Anticipation of the Application

Stanford University Campus in Palo Alto, CA

It’s only 4 months and 13 days until the application deadline for Stanford. Four months until I send my hopes and dreams away via electronic submission! I am becoming extremely anxious, nervous, giddy, you name it. Simply thinking of the day to come sends chills down my arms, multiplying into colonies of urgent happiness on my skin.

Throughout these four months, I predict a tsunami, thunderstorm, hurricane, blizzard, deadly drought, and a whirlwind of busy, busy, busy!

First up: Math Assessment Test. I did take one my entry level at college in the Fall of 2008, but neglecting to take a math class last year means that my old assessment test score has expired (yes, they actually will expire if you wait long enough, go figure). This, however, has played to my advantage! I tested years behind the Pre-Cal I took in high school into Intermediate Algebra.  I’ve been studying here and there for a few months, but my other regular homework has caught up to me. Since the day is dawning near, my focus is going to shift to studying math for a while (while keeping up my current studies, of course). I’m aiming for the Assessment Test on November 15th! Yee!

Second: The SAT. Dun dun dun! This one isn’t until December, but it holds much more weight than the assessment. I bought a study aid book from Barnes&Noble to prepare for the SAT and throughout the chapters my confidence has increased. The English major inside of me is hoping to propel the slightly math-challenged part to a great score. I’m shooting for a 2400. No, I don’t think that’s too ambitious! (FYI: The average SAT score is around 1538 I believe.)

And then we have the Application Process. This is a lengthy process because Stanford is a prestigious private university. There are letters of recommendation, transcripts, independent test score reports, and official documents from my school. The Counseling Department at Crafton Hills (my school, woot!) has been helpful when I visit, but trying to get a hold of anybody over the phone or email is like trying to catch a raindrop on the slice edge of a paper. Luckily I have started to inquire about these documents early enough to hopefully avoid even the smallest of issues! (:
Look for more on the Stanford Application Process as the date gets closer and I begin submitting my materials!

Before I know it I’ll be packing my bags and heading up north to the Promise Land – Palo Alto, CA! The suspense until this day is only going to increase with each new sun, I can feel it. I can see the hurdles I must overcome in the near future and I know the hard work I will have to continue putting in.  What really keeps me inspired and determined is knowing that they are only hurdles, not immovable mountains.

See you soon, Stanford.
-Simon

I know all of us students board this same emotional roller coaster at one time or another. If you’ve already gone through it, I’d love to hear about your experience! If you’re going through it now or if this sounds like it’ll be you in the future, feel free to speak up too!

Fall In Full Swing


It might just be me, although I’m sure many southern Californians will agree, that fall doesn’t seem to really set in until the end of October. (I write this now as it’s over 80 degrees outside.) Since today is the great, amazing, wonderful, spectacular last day of October which we have come to identify as Halloween (which, if you haven’t read the author’s page yet, is also my birthday!) I thought I’d create fall-inspired post. In loose terms, all these things scream “FALL IS HERE!” to me. So as the hipsters would say, leggo!
*”Leggo”, as defined by internetslang.com means “let’s go”, in case you were wondering.

1. Starbucks
I could not and would not even if I could get through fall and/or winter without Starbucks. (Then again, I couldn’t do without through spring or summer either.) Luckily, they’re all over the’ place and open late on week nights for hard-core, dedicated study addicts like me. My drink rarely changes, although I might be in the mood to try something new soon. Vanilla lattes with soy are just as great hot as they are iced. *I suggest ordering the iced with light ice; that way when your drink is half way gone it doesn’t taste watered down!  I used to buy and refill gift cards each month so I didn’t spend more than what was in my budget for high-priced beverages, which is super helpful for broke college students! Midterms, you have met your match!

2. Mermaid’s Tears
 I don’t see too much rain or snow here where I live, but there are the typical cold, gloomy, I-just-wanna-stay-in-bed days. And I admit that sometimes when the weather’s out of whack, my mood follows suit. That’s why sometimes I give myself a little kick in the rear to cheer up and brighten the dark, nasty days. I call to the podium, (drum roll please) Mermaid’s Tears! Mermaid’s Tears has left its mark on my soul…and my nails. This little bottle is OPI’s greatest invention as far as I’m concerned. It’s a soft color nail polish, but still vibrant and witty. I’d say it makes me invincible but that just sounds ridiculous.


