People, Photography

A Pocket Full of 2015


 

Life is always changing somehow. It’s hard to look back and really remember times that were uneventful.

And although this year was challenging in a lot of ways, it was also rewarding to have lived through it all.


 

I tried not live in fear of the future and mistakes. To instead look forward and jump toward opportunities.

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I remembered to smile around people more often.

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I aimed to be more giving.

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I spent a lot more time around children and they really remind me what it’s like to be fearless.

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And goofy.

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And to ask for what you want.

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And to be unapologetically you.

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Kids have so much energy.

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When kids are really happy it’s hard not to smile around them.

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I found some adults could be like that, too.

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I saw people be really caring this year despite the seemingly unending tragedies.

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I learned that the best new year’s resolution is to try to always be nice to people.

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Because everyone had some challenging part of the year.

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And instead of looking back.

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We should start to look forward.

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Happy New Year.

 

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People

I love air shows


One of the oddest and most wonderful experiences I’ve had since moving to California two and a half years ago is attending air shows.

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They’re usually at a brewery and the scenery is breathtaking.

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There is literally love in the air.

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When I try to explain air shows to my friends I describe them as an airplane ballet.

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But it can almost be like watching an artist create a masterpiece.

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Making photos at an air show is rewarding.

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Even when your friends steal your camera for a bit.

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This one was my favorite. I always strive to go unseen and capture what I see. Usually, it doesn’t work out because my subjects see my camera first. But here, my shutter met her gaze.

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People

How spring break gave me an open mind


My cousins came to visit me this past week during their spring break. They brought the ghost of college past with them and I’m still trying to kick it out.

My cousin is 18 and she is my pride and joy. I have a very special bond with all of my cousins but she is the closest woman in age and proximity to me so we relate to each other the most. She’s also the one who comes to me the most for advice.

She brought three friends with her from college and the conversations they had catapulted me to when I was in college. They would huddle in my car as I chauffeured them to their next tourist destination. As they became more comfortable with me they would talk about their lives. I found myself wanting to interject so many times. Most of the time, I just wanted to scream, “None of this is going to matter next year so stop worrying about it!” But I’m sure someone told me that at their age and I didn’t listen so why would they. I remember thinking I knew everything at 18 and I was incredibly complicated.

My cousins can tell you I’ve plagued them with unsolicited lectures their entire lives. I would talk to them about everything from work, school, sex, drugs, relationships, death, love, and sacrifice.

A lot of the lectures stemmed from little life lessons I learned and mistakes I made that I wanted them to avoid. After finishing college and joining the workforce I slowly stumbled into bigger regrets. I know I’m not special in having regrets about college years, but it’s terrifying thinking about them and then wondering if you’re making making mistakes now that you’re going to regret later.

We’ve all had that moment where we’ve wished someone would drop out of the sky and tell us what’s really going to matter in five years. Some people say you should never regret anything because at one point in your life it was something you wanted. Others think if you just say yes to every opportunity you’ll never regret anything.

My other cousin who came to visit is 22. He brought his girlfriend of almost a year. He’s like a brother to me, but I stopped lecturing him early in life because he has a strong personality that cannot be stirred by anyone. It took me a long time to learn that he was always going to be too proud to accept help from me. Unfortunately, this isn’t an anomaly in my family and it shouldn’t have taken me that long to recognize I was looking in a mirror.

The more I reflected on my cousins’ youth the more I saw how I wasn’t much different at that age. A lot of the posts I write might sound like I’m giving unsolicited advice, but they’re just meant to be a retelling of experiences. Your experiences can feel lonely when it seems like no one around you is going through the same thing. When I write I hope someone can relate. It never occurred to me that maybe someone could drop out of the sky and tell me what’s going to matter in five years.

An older friend serendipitously sent me a message about my previous post with the perspective of age at the exact time I was mulling over the idea for this post. He had the same experience reading what I wrote that I had listening to my cousins. He remembered having the thoughts I had and feeling the way I felt, but he also explained how those feelings would change as he got older and learned what really mattered.

