Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sophia and Joshua

The Santa Ana winds were blowing the summer heat through the palm trees of the Coyote Hills Country Club. I arrived early to check out the venue and possible shooting locations, but was pleasantly surprised when Joshua greeted me warmly. He told me with a smile that his bride was on the way, but I was more than welcomed to take a sneak peak at the reception hall.

I was shooting the wedding with Greg and I was excited because we always have a good time. When he arrived, we gathered our gear and scoped out the beautiful country club and golf course.

By the time Sophia arrived, her bridesmaids were waiting patiently for her to slip into her gown. Is Joshua nervous, Sophia asked me. I laughed and told her that he claimed he wasn’t, but hasn’t been able to keep food down all morning either.

Sophia and Joshua had a beautiful wedding and everyone felt the love and support that was poured into their relationship. Their families are extraordinarily close and their love for each other is just a reflection of those around them.

Sophia looking beautiful...

Sophia on her way to meet Joshua...

And once he saw her, he couldn't keep his hands off her...

There was this cool mural in the country club that looked kinda cool...

Always the gentleman, Joshua escorts his bride up the stairs...


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Jennie Finch

I walked into her parent's house and I was flooded with the memories. The afternoons we spent whispering about the boys in our English class over freshly brewed iced-tea, the nights we spent the night on her trampoline staring at the stars, the mornings we spent borrowing clothes from each other. What felt like yesterday was more than eight years ago.

Her parents have their walls lined with her softball trophies, plaques, and awards. In every corner, there's some hunk of metal with her name engraved on it. The refrigerator is covered with newspaper clippings and the ad campaigns she'’s done. But no matter how many accomplishments and athletic accolades she has received, she is an even better friend.

My best friend since high school is Jennie Finch, who also happens to be the USA Olympic Softball Pitcher. We've maintained our friendship over the years and have grown together. I was in her wedding, and she--—amidst modeling for Sports Illustrated and traveling for Olympic promo campaigns--—flew to Hawaii for mine. We email and call each other often, so when she told me she was visiting her parents this week, we scheduled lunch with a few of our best friends.

Because I happen to be one of the luckiest girls in the world, I threw out my back yesterday while playing tennis. Just as I was about to gloriously return a serve, I swung and felt my back give out on me. Great, just great. I was in bed most of the day yesterday and all of this morning. I was just about to cancel lunch, but realized that Jennie will be traveling internationally this summer with the Olympic team, so seeing her and her newborn son may be difficult. I literally crawled out of bed and got ready.

I'm so glad I did.

I spent most of the afternoon on Jennie’s couch, but it was worth every second. And I'm sure the Vicodin helped a little :) We reminisced about old times and caught up on each other’s lives. Laying in the Finch's living room made me thankful for my friendship with Jennie, and all my other friends I've had since high school. I'’m happy to stand with her as she succeeds, and cheer her on as she follows her dreams. As Jennie moves forward and accomplishes her goals, a small piece of me accomplishes it too. For this, I'm indebted to her.

Jennie, I love you and I’m so happy to be a special part of your son's life.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

End of the seminar

Mike Colon’s seminar ended on Thursday, but not without one last photo shoot. Sarah and Eileen drove up from San Diego to model for the class and they were so much fun! The class used the complex where Mike’s studio is located as our background, and the light was beautiful. The class, having formed bonds over the past four days, laughed, joked, and encouraged each other as we followed the models around the grounds. It was a wonderful experience.

The evening was to culminate in a poker game…but I left before it started. Somehow I got the idea that the “Com’on, Jasmine, you gotta stay” and the “Everyone knows how to play poker” comments were ways to pocket my money ☺ What can I say? I’m easily suckered, so I left before I was tempted ☺

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Something Kind of Wonderful

And, I chided my mother as we pulled into the valet, you are to be firm in denying the spinal tap. She nodded, but I wasn’t confident in her persuasion to defy her doctor’s orders. The hospital valet porter took my keys and smiled sympathetically. He wasn’t meant to hear me—at a precious moment of vulnerability—so he put his head down and pretended he hadn’t.

