Prom Review 2018

Morning 

Shower, coffee with friends, good bagel, walk into school. Overall, 10/10. Great start to the day, and a fun way to wake up. Only complaint is that it was so early. School was average. Had an in class essay in English. My teachers understood nobody wanted to do anything. Failed a chem test

Morning Review: 6/10

 

Afternoon 

After coming home from Chemistry, I headed to a hair appointment in Oakley. Really liked the Zephyr Salon I went to, if you need somewhere to go. Also, it’s named after one of my favorite songs (by the Red Hot Chili Peppers!!) so it was all around great vibes. Got my second coffee of the day. Went home and got dressed and ready for pictures

Afternoon Review: 8/10

 

Pictures 

Overall, the pictures were the least overwhelming that I have ever experienced. It’s taken me 4 years to get over the anxiety at concourse photos. We also left early as a group, so that probably helped.

Picture Review: 8/10

 

Bus Ride 

Our bus had a total of 35 of my best friends. Our driver was almost as fast paced as the music and though everybody fell over every 5 seconds, the bus was a really good time. The drive home was even better.

Bus Review: 8/10

 

Prom

The dance was so much fun! Prom has historically been better than all the other dances. I thought the Hall of Mirrors was badass (Can I say that? Sorry Mr. Wiseman!) and the DJ played decent music. A really neat aspect was the upper level balcony that looked down on the dance floor. I was also totally stoked about prom court, and seeing my friends walk was so senior & super bittersweet. My date was awesome.

Prom Review: 10/10

 

After Prom

I appreciate all the work put into after prom, but I was exhausted. Scene 75 was really fun, and having freedom there was neat. Go karting was great and laser tag was a real struggle. Fell asleep on the way home.

After Prom Review: 6/10

 

Overall Prom Review: 9/10 

Vlog coming soon!

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The Moon Landing Was Fake

American conspiracies will always interest me. Maybe I have trust issues with the American government, maybe I just like a good mystery, or maybe I like defying the mainstream, but the unexplained occurrences in the US have a certain resonance with me that I can’t shake. To be clear, I don’t really believe the moon landing was fake, and I don’t want to belittle American tragedies. I do, however, think it’s pretty cool that we live in a country where we can question and doubt the norm. Also they’re all pretty ridiculous, so its wildly entertaining.

So here’s a look at some of my favorite American conspiracies:

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The All Seeing Eye, a symbol for the Illuminati on, that’s right, the US dollar bill!!!

The Illuminati – Basically, the thought surrounding this is that there is a group of powerful, but selective few, who the rule the world. The Illuminati is said to have originated in 18th century Germany, and said to create world wars to strengthen the argument for the creation of a worldwide government. Also, the Illuminati is said to have Satanic tendencies. Weird, sure, but not as weird as the one where lizard men are ruling all the powerful countries in the world. (I wish I was joking).

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The plane, but it’s really a missile cloaked with hologram technology (it’s a real theory)

The 9/11 Attacks – Did Bush really do 9/11? Memes aside, Many of the people behind this one think that the Bush administration had knowledge of the attacks prior to September 11th, and allowed them to attack to give us an excuse to become more heavily involved in the middle east. The current conspiracy says that the government has concealed or refused to investigate critical evidence that contradicts their current explanation for the 9/11 attacks. Sounds a bit like…

 

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A Hawaiian newspaper from Nov. 31. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was Dec. 7.  

The Pearl Harbor Bombing – This one is about how the US government officials had advanced knowledge about the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor December of 1941 and did nothing about it. Why? Becuase the US needed a back door into WWII and a mini-beef with Japan could escalate into US involvement in the world war. Not buying it? Not a lot of people do. However, this theory is actually the closest to truth out of all of them, mostly becuase the real story is the US knew the Japanese were planning something but we didn’t know when and where it would happen, and we didn’t really have any way of stopping it.

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A 1950 FBI document relating a story about  flying saucers.

Aliens are real and the government knows it – Conspiracy has it that the boys over at Area 51 have some UFOs stored up for research, which began with an event in the late 1940’s in Roswell, NM. The story is a “weather balloon” crashed outside of the town, and it wasn’t until the 1970’s that the story came back out and conspiracists jumped on the potential cover up. The admitted reality was revealed in the 1990’s when the government explained the balloon was a nuclear test surveillance balloon. Or was it… Additionally, the information and research conducted in Area 51 is not available to the public, “classified for National Security” according the military only fuels conspiracists who think Area 51 is harboring alien contact and technology.

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Doesn’t this reflection look a little… FAKE to you?

