark room, lighting, commercial, electronic, etc. I’m quite literally a semester or two away from getting a B.A. in Mass Communications with an emphasis on Photographic Arts. But a few semesters ago I chose again not to go back. My excuse was that I was trying to save money for things and going to school prevents me from working enough to save money. But I really think I just grew tired of the program. I value above all else, the education I have received from Jesse and Mark, my photography professors. Outside of that though, I didn’t feel as though I was truly prepared to go out and be a photojournalist. Besides, that’s not really the type of photography I’d like to make a living from.

This isn’t a big post to tell everyone that I am giving up on photography. I could never do that. More than anything else, it helps me make sense of this mess we live in. It is one of the ultimate forms of expression and to lose that would be like…losing an arm. I could never stop making pictures.

But I did have an epiphany. Getting a photography degree is the same thing as getting a theatre degree. Sure you went through school but Brad Pitt didn’t become famous because he got a degree in theatre. And David LaChapelle isn’t one of the most widely known photographers because he went to school to learn how to make pictures either. What I’m saying is, the type of photography I want to do will not be helped a long by some degree from a small college in Oklahoma. Editorial/fashion/commercial is really something you break into because you sold yourself and you proved that your work is something worth investing in, much like being a Hollywood actor. That is definitely still my aim but I feel as though I need a job that isn’t bar tending or waiting tables. Don’t get me wrong, my job has afforded me a lot of things. But I think it’s time for me to move on.

So I’ve decided I am going back to school. I’m declaring a new major. I thought long and hard about it and decided that I want to be a Graphic Designer. I still get the creativity of photography but it seems like GD’s are always in demand. Kind of like a nurse. I’m super excited about this. I know I’ve pretty much doomed myself to another two years of college but it will be worth it. As long as I can stick it out. There isn’t one reason that I should not get a college degree with it being paid for. Not many kids are afforded that kind of opportunity and I absolutely should take advantage of it. If not for me then for the millions of kids that must go without a college education for one reason or another.

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Music Festivals and Marathons

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I just can’t be as consistent as I would like with this. If I can get a few entries in a month, I’ll be ok with that.

Last weekend was an eventful one. Norman Music Festival 5 was Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of last week. We had gone to it last year but we went late on the last night so we didn’t get to really experience it like I would have liked. This year, we started on Friday evening. Even though we only really to see two bands, it was a super fun night. First off, we watched Horse Thief, a band out of Stillwater. I had seen them once before and they are quite enjoyable. After them we met up with Caitlin and a few other friends and wandered around for about an hour. We made it back to where we had watched Horse Thief just in time to catch Peelander Z. If you have never seen them, you must go the first chance you get. Absolutely not my style of music but they are far and away the most fun show I’d ever been to. How can you not have a blast at a crazy Japanese rock show? I can’t wait to see them again, whenever that may be. We went again on Saturday and while it wasn’t nearly as good a time as Friday was, it was still worth the time we spent. If nothing else than to get to hang out with our friends. It’s a free festival and I hope that lasts. It seems to be getting bigger every year though, so I’m not so sure it will. 

Family was in town for a little reunion. I woke up super early on Sunday to go downtown. The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon was that morning and my dad and other family members were running in it. I wanted to be there to cheer him on. That’s such a huge accomplishment. I know it had to be very emotional for him because it was even for me. We just lost my Aunt Thais (his sister) and he was a victim of the bombing. I can’t imagine what was going through his head while he was running. It was his first ever full marathon and he ran it in 4hrs and 33min. Considering his goal was just to finish, I’d say he did a great job. I think he has been heading toward this point for the past two years, though. He’s been working hard and building up his miles. Just to see him cross the finish line was so exciting. I have never been happier for anybody. I’m proud of what him and the rest of my family that ran did that day. 