We waited in the lobby and compared notes. Since my mother’s last visit to her neuro-oncologists, she had consulted to other specialists in hopes of rectifying her ailing health. Sitting in the posh lobby, complete with its indoor fountains and sculptures, we were completely unaware that all her doctors decided to have a phone conference a few days prior.

Good to see you again, Dr. Hamid said as he entered the patient room we were waiting in. He hugged my mother and she glowed with all the attention. She denies it, but I think she wishes one of her children will end up like Dr. Hamid: young, handsome, brilliant. He’s lethal competition for painfully normal species like myself.

Dr. Finlay followed Dr. Hamid into the room and hugged her as well. She’s been a patient at Norris Hospital for so long, she’s like family. Dr. Finlay spoke at his usual rapid pace and his British accent caused me to stare at his lips for clarification. Heh awr ew tuh-dae, he asks. Accustomed to his pronunciation, she responded she hoped for good news. She then blurted: I don’t want a spinal tap unless it’s a 100% necessary.

If I had pom-poms I would have shaken them with fury. I almost couldn’t believe she said it. And with conviction. I often joke with my mom that I have to teach her how to be strong-willed and never accept no as an answer, so I was shocked last Monday when she coiled her inner-Jasmine and let the doctors have a piece of her mind.

The doctors spoke back and forth to each other in nine-syllable words and I nodded as if I had sat next to them in medical school and understood it all. Then they said something that sounded like it was carried on Angel Gabriel’s back from Heaven: Millie, we don’t think you have brain cancer again. We believe you have a severe case of polychondritis, a disease that affects only four out of a million people.

I thought I heard angels singing somewhere in the background.

The doctors went onto explain the various treatments she will undergo and the long road to recovery, but much like a Roman candle, everything pales in comparison to cancer. Sure, she will have to take steroids and low-dose chemotherapy, but we were rejoicing that it wouldn’t resemble her bout with cancer.

This week has been gloriously wonderful thus far and I thank God profusely.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Guiding Light

Today I had the pleasure of assisting Mike Colon with his Four-Day Intensive Seminar in Newport Beach. I always have fun working with Mike, so getting to shoot is a major bonus! The models—Brittney and Gavin—were naturals in front of the camera, so taking pictures of them was a blast!

I’ll write and post more tomorrow because I’m so tired, but I want to thank Mike for being so wonderful and encouraging my professional pursuits…he’s become a mentor and whether he knows it or not, I’m indebted to his kindness.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Eric and Sheralyn

I was nervous pulling up to Balboa Park’s Prado. As if reading my mind, JD turned to me and told me to relax. Yes, I wanted to remain calm, but one of my dearest friends was getting married and I was there to shoot.

Eric met Sheralyn while earning his MBA from MIT. Eric and I spent hours on the phone talking about the ways to woo her, so it was no surprise when he called to tell me she said yes to his proposal.

Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day for a wedding, and Sheralyn spared no expense to make a beautiful day into a beautiful wedding. They were appropriately married by the wishing well and flowers dressed every possible chair, fixture, and fountain possible. The roses, lilies and hydrangea followed the sun and the sounds of trickling water filled the air. Guests waved themselves with monogrammed napkins and sipping iced water from sweating flutes.

When I first saw Sheralyn, she looked beautiful and there was an undeniable glow about her. Eric was just as calm, but extraordinarily excited to place the second ring on Sheralyn petite ring finger.

When they finally said I Do, I was unbelievably excited to share in their special moment. I’m always honored to be a part of a wedding as a photographer, but even more honored when I’m a photographer and friend.

Thank you Eric and Sheralyn for allowing me to share in your special day!


Saturday, May 20, 2006

What's up, Doc?

We met almost eight years ago in a journalism class. I knew I wouldn’t like you at first glance: frat boy, wealthy, smart. You sat slouched in the last row and I was perched in the first. A nervous freshman, I eagerly raised my hand and furiously took notes, while you preferred the I’ll-let-it-soak-in method of learning.

