Monday, August 31, 2009

Home sweet home

There's no other feeling like the feeling you get when you sleep in the same bedroom you grew up in or the feeling of walking down your neighborhood street and recollecting on when this house used to have a tree swing or that house used to have a really cute boy who would wave to you when you strolled ever-so-slowly by his house making sure he saw you. Nostalgia. Home. The two intertwine like swirls of a candy cane - one not existing without the other.

Mark and I took a long-overdue trip home to LA and OC this weekend. We always say how much happier we are living in the Bay Area, but there's still that soft spot in our hearts that will always belong to our Chatsworth and Garden Grove homes. Waking up to Grandma's cooking and Dad's McDonald's coffees sitting, waiting for us is something I always look forward to. Or grocery shopping in Little Saigon where the supermarkets are are the size of football fields and the smell of fish and incents overwhelm my sensitive organic-saavy nose.

This was an EXCEPTIONALLY special trip home because this is the first time in five years of Mark and me coming home together as husband and wife. :-D Ahhhh yea, baby! First of many, many more to come...

Poko the family dog. Love the guy, but he's a little too aggressive


Mark's little brother Chris cooling himself down from the 100-degree weather


Laguna Beach (Chris took this photo)


I had crab for the first time in a LOOONG time - so delish!!!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Starting a business is HARD!

Both my parents have been small business owners for as long as I can remember, and let me tell ya - it ain't easy! I've seen them at their best of times and most recently at their worst of times. I always told myself I could never run a restaurant like my dad or open a hair salon like my mom because it was way too much work, too much time away from their family, and honestly too much stress.

Like they say, "Never say never!"

Now, over 15 years later I find myself doing the very thing I feared most - starting my own business. Say WHAAAT?! I've got a ways to go but just the idea of it gives me an adrenaline rush like none other I've ever experienced. Seriously, even more than that one time I went cliff diving in Cancun. But why? Why is being an entrepreneur ever-more appealing? Maybe it's the control of my own success (and or failure, but we won't think about that). Or maybe it's the fusion of a passion with the challenges of running a small business. Maybe it's the idea of having clients and having the chemistry to CONNECT with them. Maybe it's the accolades I dream of receiving. Maybe it's all those things and more that finally has me itching to follow the footsteps of my parents.

I can take what I've learned from them to avoid making their same mistakes, but I'm guaranteed to encounter quite a few on my own. I'm pretty good at that. :-) After all, even the greatest entrepreneurs of our time have often failed only to succeed, right? I'll leave you with one of Steve Jobs' greatest failures. At the tender age of 30 when Apple had grown into a company worth over $2 billion Jobs was FIRED. Yep, homeboy was kicked to the curb, folks! Long story short, he moved on with resilience and today is the ridiculously successful co-founder and CEO of Apple, Inc. As he said in his commencement speech at Stanford University (hissss) in 2005, "I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over."

Go Apple! Go Connie!

Photobucket Photobucket

*Yea, so that's a half pomelo fruit peel on my head

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Today is ZEN day

When I get excited about something, I usually generate all the energy I have into that one thing until it consumes me almost entirely. Today I feel like I'm at the almost-entirely stage. I'm declaring today my Zen Day. That means when I come home from work tonight I'm going to restrain with all my might from hopping on the computer and instead opt for a nice, long bubble bath - just me, some scented candles, and a good book.

This will be me (and Saka):


Monday, August 24, 2009

Tina and Danny - Just Because

I could still see my little sister running to my dad in the kitchen, tears pouring down her face screaming, "Connie won't let me play with her Barbies!" She was the typical younger sibling who wanted to do everything I did and wanted to dress exactly how I had dressed no matter how ridiculous I looked with my multilayered rainbow socks. I obsessively fashioned those with my bleach washed denim skirts - man, I was SO cool in the 90s! Anyway, she was your typical annoying younger sibling you didn't learn to appreciate until years later.

I didn't start appreciating Tina's amazingness (I know, that's not a word) until we finally reached high school where she grew more independent than the rest of us and became probably the most popular girl to ever roam Garden Grove High School. If you don't believe me, she won a crown for each dance from freshman year all the way through 'til her senior year! That's a lot of crowns. On top of that, she held the class president title each year, too. It wasn't her popularity that made me begin respecting her more and appreciating her as a sister, it was the way she handled her popularity with humble appreciation and poise.

