Chapter 11: Missed Moments…

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We don’t always remember what people SAY, but we always remember how they make us FEEL. 

Sometimes someone will come into our lives when we need them the most. Even if it’s just for a fleeting moment. One such situation comes to mind…there’s not much to the story and it doesn’t have a lot of substance BUT it changed my life. Or rather, my outlook on life.

I met a man in Japan once. He lived in China. He was slim and athletic with a strikingly handsome face, fun sense of humor and dark eyes that were almost black.

Half Mexican, half Anglo, he was a stuntman in the Japanese movie I was there to film. We were paired so he could train me for some intensive martial arts, and as the only two people there who spoke fluent English we ended up talking quite a bit after the longs days were done.

When you’re in a foreign country and you find someone you can talk to after days or weeks of exhausting broken English and hand-gesture communications, it’s not uncommon to open up about things you wouldn’t normally talk about like a dam that’s burst. Just like how much easier it is to spend foreign cash, because it doesn’t feel like ‘real money’. Perhaps you speak freely it’s because you think you’ll never see these people again.

I was at a very low period in my life about many things, and he showed me another way of looking my situation. One of which was my age; hitting thirty and still chasing a dream, wondering if I should be opting for the ‘American Dream’ of having babies, stability and house of my own instead.

He said something like this: “The people who do have all of that think YOUR life is far more interesting. Age is just a number. My mom had me at 40, I was her first child. I know someone else who had her first baby at 44. No issues. So don’t stress.  It doesn’t matter how old you are.  Live your life.”

In a nutshell, that was it.

And, it was profound. As a female having to choose whether to continue pursuing a crazy career or stop and have children…going home to America…feeling like a failure for not having the house with a white picket fence…the way he spoke to me about our societies’ narrow way of thinking opened up my mind.

One night after training, he called me at my hotel in Shinjuku and we chatted for hours. He invited me to visit where he was currently staying in Tokyo, giving me the complicated train instructions. I was in the midst of a bad relationship back in America that would soon end terribly. That was part of why I was staying in Japan so long; for a much-needed breather. I said I’d see how I felt and let him know.

It was getting late. I looked up the train schedule; there were only a couple left that evening. I sat on the edge of my bed and watched the clock tick.  

And I sat.

The last train pulled out of the station.

I called him back, saying I didn’t feel well.  

A lie.

I was afraid. Because I really liked him.

He was one of the most positive people I’d ever met. I left Japan and stayed in touch with him via email, but eventually, life got busy for both of us & we lost touch.
We had never so much as hugged, but for many years, I thought about him.  His love for life. How much his outlook had personally affected me.

What IF.

Regrets vs. remorse. Regret is for something you did. Remorse is felt for something you did NOT do.

I always felt that I’d missed the boat. Literally and figuratively.  I think he would have been good for me, and I could have learned from him. I’ve made a lot of bad choices in relationships and have created monstrous turmoil in my personal life. I think my career would have gone better had I a more stable or positive home life. I promised myself not to ever let that train leave again.

We don’t always remember what people SAY, but we always remember how they make us FEEL. In this case, I remembered both.

 

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I later found him on Facebook and finally got the chance to tell him how grateful I was for his advice & how it changed me. He remembered us hanging out, but had no idea he’d told me all of that or how I’d been affected. I was happy to have the opportunity to thank him…and still have him as a friend.

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Chapter 7: My Photography – Here, There, Her.

A birth certificate shows that you were born.

A death certificate shows that you died.

But pictures show that you LIVED.

Photography:  Definition – Writing with light.

My other love… photos. Being on both sides of the camera is amazing.  

If I could figure out a way to have writing and photos pay the bills I WOULD.  The only way I’ve seen that work is with adult sites. 

Here are a few of my favorites…

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I was supposed to do maternity photos for this girl, but she had her baby while I was on the road. She hired me to do her baby pictures instead.

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England. Clearly. Lived there for a while, fell in love with it.

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Speaking of British, Miss Rachel. I love shooting all kinds of people and Rachel is really comfortable in her own skin. That’s the most fun kind of person to shoot.

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Pregnancy pictures are something I truly enjoy capturing.

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Philly by day…

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Philly by night.

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Homesick Luchadora. She’d been in a hardcore match the night before and her forehead was still cut open.

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This girl was also the worst roommate I’ve ever had in any foreign country and the most self-centered person I’ve had the displeasure of sharing any part of my life with.  She was a Mexican-American luchadora with a substance abuse issue…it was pretty common for her to lurch into our tiny, shared studio apartment around 5 am, step ON  my mattress (yeah, I was on the floor), flip on the lights and wake everyone up. All 4 of us.  She brought suitcases that her cat peed on to our  non air-conditioned studio apartment in Mexico…we all had to suffer the ammonia stench of cat piss that punched us in the face every time we walked in the casa du jour.

And then there was working with her. She was utterly dangerous in the ring, because she couldn’t remember anything past the lock up.  She hurt my knee in the USA and then hurt me again in Mexico when I was nursing an injury, didn’t want to cancel the booking last minute and had asked her to be careful. But that’s her…full of adrenaline and only out for herself.  I’d imagine there’s a lot of ‘her’ in entertainment  but I suppose I should consider myself lucky to only have one roommate like this.

Centerfold model Leslie Wells. We were in Vegas for a shoot where everyone took turns with the camera that day out in the middle of desert. A large chunk of the photo shoots I’ve done have happened in the middle of the Nevada deserts. When I retire, I can help the mafia find all the good burial spots.

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Pro Wrestler & Actor JD Maverick/Jordan Danyluk.

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Salzburg, Austria. You know…where Mozart lived.  In German, the “burg” in a town or city name means “castle”.  So, if you’re in Marburg, there’s definitely a castle there.

