Few Things I’ve Learned So Far

I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a person in 2018. Right now, these life lessons are floating around in my head, but I’d like to write them down as a way of nailing the coffin. It helps.

1. Invest in yourself

I’ve always been a risk-averse person. You know how they say you need to spend money to earn money? That concept was foreign to me until recently.

I participated in an episode of Jubilee’s Real Monopoly, where we played Monopoly with real money. There I met a businessman who encouraged me to invest in myself.

“Buying a suit,” he said, “is investing in yourself. Anything that can create more opportunities for you, that is worth your money.”

Buying a new camera lens is investing in myself. Paying for online classes is investing in myself. Investing in a Roth IRA is investing in myself. Right now my money’s just sitting in my bank, earning minimal interest. If I have enough savings, there’s no reason I shouldn’t put my money toward my future. Risking a little money is better than hoarding it.

2. You’re not ready for every opportunity.

As much as I would love to be handed the chance to direct a feature film, I’m not ready. I tend to seek amazing opportunities for myself without asking if I’m even ready for those opportunities. That requires growth, both technical and spiritual. That’s why I make short films. To practice filmmaking.

But it’s not just about skillz. It’s about being an honorable, mature person who is capable of handling responsibility. Like Spider-man. Spiritual growth is equally as important as technical. One without the other means I haven’t fully grown into the person I want to be.

3. Time is precious.

I’ve blocked Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, and several movie news sites from my laptop. Yes, I can still access them on my phone, but it’s a start. I’m using an Chrome extension called StayFocused, which allows me to view my blocked sites for a total of ten minutes, and I’m always surprised at how quickly I use those ten minutes up.

Those sites aren’t worth my time, no matter how entertained I feel. I used to think I was good under pressure, but I’m not. When I have too many tasks at hand, I try to numb myself. Do something lazy. Ignore the tasks until the last second. Surf the web.

I’ve already used up all my “blocked site time” for the day. That forced me to blog. See? Progress.


These are just a few life lessons I’ve been engraining into my psychology. It’s 3:30am right now and I wanted to make this short and sweet. Plus I have to pick up my sister from soccer practice in five hours.

Josh out.

I No Longer Take Warm Showers

I don’t like announcing I’ve changed an old habit just a few days in. I could revert back anytime now.

July 4th. My friend Lester and I were chit-chatting about ways to stay motivated in life.

LESTER
I’ve been saying this a lot, but I’ll say it again. Cold showers. It helps me focus like nothing else.

ME
That sounds miserable.

When people suggest changing my lifestyle, I usually don’t. Not until the lack of change directly affects me, by then it’s a little too late (e.g. I got braces twice). However, as I stepped in the shower later that night, a wave of inspiration hit.

I turned the water to cold.

With gritted teeth, I stuck my hand into stream. Then my arm. Oh boy. I don’t like this. My body inched into the water, then retreated. You can do this, Josh. I closed my eyes then dove in.

I realized three things after my first few cold showers. First, my skin feels amazing afterwards. Something about the cold water drying gives a warm, burning sensation.

Second, I save a TON of water, gas, and time. My showers are three thousand times faster (wouldn’t be surprised if that was an accurate calculation) because I don’t dilly-dally in a jacuzzi. Instead, I’m in and out, long enough to wash myself and that’s it. Heck, it also makes me a more efficient person. Less shower time equals more time to do other things. Like blogging.

Third, it’s great for waking up and refocusing, as Lester mentioned. I was a bit drowsy before writing this post. The cure? A blast of cold water in the face. Boom. Magic.

I’m only three days into taking cold showers. Apparently it takes two weeks to get used to. I’ll update you guys then. If I haven’t given an update in two weeks, comment below and remind me.

I’ve been thinking about the moment right before I enter the water. Hesitation. Dread. I squirm every time, but I know I should do it. It’s better for me. I’m convicted of that.

My quality of life increases because of these five seconds of discomfort. It could be ten seconds. It could be a minute. But that doesn’t matter. As long as I choose the cold shower, I win. Oh, it’d be a lot easier to go back the blazing hot showers I’ve been taking for twenty-five years. I’ve already thought of “treating” myself to a warm shower every now and then.

But why should I? Why would I trade a better life for a lazy, convenient one? Sure, it feels good in the moment, but I’m losing so much more. I’m losing self-discipline. The will to do hard things. The will to make tough decisions. Wow, you take cold showers and suddenly you’re a motivational speaker. I believe it’s the little things. Good habits aren’t created in a snap. They’re little adjustments that you make to yourself over time. My first step is just a bit frigid.

Josh out.

Freelancing In The Film Biz

Is freelancing considered unemployment? Technically, right?