Then came the group work. Please form groups of two, Professor Libman commanded on the third day of class. I hated group work, even moreso surrounded by intellectuals who debated the forming of the European Union with their dark-rimmed glasses and barets—conveniently omitting me from discussion—and the anarchists vying to change America’s current state of yellow journalism. On that third day of class, I was left partnerless…and then there was you.

From that day forth, we formed a bond that has been unbreakable. Throughout the semester, we passed notes, doodled pictures of Professor Libman, and wrote campus newspaper articles together. The Bonnie and Clyde of Whittier College’s weekly periodical, if you will. After class, we’d head to the dining commons to eat an early lunch and talk about where we’d one day end up. Well, can you believe that ‘one day’ is here?

I sat in my chair next to JD tonight, while swirls of Vietnamese conversations hung in the air, and I almost cried. Well, okay, I cried, but it was disguised by my smile and the creases that formed around my eyes. In Vietnamese, your father and grandfather toasted your successful graduation from USC Medical School, and while I didn’t understand a single word, I felt how proud you made them. Pride and love transcends language, so I was able to decode their heartfelt congratulations.

And then there was you.

You got up from our table and walked to the microphone, while your father lowered the volume to Andrea Bocelli playing somewhere in the background. You began in Vietnamese, but finished in English for the benefit of your college friends watching from a distance. I bit my lower lip because I felt the pride and tears welling in my chest. The boy I thought I was destined to dislike on the first day of journalism class now stood before me as a doctor. The days we spent in your dorm room writing stories about the lacrosse team, tuition increases, and social events are behind us, and while this notion stirs a broth of melancholy in my soul, I’m so unbelievably happy to see where we’ll end up another eight years from now.

It seemed as if your genuine love and thankfulness seeped from the microphone and into the PA system because my ears tickled with your sweet words. Sweet words for your family. Sweet words for your friends. And sweet words for your beloved Marina. Listening to you thank Marina for her support gave free reign for my tears to fall. The unspoken love you share is beautiful and I’m honored to have shared in such an intimate declaration of gratitude.

Vince, I know you’ll read this, so I want to tell you that there was no where in the world I would have rather been tonight than sitting next to you, celebrating the next phase in your blessed life. JD and I are priviledged to call you a friend and we know that you will operate and cure with a heart of compassion. We LOVE you!

Thursday, May 18, 2006


This afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting with Shaun Austin of LA Photo and InLight Photographics. He owns a successful wedding photography business, but just recently decided to diversify by buying a printing and camera shop. Within the last month, Sean moved into his store and is working over-time to make it look beautiful.

We walked through the shop and Sean excitedly pointed out his super huge Epson printer, the freshly painted walls, and the shelves that will soon be filled with Canon merchandise. It’s the little things that make his shop cool…like the custom-made counter top. He ordered the counter to be embossed with his store logo and it’s pretty darn cool!

The best part of the day was when Sean offered to print out some of my photos gratis. He’s a wonderful businessman with a great heart and I have no doubt he’ll make his store grow in a short time!

If you’re in the Orange County area, you should stop by the shop…I know Shaun will make you feel at home!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My new appendage

That’s what you need to do, JD said while driving home this evening. I was in the process of describing this totally awesome picture I could have captured had I had my camera with me. The purported picture had a shaggy dog, a 1976 Toyota truck with large side mirrors, the wind blowing, and a white-haired driver wearing BlueBlocker sunglasses. I’m telling you, I said to JD, it could’ve been so cool!

For a while, I was keeping my camera in my car—hidden from view, of course—and pulled it out when I saw something of interest. JD insisted that doing so was foolish. I’m inclined to agree with him, but at the same time, I often forget to grab my camera as I dash out the door.

That’s what you need to do, JD said again, more to himself this time. You need to think of your camera as an appendage, or something you’d never leave home without. Like your wedding ring…or your keys. Maybe I can buy a special closet to house your camera and keep it by the front door…that way, the camera will be the last thing you’ll think about as you leave, he excitedly said.

