My Common App final draft

I love old technology. The analog feel of buttons and dials under my finger, the lights of a stereo amp, the crackle of vinyl, and the warped sound of an overplayed cassette tape––all create beauty we so often lose in the digital world. The beauty of chaos, the unorganized, and the functionless. These devices hold value in their aesthetics but also through the stories that define them.

Such objects fill my room with stories from my own life and the countless others they’ve encountered. Next to my bed sits a CRT TV I found abandoned on the road. It works surprisingly well for a piece of technology made before Facebook, though, like the person who left it behind, not many would think much of it. It’s been replaced by two decades of 4K ultra-HD developments, which produce bigger, brighter images. Why would anyone watch a special effects masterpiece on something with the quality of a cave painting and a screen smaller than a shoebox?

 I see its beauty though, the way it needs to warm up before turning on, the way it cracks and clicks when you try to push its archaic buttons, and the decaying colors of the few remaining VHS tapes, long-forgotten. 

I imagine this TV didn’t change hands many times. It was probably bought new at Radio Shack in Ventura, six years before I was born. It probably sat in someone’s living room playing movies for their kids on family game night, and then their grandkids, and then it probably sat in the garage taking up space until they finally decided the black hunk of metal, glass, and plastic was an eyesore whose good days were as long gone as its remote. Now it sits as an exhibit in my room, a reflection of others’ memories and a piece of art for me to admire. 

Like this old TV, I, too, can easily be overshadowed by things bigger and brighter. I surf with more passion than I’ve ever felt before, but by most standards, I’d be considered unremarkable. 

Surfing’s the scariest thing I’ve ever encountered: walls of water like moving mountains, foam like a powerful avalanche, a board that goes from being your greatest ally to greatest enemy the moment it’s freed from your grip. Is the feeling of a wave worth the pain of falling? Often, it is. Small waves, no biggie, a couple seconds of being under frigid water, and then you paddle back out and try again. But when the waves become giants and the board a brute-force weapon, that fall begins to exceed your limits. 

I remember going out on a day with waves far beyond my skill set—Goliath and Polyphemus in watery form. Before I even paddled for a wave, a set came in. The first wave blocked the sun as it groaned past me, the second feathered as I crested its peak, the third, I wasn’t so lucky. The avalanche hit me, immediately tearing the board from my hands. The wave was now groaning on top of me, thrashing my body like a ragdoll in a washing machine. Then, it was over. The wave passed, and I was okay. So what pushes me to surf in these conditions? I think it’s because putting myself in places beyond my skill set and comfort, where I’m deeply flawed, has shaped me. I find love and beauty in the places where I know I’ll fall, for it’s there that I find who I am.

I climb, hike, surf, and run, but most athletic is an unlikely yearbook superlative.  

Like the TV, I, too, crack and click when I’m pushed too hard. If all that made me was performance, I, too, would be left on the street without a second thought, but I am my story not my statistics. I too, have beauty, which lies not in my achievements but in my imperfections.

Stories

I love stories. I always have. I love people, movies, TV shows, songs, artworks, and especially works of literature that tell good stories.

In my early years, my favorite stories were The Hungry Caterpillar and The 12 Dancing Princesses (the book, not the movie). As a child, my favorite stories were Scooby-Doo and the bridge in “Shake It Off”. In middle school, I fell in love with the stories my English teacher told about his students in the Oakland ghetto and New York Times articles. Now, I find solace in the poetry of Rupi Kaur and the film, When Harry Met Sally (which is, in my opinion, one of the best rom-coms ever made). These are just a few of hundreds, maybe thousands, of stories I have encountered and retained over my 16 years.

PC: https://s.abcnews.com/images/Entertainment/ht_meg_ryan_billy_crystal_when_harry_met_sally_jc_140711_16x9_992.jpg

What makes a story good, I wonder. I would like to say it’s all about how it is told – the language, imagery, etc – but I actually think that is not always the case. Sometimes, poor acting, an unimpressive screenplay, or a bad melody are of no importance if the storyline itself strongly resonates with me. I don’t mean to say that a mediocre story can’t be told in a way that turns it into something incredible. What I mean is that an incredible story cannot (easily) be turned into something mediocre.

