A Taste of Summer

“I left home but there’s one thing that I still know,
It’s always summer in my heart and in my soul.”

— Yellowcard, “Always Summer”

We stood at the top of the hill on Shoreline Drive and I started to remember all of the people I’ve seen skate down it.  I once saw some guy walk up from the beach and ride down the hill on a skateboard with a surfboard in hand.  If he could do that, it’d be easy-peasy for me.  Or, at least, that’s what I tried to think.

I thought we were just gonna go for an easy ride through the park.  It was dusk on a Monday evening and we had followed my parents to the park on their evening walk.

The cruise through the park was nice – there was a little hill I managed to skate through (after stopping and telling everyone I was scared).  Now, we were standing at the crest of a larger hill at the edge of Shoreline Park.

Lex went first.  He was always the brave one even when we were younger.  He pushed off the ground and rode his tiny skateboard down the hill, weaving back and forth between bike lanes in a wave motion.

Eugene followed.  I saw him bail out about half-way down.  That was always an option.

Then Niko and I stood at the hill’s crest.

I put my board on the ground and Niko muttered to himself, “I can do this,” while he put Freelines on the ground and pushed off.

We rushed down the hill.  The pavement was really rocky and made loud scraping sounds as the plastic wheels on my board turned.  I jumped off of my board half-way down and chased it for a little bit as gravity took it further towards the flat part before the hill.

Niko and I kept getting back on and then jumping off when we felt like we were losing control until we reached the place where Lex and Eugene were waiting.

As I walked back up the hill with Niko and Lex and Eugene, I felt excited that I actually tried going down the hill.

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That evening felt like the beginning of summer.  Not because of the longer day or the fact that it’s June. I was spending time with good people, enjoying the everlasting sunshine, and having a sort-of adventure down the hill.

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Peaceful Hotel Hangout

Poolside hangout with the bestie.  

Poolside hangout with the bestie.

There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned stay-cation to get shake up my routine.

This week, I had the opportunity to take myself on a little road trip to Los Angeles to reunite with friends and my boyfriend.

I love road trips.  I love just jumping in the car and actively propelling myself towards a destination.

The drive to LA is nice because it’s a short drive, only an hour and a half and it’s usually sunny and warm so I can roll the windows down and open up the sun/moon roof.  Yes, the traffic is terrible in the area, but it’s not too bad if I leave at the right time.

While I stayed in Glendale, I spent most of the day driving around the city and meeting up with my friends at different places.

They were attending a concert on Tuesday night, so we spent the whole day at their hotel downtown, the JW Marriot Los Angeles LA Live.  I was worried about parking, but it was actually an ok time for me – it was a weekday morning, so I probably should not have worried so much.

We spent the morning poolside.  It was bright and then cool, but it was peaceful.  It was nice to do nothing and to talk about random things with trusted friends.

Plenty of clouds floated through the sky on Tuesday. 

Plenty of clouds floated through the sky on Tuesday.

Why does she have to live 2,000 miles away?

Why does she have to live 2,000 miles away?

I also creepily took pictures as they got ready for their concert.  I loved the light in the room…

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After I left them to do their thing at their concert, I drove back to Glendale to spend time with my boyfriend.

As I drove around by myself, I found myself wanting to go to Griffith Park just to stare at the Los Angeles skyline or having the desire to go to a Dodgers game the next time I had the opportunity.

There is definitely something about Los Angeles.  I’d love to live in a big city like this someday, but we will see what happens.

With all this and nostalgia for times when I was surrounded by friends, my head has definitely been filled with plenty of thoughts.  For now, however, I’m still trying to soak up all the peace and quiet of doing no work before my spring break ends.

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The Skyscrapers of California’s Coastline

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The towns on the central and southern coasts California enjoy a different kind of “skyline.”

City skylines seem to have become an icon in graphic design and photography, and it’s not hard to understand why.  For me, I’ve grown accustomed to remembering my trips to London and New York City whenever I see an outline of the London Eye and Big Ben or the Empire State Building.  While city skylines remind me of my travels in the world,  I’ve found that I feel more deeply connected with a different silhouette on the horizon line.

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Palm trees have always been a part of my backyard.  Literally speaking, my earliest memories of growing up in Southern California consist of running around in my yard with my little brothers, where we have three large palm trees lining our driveway and two tall ones in the back.  Little orange seeds would fall from the palms onto the driveway.  My dad would sweep them up every week, sweeping from one end of our driveway all the way to the other.   Our dog would try to eat the little seeds.