3. The All-American Sunday Attire
Yes. The jeans and jersey day. I long await Sundays for these two reasons. On Sundays, I don’t have to pick out what I want to wear or coordinate my shoes with the tiny accent straps on my over-sized Chinese Laundry bag. Sunday Funday! And Sunday is just as Funday dressed down in my favorite jeans and sports gear. Not to say that I’m super high-maintenance to begin with because really, when I do match or have a great outfit on, it’s likely by accident. The faster I get dressed and out the door, the faster I can get to the sports sanctuaries (commonly called sports bars) and get my game day on. God Bless the NFL.

4. Fall Means Cold, Fall Means Rain, Fall Means…
Up until this year, rain and snow meant fun and fun and cold and fun and wet feet. The warmhearted, caring, loving vegan that I am says no to leather, sheep skin, animal fur, shearing, and the like. This will be my first vegan winter and I began my search for fall boots that did not support or partake in animal slaughter. Suuuuure I found tons that I love that don’t cost an arm and a nickel, but my favorite? Wellies. If you’re not familiar with the super cool term “wellies”, you can call them rain boots (boring!) I love my wellies, though I’ve only worn them once so far. I’m trying to wait until it rains…but last time I said it was good enough with a light drizzle and fog.

As an end note, I would like to wish everyone a very happy Halloween. Just this past week I wrote a 5 minute speech about the origin and history of Halloween for my Speech Communications class, which gave me some incredible insight. I thank my parents for having me on this wonderful day. It was always  a blessing as a child to get so much free candy on my birthday! I plan on making this year even better than my last!
-Simon


Vegans Are Humans, Too!

I love cows. Don't you just love cows?

Back in the day when I ate meat (yes, there once was a time when I did eat meat), the word “vegan” sounded more like “alien” to me. I had two friends my freshman year of high school who were vegetarian, which was completely understandable – but vegan? What was that? Were those the weird kids on campus with dreadlocks and peace sign necklaces playing their guitars under trees at lunch?

Years down the road, here I am! Loud, proud, vegan, and above all…human (I’ll explain in about 2.5 minutes). Vegan was a 100% personal choice of mine, unswayed by any religious or family pressure. Every aspect and dark, cob-webbed corner of my life has been altered in some way since getting my V card (V for vegan. Clever, right?) and it has taken a lot of effort. First off, I have to read the labels of EVERYTHING I buy or use. EVERYTHING. Shampoo, groceries, lotions, clothes, shoes, purses – the list goes on. This generally also entails some research on the companies to ensure they’re cruelty free and don’t secretly fund animal testing research or animal abuse in circuses. And through all of this, I have tried to be perfect. Little miss pretty perfect vegan pants. Yes, my pants are vegan, but I am not perfect. I have been shaken into a wake up call; a screaming, shoulder shaking, wake up call saying “Hey Simon, you’re human. And here is your sign”; *hands me a “you-f%$#@!-up card*.

This past weekend I went grocery shopping at a local health and organic food store because there are tons of vegan-friendly options, unlike at my neighborhood Stater Bros. Of course, one of my friend’s biggest concerns is my health since registering for Veganism 101 so I took him with me to help me out. I’m still relatively new to this stuff and could always use some support. Protein shakes, protein mixes, non-meat eaters’ supplements – holy cow! So much stuff! Unwilling to spend a gazillion dollars on a tub of risky business without having any idea what it tasted like, I opt for a small, refrigerated, test-size one. Mmmm, an Oh Yeah! lactose free strawberries and cream protein shake!

Oh Yeaah! No. Oh Yeah? No, no. (Dane Cook, haha.)

