Apr 30, 2011

Take a Break and Breathe

We're in the midst of studying for finals.  It's dead week, and we seem to be stuck in the rough.  The study nerds of LMU (yes, you know who  you are: Tutu, Lexie, Claire...) are going crazy. Though we don't want school to be over, the light at the end of the finals tunnel looks so appealing.  My solution was to take a break and just breathe.  I journeyed to the bluff in search of a little tranquility, and that's just what I found.

They greeted me on my way to the edge of the bluff.  It was a woman clad in a fluid bronze dress holding a newborn baby, raised towards the heavens and destined for great things.  Both of them, trapped in a moment within themselves, and looking up at the world.

Reverent Pair

Once past the eternally bound pair, I looked down.  I couldn't help but be drawn in by the vibrant sprinkler color.  It must not work nearly as well as the sprinkler designer, judging by the sparsity of the immediate foliage.  It seems that looking down often renders similar results as this sprinkler.

Looking Down

I made it to the bluff, sat down on my favorite bench, and popped in my iPod.  I attempted a guided meditation on emotions.  Though I don't think it had as drastic of an effect on me as it is probably made to, I felt a certain clarity.  There's something surreal about being in complete connectedness with your internal emotions, rather than our constant looking outwards.

Looking Outwards

It seems the farther we look out, the less precious our world becomes.  In this fast-paced technologically-driven world, we spend so much time thinking about the latest trends and fashions that will make us stand out in the eyes of the world.  To a certain extent, this is our culture and we need to be conscious of it.  What we need to do though, is take a step back and look at ourselves introspectively.  We need to see our bountiful collection of yellow flowers- not our dumpsters- no matter how great the stress.  Instead of looking out, look in.  Instead of looking down, look up.

Looking Up

When we take a moment for ourselves, we notice the most beautiful things our world has to offer.  Take a break and breath: look in and look up.  And of course, rock those finals.

Apr 29, 2011

Finding Hidden Treasures in Familiar Shadows

Life can sometimes seem drab and boring, especially if you're stuck in the same routine.  I wanted to show a slice of my life, my routine, and to explore what the fantastic treasures are hidden in my familiar shadows by documenting my typical surf trip to El Porto.

I generally run out of class at 3PM every day, strap on my backpack halfway out the door, and slam on the gas right when I get in my car.  It's surf time, baby.  On the way from LMU, of course, you pass the seemingly inescapable stream of planes.  It just so happens that the road to El Porto runs a few steps from the west-most runway at LAX.

Aptly named plane, heading for the horizon.  The beginning of a once impossible journey.

Though perhaps a bit more mundane than that of the plane's, as we continue on our journey we can appreciate the little things: Money Suckers.  I have my parking secrets to avoid these, but those are somewhat privileged. 

Money Suckers

The unfortunate reality is that we live in LA, and even at one of the most beautiful places in the city, people litter.  My philosophy: make the most of what you've got. 

Directiona Pacifico

Some of us use mother nature to our advantage, and reap the rewards that she offers.  In this boy's case: fish.  There's something strangely refreshing about seeing how we used to sustain ourselves, and how this practice is still used in our lives.  Who said us Americans are lazy?

Wary Fisher(boy)

... and his father, packing up after a fishful afternoon

Though some come to the beach seeking to take, others come in search of harmony. 

The Search for Harmony

The most spiritual that I get is in the water.  I get a profound sense of 'oneness' with the ocean and with nature when I'm surfing, and nothing quite compares.  It must be something about using and being completely reliant upon a natural medium in harmony with your own body.  Not only are waves used for  your initial propulsion, but your entire ride is completely determined by the decisions the ocean makes.


Apr 28, 2011

Last Convo of the Year at LMU

Today was the last convo of the year at LMU, and the last ever for the graduating seniors.  I armed myself with my newly purchased camera and prepared for battle.  Here are the results...

The ever-fierce Greg Eshom

The oh-so-elegant Ben Lasseter

The stylish Kevin Ma

Also, the Gracious Cassi Hoye.  Thanks for the gift.

Apart from an eclectic host of LMU students, Delta Zeta sorority set up a booth for tons of tie dying entertainment.  Needless to say, I was all over it.

The Culprits

The Crime

This is essentially what happens when you mix tie dye and Eli... sorry Jake, you're both blurred in the background and about to be grabbed (in no way representative of your role in my life).  Either way, this was great closure to an epic tie dye session and the last convo on the year.

Traveling & The Tour de Mont Blanc

tour de mont blanc
Traveling.  Who doesn’t fantasize about traveling and getting a job that requires you to prance from country to country, on someone else’s dime?  Okay, fine: I’ve never been out of the country (unless you count literally stepping a foot into Canada at Glacier National Park), but that doesn’t preclude me from the fantasy. 

