Thoughts on a Monday

The last 45 days have been a melting pot of all kinds of thoughts in my head.  Evaluating my current state, past choices, career, personal philosophies, etc, etc.  

In the last 45 days, I’ve hit a personal wall in terms of what I want my career to be.  Photography is a world I love…but, I think to myself:  “So many amazing artists out there…where do I fit in?”

Perhaps it’s a question that I shouldn’t be asking.  Perhaps the real question is, “How can I make myself fit in?”

I used to take pictures of anyone and everyone when I first got my Point & Shoot camera.  If it fit in my frame, I would shoot it.  And people I knew loved my work!!  When I bought my 5D, I was super hyped and motivated to start shooting more seriously, and I did for the first couple of months. 

Then something happened, I began assisting. And a whole new world and endless levels of skills were unveiled to me.  I almost immediately became insecure…I felt that because I hadn’t studied Photography for a grade and diploma, and because I wasn’t familiar with all  the greats of photography, there was no way I could produce images worth looking at.

Also, I felt the pressure of following my early “success.”  My friends were all very supportive, but I had this drive that I had to produce top-quality work…especially since I now had “pro-grade” gear. 

Maybe I’m just over thinking.   It’s obvious that I was and have been over thinking, as I usually do.

As of now, I realize the amazing position I’m in with assisting Kat and having contact with amazing artists and people.  Why I don’t take advantage to grow from this opportunity, I don’t know.  But I know I have to.  I cannot be an assistant forever.  I have to shoot on my own.

Am I lazy?  Am I still scared and insecure?  Doesn’t really matter.  The truth is, all I really need is to just DO.  

I feel I become more confused the more I try to make sense out of how I got here.  Well, it’s not so much the “how” but the “why” I got here.  Again, over thinking.

On the flip side, these last 45 days have brought me some really cool shit.  I was able to befriend an artist who I have been a fan of since ’09.  I also got the opportunity to assist a photographer from Australia (Zanita), who’s work I had been following for a few months now.  It was surreal meeting and working with someone I’m a fan of…awesome, but surreal.  I only assisted for about 4 hours, but that entire day is just one big blur in my mind.

Also, someone from my recent past made a return, waving the friendly flag.  I still haven’t yet decided whether I want this person around or not.  But I imagine if the thought of this person causes me to become angry…they’re gonna have to go.

Just some thoughts I needed to get out. 


Rebirth/Unpause pt. 2

(Part 1 is down below)

August 3, 1996

Saturday morning,  typically I would visit Lisa in the afternoons but today was a special case because she was heading to Mexico after church for 3 weeks with her family.  So I wanted to catch her and wish her a safe trip.

I was sitting outside on a low wall that runs along the side of the church.  Lisa came out to greet me as usual.  We sat, talked and laughed like we always did.  She wore an “interesting” (ugly) pink dress, I wore slacks and a dress shirt.  She made fun of my jaw, I made fun of her braces.

In our conversation that day she mentioned that her parents wanted her to move to Mexico to study at Montemorelos.   And since one of our best friends was moving over there that same weekend, Lisa told me that she was thinking about it.   Of course, I voted against her moving because 1) I didn’t want her to go and 2) I was transferring to her school (San Gabriel Academy) to be near her.  But, what could I do?  It was ultimately her and her parents decision whether she’d stay in Mexico or come back.

She also briefly mentioned that her mom had taken a liking to me after a brief encounter we had 2-3 weeks prior.  Her dad, not so much.  Mainly because she was his only daughter.

After about 15 minutes of sitting outside and talking, she had to go back inside before her parents came out looking for her.  She gave me a kiss and said, “I’ll see you in 3 weeks.”

I clearly remember watching her walk away.  I wanted to fill my eyes with her as much as I could.  I wanted so badly to run up behind her and give her a big squeeze, but I didn’t.  I just sat there.  The thought of not seeing her for a month seemed like an eternity.  I even thought to myself, “She’ll be back soon.  It’s not like you’re never gonna see her again.”…funny now that I think about it.

August 22, 1996:  Thursday

I get a call – it’s LISA!!!!!   She’s still in Mexico and she’s decided to come back to L.A.   She tells me how much she misses me and how excited she is that we’ll be going to the same school.   She can’t talk for long because international calls are crazy expensive, but she wanted to hear my voice and tell me the good news of her return.