1. GAG! It tasted like chalk, sweet&low, and processed strawberry ick.
2. It made me sick. I was sick to my stomach and my taste buds hated me. “Hmmm…” I wondered. “Is this stuff just too heavy for breakfast? Am I just acting like a wimpy girl?” Nope. Haha, well maybe yes.
3. Lactose free does not mean dairy free. In tiny, incriminating, cow white letters it read: Contains Milk. (Insert time here where I freaked out a little bit. A little lotta bit.) It goes without saying that I learned a lesson. I had read ALL the labels on EVERYTHING I bought in that store, and then I managed to miss the small detail of this drink pertaining to a cow uterus. I made the quick debate in my head whether this should stay a closet monster and I pretend it never happened, or if I should just come out and say that I messed up. You should probably know the answer to this one by now. (:

I’m human, and humans make mistakes. And guess what?!  So do vegans! Yay for imperfection! I knew in the back of my mind that I would end up doing something un-vegan one day, hoping that it wouldn’t be taking a bite of meat somehow, someway, hidden in my chinese tofu! Truth be told, I don’t feel all that terrible about it after all. Given that I was grossed out. And I was repulsed. I brushed my teeth to the extent just short of using a wire brush and chlorine bleach, and I feel fine. The sickness subsided within hours and there is no lasting emotional damage keeping me away from my vegan-ly delicious almond milk!

No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog post. My condolences to the cow (or cows) milked for Oh Yeah! protein supplements.

Photo at top found at: http://www.freefoto.com/images/806/11/806_11_7732—Cow_web.jpg

Lessons From a Girl in a Man’s Fantasy Football World

Last Wednesday I was invited to a Fantasy Football League (by default, the guys needed a twelfth member for the scheduled player draft to commence) only one hour before the league’s draft. In case you’re wondering – no, I have never joined any Fantasy League before. I love sports like some females love their Jimmy Choo heels and Prada purses, but I hadn’t ever crossed the “Man Barrier”* into Fantasy Sports. Football happens to be my favorite of the American sports, so I was actually really excited to tip-toe my away across the barrier and see what the world was like in Fantasy Land. Tip-toe? Yeah, right. I was thrown head first and backwards into the war zone, a.k.a. The Draft.

I had kinda figured out the basics to Fantasy Hoo-Ha on my own, but three of the eleven guys were meeting at the league manager’s house so I figured I’d join in, in case I needed help. Lesson #1: When men and sports combine, patience is no virtue. While in transit, I get a phone call from the league manager as I reach the one mile radius of his house. He paused the first round of the draft (which pissed the other members off, by the way) and took control of my pick since I was a wee bit late. In the car, driving, trying to listen the voice on the phone (insert “it’s illegal to drive and talk on the phone” comment here. I know. But in my defense, this was a special occasion, and it was a deserted residential street), and make my first pick?! This is where the nerves began to unsettle. But by golly, with my luck I ended up choosing one of the top five picks I had written on my cheat sheet, muwahahaha! Lesson #2: When playing against men, always come prepared. Cheat sheets, cheat sheets, cheat sheets!

I walked through the front door to find three laptops opened back-to-back with one another and two men sitting, staring blinklessly into their screens. The third stood to give me a hug, a nice big ol’ warm welcome! And by that, I mean to shoo me in the door quickly, blast open my laptop, and get my draft a’blazin’! Lesson #3: When asking men, word your questions very carefully and be aware that the answers coming your way will be Man Jargon. I inquired the rules, how to select players to draft, who I should look at to draft (this kind of relates back to Lesson #1), and what all the abbreviations and buttons on the interactive live ESPN League Draft screen were. What I heard in response was alien. It was complicated blabbing using words that I was not aware even pertained to sports. So I just nodded my head and replied, “Ohhh, okay”.

Lesson #4: Autopick sucks. Autopick is a feature used by Fantasy Football League hosts to allow the members of the league to draft players while away from their computer. It is the autopilot of player drafting and it is the devil. Two of the league’s members had chosen the Autopick option, which automatically drafts the “top” available pick for their turn each round. Since I was new at this whole thing, I kept checking back at the ranking for each of the football players before I drafted them – putting the fate of my team in the hands of the great stat keepers. But once the Autopickers’ turns came around…the players I wanted were chosen, regardless if their team needed a player in that position or not.  The slight rage I felt from having players ripped out of my hands right before my eyes felt like an initiation, an initiation to the Dark Side.

