Category Archives: confessing

Exposed


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I used to take pictures.

It’s been so long ago that it almost seems like it was in a past life. When I first started, I was in the military and took pictures that were part of news and feature stories. A few years later I began to fancy myself an arteeest and began trying to create what I “thought” was art. I actually pulled some off and there were a few people who actually considered it art and paid for my prints or asked me to exhibit.

My first attempts were crude but in time my eye developed. I tended to drift toward my journalistic side and capture images that had a human element… you know, that showed where a human presence had been. I rarely did landscapes or what I referred to derogatorily as “snapshots of trees and rocks”.

The fact is “trees and rocks” are hard to shoot and shoot well and I knew it, so I tried to place myself above those Ansel-disciples and do my cutting edge Henri Cartier-Bresson impersonations.  What’s funny is I actually did a series of only trees one time AND… had it exhibited.

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken photographs like that.

But now and again, something will catch my “eye” (which surprises me that my photographer’s eye still works) that makes me think, “this says something” and I wish I had my old Mamiya loaded with some velvety Ilford Delta400.

The above image is one that did just that and all i had was my cell phone, It was taken in an instant, filters applied the way I would have liked to have seen a final print after hours in the darkroom.  It says something… at least to me. The roots are exposed. The tender part of a tree that should be covered which help it grow and mature are all out in the open.

[sigh]

I’ve been going through the some personal stuff that is really stressful. Really stressful… taxing on my soul and is one of those times when I hope with all the faith that I have that God is listening and will send angels to calm my spirit. I pray that Providence will cover my tender parts.

I have entered another dark period, one that makes me want sit with my back in a corner with my knees to my chest bracing for impact. I can’t get everything covered and I feel quite exposed.

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Clothes make the man


Some of you might remember that I work for my dad who owns a small accounting firm that he started about 25 years ago. I’ve been with him for about seven years and it appears as though I am the heir apparent.

But bookkeeping is just one thing our small business does and this year we’re adding yet another aspect and it all hinges on me.

I’ll get to that after this quick little sidebar.

When I was in school I was a music major. I dated a dance major for a short while, then an art major. Hung out with all the weirdos who were theater majors. Finger snapped support to my English major wannabe poets during slam-poetry open mics. I hung out and danced at the bar that played 80s new wave, college alternative music.  So basically I was an 80s beatnick.

I swore, to everything that was holy, deep in my soul I was going to make my living as a musician/artist and would never…. never, ever!!!…. sell insurance like my dad, who at the time i hated and considered dead for having left my mother with me and my four siblings, the youngest who wasn’t quite two years old when he did that.

Yeah, asshole right.

Ok, so fast forward 25 years and I’m now working for my dad doing everything from purchasing office supplies to running interference in attempt to keep clients he’s pissed off from leaving. I track alcohol licenses and file the applications for our clients who need it. I keep the books for a handful and pay their taxes. I even change out the water bottles for the cooler and haul trash to the dumpster.

I am a catch all. And last month I finished a class that will help me get my…

wait for it…
Can you guess kids?…

MY INSURANCE LICENSE!!

[sigh]
I feel

like

a middle aged failure.

So to help me along in this endeavor the boss has not so subtly let me know he thinks I need clothes that will help me look the part of an insurance salesman. God I want to jam a hot poker in my ear!

So he insists that I go with him to a clothing store he likes to go to. Any shred of evidence of that kid who had aspirations of being a musician and artist is being severed as I get in the car and go.

I’ve never been one to spend lavishly on clothing for myself. For the most part, I usually buy my clothes at Goodwill or a thrift store. I figure I’m getting a deal and the money I spend is helping someone in need. And as for clothing, I think of it as a necessary evil and if I didn’t think I’d burn people’s eyeballs out I’d probably just go dance nehked in the woods and not worry about clothing. :mrgreen:

So when we get to this place and he’s telling me they’re having a buy one get three more free sale, I’m thinking, “ok at least there is a deal to be had.”

Um. No.

Did you know the sport coats, blazers and jackets cost about 600 dollars?!?!?

So after I picked my jaw off the ground, excused myself to go wipe my butt and clean my drawers I obliged and tried on a jacket or two.

There was a young guy who was tending to me. Looking me up and down, asking me questions then said, “this one. Let’s try this. I think you’re going to like it.”

“How much is it?” I asked sort of sheepishly and accusingly.

My dad chimed in quickly and rather authoritatively, “don’t worry about that. Clothes cost what they cost.”

So the sales guy slipped it on me. Tugged at the shoulders, pulled on the tail, swept off the sleeves a little and says (kinda like Deb from Napoleon Dynamite after taking Uncle Rico’s picture) “This is looking really good.”

I had to agree. As I looked at myself in the mirror I thought, “hey I clean up pretty good.” I almost shot myself a finger pistol but was able to grab hold of my faculties and not have everyone’s dork-meter go full tilt.

We tried on several more and I landed on the four I would take home with me. I’ve never, ever in my life (well except for my Marine Corps dress blues) owned a suit or sport jacket that was brand new and fit just right for me.

At least with my blues I felt like I’d earned them after going through 13 weeks of hell. This… I don’t know. Guess I’ll have to sell a few policies before I feel like I’ve earned these things.

