Sunday, July 13, 2014

Til Death Do Us Part

Last weekend, my husband's family came down for a visit. I love his grandmother, Virginia. During the visit, it came to question how long we had been married. I was thinking about our next anniversary, not this one coming, so I said "5 years, Grandma." After thinking, she replied with "Wait, weren't you married in 2010?" Oh silly me.

My husband and I have been together 9 years. We started dating in 2005. It's not been easy. We had taken several breaks, had a couple of huge fights, and tons of disagreements. Some people didn't think we would stay together. We learned valuable lessons from all this, we learned to work together.

I am a free spirit. I go with the flow. I love spontaneity. I love being outdoors, reading, movies, friends. Live music, going to concerts, being with family.

My husband loves plans, order and being home. He too loves reading and movies. He loves music, but doesn't like going out to hear it live. He adores being with family.

Together, we sort of balance each other out. We have some common interests, but we also have differences and I love that about us. I love that we aren't exact replicas of each other, and that we do have silly arguments over what movie to watch, where to go on dates or even what to have for dinner!

Last year, we had some unfortunate circumstances that lead to us moving in with a friend, Cindy. Cindy adored us. She would tell me often how perfect Jeremy and I were for each other. She would hear us fuss and fight, but it usually ended in giggles and laughter. She said in all her years, she had never met a couple quite like us. We are silly, fun and helpful. I miss Cindy almost daily. We helped take care of her in her last months on this earth, and that too helped bring us together.

Marriage isn't easy. Whoever said that is a liar. Marriage is hard. It is very hard to live with someone else. Jeremy and I lived together 4 months before we were married, and that helped us out a bit, but not too much. We still were new to this whole concept.

Growing up, I thought marriage would solve all my problems. That is was so easy. You get a husband who cares for you, you can do what you want and you were both happy. Where the heck I came up with that one, I will never know! How naive was I?

One thing I have learned is that if you can't live together happily, a marriage certificate will not change that. Any relationship takes work. You both have to put in effort to make it work. You can't willfully hurt someone and expect them to still love you and treat you nicely. You can't just do what you want without thinking about the other person's feelings. You have to work together.

Someone, I am sure, will read this and think to themselves, "Oh, Aimee has it all figured out, she and Jeremy must have the most perfect marriage ever!" No, we do not. I screw up, a lot. More so than Jeremy. I am a free spirit, as I have stated before. It's hard work, and I am so glad to have the patient, loving man that I do. It's very scary how much I mess up, but he still loves me. I spend too much money sometimes, I go out with my friends a little too much, and sometimes I just forget to even ask how he feels about what I do. I just assume he will be okay with it all. I do mess up, almost daily. I do try, very hard, to make him happy. I make sure he's fed a couple times a day, I give him cuddles and let him play his video games without (much) complaints.

I am not saying he is perfect either. Sometimes he's grumpy for no reason, or he leaves WET towels on my bed, or even forgets to put his clothes in the hamper. He's not nearly as bad as me. He works very hard for us, he's very good with thinking a head, and he handles money well. He is a little messy, but what man isn't? I love him.

I think one of the most hilarious things I have heard yet was when my brother was visiting one day. My best friend, my brother and I were going to the beach. Jeremy is so not a sandy beach person, so he opted to stay home. My brother only had a pair of jeans, and asked Jeremy if he could borrow a pair of shorts to go swimming in. My husband, the sweet, silly, unintentional funny man that he is, looked my brother in the eye and said "I have no clue where my clothes are, you will have to ask your sister!"

I do have him spoiled. Not intentionally, however. I could tell him everyday for 3 years where his clothes are and he will still ask me. I know, this happened all the time when we lived in our tiny apartment. One dresser was his, one was mine. I even let him pick his dresser. Still didn't know. I have since given up, just laying out his work clothes, or finding his jeans when he asks. The only place he can navigate is the closet, mostly.

It's getting easier as we get older, but we still fuss about silly things. I still spend a little more than I should, but it's not nearly as often. He has loosened up a bit, going out of the house a little more, though I wish I could get him on the beach, or even to the pool.

