i am sitting in my favorite coffee shop completely distracted

i wanted to write about two men who have influenced me as a creative person i wanted to contrast life and death as well as tragedy and triumph 

but there are some times where i dont have any structure or direction

i dont even want to capitalize or punctuate properly 

i just want my fingers to type 


paint this very detailed picture that is in my head about theses men 

one is alive 

and the other is dead


just type it, goddamnit 


k ok okay 

James Fox. I will start with James. I met James when I was twenty-one years old. It is CSUF women’s volleyball senior night and I am sitting in the stands nearest to my old teammates ready to get some shitty action shots with my Canon t2i. You know, like a total amateur.

I had never seen him before. He walks at about 6’2′, must be in his late 40s, with a balding head, white skin and very very big. He is rolling in suitcases to Titan Gym. I watch him in the distance as he opens up his suitcases and lifts up the most beautiful camera equipment that  I had ever laid my eyes on. 

He approaches me as warm-ups are ending and he changed my life forever. 

We talked about how I had recently developed a passion for photography. (I only had my camera for four months before this and I only worked with “Full-Auto”) I was a baby, brand new, but I knew I liked it. 

He let me play with his equipment and I fell in love. I fell in love harder and harder every time I saw the shutter close and open. I felt invisible. I felt powerful. I wouldn’t blink. Iput myself in my teammates body as my right eye looked through the viewfinder and my right pointer finger helplessly pressed.

Together I used my feeling with patience, my eye and finger to capture the emotion and power in the women on the court.  I thrived off of getting the “million dollar” shot. I have him to thank. 

So for two seasons, I would met him in our special spot in the stands to shot. I found happiness when I shot with my friend James. He respected me and taught me what he knew. I gave him new perspective. I will never forget when he was scrolling through my photos during a time-out and he said “damn girl, you really do have a good eye. You make this action an art.” I fell in love again. I fell in love with my abilities and the idea that I can grow and get a better shot. 

The last time that I saw James was November of 2013. I wish that I could have shot around with him one more time. 

It is Sunday, August 9th 2014 and I am at a jazzy and trendy little restaurant somewhere in Venice with a girlfrann. I look down at my phone and see an incoming phone call from James Fox. 

I push my chair back, and say, “Excuse me real quick but I need to take this.”

I exit the restaurant at a jogging pace and bump into some stoner hipsters but don’t have time to apologize for disturbing this personal space.

I’m finally in the dirty, typical Venice alleyway on the side of the restaurant and I think “dude this would be a sick place to photograph the boys skating.”

I press the answer button, “JAAAAYMMMESSS!! OH MY GOD!! HOW THE HELL ARE YOU, MAN?!” 

My high energy changed in a second. I fell out of  my happy self that I have worked so hard to find theses past few months. I entered my deep and introverted self that comes out with only a few people in this world. 

In a very quiet voice, he responds, “Hi, Danika, I don’t mean to bother you or anything but I thought you would be interested in something that I–“

I rudely interrupt, “Holy shit James, I just remembered that your wife posted something on Facebook about you being in the hospital. I’m glad you are okay but I am sorry about your little health scare.”

“Well– I uhh, it wasn’t just a little health scare. I should be dead.”

A strong breeze from the ocean hits me. Like a wave the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stand up. The wave gets strong and goes deeper into my body and touches my soul. My eyes start to water and my nose starts to flare to force oxygen into my lungs.

“James, what? I don’t understand.”

“I had a triple bypass on my heart. Then there were complications and I had to…”

I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t hear what he was saying because tears were uncontrollably falling. My world went silent and I stand hopelessly and overwhelmed with the idea that the man who inspires me might have been dead.

“Danika, oh D, please don’t cry. I am a live and it is a beautiful day.”

“I am so sorry that I am crying. I just don’t know. I am just so happy to know that you are okay.” 

He hesitates, and then says it, “Well, I have a problem. I have some nerve damage and my left hand is always going to shake. I won’t be able to photograph anymore.” 

I am squeezing my eyes shut and I forcefully cover my mouth so he can’t hear how much this is hurting me.

I try to cry silently as he continues, “Now that my left hand is not sturdy, I can’t get the right focus and it is just not going to work anymore.” 

“James, I am so sad. Shit, I am so sorry. I just don’t get it. This is your passion, you love photographing your daughter and and I- I just can’t even process this. I’m so scared.”

He then told me that he is blessed to be living and to lose a passion is worth not losing his life. 

I agreed with him. He offered some of his equipment for me to purchase off of him. I wish I had thousands in my savings so I can buy his kick ass 7D processor or even his studio, for goodness sakes. All that I can afford will be like, a lens cleaner. It doesn’t matter what it is. I want something of his and I want it to last forever.  

This man lost a love. He didn’t lose the world. He didn’t lose his daughter and wife. He is living. Praise Jesus and thank you modern medicine! However, I am mourning for him. I am mourning for all of the shots that he won’t get to take. I live for the next best shot. He can’t and I can’t share that time with him. 

It is always a wake up call to recognize how fragile life manages to be. Something beautiful is going to come of the lawyer, James Fox. He will find another passion because he gets to see another day. I pray that I can take my camera and shoot the world because he told me that I make this action an art

Dive into what you love and live, breathe and adore it until you can’t do it anymore. 

Volleyball was my first.

Writing and Photography are my second. As my heart breaks for Mr. Fox, I will never take my life and passions for granted. I will never lose the opportunity to inspire someone.

There may be a time when I have to call a friend and say I can’t carry on– take my things and make art for yourself and for me. 

Tragedy had to take his love and like he says, “I am happy to be alive today. You should be happy to be alive too. Now go enjoy this beautiful Sunday and I will see you around, Kiddo.” 




quiet honestly speaking        

i just cant talk about the second man who has influenced me right now because i cant talk about a man who is dead 

this tuesday is for the living

maybe wednesday will be for the dead


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