I’ll give you an example. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemmingway, has an incredibly simple premise: a Cuban fisherman in his attempt to catch a giant marlin. And yet, it is so effectively written and constructed that we remember this book as one of the great pieces of literature. On the other side of the spectrum, the Harry Potter movies, in which (let’s be honest) the children actors hardly live up to their roles, have still seen unprecedented success. Why? Because J.K. Rowling’s phenomenal story trumps any criticism.

Creativity PIQ

My creativity is expressed in everything I do––from the blog posts I write for journalism, to the way I dress, and even how I move along a wave when I’m surfing––but ceramics is the place where my creativity is communicated best. It wasn’t always this way, though… 

From the time I started in fourth grade, all the way until junior year, I believed that the ceramic pieces I created needed a function. I thought throwing a cup, bowl, or vase made more sense than making a sculptural piece. It wasn’t that I didn’t see the value of a sculpture or a piece of art, rather, I did not believe myself to be an artist, and so, my job was to make utilitarian items. I didn’t know it then, but how I treated my ceramics tied deeply to how I thought about the world. I believed that utility was more important than beauty. 

The shift occurred after a new ceramics teacher came to my school––she pushed me to use ceramics to express myself. I began to infuse my pieces with creativity, and, just like that, my life became full of creativity too. I created pieces whose sole purpose was to be viewed: teapots that would never hold tea and bowls that I’d never eat cereal from. I put concepts into my work, and my pieces or collections meant something—they didn’t just fulfill a purpose, they stood as a physical representation of an idea. This allowed me to better understand what a piece will mean rather than what a piece will do. The saturation of creativity in my ceramics changed how I thought about the world. I now understand that there is value in something that is simply beautiful. 

We all are artists inside––all we have to do is add a little creativity to the many mundane tasks we complete. Now, even when I write a regular essay, or get ready for the day, I push myself to instill elements of creativity into my presentation.

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PC (your mom)

cry, the beloved country

I watched a new movie this week that by any standards is brilliant and moving. And in my opinion, one of the most underrated films.

“Cry, the Beloved Country” is based on a heartwrenching book that deals with really complex topics in such a unique way. I can’t even remotely relate to the characters yet I still suffered with them. This movie deals with issues of segregation and protests against apartheid in such a beautiful and moving way, combined with topics of fear, corruption, death, and forgiveness.

James Earl Jones was incredible. He manages to convey and make you feel so many things through really minimalistic acting. He doesn’t waste himself on meaningless gestures & histrionics, he lets you see the suffering of his soul.

The movie does a great job illustrating the battered country of Africa– where the land itself is described to be the essence of a man– as he navigates through Johannesburg and experiences all its corruption and violence. Many of the political, economic, and societal issues within Southern Africa in the 1950s are brought to light in this film,

This is a movie about black and white. A well-known theme in Hollywood, but I’ve never seen a movie deal with this subject so excellent as this one. The plot is unlike anything I’ve ever read or seen before. Alan Paton, the author of the book it’s based on, is one talented man.

PC: https://s3.amazonaws.com/static.rogerebert.com/uploads/review/primary_image/reviews/cry-the-beloved-country-1995/EB19951220REVIEWS512200301AR.jpg

Semi-Complete list of the cool things in my room

I gonna start with the things hanging on my wall (in no particular order besides the order im looking at them. 

  1. Carnegie melon flag (my sister got in and it pissed her off that I put it up since I have no desire to go there) 
  2. My two running medals from 7th and 10th place, as if that’s worthy of metal 
  3. Anderson Paak jumping crocodile cliff Poster, I don’t even like Anderson Pack 
  4. Odesza weird looking man poster, I dont listen to them either 
  5. Anderson Paak sitting on hummingbird poster
  6. North African guitar stap, its my dads 
  7. A painting my mom did 
  8. A porsche decal design my dad made for some dude on vinyl car wrap 
  9. Micheal Jackson off the wall album, who’s Micheal Jackson? 
  10. A photo of a car that I took 
  11. A photo of a Vespa that a took, these are back from my photography days 
  12. Mercado Segrado market poster
  13. Spacship mini poster 
  14. C Street mini poster 
  15. Three vinyl records, daft punk, Salt n Pepa, MJ off the Wall 
  16. Skateboard grippe with a painting Logan did for me for my birthday on it 
  17. Mami Wata power of the African Surf poster 
  18. Mindsurfing a Conner coffin story poster 
  19. Odesza woman and moon poster 
  20. New York abstract art piece 
  21. My cassette collection 
  22. Italo Ferrera Stoke-ed poster 
  23. A ma Maniere Jordan 1 shoe box cover 
  24. Coach shoe box cover 
  25. Jordan 1 pollen shoe Box Cover 
  26. Lost boys shoes 
  27. Jason Bua “The Dj” poster 
  28. Wax Trax! Records poster 
  29. A bunch of shoes on a shelf 
  30. My VHS tape collection on the same shelving unit 
  31. Art beyond Survival Shepard Fairey event flyer 
  32. My clothes 
  33. Trestles surf comp display
  34. Restroom sign
  35. skateboard deck

