what up?! i'm michelle one of the curators at the coco gallery {gives hug}. i work out of orange county. i'm also "grin" of frexNgrin. "frex", the other half, would be curtis. he used to be my favorite subject but now we have our lil coffee bean, kaya and our lil blonde roast, dia.

welcome to my blog where i share my life, my latest adventures, photo projects, random nuggets and the occasional stray thoughts.

for clients: to view my portfolio just click on this link - theCOCOgallery.com. to book sessions please send me a message through theCOCOgallery.com or contact me via michelle@thecocogallery.com | 949.734.0604

Thursday, December 4, 2014

still remembering mom

when my mom finally passed it wasn't a surprise, it was a welcome relief, one that took eight years to arrive. still, at the funeral, the grief took over and my sister and i were choking in our tears. neither of us could read the story we prepared to share with friends and family that day. curtis had to step in and read it for us. to remember mom on her birthday, i dug that farewell tribute up to share today.

everyone has a set of best loved stories and we wanted to share one of our favorites about mom with you. we’re sure that some of you are familiar with this one. 

often times our mom, who was ever the disciplinarian, would use her life stories as tools to teach us valuable lessons. this story is about mom, who was a willful child raised by her grandmother (aka lola inay). 

let me begin by saying that lola inay was a strict disciplinarian and woman to contend with. lola inay had long established a set of rules, and one of them was that the children in the house were not allowed to visit the neighbors without her express permission. permission was not always granted, especially when one’s chores were not done. mom, the youngest of the many children in the house, decided all on her own that she was special and did not need permission - and besides that, she was sure that she could sneak away for a couple of hours and no one would ever even notice. that day, she snuck over to the next door neighbor’s house where there was a little girl of the same age to play with. it wasn’t until a few hours later that she heard lola inay yelling for her from the other side of the shared wall. in a panic, she hurried towards the wall and peeked over. lo and behold, there was lola inay! she was too close for her to sneak back home and not get caught, but she could hear the insisting tone in lola inay’s voice that meant she was upset.  and when lola inay was upset, you had better believe that it was the end of the world. she HAD to try anyway. she started around and attempted to enter the house from behind, but then lola inay turned around and they made eye contact. oh god! it was a deer in the headlights moment… mom took one look at lola inay, quickly spun on her heels and started running the other way. lola inay was right behind her. mom ran towards town, through the market and eventually ended up circling the entire neighborhood in an attempt to lose lola inay.  Please remember that this is her grandmother – but the woman was known in town as a woman of steel and quite the legend. mom realized that she was losing ground and decided to head home. needless to say she was punished for her naughtiness. it was a terrible punishment, but one that mom shared with us. she only wanted us to know that we would not have to suffer similar consequences – provided that we choose not to disobey her house rules, which she had modified to fit her own style of parenting. {we smile}

that willful child grew up to be a headstrong woman of great character. she had an atrocious temper and a dynamite sense of humor. she was your best friend and your favorite shopping buddy. even in the last eight years when the pinnacle of life was not at its best, you could still see that spark that was mila, in her eyes.  we love her and we’ll greatly miss her. this is only one of many favorite mila stories and we shall always remember her since we never tire of swapping mila stories with friends and family.

mom was born on dec 4, 1945 and passed away on july 4, 2006. my sister's daughter yuki was born six years later on dec 4, 2012 and the celebration of life continues with the new generation of willful females in our family


Friday, November 28, 2014

going back into my shell

honestly, i'm not quite sure how i survived through my photography career. i think that my no-nonsense, slave driving ways were my salvation. that and ordering people around with a smile. i'm actually pretty shy and awkward in social situations. my coco gallery buddies are the only reason why i had to exercise the social side of me. they MADE me talk to people because we needed to market the business... and so i did. jason had to give me a scripted outline for client interactions and tommy would push me to meet strangers at business mixers and art events. it was sooooo painful. but i did it. i got better at it. each time was another push outside of the comfort zone and each time i would heave a sigh of relief when it was over.

now that i'm back in corporate IT i can feel my self slowly walking backwards into my comfortable space in the shadows. slowly. sneaking my way into a place where i don't have to interact with people in social situations anymore. slowly, the doors are creaking closed and i'm considering art for art's sake. business be damned and marketing along with it. i'm not that good anyway.

documenting my family is stress free, cherished and doesn't require marketing.

Friday, October 17, 2014

my biggest guilt

i was thirteen. it was midday. a weekend. i remember sitting on the steps inside the house. facing the window. my mom was combing my hair. she asked me if she was a good mom. i remember thinking how silly that question was.

"of course!" i answered.
then she had this sad look on her face. "promise me you won't ever put me in a home." that's what she said.

and i promised i never would. why the hell would i ever consider that? we don't do that in my culture.


14 years later i did. i had to.

i'm going to live with that guilt forever. i let my mom down.

somehow this story came up today. i can't remember how. but it came up. i need to put it out there. let it roam free. then maybe i can move on from it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

five years of blogging

i started writing my blogs as an extension of my journaling. it was a way to keep everyone informed of what was going on with curtis and myself while we took a life break in the philippines back in 2008. this blog eventually evolved into an extension of my photography business. a documentation in words and images of the people i met, photographed and loved. i had a remarkable following considering the little bit of effort i put into it and i was amazed.

after coco gallery was created i moved away from my own blog since maintaining 2 of them (coco had one too) was tedious. my work life and my personal life were too difficult to keep separate. i felt like i was being redundant.

now i'm turning a corner again and this blog is going back to being my personal journal. i'm fairly certain that my readership has diminished to almost nothing or just family. and that's ok. i know that blogs are kind of out dated now. people don't have the patience to read more than a few lines on a fb post. but i do it for me and for my kids. i actually print out my blogs into books. i was printing it once a year. i want to pass them on the girls. it's a legacy of my thoughts, i want them to understand who i am, who they are, who we (curtis and i) are. i don't want them to regret not having asked me about me as i do about my own mom. by the time they are of the age to be curious about who i really am, i'm pretty sure i'll be some cranky ol' lady who won't want to answer those questions ... or i'll be senile. so i want to give them the current version as it occurs. while it's still fresh and while the feelings are genuine and the events have more truth than colored memories.

so here's to five years of blogging. maybe some years were skipped (or barely touched). the point is... it's still here and still going.