Keeping up with the Big Dogs

 

Have you ever attempted to seem really cool and with it and then realized that it is beyond your power to be in control of such a feat? No, just me? You’re all really cool suave people? Well ok then!

I have come to a point in my life where I can admit the fact that I am not cool. No, don’t worry, I am ok with this. I can honestly say I hit my peak in the 5th grade. Yes, I was 10. But! I was a very cool ten year old. I was in 5th grade, I ruled the school, ate lunch with girls AND boys, and even had a couple co-ed birthday parties. Big times for me. Big.

However, it was downhill from there. My awkward ability to embarrass myself led to countless memories of tripping in front of the pretty crowd, spilling on myself in the cafeteria line, and shamelessly running around at recess despite how unflattering it may have been.

Now, as a 21 year old mature (?) college student about to embark upon “real life” and “adulthood”, I have fully embraced my inability to seem “cool”. I ride my red razor scooter around campus because it is simply put, practical. I wear my backpack too high and clothes that aren’t in fashion. And, I am also shameless with my personal interactions with others, and because of that, I have lost all ability to feel embarrassment or understand “an awkward situation”.

This lack of coolness was only further demonstrated when I took a trip to a lovely lake with a few of my friends. Now everyone knows when you go on a boating trip you must wear a cute bathing suit, pretend to “lounge” nonchalantly (but really be focused on the position your body is making), and laugh and flip your hair when the boys say something funny. Not for me though.

I don’t know if it was the massive coffee I drank that morning… (my Mom says I should never drink any caffeine because my energy level is so high, that when I do I become clinically insane. Thanks Ma, love you too) Or perhaps it was the fact that I hadn’t been out on a boat in a very long time, but I threw caution to the wind.

I adorned my child’s sized life jacket, jumped on  that wakeboard, and began what was about to be the most disgraceful and ungraceful attempt at looking cool they had ever seen. “1, 2, Go”, her Dad would count off as I sat in the water waiting for my wake boarding experience to begin. And 1, 2, 3 down I would go. Again? Sure! Why, not? 1, 2, 3, down. Again and again and again.

 

So why am I writing a piece completely discrediting myself as someone you should listen to for advice and opinions? It is for this reason: if college has taught me nothing at all (it has, don’t worry), it has taught me that we must all be proud of who we are. Whether the coolest of cool or the most unabashed of them all. It is about growing, learning, and experiencing in our own unique ways and loving every minute of it. In four years I  have learned that I am who I am and who I am is a slightly crazed, overly enthusiastic, down right cheerful girl with the imagination and enthusiasm for life of a 5 year old child. To UCLA and it’s teaching me to be me!

PS: A weekend trip away from school is always a good idea!

Nature Lover

I grew up without television. My friends say this explains a lot about my eccentric personality, but what I think this really did for me was that it fostered a love of the outdoors and the majestic use of my imagination. Growing up we had a large backyard that was packed with trees and flowers and was backed up by a creek. I would spend most of my days frolicking around pretending I was an Indian Princess, or a lost explorer.

You are probably assuming that with age these silly children’s fantasy games went away. However, they did not. I love imagination and exploration and discovery. But how was I going to take advantage of what my mind and creativity had to offer if I had no place to go? In Westwood, there is little to no foliage to get lost in.

If you’re anything like me, you may have come to Los Angeles, taken a look around, and wondered to yourself, where is the nature? This was probably the most difficult thing I had to face upon coming to UCLA. Being from the Bay Area, I always had Muir Woods, Pismo Beach, Yellowstone, and Lake Tahoe just a stones throw away. I could venture up into the mountains for long backpacking trips with my family and friends, or just explore for a casual day hike.

It has been my quest to find as many good hikes as possible in these tough surroundings. Luckily, this past weekend, I found one to get lost in. Sadly it takes a full day to do the entire trip, so if you have a jam packed schedule as I do, this can’t be an everyday frequent, but it is worth it time permitting.