The Moon Landing was faked – People who support this conspiracy claim the US government was desperate to beat the Russians in the space race, so they faked the moon landing on a secret film set (deep within Area 51). The photos and videos of the landing are only available through NASA, so there’s no independent verification that the landings were legit. Also, the 3 main astronauts that helped test the equipment for NASA died in a fire while at work. Coincidental accident or government ordered execution?

Some others if you’re still interested: The cure for AIDS and cancer, The JFK Assassination, Freemasons, Reptilians are running the world, and Government sponsored chemtrails. Happy doubting.

How to Not Sound Dumb at a Coffee Shop

I really like coffee. Like good light roast espresso drinks with almond milk are my shit. What I have noticed, is people are missing out on good coffee becuase they’re scared of the fancy Italian words like ‘macchiato’ or ‘cappuccino’. And I know at some coffee shops, if you order a macchiato, you don’t get what Starbucks calls a macchiato. I am here to help.

While Cinci has a pretty weak-sauce selection of coffee, there is opportunity in this city. Plus, here or abroad, if you know what you’re doing when you order a drink, the coffee experience is bomb.

This guide isn’t going to teach you how to order at Starbucks, it’s probably going to rip Starbucks apart, so if you are only interested in the corporation, I won’t be much help. You can explore their drink menu here, on 1912 Pike, their coffee education blog. It’s aesthetically pleasing, and clarifies a lot of the reasons why their menu is WACK.

Scan 2 copy.jpegOk so first rule of coffee-order-club is confidence. Don’t go in thinking you don’t know what you’re doing, go in knowing what you want, or at least have an idea. It’s in a barista’s job description to answer your questions, and if they’re too rushed or panicked to help you, it’s probably not a well staffed or run shop. Run away from those.

So anyways, confidence: decide pre-entry if you’re in the mood for milky and sweet, or rich and warm. And don’t be afraid to explain exactly what you want to the barista so they can help you figure out the best thing to order. If you like Starbuck’s caramel macchiato, tell them that and they’ll help you order something even better at their shop.

Scan 2 copy 2Second rule, sound like you know what you’re saying. Brewed coffee and espresso drinks are different, and knowing what you’re saying makes ordering your drink that much better.

  • Brewed Coffee – While espresso is finely ground, and in contact with water for about 30 seconds (to bring out flavor of the beans), a cup of brewed coffee is medium ground, and in contact with water for a lot longer. Espresso also uses pressure to brew, while brewed coffee uses gravity. Scan 2 copy 5.jpeg
  • Espresso – 100% shot of concentrated coffee. You can taste a shop in their espresso. Some shops roast their own beans, some shops import, but beans only last so long before they’re no good, so always check for freshness, location, etc. of their beans. When you order an Espresso you sound badass and like you know what you’re about (or just exhausted). No milk. My favorites include Intelligensia, Counter Culture, and Deeper Roots.
    • Double / Quad Shot – **ESPRESSO DOES NOT EQUAL BREWED COFFEE. First things first about espresso, most shops pull their espresso in double shots. It’s confusing, but I am informing you now that most shops pull in “double”, Starbucks included. When you order a ‘quad shot’ you’re asking for double (4 shots) the espresso (2×2=4=quad). It’s a lot of concentrated coffee, but most of the time coffee shops do all their drinks with only 2 shots. If you’ve had an espresso drink from Starbucks (latte, macciato, etc.) you’ve been drinking 2 shots.

The basics of espresso drinks are about ratio. All drinks I am talking about have the same amount of coffee, but the amount of milk is what varies:

  • Macchiato – 1/2 espresso, 1/2 milk. Hate to burst your bubble, but a Starbucks macchiato is actually a nontraditional macchiato called a Latte Macchiato. Macchiatos are for the bold, it’s a lot of coffee flavor, and it’s a great drink if you’re exhausted, don’t want a lot of milk, and are looking for something that shows off a shop’s espresso. My post-school sleepy drink of choice becuase it wakes me up without weighing you down.
  • Cappuccino – 1/3 espresso, 2/3 milk. Usually for the milk, it’s more foam than steamed milk. You call a cappuccino with no foam, and only steamed milk, a “flat white”. The cappuccino is usually my goldilocks in the morning. It’s not too much milk, the espresso isn’t overwhelming, and you can easily add flavors to mix it up.
  • Americano – 1/3 espresso, 2/3 hot water. To me, Americanos are like a cup of drip coffee, but they taste better, becuase I think espresso tends to taste better. It’s a watered down shot, and usually if you order this the barista will ask if you need room for cream, like with a regular cup of coffee. scan-1.jpeg
  • Latte – AH, the milky-est of drinks, and most of the time, the most fun. 3/4 milk, and 1/4 espresso. You can usually add any flavors to this, and mix it up with the milks and etc. If you have a fun barista, this drink provides for the artstsiest of drinks in terms of latte art using the little but of steamed milk on the top for designs.
  • Mocha – Coffee and Chocolate!! A mocha is basically a hot chocolate (steamed milk & chocolate sauce), and a shot of espresso. If you ordered a chocolate latte, you would get a mocha (and a weird look from the barista). Scan 2 copy 4
  • “Iced” in front of any of these – I have never seen an iced macchiato unless you count Starbucks (who’s iced macchiato is fake news), so when I say iced, I am talking cappuccino, americano, and latte. You take the milk, don’t steam it, the espresso, and cold brew it (I am not sure how to do this, but you can cold brew a lot of stuff in the coffee world), or the water, and leave it cold, and pour it all over ice. My drink of choice anywhere? Iced latte: cold brew espresso, milk, and ice.

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Ready to test your skills?

Quad shot caramel cappucino? caramel sauce, 4 shots, and 1/3 steamed milk, 1/3 foam milk. Iced vanilla latte? Ice, vanilla flavor, double shot of cold brew espresso, 3/4 milk.

Easy!

Scan 2 copy 3.jpegStep three? Enjoy! If you’re not into coffee, most stores offer steamers, which are the drinks without the shot of espresso. Also, hot chocolate, smoothies, muffins, and sodas are common in coffee shops so you can fake it until you make it! Remember, have the confidence to just ask! 

 

Pad Thai and Other Luxuries

Pad Thai with just a little spice, so it doesn’t overwhelm the taste of the dish, but accentuates the flavor. Falling into bed after a really long day, curling into warm blankets and blocking out the cold world beyond. The summer sun in the morning burning off the cool night, and it’s not super hot out yet, but you know it will be soon. A fresh pair of shoes that you put on and realize they’ve started to fit your feet just right and they don’t hurt anymore. Brunch. Reading a book or watching a movie and forgetting the world. Finishing said book or movie and wanting to change your life/the world. When you wake up and actually feel like you got a good nights sleep and can get stuff done. Playing an old playlist and a song you used to love comes on and it take you back to when you were obsessed with it. An organized desktop. A cup of coffee right when you wake up that’s not too hot, but warms you up and wakes you up. Riding a bike on fresh pavement. The beach on a really warm day when the ocean feels perfect and you don’t have to worry about anything. Screaming the lyrics to your favorite songs. Pens that don’t bleed through and write really well. Finishing a really complicated and time consuming problem and feeling confident about your answer. When things you ordered online arrive at your house. New candles you can’t wait to get home and burn. Sunsets. Imagining the way you will take a picture of something and it turning out exactly how you wanted. When something you were really worried about turns out for the better. Christmas lights strung up outside over decks. Bright colored doors on drab houses. Fire pits in the fall – when the world is cold, but the fire and your blanket and your friends are warm. Finding a new song or artist just as you’re getting bored of your music or playlist. A really long run. Concerts. Meeting long term goals. Clean, organized, vacuumed rooms. The texture of a notebook completely filled up with notes. Hot tea when its snowing outside. Clean and concise typefaces. Laughing so hard you cry. When you are in a moment and you know you will love thinking back on the memory of it. Finally getting something off your chest. Drinking cold water when you’re really thirsty. The vibe of a nighttime plane ride after an amazing trip. Warm and gooey chocolate chip cookies. When you roll the windows down for the first time in the spring and the sun shines while you drive. Cool Friday nights in the fall, when it smells like October and you can hear the cheerleaders and band as you walk to the game. The aesthetic of flower shops. And other luxuries.

Take Me Here

Travel is one of the most important and exciting things a person can do. Especially as a young person, and especially as a student, a trip or new experience has draw to me for so many reasons: the creativity fostered from breaking out of the your norm, the cool stories, the aesthetic, the knowledge you gain from other cultures and people makes you a more well rounded person.   

