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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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 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.

Whore

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My mother called me a whore.

A few weeks back mom and I engaged in a formidable text war over the course of a couple hours. Ah, text – the passive aggressive medium. I should’ve known not to fall prey to her manipulation. I can’t help it. She’s my mother and as her child, there’s a constant and unrelenting need for me to feel loved and accepted. But in choosing to engage with her, I incurred her wrath and the subsequent name-calling.

It hurt.

In so many words, she accused me of spending too much time with David and used the adage, “why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free.” She thinks that I am way too giving of myself. She believes this is my fatal flaw and that I will inevitably smother David (like I smother all my boyfriends) and that in the end he will be driven to abandon me.

She’s absolutely right. I am too giving, too loving, just clearly too much with the man I love and adore. This is the reason why my friends and family love me, so why can’t you love and accept me like they do? But in her mind, this is the reason why significant others have left me. Some have abused that love and some have downright taken it for granted. Mom is right – who’s to say that David wouldn’t do the same thing?

I don’t know what the future will hold. And I understand that she’s just trying to protect me. But I cannot change who I am. This is how I operate. I’m confident in who I am and I’m putting faith in David and in our relationship. The man who deserves me is someone who will always want to be around me and cherish every moment we have together.

Yes, I am too giving to a fault. If this is what it means to be a whore, then I’m guilty.

Top 10 Reasons I’m Happy to be Thirty-One

at-peaceToday is my 31st birthday. If it were any other point in my life, I’d probably lament this fact. But no, I am rejoicing in my ‘seasoned’ age. My journey this past year was difficult, but God has been kind. To that end, I’ve made the following list of the Top 10 Reasons I’m Happy to be Thirty-One.

1) I’m not 21 anymore. I don’t make stupid mistakes with alcohol, my money or with men.

2) I have the means to enjoy life. I can pay for a vacation getaway or I can treat myself to a nice dinner without asking for help.

3) I have a kickass job. It took a long time to get here.. from odd job to odd job, to working for free, working in shitty retail and working in corporate enslavement. I’ve paid my dues and am reaping the benefit of my craft.

4) I know who my friends are. Not the ones on Facebook- the ones who pick you up while you lie in your own vomit and answer your phone call when you’re weeping incoherently.

5) I won’t take crap from anyone. I recognize the disingenuous, the selfish and the unkind and I will not tolerate any of that in my life.

6) I know when to ask for help. I’m not Super Woman. I can be fragile and vulnerable. I recognize those moments and know how to get through it. This is where strength and courage are born.

7) I know God is real. I don’t wonder about the direction of my life or what my purpose is. I do the things that make me happy because I know that’s what God wants for me.

8) I know love. I’ve been through the grind enough times to see a good and genuine man when I see one.

9) I value my health. I know I’m not going to live forever. I take care of myself to ensure that I can be here for as long as God lets me.

10) I know what I want. No more quarter life crises and existential quandaries to wade through. I want to be happy. I want a life fulfilled by art and creativity. I want a man who will love me and climb over my walls of self-doubt to relentlessly remind me of how strong and amazing I am and how far I’ve come. I want to serve God by my craft and contribute to this world by being the best human being I can possibly be.

I’m happy about my birthday. It will be the launching point to bigger and better.

One Day, One Year

one_dayAnd just like clockwork, Cristern stayed true to his promise: He texted me on the eve of the 1 year anniversary of when we broke up. He was texting to ask if we could meet. Some context: Around this time last year, I had become obsessed with the book and film, One Day. The novel tells the story of two main characters who fall in and out of love throughout the years; through marriage, divorce, children, the two remain friends and stay in touch. And no matter where they were in their respective lives, married, single, on the other side of the world, or right across town, they made a pact that once a year on July 15th, they would somehow get together and meet. September 27th was me and Cristern’s One Day.

The night of my breakup, Cristern made me the very first promise he ever made in our 3.5+ year relationship. He promised that in one year, he would contact me. I believe my reaction to this proposition was, “You’ve gotta be fuckin’ kiddin me. You get romantic on me NOW?’ I asked him what was supposed to happen on this supposed One Day and he said we’d meet and ya know… see how things would go. Bullshit. I wasn’t going to plan my life around a desperation move. This was a ploy so that he could always keep me as an option. Well I certainly refuse to be anyone’s option.