I ruminated for a bit. I know I probably won’t have a special camera-closet any time soon, but JD did make sense. My camera should become an appendage, like an eleventh finger or an extra arm. Alright, I said, but you can't be upset if tomorrow I wake up as a the four-arm Indian goddess, Lakshmi :)

Monday, May 15, 2006

One more time...

I’m not sure if I told you yesterday, but in the case that I didn’t, I’ll do it here. When you called me early this morning and asked me—again—for my blog address, I laughed to myself because you should have it bookmarked by now.

Mom, for everything you do, everything you are, and everything you’ve made me, I’m thankful. When the world is grey and nothing is as it seems to be, you are my fortress. You are a silent force who has carried our family on your back, held us in your freckled arms, and kissed us with crooked lips. Without you, there is no us.

You’ve created a home much like a nest, weaved together with bits of love, a piece of joy, and twigs of forgiveness. I’ve walked in the shadow of your wings and, because of this, I’m ready to fly on my own. Ready to brave the storms and bask in the sun, but know that I’ll always migrate back to your nest. For in your bosom I find rest for my soul. I will forever fit comfortably under your wing and walk in your shadow, for in doing so, my future children will be able to see you in me.

Happy Mother’s Day…again.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mad Props!

Tradition holds that when one of my best friends is going to do something grand, go somewhere exotic, or try something new, it’s necessary to have a group conversation. We need to get all the details arranged and offer advice when applicable. When we discovered Brianna qualified to represent the United States Olympic Track Team in the Qatar Grand Prix, we immediately speed-dialed each other.

Our conversation hiccups with stream-of-consciousness type talking between one too many girls:
Women were allowed to compete just a few years ago…
No way…
Where’s Qatar?
What? You have to know where Qatar is!
It’s in the Middle East.
Could you find it on a map? I didn’t think so!
Women were unable to wear the track and field uniform because it was considered disrespectful…
Are you nervous?
What are you packing?
How long is the flight?
Nineteen hours?!
What are you going to eat?
I’m sure she’ll survive off hummus and pita…
Are you nervous?
What if they don’t serve hummus?
Are you nervous?
Com’on, you know I never tell you…
Make sure and bring us back something cool!

After searching online, I discovered that Brianna placed third in the 200-meter sprint! This called for another group conversation, one where we excitedly traded statistics about our friend who was on the other side of the world.

No, I don’t know how she fared in the long-jump, I replied when asked. But as soon as anyone knows, we have to promise to call each other, I said.

Bri, if you’re able to read this in Qatar, please know you’re best friends are rooting for you! Congratulations and we can’t wait to see you again soon…and we’re also looking forward to our souvenirs! ☺

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Carless, yet Selfless: My wonderful boyfriend

CanIget22? DoIhear23? 24?24? Iseeyou24! Jumpingto25…25,25,25! Yesiree26! DoIhear27?!

JD and I stood in the middle of a plane hanger as cars slowly rolled along each side of the building. There were two auctioneers simultaneously spouting off numbers like sprinklers. 28,28,28,28,29,29 [deep breath] 30,30…Sold! Crowds of men walked back and forth with their cell phones and PDAs in hand. It looked like a scene from the New York Stock Exchange trading floor—arms flailing and numbers being shouted—except the men didn’t wear ties. The Middle Eastern men wore multiple gold necklaces and smoked on thin cigarettes. The Hispanic men spoke in Spanish and wiped their hands on their shirts after inspecting the engine. The Korean men spoke in hushed tones behind their trading booklets, occasionally pulling out a pen from their sport coats. And they all congregated by ethnicity.

These men meant business. They knew what they were bidding for, whereas JD and I kind of guessed. They are professionals who buy cars at auctions, then take them to the Westside only to hike up the prices. We had never been to a car auction, but we were encouraged to go on advice from a friend.

