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 Perks of Being a Perfectionist

If I don’t say anything in a conversation, it’s because I haven’t thought of the perfect thing to say.  If I spend an hour getting ready for work, it’s not because I need to shower and do my make-up, but it’s because I haven’t chosen the exactly right outfit for the day.  These are just two examples of why I think of myself as a perfectionist.

Truthfully, I’ve never thought of myself this way until recently – I’ve always felt like I was laid-back and go-with-the-flow.  But I really have massive anxiety about making the right decision at the right place at the right time so that things go just the way I want, no matter what the decision is concerning – clothing, career choices, what to eat, etc.

I’m not saying that being a perfectionist is a good or bad thing .  It’s good to be picky at times because I feel like it means that I know exactly what I want.  However, a lot of the time, it makes me even more indecisive because I want to many things.  It’s unrealistic.

My life will never be perfect – I make completely wrong decisions all the time, I am always changing, and things don’t always go as planned.

At this moment, I am thinking that I need to think of every moment as “perfect” – it’s  the perfect time to wear that new dress, it’s the perfect time to keep watching my TV shows,  it’s the perfect time to write, and it’s the perfect time to start something extraordinary.

Well, what are we supposed to call them then? “High school teacher under investigation for saying ‘vagina’ during anatomy lesson”

When I was in high school, I had a teacher, Ms. C, who was fired from her previous school in central California for teaching “The Laramie Project.” It is a play depicting the investigation of a hate crime/murder of Matthew Shepard, an openly gay student in Laramie, Wyoming.  The community opened fired against her because she believed that the book gave a unique perspective of the community with which Shepard was part of – hence explaining the kind of hate that has to grow within a community to come to such violence.

It seems far off, but reading about this article reminded me of Ms. C. Idaho teacher Tim McDaniels is under fire after saying the word “vagina” during tenth-grade science class in Dietrich, Idaho. He is currently under investigations by the Idaho professional standards commission after allegedly saying “vagina” in class, showing a video that showed a depiction of genital herpes and different methods of birth control.  The class was informed that the topic would be sexual health and that they need not attend if the subject makes them uncomfortable.

ecardvag copyVagina is one of the most correct terms that could be used to refer to women’s genitalia.  The article refers to the community as conservative, which explains the resistance to McDaniels’ teaching methods.  Why is it so hard for a community of people to collectively agree that the word “vagina” is appropriate?  Why is it so hard for a community of people to agree that the bullying and murder of a single teenager in Laramie is wrong especially if it is because he is gay?

Community is probably one of the most important shapers of individual identities, and it’s a large force of change and resistance.  If we don’t realize as a community that there is something inherently wrong with persecuting a teacher for saying a politically correct term or teaching a book that highlights hate crimes against the LGBTQ community, nothing will change.

Read more about the Idaho teacher case at Salon.

Are teachers obsolete?

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Researcher Sugata Mitra proposes an intriguing notion in his recent TED Talk: School in a Cloud, a virtual network “where children can explore and learn from each other.”

The first thoughts that come to my mind are about my past and recent teachers – how I would be in college and pursuing higher education without my teachers and mentors throughout the years is something that I am extremely grateful for.  Yes, I’ve had some really horrible teachers in the past but I think in general, I’ve had a good experience within the education system.

However, the idea that children are taking initiative and learning by themselves is not only an astounding thing, but a very empowering thing.  It’s also an individualized way of learning and processing information, allowing people to learn at their own pace and to learn what they want to learn – learning in a community setting can be very difficult sometimes because it might be hard to keep up or hard to feel enthusiastic about the subjects that we “need to know.”

Watch the Ted Talk here and let me know what you think about it.

Stress and college – why are we doing this to ourselves again?

Today, my friends were having a conversation about school:

“I miss the routine of going to work.  Like – leaving in the morning and coming back home right after.”

“Yea, I understand what you mean.  It feels like we have 15 or 16 hour days when we are here.”

I had never thought about it until recently, but what is really the reason for us to be having 15 to 16 hour days?  What exactly are we trying to accomplish by being involved on planning events for our club or by staying up until 1am in the library only to go back to our rooms and try to finish more homework?

What about all-night study marathons or spending hours organizing programming for different organizations will be applicable to our daily lives after college?  How does taking a test help me become a great writer?  How do these things make us a strong candidate for high-paying jobs?

These are questions that I might find out later or never find out.  I just struggle with the fact that I am burnt out from my 15-hour days and unable to enjoy my life for the small cost of $50,000.