Marriage is rewarding and great, if you work hard at it. Very few people I know actually have a great marriage without much, if any, disagreements. I am working hard on this with my husband. My great guru and co-worker is an inspiration in our marriage, at least to me. I see how her and her husband work.

Another thing some people tend to forgot, or maybe they do not realize, that once you are married, it's no longer just about you. It's not about what YOU want, or what YOU need. You now have a-whole-nother person to consider, to think about what they may want or need. This is something we still struggle with, but are improving. For instance, I used to go shopping and only think about what Aimee needed, or wanted. "Oh, shirts on sale for $2? Aimee needs some new ones!" "Oh, pants on clearance! Let's get some, most of mine are torn/ripped." Now, I check out the men's section for my husband. When I noticed pants or shirts on sale, I get some for him. Or if I see a little novelty item I think he will enjoy, I will nab it.

Forgiveness is a big part in marriage. People make mistakes, people screw up. I know, I do both, and frequently. This passed February, times were hard in my life. That was when Cindy took a turn for the worse, and it was straining me. I had little to no help from her family, and Jeremy was working all the time. I felt I had no time for myself. My place of business had burned down that October, so I was just a homemaker and caretaker. I felt like I was loosing touch with reality. I felt I needed a break. I felt like Jeremy and I argued constantly, that no one understood. I only felt sorry for myself. I didn't stop to think how this was affecting Jeremy or Colton [Cindy's son] I was only concerned with how I was feeling.

One night, I went out with a friend of mine. We went out drinking, partying and I was trying to forget all my problems. I was turning into what I didn't want too. I was drinking constantly at this point, it was a dark time for me. It now hurts thinking about what I was doing. I can see the damage that was done to my marriage, and I am thankful for a husband who didn't let this time ruin what we have, when he could have so easily walked away, and left me to destroy myself more. One evening, that February, I was out with a few friends, drowning my problems away in alcohol. After about midnight or so, I don't remember much of what happened. I just remember that I didn't make it home until 11 the next day.

I had driven our car to Front Street and parked it, and went in a local bar to start the night off. Then my friends and I loaded up in one of their cars and drove to Pawleys Island to finish off the night, and I drank my problems, and memory, away. At some point my cell phone had died. I woke to my friend yelling that I needed to get up, and she took me to my car where I drove home. Jeremy was livid, and I don't blame him. I was gone the entire night, and with no explanation.

I never stopped to think about him, about how he felt. He worked long, hard days, to come home and help me out with Cindy. It was worse on him, because sometimes she needed us in the middle of the night as well. Looking back, I was very selfish. I can't believe how bad I was, how I didn't even try to picture how the others felt. Only myself. That is not what marriage is about.

I believe Jeremy has forgiven me for that. I don't feel I deserve it, I feel like I left him in his time of need as well. I was emotionally lost for a few months, and that was damaging. I just feel so lucky to have Jeremy. I am a train wreck sometimes, but he is still here. That is what marriage is about.

There is much more to marriage than a legal piece of paper. So many aspects, and since our marriage is still so young, it's very difficult to imagine all of them. And everyone is different. I just know that you need emotional support, as well as physical. I do believe laughter is a giant part of it. As I have stated before, most of our arguments and fights end in laughter. I am beyond blessed to have Jeremy in my life.

We learned a lot from his father, Kent and his girlfriend, Robin. Now, we have all had our disagreements in life, but part of being an adult, and being married, is still forgiveness. Humans are not perfect. I am a big screwball, and I am learning to get it under control.

Over the years, I have had several talks with Robin about Jeremy, the family, and life in general. We don't always see eye to eye on things, and I still do things that Robin doesn't like, but I see things from her point of view. I have become a better person. No offense to my own mother, but our family isn't the best example of what I want my marriage to become.

I love my parents, but living through their marriage has taught me some things.
1. Don't get married just because you are pregnant.
Now, I know mom swears that's not the reason, I am 80% sure it was. I love them for trying, but I wonder how much different our childhood would have been had they not gotten married.