I’ve been to a bunch of really cool places already: Ecuador, the Bahamas, a handful of awesome US Cities, Puerto Rico, Yosemite, Turks and Caicos, etc. But that being said, I know for a fact I have a long way to go. There’s so much more I want to see, so much more I want to do. So, without further introduction, here is Abby’s ultimate travel bucket list (at least right now, it’s growing):

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  1. Reunion Island, France:  Located east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, Reunion is owned by the French and known for its active volcanoes and rainforest. People live inside craters, and it’s a hub for shark research, plus it’s home to France’s 21st largest city, even though it’s a 10 hour flight from Paris. It may be in the middle of the ocean, but it’s European influenced culture, charming architecture, and the fact it’s an island that’s not totally overrun by tourism, makes this place seem super cool to me, if I ever make it there when it’s not storming (it’s known for some of the heaviest storms on record) / a volcano isn’t erupting (Piton de la Fornais is one of the worlds most active volcanoes).
  2. Guayaquil, Ecuador: I want to back!! There’s only so much you can do on a school trip, and there’s a lot more I want to see in Ecuador. Guayaquil is one of the cities in Ecuador I saw it from a plane window. It’s is the commercial hub of Ecuador, a huge coastal city, home to a huge new international airport, and has breezy warm weather year round. Plus, a lot of the city’s infrastructure is brand new: I am all for history and culture, but they’ve put a lot of money into Guayaquil’s great gardens and ecology preservation, so in contrast to Quito’s history, Guayaquil is fresh and clean. Plus, this is the port city for the Galapagos! And I plan on hiking the Cotopaxi volcano while I’m there. Lots to do when I go back.   
  3. Cinqe Terra, Italy: I am BASIC I know! But still, I had friends come home raving about Cinqe Terra, and honestly, how could you not want to go explore? The pictures are gorgeous, and the climate is perfection. Known for awesome hiking, swimming, and Italian tradition, it’s almost impossible for me to not want to go visit. It’s made up of 5 villages on the Italian Riviera, accessed only by twisting roads along the rugged coastline, by sea, or by hiking the trails that link all 5 villages together on foot. 
  4. Mallorca, Spain: Crystal clear water, white sand beaches, history and architecture, mountains, well worn port towns, and a royal seal of approval all draw me to Mallorca. It’s probably the most expensive place on my list, but for good reason. Mallorca is an island off the coast of Spain, known for its cliff jumping, revamped manor houses, and Mediterranean-Spanish flavors, this place is gorgeous, delicious, and the best balance of adventure and relaxation. Plus the Spanish royal family vacations here, so you know it’s ‘aight. IN ADDITION: I want to study abroad in Spain, so I am hoping to hit Mallorca as a broke college student at some point. I’ll keep you updated.
  5. Kodiak, Alaska: I am not a winter person (becuase I am not insane), so this is Alaska in the summertime. My dad drove from Knoxville to a fishing island called Kodiak, one of the largest in the archipelago. While the 7 day drive sounds like so much fun (it doesn’t), I still am forever drawn to wide open and beautiful Alaska. Prime hiking and camping, there’s not much on the island of Kodiak, since 2/3 of the island’s area is Wildlife Reserve, which is part of the beauty of it.
  6. Tangier, Morroco: I think Morocco sounds fascinating because it’s a blend of African, Middle Eastern, American, and European culture thanks to it’s location and history. Tangier is a costal port city known for long beaches, artisanal goods, a thriving cafe culture – coffee, sunshine, and shopping? Count me in.
  7. Krabi Province, Thailand: Okay, best for last. Beaches, pad thai, and fresh juice! I can’t think of anything better. Turquoise water, limestone cliffs, and mangrove pools all make up Karabi Province: a group of over 150 islands off the coast of Thailand. The area is a hidden gem, and is less developed than the coast cities like Phuket. It has world renowned snorkeling (one of my favorite activities!), is influenced by Buddhist culture (stuff I want to know more about!), and island hopping is a regular thing (and you can rent your own little boat to do it!).

So in conclusion, the world’s got a lot to offer, and I got a lot to see. If you’re looking for an adventure, take me here.

 

Some Thoughts on Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami is overrated. Sure, he has his merits: candy colors are hard to work with, and he’s doing a  great job of branding his style, but at what cost? Personally I think Takashi Murakami x Louis Vuitton is painful to look at, however I am starting to understand why he is so highly regarded today.

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Graduation album cover
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Murakami x Louis

Murakami is one of the most recognizable and well known Japanese artists in modern culture. You probably know him from the cover of Kanye’s album Graduation. I also know you’ve seen those psychedelic smiley flowers on Vans. That’s all Murakami – but is it?

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Who’s mans? Just kidding its Murakami.

Murakami’s style was especially developed in the early 2000s, but today, much of his work isn’t even done by him. It’s a practice called ‘conceptual art’: though work bears his name Murakami just conceived the idea for the piece, and didn’t execute the creation of  it himself. It’s like the way an architect conceives the idea for a building.