The draft lasted two hours but I can’t say whether it was a short or long draft in perspective because I have no other draft to compare it to. Lesson #5: Football turns men into animals. Women, stand your ground. Boys will be boys, as they say, and boy are they right. The testosterone levels on that poor ESPN FFL site  could probably tow an iceberg! (assuming that there would be a way to 1. tow an iceberg, and 2. to measure the manpower it would take to do so).  Between the three men at the table around me and the other eight in the league I was outnumbered and clueless. But come to find out, my draft had gone prett-y well and I created a studly team if I do say so. I’ve developed a slight understanding of this foreign world beyond the Man Barrier. And while the preseason games are still underway, the player trading, adding, and dropping of football all-stars has been instigated. 

Lesson #6: Leave the sports on the field. I might inform you that my league’s Fantasy Footbal League Manager…is my boyfriend. (I’m sure you  can see what could happen here.) We have already decided that grudges will not be held, anger will not be displaced, and once the games are over – all slanderish talk will cease and desist.  Well…for the most part…>:D

So now, with all these newly learned lessons under my belt, I predict an extremely fun and exciting 2011 NFL season! Go Narnia Lions!


*
Man Barrier – The dividing line between interactive daily life and the realm of men in their most primitive and assertive state of being.

A Free Stroke Down Memory Lane – My First Swim Meet

I began swimming competitively my freshman year of high school. Before this, I never had any professional swim training and really hadn’t done much more than wakeboard, dive under ocean waves, and play Marco Polo. Once I had a few practices under my belt I got used to the life-sucking tight one piece swimsuits and diving into freezing pools on demand. It was clear to me from the very first day that I loved swimming up and down the divided lanes I shared with my fellow Junior Varsity athletes. Unfortunately, the high school I attended my freshman year was relatively new and didn’t have a pool yet, so we had to travel to the club pool by bus for afternoon practices and we started our practice season late.

I remember walking to the Head Varsity Coach’s classroom at lunch the day of our first meet to pick up the event schedule. One of my swim friends on Varsity caught me on the way in and said “hey, good look swimming the 500!”. I’m not even sure I knew what the “500” was at this point, but I panicked anyway and ran to get my copy of the schedule. Yep, there it was – I only had one event assigned to me, the 500 meter freestyle race. Not the 500 meter relay in which the 500 meters is divided among four relay swimmers, this race was all me. Twenty laps in the pool against seven others, three from my own team. Once I coughed my heart back out of my stomach I finished my day at school and trembled in my seat the entire bus ride to our meet.

In case you have never been to a swim meet, there is an order in which the events take place and they are the same every meet for all teams. The 500 meter race is just before the four relay races, which are the last events of the meet. My nerves had plenty of time to build and make me nauseous before I even began to swim cap myself and warm up. Even just thinking about that day makes me quiver.

Then it came time for me to step up to the plate. Well, diving block really. I won’t lie, I was scared. I saw the opposing team’s swimmers and their huge shoulder muscles, and I felt like bait in a shark tank. I think this was one of the very first times I doubted myself, and it didn’t feel pleasant on any level. I stepped onto my block and pushed my goggles as hard as I could against my face, trying to guarantee they wouldn’t slip and fill with water. And like the other seven, I took my mark. I held my breath, and I felt relaxed. That is, until the whistle went off and rattled my bones! Luckily, my bones rattled their way forward into a diving motion off the block. For the first 100 meters or so I felt slightly confident since I could at least still see the faster swimmer’s bubbles (caused from violent kicking) ahead of me. The long hours and unseen sweat I put in at practice then seemed trivial as I fell behind. I eventually stopped flip-turning because my lungs didn’t have capacity to hold my breath long enough anymore.  By approximately the 350 meter mark (I’m guessing, I can’t remember accurately) I saw only one trail of bubbles two lanes down from me, the rest of the bubble-making, swimming machines had finished…six laps ahead of me! My lap counter (each swimmer gets a teammate who holds plastic numbers under the water to remind the swimmer what lap they’re on) was still kneeling at the end of my lane, cheering me on as loud as ever. And I noticed, so was most of my team!