When I was 18 or even 22, I probably would have rolled my eyes and thought, “There’s no way this person knows how I’m going to feel in the future. We’re so different.” But with the perspective of age I know that it’s not just possible but probable.

Maybe in another ten years I’ll go back to thinking I know everything but for now, please send me your unsolicited advice.

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People

Why you should say “I’m sorry” less


I had trouble deciding what to write about this week since last week was so heavy. I’m glad I wrote that post but I regret not have a transition plan. You can’t exactly go from writing about death to writing about silly, irrational fears. My instinct was to apologize for not posting this Monday and thankfully that sparked the following.

Women are more apologetic than men, studies say. We’re always the first to say excuse me or pardon me or I’m sorry. After reading about this, I started to notice when I say I’m sorry and it turns out it’s all the time.

When someone bumps into me I say sorry, but I notice the other person doesn’t always say sorry. We all know there are entitled people in the world who wouldn’t know how to form an apology if it came up through their bidet. I want to stop fueling the idea the that I should be the one that’s sorry.

Another thing I apologize for is when someone else is being unclear. This happens a lot through email, but it happens in person too. Through email is the best because when you read back through the email chain you can see when it dawns on the person that they were completely wrong. Instead of trying to apologize, however, they just get defensive, aggressive or pretend like whatever it is they need to get done is too urgent to discuss what was or wasn’t said previously. I normally apologize to these people because that’s what they seem to be looking for based on their reaction. I get it. It’s hard admitting your mistakes. That’s why it’s called a virtue. I’m going to stop apologizing to these people not just because I want them to own up to their mistakes and be better people, but also because I’m competent. I am a competent person and there’s no reason I should downplay that for someone else’s feelings, especially in the workplace where perception is 95 percent of the job. The other 5 percent is how often you bring in donuts for everyone.

Something else I apologize for is being unusual. Sometimes I make really corny jokes or I laugh too loud and snort or I lick my fingers in a restaurant because the steak is that good and I’m done apologizing. Just because you don’t get how funny I am doesn’t mean I should apologize for it. There are some people I really look up to because they’re unapologetically themselves. This is the right attitude. Life is too short to try to make up for who you are.

I read another study recently about how much room men take up in a space. I know this sounds like it’s a men against women piece, but I’m using these studies as a diving board to talk about jerks of all shapes and sizes, women included.

I take public transportation every single day. Regularly, I see people with their bags in the aisle or in the seat next to them. I see people cackling away on the phone or with their legs stretched out on the seat in front of them. Whenever I have to walk over someone’s legs or ask someone to move their stuff, I tend to apologize as if I’m an inconvenience. Maybe I am an inconvenience but that’s what shared services is about. It’s about sharing. Yesterday, there was a guy sleeping in one of the seats that has a table. There are two seats on either side of the table. I needed to use the table and there weren’t any others open so I sat down across from him. I realized his legs were completely stretched sideways under the table. Not in front of him, but all the way across so that no one could have occupied any of the other three seats around the table. So I kicked him. And you know what? It was fine. He moved his legs. I didn’t say sorry and it felt great. Sometimes people just need a little kick.

I don’t think we should give up manners and surrender to a Hunger Games style life, but I think we need to remember that we are just as valuable as all the other humans on this earth. We are not an inconvenience. We are not something to apologize for. Life is too short to try to make up for who you are.

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How a train station changed how I look at my body


I started working in downtown Los Angeles 7 months ago. I still live about 60 miles away so I take the Metrolink train into town every day.

Union Station is a huge hub for transportation. There are buses, trains, railcars, and the underground metro. You can pretty much get anywhere in LA county and some neighboring counties from there. You can also get a mean Moscow mule.

Union Station is a big place and it’s always full of people. On a daily basis I see children, the elderly, short people, tall people, fat people, skinny people, barely dressed people, barely coherent people, people on bikes, people in love, people too tired to walk, and people running to catch their ride.

On paper, I’d say I’m pretty average for the general population of LA. Latina, female, 25, childless and loving it. But I have body image issues.

When people write or talk about having body image issues the response can be positive and negative. I’ve noticed some people will applaud those who write about this topic like you would applaud a small child who just learned to tie their shoe.