Part of me thinks what  Murakami’s doing is cool: I dig social satire [see my Roy Lichtenstein post from a while back], but maybe the world wants Murakami to be more than he is. In this interview with CNN, Murakami says that his work is “not at all” satire.  

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Smiley flowers and skulls. That’s deep.

In terms of his inspiration, Murakami is praised by critics for combining the old and the the new. He pioneered what contemporary artists are calling the ‘superflat’ movement: combining the traditions on Japanese block printing and the nuances of anime and manga in a refreshed and modern take on art. Additionally, for those of you who don’t follow Japanese culture (me), see also: ‘otaku’, a person who is obsessive – a Japanese stereotype of someone obsessed with anime and manga. Ya boy Murakami is a self-proclaimed otaku.

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This piece is called Vapor Trail and it sold for $2,100,000

But I also can’t see past how boring it is. His uses the same characters and colors, and shows no variety. Sure it’s recognizable, but is it talent? Is it good?

I do appreciate his career, however. He has made a name for himself in the global sphere of art, and turned a widely disregarded genre of art into a mainstream style. He’s brought a lot of Eastern culture to the West, and the art world is always in need of diversity. But, psychotic characters and neon colors printed onto couture? I don’t know if I can get behind it.

Going Off the Grid

“Did you see her story?” “Did you read his comment.” For the first time in a long time my answer was no.

I woke up in the morning and rolled over and refresh Snapchat. Then Instagram. Then VSCO. And it was 7 in the morning, so of course there was nothing new, because nobody posts between 12am (when I had refreshed Snapchat and Instagram and VSCO before I went to bed) and 7am. I felt sick in this cycle.

I deleted social media over winter break because I felt addicted to it, and wanted to give myself a breather from the daily routine.

I want to clarify that I really like social media and respect people that are on it and this isn’t a call out or a judgement, I was just so tired. It felt like a job, and I wasn’t really happy checking social media anymore. So i deleted snapchat and instagram and vsco and tumblr and pinterest. (And 1010 because I play that game like no other and I needed a detox.)

Here’s what I learned:

  1. I missed it. I am not going to lie to you and say that I live a pure social media free life now. I deleted these apps without a time limit in mind, I just told myself when I missed it, I would bring it back. And I ended up re-downloading everything 8 days later, so, yes I missed social media.
  2. I spent a lot of time refreshing. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, or whatever that saying is. With my schedule cleared out, I now had free time. I could, like, read a book or talk to my parents or something? I didn’t even realize how much time I spend checking my phone in my spare time.
  3. I slept better. I didn’t check my phone at all before bed or when I woke up. I did end up falling asleep quicker.
  4. People are on their phones a lot. I think we all know this, but when you’re not looking at your phone you’re looking at the world, where everybody else is looking at their phone. At restaurants, when conversation would die down, or when you’re in an uncomfortable group, your go to is your phone. But I didn’t have anything I cared that much about on my phone, so I watched everybody else get on their phones in awkward situations.
  5. It’s a big part of how I communicate. Social media is a HUGE player in how I talk to people. And not just the people around me, but with friends that are far away. One major drawback from deleting over winter break was my friends in college were coming home and we had snapchatted in the days leading up to them coming home. It’s not like I couldn’t text them, but there was a gap when all my streaks died. 
  6. I do things for social media. I wound up taking pictures and thinking “this will be great for VSCO”. Which, upon reflection, seemed kinda backwards for the reason I was on social media in the first place? I realized I want to do things for the experience, not because I felt like my followers should dictate what I do. BUT a cool insta picture is always an added benefit.
  7. My presence wasn’t even that big anyways. I had a friend say “I didn’t even know you deleted social media” when I told my friends I was re-downloading everything. I think I had gotten caught up in thinking that my presence online was important to other people, but it wasn’t really. It was only important to me.
  8. I learned how to not share as much. In tandem with point 7 above, people just don’t care. Some things you gotta leave to you. Oversharing isn’t caring, it’s annoying. Post if you’ve got something cool or funny or interesting, I am not the social media police, but just know nobody cares as much as you think they do.
  9. I would recommend trying this to see how long you last. I kinda liked being off the grid. I felt like I didn’t have commitments or assignments. I didn’t feel tied to liking that post or updating a story, I just kinda did my own thing, and it was refreshing. I also respect not wanting to do this at all. If you and social media have a more healthy relationship than I did, props to you. But if not, if you feel trapped, take some time away. It might be good for you.