Another great shoot with an another adorable family. This time I followed Maddox and his parents around while he inquisitively wandered around the grounds of the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. Come and take a peek at what he found.
Day 04- Something you have to forgive someone for.
My mom said it was cold that day. A typical day for the brutal Midwestern winter climate. As he shut the door, my little sister began to cry. She was only a few months old at the time. At the ripe old age of two, I became the man of the house. With my defenses already up, I knew I had a job to do. My mother and my sister needed me now. It was time to be a man.
I know what you are thinking, “How can a two-year old be a man?” I don’t recall much before the age of five, but my mother tells the story well. There are pictures to prove it. The old weathered photographs tell the story with an unapologetic bluntness. It’s 3:00am, my pure blond hair disheveled by hours of resting on my Sesame Street pillowcase. I sit on the couch trying my damnedest to assist my mother with the nightly chore of raising an infant on her own. As she passes my sister to me to rest on my lap, a huge smile breaks through the darkness of the night. My mother, with her heart filled with a wicked balance of hurt, sadness, and unwavering love, brings a tiny camera to her eye. I could hear her count down and direct me to say “cheese!” In an instant, that memory was captured forever. My cheesy grin, my sister on my lap, the happiness I felt inside, all permanently displayed on a 4×6 piece of Kodak paper.
The tiny two bedroom apartment in Davenport, Iowa was more than just a place to rest our heads. In all actuality, it was the beginning of us. The whitewashed walls and brown shag carpeting had no clue what type of force had just been born. From that point on it was just the three of us. No time to look back at what just happened as he shut the door on us. No time to dwell on things we couldn’t change.
As I got older, I started to ask questions. “Where is he?”, I would sheepishly ask my mother. Her response was always the same. Always lighthearted and straight to the point. “He’s gone. It’s just us now, TJ.” Oddly, this was super comforting to me. I knew that I was in the best hands possible. I knew that no matter what, everything was going to be just fine.
The years passed by and as quickly as he left, my memory of him faded. From time to time I would stumble upon an old box of photos. The smiles were strikingly familiar, a person frozen in time for me to have some basis of my biological history.
By the time I was a teenager, I became more and more forgetful that having a father around wasn’t the social norm. My mother fit the bill quite nicely. She had already taught me how to throw a ball, how to shave, how to spit, how to treat women, and ultimately how to love. Caught up in the intricacies of life, I had already learned from my mother how to be a man. She was my best friend, the one person I could count on, and as I stood up to recite my vows in front of hundreds, she was also my best man.
When I started to write this, I intended to forgive him. Wash away many years of wonder, doubt, and hatred. But as I sit here, pounding on this keyboard, I realize that forgiving him would mean that I was missing something in the first place. Forgiving him would be anointing him a kind of power that he doesn’t deserve. I’ve been privy to heartache, divorce, and all kinds of emotional roller coasters. But I always had stability. No matter the circumstances I always had love. I had a mother and a sister that through thick and thin, would prop me up and idolize me in ways no other human beings could. My childhood was a happy one. I never needed anything else. I always had a roof over my head and a smile on my face. Wanting or craving anything more would just be plain greedy.
And to him, I don’t forgive you. Actually, I thank you. Leaving us was the best thing you could have ever done. Don’t believe me? Well, I have the pictures to prove it.
I can no longer call this weekly post “This Week @ MamaPop”. Why, you ask? Well, simple. I am an internet whore. I spread my lovin’ to as much of the internets as I can. Now that the good folks at Draft Day Suit have brought me on to write insane scribblings, I now have not one, not two, but four places to spread my ridiculousness. But as usual, I am a giver. So, with out further procrastination, I give you my links from around the interwebs from this week. Please enjoy responsibly. And by “responsibly” I mean click the hell out of these links! What? I already warned you about my whore-ish ways. Now, what are you waiting for? Get to clicking!
This week @ MamaPop:
Monday’s Post: This Just In: Louis C.K. Is A Funny Man
Tuesday’s Post: HIMYM Season Six Recap: Episode 4 “Subway Wars”
Thursday’s Post: ANTM Cycle 15 Recap: Episode 6 “Patrick Demarchelier”
This week at Draft Day Suit:
Monday’s Post: Why I Love….The Royals
Thursday’s Post: Good News For The Yankees
This “30 Days of Truth” thing is kind of hard. Really, it is. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself. Contrary to popular belief, I truly despise talking (or writing) about myself. I struggle to find the right tone. I fail to come up with anything interesting. Anyway, as usual, I am just rambling about random shit. Now, on to the next truth!