2. Just because you don't argue much doesn't mean you are on the same page.
I think arguments are good in a marriage. I think it shows you care, and it also helps you work through your problems instead of avoiding them. Or letting them build until you explode, and that never ends well. J & I learned this early on.

A few other lessons I have learned from my family are as follows. They come from families members off both sides.

3. Having a baby won't help if things are damaged or broken.
In fact, it can make them worse. A child is a HUGE responsibility, and should not be taken lightly. If things are bad, a baby can make them worse, because that in itself is very hard work.

4. Marriage isn't a joke.
Some people think it's a fad, or a joke. It's not. You should never get married if you think it's not a big deal. Ever. Just shack up for a while.

5. Having separate rooms doesn't mean you don't love each other.
When I was younger, my grandparents had different bedrooms. I thought they were going to divorce. I was terrified. I loved them so much, and didn't want them to be divorced. I later found out that my granddaddy was a kicker in his sleep. Him and Grandma still loved each other, they just couldn't share a bed. A similar situation happened on my husband's side as well. They still loved each other, too.

6. Every marriage is different.
No two marriages will be the same. Something that might work in Sally & Joe's marriage won't work for J & I, or vise versa. Some wives, for example, might not mind if their husband's go to Strip Clubs, and other definitely mind. It doesn't mean your marriage is wrong, it just means you guys work together better.

I believe each couple has the right to create their own rules. I believe Carrie in Sex in the City 2 has that right. As long is it's not negatively effecting anyone, you should be allowed to do that you and your spouse agree on. It's not going to be easy. It will be rocky.

The biggest thing I have learned it that things that are worth having are worth working hard for. Jeremy and I are not perfect, but I do believe we are perfect for each other. We are still learning and growing, but we are doing this together.

Friday, July 11, 2014


All my life, I have had dreams. I would dream to be a big movie star, a basketball player, a great photographer. Most of my dreams came and went with new fads, great movies or excellent books. The one consistent dream that has been by my side, however, was the photography.

I remember my first camera. A little green kodak film camera. I took photos of everything. The trees moving in the wind in my aunt's backyard. My cousin posing all silly in front of the swing set. The shapes of the clouds. Flowers, animals, our toys. If I could see any beauty, it was taken.

My grandmother and grandfather got me this for either my birthday or Christmas when I was 6 or 7. I only remember the greatest details, the camera, my undying gratitude for my grandparents, and the pure euphoria that I felt when I opened that box. In addiction to my green beauty, I also received 6 rolls of empty film. 6 ENTIRE rolls ALL to myself that I did not have to share. It was a dream come true to my little heart.

Since then, I always took photographs. When I was 10, my mom and dad had a temporary split. And by temporary, I mean about two years. My mom was in Illinois with her new boyfriend for about a 6 months, and missed us terribly. We initially moved with her, but my sister and I grew heartbroken and missed our dad, brother, and generally the rest of our family back home. After a very long, tear inducing phone call to my daddy, him and my grandaddy drove from SC to IL to gather my sister and I. It was only a week but I missed them more than anything in the world.

About a year later, mom and her boyfriend moved to SC. Mom had moved a few miles away, and on the weekends, we would go stay with them. I didn't get along very well with her boyfriend. He wasn't my daddy, nor as awesome. I didn't respect him at all. I had made friends with a neighbor lady, Maggie, who at the time, had a 9 month old daughter. She was my best friend, that little Sammie was. Maggie also had a best friend named Robin, and I loved her too. They both supported my dream of being a photographer. Maggie even let me take pictures of Sam!!

A few years later, when I was 11, I still didn't get along with moms boyfriend, so on the weekends that we stayed with her, if she had to work, I would stay with Maggie either all night, or until she came home.

A few years later, Maggie got pregnant with twins. I was so ecstatic. I had big plans in my little head for what I could do with twins! I waited my time, 9 months, actually, until they were born. I loved playing with the babies! They were so adorable!