Ideally, I’d like to roam around Europe with a pack back, Mike Lavigna or Jeff King, and gift cards to the most extravagant restaurants in Spain, Italy and France.  I’ll have my doorman waiting outside tomorrow for gift card reception.  Please address to Eli ‘The King’ Kallison so I know it’s not spam (oh wait…).

This summer I’ve decided to be adventurous.  I purchased a one-way ticket to Paris leaving from SFO on May 16th.  I’m going by myself (yes, I get it, I actually do have friends), and I only have two concrete plans.  For the first two weeks I’m staying with a French host family and taking a class at a French language school to brush up and make my accent irresistible.  Afterwards, I’m planning to be homeless for a couple of weeks (good thing I just got my featherweight sleeping bag in the mail), and backpacking to Barcelona or Ibiza. 

The ace in the hole, however, is the hike that I have planned.  I’m going with Pablo (a homie from the World Wide Web) on the Tour de Mont Blanc.  The TMB is a 100 mile loop in the Swiss Alps that goes from France to Switzerland to Italy and back around to France.  The travel system is called ‘hut – to – hut’ hiking where, if you feel particularly downtrodden one day, you can stay in one of the many huts spaced every few dozen miles along the TMB.  Because we’re on a budget, Pablo and I will not be taking advantage of any of these ‘amenities’.  Just remember, SOS is six long toots on your hiking whistle.  Shit, I need to get one of those…

Apr 27, 2011

Animal Curation

To make sure they have complete collections, art galleries and museums have curators.  “We’re missing Starry Night, the Mona Lisa, and… uh… Scream.”  But who makes sure that zoos and other exhibitions of wildlife are comprehensive?

Imagine the discordance that would ensue if a zoo forgot the elephants.  They’re easy to overlook because elephants never get enough credit: tigers are more exotic, bears are fiercer, and wandering peacocks add a zoo’s necessary finesse.  By the end of the day, an exhausted zoo owner might overlook the silent giant, despite being one of the more sentimental and family-oriented animals in the kingdom.  I’ll tell you one thing though: the kid who watched Madagascar last night and is now parading around the zoo looking to complete his animal checklist definitely won’t forget the elephants. 

Thus, the idea came to me that the world is in need of animal curators (if they don’t already exist).  Not only would a curator make sure that an exhibit has a complete collection, he or she would also make sure that the best of the animal is chosen.  Sure, they’re selling a Chinese Long-Tailed Pangolin, but is it young?  Is it fit?  We can do better than this, Mr. Zoo Keeper, believe me.  

Apr 26, 2011

Photography as inspired by a smelly art teacher

I’ve always been intrigued by photography.  Since I was little, I have been artistically inclined.  In pre-school I was always the one at my French-American school in San Francisco to stay after class to do some extra finger painting (everyone thought I was going to be the next Van Gough.  Shocker- that didn’t happen). 

My next major encounter with art wasn’t until high school with Ms. Bev, your typical bohemian, grass roots, all-natural art teacher.  To my knowledge she didn’t smell bad, but I doubt that she showered much, and it’s a pretty good bet she won’t ever read this blog.  If you do, sorry and you’re welcome for the honest observation.  Anyways, we did a number of projects in that class but two really stood out: my chalk drawing of John Cleese from Monte Python (my then-favorite comedy group) and an impressionist rendition of a print I found online: a sailboat on the ocean.  They were both highly sought after at the annual end-of-the-year art sale we had at Carmel High.  My Mom quickly purchased both.

It wasn’t until coming to college that I seriously considered photography.  I had been working over summer and had a little spare cash so I picked up a Canon 40D from craigslist.  As you guys know, I jump into things really quickly so this impulsive purchase (though a bit hard on my wallet) wasn’t out of the ordinary.  For the next few months I wandered around everywhere with the bulky camera around my neck.  My clever friends would sneer and say, “if you love your camera so much, why don’t you marry it?”  I told them I wasn’t ready for the commitment but I’d consider it in the future.  As if the protective photography Gods understood that I was not ready for monogamy with their precious daughter, a travesty occurred.  My Camera and all of my lenses were stolen from my car, leaving me hobby-less and with a shattered passenger-side car window.  So long, 40D.

Apr 25, 2011

I thought that movies were real life until I tried

Why did Mike Lavigna make me watch the new Wall Street?  Whatever reason lay behind the seemingly innocent act held dire and unforeseen consequences.  Michael Douglas’s character was my idol; he was engrossed in his work, fraternizing with the high and mighty, and bathing in dough.  I was going through the phase of my life where I thought I wanted an Aston Martin, a Ferrari, and an Audi R8 at my 2nd home in Barcelona (I’m over that phase).

