New Blog Site! | Photography

Hi everyone!

I’ve mentioned in my blog posts that I’ve been dating a photographer for over a year now and I’ve received the amazing opportunity to assist him on gigs and occasionally shoot with him. I’ve had some fun (and not so fun) experiences, so i thought – why not turn those stories into a full-blown blog? So that’s what I’ve done! Check out the inaugural post of Life Behind the Camera! I hope you’ll join me there 🙂

P.S., I know I’ve been bad and haven’t written on this blog in awhile – but not to worry, I’ve got some things I’ve been working on that I’ll be posting soon! Thank you all for reading and supporting my blog.

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


Yesterday a great soul left this world. Maya Angelou died at 86.

There are so many famous people throughout history. People who’ve built cities, torn down walls, started wars, and others who brought peace. But there’s something about art and writing that is lasting. I’ve read a handful of quotes by her and each one of them affects me. There’s something about the written word that touches deep inside the spaces of your soul, to places that nothing else can reach. Words echo, resound and stay with you. Artist are immortal in that way. Their voices rise about the rubble, their art conquers time, they’ve distilled truth so plainly and beautifully with the few simple tools they have. Maya Angelou’s voice will echo into the darkness and her voice will bring light to us as it always has. She will still rise.

In memoriam, here are a 10 of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes:

  1. I believe that each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.
  2. You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.
  3. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
  4. You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
  5. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.
  6. Nothing will work unless you do.
  7. You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.
  8. We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.
  9. Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option. (Love this; this quote helped to empower me as I worked through my last break up.)
  10. A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her. (This has been mantra for a long while but only Maya Angelou could articulate it so well.)
Did i miss a good quote? Let me know in the comments below.

 

BreakAway


For months I’d been wrestling with a restlessness. I had a good job, was healthy and living a full-rounded life surrounded by friends and family, and had the unrelenting love of a wonderful man. But still… something stirred inside me.

I felt unfulfilled, uncreative and lonely in trying to understand what it was I was feeling. It wasn’t until I picked up my journals covered in dust and started reading. I went through my computer and clicked through everything I’d ever written, from things that made it into newspapers and articles, to things that I hope to God no other pair of human eyes ever sees. I’d stay up reading Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet” and re-read Joyce’s “Wasteland” to see if this time I’d actually understand it. I was hungry. My creative soul was wanting and it was only revived when it was nourished by moments like these.

I thought about where I was in life, 31, not married, no kids, and a professional track record to be proud of. I could feel myself at another crossroads and again- I had to make a choice. I could either spend the rest of my life in this restlessness or really and truly give my writing a fighting chance.

I decided to do the latter.

When I’d made my decision and made arrangements with my team, I quickly went to the task of writing a letter to the whole company. I wrote it fairly quickly and it sat in my Drafts for a week until I was ready to send it. And though it was tinged with sadness, I felt more joy, fulfillment and creativity in writing that letter than I had in a very long time.

After sending it out, I received very kind notes from people, expressing their shock, disbelief and for some, heartbreak. Some notes were very heartfelt and put me on the brink of tears. I think my favorite notes were from people who complimented the letter and said that I was truly gifted with words. What other sign could I possibly need from the universe?

Without further ado, here’s the letter:

… I want to thank everyone for making this an incredible time for me. In particular, I want to thank the Marketing Team and select individuals who have made this such a memorable experience.

This is a very different company compared to when I joined in 2012. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is the passion, that exists for the product and the mission; all of which couldn’t be possible without the amazing people who champion it. That culture is the very thing that has empowered me to build and grow our Social presence and it has fueled successful marketing campaigns and blitzes like Roominator, Marissa Mayer WFH ‘newsjacking’ and Making Webex your Ex. Going further back, I’ll always have fond memories of the ‘crazy’ marketing campaign that started it at all, Sh*t That Happens On Mute. The birth of these ideas on tops of beanbags, hotel rooms away at tradeshow, and from ping pong tables, allows me to believe that no idea is too crazy- not if you have the will, the talent, and a team that can grind it out.

Thank you for your support, guidance, and encouragement. Truly, it has been an honor.

Wishing you many years of putting passion to work.

Virginette
#V

And here I am now, with the amazing opportunity to put passion to work. I hope you’ll read on and stay with me on this journey! It’s going to be one hell of a ride.