When they were able to sit up, I would go in their play room, and set up different little "photo spots". I would use their toys as props, then find the outfits that would go with each one, and I dressed them and placed them. Robin went behind me to take their pictures. That was the best day of my for a long time. My little heart was happy.

Over the years, my passion has grown. I was always taking photos of everything and everyone. I have scrapbooks full of memories, because I am worried I might forget. (Or so I have been asked!)

In April 2013, I was in conversation with a gentlemen I worked with at the time, Mr. Greg. Mr. Greg is an avid surfer, Harley rider and a great man of God. We would have lunch together frequently and talk of dreams. His was to surf, and instead of trying to become a macho famous surfer, he choose to teach others. While talking to him, he convinced me that I wasn't too late to start on my dream of being a photographer. The following month, I bought my first DSLR camera.

At first, I was confused as all get out. It was discouraging. All the words of those who told me I would never make it started flooding my thoughts. My husband wasn't entirely too happy about me buying the equipment, then not using it. It was several months before I was up and running somewhat decently.

It is hard work! When you think photographer, a lot of people assume it's point, click, print. It's not! You have so much you have to learn. First, the basic knowledge of your camera. It's settings, what each one means, how to use your lenses, which is better for what settings. Then your equipment. Then everything else. You have to learn when to flash, when not too. The best times for outdoor lighting, the conditions of the weather and how they will effect what you are trying to do. It can all be overwhelming when you are first starting out.

Then you have to decide if you want to specialize in one area, what kinds of photographs you want to take, everything. I tried a bit of it all: Newborns, Families, Weddings, Budior, Nature, Animals, Events. I took a 3 day class on newborn photography, and tried it out with 2 different newborns.

I applied everything I learned into those sessions. I was worried the entire time of both shoots. All those cute little shots of the baby posing with its hands under its chin, 80% Photoshop. The safety of the baby must come first, and I was so worried with both that I was going to compromise the safety of both children. I was anxious, nervous, I couldn't concentrate. I am normally very good with newborns, but I hold them, love on them. Photographing them is something that I don't see myself doing very much. My nerves couldn't take it.

I found I work better with adults, and children who can sit up by themselves. I don't have to super watch the children, or worry that it might roll off the surface that it is on, or that it might suffocate on the props. I breathe easier, relax a little more and produce much better results.

My husband has seen my work grow since I started out. He sees the potential that I have. We both learned, very quickly, that this is a field of work. It's not something that you can just pick up and be great at. I have always had a great eye for photos, but the camera sometimes doesn't pick up what I see. That is where the learning comes in on lighting, shutter speed and settings. Manuel became my new best friend.

Dreams can come true if you work hard for them. I have been working extremely hard for the past few years to make this happen, and every shoot I have adds a new learning experience. I am better than I was, and I will continue to improve. Even my best work still needs improving, and I don't think I will ever be so good to say "This is perfect, I am done." I will keep learning, keep pushing. My dream is big, and will continue to grow as I grow in knowledge.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ode to Family

Two years. Two long, crazy years. I can't believe it's been that long. Some days it seems so much longer, but everyday I am happy because my sister is still with us. Two years ago, almost to the hour, my sister was in an accident that changed our lives. Since then, my husband has cracked down on safety issues, and we have thought more about the consequences of all our actions, good or bad.

I remember I had just started a new job. I was at work, just doing what I was supposed too when my cell phone rang. I normally don't answer my phone, but we were slow and it was my mom. My mom knows not to call unless it's important, so I was highly curious. I stepped in the office to answer it. The MOD was in there, and just gave me a questioning look. "My mother" I mouthed before I said "Hello?" My mom replied with this: "I don't want you to panic, and I didn't want you to be pissed because I didn't call you, but your sister was in an accident and is being airlifted to MUSC." I almost had a panic attack myself. "ARE YOU SERIOUS!? HOW CAN YOU TEL ME NOT TO FREAK OUT!" "I am on my way with your dad to go see her, you can ride up later if you want." "LIKE HELL, I'M COMING NOW!" and hung up the phone.