I consider myself a pretty good freelancer. I have some regular clients and some odd gigs that come once in a blue moon, but pay really well. There’s nothing like the feeling of getting a gig. Two thoughts come to mind:

I’ll be able to pay my bills this month!

and…

I have skills that are worth monetary value!

Both are great feelings for sure. I used to not be a happy freelancer. A couple years back, when I was still wet behind the ears, I used to begrudge freelance work. They’re paying me so little! I hate this job! Not worth it! Now, even if the pay is lower than usual, I put my best foot forward and do the best job possible.

Work is work. Yes, it is about making money, but it’s also about developing work ethic. Somewhere in the world, there’s someone else who can do the same job as you for the same price, maybe even cheaper. So why hire you?

In the film biz, I believe it’s about being friendly, not arrogant like artists could be, easy to talk to and easy to work with. Doing little things that give your client confidence they hired the right person for the job.

Today I messaged one of my clients who was waiting on feedback from higher up. Hey, is there any preliminary work I can do on the video while we wait? There wasn’t, but the client was grateful that I asked, and thanked me for being proactive. It’s the little things.

Working as an artist in the entertainment industry can be brutal. Everyone wants everything for the lowest price possible, causing artists to bid for gigs and undersell themselves to get the job. It boils down to relationships. Are you a “cool” person to work with? Not “cool” as in you dress stylishly and have a ton of Instagram followers. “Cool” as in are you a decent person to the highest degree? Do you make people feel good when they hire and interact with you? These are all things I’m still learning, and working toward being a better artist and employee.

Josh out.

Pornography: Apples and Cookies (repost)

Welp. I finally missed a day, and I’m about to miss another one. I have a VFX project and editing project due tomorrow, so when I say I need to hustle…I actually need to hustle.

I’m not going to do this often, but for today I’m reposting an old blog post from about three years ago. I was going to write about porn anyways, but what I wrote here was pretty good and I wasn’t sure if I could top it in the fifteen minutes I have left to spare today. Anyhoo. Back to work.

Josh out.


I once saw a video on GodTube (yes, that exists) on how to deal with porn addiction. An enthusiastic pastor held out one hand and said, “Imagine a cookie. Satan’s handing you a cookie and telling you that you’ll like this.” The pastor switched hands and continued, “Now imagine God handing you an apple and telling you that this will be good for you. I promise you, if you imagine this every time you’re tempted to view pornography, you will overcome your addiction.”

I love cookies. Cookies are delicious. Especially the white chocolate chip ones. I don’t know how white chocolate chip is different from regular chocolate chip, but I just get more excited when I eat them.

Clearly that analogy didn’t work for me. If it works for Mr. Apple Loving Pastor or anyone else, great. But I feel like overcoming addiction is more complicated than tricking your brain into liking apples.

When I was fourteen, I started working at my grandma’s office. I made sure people paid their rent, helped with the computer stuff…and looked at porn online. It was my first time having unlimited access and freedom to check out naked women. My parents weren’t around. My grandma would work in the other room. I almost gave the computer a virus.

Every so often, you come across a dilemma in which the choice you make, a single choice, will forever alter the trajectory of your life. For me, that choice was to ‘fess up to my dad about my addiction. I would miss hanging out with my grandma, getting paid at the end of the week, and interacting with tenants, but fourteen-year-old Josh decided his morality was worth it.

My dad was reading the Bible in his bedroom alone. I nudged the door open. It creaked. “Dad? I have something to tell you.”

What transpired was one of the most defining moments I’ve had with my father. Instead of berating me, he helped me understand what I was feeling. No punishment, no condemnation, just love and acceptance. Sure, I’d have to quit the job, but I understood why. Often, we win or lose our battles before they begin. If I were to start breaking free of my addiction, I needed to avoid situations where I was prone to watch porn.

I’ll always be grateful to my dad for guiding me through the first step. But it was far from the end of the battle.

In an attempt to escape addiction, I got involved in ministry. It helped a lot, knowing that if I was responsible for the spiritual welfare of others, I should at least be somewhat spiritually healthy myself. Yet every couple weeks, I’d find myself falling back into the same vicious cycle. “Okay Josh, from this moment on, you are NOT doing that again.”

Fast forward one month later. “Really Josh? Are you kidding me? You are leading worship in a few weeks, get your act together!” Mondays were opportune moments to view porn. Then I’d have an entire week to get holy with God before Sunday came around. Ridiculous, yes. But it worked. I’d totally fall in love with God one morning, then check out a set of boobs the next. Ministry, while positive in all sorts of ways, only served as a temporary distraction from my porn battle. For years, I was stuck in a cycle of watching porn, then serving God, watching porn, then serving God. It eventually became depressing, causing me to believe that I’d be struggling with this until the day I died.