Outside of our yard, we’d always pass the many tall, skinny trees lining the beach walk as we drove to school.  When we went to the park to fly kites, one of our kites got stuck in a tall palm tree across the main road, thus, making it impossible to retrieve.

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A view from my yard of one of our palms

It’s kind of weird to be glorifying a bunch of wonky trees, but I just never noticed how often they came up in my pictures and memories until now.  Looking at my Instagram profile and Flickr, I saw a lot of sunsets and beach scenes, but a palm tree always made its way into a picture.  I don’t know why.

Maybe it’s because, unlike a lot of other trees, palm trees have a really distinct silhouette.  Profile-wise, they are mostly a really long trunk with huge fronds that fall like the hair in a girl’s high ponytail.  Fireworks on sticks?  But I also love looking upwards into a palm tree and seeing the fronds splash out like a giant sun.

I also believe these trees to be extremely iconic.  Kids always add a palm tree to their drawings of tropical islands.  I know.  I draw with them at daycare.

There’s also this street in LA that is lined with palm trees that always appears in television and movies.  Characters who are originally from the big city, the midwest, or even central CA roll down this street in a convertible, wearing sunglasses.  They pass the tall trees, basking in the sunlight and enjoying their travels in sunny LA.

Whatever it is, either the shape, the symbolic nature, or something else,  I am truly thankful for and in awe of these giant wonders.

See more pics at www.frankievictoria.com!

The Weekenders | Exploring Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone

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Which way do we go? Compasses were graffitied all over The Funk Zone. Were they supposed to lead us somewhere?

Welcome to Funky Town.  This weekend, I decided to drag mine and my boyfriend’s butts off of the couch and go for a little adventure in The Funk Zone.  The Funk Zone is Santa Barbara’s hot spot for trendy tasting rooms, art, and local businesses.

I mainly wanted to look at murals and go for a wine tasting, so we did just that.  As it was almost dusk when we arrived, we decided to walk around and look for wall murals.

The Funk Zone is a small industrial area just off of Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara.  It’s small, but a lot of the artsy stuff is concentrated towards the State Street side.  We managed to find a whole wall of murals.  Here are a few of my favorites.

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As the sun started setting, we headed towards Anacapa Street, where most of the popular tasting rooms were located.  I had looked up a couple of places to go to and decided to try a place called Corks n’ Crowns.  However, the patio was packed with people.  We didn’t even venture inside.  It must be pretty good if many people were there, but I wasn’t looking to push through a large crowd.

Right next door to Corks n’ Crowns, however, was a tasting room that I thought used to be the Anacapa Dive shop – I used to take swimming lessons there.  Based on that, a pretty patio with twinkle lights, and The Burger Bus food truck parked in front, we were drawn towards the Municipal Winemakers tasting room.

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The inside was overwhelmingly shabby chic and there was a good-sized crowd – enough to show that the place was good and not enough to take up every seat in the house.

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When we went up to the bar, the staff was friendly and informative.  It was $12 for a flight of 5 wines.  And there were free crackers.   We took a glass and a basket of crackers, claiming a spot on the porch in front.  It was a really nice atmosphere and it never got super crowded.

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My boyfriend and I don’t know too much about wines, but it was a good opportunity to learn what I like and what I don’t.  It was also a good chance to catch up with him – it had been a few weeks since I’d seen him.  We also had some fun with my camera, making some light art photography as cars passed by.

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Lights and ghosts…

Simply put, if you’re ever looking for a chill adventure on a nice night in Santa Barbara, think about hitting The Funk Zone.

The Weekenders | Connecting with my Greater Good in a Hike for Haiti

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This weekend, I have learned again that things happen for a reason.

Back in September, my mom had asked all of us if we wanted to do a “Hike for Haiti” for our church.  I was reluctant because it was early on a Saturday (yes, I am that lazy).  However, her desire to do it outweighed my reluctance to get up early for one Saturday, so I registered along with her.

One month after registering, this past week before the hike, I was feeling pretty down.  I felt lazy and lonely with a short wick of patience.  When I have weeks like this, there really is no hope for me to get anything done – or to want to get anything done.  I will watch too much TV, eat too much ice cream, decide that I can exercise next week, and avoid contact with people, even my family members.