I can’t wait to run my first half marathon. I’ve finally pushed my miles up to three. Only ten more to go! All kidding aside though, I think I can be up to that point by August. Hopefully I’m not eating those words in three months. When my dad trained for this first half marathon he only had four months so I know it can be done. I remember when my dad first started running he would tell me how good he felt after a run. And I always thought how crazy he must be. How can it feel good to punish your body like that (which is how I saw it at the time)? Now I know what he is talking about. Once I get going, it just feels incredible. And no matter how tired I may feel after, I still feel good. While outwardly I can only tell a bit of a difference, I can definitely feel a difference. I can run one mile and it doesn’t phase me anymore. I’m hoping by the end of next week/beginning of the week after I can move up to four miles. That’ll feel huge.

Last night we participated in a dodgeball tournament. I was only going to watch but got roped into playing when I got there. I’m glad I did though. It was so much fun. My shoulder popped out of socket twice and that certainly didn’t feel good. It’s super sore today but it was worth it. 

I’m excited about the next few months. Schwartzstock is at the end of May and we are going on a river trip in June. I love summer!

No new updates as far as San Francisco goes. We still need to get the master cylinder for his van. As soon as he gets that installed it will be up and running. After that it’s a matter of getting it cleaned out and fit to live in. Then we just need to keep saving money. I’m glad we are getting into our busy season at work. It makes it that much easier to do. Hopefully I can sell some prints also. I just have to stay focused on my goals and I know we will make it out there when we planned. There isn’t another option.

 

Funerals, Photographs, and Running

It’s been a few weeks. Though I made this blog with the mindset of keeping everyone updated on our move to San Francisco, sometimes I feel like there are some things I need to get out. It helps me work through my days. Absorb what happened and to reflect. 

On March 29th my Aunt Thais died of cancer. While I believe she lived a very fulfilling life, her death has left a void here that will not be filled. She was one of those aunts that came around during holidays as she lived my whole life in Salt Lake City. I always looked forward to seeing her. She was absolutely the sweetest, most genuine person I have ever known. Anyone who knew her was a little bit better for it.

Her funeral was in Salt Lake City the day before Easter. I had been there once when I was fourteen. My grandpa paid to fly all of us out there for a weekend of skiing/snowboarding and family over the Christmas holiday. While I had always wanted to go back, a funeral is absolutely the last reason I would want to return. Thais had always invited me to come stay at her place if I ever wanted to go snowboarding. And I did want to. But I never took her up on that offer and I think I will always regret that. I had forgotten how breathtakingly beautiful Salt Lake is. It’s like someone searched for and found the most beautiful valley in America and settled there. You can’t look in any one direction and not see giants staring you right back in the face. I took as much in as I could. Savored every moment because you just don’t get views like that in Oklahoma. The good ol’ plains.

I flew there with my sister on Friday of Easter weekend. My sister and I hadn’t taken a trip together in a rather long while. Traveling with her in spite of why we were, was good for us. We don’t spend as much time together has I’m sure we both wish we could. As soon as we got to SLC, we dropped our stuff off at the condo we were staying at and went straight to the funeral home where Thais’ viewing was to be.

I hate viewings. I truly do. It seems like every one I know has been to a lot of funerals in their lifetime, so my grand total of five sounds rather pathetic. Look at me here, it sounds like I’m complaining about the number of funerals I’ve been to. I guess it’s just, at 26, I feel like I should have gone to more at this point. My point is, I’ve viewed 4 out of the 5 bodies of the people whose funerals I have been to. The one exclusion being my 6th grade teacher. Give the opportunity perhaps I would have. Every time I go to a viewing I tell myself I will not look at the body. I just won’t do it. But something, morbid curiosity- whatever you want to call it- gets the better of me and I always fold. Always. I always wonder why anyone would want to look at the dead body of a loved one. It is after all, the last image you will have of them, outside of photographs. Why would you want to remember someone in that way? But then I found myself beside her casket. Looking down at the vessel that held my Aunt Thais. She looked peaceful. Like she could have been sleeping. A sentiment so often echoed about the dead. She had this little smirk across her lips. I can remember seeing it at the many Christmas’s and Thanksgiving’s that were the only time out of the year that I saw Thais. It was…comforting to see that. That night there was the most spectacular sunset. One I will always remember. That’s how beautiful it was. 