Since then my sister has grown into a gorgeous young lady who ironically enough is someone I seek fashion tips from! Goodbye, multilayered socks! Even though I'm older than her I look up to her in many ways. Her wisdom and maturity at the tender age of 23 surmounts those of her peers for many years to come. On top of her already being so awesome she got even more awesome points this past weekend when she and her boyfriend let me take photos of them. Thank you, Tina and Danny, for being so patient with me in the sweltering heat and for being such beautiful people to photograph. I love you guys with all my Golden Bear heart!







I couldn't resist posting this of Tina's dog Champ. We played fetch with him and Danny's dog that day, too!


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sneak Preview

I did my first photo shoot with REAL people today! My gorgeous little sister and her handsome boyfriend were so kind to let me pester them all afternoon with my camera. Of the hundreds of photos taken, I was satisfied with about...10 maybe? haha! However, I truly believe succeeding at something you're passionate about will never start out easy, and I'm ready to put the work into making photography work for me. As I was dripping sweat in the 96-degree weather today all I kept thinking was, "I can do this every day!"

Here is a sneak peek of their photo shoot. More to come in a couple days.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

#1 of the the 12 hot spots

I have the best husband. Okay, maybe you do, too, but really, I think mine's pretty spectacular. I can tell you all the reasons why, but since I don't want anyone to hurl while reading my post today I'll refrain. So here's one SMALL reason why: the other day Mark was having coffee with his college buddy and on his way out he noticed at the door a San Francisco magazine featuring "12 Top Spots to Snap a Photo." He picked up a copy and dropped it off at my desk when he came back. I asked, "What's this?"

He says, "Since you're getting into photography I think the feature article could have some really cool places for us to explore and get some great pictures for your portfolio." Then he shrugs his shoulders. He does this a lot. I don't know why he does it, but he does. It's like approaching a really shy little boy and asking his name, and all you get are shrugged shoulders. Mark does that, only he's a grown man and not shy. Anyway, I digress.

I know that wasn't some over-the-top act of kindness, but to me it's the little things he does that shows he thinks of me during the day and supports my ambitions no matter how many I have. :-D Since there are 12 amazing SF spots featured in the article I decided I'd tackle a few on my own, and then save some for my good friend Hanh who's an aspiring photographer from Orange County. She's visiting in a few weeks!

#1 on the list - Chinatown and a taste of the SF lifestyle


Dragon Gate old film style


New nephew's name:



Bronze monkeys are all over the city


From Chinatown I walked down to Union Square - the traffic makes me happy I'm walking


The next best thing to walking is biking in SF



Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I just spent the last 10 minutes drafting today's post - it eventually turned into two huge paragraphs about me complaining about my rough day. It started sounding a little too whiney for my taste, so I highlighted all and pressed DELETE. Complaining has never gotten me anywhere in life. In fact, I believe it's contributed to many of my poorer decisions and hindered me from being proactive about a lot of things. So today I'll just be honest and tell you I'm stuck at words to say since I have nothing nice to say at all.

So here is a (weird looking) heart I "drew" for all my friends and family who keep me grounded and remind me there's so much more to this beautiful life than a bad job. They are always the reasons for my happiness. Well, them and shiny new lenses. I love you guys! :-)


Monday, August 17, 2009

Photoshop Headache

I've only had my camera for a little over a week now, and I've been obsessive with my approach in how to shoot manually. It's going to take a lot more practice to take photos with a good white balance, exposure, accurate focusing, etc. There's a ton of stuff I want to know, and I'm that type of person who wants to know NOW! If I can't figure it out you can bet my nose is gonna be glued to the monitor for the next hour or more learning from different photography forums and tutorials, and then I'll go out and test whatever I just read. Yea, I'm intense like that.

Yesterday Mark and I went to Half Moon Bay to try and get some trendy colorful beach photos. Um, FAIL! First off, why is it always foggy up here? Secondly, I had way too many overexposed photos, and when I finally got decent photos they weren't as crisp as I wanted. So I come home pretty disappointed and thinking I suck at life. I do some more research, and one thing leads to the next - I'm now in about 10 different Photoshop forums three exposure tutorials learning how to turn my skies bluer, add clouds, make the water more clear, add a limb to my dog... it goes on and on. At this point my eyes are crossing, and I come to the conclusion that maybe I don't suck at life just yet. Sure I've got a ton to learn about post processing and taking a good photo, but knowing that even the greatest photographers use post processing on EVERYTHING makes me feel a tad bit better.