So, going to this weekend’s Hike for Haiti wasn’t really something I was looking forward to.  However, after a night out with my parents and family friends, I was kind of looking forward to going outside and being active – even if it meant just walking around.  I had also decided to cover the event as a Noozhawk intern, so it’d would be nice to write something afterwards and get something out there on the web.

As it turns out, the Hike was really a refreshing experience for me.

When we got to Manning Park, where the Hike began, one of the first people I ran into was my first childhood friend, Katie.  She was always a bright ray of sunshine in my life as a middle-schooler, and she’s still exactly the same person.  Ok, not exactly the same, but still as much infused with unicorns and candy in every fiber of her being as she was before.

I was able to meet a lot of people at the event thanks to Sr. Kathleen Patrice, who I’ve known since I was a little kid at elementary school.  The Hike was also a benefit for a local nonprofit called Destined for Grace and I was able to meet the founders and talk with them.  The organization has a lot of thrift shops in the area, those of which I love going to, and all the profits made at these thrift shops fund a school in Haiti.

And as the Hike started, my mom walked alongside some old friends and I was able to hang out with my brother and talk with him as we walked together. He and my dad were acting like goofballs the whole way there.  It was nice to be together.

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He’s walking!

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Just getting water from the well…

From the beginning of the week to the Hike, I felt like anything I did had no meaning.  Things would happen and no matter what I did or how hard I tried, I could not change the outcome of things.  For example, no matter how hard I try to wake up early, it will never happen.  I could go to my parents’ prayer group, but I’m not close enough with everyone to make a difference.  I have also been brooding about things that are happening outside of my control, like where my boyfriend will go to med school.

Sometimes, in the words of someone who works with me, I was just having a hard time last week.  It’s not like anything has triggered these emotions (maybe hormones have), but I just feel them all at once.

I am not saying that going on the Hike for Haiti made my feelings go away, but something alleviated these feelings.  Action, and it didn’t benefit just me.  I decided initially to go on the Hike for my mom.  And I covered the event for my news organization because I didn’t think anyone in our community knew about this great event and about Destined for Grace.

Life is always a work-in-progress.  It will never be perfect and I will not always be happy.  But I think what I can take away from all of this is that action is always the best medicine.  Writing it all down, going on a walk, anything.  The less selfish the action is, the better.

I recently came across this quote that explained it perfectly for me.

Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a man above his fellows for his own solitary glory. He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own.

– Ovid

So instead of using my strength to worry about myself, I need to remember to use it in the action of taking care of others.  That’s where my happiness lies.

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Me after the hike :) Thanks for reading everyone!

To Inspiration

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Inspiration Point is a local hiking destination, popular for the breathtaking view of the American Riviera.  Myself and a couple of friends trekked up to the spot early this week, but the view was blocked by a healthy marine layer.  We sat and stared at the fog and wondered if we would be able to see anything if we waited a couple of hours, attempting to gather up the fog as it passed us.

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We wasted no time on our way up there, but we meandered down, stopping to try and identify some wild bushes and to take pictures of cup-like spider webs.  The fog made everything look mysterious.  I especially loved the way that the towers looked in the fog – it looks like people are communicating between dimensions.

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It’s definitely a hike I recommend for locals and out-of-towners alike. It’s a pretty easy hike, just under 2 miles, and there’s always a pretty view, no matter if there is fog or not.

You can see more of my pictures at Flickr.

A Stroll Through Lotusland

A Stroll Through Lotusland

I got to visit Lotusland today, and it is truly worth the visit for all of you nature-lovers.  For those of you not familiar, Lotusland is a magical garden in the middle of Montecito, California.  It is the historic estate of Polish opera singer Ganna Walska, who was a plant enthusiast and (from what it sounds) an extremely eccentric woman.  These botanical gardens were her masterpiece. She spent years collected the plants in the estate and creating a unique habitat for each type of plant, including succulents, bromeliads, and cacti.

There are very few flowers in the estate – it was said that she wanted to be the only flower in her garden.

Here’s more from our trip!

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Learn more about Lotusland.  If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!

The Weekenders | An Eventful Week

Summer officially started two weeks ago and I haven’t used up my free time too well (hey, me and my Netflix account have been really friendly, there’s something).  But I’ve found the time to go outside and get some work done (and read the news too!), so here’s a few of the highlights from my last week (no ranking involved here).