“Outstanding! Look at this person being honest and putting themselves out there. How brave!”

Why is it brave to talk about something that has been pushed on us by society like a consumer product? We’re all so frightened to talk body image publicly because if we say it out loud, then it’s real and we have to deal with it instead of pretending it will go away on its own.

We’re most afraid though, that if we own up to it will people applaud us on the outside, but secretly think we’re weak on the inside.

And maybe they will! Because people suck. But not all people.

I’m going to talk about my own issues with body image and I don’t want an applause, I just want you to listen to my story.

Every day, I see at least one billboard using sex, specifically the female form, to sell something.

Every day I use the internet, I will see at least one image of a woman completely photoshopped to look almost inhuman.

Every day I go to the store, I will see at least one magazine cover advertising all the ways I can make my body better.

Every day I turn on cable tv, I will see at least one commercial telling me which product I need to look better and thus be better.

It’s a torrential downpour of messaging targeted mostly at women with the sole purpose of reminding us, no imploring us, to change our bodies because they’re not good enough. And suggesting our worth is primarily determined by the way we look.

There are a lot of celebrities telling young women that the idea of beauty being shown to them through the media is wrong and that they can be whatever they want to be. Proponents of eliminating gender stereotypes try to voice to young women that their worth isn’t defined by how they look.

I think these messages are important. But they’re not changing what we see. They’re not changing the images on the billboards, they’re not changing the half naked women on magazine covers, they’re not changing the image, and they’re not changing our minds.

I realized this because every day I walk past hundreds of bodies that make me feel normal. Seeing more average people than edited people in advertisements every day has somehow reversed the damages done by those billboards and magazines.

I’m not saying I walk past people and think, “Well at least I don’t look like that,” and the comparison makes me feel better. I walk past every type of person you can imagine. Some people I think are beautiful, some I think are not. But even the ones I think are beautiful never look the same. Some are tall, some are short, some have blond hair, some are round, some are small, some are brown, some are white, and some have green hair.

Yesterday, I saw a man and I judged him. I’m human and I make rash judgments just like everyone else. His face, for no particular reason, made me think, “He probably doesn’t have a nice smile.” But I smiled at him anyway and he had one of the biggest, infectious smiles I have seen in a long time. It was wonderful and when I picture it now, I can’t help but smile again.

I see a lot of homeless people on my walk to work. Mostly people avoid them or ignore them. There was a woman in the park with a shopping cart full of clothes. She was kneeled over on the grass. When I walked closer to her I saw that she was giving water to a small bird out of a water bottle cap.

It’s these little pieces of people I see with much more frequency now that remind me what really makes a person beautiful. It’s not their arms, it’s not their legs, it’s not their hair, it’s not how much fat is on their body.

It’s whatever little thing you see in them that makes you unable to resist smiling.

There’s so much more to people than their waist measurement or how many hairs they have on their head. To reduce someone’s worth or even your own worth to what you can glance at in a mirror or in passing is simply a big mistake.

If you’re someone who feels insecure about yourself, take a walk. Go outside for lunch and put down your phone or whatever screen you like to stare at and stare at some regular people. Look at the average person around you. Smile at them. Maybe you’ll start to see the beauty around you and the beauty in yourself too.

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People

When your dogs fight


There are really few things I care as deeply for, as I do for my dogs.

One of them I’ve known since he was 6 weeks old and the other 2 I’ve known for a little over a year. There are people who I have known longer than all my dogs have been alive and I would throw those people into a burning building to save any of my dogs. I’m not going to talk about how important animals are and I’m not going to talk about why dogs are better than cats, although they absolutely are. What I’m going to talk about is one of the most heart-wrenching things that happens to me and my partner too regularly.

Orbison Pedro III is a 26 lbs., tan, terrier mix. He has a curly tail, he loves food more than anything in the world, and he enjoys passing the time staring out the window. He’s willing to share his toys, even at the dog park. But he grew up as the runt of the litter and he’s used to being picked on. He is resilient. He never lets down. He never stops being who he is and he doesn’t apologize for it.