So instead of posting hazy, cloudless, gray beaches, here are a couple photos I took of Saka enjoying the salty air and sunbathing on the soft sand.


Saka sunbathing

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm so glad I'm not a student

On my days off I usually like to sleep in delighting in the fact that my colleagues are at work at that very moment arguing with another useless insurance rep on the phone while I, on the other hand, am not. Today, however, was a little different. As soon as Mark took off for work I jumped outa bed, threw on a pair of Bermuda shorts and a tank, grabbed my coffee thermos and camera and headed to UC Berkeley campus. I figure I'd get some photos in before the sun gets too strong since it's supposed to be pretty warm today.

Whoa! There's parking everywhere - that's a rarity in Berkeley! Campus is quiet - almost too quiet. It's very stale at this time of year, but it'll pick up quick once Welcome Week arrives in a few days. Most of my peers were excited to come back in the Fall because it was a brand new start to another fun-filled college year. After all, aren't your college years the best years of your life? I, on the other hand, was the exact opposite. I abhorred the foresight of me in a library for hours at a time trying to figure out the stereochemistry of a molecule or memorizing the Latin origins of hundreds of California plants. I know, I'm quite the optimist. :-P

Now that I'm years beyond that point and happily living my life NOT as a student, I come back to campus this Fall with a completely different state of mind. I LOVE IT! It's so peaceful and relaxing and gorgeous. How did I not notice how beautiful campus is? So I take out my camera, snap snap snap away, and every now and then get the stink eye from a stranger who prefers not to be photographed. Oops, sorry!

Daily Cal anyone?


Water photos are fun. One day I'll have an EOS 1 where I can photograph rainfall. :-)


University Library... see what I mean by quiet? The library is hardly this quiet during school.



Thursday, August 13, 2009

The best part of waking up... is coffee in my cup

It's 6:20am and I'm still lying in bed. My alarm has gone off twice, but since I'm the snooze queen I tell myself I'll get up the next time it goes off. Then 6:30 rolls around, and I hear this beautiful, angelic sound coming from the kitchen - our coffee grinder. I get excited. Yes, our coffee machine is programmed to grind those yummy organic Guatemalan coffee beans and brew them into a delicious hot pot of heaven every morning precisely at 6:30am. NOW I'm awake! I jump out of bed and rush to get ready for work. Did I forget to brush my hair? I can't remember. Mark's preparing my cup of jo, and I want to savor it before we rush out the door. I take my first sip, "mmmm..." It's so bloody good I wonder if God created coffee just for people who stay up in the wee hours of the night only to wake up a couple hours later at the dawn of sunrise. People like me. :-)

Just the other day I made my way to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and come across one of the Bay Area's most relished coffee companies Blue Bottle Coffee Co. Since it was a scorcher I got the New Orleans iced coffee. It was so devilishly rich and delicious yet refreshing all at the same time. That day I got to drink a little piece of heaven TWICE. That day was a good day.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Two peas in a pod

It's only been a couple weeks in marriage land, and people ask me if I feel different. You know, I actually do. I thought it would be like turning a year older where I feel like I haven't aged a day and it's not until you hear a throwback New Kids on the Block song and remember jammin' to it in your Jordan Knight pjs as a little girl when I actually feel "older."

No, marriage is a little different. You see, I was born with the ultra-strict-expect-me-to-become-a-doctor-marry-a-lawyer-and-then-get-married-and-have-Harvard-babies parents. Yea, that kind. So when I didn't become a doctor and got married (not to a lawyer) before I solidified my career it was pretty taboo and frowned upon. But because I married such a dapper young fellow who is intelligent and loves me without boundaries my parents actually support my marriage to Mark. Last night my mom asked me what I've been cooking for my husband, how often we do laundry, when we fight who sleeps on the couch? So you see, the questions have steered from "so, are you going to medical school, yet?" to "how are you doing?" It's quite the change for me, and marriage feels like I finally grew up.

