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Friends and Enemies

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In response to today’s Daily Prompt:

Witness Protection

When you do something scary or stressful — bungee jumping, public speaking, etc. — do you prefer to be surrounded by friends or by strangers? Why?

Personally, I’d rather have my friends around in uncertain situations. Someone to give you that knowing glance when you are struggling. To provide support when everything might not be going well. A friend in the crowd. 

The scariest situations I’ve found myself in I’ve experienced both ways. I had a 7 1/2 month stay in the Denver County Jail back in 2001. I didn’t start out with any friends in that situation. I’ve also been in combat zones with fellow Marines, surrounded by my brothers in arms. Both situations were scary as hell.

When surrounded by strangers I have found that if all of you are in the same boat you have nothing to lose by supporting each other. In the Marines we began boot camp as complete strangers but we ultimately learned to pull together in order to overcome extreme adversity on a daily basis. I still talk to the Marines I served with to this day, but there was a time when we were all strangers, wet behind the ears, most of us broke, young and dumb, the adventurous sort that can’t afford to go to college. I only spent four years in the Marines, but the friendships I made there have stood the test of time. Nearly 20 years later we still look to each other for moral support and guidance. 

In jail it’s a little bit more shady but the same approach works wonders. It’s easier for a room full of strangers to be able to relate to each other because none of us really know each other. So we are all in the same boat. Going to court appearances, shackled to each other at the wrists and ankles. There is no dignity to be found in the county jail. There is no privacy, you eat together, sleep together, shit together and suffer together.

There are unwritten rules that you need to learn fast or else you will find yourself a social outcast in a real hurry. My first full day in my squad bay (pod) I tried to take a shower while another guy was in there. There were two shower heads on opposite sides of each other, and every gym in every high school I’ve ever been in, guys showered at the same time. So I walked in there and stripped off my towel and started taking a shower.

The dude on the other spiget wasn’t too pleased with this, and he stormed out of the shower mad dogging me the whole time. I had to find a friendly face I could talk to to find out why this guy was so pissed off. It turns out that in this squad bay, the showering is done one at a time. Lesson learned. 

During my time there I made many friends and very few enemies. Of course there were a couple of jerks that I was forced to stand up to, but my ability to get along with others always made it easier. In the real world I’m anti-social but in extreme situations I find a way to do what’s necessary to survive. Knowing how to make more friends than enemies is a great start. It’s nice to know that a few people have your back.

Looking at it from my current perspective as a college student I prefer presenting in front of people I know. I don’t really know them per say, but we’ve been in class together for a few months and there isn’t a single one of us that gets to get out of it if we want to pass the class. I still get awkward and nervous but I know I can count on my little clique within the classroom.I look to them for encouragement.

I’ve been in classes before where a person might be giving a bad presentation, one where it is obvious that this person might not pass the class, and someone in the crowd starts peppering her with really intense questions, knowing they don’t know the answer. I witnessed one man badger a poor girl with questions just to watch her squirm and go through the embarrassment of not knowing. The one thing I have the most trouble understanding in life, the capacity of us humans to be cruel to each other. The worst part is having to accept that you cannot change it, and you have to carry on knowing the problem will never go away. 

I had to help that girl a lot in class, and after watching her go through that I admired her ability to shake it off and not let it destroy her. It was obvious she had already moved on from it or just didn’t know or just didn’t care. My skin was hot from watching it, but she was entirely calm as far as I could tell. I clapped loudly and shouted a compliment her way when she was finished. She made the best of it and pulled through. Maybe her presentation wasn’t an A+ performance, but her composure in a tough situation was commendable.

So I prefer friends in scary situations. I’ll be your friend too if you need me. If someone is picking on you I got your back, we might not win but at least we’ll go down together standing up for what’s right. Kindness, compassion, and good will towards all. The “Do the Right Thing” mentality. 










Sent from my iPhone

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Denver Street Photography

what’s your sleep number?
inner springs contour the skull
improvisation

I honestly can’t remember if I have shared this image on the blog yet, but this haiku came to me so I had to post it. I love these type of found moments. The serendipity of life. The fortuitous happenstance of stumbling upon a moment like this. Another reason I love photography.

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Denver Street Photography

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Denver Street Photography

Denver Street Photography by TheJeremyNix
Denver Street Photography, a photo by TheJeremyNix on Flickr.

I wish she could see
the things I see everyday
the gift of vision

Via Flickr:
Two women wait for the #15 on Colfax & Broadway in Denver on a Thursday morning.

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LAUNDROMAT LOANSHARKS

one-room laundromat
predatory paycheck loans
taking advantage

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LAUNDROMAT LOANSHARKS

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Denver Street Photography

The Street Photography is my holding pattern. It keeps me interested in photography. It keeps me in practice. I do it to satisfy my curiosity and test my limits. I think that all people are beautiful and that beauty is only relative anyway. I’m looking for direction, trying to determine what story it is that I want to tell. I keep expecting that I will have this epiphany, that these journalism courses I am taking will somehow trigger the creative enthusiasm that lies dormant within me.

The truth is, I am learning a lot, but it is really just the basics, and so far I am not impressed by the level of instruction I have received versus the amount of money I am now on the hook for in my pursuit of this journalism dream. This is merely my opinion, but I get the feeling sometimes that my professors are competing with me. It might just be me being paranoid or egotistical, who knows? I just felt that in some instances I was being completely ignored, shunned even, when it came to positive or even negative feedback on my work. I felt virtually ignored. This is what $20,000 plus in student loan debt gets me?

I am tempted to go it alone, to try and break in on my own, but I’m afraid I need more structure and planning. In the next two years, I will be required to perform an internship which I both dread and long for, as I believe I will be ridiculed and exposed as a no-talent fraud, but I’m holding on to the hope that just maybe I am a diamond in the rough. A guy with a chance to break out into something bigger. Isn’t that what we all want to believe? That our dreams are attainable? Realistic even?

So for now, I walk the streets with my camera and document existence. One thing about taking your camera with you everywhere that they forget to mention, it exposes how boring and mundane your life actually is. I can’t even count how many times I’ve pointed my camera at the same thing over and over again, trying to capture it in a way that I’ve never seen before. All it does is drive me crazy and give me the urge to see something new.

While I pursue my personal goals, my family life also is presenting challenges. In three weeks, my girlfriend Maizy, the mother of my child, will have her final mastectomy. I await the day with great sadness and worry for her well being. the one story to tell that has meaning, but needs to be kept private for the most part. Suddenly my petty problems pale in comparison to the love of my life having flesh removed from her body permanently. Cancer is so overbearing. It all seems so matter of fact at times. We have to plan for it, schedule it, budget for it. It hangs over our heads at every chapter in our life. It’s always “once we pay off this $5,000 bill, everything will be so much easier,” only to receive another bill in the mail we forgot about.

So I grab my camera, I take off. I walk the streets and I watch. I walk until I can’t take another step, then I shuffle slowly back home clicking all the while. Hoping for the best.

This image has nothing to do with anything I just said, other than it is street photography. Maybe I shared it because the facial expressions are an illustration of how I feel inside right now at this moment. I can’t be sure.

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Denver Street Photography

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Faceless

an untold story
a prosthetic reminder
a dangerous world

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Faceless

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I walked along a skinny sidewalk

on a dreary morning in January

crossed paths with six souls

walking the grimy snow covered sidewalks

gingerly sidestepping the slick ice

we share space in passing

the silent language of eye contact

two living, breathing, thinking beings

forces of energy

crossing paths

Humans Crossing

Aside