hi there! i'm michelle, southern california based photographer and curator of the coco gallery.

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

mila | random nuggets . what's your mental age?

" ... it seems like everybody's mental image of themselves stops somewhere in their life -- eighteen, twent-eight, sometimes even younger. -- and they stay there inside as the rest of their body ages."

sunny jacobs
stolen time

if i had to pick an age that i feel i am... i'd say 25.  in the last few years i've cleaned out my closet (mostly to make room for new clothes).  and as i've combed through what has to stay and what has to go, i realized that my perception of myself has aged.  apart from the clothes that didn't fit me anymore i threw out the clothes that i thought looked too young for me.  when i realized that i laughed then i went silent.  i'm getting old.  

now i know you guys are gonna say that i look young anyway and what am i worried about.  first off --- blushing!  haha!  but really, my friend joy and i once discussed that people get stuck in a clothing genre at some point.  i'm concerned about what genre i'm stuck in or going to be stuck in!  for goodness sake, the 80's are trying to make a comeback!

my closet used to be as diverse as a mall.  i had outfits for every occassion from goth and punk to orange county and philippine conservative.  i can't say that i'm as eclectic anymore either.  i've gotten lazy .. or worse... tired.  i don't even wear makeup everyday anymore!  this realization is rather alarming.  it's just cause for a shopping expedition down the line.  i'm just sayin.  

so tell me... what age would you say you are?  and does your closet need a fresh turn?  let's go shopping!

here's a picture from our goodbye get together in manila.  that's me, my cousin carizza and my friend sylvia.  curtis was busy playing pool as usual.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

mila | stray thoughts . sidekick

i was updating my blog welcome message just now (see above) and in there i made use of the word "sidekick" in reference to curtis.  he snuck a peek over my shoulder and grimaced.  then to further show his dissent with my choice of words he started to tickle me until i promised to "fix" it.  lol.  really i didn't mean it in the way of curtis being robin to my batman.... more like we're the wonder twins!

last week i was sick again (with another cold).  now anyone who knows me knows that i'm a terrible sickie.  my co-workers used to call me patient zero or typhoid mary coz i would infect everyone.  for some reason my body likes to prolong the mucous elimination process.  i would go thru boxes of tissues!  i know that's gross.  sorry.  i'm just trying to explain.  and as bad as i was during the day i was even worse at night.  laying down would bring on coughing fits that would make me throw up.  then i'd have to blow my nose.  it was horrid -- enough to make me cry from frustration sometimes.  no sleep for me and of course there was no way curtis would be able to sleep through all that noise either.  i'd feel so bad.  

just a few nights ago i rolled over exhausted and apologetic.  i had to say sorry to him yet again for depriving us both of sleep.  he gave me a tired smile, patted me on my arm and said... "it's part of being WE.  i love you babycakes."  i melted.  

we've been together for something like 4 years now and up until now we had separate addresses.  when we decided to go on this trip curtis let go of his rental place in costa mesa.  it's a place that he lived in for 12 years.  it was tiny, cozy, beautiful and we both loved the place but we needed to let go of some things to go on this journey.  that well loved place was one of them.  when we return to california next week we'll be consolidating our lives under one roof.  it's one of the steps we've decided on to move forward.  it's part of being WE.

i should be so lucky to have such a patient friend, partner ... sidekick.  i'm so lucky to be loved.  i'm so lucky to be a part of WE.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

mila | stray thoughts . new experiences

in samar we would putt around the island on a lil motorbike.  curtis would drive and i would be the backseat passenger.  our bike didn't have a working horn so we had to improvise.  curtis would yell BEEP BEEP! whenever necessary.  

every now and then i would see farm animals on the road.  i would happily squeal CHICKEN! whenever i saw one.  curtis would argue that it was a rooster or a little chick or a hen and i would insist on CHICKEN regardless of gender or size.  we would go back and forth for a while until i saw a different animal and yell moo-cow! or dawg! or kitty! to change the subject.  he resorted to responding with the animal sound.  that made me giggle.  then he started up with using animal sounds instead of beep sounds when we needed the horn.  people would give us a funny look and i would just laugh.  it was child-like, worry-free living.  i heart that.  