Me:  I can’t wait to see you!

Lisa:  Me either!  I can’t believe we’re gonna be going to the same school!

I could hear her smile

Me:  So when are you guys getting back?

Lisa:  We’re gonna be back hopefully by Wednesday night/Thursday morning.  So I might just head straight to school.

Me:  Cool!

Lisa:  I have to go, I only got a 5 minute card cuz my dad didn’t wanna give me money.  I love you and I’ll see you next week!!

Me:  I love you too!  See you next week.

August 28, 1996:  Wednesday

That night….that night I went to bed excited.  Excited because I was finally going to see my girl the next morning….and attend the same school.  I was finally gonna be able to hold her hand without having to duck or look over my shoulder.  And I wouldn’t have to wait for the weekend anymore to be able to see her.  That night, I slept peacefully.

To be continued…


***July, 1996:  Sitting at the front steps with Lisa…no one else.   Lisa’s mom walks around the corner and finds us talking….Lisa’s mom is eating an ice cream cone.

Mom:  Que estan haciendo aqui solitos?  Porque no se van alla a jugar con los demas?  (What are you doing here by yourselves?  Why don’t you go to the back to play with everyone else?)

Lisa:  Mooomm!  Go away!  (giggles)

Mom:  Bueno es que se ve mal que ustedes anden aqui solitos.  Ya sabes como es tu papa, mija.  (Well, it looks bad for you two to be here alone.  You know how your dad is.)

Lisa:  (with a big smile and a slight giggle) Mooom!  Shut up!

Mom:  (while eating her ice cream)  Miguel, te ha dicho Lisa que ella no tiene permiso de tener novio?   (Miguel, has Lisa told you that she’s not allowed to have a boyfriend?)

Me:  Uuuhhh….( I look at Lisa)

Mom:  Su papa no le ha dado permiso de tener novio todavia.   Pero yo se que ustedes se aprecian mucho.  Si ustedes quieren ser “amiguitos especiales”, yo los apollo y puedo hablar con el papa de Lisa.  Ella esta muy chica para tener novio, pero un amiguito especial no tiene nada de malo.  (Her father hasn’t given her permission to have a boyfriend yet.  But I know you two like each very much.  If you two want to be “special friends”, I’m okay with that and I can talk to Lisa’s dad about it.  She’s too young to have a boyfriend, but there’s nothing wrong with a special friend.)

Lisa:  Oh my God, mom!  How embarrassing!  Don’t listen to her, Mike.

Me:  Esta bien, senora.  (I was scared shitless, her mom always looked so mean.  And in almost 9 months, she had never spoken to me)

Lisa:  Mike, shut up!  Mom, stop it!  (she was red in embarrassment)

Me:  (to Lisa)  Don’t be embarrassed.  I want your parents to like me.  And if your dad knows we are alone, he’ll get pissed.

Mom:  Ya vez, Lisa.  Vallanse para tras con los demas para que su papa no piense mal y senoje.  Y yo voy a hablar con el por ustedes.   (You see, Lisa.  Go to the back with everyone else so Lisa’s dad doesn’t get the wrong idea and get mad.  I’ll talk to him for you two.)

Lisa and I got up and walked with her mom to the back where everyone else was hanging out, very much against Lisa’s will.   Her mom turned to me and said, “Gracias, Miguel.”, kept eating her ice cream and went on her way.

Rebirth/Unpause pt. 1

How could my Lisa experience have such a huge effect on me if I was only 16 when it all happened?  What could I possibly know about love back then?   Well…Let’s head back in time…

I remember the night we met….I visited her church for some kid’s soccer tournament.  I reunited with my friends Perla and Rocio for the first time since Junior High.  I remember after the hugs and smiles, my friend Rocio turned to me and almost in passing said, “Oh yeah.  Mike, this is Lisa.  Lisa, Mike.”  I shook Lisa’s hand…and thought absolutely NOTHING of it.

That same evening I was waiting in a hallway while Rocio and Perla were at some youth faculty meeting.  Lisa was sitting right next to me, also waiting….there was nobody else.  I didn’t have the slightest interest in speaking to her, but there was a deafening silence in that hallway and it was getting really awkward just sitting there next to her and not saying a damn thing to each other.  So, I made some small talk.  Very awkward small talk.  But enough to break the ice – somewhat.   That evening ended uneventfully.

