Two of four….

Life is definitely a journey.  Who ever came up with that nugget, had no idea how many times it would be used.  For me 2013 was interesting to say the least.  It was a year of self discovery and more.  In my last post I talked about the first 3 months of the year.  This will be the next 3 months, and in that 3 months I discovered more about me than I ever knew existed.  I said storm season was upon us and the storms that were brewing in my head began to take a toll on me emotionally and physically.

April – Putting one journey to rest.  For a good portion of my adult life and career, I was a news photographer.  Just about everyone who will read this knows this, so I won’t talk about that.  What I will talk about is making a decision to walk away on my terms from something that I was deeply passionate about to continue being passionate about something else, my life.  To a degree I was held hostage with my career choice.  I wasn’t going to go anywhere.  I had options to leave the city, I opted not to.  In TV to advance you have to move to bigger cities and get a bigger check.  That wasn’t in the cards for me.  Something inside me snapped and said “it’s time.”  I began to look for my next career.  It was tough because as a photojournalist, there are NUMEROUS skills we have.  Most of them can’t be quantified, they are soft skills.  So finding an employer who can use them and even better understand them is tough.  So onto Monster.com I went.  I posted my resume, searched, applied and finally….

May  – Back to life.  I interviewed with a branded partner for T-Mobile.  May 20th (the day of the Moore tornado) I was offered the job.  Few people knew what was really going on inside my head.  I had an idea but my work wife Naveen saw it more than anyone.  She got it.  Understood completely what I was going thru because she could relate.  I met Naveen in March 2011.  We were in MidWest City at a perp walk.  For you commoners out there, a perp walk is when the police department “parades” the accused from the jail building to a car or vice versa.  I use parade because it’s usually a set up where the media gets about 30 seconds to shout questions to the accused.  I learned from Nick Winkler that the one question the “perp” will likely respond to would need to be something incendiary and absolutely in their face. I learned from listening to the police officers that this young man we would be “assaulting” just turned 18 that day.  The one thing Naveen remembers most from that day was my asking him if this is how he planned on spending his birthday, being hauled off to jail.  It worked, out of everyone that was there that day, he made eye contact with my lens and smirked.  I got the response I wanted.  Back to May 20th, we were sitting in Guthrie, we were the last line of defense that day should the storms go north, and we were revisiting that day as we had before a few other times.  She heard the phone call from my now boss (Phil), the offer, and the relief in my voice.  I hadn’t fully accepted it because I couldn’t give a date that I could start there because we were storm chasing and I knew I wasn’t going to see my boss for at least 24 hours.  She looked at me and said “I will miss you but it’s the right thing for you to do.”  We finished that day about 6 hours after we came in because we would be working in Moore for the next week.  80 hours that week.  As a news photojournalist I always saw the things you never do.  We see bodies, we see blood, we hearts break.  We always seemed to meet people on their worst day. It wasn’t pleasant.  I knew though that this would be the last time I had the opportunity to tell those stories that needed to be told.  So with every bit of strength I had that week, I pushed myself to shoot better, cleaner, and faster than my competitors.  My reporters and I turned out some good stories about people that week.  The destruction was a part of it, but the people were the center pieces.  Then May 31st happened…I was sidelined because I had turned in my notice.  Sentenced to sit in a chair in the newsroom and watch it all happen in front of me.  I finally had all I could handle and convinced the desk to let me and a reporter get in position for damage.  As a result, we were the first crew in position and with live pictures from the destroyed Canadian Valley Technology Center.  It was a day I won’t soon forget, at times driving 100 mph trying to get out of harms way and into a better position.  It felt out of control.  I knew it was time to regain that control.

June – The End.  I shot my last story in TV News on June 5th with Patti Moon.  We did a story about some animals hurt from the storms.  Later that week, when I walked out the door at KOCO, my supervisor hugged me and told me to “take care of those girls.”  It was a very emotional day for me.  I LOVED the people there.  On June 10th I took over as a store manager for T-Mobile….again.  This was my second stint in the industry.  Wireless….turns out I am pretty good at it.  I work for a good company with some of the best people on the planet.  I think now looking back almost a year, I can see clearly the decline, not in my work but in my attitude.   I have always been a workaholic.  Finding ways to work harder and sometimes smarter than the next guy.  It’s a process.  June 10th is the day I can look back and clearly say, I took a deep breath and began new…even though I had been there before, this is different.  I am single…I can have a life after work.  That is different.

To say the everything was peaches and cream from that point forward would be a flat lie.  Since I don’t lie, or smoke crack ( I never did), or go to turkish prisons anymore I won’t start now.   I will say that this period in my life was very surreal.  I had moments of clarity that I had really never found before.  I think it is important to note that I when I walked away from TV I knew I was also walking away from a support system of sorts.  Everyone in the industry, supports each other somehow.  While I made some good friends in that line of work, only a few are life long friends.  Hugs will always be given, but few will answer that call in the middle of the night or pick me up at the Newark with a six pack of beer waiting for me.  I love these people, but I changed.  Normally it is the reporters that move on, it’s rare to have a photographer walk away.  Walk away clean with out regrets too…Now I can tell people I retired from news at 36.  I can tell you this, my blood pressure is a little better now, stress level I think might be the same.  However spending the time I have spent with my girls is priceless to me.  I can not even begin to fathom where I would be with out the hugs I get from those two.

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