Soto is a mid-sized, black, Australian shepherd with brown legs and white paws. She’s unbelievably gorgeous and her personality matches. She loves being petted and purrs like a cat, but we love her just the same. She will steal your food anytime, anywhere, no regrets. Soto loves people, but if you’re a dog, she has no problem reminding you she is the one who gets the most attention and who is the most beautiful. No exceptions.

Pete is a husky. I don’t have to tell you how gorgeous she is. All huskies are beautiful. What you need to know about them is their personalities. Pete talks back. Pete guards socks. Pete lets you know when breakfast and dinner should be served. Pete is a fucking boss and she makes sure you’re aware. Pete doesn’t take shit from anyone. But also please, scratch her butt when she asks because she likes it.

Usually, we describe dogs with words like loyal, obedient, loving, and playful. Some of these words I would like if they were used to describe me. But recently I’ve been wondering if my dogs are caring. Do they care about us? Probably. Do they care about each other? Maybe. Do they care about getting enough vitamins? Absolutely not.

I come to this questions because, while I feel and have seen my dogs exhibit not only the human qualities of sadness and love, but also understanding, they fight.

There are moments where they go black in the eyes and their lips pull back violently to reveal wolf-like teeth with purpose. The sounds they make are like war cries from warriors going all in. They attack swiftly and without hesitation. It’s as if their minds have temporarily gone blind, inhibiting them from recognizing the comrades they’ve shared a home with for more than a year. That’s almost 8 years for dogs!

Like anyone who cares about anything, as soon as said thing is in danger, hysteria ensues. They’re all about to kill each other and I’m an accessory to the crime because I’m just standing there letting it happen. Can someone tell me how hard you kick one of your dogs to stop it from murdering your other dog? Or cat or pig or whatever you have?

I sincerely hope that no one ever has to go through this. I hope no one ever has to witness, a couple of beings you love unconditionally try to hurt each other.

The only thing that gets me through it is realizing that they’re not going in to kill. If that were the case, someone would be dead already. It’s a matter of the pack. It’s a matter of who is the alpha, who is the boss. It’s a not so gentle reminder that they’re still animals despite the way they lick our tears and put their paws on our shoulders like they’re going in for a hug.

I will never stop loving any of them. I will never stop loving dogs. I will just do my best to do the best I can for them. Sometimes that means accepting their mistakes and moving forward.

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People

What kind of liar are you?


There are many kinds of lies.

There are white lies, lies about lies, omissions, lies we tell children, lies we tell ourselves, butler lies, fake sarcasm lies.

Lies we tell children

These seem to be the type of lies most people are comfortable with. In some cases, you can be labeled downright deranged if you don’t keep up the lies everyone has agreed on. Like you would never tell a small child who isn’t yours that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. Unless said child has been non-stop screaming and kicking the back of your seat on a 4-hour flight. Then it’s war. Another thing we lie to children about is death. Death is an incredibly difficult concept to process. Even some adults never figure it out. It can be especially hard to decide if a pet goes to heaven. Thankfully, the Pope is working on clearing that up. In the meantime, here’s a shoutout to all the dead pets believed to be living on a farm. RIP.

White lies

People who tell these lies think of them like they think tasting a grape at the supermarket isn’t stealing. Generally, these lies are small but I guess that’s all relative anyway. Small to some can mean lying about your age, while small to others can be hiding the fact that they stalked you for three months and that’s how you casually met at your favorite bar. These lies are the gateway lies. They can lead to lies about lies and lies about truths that didn’t make sense with our other lies. Some people would argue these lies can save lives or potentially make life more pleasant for everyone before they die. The lies can be useful if used only in emergencies and sparingly.

Lies about lies

These lies can be breakthrough lies or they can be asphyxiating lies. When some people reach this point, it’s like their rock bottom. Other people are just too lazy to remember lies this much. That’s right. We can thank everyone’s inherent laziness for much of the honesty in the world. People who can keep up with this many lies should write a book because they’re clearly wasting their imagination on trivial things. They could write a book about a person who tells lies about lies and then that will get turned into a Netflix drama series and we’ll all be forced to watch it with friends while secretly wondering what they lie to us about and trying not to look suspicious when we think about the things we’ve lied to them about. It will be a hit! Lies about lies are like Pringles.

