Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I just went 7 days without power. Living in Southern California is pretty great almost all the time. Real earthquakes haven't happened in 20+ years and other than the occasional forest fire and permanent drought, we sit pretty all year every year.

But we (especially the cities near the foothills) just got destroyed by some gale force winds.

I live in Arcadia (between Pasadena and Monrovia)

They said it would be the worst winds in 7-10 years.

Try 70 years. My gardener said he'd never seen it this bad in the 30 years of being in this business as well as the 50 years of living here. On the morning after the windstorm I woke up to find 2 toppled tree, one that was originally 30 feet lying face down in our backyard. It tore the roof off my dog house. The howling winds were deafening, to the point that I couldn't hear trees falling. On the way to the gym the night before, I saw a transformer explode 100 yards from where I parked my car.

As I made my way to the street, it was like a scene from the movies in which all the residents came out of their homes to see what had happened. Kids were taking pictures. Neighbors that I had never seen were out and about and chatting up a storm. And for good reason because no one could make it out to a main street. We were completely trapped by a toppled tree in every direction. No one was getting to work that morning.

I became a refugee. While I still showered at home after the power went out, I couldn't stand the 50-60º water. I began showering at the gym. And while I stayed at my house for 3 consecutive nights after the windstorm, it all came to an abrupt end on Sunday morning when I awoke to at a 49º thermostat. Thereafter I slept at my aunt's house.

My schedule revolved around making rounds to go home and then the studio. I had to juggle shoots and haul my workstation (fortunately mostly mobile) to the studio and work there. I would leave the studio at 1AM and then sleep at home for the first couple nights.

Traffic was a nightmare. None of the lights worked. It took 30 minutes to drive what usually took 10 minutes. Now that's what I call a "transaction cost". Just going to get food was a chore.

Internet? I was tethering with my iPhone. I won't be surprised if AT&T calls me up and tells going to put me on the tethering plan as a result of the 4GB I used up during those 7 days without Internet.

Retouching? Nearly impossible. Hard enough to juggle when I had 2 more shoots to add on top of the 3 existing shoots, so now I'm 5 shoots behind. Even harder without being at my workstation at home.

But what's the point of all this? There is no point. I just felt like sharing a small part of my life with you all so you'd understand the ebb and flows of what I go through. Yes, this windstorm was an externality. Hopefully something I never have to deal with again. It could have been a lot worse. Lives could have been lost. And yes, 7 days without power pales in comparison to what real refugees endure in the real disaster-stricken parts of the world. Oh, I get it. I'm not (really) complaining. On the other hand, if I could dedicate my life to being a refugee, none of this would be so bad. But life goes on and the world expects no less of me regardless of whether or not I have electricity, heat or hot water. The clients still want their images on time, the students still need a professor, shoots still need to happen.

So in the words of Tim Gunn "Make it work". What took the biggest hit in my schedule? My Ironman training. In addition to catching the flu, I haven't trained for over a week now. You make sacrifices to balance things out. I'm not usually this busy but when shit hits the fan, you must make sure your priorities are straight. Parties? Get togethers? If it even makes the priority list, it's at the bottom of the pile for me.

As 'Pac said, "You do what you gotta do... to survive."

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