For those who haven’t seen the movie, Michael Douglas and Shia Lebeouf are mega-wealthy investment bankers whose jobs are more than just a career: they live investment banking.  There is all sorts of excitement in their lives; they are constantly faced with pressure to sign on with a competing company or to purposely sink the stock price of a pesky businessman.  Needless to say, it was enthralling and I fell in love (déjà vu) with the idea of Investment Banking and finance. 

I hadn’t truly considered the more technical, money-oriented path until my mother’s friend Susan came over to my parents’ house while I was home for break in Carmel.  She worked for KPMG and after giving her the rendition of my Wall Street experience and the wisdom it seemed to impart to me she thought that Economics would be a perfect major for me.  She gave me a dozen copies of The Economist to read, and suggested that I read Freakonomics.  After flipping through the first few magazines, I was sold.  I started looking for finance and economics-related internships immediately after I submitted my “Addition of Major” form to the Registrar’s office.  Not even a week after I had submitted the form, I regretted the decision.  What would truly make me happy?  I knew it wasn’t economics.  Thanks a lot, Wall Street.  

Apr 24, 2011

The long, beautiful ride to- wait, where am I going?

Indecision can be passive.  Passive like when you’re in a car on a long drive, not fully cognizant of when you make a small correction to the wheel or how hard you push the gas pedal.  You’re more focused on the thoughts of last Friday night or the ‘HeyTell’ messages you’ve received, beckoning you to listen (back when it was legal to use your phone and drive of course…). 

Communication studies was like my car ride.  I had a direction and a destination, but I didn’t know what I was going to do when I got there.  I started following a path because it looked like a nice drive; HWY 1 going through Big Sur sucks you in with gorgeous ocean views on one side and placid tree-covered mountains on the other.  Once you’re 74 miles in, though, the novelty wears off and you realize that something is missing: purpose.  I was having a blast in school.  My fraternity life was going great, women seemed to be coming in flocks, and I was able to get out and surf almost everyday.  I even managed to get a 4.0, but I had no clue what purpose communication studies was serving and how my degree would be at all useful.

Why did I choose communication studies?  Maybe because I thought I was suited for it, maybe because it was easy, maybe because I thought I would be able to fully grasp human interaction and become a God of speech among mere men (and women… and Claire).  Whatever the reason, I seemed to have lost track of where I was going and what I was doing.  I had only 1 more communication studies class to take before I was able to earn my degree when a ridiculous idea popped into my head: it was time to switch majors.  

Apr 23, 2011

Communication studies isn't ice cold lemonade; indecision.

Ice cold lemonade

Indecision usually doesn't come into play when choosing between a delicacy and a downer.  You'd think one would never choose to drink warm muddy water over an ice cold glass of lemonade. But, a warm muddy glass of water looks like a fresh squeezed glass of lemonade to a misguided adventurer stranded- parched- in the desert.  That’s what communication studies was to me.  I was stranded in the vast plains of the engineering desert in southern Los Angeles, constantly being threatened by wild packs of integrals and swarms of algorithmic equations.  Communications looked like the ice cold glass of lemonade that would save me from a dry death. 

I walked into the communication Advisor’s office, sure that this department would be eager to cultivate me as one of its worthy members.  A goofy man with thick round glasses, a top hat, and a voice with an impressive volume welcomed me in.  I sat down, and noticed surf magazine and a saxophone; this guy was cool!  This is how I met Dean Scheibel.  We ended up going to lunch at the lair, all the while Scheibel was feeling me out, asking questions that penetrated to my inner core and revealed my intentions for wanted to switch out of engineering to communication.

I could tell a lot of people just wanted an easy out from engineering, and that this happened quite frequently.  Of course, that wasn’t what I wanted: I was fine.  I had managed to maintain an impressive GPA throughout my engineering career, the only reason I wanted to switch was because I LOVED communication.  We signed the papers, finalizing my switch out of engineering and into communication studies.  I took a draw from the glass I found in the desert when I suddenly realized that it didn’t taste anything like lemonade; I spit out a gulp of muddy water.  What did I just do?  I have no fucking clue what communication studies is.

Apr 22, 2011

Skydiving without a 'chute

It was August 2008, newly initiated college freshman were running around in a frenzy under the comforting LA sun while parents were walking towards the parking lot with shoulders hunched, heads slouched and palms wiping tears from their face.  I heard a POP.  An overly excited Del Rey North resident had rammed the semi-truck sized red moving bin into a planter outside the building.  If anything was damaged, no one seemed to mind and the day carried on how it was supposed to. 