Omissions

These are one of my favorite kind of lies because they’re so hotly contested. The people who don’t believe lying by omission is lying, haven’t been screwed by a used car salesmen yet. Lying by omission can seem harmless but you won’t know until the facts come to light if they ever do. This type of lying is very popular in soap operas and shitty tv dramas where entire seasons are focused on someone knowing something very important that this other person doesn’t know. You know what series I’m talking about. These lies are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

Lying to yourself

Sartre coined this type of lie “Bad Faith” which involves self-deception. Lying to yourself can be the best thing you ever do or it can be the worst. Everyone does this. If they tell you they don’t, they’re lying. Just a regular lie though. Some people use this type of lie to create confidence. Some people don’t realize they’re lying to themselves and miss out on big opportunities.  We’ve all done this – unless you’re a soulless, egotistical prick that thinks you can do anything. People like to say, believe in yourself. I like to think, don’t believe in yourself. Instead, just believe yourself. Then, always tell yourself you’re awesome. These lies can cause greatness or can cause great damage. Proceed with awareness.

Butler lies

These lies are babies. Communications professors at Cornell University coined the term just a few years ago in honor of butlers who used to do this type of lying for you. Or like when you would make your mom answer the phone for you and say you weren’t there as to avoid talking to someone. Now we use them more commonly when we communicate electronically. Examples include texts messages saying: I’m on my way!, Sorry. Just saw your message., I didn’t receive a call from you, weird., I would love to but I already have plans., I’m at the gym!

Fake sarcasm lies

“Yea, I ate alllll the pizza myself lol.” We know. We know you did it. We’re laughing, but we know. Just stop it.

Undoubtedly, there are more lies than this. Personally, I think lies you tell your employer should be called Lie Taxes because taxes are mandatory and lies you tell your employer can sometimes be mandatory to keep your job. No one would have a job if they hadn’t done this at least once. Don’t lie to yourself.

Anyway, we’d all love to believe we’re super honest people. But let’s face it. We all lie. It just depends what kind of liar you are.

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People

21 days


With the start of the new year, a lot of us are thinking, what we can do to better ourselves? If you’re one of these people, I’m betting you’ve heard it takes 21 days to form a habit.

In 1960, a plastic surgeon named Maxwell Maltz published a book called Psycho-Cybernetics in which he noted that amputees take 21 days on average to adjust to the loss of the limb.

And like most things, the internet found it somehow, took it, and ran with it.

If you Google, 21 days to form a habit you’ll find a slew of articles going back and forth on the concept. But when you look at the images, you find what people really believe or at least want to believe.

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Anyone who has tried to do something new, every day for 21 days, knows how challenging this is. It’s challenging because they probably picked something that is hard for them. No one challenges themselves to brush their teeth every day for 21 days.

On the flip side, anyone who has managed to do a new thing for 21 days knows that there isn’t some magical awakening at the end of the time where suddenly you can do this thing with great ease.

This is where the 21 days concept is inherently flawed. We’re all different people. Some things are going to be harder for some people than others and more importantly, a habit isn’t formed in 21 days. It’s formed in every day that you do it. It literally means, “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”

When you try to pick up a new thing for a set number of days, you’re not thinking in the mindset of habit forming. You’re thinking in a span of time. That’s not a habit. Like the time I tried to do something every day that I had never done before in an effort to experience more of life. I think I lasted 17 days and I did feel rather accomplished but the feeling was fleeting and I didn’t accomplish my overall goal of living more fully. Maybe in those 17 days I was a more adventurous person but it didn’t last because I gave up. I didn’t pace myself like you would when you want to keep doing something for a long time.

The other problem with the idea of 21 days to form a habit is how you perceive the goal you’ve just set up. Every day you don’t start, the task becomes harder. Let’s say you want to be a more consistent runner. Every day you don’t run, the task grows into a mountain. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have quantifiable goals. But when you want to make a change in yourself, there is no beginning, middle, and end. There’s just now and what you’re doing or not doing. If you want to be a runner or be a better runner or a more consistent runner, all you need to do, is run. Go, right now. Go do it.