When I received the text, I looked at it for a moment to let it soak in. I was baffled but also not surprised. Baffled, because he still had the audacity to contact me after all the shit he pulled, but also not surprised because he’s been playing the part of a bleeding martyr. To his credit, the text was very nonchalant (or at least trying to be):

“I don’t know if you remember but we wanted to meet up after a year. Well that day is tomorrow. Still wanna meet?”

I have to laugh when I read it. It kinda gives off that hey ya, I’m a cool guy and I totally got this. When in reality, it actually reads more like a coward coming back with his tail between his legs. I felt sorry for him. Clearly, nothing had changed. But I have to give him kudos – how was a text like that supposed to read without sounding too desperate? I don’t even know how I would begin to write something like that. Oh wait, I would NEVER do that because I don’t believe in tethering someone to such a stupid and selfish promise.

When we initially broke up, and then when I got together with David, there was always a part of me that said I would meet up with him. Mostly, just to be kind and get my books back. But then I took a step back and thought long and hard about the real function of that day. That day was for him- not me.  It was a status check to evaluate whether or not I was dateable in his eyes. It was to see if I had changed and had gotten better.

Sorry buddy, I’m still the same- and I kinda like it that way.

I am of course human and do feel bad about not replying. But really, who would I be helping if I did that? He needs to move on and no one can help him on that journey. He has to own it and want it.

I believe in prayer and believe that any good thought is like energy and it can travel anywhere and reach the person you’re praying for. That night before I went to bed, I prayed to him and for him: “I hope you forgive me, like I forgive you.”

There is nothing left to say after that. Maybe one day he’ll understand.

Love Me, Tinder

tinder-app

Now that my grade A loins are off the market, I thought I’d share with everyone how David and I met. In the past I was averted by the thought of online dating because I felt it had a stigma (read: desperate quality to it.) But given my crazy work schedule, the fact that all my friends were either married or paired off, and the bar scene was getting really old really quick – I was up for anything. We live in an online and app age anyway. If you can order a ride through Uber and order food through Seamless, it should stand to reason that I could order a man, right?

It’s not to say this process was an easy one.

I first tried my hand at eHarmony. Those commercials are always so convincing, with blissfully happy couples that prompt you to “Try it Free today!” in between my Sex and the City marathons on Style channel and self-loathing on a Saturday night. So, sometime around the New Year when most people resolve to have a relationship (I don’t know how you resolve to find someone), they baited me with a bargain deal. They have you pay everything upfront, so that’s how they get you, and I believe I got the 6-month deal.

Of my time as an eHarmony member, I got 1 date. (I’m not sure if this is normal, but I will say that I’m very picky.) Donny was an interesting character. We had a couple exchanges via the platform and I gave my phone number through there prior to our meet to make arrangements easier. Note- he strictly kept to the EH platform, this should have been my first clue that he was a serial dater.

We met at Starbucks, had what I thought was a lovely time and even asked to hug me when we parted ways. He was athletic, driven, and seemed to be an all around nice guy. A week later I hadn’t heard from him and I decided to test the waters and drop him an EH note. He wrote back in an exasperated tone that said he sent me a note right after our date but it somehow it didn’t go through.

I call bullshit. Really, Donny? The internet broke?? I dropped this right away and knew I should stop wasting my time with this one. And I could never take anyone seriously who had a first name like that. I’d be thinking about New Kids on the Block too much. I think my favorite part about EH were the corny emails on dating advice, like how to pick someone up at church. “Hey baby, is this pew taken?”

There was another potential guy who seemed nice enough but he was all the way down in Orange County. He said that once a year he takes a trip to the Bay and maybe then we could meet. For a while we’d have these fun exchanges but now, I think it’s just awkward to have him as my Facebook friend. #oops.

I’d heard of a couple friends on Ok Cupid, but their stories were always so horrific that I just didn’t want to bother. One of my friends said one of her first dates was at Chipotle. Chipotle.

A co-worker of mine told me a about a group dating website called Grouper. Basically, you sign up and write down your generic interests and you get to bring along 2 of your other friends. When you show up to the venue, you meet up with 3 other guys, with whom you have no idea who was your actual “match.” It sorta takes off the pressure of one-on-one dating. From what I hear, the venue strikes a deal with Grouper so that the first round of drinks is paid for- not a bad gig. I signed up for it ages ago and forewarned some girlfriends about it, but I never got a match! Again- they must know how picky I am.