A Slice of Hell

north-beach-by-nightI love Saturday nights in North Beach. Everyone’s out and about, ready to bar hop and have a great time, but there’s always that one couple that ruins it for everybody. You know- that couple that decides to have a full-blown reality TV fight right on the corner of Columbus Ave and Vallejo Street.

Let me tell you the story of Valerie, Andie and Chris. We had the pleasure/misfortune of their company this past weekend when I went out with David and his friends of friends. It was Valerie’s birthday and her best friend Andie had taken her out for day-drinking and now they were continuing the festivities with us, and Andie’s boyfriend, Chris, who drove up from Fremont so that the ladies wouldn’t have to take Bart home.

We had a craving for Tony’s Pizza (if you haven’t had it, you should totally go – it’s like an orgasm for your mouth) so we stopped to get slices. Chris was eyeing the pizza and Valerie offered to buy him a slice, as a thank you for driving all the way out there. He was very shy about it, but she bought him the slices anyway. The slices came in a box and they lay untouched on the table. Valerie insisted he take one, but just as he was about it, his girlfriend, Andie retorted, ‘You better not- you to have to watch your cholesterol.’ This comment wounded Chris and he sat back, empty-handed.

We walked to Grant & Green Saloon, awkwardness in tow, and Valerie decided to chuck the pizza box, since no one was going to eat it and because she didn’t want to walk into the bar with it. At this one gesture, Chris lost his mind. I guess homeboy was really hungry and wanted to secretly take a slice while his girlfriend wasn’t looking, but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He was furious at Valerie for chucking the box and stormed off, without any of us realizing it.

I thought Chris was in the bathroom, but I realized something was off when neither Andie or Valerie refused to have any drinks and both were sniffling in the corner. Turns out, Andie was upset at Valerie for offering the damn pizza because this is what essentially started the whole thing. Valerie didn’t feel like she did anything wrong and was crying that her best friend was turning on her because of a pizza, of all things. Meanwhile, Chris was nowhere to be found, would not pick up his phone and Bart was about to close and somehow these girls had to get home.

We left the bar and walked them to their car, hoping that Chris would be there. Sure enough, there he was sitting in the driver’s seat. The moment Andie saw him, she pounced on the car, opened the door, and started hitting him. I mean, this shit was straight out of Bad Girls club. He refused to move and just sat there, taking her slaps and punches. Meanwhile, Valerie was across the street with us, crying, and in disbelief that such a small and kind gesture turned into this shit show. All she wanted to do was get home to Fremont without being trapped in a car with this crazy fighting couple. She tried making her way to Bart but we stopped her, telling her that it was unsafe for her to go to Bart on her own at that hour, especially with the dress she had on and the rack she was unabashedly displaying (fake set by the way, don’t ask me how I know). We told her that Andie and Chris would calm down and that we just needed to give them time. We looked across the street and things didn’t seem to be getting better. There’d be moments of quiet, where Chris would try to talk to Andie. But then Andie would explode and start hitting him again.

Can you guess how long this ridiculousness went on? Long enough for all of us to lose our buzz and David and I wondered why the hell we were out with these crazy people. Both of us felt bad and well – these weren’t really our friends. They were friends of his friends, so we really had nothing to do with them. But now we all felt personally entangled in their shit and guilty if we walked off. At any rate, the couple finally calmed down, and Valerie felt safe enough to get in the car with them. I can’t tell you how the story ends, so we will have to imagine a happy ending, where Chris gets a pizza and no one gets hurt.

The night was not a total bust – we continued the night and ended up making the most of it. But the dramatic unfolding really got me thinking, why the hell does this kind of shit happen? (Obviously, the consumption of alcohol heightens emotions, but let’s go deeper than that.)

Now, some of you may think I’m turning on my own kind, but just level with me. When girls go HAM on their boyfriends like this in public, with no regard for anyone or anything around them, can you really blame it when guys or society for that matter, think that women are crazy bitches? I mean, if you were walking by a scene like that, tiny Asian girl banging on a big Asian guy with a pizza box laid to waste on the street- wouldn’t you think the same thing?

I got the back story on Andie and Chris and found out that they had been together for 11 years, and just two weeks ago she caught him cheating with her best friend. No, no- not Valerie, some other trifling, backstabbing bitch.

So, although this display of mania was quite extreme, could you blame the girl? To the onlooker it was just about a dumb pizza, but we all know that there’s always more to it than just that. They clearly had a bunch of other shit to work out.