Not on the walls: 

  1. Plant 
  2. Plant 
  3. Plant 
  4. Plant 
  5. Plant 
  6. Plant 
  7. Plant 
  8. Plant 
  9. Plant 
  10. Mini TV 
  11. Mini Tv 
  12. Blue Yeti microphone 
  13. 2011 MacBook Pro 
  14. Kenwood turntable 
  15. Skateboard
  16. Onkyo Amplifier 
  17. Tury’s ceramic piece 
  18. Lava lamp 
  19. Percival Lafer Livingroom set including the smoked glass coffee table 
  20. Nike coffee table book 
  21. Kai Lenny coffee table book 
  22. Broken VHS tv 
  23. Functioning VHS tv 
  24. Box covered in stickers ive collected 
  25. Mirror covered in stickers ive collected 
  26. Old UC Berkley bio department microscope 
  27. Perfect condition MisEducation of Lauryn Hill album on CD 
  28. Mammoth stuffed animal 
  29. Moroccan lamp on its side acting as side table 
  30. Rug 
  31. Space Helmet
  32. Book collection 
  33. The front passenger seat of my car 
Screen Shot 2022-11-13 at 3.59.27 PM

Crush

I hate the word crush because it feels so naive. A child should have a crush, maybe a 6th grader. But, the more you think about it, the more the purity spills out of it. For a long time, I forgot what it was like to have a crush on someone. The definition of a crush does change as you grow, but the feeling that comes with it stays the same. There is a very specific feeling associated with the word crush. The feeling of your stomach spinning like a washing machine, whirring and flipping at a borderline alarming speed. When my entire face glows with a deep pink with just the mention of their two-syllable name. When you have a crush on someone, you think about them all the time, especially because you barely get to see them. I think that makes it more exciting, to be honest. The phone calls at 10 pm go on till 3:15 am. The inability to hang up because time moves so fast that I feel like I could never hear his voice enough. They make you laugh at the dumbest things that really shouldn’t be funny, but coming from him it is. Driving home from the beach after dark with my hands and body rising out of the sunroof. A smile was constantly plastered on my face. It makes me wonder a lot of things about myself, did I find the person that makes me laugh on my off days? Why are my walls falling so fast? Why can’t I be away from him for more than a day without pacing around the closing walls of my room? We can sit in the most comfortable silence studying each other’s faces, running and filtering through a million thoughts that could be filling their head at that moment. In reality, we are both thinking the same thing. I like you so much. I wondered why I was able to be so comfortable, but I realized that it is because my inner child is at peace. I have the same crush on him that I had on a boy in 7th grade, so innocent and pure. Like a string of light bringing two people together, encasing the two of you together and tightening until you feel as though you have merged into that person’s body. And suddenly, that feeling is born and fills your entire body and soul. I didn’t know I could smile for the entirety of a four-hour phone call.

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my baby kitty

Covid Positive

I tested positive for Covid exactly one week ago. Surprisingly, the time went by fairly quickly, as I occupied myself with reading, homework, and plenty of Netflix.

