The Build Up

This past weekend was a wild ride.  After a fairly quick-paced, though tedious, day at work, I headed down to Orange County with a few SLO folks who wanted a ride down for Mother's Day.  For the most part, the entire car ride was filled with conversation.  One person of interest was my shotgunning passenger who is soon ending her career as a Dairy Science Product Technology undergraduate at Cal Poly.  During the ride, she shared about her passion for the artisan cheese industry (such a cool subject) and dairy industry in general.  This conversation piqued my interest as I had little to no idea about the cheese making process (or about California's dairy industry in general, at that rate).  One aspect I have grown to love the most about driving folks home include coming to know them as individuals and learning new tidbits about the world.

After a long night of driving around LA/OC and dropping passengers off, I finally made my way down to the relative's house I was crashing at for the weekend.  All was quiet as my cousin's husband opened the front door and I stepped inside.... mentally preparing to take on the weekend.  I would be spending a majority of Saturday hunting for apartments/housing with a friend (who at this time is living in Orange County) and most of Sunday morning at a graduation photoshoot for Esther, a good friend from my Cal Poly SLO days.  With a mind drearily burdened from work, exhausted from a long drive, yet excited for the weekend ahead, I unpacked my bag and quickly dozed off.

Saturday passed faster than it should have.  We spent a good seven hours of the day looking at apartments throughout Tustin, Lake Forest, and Santa Ana.  Thankfully, we settled on two prospective places but will be continuing our search just in case.  Saturday came and went faster than I could say "WHYRENTSOHIGH?

Sunday Fun-day

As preface, I met Esther through Cal Poly almost half a decade ago (wow, doesn't that make us all sound so much older?).  It seems like just a few moments ago she here in SLO attending Cal Poly, and then... BAM... on to pursuing her Masters of Accounting (which I learned is abbreviated as MAcc).  She was always quite an ambitious young woman, and... well... still is.  Accounting, IM games, heavy involvement in ministry... and probably many more activities always filled her plate.  I never quite understood how she did it, but she did, and now she's set to walk from USC in just a few days.  Meanwhile, I scraped by with my Electrical Engineering degree. Haha.

Esther had shot a quick text to me during the week prior inquiring if I had the time to do a graduation photoshoot for her and some friends at USC.  I think all, if not most, of them were to graduate from USC's Levanthal School of Accounting's Master's Program.  Originally, seven people were scheduled for a 3.5 hour shoot... but this number dropped to three.  I was content with three.  Of course I agreed to put on a small shoot for Esther and her friends.  It was a pleasure to be able to serve a friend from Poly in such a way (and get a sweet tour of USC's campus).  The last time I set foot on USC's campus was probably close to ten years ago for a cousin's graduation.

That Sunday morning I quickly threw on my go-to Hawaiian Style tank top, some cotton shorts, and my trusty pair of black Locals slippahs (because who needs to dress fancy when you're doing a photoshoot for fun, anyway?)  I arrived earlier than expected and met Esther and her roommate, Katie.  After a short while we walked a few blocks to USC's campus and met one of their other friends, Kay.  I learned that Kay also knew another friend from Cal Poly who graduated with my class... What a small world we live in. 

Most of the time we spent together on campus was figuring out where to shoot, how to shoot, and waiting for people to move out of our desired locations.  There was definitely solid conversation along the way, but from this point forward I'll only summarize the morning's events.

We started the day off near the Alumni Park in front of The Trojan statue.  However, there was a small waiting line so we ended up in front a building whose name I only know because of the ginormous plaque hanging above one of its major archways.  Big.  Right?

It was a slightly overcast morning, which proved in our favor for most of these photos.  Esther, Kay, and Katie were a fun group to shoot with.  There was plenty of laughter and chatter to go around.  A few other photographers and their subjects were wandering around and/or waiting in line for the Trojan.  Faithful. Scholarly. Skillful. Courageous. Ambitious. Now, those strong adjectives that I am certain describes these three women (and... hopefully the rest of USC). 

Afterwards, we made our way through to the Steps of Troy... which is, as you guessed... concrete steps with more adjectives inscribed in to it.  No pictures here, though! Some other folks were already busy on the steps, so we proceeded to walk a short distance to the Leventhal School of Accounting.  If I remember correctly, this is the building where all three women have spent the most time learning all things in accounting-land (aptly named by me as I have little idea as to what goes on there) over the past nine months.  A majority, if not all, of the buildings have a red brick exterior. The same style of archways and exterior appeal were consistent throughout all of the buildings we walked past.  I was not sure whether to be impressed by the potential age of these buildings or the fact that architects kept the same style throughout the years of constructing new facilities.

A short walk later and I found us in the courtyard of the Mudd Hall of Philosophy.  We found ourselves waiting quite a long time to take advantage of corridor (which you shall see a little further down)... so I did the next best thing... Sat them down on a bench in the courtyard.  I think this was natural laughter :). Ha.

After what felt like a quinquagintuple years (yes, that is an actual word), the corridor opened up!  After a few minutes of shooting, three more groups lined up behind us.  I struggled to shoot as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Think we got some good ones here though.

Afterwards, we packed up our bags and headed towards the complete opposite side of campus (I think).  I don't recall why we headed that direction, or even what the building we ended up at was called... But Esther and Katie led the way as I walked in the back with Kay.  We chatted a bit about life.  She shared a little bit about her family, life in SoCal, and a brief life history and I shared about my life back in Hawaii and about moving to the mainland since starting college.  I've always enjoyed talking with other people about the lives they've been leading.  (It also provides an opportunity for me to share about home, which immediately causes homesickness, which sucks.) 

Afterwards, Kay dropped us back off at Esther and Katie's place.  She then departed and the rest of us attempted to find a Hawaiian-inspired cafe to get some macadamia nut pancakes.  To my dismay, the cafe was closed... We decided to visit a Taiwanese breakfast place called Huge Tree Pastry out in Monterey Park.  I got lost on my way to the parking lot; In my defense, I'm not accustomed to an urban environment yet... That was my first time eating "traditional" (or maybe it was typical?) Taiwanese food for breakfast.  Honestly, I was impressed by its simplicity yet tastiness and would go again, though perhaps not by myself.  The three of us chatted a bit more, though I was already quite drained from the past two days, and then grabbed some boba afterwards.  At the boba joint, I ran into one of my cousins who happens to live in Orange County.  (Can you see the trend with the world being so small?)  I hadn't expected to see him as I was on the road most of the weekend, yet it happened.  We also bumped into two other friends from SLO who were making the trip back up the same day.  What were the odds?  Anyway, after drinking most of the sugary-milky goodness down, Esther, Katie and I parted ways and I started the ascent back SLOme.

Congratulations, Esther, Katie, and Kay.  Fight On.

What was learned...

  1. Switching lenses between locations is extremely inconvenient. Considering buying a second body if I ever need to do this as a full-time gig.  Or maybe my old D7100 will work fine. It probably will, in some instances.
  2. First time shooting with the 70-200 f/2.8.  It is a beautiful creation that generates sublime bokeh.  Going to take care of that baby... It is practically a baby.
  3. Shoot in the shade. Shoot in the shade. Shoot in the shade.
  4. Don't be afraid to start conversations. Even if it's about school and the future. They'll lead to other conversations such as family, travel, faith, future plans, and current experiences.
  5. Apartment hunting and doing a photoshoot on back-to-back days is exhausting.  As an introvert... I think I need some time to myself once in a while.

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