Writing that last paragraph disgusted me. Some of you may be wondering why I’m bothering to cover this topic. It’s safe to say a majority of us deal or have dealt with pornography. So why not talk about it? Problems remain problems when they’re kept secret. Darkness, when exposed to light, is vanquished. Simple as that.

So how did I eventually overcome my lust? I won’t lie and say I’ve been completely victorious and in control, but I struggle less with it after recognizing that porn was never the real problem.

I once heard a pastor say that if you’re dealing with lust, look out for anger. Keeping track of when I felt most susceptible to binge-watching XXX vids, I realized I’d often watch porn when I was resentful or bitter, especially toward my dad. Whenever I was pissed at him, the one who taught me to flee temptation, I googled naked women as if to spite him. Or maybe some crappy life events had just occurred and I succumbed to pornography, seeking relief. But why would I seek relief from something that increased the burden of guilt and shame? Did I really think I could spite God by sinning?

No matter how far I ran away from porn, I would always return to it if I hadn’t dealt with the core issues. My hurts, my anxieties, my grudges….God promised He would bring healing and peace to them all, if I let Him. But sometimes, I don’t trust God. Porn gives me a sense of control, like I could create my own joy or my own rest. It never works for long, though. When I surrender to His ways, which are far better than my own, porn loses its appeal. Why settle for artificial pleasure when I have the eternal love of my Lord and Savior?

After wrestling with porn for so long, I finally realized that despite all my filth, God never stopped loving me. He loved me when I was viewing porn; He loved me when I had self-righteous pride from not viewing porn. He loved me even when I hated myself. That stupid, stupid fourteen year old, look at him waiting for his grandma to leave the room so he could waste her time and money. God, you love that kid? That kid who promised you a million times that he would stop looking at your daughters that way, only to break his promises a million times plus one. I hate him, God. He’s me at my worst. Please don’t keep looking at him. Why are you still looking at him???

Gently, I hear His voice:

I love fourteen-year-old Josh. I love twenty-two-year-old Josh. My love for you never changed. My promises remain the same. Come to me child, and I will give you rest.

That was it. That was all I needed to hear from Him. The hardest and easiest thing I’ve ever done was say yes.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 (ESV)

How Does A Roomba Show Emotion?

I shot a short film last December. It’s called “A Roomba’s Tale.” It should be done around late April, since I’ve been taking my sweet time with it.

Directing short films is always a privilege, since I get to work on a movie project with all my close friends. I’m not editing this film myself, which is a first. Instead, I’m working with my friend Daniel from work.

I don’t really remember how Daniel and I became friends. We kept bumping into each other at work, and I knew he had gone to film school at USC, so we both the same people. We both have a passion for superhero movies and video games…wait, now I remember we met!

When I first saw him, I commented on his cool Spider-man hoodie. No, Spider-man wasn’t on the hoodie, it was Spidey’s outfit in hoodie form. Nerdy, but cool in my opinion.

The next time I saw him, he was wearing another Spider-man hoodie. A different one. So he had two.

The next time after that, he was wearing a Spider-man t-shirt. “You really like Spider-man, don’t you?” I asked.

He did.

So now he’s editing my short film. We just finished a six-hour editing session today. Pretty dope. I’m a bit of a control freak, so I constantly need to remind myself that this is how real directors work (sorry Daniel). Not editing my own film allows me see the big picture and not get boggled down with minute details.

It’s also good practice to verbalize my vision and be able to communicate it to Daniel. At one point today, I started blabbering about how this clip should be blah blah blah, and realized that I didn’t even understand myself. Wow. Directing is harder than I thought.

Fortunately, Daniel is a great editor and shares a lot of the same editing sensibilities as me. Sometimes he’ll fix my notes before I give them to him. Psychic.

In the end, it’s all about telling a good story in the best way possible. As the title implies, this film is about Roombas. You know, those little robot vacuum discs. They have no face. No limbs. Nothing to express themselves with besides singular body motions. Somehow, it works. Or at least, I think it does. You’ll have to tell me when it’s finished.

At one point in the film, a Roomba has to show affection to another Roomba. Yes, it’s weird. Daniel and I scrolled through the footage we shot, gaping at the sight of Roombas bumping into each other until—

“Wait…did that Roomba just nuzzle the other one?”

“It looks like it’s kissing its cheek.”

We played it back. And burst into laughter. Somehow, we felt these two plastic discs managed to show emotion. It’s incredibly dumb and stupid, but hopefully when you watch it, you’ll laugh like we did.

Anyhoo, glad I was able to slip in my blogging for the day. I have a ton of work coming up, so these post may get shorter much to your disdain, all seven of you readers out there, according to my WordPress analytics.

Just kidding, there’s more than seven. There’s eight.

Josh out.

 

The Fear of Water

I’m working on a couple visual effects (VFX) shots right now for a friend. Usually when I do VFX, I turn on a podcast and click my computer screen for hours until a car explodes. Or a tripod gets erased. The latter is much less interesting.