I married my best friend and plan on growing old and wobbly with him. People ask what's my favorite part of being married so far, and I'd have to say it's dinner time. During dinner we watch Jeopardy together, and as Mark fires off all the answers I finally get ONE answer right and he says, "Good job, hon! You're so smart!" He's so sincere it cracks me up because c'mon, trivia is not my forté. No matter my strengths or weaknesses he's always been my #1 cheerleader. I'm happier than I've ever been and it's because of you, Mark. :-)

Our friend Gillian displays it best when she made us this "Two peas in a pod" couple:


Chrocheted by Gillian Chao

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm ready!

Over the course of eight years I have gone from being a predental student to working in online advertising to my current position as an analyst for a healthcare consulting firm. By now I have completely gotten over the fact that my degree in plant and animal biology is completely useless in the real world. Do I regret it? Sometimes. What I regret most is sitting in my organic chemistry class in Spring 2003 knowing I was failing, wishing I were an English major so I could channel my thoughts onto paper, but refusing to do anything about it because I was too scared of judgment.

One thing I did gain from being a bio major at a highly ranked university is extremely thick skin. Sitting alongside premeds for four years was no easy feat, my friends. I've come a long way, and although I have A LOT to learn for the rest of my life, at this point I feel ready to take on one more industry.

For now photography is just a hobby - a hobby I enjoy above all the rest. If I one day find myself making a career out of my hobbies, gosh, I'd be happier than if I were to win the lottery! A lifetime satisfied with what you're doing; how awesome would that be?! Many have already questioned my commitment given my Tourettes-like behavior with career options, but I'm finally at the point where I'm not scared to be judged nor scared to fail.

One of the first photos I took with my snazzy new camera is of Saka moping on the bed because I'm not giving him enough attention.


PS. Thanks, Molly, for the photography book! It means so much to me. :-)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Where's Gold Bug?

"Where's Gold Bug, Corie?"

"Right there! Buggg-uh... and there! Buggg-uh."

Corie is only 21 months, and she's a genius. Gold bug is this tiny bug, I mean TINY as in one centimeter, and it's hidden in a HUGE, colorful picture. The point of the game is to locate it on each page (think, Where's Waldo?). There are 68 pages of this book, and Corie can locate Gold Bug on each page within four seconds - it's amazing! Sure she's probably memorized it by now, but she can even find Gold Bug with the book upside down!

Corie is my niece, and this past weekend I was lucky enough to spend two days in a row with her. My cousin's interaction with her reminds me why I want to be a mother one day, and Corie's minor temper tantrums remind me why I'm waiting. :-)

The first two photos are of Corie proudly displaying her pink hat. The last photo shows my husband (aka Uncle Mark) wearing her hat without her permission. See how he's disturbingly proud as she makes it clearly known that she is NOT happy with this exchange?




Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm SO not there, yet.

As I venture into this photography industry I have come across many friends and professional photographers who are teaching me a thing or two about the art. I don't plan on calling anyone out, but maybe you know who you are. :-)

So I asked a friend about the differences in lenses, and my response was probably an hour's worth of reading. Don't get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for this free knowledge but I couldn't help but feel like I was working at again, and I had just asked a game tester what the big deal was with the new Call of Duty only to find myself at the end of an hour-long explanation with words like nootubes, martynoobs, and juggernoobs. What??? You're a noob.

Anyhow, I've got a ton to learn and a lifetime to learn it. I appreciate all the help and support, and I'm extremely blessed with friends and family who believe in me and are cheering me on. Hopefully one day I myself will become a photography "noob." :-P

And with that here is Saka eating with us in the Marina. Go Bears!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I dream of pretty pictures...

After months and months of planning for my wedding and taking much needed time off, I’m back to the daily grind of arguing with insurance reps. One phone call after another. It doesn’t change, so maybe I should. As I eagerly await my Canon 50D (arriving in 3 days, eek!) I spend most of my free time learning about photography, how to shoot manually, lightening, which lenses to use outdoors and portraits and sports, and plenty of time on Photoshop. It’s all so addicting that I find myself glued to my computer monitor all night only to fall asleep dreaming of photography and waking up thinking about photography!

I've never appreciated an art form more than photography, and to have the opportunity to capture these moments myself and turn it into my own art is so invigorating!

I want to blog my experience because it would be nice to look back even a few months from now to see how far along I’ve come if I’ve gone far at all in this industry. :-) Also, I love emoticons. Be ready.

And here is a photo of my husband and I in Peru... where I began to live like there's no tomorrow.