We arrived early and searched the huge lot of cars we liked. We noted their lot numbers on a scratch piece of pink paper I had in my purse. The Russian standing next to me didn’t need a pen…he was cross-referencing prices on his Blackberry and speaking into his Bluetooth. I gave JD a look. The kind of look that said: We’re-in-waaaaay-over-our-heads.

We thought we’d buy a car today, but it really didn’t work out the way we anticipated. We don’t know enough about cars to make an educated bid. And I don’t own a Blackberry. By this alone, I should have disqualified myself. Oh, and I don’t wear gold chains…I’m even more disqualified ☺

We walked away from the auction this afternoon and celebrated our car-lessness at In-n-Out. Don’t worry, JD reassured me after taking a sip from his lemonade/7Up concoction, we’ll find a car for you.

Wait, what?! A car for me, I asked. Yes, I’ll take your car and you can get the new one, he nonchalantly said.

Ladies and gentlemen…I’m gonna get a new car!!! Yay! ☺

Detour 180

Last night I was burning DVDs and I came across a few pictures. I should have posted these sooner, but things at the time were crazy. They date back to Easter, but I should post them anyway.

For my church’s Easter Celebration, an awesome guest band is invited and this year the church was stoked when we discovered Detour 180was performing. I took my camera along and had a blast! The band was so cool and when they invited me on the stage to shoot, I couldn't say no ☺ If you like Christian alternative music, you should check them out!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

In Search of Treasure

I don’t know why I did it, but I did. On my way home from the gym this morning, I pulled into a car dealership and began looking for a car. Call it naïvete, but I was hopeful I’d find a hidden treasure. Well, I’m no pirate, that’s for sure.

I felt like I had a bright sign above my head that read: I have no idea what I’m doing. Had I worn regular clothes, I might have tried to play it cool, but in running shoes and gym attire, it’s hard to spit game.

She’s a beauty isn’t she, the salesman asked as I peered into the window of a nearby car. Um, yeah, she sure is, I stuttered. I hate personifying inanimate objects, so referring to a car as a ‘her’ or ‘she’ bothers me. I know, I have issues.

We spoke about the weather and the LA Clippers for a while, then ran out of things to say.

Listen, I said rather abruptly, I’m not going to waste your time, so let me be honest. I rung my hands and surreptitiously glanced at the sticker price. I had no idea what the car was really worth, so I arbitrarily subtracted $6,000 from the listed price. That’s what I can offer, I told the salesman. And if that wasn’t ludicrous in itself, I said, That’s tax and license…out the door.

What was I thinking? He smothered a cough and said he’d have to run the figure by his manager. I debated sneaking off the car lot because I was so embarrassed, but I repeated you-will-never-see-him-again, you-will-never-see-him-again, you-will-never-see-him-again, in my head. When I saw his blond hair bobbing over the tops of the cars approaching me, I froze. Not like a deer caught in headlights…more like a possum caught in a porch light. Yes, like that ugly. I'm sure my desperate yet hopeful face was contorted in such a way it might have been mistaken as a lawn gnome.

Sorry, but my manager said no, the salesman told me apologetically. I wasn’t disappointed. I kind of knew it would be a ‘no’, but I hoped otherwise. I was wishing for a miracle. There was a part of me that wanted to tell the manager that JD’s car was wrecked by a drunk driver, and what a wonderful person he is, and how much he deserves a nice car, and how he would somehow find a way to use the car to warm orphans in Antarctica…but I let it slide.

I slithered out of the showroom and back to my car.

So, today I didn’t find a treasure, but who knows what tomorrow holds.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Uninvite Myself

The easiest thing to feel when things are awry is pity. I often invite myself to pity parties and eat the whole cake. By myself.

It seems like everything that could go wrong, has. Life handed me a kilo of lemons and insisted on making lemonade. I, however, don’t want lemonade. And I don’t want to go to yet another pity party.