I wish I had some knowledge to impart after this but I really don’t. It was more of a train wreck that I wanted to share. But all joking aside, we have all been that girl. We’ve done something crazy in public because our boyfriends have pushed us to the limit. (I know I’ve thrown water at an ex-boyfriend while at the club.) I guess what I’m saying is, no girl is crazy, just misunderstood. And probably most hurtful of all is that she’s misunderstood by the boy (yes, boy) she’s chosen to love.

The Ice Queen

Bilder von der Polarstern-Expidition ARK XXVII-3 in die zentrale ArktisA couple weeks ago, mom fell and fractured her rib. I was out of town when this happened, so you can imagine my surprise when I came home and saw her walking very rigidly and slowly down the stairs. She finally told me what happened and I wave of guilt came over me. Of course I couldn’t prevent this fall, of course it wasn’t my fault that she didn’t say anything, but I still couldn’t help but feel that way. The minute she told me, I did everything I could to minimize her movement. I reheated her food for her, helped her put her heating pads on, did chores around the house, just anything and everything to make her feel more comfortable.

The next day, I worked from home and my brother, Jr, also came by with my sister in law and their dog to see how she was doing. In all honesty, we really didn’t do much for her. She was able to get around pretty well and the pain meds were starting to kick in. I think the very act of her children being around her, surrounding her with love and support, was enough to give her another kind of healing.

Seeing mom in so fragile a state, it humanized her in a way that I hadn’t seen in a long time. In the last few months, she’s been very vocal about how she doesn’t like how I maintain my relationship with David. She’s under the impression that I spend so much time with him that I’ve lost sight of my priorities. Those exchanges bring out something very ugly in her, and the things that come out of her mouth can be very scathing. But in mom’s current condition of frailty, it’s somehow softened her. She saw how concerned I was, and how I was willing to drop everything for her. She saw and was reminded that no matter what, family will always be first in my eyes.

This past Sunday at church, both she and I were called into spontaneous service. They pulled me from the crowd because they needed another singer, and before Mass, mom was asked to administer the wine for Eucharist because they were short of people. She and I both came to church thinking we would sit together, but we ended up serving instead. I usually never take wine because I honestly think it’s gross, but, it was my mom administering it, so I wanted to support her. (I hope I don’t contract herpes.)

In any case, this whole thing made me smile. Mom and I are so different, but in a lot of ways, I will always be my mother’s daughter. We both seek to serve God by our gifts and help in any way we can. I know they say that you can’t change people, but I have hope for my mom. I know she’s a good person and just needs to learn to communicate better. Last week when I told her I was going up to San Francisco for the weekend to be with David, I was bracing myself for her judgment. Instead she said, “Drive carefully, it’s raining.”

The Other Girl

SignsOfCheatingSpouse

Two of my girlfriends are currently involved in a love triangle. They are enamored with men who are/were in long-term relationships and are in the process of extricating their lives from their (ex) girlfriends. The more I heard about the story of each, I saw myself in both stories and on both sides of it. I saw the 18-year-old girl who hung on to the hope of that special guy breaking up with his awful girlfriend to be with me. I also saw the 24-year-old girl crying and driving recklessly away when she found out that her boyfriend of 3 years was cheating on her.

I’ve played the part of the other girl. It never ends well.

Jason and I met at a time when he was unhappy with his girlfriend. He saw things differently with me and felt emboldened enough to break up with her. In the time that followed were a handful of half-hearted attempts at trying to start a relationship with me. I refused to be anyone’s rebound so I rejected these advances because I knew I deserved more than that. Years later when he’d moved on to other relationships, he still sought me out. To him, I was his friend. I was the only one he could really confide in and the only person who intimately understood him. While these friendly exchanges were nice and a nostalgic reminder of simpler times, I couldn’t help but feel like I was being used. Each time we had an exchange, he would feel better about life, and I was left weary with wanting. It was unfair. I somehow felt he used my friendship to fill the hole that was missing in his current relationship. What did I get out of it?

I don’t know when it happened exactly but one day I decided to stop. I didn’t want to be the other girl anymore. I wanted to be the girl. The only girl. And I knew that was never going to happen with him because he was a coward. I knew I wanted and deserved a man who’d be courageous enough to love me in the light. So I let it go.

Now in hearing my girlfriends’ stories, I also could see myself on the other side- I have also been the ‘awful’ girlfriend. Many years ago, when my relationship with John was coming to its toxic end, he found comfort in another girl. He was spending almost every weekend in Orange County because of all these real estate deals he was getting. In particular, he was spending a lot of time with a girl. One day I was at his work computer and he left his Yahoo Messenger up and I saw a very long and more than flirtatious IM exchange between him and this girl. She was talking about what kind of lingerie she was going to wear the next time she saw him. Needless to say I stormed out of his office and jumped into my truck to leave.