My dear friend Ashley and I took to the internet to find a hike that led us to the highest peak in Santa Monica. We drove our car up and around winding roads until we finally found the gravel parking lot the yelp commenters are had mentioned.

The brush and bramble wasn’t exquisite on the way up, but the large rock formations and the way the sun hit the stone made it all worth our while. When we finally emerged victorious at the top, the view was breathtaking. In the distance, the beautiful ocean could be seen sparkling in the sun light, and the hills around us made civilization seem a thing of the past. We were along to indulge in a delicious picnic and catch up without the woes of our world below us.

As the sun began to set, we set off at a quick pace with hopes of catching the sun setting in Malibu. However, one wrong turn, a pitiful tripping on my part, and a bloody knee, resulted in a less glamorous viewing from the side of the hill. All in all, can’t complain. And, I have a nice little scar on my knee to hold the memory forever.

Touring LA

 

After having spent 3 whole years as a resident of the Los Angeles metropolis, and as I come up on my final quarter here as a student at UCLA, I realized that there is so much about this beautiful city that I have left to learn about. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my standard trips to the Getty, explored the Hollywood Sign and it’s adjourning hills, but I had yet to really delve into the unknown beauty that is LA.

Taking LA by storm on bus is a bit unheard of. The metro? No, I don’t think so. Even a car can make the LA tour a bit dreadful as it is sure to be met with traffic and air pollution. This revelation made for the most wonderful days I’ve had in my time in the city of angels.

A bike tour! But of course!! The city itself isn’t unmanageably large, people ride their bikes every day in LA, why couldn’t I? So, with that thought on my mind, I roused a bunch of my friends together for an au natural bike tour of LA. We found a wonderful group out of West Hollywood that does fun and adventurous bike tours that go from about 9am to 4pm. Sounded like a pretty long adventure, but we were up for the challenge.

Our day started out in the Hollywood Hills seeing celebrity homes and hearing the history of the cinema. We ventured on to Santa Monica, Brentwood, Culver Studios, Marina del Rey, Venice canals, UCLA, and the Los Angeles River to name a few. Our tour guides were fun and energetic and their enthusiasm was easily catchable.

It was a beautiful LA day and the perfect way to see the city where I’ve spent these past years in an eco-friendly way without leaving much of a carbon footprint.

That being said, I encourage each and everyone of you to take a day off, and explore LA, the way it was meant to be explored: with the wind in your face, the sun on your back, and a group of your friends to keep you company!

When I grow up….

When I grow up, I want to be successful. Would you believe it if I told you this is what I wrote as a first grader? What a lame kid I was! For some reason or other it seems every teacher wants to know what you’ll be when you grow up. Why can’t we just focus on the growing and figure it out once we get up there huh? That question never came with a good answer….

Luckily, my answer changed over the years to be less….lame? I said I wanted to be a psychologist, a veterinarian, a teacher, a businesswoman, and most recently a theatric. The peculiar thing is that to this day I still find myself saying, “when I grow up….”. However, I am now beginning to realize that I am in fact a 21 year old woman who is about to graduate from UCLA, and be……a grown up? NOOOOOOOOO!

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I had just landed down at LAX, did I have a true 100% full fledged adult moment. One of my roommates works for a trendy consulting agency that was recently hired by a very large hotel line (not sure how much detail I am allowed to give. Sorry!) to host their annual general manager convention. They flew out over 2,000 managers from all over North America.

It seemed, that in the last few weeks, they realized they needed a little extra help. Luckily for them, I had some free time. My roommate offered me the opportunity to fly out on a redeye Wednesday night, arrive in Orlando, Florida at 6 am the next day to visit two hotels and then head to the convention where I would work from 9-6. After the convention, we were free to relax at our hotel only to get an early morning start for our flight Friday morning at 8am.