In the 5 weeks that followed, however,  Lisa and I developed a really strong friendship.  Every Saturday night we would sit on the low wall by the parking entrance, laugh at and make fun of people, try to be cupids with our friends, and just talk.  What we would talk about I can’t remember…but we were never not laughing.  In 5 weeks we went from awkward small talk to almost being inseparable when I’d visit.

For my birthday, 7 weeks after meeting, we were at the Convention Center in L.A. for a huge church rally of some kind.   As per usual we were running around the place looking for mischief to cause.  I can recall us running around an empty side of the building and turning into a corner that led to an emergency exit.  We paused, and I remember seeing her check back around the corner, making sure the coast was clear, turning towards me, slowly walking right up to me, leaning over on her tippy toes (she was 5’1″) and giving me the biggest kiss I had gotten up to that point in my life.  My only thought, “It’s about fucking time!”

From that day on and for the next 9 months, I was at her church every Saturday.  There wasn’t anything we wouldn’t do to get to hangout.  You must understand how tricky this was because at 14, she wasn’t allowed to have a “Boyfriend.”   Yet, she’d manage to “go to the bathroom” for 15 minutes during the sermon.  She would “convince” her parents that she was going to the White Memorial Church a block away, but actually meeting me at the Hospital Cafeteria.   I remember we would sneak off to this park that was about 2 blocks from her church.  As soon as we cleared any view from the church, she would quickly grab my hand and give me the biggest smile.  I loved her braces.  We would sit under this one particular tree in the park, she’d sit between my legs, lean on me and we would just talk for hours on end until one of her friends would come running like a lunatic, gasping for air, to tell us that Lisa’s parents had been looking for her for the last 20 minutes.  It was awesome!!!

From my end, getting to see her was tricky because I didn’t have a car and I had no money whatsoever.  I remember standing at the bus stop on Broadway and 4th in Downtown after going to see her.  This was way before the Downtown Renaissance.   Before it was trendy and had all kinds of clubs,  lounges and overpriced studio apartments at every corner.  Back in 1996, standing in Downtown LA at midnight was pretty dangerous.  Hell, I remember waiting at the bus stop on Broadway and Manchester after going to see her….that place is still fucked up to this day.

Most of my moments with Lisa are now just blurred memories.  Even her face is blurry in my mind.   But I do remember a feeling of bliss every time we got to be together.  What made it all so beautiful for us was that at 14 and 16, we didn’t know anything about heartbreak.  We weren’t afraid to be ourselves and express our affection for each other.  There were no hidden agendas.  No games.  No pride or egos.  Just two kids who wanted to be together.   She wasn’t the prettiest, but every time I would look at her, my God, I didn’t want to look at anyone else.

What did I know about love?  Not much compared to what I know now, I’m sure.  But what little I did know, I felt 100% for her.  That’s why my experience with her has left such a lasting impression.  It was pure.  It was innocent.  It was total and unadulterated.  Without fear or games.  It just was.

Then came August 3rd.

To be continued…


What motivates you?   A positive mind?  Positive feedback?  The support of the people you love?  Seeing gains and progress?


Mental torment, frustration and pure anger are just as valid and just as powerful in my book.   And after all these years,  I’m fucking furious.

Look up to you

You are my hero.

Forgive me for not being strong enough to be your’s when you needed me. Forgive me for trying to break your spirit.

Thank you – you showed me, you taught me what it is to be a true MAN…and you still love me.

Your strength gave hope to my once fading soul.

You’ve seen, heard, and probably done things that I could never find the grit to.

You are stubborn, you are impossible to reason with at times and you are an asshole, definitely. But you are unafraid to be yourself no matter who may be watching or even judging. You make us laugh, you dance when something has gone your way, and you still make sound effects when you play with your toy planes. You remind me that there is always purpose to keep breathing.

I look up to YOU now…and I am happy and PROUD to call you my brother.

You are my hero.


Preview Trailer

“Don’t feel bad, bro…But you know what you are?  You’re a (movie) trailer.  All you do is show the preview on how badass it’s gonna be…but we’ve all been waiting to see the movie!!”  – J.M.

Ive never been called a Preview trailer before…