Pops says, it’s a cost of doing business and we need them. I don’t know about that but I have to be honest. I feel pretty good when I’m wearing one of them.

click story


I have an old Mac laptop that seems to be running on last legs. I didn’t update the operating system like I should have (read: at all) and so this old 2005 machine is still running OSX Tiger. Knowing that it’s only a matter of time before it decides it just can’t bear to come to life even one more day, I’ve been transferring files to an external drive. In doing so, I ran across something I had posted at a blogging buddy’s place back in early 2010. I thought I had cross post it here but I can’t find it.  I thought it was worth sharing again so here it is.

To give a little context, this friend had a blog where occasionally she would have blog friends contribute what she called a “click” story… a personal story where the writer had learned some grand lesson.  Below is my contribution.
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Leslie asked me months ago if I would write a click story for her and I quickly said yes.  I feel bad for having put it off so long.  Sorry Les.  The thing I think that has disrupted my ability to do it is she inadvertently placed some heavy pressure on me by saying, “I’m sure you have so many stories to tell.”

Gulp.

Do I?  Ugh.  I couldn’t think of anything that would compare to the others that have been published here.

I began rifling through the mental files of stories I have where I learned a lesson… you know, trying to find one where I learned a really big lesson about myself or life  but none of them seemed to be so profound as to be earth shattering.

I thought of my trip down the aisle (the first time) and how my voice cracked and my eyes welled a little as I repeated the vows the preacher told me to say… a tear came not because I was happy but because I knew!… right then and there I realized with absolute certainty…

I was making the biggest mistake of my life. I realized that we humans sometimes make poor choices, we can’t blame anyone but ourselves and we have to live with the consequences.

I thought I could tell of the time during Marine Corps boot camp when my platoon was learning how to throw hand grenades.  A drill instructor and I were in a concrete bunker and he handed me a live grenade with the pin pulled.  He said, “recruit! You make sure you throw it over this wall like we taught you…

and far! You understan’ me!”

I stood there with a live grenade in my hand… explosions were going off from my fellow recruits lobbing theirs down range.  I looked at the grenade… my hands shaking.  I stared that DI in the eyes, then looked at it again as I heard in a deep, garbled, slow-motion sort of voice, “yewwwww ohhhhkayyyy reeecrewwwwt?”.  It seemed like lifetimes passed as I pondered my ability to heave that piece of metal over a seven foot wall of cinder blocks.

As I pulled my arm back just like they taught me, I was thinking my life has the potential to change or end right now.  In that moment I realized some events in life are deliberate, calculated actions. Other times a completely random, unexpected bit of happenstance careens life toward other places.

I also thought maybe I could tell of a lesson I learned from the time I got fired from a retail job I couldn’t stand.  While in the parking lot after leaving the store I immediately called my editor of my part-time freelance photo job.  I told her what happened, I told her I was desperate and that I was available to shoot anywhere, anytime, and anything.  She gave me work… lots of it. A few weeks into it, my younger brother invited me to a basketball game through company tickets with some co-workers of his.  One of them asked, “so what do you do?”  I got that roller coaster feeling in my stomach.  I hesitated a little in my response and I almost said, “uh… I’m in between jobs” when it occurred to me, “no. I have a job.”

I said confidently, “I’m a photographer with The Houston Chronicle.”

It felt good. It felt DAMN good and I realized we make our own destiny.  WE make things happen in our lives if we push ourselves towards them. And I survived working six and seven days a week until I found another job seven months later.

I could tell the story about Hurricane Ike blowing through town in 2008.  I could tell you how I saw thick, heavy branches from two different trees that missed my house and my vehicle by inches and my property came away relatively unscathed; yet neighbors had fences crash through windows and roofs blown off.  There was one person I met in my neighborhood who had lights on in just a few days but the house right next to him waited four weeks in the sweltering September weather of the Gulf Coast Plains of Texas.

From the hurricane, I realized sometimes shit happens that we have no control over.  God didn’t get angry.  Karma wasn’t reacting.  The Tao wasn’t balancing things out.  I didn’t come away unscathed because I said the right prayer the night before and the other guy didn’t.  Just sometimes… shit happens from no fault of our own or anyone.

And I thought about telling my story of when I went to see my brother and future sister in-law get baptized at their Baptist church.  Coincidentally it happened the Sunday after the planes crashed into the World  Trade Center buildings.  While in that church, watching what should have been a great day for my brother, I saw a preacher point his finger at his congregation and heard him yell… yes, yell at them “it’s because of you and you and YOU that this happened.  Because YOU ARE A SINNER!!! America has lost favor with God and He made those planes fly into those building because of you!”

I realized that my concept of God does not fit that mold.  I don’t believe in a God like that at all.  My God loves me unconditionally.  My God doesn’t control my actions or the actions of others.  My God gave me freewill and reason.  I realized I don’t believe in a devil or that a devil can make people fly planes into buildings.  I realized some people are just jerks and assholes and they do evil things.  And my God weeps when we do crappy things to each other.  That is when I realized there must be another way of thinking about the nature of God compared to what this guy was preaching and I took my first deliberate steps ever towards spiritual awareness and where I found myself on a road towards UU-ism, Buddhism and Deism.

I’ve read most, if not all, of the click stories here at Leslie’s place and they have been amazing, beautiful, heart-wrenching, glorious stories.  Wish my click story were as amazing as those.

Sorry, Les… I got nothin’.

Protected: honesty is the best policy


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