It seemed I had finally kicked of my growing up shoes and stepped into something a little more grown up. This was a real business trip where I was the business-woman who was flown out, put up in a hotel, and flown back all for the sake of the companies well being. TAKE THAT FIRST GRADE! I did it!!!! Success! I guess you really know you’ve grown up when you fly to Orlando not to visit Disney World.

It wasn’t until I found myself walking from the flyaway shuttle back up the hill to my apartment was I jutted back into my reality. For now, I’m still a college student. For now, my success is yet to be written. But to be honest, I don’t think it entails stuffy clothing and general manager consulting. It was an experience to learn from, and a paycheck to be proud of!

Le Artiste

When I was in the first grade I painted a parrot during art class. The detail was intricate, the design was flawless, and the critiques were top notch. Now you are probably thinking to yourselves, well of course they were, you were in first grade. No one is going to discourage the creativity of a 5 year old! However, I must have it known that this was no ordinary first grade art project. It was truly extraordinary.

From that point on, my family and friends believed that I was destined to become the next Georgia O’keeffe. Unfortunately for them, and myself, with every passing year, my artistic talent seemed not to blossom and grow as one might think, but diminish and fade until, by the 5th grade, not even my handwriting was art worthy.

It actually became so horribly awful that my friends would no longer allow me to sign communal birthday cards, sighting my horrible print as a worthy fault. I longed for the days of the parrot, hoped and dreamed for legible script, and would even tell people that if I could have one additional talent, it would be to paint.

As the years went on, I flourished in other artistic outlets such as singing, theater, and dance (or so I tell myself), but there was always something missing. I wanted to paint.

Last night gave me that opportunity. I took what some would call a child’s tool, Crayons, and turned it into a masterpiece of the likes of my parrot. Because I have been so harshly judged for my handwriting and art failures, I do believe that I have the right to boast about this rather wonderful phenomenon. It is truly spectacular. All one needs is a canvas, some hot glue or sturdy tape, a plethora of crayons (only pretty colors), and a hair blow dryer. I have every intention to send this painting to my first grade teacher and let the destiny rewrite itself 15 years later.

To the Estate! (sale…..)

If you don’t remember a certain post I posted a long time ago, I shall refresh your memory as to what it entailed. “Gypsy Living”, told the wonderful tale of a college student’s quest for buying apartment essentials at a reasonable cost. For most college students, moving into a new home seems like the day you break the bank, but not for me. I look at it as a challenge to find and create the most frugal and first-rate home furnishings one can find, and to that challenge, I say challenge accepted.

So, it might not come as a surprise to everyone that I am quite the expert at thrift store shopping, garage sales, and even estate sale shopping. This past weekend I decided to turn a wonderful and commitment free Saturday into a day of treasure hunting. One of my closest friends, a Miss Ashley Bourdon, was visiting, and I knew she would make a perfect first mate. So we set sail aboard the SSR20 (or my really cool 1998 Nissan maxima. Heyyy oooooo), and looked forward to the day ahead.

Before our quest began we searched the web to see what had been posted, mapped out a journey of 8 different sales, and packed our adventure sacks for the morning. With every stop we made we met new people, with new stories, who had new treasures for us to explore. Everything from furniture to record players, tv stands to music boxes. We were selective in our pickings but made out with what I believe was the best $15 dollars I’ve spent in a long time, and a wonderful day filled with giggles and fun.

I have attached a photo of the wonders that are my new treasures:

$5 shirt, free music box, $.50 two yellow cups, $0.50 two oil lamps, $5 canon film camera, $2 vintage polaroid camera, $1 bottle, $1 two books. Gypsy living? I think yes!

Here’s to brother Bruin, brother Bruin, brother Bruin

I know I have mentioned this one too many times, but it seems to be a topic of discussion that I can’t help but to gush about. BRUIN PRIDE! I have spent three full years here at UCLA and am about to be finishing up my fourth and final year in just a couple quarters. Throughout my time here, I have had my share of Bruintastic moments and memories, but I think that when I look back fondly upon my college experience and the Bruin spirit that bubbled inside of me, I will look back upon this past weekend.