This is why JD and I loaded a van full of toys and non-perishable items and drove to Rosarito, Mexico last Saturday. The easiest way to get out of an emotional funk is to give freely. Give of one’s time, energy and money. So that’s what we did. JD and I loaded a van full of goods for those who are not as fortunate as us and then left in the pre-dawn light of Saturday morning.

* * * * *

Make sure and lock the doors, I said over my shoulder to JD as we got out of the van. I glanced at my watch and realized we made it to Mexico in an hour and a half. Not bad. JD crept behind me and slipped his arms around my shoulders. What are you gonna order, he asked. We stood outside a taco stand and our mouths watered as the grill smoke tickled our noses. This was part of the ritual. Ordering tacos…getting lost in a nearby town…distributing gifts and food…buying Mexican sweetbread (pan dulce) from a local bakery…and nibbling on it as we wait to cross the Mexican/American border. It’s a ritual we practice about twice a year.

Tacos. Quesdillas. Pepsi. They’re foods of the gods bestowed on mere mortals. Present day nectar and ambrosia. ☺ As we ate, I heard the voice of a little girl behind the wall I was seated in front of. The voice—the sadness—piqued my interest and I wanted to find her. I crept behind the wall to find a six-year-old girl in a pink dress pushing her baby sister in a walker. Liliana, she responded in Spanish when I asked her name. And this is Monica, she said as she pointed to her eight-month sister.

The area they sat in housed mops, empty soda bottles, buckets, and just about any piece of salvageable junk. I talked to her and showed her my camera. Would you like to take a picture of me, I asked. She wrapped her sticky fingers around my camera and I flashed a smile her way. She was tickled when she saw my image on the LCD screen. I asked if I would be able to take pictures of her and Monica. She agreed on the condition that I would show her the pictures when I was through.

A few minutes later, JD walked into the back area where I was shooting and in his hands were toys for Liliana and Monica.

At first, Liliana didn’t understand why we gave her a gift, but after we explained that God loved her and we wanted to give her something special, she smiled. For the first time since I met her.

* * * *

The rest of the day was spent distributing toys and food to the street children of Tijuana and Rosarito. As we crossed the border, JD and I past sweetbread to each other and listened to the sounds of honking horns and Mariachi music.

As we made our way in San Diego, we listened to the Lakers game on the radio and sighed with every missed shot. I can’t believe this game, JD said as he shook his head. I can’t believe this day, I thought to myself. It’s hard to feel pitiful when there are so many who have much less. The next time I begin to make invitations to a pity party, I’ll be sure to leave my name off that list.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Cinco de Mike-O

Last night I had the pleasure of celebrating Mike Colon’s birthday at Koji’s Shabu Shabu.

Shabu Shabu, our waiter patiently explained, is a Japanese word that translates into ‘Swish Swish’. We sat around a large table with boiling pots with which we were to add our condiments and make our own soup. Conversing through screens of steam, Regis, Shyla, [b]ecker, Keats, and I had a great time laughing and talking about a myriad of things. We laughed at [b]ecker’s old wedding photos he posted on his blog, we congratulated Shyla on her graduation from Life Bible College, and spoke about how Keat’s manages her busy schedule as Gary Fong’s assistant, among other things.

I felt blessed to be celebrating Mike’s birthday with 20 wonderful people. Here's a picture of Mike and those who sat at our table. (Becker, Keats, Me, Shyla, Julie, Mike, and Regis)

I e-mailed Mike early yesterday morning and wished him a happy 24th birthday…he responded that, yes, in fact he was 24-years-old. Plus a few years ☺

Here are my favorite pictures from last night: Becker and Mike romantically sharing a Diet Coke...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Jasmine Brockovich

Jasmine, JD rationally said, you are not going to solve this.

That’s the biggest difference between JD and me. I’m the antithesis of rationality, so when JD speaks with a level head and unclouded vision, I get annoyed with how correct he is.

