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 It’s been replaced by two decades of 4K ultra-HD developments, which produce bigger, brighter images.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.

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What if I slip? I watch the suds slide down my ankles and disperse across the brown acrylic that coats the shower. My head hangs and water pools in my tired eyes. Sitting on the floor of the shower is so lame. I think about it all of the time. Instead of slipping, you chose to sit down. I picture myself sitting down in the shower as the blistering streaks of hard and unfiltered water strip away every ounce of faith I’ve ever had in anything. I have an old speaker that sits coated in particles of dust that were once something and are now nothing. Music drips out of that speaker and down the side of the wall off of the shelf. Sextape seeps into my ear canals and swims throughout my brain. It gives me all the more reason to stay on the floor of the shower. It takes away my ability to speak or move. It wraps its resentful hands around my neck and attempts to push me through the floor of the bath and into the dirt that separates me and those who relate all too closely to the particles of dust that muffle the sounds of Chino Moreno.

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My Dark Vanessa (TW)

Im going to give a fair warning that this topic is very triggering and revolves around sexual abuse. You do not have to read this.

I am going to give a few quotes from my favorite book, it is about an abusive relationship between a 15 year old girl and a 42 year old man that is meant to be romanticized. This book is beautifully written and incredibly alluring. It is also twisted and deranged and made me question every single person in my life. The ability to manipulate as well as a sexual abuser is terrifyingly fascinating. This book made me nauseous, and can be painful to read but i think about it everyday and in no way regret a second of the time spent reading it.

“Because even if I sometimes use the word abuse to describe certain things that were done to me, in someone else’s mouth the word turns ugly and absolute. It swallows up everything that happened.”

“It’s strange to know that whenever I remember myself at fifteen, I’ll think of this.”

“I wonder how much victimhood they’d be willing to grant a girl like me.” This particular quote made me sick and furious because it is clear that he manipulated her into thinking every situation was her choice.

“Kneeling before me, he lays his head on my lap and says, ‘I’m going to ruin you.” I cried during this chapter, this feeling was so claustrophobic especially when having to watch Vanessa know nothing of what was being done to her, that was the most painful feeling.

“He touched me first, said he wanted to kiss me, told me he loved me. Every first step was taken by him. I don’t feel forced, and I know I have the power to say no, but that isn’t the same as being in charge. But maybe he has to believe that. Maybe there’s a whole list of things he has to believe.”

“He’s always going to be old. He has to be. That’s the only way I can stay young and dripping with beauty.”

“He’s the only person who ever understood that desire. Not to die, but to already be dead.”

“An older man using a girl to feel better about himself – how easily the story becomes a cliché if you look at it without the soft focus of romance”

“It’s easy to pinpoint when it all started, that moment of walking into his sun-soaked classroom and feeling his eyes drink me in for the first time, but it’s harder to know when it ended, if it really ended at all. I think it stopped when I was twenty-two, when he said he needed to get himself together and couldn’t live a decent life while I was within reach, but for the past decade there have been late-night calls, him and me reliving the past, worrying the wound we both refuse to let heal.”

“It’s just that I’m depraved, my mind so warped by Strane that I misinterpret innocent favoritism as sexual interest.”

“I think we’re very similar, Nessa,” he whispers. “From the way you write, I can tell you’re a dark romantic like me. You like dark things.”

My mind screamed throughout the entirety of this book, it begged for her to run, it wondered if she should stay. And in the end, I realized what this book was meant to do. It is meant to show you how hard it is to say who did it.

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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 
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I finally understood.