Football season is always a wonderful season to get out and show off how much UCLA means to me. (Although, I must admit, it is proving a bit difficult to cheer for a team that is on such an impressive losing streak) But I thought to myself, nonetheless, what better way to show my loyalty as a fan, than to travel with our team? And so, we did.

If you have ever taken a long road trip with some of your friends, you know that squishing yourself into a car, with no means of escaping each other for the next 400 miles, is always a good idea that is full of giggles and candy. However, I ask you this. Have you ever considered squishing 45 of you? What? Sheer madness you say???? Yes, yes it was. Going to such a large school of well rounded and advantageously organized students means that road trips to Norcal are not only frequented, but always a memory worth having.

We charted a big ‘ol bus with our lovely driver Fernando, stuffed 45 of my favorite UCLA Bruins onto it, all of whom were decked out in face paint and costumes, and began the trek from point A to point B. The bus songs, pit stops, and ridiculous antics made the trip fly by.

Upon our return the next day (despite our loss to Stanford), it made me realize just how much I have loved the people I have met here, the memories I have made, and how hard it will be to leave this place that I now call a home. Unless of course……it’s for another road trip…….

College Mobile

First and foremost I am writing this piece as a warning to all out there: YOU DON’T NEED TO HAVE A CAR AT UCLA! Ok yes, I’ll admit it. I have a really cool ride. Some might even say an envious one: a smooth riding, luxurious, Nissan maxima ‘98 edition, and despite what many have said, a very feminine car. (just look it up to imagine how cool I look) And yes, while I do love being able to get up and go whenever I want, I didn’t have a car until my senior year in college, and I am warning once again, DRIVING IN LA SUCKS!

“Now that’s a little harsh”, you might be thinking to yourselves, but I stand by it and nothing you can say can make me change my opinion! I held two internships this summer: one in downtown LA, and one in Santa Monica. In one week I would be driving on average, 9.5 hours. WHAT?!?!?!?!  9.5 x 15 weeks……That’s like wasting 6 WHOLE DAYS OF MY LIFE DRIVING IN LA TRAFFIC?!?!?! Ok I am having a minor panic attack right now.

My point is, that despite what people may say, you don’t need a car on campus. You will be saving yourself a lot of time (traffic moves slowly), and money (parking tickets), and avoid a lot of aggravation (people can’t really drive in LA).  And besides, there are so many wonderful, cultural, and beautiful things to do locally! For example, the Getty!!!!

The other day I took my friend from home on an LA adventure, and her favorite thing that we did was our picnic at the Getty. The beautiful gardens set along side the architectural genius makes it the perfect place to kick back and relax, or catch up on some studies. Free to the public, we took advantage of the exhibit on Cuba and soaked up some cultural goodness.

So now I ask, “what have you learned from all this?” And your answers, I am sure, are that 1) Maddy is crazy, and 2) No need for a car when culture is near by!

Gypsy Living

 

Now there comes a point in each of our lives when we are labeled something by others. Sometimes it can be good, sometimes it can be bad, and sometimes it can be just plain true. All three of those elements have been smashed into one marvelous label that I take with a grain of salt, boast about with my head held high, and relish in all its glory. After 3 years of blood, sweat, tears (NOT AN EXAGGERATION! ok maybe just a little…), I have been labeled by my fellow peers, a gypsy. (insert Borat quote here)

Perhaps it is because of my dark coloring and affinity for large hoop earrings and bangles. Or, perhaps it is because I planned penny pinching travels while abroad. But most likely, it is because I have proven time and time again that a dollar can go much further than one would think.