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Miss Olivia then…and Miss Olivia a bit later, discovering how delicious a table really can be.

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Boston. I lived right here, in Kenmore Square, for quite a while while putting myself through both Killer Kowalski’s Pro Wrestling Institute and NESOP – New England School of Photography – at the same time. It was brutally expensive, but worth it… if not just for the experience alone. I loved that you could take any class at all there, at any time, because tutors and random workshops were plentiful. Boston is one kick ass city and my second home, after Philly.

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Speaking of the legend, Walter “Killer” Kowalski… this is him with student Matt who goes by the name Tensai in WWE.

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More former classmates…my first tag partner “Arch Kincaid” and Chris “Harvard” Nowinski, who is currently doing great things in conjunction with Boston University on concussion research. Watch his documentary “Head Games”.  It’s on Netflix.

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Niigata, Japan. A fishing village that was brutally cold when our wrestling tour came through. I could be wrong (and I did try to look this up just now) but I believe we were told this was Japanese point closest to Russia. Hence, the cold. We stayed in a traditional Japanese hotel; (surprisingly comfortable) sleeping mats on the floor, several of us in one room and a communal hot spring bath everyone used.  You can’t really freak out in Japan…it’s considered very poor behavior, so we sacked down with everyone else and took baths in front of strangers. Hey…when in Japan, do as the Japanese do.

I actually came home and changed my entire sleeping after ‘living’ in Japan. I now only sleep on futons or platforms and when visiting others who own soft or crappy beds, I’ll chose the floor.

…But I’ll bathe in a private shower, thank you.

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Sumie Sakai, a professional MMA fighter, wrestler and judo expert. All cleaned up and purdy  for me.

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I think her name was Jade. Stunning girl.

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Snagged a quick shot as we hit our hotel of the French Alps. This was in Grenoble, the town Andre’ the Giant was from…and EVERYONE from there made sure we knew that. It WAS an absolutely stunning village. The photo is nothing special, but the mountains sure were.

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Nikki Roxx. While a hot topic of debate was Mexicans sneaking into America, we gringas were sneaking across the Mexican border for work.

(There was just as much hostility from the Mexicans, too. They did NOT like that Americans were coming in and taking their spots, so it was a very tough work environment )  Lucha Libre Feminil (and CMLL) had us staying/living  in Monterrey Mexico and we decided to shoot on a day off.

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Another of our American roommates, Christie Ricci.  Did you know the “OK” thumb to forefinger sign means “you’re an asshole” in Mexico? Well, you do now.

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Alberta, Canada.  It’s not a special shot, but it IS an especially pretty rainbow. Alberta has a lower tax rate (just %5) than most of the of USA and some of the largest oil reserves in North America. AB residents don’t pay for healthcare, are in a housing boom and have a fuckton of natural resources, keeping their economy in the green —and we will probably attempt to go to war with them over it all in the near future.  Canada is also famous for Tim Horton’s.  Oh, and Pam Anderson.

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Edmonton, Canada at Christmas.

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A shoot with Annie Social in Toronto, Canada. We were up there to do the Carmen Elektra show and has some down time. When I broke my nose in the ring on the walk-through before the PPV (thank you, dear opponent), Annie was the first one there with tampons to shove up my gushing nose. That’s a friend for ya.  Oh, and my wait in the Canadian hospital emergency room? About 18 minutes.  Straightened, cauterized, packed with gauze. They also did an x-ray for my ankle at no extra bother, which was acting up since Mexico. In and out in less than an hour. Take that, US healthcare believers.

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Toronto. A girl who went by the name Ninja.

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Another Canadian photo…pro wrestler & actor JD Maverick.

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Tampa Bay. Clearwater, to be exact.

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The calm before the storm.

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Backstage at the NPC Junior Nationals in Chicago.  Jessica Jimerson and I both qualified in the tall class, were at the same gym in Louisville KY at the time and didn’t really like each other that much until that trip. Boy, she was a blast

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J’adore France! I’ve been in and around France so much in the last 8 years that I feel like I live there part-time…yet, still passionately detest the CDG airport. (Which, incidentally, is the airport with the most lost bags in the world.)

France is a beautiful, amazing, damning, frustrating, delicious country. The people are strong spirited and have a lot of pride, which often gets completely mistaken for snobbishness by foreigners who usually don’t bother to learn the customs. (For example: how it’s extremely rude not to say hello upon entering any shop or place of business.  Fail to do that and you WILL get a cold shoulder.)

Here are a few of my favorite shots from all over the country:

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Paris.

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Clermont Ferrand.

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Marseilles…back when it was still part of France. It’s been hijacked by Muslims now. It’s run down and all the French culture and food are gone in lieu of call to prayer alerts and begging children sent out by their parents.

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Paris.

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Notre Dame.

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On a glass ‘baton’ cruising the Seine in Paris.

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Toulouse.

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La Tour Eiffel…with ‘Peace’ written in every language.

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Josie, a professional wrestler.

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I used to shoot my friend Talia (now ‘Velvet Sky’) all the time. She was my main “guinea pig” for model practice.  This particular photo was ripped off dozens of times, so of all the pictures I have of her, I figured this was the one to share.

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Gym shoots. I’d get the guys to pose for me. This one is pro wrestler “Dirty Money”.  He’s super easy to shoot, because he’s another who is entirely comfortable in his own skin. During the shoot he was traipsing through the gym in nothing but a pair of wrestling trunks…mind you, this was Kentucky…and he didn’t give a crap if anyone stared.

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More unusual photo tidbits: In some cultures, having a photo taken is considered very bad, because they believe it steals their soul.  The Amish are not allowed to pose for photos,  but non-posed pictures are permissible if one is polite about doing it.

Thanks for looking and thank you for posing!

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