Here’s everything I watched while quarantined:

  1. The second half of The Italian Job. We started this during film studies, and I can’t say I know why. It’s a pretty good movie, but not exactly a classic. And as much as I like a good car chase, it’s a little less exciting when they’re driving minis.
  2. Bridget Jones’ Diary. This has not aged well. Perhaps if I were to disregard the fatphobia and blatant sexism, it would be a fairly enjoyable watch. The premise itself is good – who doesn’t love a romantic comedy, with a relatable protagonist, and a love triangle? But the execution, not so much.
  3. Several episodes of Gilmore Girls. Rory and Jess are beginning to flirt and I cannot wait to see how Dean reacts. I can feel a breakup is coming, and I am so ready! Dean might be absolutely gorgeous, but I personally detest him and his short temper. Rory deserves better.
  4. The first couple of episodes of the Great British Baking Show season 10. This show never fails to make me smile and give me an appreciated British nostalgia. They always manage to find the sweetest bunch of contestants. I’m obsessed with the gay Polish guy.
  5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I LOVED this one. Is Audrey Hepburn totally iconic? YES. Am I going to be Holly for Halloween? Very possibly. The only part I didn’t like was the scene where she threw her cat out of the taxi, and then proceeded to search for it in the rain. It gave me so much anxiety – I breathed a heavy sigh of relief when she finally found Cat.
PC: https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Breakfast@Tiffanys.jpg

obsolete tv shows

Besides Spongebob, I grew up on practically extinct shows my fossil of a Dad made me watch instead of like Disney Channel or something.

My favorite one was MacGyver, (NOT the new one with Lucas Till) which is an action series about a guy who can ‘improvise’ his way out of any situation. Instead of combating danger with weapons like you’d expect, he uses his ability to make gadgets to save himself. To this day I still think the premise is really unique and overall it’s a creative show.

Another much more popular show I watched was the A-team. Again, not the newer movies but the 80’s tv series. It’s also an action about a group of ex-military guys who help people in need and try to clear their name from a crime they didn’t even commit. I remember loving one of the members of the group, Murdoc, who was just this really crazy, goofy guy.

Then there are all the detective shows: Columbo, Magnum PI, Monk, Psych -even Perry Mason- you name it, I’ve seen it. My Dad and I are detective show connoisseurs. He tried to get me to watch cop shows, but they were never my thing (Adam-12, CHiPS).

There was a lot of Sci-fi too, I think Star Trek was my first of these old shows (or Rocky and Bullwinkle). I’ve seen both the Kirk and Picard series, but the former is more memorable/nostalgic for me. There was also Time Tunnel, Twilight Zone, My Favorite Martian, The Munsters, etc.

There is more, this is just the tip of my ancient-shows iceberg. There are some really obscure shows I’ve seen. I bet I’m the only person under 50 who knows what the Petticoat Junction even is. Or the Beverly Hillbillies.

Anyway, I’m actually happy my Dad introduced me to these shows from a young age. They really were charming and shaped much of my early childhood.

pc: https://decider.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/macgyver.png?w=646&h=431&crop=1

Itaewon Class

Recently I’ve finished a Netflix show called Itaewon Class, I will say it is one of my favorite tv shows. It was so popular in 2020, but I never get a chance to watch it. It’s a k-drama, but it’s not the same as the other k-drama that only talk about love or are so exaggerated. This show talks a lot about the issue in this society, and also relationships, of course. However, I don’t know how the director did this. Every time when I finished an episode, I just wanted to work harder every other day. I told myself that I don’t care how long it takes, I’m still going to study hard and work harder, so I can be happy in the future. I don’t want to expose too many details, but I highly recommend you to watch it. It’s really good!

Photo Credit: Itaewon Class

Is the villain in the movie really a bad person?

As I grew up get to understand this world and this society, I noticed that not all villains are bad people. Of course, it’s a movie, but If you have watched the Joker, you will notice that he is not a bad person; he is just like a normal person like me and you. He shows how broken this society is and that forces him to shoot the TV host to show the world that a person was being left in the city and even not getting treated like a human being. I also watch the Fantastic Beast, the villain asks those people to join his army, it sounds like they all just wanted to create chaos, and they are just bad guys. However, there is a part where the villain explains how broken this world is and he just wanted to change the world by gathering all the people who were being left in the corner of the earth. Most of them don’t want to become a villain on purpose, they just want those people to feel safe and warm, let them feel there are a lot of people going through the same thing as they did. This got me thinking so much and you will realize what is justice? Is there justice anymore? Also, this world is very chaotic. What do you think?

Photo Credit: Joker