You couldn’t ask for more gorgeous weather for a funeral. Little to no wind and a moderate temp in the mid-60′s. The service was moving. My dad did the eulogy. I didn’t think that the respect and love that I have for him could deepen further but after witnessing him give his sister such a heartfelt send off, they both increased tenfold. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been to do. Her cemetery sits on a small hill and has the most breathtaking view. I can’t imagine a better final resting place.

We left on Sunday. Despite the circumstances, it was so good getting to see that side of my family. We are a bit spread out so that unfortunately doesn’t happen often. They will be down here in a few weeks for the Memorial Marathon and I can’t wait to see them.

Which leads me to something else. I have been running lately. I have been trying to do it consistently for the past few years but it just hasn’t stuck. Now though, I think it has. I’ve kept up with it a lot better. I’ve stopped making excuses for not going out. I’m trying to hold myself accountable. I’m 26. I refuse to let myself go as I get older. And it only gets harder the older you get. While I still have some bad eating habits, I am much more conscious of what I consume. I struggle with drinking soda and eating fried foods. However I think I’ve gotten good at limiting those. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to rid my diet of them completely but it’s a day to day thing. I’ve gotten my stamina up and am able to run two and a half miles without much trouble. I’m hoping to do the Dirty 30 with my friend Tabitha in about three weeks. I’ve never done a 5k and I’m not sure a mud run is a good way to start. It will be a fun experience needless to say. My goal is to run a half marathon and eventually a full. My dad is running the full 26.2 miles in the Memorial Marathon. It will be his first. I am proud of everything he has accomplished ever since he started running a few years ago. I think if he can do it, why can’t I? He is such a good inspiration for me.

I went out and made pictures of Jeremiah yesterday. I always want to take pictures of him but it is a rare treat that I get to. He is stingy that way. Don’t get me wrong I’ve got plenty of other people to photograph. There is just something about photographing someone that you love so endlessly that just makes it…better. I’ve been shooting mostly film lately. All 35MM. I need to get a new battery charger for my Rebel so I can get back in the digital game. While I very much enjoy film way more than digital, I enjoy the instant gratification you get from a digital camera. My iPhone has been my stand in until I can get a charger. There are a few other films I need to hunt down and purchase so I can use some of my other cameras. I haven’t been taking pictures enough lately. That seems to always be my problem. 

Not much going on with San Francisco. We still have to get his van going. That is the priority right now. Once work picks up, my spare cash will be going to that project. Jeremiah will be pleased.

Why I love Nylon Magazine.

I love Nylon Magazine. Girls version, guys version. I don’t discriminate. And I’ll tell you why. It’s quite simple actually.

It inspires the fuck out of me.

I look through it, read the articles and after that, I feel like super woman. I just want to start creating. I want to do shit I’ve never done before. Sell off all of my possessions, go to some remote cabin in Colorado and write a record. I don’t write music, by the way. Nor do I sing or play an instrument. I want to score a spot at New York fashion week showing off my latest collection. I want to get a part in a movie that’s gonna blow up at the Sundance Film Festival. I’m not a clothing designer or an actor. But Nylon makes me feel like I can go out and do any of these things. No matter where I’m from.

They just have an absolute knack of featuring some of the brightest young people out there. Not to mention I love the way they feature the clothing. It’s such a well put together magazine.

I am in such a lull from doing photography, I am craving anything creative right now. Since I’m off work tomorrow and the weather has been utterly gorgeous, I’ll probably go out and shot something. Anything. I’m going out of my mind. I’ve been working too much and not taking times to do things I love. The things I need to be doing. Not having two days off a week doesn’t help that any. Also, not using my time wisely on my days off doesn’t help.