John breathlessly ran after me, trying to figure out what happened and I yelled at him and I told him I knew what he’d been doing. He kept the door open to keep me from going, but I revved off, nearly taking his arm with me.

A few weeks later was his birthday. I did everything I could to make it as romantic as possible to forget the awfulness of everything that had happened. I made lunch from scratch, got wine and a picnic basket and we drove out to Carmel to enjoy the day. While we lay there on the grass he got a call. He picked up and it was her. She was on vacation in the Philippines but she just wanted to call him and wish him a happy birthday. I was livid. The day was done and ruined, as was our relationship. We broke a few months later when he left for the Philippines for good.

Do I regret having broken up with John? Of course not! That was the unhealthiest relationship ever and it gave me the courage to move on and expect more from myself. Was him cheating the reason for our breakup? Not entirely, but his actions certainly didn’t help. My point is, I have been the girlfriend and the other girl in both instances. It never feels good to be either.

I’m not throwing shade at what my friends are doing. I’m no saint and I’ve done things I’m not proud of. Ultimately, I want them to be happy and I hope that I’m wrong and that these turn out to be lasting relationships for them. If I were them, I’d probably be doing the same thing. But I can’t help but have empathy for the girl, while also casting a wary eye on the other girl.

Alternate Reality

Nostalgia_by_SuzyTheButcher

Do you ever wonder what life would be like had you taken another path? Last week I had the opportunity to go back to volunteer at my old elementary school in East Side San Jose. While there, I was very nostalgic but also thought about what my life would have been like if I had stayed in the area.

My co-workers and I were asked to judge a science fair and we were escorted into the cafeteria with all the projects. The cafeteria brought back so many memories-this is where we’d hold our performances and awards ceremonies (and of course eat terrible cafeteria food). I have a vivid memory of learning, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” in the 1st grade and singing it for a crowd of proud parents for a Christmas pageant.

The awards ceremonies every quarter were my favorite. I always made it to Honor Roll and it always made my parents really proud. Those ceremonies were always during the middle of the day, like 10am or 2pm, but either one or both of my parents would always be there to watch me receive it. They must’ve seen me go up there a thousand times, but each time, they couldn’t be prouder and they always had to take pictures with me.

While visiting, I actually had the chance to see my 2nd grade teacher.  The first thing she said to me was, “Do you have your doctorate now?” I chuckled but was also humbled that she thought so highly of me at such a young age.

I thought, what would’ve happened if I stayed in East Side? When I moved over to Catholic school, I quickly realized how different I was. My teacher reprimanded me on my first couple days there because I swore so much. I didn’t even realize I swore that much! Being in East Side made it normal to speak and carry myself in that way. At the time, I still kept in touch with some friends from East Side but I heard that some got into gangs, got pregnant, or simply dropped out of school. I tried my best to maintain these friendships but after awhile, it became clear that I no longer had anything in common with them. I’d gotten ‘out’ of East Side.

Despite all that, I’m grateful for having lived there because I was able to appreciate the sacrifices my parents made to provide more for me. They were very strategic too, and made sure that they moved my life and social sphere away from East Side. Because of that one move, I’ve been privileged to attend some of the best schools, receive a stellar education, and now have a kickass job working for a startup as part of the Silicon Valley technorati. I don’t know if all that would have been possible if I had stayed in East Side.

Giving back to the community, especially to my own school, meant a lot to me. Although they say that East Side has gotten better over the years, it will always make me wary. My family has been the victim of crime and violence a handful of times while we lived there. Our cars have been broken into, property has been stolen, I’ve been harassed, my brother has been shot at for driving and helping a complete stranger (our truck to this day still has bullet holes in it) and worst of all, my uncle was killed by a deranged driver while he was walking at the park close to my house.

Still, growing up in East Side has positively shaped me. Obviously, I tend towards ghetto fabulousness, my first musical loves will always be hip-hop and R&B, and I have a big heart for giving charity to the underprivileged. I think, however, the main facets of someone living in a poor area are to have a little irreverence, a great deal of resilience, and a lot of heart.  I have to thank my parents and my grandma. They did all the heavy lifting. They made it out of East Side. Me? I’m just here making them proud.