My co-worker told me that she had a good time with her group, but didn’t see any potential with the guys that were there. Her friends did though, so that was a good thing. However, there is potential for this sort of thing to go awry. She told me that she saw another group that was also doing Grouper and both guys and girls were deathly quiet. Neither the guys or girls were very social, so it was just awkward and uncomfortable. My co-worker even said that their group tried to buy them more drinks so that they’d loosen up. Ah well, I guess this platform is for the extroverts.

And now, we move on to Tinder. My co-worker walked in one day and made a beeline for my desk. She asked me if I’d heard of it and she immediately told me to download the app on my phone. Let’s just say that it was a good thing it was a Friday, because both our phones were buzzing with notifications throughout the whole day. I will use her words: “It’s exhausting being this pretty.” 😉

So, Tinder. You sign up through your Facebook profile and it pulls pictures, interests and your friends list. You manage your settings by indicating what gender you want, age range, and here’s the brilliant part – mile radius. And then you’re free to swipe away. You get a series of photos of guys in your area and you swipe right if you like, swipe left if you don’t. As you swipe to the right, the platform puts your profile at the top of those guy’s queues, so that you’ll be among the first people that he would review. If both of you swipe right, then you’re considered a match! That’s when you can actually initiate chat and voila – let the hot mess begin.

I was on Tinder for about 3 weeks before meeting David. But before that, I had an interesting time with ‘matches.’ I will say that if I shared a mutual friend with a guy, I’d do my due diligence and ask that friend if that guy was good material. I’ve actually stopped talking to a guy because of these reasons, “Um, I think he’s shorter than you, Virg” or “girl, you can do soo much better.” Well done, friends – good lookin’ out.

In early June, I swiped right on David and we became a virtual match, and not too long after a flesh and blood real match.

Now I have a handful of friends who are on Tinder and have their fair share of stories. I have one friend who doesn’t have Facebook, so she uses one of our mutual friend’s Facebook to get on Tinder. Now it’s just awkward because she’s a girl and he’s a guy, so I don’t even know how that works.

At any rate- this whole setup has its flaws. I had another friend who came across a straight up profile pic of his dick. What the heck man?? This isn’t SnapChat! Needless to say she swiped left. But on a for real note- this platform is a hookup device. It’s fast and simple to get set up and it’s geo-calibrated for crying out loud.

When Tinder first arrived on the scene, some students at the Brigham Young University ran an experiment. They set up a fake Facebook account and a profile pic of the Miss Teen USA. These students swiped right to every single guy it came across – and of course, because she was beautiful, every single guy swiped right as well. With 250 matches, the students sent each of the guys a note to meet her at 9pm at a local frozen yogurt place. Lo and behold, there was a sea of men waiting at that frozen yogurt place and even spilling out into the parking lot. When the jig was up and she didn’t show, they of course went back to Tinder to message her and they all got the same message: “Social media experiment.”

So why do they call it Tinder? Like a tinderbox, it’s all the materials you need to take a small flame and turn it into a big fire. And that’s exactly what it’s been for me and David. From what he tells me, he waited 10 minutes to message me so he wouldn’t sound too eager (because 10 minutes would be the real world guy equivalent of 3 days?) It was funny because I was messaging him while I was in a wedding, and he was photographing a wedding.

We made plans to meet up for brunch the next day after our respective weddings, but then I got a distraught text from him early the next morning, asking if he could call me. (Mind you, we had been tindering for less than 48 hours at this point.) I got my sexy morning voice ready and braced myself. He called, extremely apologetic, saying that he just got out of the emergency room. On his way home the night before, he had been mugged and got a gnarly gun butt to his right eye. While he lay in the ER, all he could think about was “Shit, I’m going to miss brunch with this girl.” Now, this is a pretty crazy story, so sure- I was going to pull the BS flag. But the fact that he called me and went through lengths to schedule our next meet, made me think otherwise.

The next day I was scheduled to leave for Orlando for a week for work and that whole time I was away, David and I were texting. I even called him drunkenly twice and we had 2+ hour-long conversations that made me feel like I was in high school again. We officially met a week later, at my house (cray, I know), where he showed up with a beautiful bouquet of lilies (my favorite flower), a bruised right eye, and a huge smile. The rest is history. 🙂

While online dating can be fun- I can tell you that I do not miss it! What are your online dating successes and pitfalls? As you swipe, please be equipped with this bible for Tindering, of which the first rule is: Be good looking.

Aside: From what I understand, this iteration is the straight version of Grindr. The gays are always quick and smarter about these things. Also, some cute Tinder taglines I came across:

“Swipe right.”

“Love me, Tinder.”

“Looking for my Tinderella.” (eh?)