The next Monday classes were to start.  Engineering, for me, was like skydiving without a parachute.  It was great at first; the thrill and excitement of something new, something humans weren’t naturally meant to do and something that most people don’t experience in their lifetime.  I freefell through first semester with mostly As and a few Bs in some of my harder classes (I was taking Calc I, biology, physics, chem, engineering).  As second semester approached, it was as if I could see the ground more clearly.  Trees started to look like skewers and grass began to look like a concrete trampoline.  Algorithms, calc II, and chem lab weren’t my cup of tea.  I was in studying all night while all my friends majoring in business, sociology, and communications were out experiencing the wonders of college life like there was no life after graduation. I was spiraling out of control at 9.8m/s/s.

Needless to say, I fell in LOVE with the idea of being able to switch my major.  It didn’t matter what I switched to, I knew I didn’t like engineering and that it wasn’t a lifestyle I was suited to.  My parachute had failed, and right before I went careening into oblivion my reserve chute opened and there was hope.  HALLELUJAH!

Apr 21, 2011

Enamored with engineering

Basically, what I was told coming into college is that you should not declare a major until you’ve taken a few general ed classes and figured out where you fit in; your niche.  Of course, being the ambitious and stubborn 18 year old that I was (and, truth be told, still am…) I didn’t listen and applied to the school as a marketing major at the Hilton School of Business at LMU. 

In the next few weeks I took a trip to MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquatic Research Institution), and quickly became enamored with the oceanic lifestyle that all the men and women of the institution were lucky enough to live.  They spent their mornings out on the ocean collecting samples and scouring the bay, and their afternoons researching the specimens they caught.  What I was particularly fond of, however, were the ROV pilots.  ROVs, or Remote Operated Vehicles, are the mechanical underwater submarine type gadgets that are controlled from the boat via complex remote controls and buttons.  Essentially, the job of the ROV and pilot is to navigate under the water and to collect marine specimen for study and to observe (and record- there are cameras on-board these incredible products of human engineering) the interactions between organisms in the Monterey bay. 

This is when I first discovered my ability to fall into a passionate lust for a particular career path or lifestyle with little basis.  Immediately after I got home from MBARI, I sent LMU an e-mail stating I wanted to enroll in the University as a mechanical engineer so that I could be an ROV pilot, or they weren’t going to have the pleasure of my attendance to their university! I KNEW that I wanted to be an ROV pilot and an engineer, after all.  I heard back a couple of days later, and found out that LMU had acquiesced, sewing the seeds to the destruction of my engineering career.

Surfing as a motivator

My supreme indecision was discovered shortly before I graduated from high school in 2008.  It was the fall of my senior year and I was pulling off my wetsuit in the middle of Scenic Dr. right next to Carmel beach.  It was cloudy and had been raining earlier while I was out in the water; passerbys stared in wonder at how I was able to conjure the courage to enter the frigid California water.  An elderly woman with a black cane resting under a large rubber handle murmured, concerned, from her parka hood that I should be careful not to “turn into an icicle” out here.  I made a mental note, and continued changing leisurely.

The time was fast approaching to apply to colleges, and all I knew was that I wanted to be able to surf wherever I ended up going to school.  Dreams of becoming a professional surfer, though they had never fully manifested in my head, seemed to be completely out of the question considering I was barely better than the mediocre surfers at Carmel beach; not a particularly impressive feat in itself.  So, I was forced to make a decision: where to apply to colleges.  My parents stressed the importance of the education, and paid little regard to the location or beach accessibility but I wanted both.  I applied to a myriad of colleges, and got into a few but thankfully the decision was easy: I got a large scholarship to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.  The best part? The school’s 5 minutes from the beach!  Now, the decision that started it all and that which I still struggle with: what did I want to do with my life?

Where it all started

I’ve never been particularly egotistical.  Sure, I project a pseudo-cocky, overly self-engaged personality, but I’ve never considered myself to be interesting enough for people to want to hear about.  This is primarily why I’ve chosen not to write a blog, despite loving and incessant encouragement from my mother (a Yale graduate) who is a retired psychologist and currently enrolled in both a fashion and blogging class at her local community college. 

After a two-hour car ride that consisted of her explaining to me how much fun it is to discover your niche online and to reach people all over the world with your passionate ramblings about this and that I decided it was time for me to embark on the journey, so here I am.  My topic of conversation: my quest for happiness.  If you care to join me on this quest, which will hopefully be at least mildly beneficial to both you and I, please feel free to share your thoughts about anything including but not limited to my annoying and bad jokes (trust me, you’ll get a bunch- and no, you won’t think they’re funny, at least not in the manner they were intended to be funny). 

My prime focus of this blog, will be my unsurpassable inability to make big, life-changing decisions, particularly related to my career path.  I have no clue where this blog will take us so stay tuned! Thanks for coming aboard, and enjoy the ride.