the game has carried into our bali trip.  sometimes i get lost in my thoughts and miss out on the animal sightings.  curtis makes the sounds now without my prompting waking me from my reverie.  yesterday was almost like that.  curtis was grunting a deep moo sound (different from the usual moo trust me) and then i felt the bike go faster!  i looked over to see the cows he was calling attention to and was surprised to see them RUNNING!  this may come as a surprise to you but i have NEVER seen cows running in person before.  3 cows running parallel to the road and curtis egging them on like some sort of rancher!  i'm worrying that they're gonna cross the road in front of us at any moment and he wants to play cowboy and catch up to them!  ugh.  boys will be boys.  by the time i found my voice again we had passed the danger.  he laughed at me and was surprised that i never saw cows running before.  puhleeze.  as if!  he grew up in orange county ... in the city!  that got me thinking though.  running cows doesn't seem so unusual and yet i never saw that before yesterday!  i probably have seen and done a lot of things that i take for granted that other people have never even considered and i've missed out on a few of the usual things.  case in point... i only learned how to ride a bicycle last summer.  do you have a "normal" thing that you have yet to experience?

cliff diving doesn't count as normal in my book but it's an everyday adventure for these kids....

Saturday, April 18, 2009

mila | random nuggets

curtis is in heaven.  he's been surfing 4 to 5 hours a day on some pretty good waves.  this leaves me a happy lil clam on the beach with a good book.  i'm probably averaging a book every 3 days.  

today i finished "the girls ", a novel by lori lansen.  it's an easy read about rose and ruby, a pair of conjoined twins.  it's written in the first person (supposedly) as an autobiography of one of the twins.  ah the treasures one finds in dusty bookstores!  anyway, whenever i come across a line that hits me i usually write it into my journal but since this is my online journal of sorts i thought i'd share it with everyone instead of keeping it to myself.

            "...i understand that i am me, but i am also we."  

it's such a powerful statement.  it's something that everyone in a relationship struggles with.  everyone from the 2 person team like husband and wife to larger bodies like president and country.  

curtis was driving us back to kuta and i hung on from the back of the bike.  the wind was pressing down on my helmet then rushing past my face.  i love the rushy feeling of the countryside whizzing by.  i'm chewing on that line in the book.  i took notice of it -- it's a reminder that i need to be mindful of curtis, it's also a nudge to make sure that curtis is mindful of me (i need to tell him this).  

our trip back to the US is only slightly delayed and a we got a few days reprieve from reality.  i've been worried about how i'm going to pick up again.  where do i even begin?  curtis says i worry too much.  i probably do.  he tells me that WE are going to be ok.  i take a breath and remember that i'm not alone.  yes, WE will be just fine.  

tomorrow i'm hunting for something new to read.  i'm open to suggestions.

a shot SOOC (straight out of camera) bravely using my big girl camera + superwide angle lens while hanging on to curtis from the back of a motorbike.  more tales from the left lane to come.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

mila | news . stuck in indonesia

whooooooops!  i swear i checked it a bazillion times but i guess you see what you wanna see.  we were supposed to be flying back to manila today (april 16).  we're in bali right now.  that's right... we're back in bali.  we love bali!!!  anywayz, we got to the airport and the ticketing agent frowns and says... your flight is on the 22nd.  we were like -- huh?  omg!  the travel agent screwed up!  we're stuck in bali for another week?!?!  [remember to look upset.  don't be so giddy.  she's gonna know you aren't that upset.  control...]  she tried to get us in to today's flight anyway but the plane was overbooked as it was.  she apologizes profusely.  it wasn't even her mistake.  we're not even upset.  hehehe.

yep!  that's right.  we're taking it as a sign from the heavens.  we are refusing to fight the fates that want us to stay here another week.  we'll be moving the trip from manila to US to the 27th or 28th.  we should still be home in time for cinco de mayo.  in the meantime, i'll work on my tan (i'm already a good shade of coco curtis brown) and a compilation of stories from the back of the motorcycle speeding down the left lane.  

this picture is actually from la union (philippines) back in november or something like that -- when i was paler and curtis and i still had US burger and beer remnants around our waists (curtis is oh so svelt these days).  i may have shared this pix before but i need one for this post and it's a goodie.  