I stood with my arms locked waiting to cross the intersection where JD’s accident took place. As traffic whizzed by, I scanned the intersection for a license plate, or anything that might betray the hit-and-run driver that ruined JD’s car. I cajoled JD into coming with me as I spoke with surrounding business proprietors. I spoke with the manager at Starbucks, the owner of the Mobil gas station, an ice-cream scooper at 31 Flavors, and was on my way to Quizno’s when JD tried speaking some sense to me. I wasn’t having it. Surely, I thought to myself, there had to be a camera that recorded the accident.

Early yesterday morning, I called the city police department because there were cameras perched atop the traffic lights, so there was a possibility that the driver’s license plate number was captured. No, you have to call CalTrans because they own the cameras, the police told me. No, you have to call L.A. City Works because they own the cameras, the CalTrans secretary told me. No, you have to call your city’s engineering department because they own the camera, the LACW operator told me. Yes, and the engineering department sent me to City Hall. And City Hall sent me right back to my point of origin: The police. Ooooooh, you mean those cameras, the officer sheepishly asked. At this point, I thought I would crumble the phone in the palm of my hand, but I calmly replied yes.

You see, the officer garbled into the phone, those cameras are only sensor cameras…they don’t take pictures, they determine if a car is at the intersection. I wanted to kick something.

I was on a warpath to find the drunk driver. So, when JD tried calming me down as we waited to cross the busy street, I wanted to cry. We discovered yesterday that JD’s automobile insurance wasn’t covering the accident. Why? Because his policy omits hit-and-runs. His coverage is applicable for everything else under the sun, except this type of accident.

Now, his insurance representative said over the phone, if you find the driver and he’s uninsured, then the accident will be covered.

That’s why I was standing at the intersection and that’s why I was asking nearby stores to see video footage from the accident. I needed to find the driver. Was I being unrealistic? Yes. Was I thinking unclearly? Yes. But, I rationalized, we were out of a car and had no recompense for the accident.

JD remained by my side as restaurant managers told me they didn’t have cameras and held my hand as we combed grainy video footage from the gas station, which revealed nothing.

Look, I told JD, there had to be someone that saw something…we just have to find him.
JD placed his hands on my shoulders and faced me. He said, Jasmine…you’d be the next Erin Brockovich if you kept this up, but just let it be. There’s nothing we can do anymore, so we’re just going to have to drop this search and move on, okay?

I knew he was right, but it wasn’t fair. I didn’t want to throw in the proverbial towel, but it was time. It was a jagged pill to swallow, but I did.

Later that night, we met up with a few people to watch the Lakers game. Over pizza and buffalo wings, I realized that while JD got handed the short end of the stick with the accident, things could have been worse. A lot worse. Sure, we lost his car, but at least he’s healthy. And a car can be replaced…where Jasmine Brockovich’s husband cannot ☺

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hit and Run

I got a call yesterday afternoon and it shook me greatly.

Jaz, JD said worriedly into my cell phone, I just got hit by a drunk driver. And he left the scene. My car’s totaled.

JD couldn’t talk too much because the police were filing the report, but I left work immediately. We met at the auto body shop and I jumped out of my car and gave him a bear hug. I was so worried about the situation and happy to see him that I didn’t notice his car. Or what’s left it. The car’s entire back-end was demolished and the only things left were the front seats.

The tow-truck driver said JD was lucky because if brunt of the hit happened on the left side, the car would have exploded. We were so thankful JD was okay.

So this morning we’re finishing the police reports and calling witnesses. Thus far, no one saw a license plate and the driver hasn’t been found. Despite these bummers, we’re thankful JD’s okay. He pretty much walked away from the accident with just bumps, bruises and soreness.

However, I’ve been hearing a lot of the following phrase: But, Jaz, I just got into a car accident. Now, this is fine. Totally fine. But, I think that JD is becoming very keen to this verbiage…

But, Jaz, I just got into a car accident, was JD’s response to his strewn shoes.
But, Jaz, I just got into a car accident, was his response to why he needed an extra blanket last night.
But, Jaz, I just got into a car accident, was his response to why he needed his hands massaged, after I had massaged his back and neck.
But, Jaz, I just got into a car accident, was his response to why he wanted breakfast in bed.