Now I know what you’re all thinking, now now Maddy, we don’t want a lecture on economics and frugality. And I promise, that is not what I will be dealing out today. No. Today I want to teach you all a little secret about how to make the most of our college pocketbooks (are pocketbooks just wallets but for olden times?)

I am not the type of person that puts money above my entertainment and nonsensical pleasures, but when it came to furnishing an entire apartment for the upcoming year, I have to be honest, numbers were not my friend. So I turned to the mothership for gypsies like myself, Craigslist. One man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure. Between the fruitful searches on craigslist and the kindness and passing down from older graduates, I was able to furnish my corner of the room with a bed, side table, oak dresser, and an Ansel Adams print from the 1970’s for only $25. Gypsy much? I think so. You see! You can create a home out of a humble man’s earnings. Designing a new home does not have to be the bank breaker everyone makes it out to be.

I one day hope to start my own blog of penny pinching tricks (just ask anyone about the 5 dollar boots I bought out of someone’s trunk), but for now, this is my forum and I hope it suits you well. Do not hesitate to enquire if you do seek advice about future frugality and gypsy antics. Oh, and always remember, Gypsies have magic tears 😉

Advice from a nonAdviser: An Essay

For all of you future, present, and past Bruins out there following this blog, and of course for all of you nonBruins who have a fantastically passionate admiration for UCLA and are thus following this blog, I write to you with advice.

I know what you’re thinking, what could she possibly know that I don’t already. And to that I answer you this; I know that when I came to UCLA I had no picture painted for me, or standards set which was both good and bad. I know that now, as I sit here about to take on my final year, I wish there were things that I had done during my time at UCLA. And, I know that this list may sound silly, but trust me, below are 10 things every Bruin, nonBruin admirer, and random Joe should know.

So let us begin. I call this one Advice from a nonadviser.

1) Don’t feel glued to your floor

I think this one is really important because come 1st year, we tend to get this comfortable feeling in our dorm floor safe zone, and think nothing can happen to us. That is the problem. My freshman year, I loved living in DeNeve, but I didn’t really connect to the people on my floor. It took me HALF A YEAR to realize that oh…maybe there are people above, below, or even across from me that are more similar to me. And guess what? There WERE! So, trust me, get out and meet people from other floors and buildings because there are more than 56 people at UCLA.

2) Take a flier or two from bruin walk (you might be surprised)

This is my most important piece of advice, but I didn’t want to come on too heavy, so it’s number 2. GET INVOLVED!!! Again, my freshman year at UCLA was wonderful, I joined a sorority, I made some incredible friends, I took challenging classes, but I still felt a little let down with my college experience.

I was the kid in high school, like many of you, that did every extracurricular available. When I came to college and had EXTRA free time, I was lost and almost bored. Until my 2nd year, when I jumped into any and every activity that interested me in the slightest, everything from Dance Marathon to the Daily Bruin, Spring Sing’s Company to an Acapella group. I truly did a 180 for my college experience. I became obsessed with UCLA, and most importantly I finally met the people that I knew I would be friends with my entire life. These were the people that had similar passions as me, senses of humor as me, and curiosity like me. Get involved! If you don’t like it, you can always quit, but it’s worth it to explore.

3) Always do a full lap in the dining hall before you sit

Short, sweet, and simple. Do a full lap before you commit to anything because if you don’t, you’re going to sit down with your friends and have the worst food envy ever. “Where was that?”, you’ll ask Sally. “By the cereal”, she’ll reply. DANG IT! Now you ponder whether to waste food and throw yours away, look like a glutton and eat them both, or simply be less satisfied with the meal at hand. It’s a loose, loose, loose situation. So learn from a pro, map it, lap it, and ENJOY!

4) Do things that scare you

You know how old people look back and talk about how they wish they had tried that when they were young? Well guess what, we are young. College can be very scary. It was very scary the first time I failed a midterm. It was very scary the first time I sang in front of 7,500 people. And, it was very scary the first time I had to go out and make new friends. But guess what, I lived to tell the story, and I’m better because of it.