I didn’t stop swimming at any point, even though I felt exhausted and humiliated. I finished my 500 meter race and then my teammates helped pull me out of the pool and congratulated me for finishing the event. The swim meet resumed with the relay races and our team got sweat-suited up, climbed on the bus, and made our way home. At our next practice, I asked the JV coach why in the world he placed me in the 500 – FOR MY FIRST MEET EVER! And he replied, “Because I knew you couldn’t swim a 500. But you tried”. My coach did a wonderful thing for me and it gave me extreme confidence throughout the rest of the season. He didn’t place me in the 500 again (since y’know…we wanted our school to win the race!) until one of the last meets of the regular swim season. And that race went a lot better from where I stood on the block, but that’s a whole different story.

This was such an amazing experience for me and I still miss swimming!
Thanks for reading!

Here and Now: A Slight Insight to Simon’s Life

Before I (Simon) begin to write about the adventures I have and obstacles I will overcome on the road to success, perhaps I should begin by explaining where I am now. Here and now (clever, I know). So I’ll write this as if someone has taken interest in my life and tell them what’s up.

     I live in California, approximately 66.24 miles east of Los Angeles. Since August 2010 I have attended Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa (BFE, CA) and I graduated from high school in 2008. The time between high school and college I spent working and supporting myself; I even moved out and financially fell on my face and moved back home! Crafton has not been bad at all and I can honestly say I have enjoyed my time (and by time I mean blood, sweat, and tears) spent here. I see it as a completely necessary and inspirational stepping stone to get to where I’m going: Stanford, if you haven’t already picked up on that. On August 15th, I’ll return to the College in the Hills for a 10 unit semester, including my first online class! Side note: I assumed I would never be the “online class type”, but working a full-time job Monday through Friday, I didn’t have much of a choice. Biology (with a lab), History of Art II (online), and Speech (yuck?) will run my life over the next four months, and I honestly cannot wait! These three-month summer recesses are always nice, but by the 60th day or so I find myself itching to be back in a classroom, learning something worth…learning. Here’s a photo of the Crafton campus, it really is set in the hills. I dismiss the burden of carrying my books to class uphill and over hundreds of stairs because the scenery is just so darn pretty!

    Ahhh… and so I mentioned my job. Well, I dedicate 40 hours a week to play secretary in an office literally 5 minutes from my house, four stop lights included. Atop my desk is an Itty Bitty Buddha, a one-inch, deep maroon colored, fat bellied man who I surrender my office-induced frustrations to. He’s kept me calm and lucky since his debut in my office just over two weeks ago. I’d go out on a limb to say the only real downside to my job is that I’m forced to sit. (A REALLY SUPER FANTASTIC job for me would be circus performing! Aerial acrobats, contortion,  and fire hooping; the animal-free kind of circus of course, since I am vegan.) As I plow my way through the next two semesters and try to keep balance between my job and school, I have tons to check off of my “To Do To Get To Stanford” list. High on this list is taking the SAT, but we’ll save that for another post.

Best wishes, folks. If you’ve read half of this post, all of it, visited my blog, hacked my email, or hung out with my grandma, feel free to tell me what you think so far!
Simon

Cardinal Country!

This is the beautiful, glowing, land of the great and wonderful Stanford.

Looking at pictures of the campuses, reading what the current students and Almni alike have to say, researching all the possibilities ahead!…there is not one part of this journey I am not excited for. I still find it nearly impossible to grasp the idea that I, quite soon, will be walking the halls of the great scholars before me. Great athletes like John Elway and Tiger Woods and succesful entrepreneurs like Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google, Phil Knight of Nike, and Peter Thiel of PayPal have called Stanford home. Who knows who I’ll become as an alumna, anyone want my autograph now? Anyone…? 

I find myself daydreaming about Stanford at least four times every day, and this has been true as ever lately. I still have one year left at Crafton Hills (the community college I’m at for General Ed) and that is one more year I have to add the IMPRESSIVE stamp to my college transcript. So in the coming semesters, I plan to keep my 4.0 GPA, awe my professors enough to brag about me in reference letters to University, and finally begin the application and admission process to Heaven.