The MOD looked at me, and I burst into tears, "My sister was in an accident, I don't know much but she is being airlifted to MUSC, so it must be bad." She just looked at me and said, "Go. Don't worry, I will cover for you, call me later about tomorrow."

I got in my car and sped the 15 miles home. My cousin had called me on the way home, and wanted to know if I could even remember where MUSC was, I couldn't remember, I was too freaked out, and hoping that my sister would just be okay. He said he would wait for me at home, and I could follow him.

I bust up in my house, yelling for Jeremy to get dressed. He had this habit of letting his phone battery die, so he had no idea what was going on. I threw a pair of pants at him, and changed in record time, while letting him know that Vanessa was in bad shape, and I was going to MUSC, whether he was going, come hell or high water. He said he would go. We took off.

Halfway to Charleston, about Mount Pleasant, I noticed we were almost out of gas. I called my cousin to tell him we needed to stop. Jeremy called to check out account balance, we only had $7 and some change. We agreed we would fill up and let the bank overdraft, getting to Ham was way more important. The gas pump, however disagreed. I ended up calling my friend Christina from California to send me money via Paypal, she is a gem. I love her so much for that. She literally saved us that day.

We get to the hospital, and wait, rather impatiently for more info from the doctors. While waiting, I learn more. My sister, and avid bike rider, was going down the road to the car service station to get air in her bike tire. She had stopped to cross the road, when she got hit by a truck. The driver told the EMS workers that she pulled in front of him. It doesn't make sense, we have been riding our bikes since we were children, playing in the roads, walking to grandma's house. We knew to look both ways 3 times before crossing, so why would she just go?

She was later moved to ICU, and there she stayed for 3 long, endless days. I got to see her that first night for about 5 minutes before Jeremy and I headed back to Georgetown. The nurse barely let me see her, and then watched me like a hawk, just because I asked if I could wake her for a minute to let her know I was there. He had just said she would go right back to sleep, but he still wouldn't leave. Jeremy later told me that the nurse reminded him of the nurses who watched newborns. That he acted like I was going to steal Vanessa away. As if! No offense, but Ham is not a tiny girl. I would have a little trouble trying to move her.

4 days later, she is back home. When she got back home, her boyfriend at the time got the idea to ask the businesses around that area if they had external cameras that might have caught footage of the accident. That was a bit humorous. He is a redneck country boy, in jeans a little too big, a wife beater and a hat. I could understand why they were a bit reluctant with the information. Once he explained, however, about Vanessa, most of them in the area knew her from her waitressing at the diner in the area, they were more than happy to help with the information. 3 businesses later, he found one with footage. A friend took her to Anglers, the gas station, to watch with the manager. They both agreed it was hard to watch. She had no recollection of the accident, which I still think is a blessing.

She was waiting to cross the road, when a car was turning into the car wash, where she was. They stopped and signaled for her to cross, she looked, then proceeded to cross. Out of nowhere, a truck appears and hits her. She flies approximately 12 foot in the air, then hit the pavement. Thinking about this now, still hurts my heart. Then, cars just keep coming. Finally, a good Samaritan stops his car, to stop traffic to keep her from being hit again. The guy in the truck comes back and talks to the EMS folks.

Vanessa later took that video to her lawyer, and it was determined that he was going 75-80 miles per hour, in a 40 MPH zone. He was in the wrong.

Vanessa had suffered some head trauma, that has affected her memory, eyesight and some of her hearing, but I thank my stars that she is still alive. We weren't a very affectionate family growing up, and we didn't say it often, but I love my sister. I wasn't ready for her to go then, anymore than I am ready for her to go now. I am glad she is still here, and that she is a fighter.

I love you, Hammykins. Thank you for not giving up.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sushi for Breakfast

Yes, you read that correctly. Now, before you get excited, Sushi for Breakfast is NOT a meal, but a local band. I first met them when they played at a little dive in Pawley's Island called the Islander Bar & Grill. I fell in a deep like of their musical style, performance and overall attitude. I have since gotten to know the band over the years. They are awesome.