I just need to start focusing more on my goals instead of going through the motions.

Main goal? San Francisco.

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hello, hi, how are you?

I have made this blog in hopes of keeping our friends and family up to date on our plans to move to San francisco, California by 2014.

Perhaps I should give some background first.

I have always had a desire to see as much of the world as possible. I am not the type of person that wants to live in the state they were raised forever. Don’t get me wrong, I love Oklahoma. I will always consider it my true home no matter what streets my feet are walking. No place could ever take Oklahoma’s place in my heart. It is a big part of the person I have become.

Jeremiah is from Indianapolis. He has said he hasn’t ever really considered Oklahoma home even though he has lived here since he was 8.

Both of us have traveled to a handful of different states and have experienced a mere fraction of this country has to offer.

We started dating in May of 2006. Our first trip as a couple was that summer. We drove to Nisswa, Minnesota where we spent a week at my aunts cabin. On our way back home we stopped in Minneapolis to spend a day.

On that trip is when we decided that we wanted out. Not because Oklahoma is a bad place to live. The people are nice almost to a fault, we have all four seasons, and it has one of the cheapest costs of living in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, we do have paved roads and our main mode of transportation is the car (not a horse and buggy). It is a great place to live. However, having travelled quite a bit from a young age, I knew it wasn’t a permanent one.

We considered Minnesota. After discussing it though, we decided that it wasn’t the place for us.

Jeremiah’s best friend lives in Dallas, Texas. We make trips down there a few times a year to visit. We have talked of moving there but nothing serious. I don’t know if I could handle living in Texas. Besides, it’s almost like a bigger version of Oklahoma City and isn’t that what we are trying to get away from?

In the summer of 2010 we took a ten day trip to see his family in Indianapolis and to go to Chicago. Indianapolis was a typical midwestern city. Again, it reminded me much of Oklahoma City, if Oklahoma City had a gigantic raceway dropped into the middle of it. After visiting with family we made the drive to Chicago. Oh, Chicago. I instantly fell in love. While it is in the midwest, I certainly would not call it a typical midwestern city. If anything, it is the New York City of the midwest. Huge buildings downtown and a skyline that seemed to stretch for miles nestled on the most beautiful lake I have ever layed eyes on. What a gem it was. Amazing museums and tons of people. I could definitely picture myself living there. When we arrived home from that vacation we discussed both places. I had the same problem with Indianapolis as I did with Dallas. It’s just too much like Oklahoma. But Chicago, that had potential. In the end though, we decided against it as well.

Fast forward to last October. Our friend, Jeremie, is from Northern California and wanted to take a trip out there for his birthday. He invited us to go along with him and his girlfriend, Allison. Our destination was San Francisco. While I had never had much of a desire to visit SoCal, northern California always held a bit of intrigue where I was concerned. We agreed and booked the trip. We spent five days there. What an incredible five days it was. I have never see a city like San Francisco. It was so picturesque. The individual districts that make up the city, China Town, The Mission, Soma, Haight and Ashbury, The Financial District all had something different to offer. From the restaurants, to the shopping, to the people. For being a big city, I would say it’s an outdoor person’s dream. Driving isn’t all that practical, there are tons of parks, and not to mention its neighbor is a great big ocean. Before we had even made it back to Oklahoma we had already decided, this was the city for us. This is where we would start the next chapter in our lives together.

And here we are now. We have moved into a place that costs a mere $380/month in order to save money. The money we save will be put towards getting Jeremiah’s 1962 Ford Falcon up and running. It will be our way out there and until we find a place, will be our home.

While the main purpose of this blog is to keep everyone in the loop with our progress, I still may update about other such random things going on in our lives. Until then, I hope I can count on everyone’s support as we will need it to accomplish our goal.

Thank you in advance friends. I’m glad you have come along on this journey.

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