The only difference between you and people who are where you want to be, is action.

You don’t need to do something for 21 days for it to become a part of you. You need to not give up on it and not give up on internalizing it.

I’ve failed many times. So many times, I’m tempted to call it a habit. But the thing that has brought me success in the end, is not stopping. And when you fail, don’t think of it as starting over. Think of what you’re trying to achieve as a road you’re walking down not a mountain you’re climbing. When you trip on the road, you can get back up, brush yourself off and keep going. When you fall off a mountain that’s much harder to do.

When you’re thinking of what you want to become or achieve this year, think about what you want the road behind you to look like.

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You and Me and We and I


You and Me and We and I are unpredictable.

You is mostly caring but can be combative at times.

Me is closely followed by -lancholy but when Me is alone, Peace can usually be found.

When You and Me are together, Peace will stick around. But it can still feel like something is missing.

We is happiest. No one can really deny. But We can be very tumultuous.

I is completely different with Love, but alone, I only confides in Misery.

You and Me can turn into We, but they don’t really decide when that will be.

There is speculation it happens the less time they spend with I.

I is quite the smooth talker and incredibly possessive.

I speaks unfavorably of We, although We never does of I.

You and Me often don’t know who to believe.

And even when they think they believe We, they say to themselves, “I bet I could be a better We.”

I tends to sneak back in.

I lingers for fear of being forgotten, of becoming a memory like the Is past.

I wasn’t always so different from You and Me. I once tried to become We.

You and Me risk it all when they try to become We. I took that same risk without realizing I has to become You and Me before it can become We.

Angry, Alone, and Afraid were the first to come when I failed to become We. I wouldn’t listen to You or Me, and soon found solace in Misery.

You and Me and We and I are unpredictable. But they are also, undoubtedly familiar.

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People

Everyone has a code.


I think I may have insulted a really good friend last night. And really more than one, but only one was around to hear what I said.

See I’ve been having a difficult time defining success. The fear of failure is ever lurking particularly when you work in journalism and particularly when half your company has been let go.

People don’t just get let go because they’ve failed at their job. But when we try to work harder in order to keep our job, we adopt the opposite thinking. Having becomes success, and losing becomes failure.

All sorts of characteristics come out in people when it appears you may be on a sinking ship. Or at least a ship where everyone is getting thrown overboard. You have people who never use the internet, updating their resumes and online profiles. People having drinks with other people they normally wouldn’t have but now they have something in common. The need for success.

I used to think that success could not be measured by dollar signs or material wealth. And now I feel that too, is incredibly insulting.

Now I’m going to say something even more insulting. I used to think that simply raising a family wasn’t enough. That it was good but that there had to be something else in order for a person to be truly successful.

Maybe it’s because my mother was so adamant about how hard she worked. How she would always say that if she could raise me and have a job, so could everyone else. It was as if not having a job was the epitome of failure.

I still have mine. But as I see co-workers and journalists walk out the door for the last time, donning a look of uncertainty, I can’t help but think–wait, it’s 2014.

Right now, having a job doesn’t mean keeping a job. The entrepreneurs and freelancers that I know today are rocking it. I want to be just like them. Not having a job can be success. Being your own boss is what we talk about at those happy hours with people we used to not have anything in common with. So what’s success?

Money, power, security, family, time?

We’re all playing Mastermind against ourselves. Trying to figure out just the right combination of all the things we think equal success. Sometimes we look at other people’s boards. We judge some people for finishing too quickly, we judge others for having too easy or too hard of a code. And we judge ourselves most of all for not getting it “right” always.

I’ve spent a lot of time mulling over what my code is. A lot of time scrutinizing other people’s codes. Today, I’m going to throw out the board. Maybe eat a donut grilled cheese sandwich. Maybe I won’t have a job. Maybe I’ll invent my own job. Maybe I’ll invent a better sandwich. But I’m done wasting time on my code. And I’m done looking at yours.

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