A few weeks ago I wrote about what it was like to have a crush. It inspired me to write about my perception of a broken heart. I think that the feeling of a heart breaking is different for every single person, simply because we all have different hearts. They are filled with different people and different places, some half full and some to the brim. In my eyes, no heart is the same. A heart can be broken by a girl, a boy, a mother, or a father. Anyone can take it and squeeze it until it cracks. I can not learn a lesson, the same thing will happen to me over and over and each time I let myself think that this time will be different. It never is. The first time I think my heart broke was when I was in seventh grade. When I was young, I was very close with my dad, and I spent a lot of time with him. When I turned 13, I had already begun to struggle with depression. It ran in my family and my dad had it bad. When I was growing I would try to talk to him and sometimes it felt like I was talking to a body without a soul. I never understood why I wasn’t enough to keep him afloat, why I wasn’t enough to chain his soul to his body. My days started to slow and I began to feel the separation between my skin and my spark, and slowly, I felt it float away. I finally understood why it was so hard to laugh. Nothing was funny. And I understood why he couldn’t say I love you, Because he couldn’t even love himself. I stopped trying and he started to get better. He would ask me how my day was and I couldn’t remember. So I said nothing. I watched as my dad formed that same hopeless look in his eye, as he watched my soul melt out of the bottoms of my feet. My dad sometimes says things he doesn’t mean but that doesn’t make them sound any less real. A few weeks ago he explained to me that it was tiring watching me get like this. “I don’t want to be your dad anymore.” He took it back. But I would have rather been slapped in the face. That’s okay. I know he tried for a long time and for a lot of that time, I wasn’t there. My mind was always elsewhere, drifting through the sharpness of the sea that he used to throw me into. I like to take myself to those places. Where I remember sitting on my dad’s shoulders or holding his hand while I got off the ski lift. I get sad because I don’t want there to be a brick wall between my mind and his the last year and a half that I live in this house. I don’t know how to try to fix what we broke. Sometimes we sit in a room with a stranger as she tells us what we do wrong and how we can “communicate” in a healthier way. I watch him look out the window and think about a million other things. I won’t play the victim, even if I sometimes catch myself wondering what 10-year-old me could have done better. It’s not his fault and I know that. But it broke my heart to watch as the conversations grew shorter and his door opened less. It broke my heart to start hearing my name instead of honey. It broke my heart to not see him on the field at my soccer games. It broke my heart to watch him cry about his dad and the lack of love he received. I love you, dad. But after all, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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Dust

I try to clean once a week; today was the day I did that cumbersome ritual. I wiped my coffee table and picked up the clothes and paper that propagate atop the carpeted flooring. I grabbed all the trash on my bedside table and desk. I even made my bed (a task not typically high on my to-do list). Yet, there is dust all over my room, no matter how much a clean or wipe it off it never seems to go away.  Every week I fight it and every week it returns, I mean how do you even get rid of it; when you wipe it away half of those pesky particles fly into the air, only to land back where you just cleaned just after you finish. Maybe the dust is why I keep getting sick, full Interstellar mode. The reason I’m thinking about dust though is that today during my incumbent chore the dust was floating through the air really beautifully, it was sparkling in the sunbeams coming through my window and just caught my attention. I wish it wasn’t so dirty, otherwise, I might add more dust to my room. 

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My room pc me

What makes good music 

I’ve always appreciated music, but for most of my life, I never listened to it. I consumed what my parents and friends listened to, there were songs I liked, and artists I didn’t, but never did I voyage to discover “new” music. Even in high school, I was the kid who said “oh I don’t really listen to music”, then, one day, something changed. It came in leu of befriending Adam who I greatly looked up to, he, like the others who have surrounded me, changed me through pointed jokes towards my seemingly ever-lacking personality. The first songs I listened to I played relentlessly and then disposed of when they no longer brought me joy, were decades-old pop songs such as 99 Luftballoons, You Spin Me Right Around, and Kiss. I liked these songs and still do, but they still didn’t feel right for me. These songs have millions of plays on Spotify and thousands may consider them the best of all time—at least in their respective genres—but I still couldn’t connect to them in a way I now knew possible as a result of the passion I saw in Adam for excellent music. I didn’t know it yet but I was in search of the perfect song (something I likely will never find). After old pop, I moved into rap, not the good kind, honestly like bad music, although I do appreciate them for what they are artist like bbno$ and Young Gravy has no place in the search for the best song of all time. It’s not to diss them but they create music not for the soul but for the pleasure of the masses. Now, I think I know what you’re thinking, “this kid just said popular songs can’t be good, twice.” While I do think there is a correlation between production for mass markets and production for emotional expression, many popular songs are that way because they truly tap into a deep human feeling that people can’t turn away from. Latino artists do this incredibly well. I recently played mi gente in the car with Logan and he called it “cringy” still, that song, despite its incredible popularity infuses you with energy in a way most songs could never do. Is Mi Gente the perfect song? No. Is it worth listening to? Absolutely. Another artsiest who accomplishes this emotional feat is Lauryn Hill. I know I’ve already talked about her but she has the infusion into her music that grabs your soul and holds it right in the rhythm and beat of the music. I think this is the beginning of a formula for a perfect song. Though like John Keating with poems, I really don’t think there can be a “formula” to a perfect song, rather, qualitative aspects add up to create something perfect. 