However, I’m also dedicated to blogging every day, so I’m taking a break to let some words loose. Here we go.

When I was about nine years old, I was terrified of water. I used to take swimming lessons with a few childhood friends and I hated it. When I told our instructor that I didn’t want to put my head underwater, she moved me to the beginner’s side. Away from my friends. By myself. At that moment, I realized: being afraid sucks. But I’m still afraid.

I told my parents I didn’t want to take swimming lessons anymore. They warned me that if I didn’t learn how to swim, I wouldn’t be able to hang out with my friends at pool parties and whatnot. Great. Now I’m not just afraid of water, but also being a social outcast.

This story has a stupid ending. I overcame my aquaphobia after chilling in a hot tub with my dad. He challenged me to put my head underwater. I did, because it was a hot tub. The end.

Also my current friends don’t have pool parties. Not now, not during my teenage years, and probably not ever. In fact, I’ve never received one invite to a pool party and thought, “Wow, it’s a good thing I learned how to swim when I was nine!”

This isn’t to say I actually know how to swim. I know how to float long enough to not drown if thrown into the Atlantic.

I’m realizing now how interesting my relationship with water has been. For all my life, it’s made me feel inferior to, well, everyone. I continued to take swimming lessons as a teenager, flailing my limbs around the pool in attempt to swim a lap, while every other person Michael Phelpsed their way to the other side.

This inferiority complex also applies to basketball. For the first half of my life, my dad couldn’t figure out why his abnormally tall son couldn’t make a lay up.

I don’t like being bad at things. If I wrote my own life story, all skills would come naturally, and I would only struggle with managing my time from being so talented. It’s the dream.

Suffice to say, I am not talented at most things athletic. So I pursued the things I perceived to be talented in. Filmmaking. Writing. Visual effects, like I’m doing right now.

But I would run into failures in those areas as well. My self-published book sold about fifty copies. Not exactly the Eragon level of success I was hoping from another a homeschooled writer. One of my first short films I can barely watch anymore. It’s an action/drama film about spiritual warfare named…wait for it…Prebirth.

I called it Prebirth. What is this, some medical procedure? It’s funny because I remember a bunch of people trying to convince me out of it. And I shut them all down because I was the skilled and talented filmmaker extraordinaire who could do no wrong. This wasn’t swimming or basketball! This was something I was talented in until I discovered I wasn’t.

I’m not really afraid of water. I’m afraid of failure.

I’m twenty-five now. I’ve failed many times and will fail many more. It’s part of life. There are so many things I love that I stopped pursuing because I wasn’t naturally good at it.

As with most of my posts, this blog doesn’t ever have a clear ending. I used to not blog because it would take so damn long, tweaking my writing, editing the structure, making sure the ending was perfect. But now I’m thinking…who cares? I write because it’s fun. And if I stumble across a profound conclusion worthy of a college essay, so be it. Otherwise I’m going to keep writing every day because I want to get better and it’s fun.

Josh out.

P.S. HOLY MOLY I’m not even twenty-five yet! Why did I write that I was already twenty-five? I sense a quarter life crisis arising…

The Greatest Chicken Nuggets in Los Angeles

7503 Garvey Avenue, Rosemead, CA 91770.

This address should mean nothing to most people. Just another McDonald’s out of the thousands in America. But let not your consumeristic eyes deceive you.

This Mcdonald’s location…this SPECIFIC location….has the MOST INCREDIBLE CHICKEN NUGGETS I’VE EVER TASTED.

See, it started when the exclusive Szechuan sauce came out. I went to this McDonalds and ordered a few nuggets. The sauce was pretty good, but I was struck by how crispy the nuggets were. However, I was too distracted with the sauce to truly realize what a magnificent batch of nuggets I had consumed.

Later that day, I had a sudden urge for nuggets. No, not the sauce. The nuggets. I started replaying the memory of devouring them. They were tender on the inside, yet crispy on the outside. Not too soft, not too dry. Juicy. Meaty. Delicious. That was when I came to the conclusion…wow, that was the BEST nuggets I’ve ever eaten!

I went back again the next day. They were out of the Szechuan sauce, but I didn’t care, since the spicy buffalo sauce was just as good, if not better. I ordered another batch of twenty nuggets.

Heaven hit my taste buds. I remembered it like it was yesterday, because it was literally yesterday I had eaten these glorious nuggets. This was no small fluke in the system. The nuggets were just as good, if not better than before.

I don’t know what this particular McDonald’s is doing to craft a superior nugget. It is truly amazing, and if you want to experience the ultimate nugget, as of March 11, 2018, you must go to this location.

The Gospel of Nuggets has been served. You’re welcome.