There will always be things out there that you are curious about, but don’t because you hesitate out of fear. Don’t do that. Trust me, the worst that can happen is that it doesn’t go your way. You will be proud that you tried it, and you will never have to grow old thinking what if, and saying I wish I’d tried that when I was young.

5) The LGBT center has free printing

There are resources out there for you if you look for them. For example, printing is much more plentiful than you would think. If you live on the hill you get 100 free prints a quarter. Also, certain buildings offer free printing, like the LGBT center in the SAC building. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for these secret gems.

6) Get out of Westwood

It can be difficult to explore the city of LA, especially if you don’t have a car, but it is worth it. Find a friend who has a car, or explore the public transit like the Big Blue Bus. Los Angeles is a thriving metropolis that always has cool things going on. Whether it’s First Fridays in Venice Beach, The Fairax Flea Market, or a study break at the Getty Museum. There is always something to do in the greater LA area!

7) Books are expensive. You don’t need to buy them

Ok this might depend on how you learn, but for me I learned this early on and am so grateful I did. First of all, expect a textbook to be outrageously overpriced. Second, expect that each teacher has different teaching methods and sometimes reading the book cover to cover will not help you on the final, but memorizing their powerpoint presentations will.

So how can you learn with out the book you ask? You have a couple options.

A) If you are an honors student you can check the books out from YRL for an entire quarter! (free of charge)

B) If you are not an honors student, you can get them from Powell library’s 2 hour reserve desk every day! And, if you check it out at 9pm or later, you get to keep it the entire night! (Perfect for prefinal cram sessions)

C) Share a book with a friend and pay half the price

D) Chegg.com allows you to RENT the book for about half the price

8) Don’t worry about what you’re going to do with your life

Every year I talk to incoming students about their anxieties of choosing a major and what they are going to do with their lives. And every year I give them the same bit of advice. Don’t worry, you shouldn’t know yet.

The best part about college is the fact that you come into it with little to no idea about where your life is going to take you and you grow and learn and figure it out as you go. These four years are a time for you to explore your independence and dabble in different fields of study. Don’t spend it stressing out about what the next move is going to be. Trust me, it will come to you at one point, and when it does, it will feel natural and exciting and the perfect place to start your next adventure.

9) Take classes that are “just for fun” classes

A lot of times people think they won’t be able to graduate in 4 years if they take “just for fun” classes. This isn’t necessarily true. Sure, if you are a neuroscience major who is going premed, you might need to crack down. But, you can still take a class pass no pass that is just for fun. It will expand your horizons, give you a peak into a different field of study, and let you see what your peers are exploring.

Some examples of classes I took just for fun: Tennis Lessons through Sunset Rec (ok not academic, but HIGHLY encouraged. I signed up with 5 of my girlfriends and I’m pretty sure I peed my pants twice) and Vaudeville stand up comedy class through the theater department. It was incredible and an extraordinarily difficult class about improv, but that taught me that comedy is something I want to explore more. And lastly, a women’s study course on Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgenders. It was fascinating to learn about a different type of struggle and self expression.

Also, I am still managing to graduate a quarter early 😉

10) Take advantage of every minute of it

Like I’ve mentioned before, 3 of my 4 years of college are over, and I could not be more nostalgic to see them go. If there is any advice you take away with you from this grotesquely long essay, remember that the days will fly by faster than you are ready for them to go. Take advantage of every opportunity and moment, and remember that there will always be a time in the future to sleep and rest.

Surround yourself with people that make you laugh, activities that make you proud, and an education that makes you think philosophically. As a wise turtle once said in Kung Fu Panda, “Yesterday is the history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is gift, that is why we call it the present.” So enjoy that gift because these are about to be the best years of your life!

I hope you made it through my essay, and came out better for it on the other end! Let me know how you liked my advice because I am full of it and dying for someone to ask!

Love,

Maddy