Day 2-Something you love about yourself
Something I love about myself, huh? Well, besides the fact that I am pretty fly for a white guy, I consider myself to be an extremely loyal person. My loyalty is often unmatched by anyone I know. This sounds really conceited of me, but it’s the truth. If I have accepted you into my life, I accept everything about you. Period, point, blank. No matter what you do or what you do to me, I will always be by your side. This is both a gift and a curse. I put up with A LOT of shit that people might think are total deal breakers. Now, that might make me sound like I am stupid or naive, but it’s actually quite the opposite. I am not a total dumbass. I know what’s going on most of the time. I just figure if I’ve let you into my life, there is a reason for you to be there. In my mind, I hope that you’ll be as loyal to me as I am to you. That doesn’t always happen, but I am always willing to give you the benefit of the doubt no matter what.
Not to get all psychological on you, but I truly believe my loyalty has been entrenched in me since childhood. I grew up with just my little sister and my mother around. Just us three. If you’ve ever grown up in that type of situation, you learn to cherish and respect loyalty. Watching a single mother work two jobs to provide for her two children teaches you the utmost respect for how much loyalty there is in this world. Many nights, I would watch my mother come in after a double shift at the local restaurant chain. Her hair would smell like grease. Her feet ached from 14 non-stop hours of standing on her feet. Still, the first thing she would do? Ask my sister and I, “How was your day?” Even at a young age, I knew she hurt. I could see the years of physical pain catch up to her as she limped down the hallway past my door. I could see the decades of emotional loss behind the specks of gray and blue in her eyes. Nothing that happened to her that day mattered anymore. The previous 14 hours seemed to melt away as my sister and I jabbered on about our respective days. She knew she was safe now. She was at home, with the two people that adored her the most. For the first time all day, should could breathe. My sister and I were her air. This I knew because no matter how bumpy the road was, she always reminded us just how important we were to her.
A lot of people looked down on us because we were that “broken home”. Sure, we weren’t that prototypical nuclear family of four. There wasn’t a white picket fence. There wasn’t a dog in the backyard. What we lacked in appearances, we made up in love. And actually, in reality, there wasn’t a thing broken about us at all. “Broken” was a label for outsiders who didn’t understand. A way for them to categorize us as something different than the socially accepted norm. But we knew exactly who we were. We didn’t need labels, white fences, or extravagant things. We didn’t need anything else to feel complete. Our family unit was tight-knit. Collectively hellbent on protecting each other at no cost, with no regard for our own happiness or safety. At the end of each day, we always knew we could count on each other even when we couldn’t count on much else. Through thick, thin, heartbreak and happiness, we had each others backs. Even at the age of thirty, I know that stands true today. And if that isn’t loyalty, I don’t know what is.
I’ve been watching this little “30 Days of Truth” thing making it around the interwebs for a few weeks now. I never really paid much attention to it until some of the people I really admire started writing about this on their own personal blogs. One by one, some of the people I idolize were sharing some pretty involved truths about themselves. As I pondered each and every question, I wondered how this may beneficial to me. Truth is, in itself, a very harsh reality sometimes. We all know that truth can hurt. We’ve had that driven into us since we were children. What a fucked up thing to teach somebody.
“Well, the truth hurts, TJ.”
Yes. I know this. But what else can truth do? Can it heal? Can it allow you to feel happiness for once? Can it allow yourself to let go and allow yourself to love? Can it weed out the bullshit and lies to show your true colors for once? Or does it, indeed, just hurt and maim? I don’t know the answers to those questions. And I am willing to bet I may never truly know. But as I sit here pounding on this keyboard, I am trying to find out. Even if this never goes beyond a bunch of blog posts, I am going to try my best to give this a go. So here, in aggregate, is part of my truth. Do with it as you please.
Day 1: Something You Hate About Yourself
Hate: [heyt] noun, often attributive
a: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury
b: extreme dislike or antipathy
When you look up the definition of hate and try to apply if to something you feel about your own mind, body, soul, etc, you realize just how harsh you can be on yourself. Hate is learned. You learn to hate by watching others hate. I don’t know where and when in my thirty years on this planet I learned this behavior, but it’s definitely been there for some time. When does something you generally dislike about yourself get to the level of pure hatred? I always knew there were certain things about myself I didn’t like. But to stop and think about what I hated, well that’s entirely different.