what i’ve been playing on the piano

Nujabes’ music is so fun to play. I don’t care if he’s mainstream. Almost all of his music is brimming with these beautiful chords and his progressions are fantastic. My favorite pieces by him for the piano are Flowers, Lady Brown, Luv(sic), Battlecry, and Kumomi.

This is weird but I like playing what’s meant for the guitar in like rock songs, for example, Breakthru (Queen) and Big shot are a blast.

Another fun thing you could do is take classic jazzy pieces (misty, autumn, blue in green whatever stuff for old people from like Bill Evans, Chick Correa, Miles Davis, and J Coltrane) and just add like bossa-y chords think m7 or m9s, with a hint of blue scales here and there. Ok, someone who does this really well is this guy on TikTok who wistfully plays. I LOVE what he does.

Obviously, I’m a sucker for big pretty chords. R&B music is a good place to find these, think Bruno Mars, and ok this isn’t the same thing but bossa- Japanese songs (Masayoshi Takenaka) often use like the same chords. Somewhere you can find more eccentric and weird chords -which I also love- is surprisingly in rap. Some of these songs sample really unique piano tracks that are really fun to play. Seriously: Tyler, mf doom, nas, jid and like all the classic rap artists have some songs with super chords.

PC: https://www.gramophone.co.uk/media/206995/t958_artur-rubinstein-1.jpg?&width=780&quality=60

Tom Lehrer Is A Genius

There is a very niche genre of songs my Dad loves.

They’re a blend of weird slapstick-parody comedy. Think Weird Al but more archaic.

Artists like Dr. Demento and Allan Sherman (Camp Granada guy) produce music in this genre. My Dad’s favorite, Tom Lehrer, however, stands out to me.

Like the rest of these creators, he is really smart. In fact, he graduated from Harvard. When I was a kid, I remember watching his song “New Math.” Besides being really catchy, it is overloaded with subtle jokes like the rest of his songs. Anyway, he’s a really clever guy and is one of my favorite satiric songwriters.

I feel like I need to write more so I’ll talk about Weird Al, I guess. I have first introduced to him a really long time ago one night while I was eating dinner. Someone thought I ate too slowly so she started playing “eat it.” I thought it was really funny. Anyway, he’s a cool guy too like Tom Lehrer, really smart. And guess what, he went to Calpoly. Like what’s the deal with all these comedian-songwriters and their impressive educational backgrounds.

PC: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4d/Tom_Lehrer_-_Southern_Campus_1960.jpg

disassociation

10:23 am. Today I was driving and I started to disassociate. It’s the moment when you look at your hands on the steering wheel and you can’t remember how they got there. An action without a thought. The frustration that comes with the inability to recognize the hands that have guided you through your life thus far. These thoughts consume you and you can feel nothing and everything at the same time. Your breathing slows and moves like the colors behind your eyes when you try to fall asleep. You will never give it away, not with the solemn look on your face, or the thoughtless gloss swimming in your eye. I don’t think there is a time when you can be more in your head, but that’s just an opinion. The sounds of her voice muffle as I try to keep myself from falling down my own throat. “Isn’t that crazy” 10:57 am. 

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pc: me