1. Star Trek: Into Darkness

My mom is really a trekkie.  Who knew?  Anyways, it was another great addition to the Star Trek series.  Might even start watching the tv show (more because it’s conveniently streaming on Netflix).

2. Seeing Louis Zamperini

Louis Zamperini is a former Olympian (runner) and a WWII veteran and POW.  He is the subject of the New York Times’ Bestselling novel Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.

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I got to see Zamperini speak at a United Boys and Girls Club fundraiser that I was covering for Noozhawk.  He’s kind of a boss and has a really great sense of humor.  You can read my story about the event and about Zamperini’s life story at Noozhawk.  Kind of disappointed that the pictures came out blurry – it just sends me the message that my camera is again unsuited for my career choice.  Still, a great experience and Mr. Zamperini is truly an inspiration.

3. I finally make a video

I MADE A VIDEO FOR GIRL’S ROCK! Finally came through with one of my ideas to edit some interviews with GRSB volunteers.  Still working on a few more videos – it’s been a little under a week since I made one and I’m hoping that I can continue to make more videos without basking in my own glory because I am pretty proud of myself (not that it’s amazing haha).

You can watch it here on the YouTube Channel for Girls Rock SB!

4. Cheese, Grommit! 

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Finally went to C’est Cheese!  Got to eat at this great little shop on Santa Barbara Street for breakfast on Saturday morning.  They recently acquired the shops next to them (formerly occupied by a small bookstore and Our Daily Bread which moved to De La Vina) and are expanding into a larger shop.  For now, they operate with friendly service and have a really wicked blt sandwich.

5. Love prevails

Prop 8 is officially overturned by the Supreme Court.  I think the first same-sex marriages were allowed in CA this morning.  There was a lot of other things happening, including Wendy Davis filibustering an abortion bill in her state of Texas as well as the Supreme Court dismantling key provisions in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 originally placed to prevent racial discrimination in voting in 9 Southern states.

Really an exciting week, not just for me, but for the country.  Thanks for reading!

Weekender’s Choice | Cheers, San Diego!

The end is near… here are the highlights of my weekend.

1. ATLA Marathon Round 2: Legend of Korra

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Everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked… Stanley and I finally finished “Avatar: the Last Airbender,” and are making our way through the sequel to the series, titled “The Legend of Korra.”  It’s only 12 episodes long, and as of now, we have on the season finale to finish.  After watching the two series in a row, it’s pretty clear that LOK was only meant to be a special, stand-alone series for ATLA fans.  I am excited to see what they are going to do with the next book.

2.Tacos El Gordo

It was 1am in Pacific Beach and our group of friends decided to call it a night.  Our usual stop for food after a night of drinking would be Santana’s a.k.a. Fresh MXN, which has a pretty mean surf and turf burrito.  This night, we decided to switch it up a bit and go to Tacos El Gordo.  I had heard the name before and my friend, Chris, was especially excited to go.  After a twenty minute drive, I was starting to think that I wanted my usual La Paz with horchata.  But when we got there, it was packed.  I told Chris to order two of whatever he got and then I went to the bathroom.  I came back to twelve little carnitas tacos, all of which were on separate little paper plates.  I’m not a big meat eater, so at first, I was a bit overwhelmed.  But it was some great food.  I did not eat all of them, but I will definitely be making a trip back there someday.

3. Shop shop shop

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There’s nothing like some retail therapy to forget about finals, get excited for graduation, and spend some quality time with my kapatid.

4. Let’s go to the beach, beach

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I woke up Sunday morning really wanting to spend some time outside.  Kayla and Jessette and I went to Mission Beach.  It was packed – families, tourists, students, bums – you name them, they were probably there.  Not really the peaceful afternoon I was looking for, but it was fun people watching with these two.

5. Last Mass at Founder’s Chapel

I didn’t realize it until Sunday morning, but I would be going to my last Mass at Founder’s Chapel as an undergraduate.  I decided not to be a part of the choir – it ended up being a good choice, because once the entrance song started to play, I started to cry.  So much has happened in that space.  I saw the Choral Scholars perform there on my first visit there, I would go to Mass for Peace there every Wednesday as a first year, I have sung there, I’ve cried there more times than I can count.  It’s bittersweet.