I have a feeling that JD is going to employ the use of the phrase for as long as possible…but I’m fine with it because I’m thankful he’s healthy and in one piece.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Golden Cage

Here, my mother said as she passed a book to me, I think you should read it. We were sitting in the lobby of her doctor’s office. The jacket read: Ordering Your Private World. Apparently, my mother thinks my inner world needs ordering.

I tried protesting, but she asked me only to read one chapter before deciding against the entire book. Fine, I lethargically voiced, but you know I’m doing this for you. My mother has a tendency of giving me books I would never read, but this is the first time she put her foot down.

There’s a large band-aid where you should begin reading, she told me while shuffling through her purse. That’s my mother. She uses just about anything to mark a page in a book. A piece of tissue. A leaf. And if you’re lucky, you may just find a bookmark. Yesterday, it was a large band-aid.

The chapter was entitled: The Golden Cage. The words were brightly colored from her highlighter and there were pencil markings in the margins. That’s another thing about my mom: She takes notes—tons of notes—in the margins. If there’s a book at my parents’ house where the pages are doggy-eared and look like they’ve been kissed by the rainbow, it’s most likely my mom’s. The author, Gordon MacDonald, writes how driven people are prone to trapped in a golden cage. He described driven people and listed a few of their faults. I squirmed in my chair as I continued reading. I squirm when I’m uncomfortable.

MacDonald writes:
“Why is it that for so many the answer to personal tension and pressure lies not in going to the bridge of life but rather in attempting to run faster, protest more vigorously, accumulate more, collect more data, and gain more expertise? We give attention to every cubic inch of life than our inner worlds—the only place we can gain the strength to brave any outer turbulence.”

I squirmed. On multiple levels. I’m a driven person, so reading an analysis pertaining to me was disconcerting to say the least. Throughout this whole ordeal with my mom, I’ve been striving for answers—calling doctors, begging for appointments, researching her condition. In the same vein, I’m really trying to make photography work for me. I’m doing everything I can to make my life move in the direction I want it to. Then I read the following: “For an inner life fraught with unresolved drives will not be able to hear clearly the voice of Christ when He calls. The noise and the pain of stress will be too great.”

My life, I realize, needs to separate my stress from worry. Drivers and strivers can worry, but when they stress, they become trapped to defining their lives as series of successes. In essence, they become trapped in a golden cage. I refuse to be trapped by the stress I often feel in regard to my mother, and in regard to starting my business.

I won’t be caged and I guess mother’s do know best.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Making Cancer a Disease of the Past

We sailed down the 10 Freeway on our way to USC Norris Cancer Center. When I pulled up to the valet, my stomach flip-flopped, just like I knew it would. As much as I love what this hospital provided for my mother when she battled brain cancer, I can’t help feeling ill when I walk into the sliding doors. The smells—an odd mixture of cleaning agents and baby lotion—and the fluorescent lights brought back dark memories. Days when we sat waiting for lab results. Hours waiting in the lobby while the chemotherapy was administered. Doctors whispering outside the room, weighing my mother’s treatment.

But today, my mother walked into the doors on her own—and not in a wheelchair—and grabbed my hand as we passed by the receptionist area. They smiled at my mom from afar. My mother’s nurses came out and gave my mom a hug in the lobby as we waited to see her doctor.

I’m writing as my mom and I sit in overstuffed chairs waiting to be called. Waiting. I hate waiting. Waiting for the unknown has a way of silently creeping into the soul and shaking its foundation. I grab my mother’s hand as my leg nervously shakes.

The doctors want to perform a lumbar puncture (spinal tap), but I’m praying they don’t have to. The last time my mother had an LP performed, she couldn’t walk for almost two weeks. It’s very painful and I don’t want to see her go through this again.

So we wait. And wait.

Even though I’m nervous, I have a peace about things. Come what may, this too shall pass. And—God willing—cancer will be a disease of the past.