Sunday, April 12, 2009

mila | adventures . samar

i LOVE samar!  i don't use caps often but the statement warrants it.  where do i even begin?  the food is excellent!  an endless supply of fresh seafood, veggies and my new favorite dish -- guiuan pizza.  manay susan's concoction of lato + kilawin + kamote -- in english, seaweed + fish + sweet potato.  it's delicious!  seriously, even curtis loves it.  

the people are so relaxed and wonderful.  the air is clean.  the roads are open -- open enough for curtis and i to spend hours driving around in a lil motorcycle that susan rented out to us.  check out the scenery we were able to explore!  we found the ultimate eternity pool nestled in a volcanic container fed by the ocean.

i want to go back!  i want to take  you with me!  would you be interested?  i'm putting together a group of 6-8 photographers.  2 weeks in the philippines this november.  what do you say?

Friday, April 10, 2009

mila | news

the tickets have been purchased.  some boxes are packed and i've still got so much to do.  it's time to come home!  we're heading back to the US on april 22.    six months of blissful sunny living is finally winding down.  i was laying on the beach yesterday pondering over the next move overwhelmed by a mixture of feelings.  trepidation, excitement, worry, happiness, sadness .. what a convoluted set of emotions!  i thought i'd sort out these feelings with my usual approach.  make lists:

what we're looking forward to:
1. seeing our friends and family
2. michelle: photoshoot outs with my buddies hanssie and ming 
3. being productive again ... yes... we are ready again.
4. michelle: signing up for pilates, yoga and hiphop -- maybe even women's crew
5. curtis: basketball
6. good mexican food
7. michelle: the freedom of driving on open roads
8. high speed internet!!!  -- you guys seriously don't even know.  i'm sure you've all forgotten how slow slow can be
10. curtis: more good mexican food

what we're going to miss:
1. friends and family
2. beautiful, clear, warm, happy beaches
3. the sights and sounds of the world
4. 50 cent beer
5. cheap but excellent dining
6. a variety of fresh yummy exotic fruit
7. not having to do any house work
8. esther 
9. not HAVING to be productive
10. not being able to excercise -- it's what i told myself anyway.  besides... we've been eating healthy!

for our philippine friends ... we'll be back!  promise!  and we look forward to seeing our US friends soon.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

mila | portraits . lontoc family

meet jaime, tin and isabelle, friends of the stolks .  sylvia and chris stolk, whose family portraits i shot last november, decided to get their good friends the lontocs a christmas gift that would keep on giving.  a family portrait shoot of their own.  thanks guys for introducing us to a sweet family of super awesome cooks!  oh happy grub!

tin and jaime opted for an outdoor shoot.  we packed up the family and a few friends and headed out to matuod beach for a fun overnighter.  (it's called matuod because tuhod = knees and the water at this beach is knee high for about a hundred yards).  tin is miz prepared let me tell you.  she busted out the laptop with some really great ideas on the kinds of photos that she loves.  she's a ginormous TWILIGHT fan (oh yes, we see eye-to-eye on this) so straight out of the poster shots we sucked up a lot of inspiration.  

the lontocs have a plot of land next to this fun beach that they are planning on turning into a goat farm.  it was the perfect meadow-y hill to get the shots we were going for.  we let little isabelle chase after baby goats, attempt sneak attacks on not so friendly cows and just basically run free like super baby complete with cape as mom and dad looked on (please note that no animals or children were harmed during this photoshoot).  then we waded on the water till sunset.  sigh.  what a great day.