Singling out the very most important thing I hate about myself is tough. Letting your mind think freely about things you find so negative is really an exercise futility. I mean, at the age of thirty, you’d think that I would have changed the things I truly “hated” about myself by now. But what if you can’t change these things? What if they have become part of your being?
And there it was. Something so very apparent, so very real and entrenched in hatred that it actually affects others around me. I lack the very basic function that most people tend to have in abundance. I cannot, for the life of me, verbalize honest emotions. Other than laughter, the people around me rarely know just how I am feeling on the inside. The people I love the most often have to guess and wonder just how much I actually love them. I have written about this many times before over the last year. Each time I promised to resolve this matter. To try my best to progress as a human being. With each attempt, I failed miserably. Within days, I would revert back to my so-called place of emotionally retarded “normalcy”. In fact, I would actually get worse in some ways. No matter how hard I tried, nothing would ever work.
So, at the age of thirty, I possess less ability to convey emotion than my four-year old son. There are days where I wish I could trade places with him. I always know what he is feeling or thinking. He wears his emotions on his sleeves, out in the open for me and the world to see. I know when he is sad. I know when he is in fear. I know when his happiness outweighs everything in his world. As a parent, you try to teach your children these certain wonderful things about life. But as I watch my own, I see them actually teaching me instead. I sit and watch his every move, stopping short of asking him just how to love, fear, and display emotion. I see my daughter’s face light up with a giggle that can cure even the darkest of days. She’s hasn’t even reached the ripe old age of one yet and she’s teaching me more than I have learned over three decades.
With my children, I can be anyone I want to be. I smother them with “I love you’s” and kisses galore. Am I overcompensating for things I haven’t done in the past? Most likely. But maybe I have proved my hatred for myself at little bit wrong. Maybe, just maybe, I have watch and learned from their abilities. Maybe I have collected enough knowledge to actually change, even if it’s just a little bit. I’d like to think so. Who knows, maybe I have found a little bit of truth that doesn’t hurt. And if that’s the case, I’ve already won half the battle.
In case you are following at home, these are the topics I will be covering:
Day 01 → Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 → Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 → Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 → Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 → Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 → Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07 → Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Day 08 → Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.
Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 → Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
Day 11 → Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 → Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13 → A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)
Day 14 → A hero that has let you down. (letter)
Day 15 → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 → Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17 → A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 → Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 → What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 → Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21 → (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 → Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
Day 23 → Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 → Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
Day 25 → The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 → Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 → What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 → What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 → Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 → A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself
One of the best parts of my job as a photographer is meeting wonderful people. Case in point? Julie invited me along to snap some photos of her gorgeous family and I had an absolute blast learning their story. So, come and take a gander at what I found that day.
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As I threw the tiny plastic ball towards him, I could see the setting sun laced with dark clouds in the Western sky. Brilliant oranges and reds peered through each and every crevice in which these enormous masses of vapor could not cover. A gentle breeze cooled my skin as it passed us by. For a moment, time had stopped. I was transfixed and quickly ushered to another realm of reality. I am not sure just how much time had gone by, but judging from the inflection of his impatient response, I am sure it had been a while.
“Strike One!”, he yelled followed by a mischievous giggle.
That was the last thing that I heard. In that few minutes we played in the front yard, the real world no longer existed. I’m sure he said a bevy of things during our time together, but my mind would not allow me to process them. I watched him scamper about the yard as if he were some kind of wild animal just set free from a life in captivity.
Most days, the world does nothing but create confusion and angst. It tries to ruin your soul and eliminate the hopes built up in your mind. But on that day, it was just me and my son. Nothing else matter, but him, that ball, and that bat. For once, my vision was clear. And in that moment, my mind was free.
A few weeks ago, I had the great opportunity to shoot a family on their first visit to Kansas City. In fact, they even flew here all the way from Germany just so I could take their photographs! Well, I can’t really vouch for that, but I will keep telling myself that’s the whole story! Anyway, come and take a look at this gorgeous family’s walk through the Overland Park Arboretum. Enjoy!
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Oh, man. Ladies, hide your ovaries. There is a lot of cuteness ahead. My long time friends, The Schnurr’s allowed me to follow them around for an afternoon and document their day at the Nelson Atkins Art Museum here in Kansas City. I had a blast and the photos turned out wonderfully. Don’t take my word for it though. Go take a peek for yourself!
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