My roommate and I walked into Starbucks on a quiet evening. As we walked up to order, one of the guys studying waved hello. He’d bulled the heck out of me during a previous class and I’d chosen to remain aggravated. Nevertheless, a polite nod was returned in acknowledgement. We ordered, sat down and I started drawing in my sketchbook.

All of the sudden, the young man was standing by my side.

“How dare you come in and not say hi!!?”

My roommate and I stared back up in confusion. Some more loud interactions and a couple expletives later both of them where somehow discussing Pixar’s “UP”.

“I  (insert explicit language here) hate UP!” he said.

“What!? You are a horrible human being!” she retorted.

The rest of Starbucks glanced at the developing drama with a little more than mere annoyance. The young man grabbed my sketchbook .

“What is this? You draw in it like everyday.” He  leafed through it. “You must have so much (insert explicit language here) time.”

“I get bored.”

“See that’s what happens when you (insert explicit language here) study something like film. You have too much (insert explicit language here) time.”

“Common’ don’t you get bored in class or church?

“I don’t really go to church.”


 A couple weeks, several more interactions insulting my major (and what my Austrian friend called ‘a bold confession of interest’) later – I sat in worship with with fellow students. Topic of discussion was tough; does God answer prayer and if so, why doesn’t he always intervene? Towards the end, we watched a short film involving a car accident and a pastor talking about the matter. The idea of human loss hung in a cloud over my head for the rest of the day.

Church didn’t help much either. Eyes widened as I entered through the double doors. Balloons. So many Balloons!  Enough to question whether the design team had recycled all the red ones from  Carl’s home in UP.  For some reason, probably due to all the references, there was an whelming feeling that death ‘was near’.  Foreshadowing (a film technique), seriously!

In an attempt to comfort, I responded by drawing :Drawing Up

Unfortunately, during the announcements fears were confirmed as we were informed that someone was being treated in ICU after being pulled from an intense car accident.

And then… this … utter shock and disbelief. A young woman from a nearby congregation passed away during the birth of her child a some hours earlier!

To make matters worse, the pastor’s sermon happened to also be themed on death. Normally it would have been funny – but saying something along the lines of:

Which story line would you prefer?… a young couple married, they had kids… then they died. Or a woman liked a man but he got married to a different girl… then they died. (Inset more scenarios in which everyone dies).

Everybody dies! *nerves chuckling*. “

It was not funny. I closed my sketchbook in absolute horror and even considered the possibility of returning to my room for a nap. It was (and I will say this honestly) lust that kept me through the rest of the service. Lust over the hundreds of red little balloons.

True to my expectations, at the end of the service the children ran up to the stage and received balloons in bunches of ones, twos and threes.

“Are you trying to get rid of all of them?”

“Yes, did you want them?”

I explained a sudden revelation for a  photoshoot. Fortunately, they decided not to give me the rest of the balloons. I walked out with about thirty while surely hundreds continued swirl around the interior of the building. Thirty was enough, it was an amusing struggle to get them back into the dorm!


 Eyes fluttered open. The room was dark. (wanted to insert explicit language here). I stumbled over to check for any new messages but there were none.


At least an hour later my model and I ran outside. She had also fallen asleep. TG for ‘days of rest’ though!

There was not a speck of heavenly light on the horizon. We walked nervously towards the nearest source of light. My tripod has been missing for a few weeks. It was gonna be hand held or nothing. That kinda worked. Those first couple of images exposed some serious shake. Eventually, we leaned the camera on the ground and that did the trick.

UP.And that is how this photoshoot came about. Weird huh? A beautiful result to a spontaneous decision.


With a heavy heart, I’d like to note that baby Lennon, passed away earlier this week. He’s story is one that has reached many homes in America and across the globe. The Huffington PostBuzzfeed, the UK’s DailyMail (just to name a few) have all featured it. Even though I can’t specifically remember meeting them, the news has deeply touched me. My heart goes out to his family as they go through this rough time.

One thought on “UP

  1. Wow! What an eerie set of circumstances. The loss of the mom and baby is so sad, and premonitions leave you feeling so strange. Film is a great major (don’t let anyone lead you to believe otherwise), and the photo series that came out this strange episode is wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

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