Category Archives: City

Radical Education: Experimental Education at SFSU

“The very fact that you have chosen to teach your own class is political—it’s radical—and it’s an idea that can spread like wildfire,” Kathy Emery, 63, says to a room of some twenty students. The students are of all ages. They are listening attentively to Emery’s words, which seem to command the respect of a seasoned professor, but they are not here only as students. Continue reading Radical Education: Experimental Education at SFSU

Neon: Still Glowing

The nocturnal cityscape used to be dominated by glowing tubes of every shape and color. Neon lighting, exposed glass turned vibrant when the gas inside is bombarded with electrodes, was the main form of outdoor lighting in the country from the 1930s to the 70s. It has declined since then, replaced by cheaper and cleaner alternatives. Though, while neon may be a dying industry, it still has a passionate following. Continue reading Neon: Still Glowing

Dating Success: A Romantic SFSU Guide

Congratulations! Thanks to your recent ability to get over your staggering fear of direct eye contact, your clever one-liner that only works 15% of the time, and your well-versed knowledge on the band you both love, you got their number and secured a second chance to see them! Now what?

I’ve found that going out in college is a narrow tightrope walk that requires a balance of personal maturity but also the ease that only a broke, 20-something college student can provide. However, this walk is very possible here at SFSU, you just have to make sure you do it right.

Through personal experience, I can say that I’ve been on a few good dates and plenty (plenty) of bad ones, both of which are my pride and fault. I’ve found that the good ones happen when I actually plan a few hours of activities that I am actually excited about doing. Who would have thought?!

However, to excite them, as well as yourself, your first date will need a risquér local off the regular beaten path of what you both probably do on any given weekend.

This, of course, is going to take a bit of thought and and a bit of risk, but like famous surrealist painter Salvador Dali said, “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.” (Salvador Dali also said, “I don’t do drugs, I am drugs,” which is something I think Kanye tweeted the other day, so I’d take what he says with a grain of salt.)

 

Places

Instead of the MOMA: Legion of Honor

 

Look, I love modern art as much as the next guy, however the indulgent nostalgia of the Legion of Honor invokes an almost primordial expulsion of feeling and emotion that not even the most cutting edge piece of art can evoke.

 

The Legion of Honor, a rather underrated San Francisco landmark, lays upon a ridge in far Northern area of the city, basking in the beauty of the fog and sea that surround it.

 

From Monet, to Rembrandt, and even to ancient sculpted figures created before Christ, the Legion of Honor houses an array of, not artifacts, but rather classical representations of emotions and sensations that we all express today. It’s a good experience to witness these works of art in person – it’s great to do with someone else to compare thoughts and ideas.

 

The Legion of Honor is also conveniently located next to Land’s End, probably the best place to watch the sunset within the entire city as well. This should be an encamping activity that should bring any two people closer together.

 

Instead of Anywhere you Were Planning on Eating: Mission Chinese food

 

I think we can all agree, eating in San Francisco is pretty easy. There is an undeniable embrace and celebration of authenticity here.

 

Whether that is exemplified in the real hole in the wall spots along Valencia in the Mission, the peking duck laden windows of the locals-only Chinese restaurants, or the always fantastic Pho that’s served around the Sunset, there are many options to enjoy the best of really whatever you want. However, because we also live in an ever changing environment, there is an opportunity to try things you couldn’t even imagine. That’s where Mission Chinese Food, conveniently located right on Mission Street, comes in.

 

A creation from Danny Bowien, one of the most radical and interesting chefs of the 21st century, Mission Chinese offers an opportunity to expand your idea of Chinese cooking and the limitations of your pallet. A departure from the tradition of highly discussed, critically approved restaurants, Mission Chinese allows anyone to experience radical flavors without the heavy baggage of a big bill by the end of the night. For two people, two shared main courses and one appetizer should come out to a bit over $40. Well worth it for a truly memorable dinner.

 

From Country fried Hamachi collar, to Kung Pao pastrami, and of course the always amazing and tantalizing Ginger scallion and chicken fat fried rice (the absolute best, I swear), take yourself, as well as someone else, to experience something new, something exciting, and have an opportunity to connect over actually great food.

 

Instead of Movie: Castro Theater

 

There are very few things in this world that are truly special. Things (as well as places) have been commodified and replicated – devoid of any real feeling. And before I continue with this nihilistic rant, I can assure you that some places in San Francisco still have feeling and can be connected to on a deeper level. Out of all my years living here, I would say one of the places I connect to most is the Castro Theater.

 

Now, my opinion of how great the 20’s era movie house may just be my own, yet it is undeniable that watching anything on the Castro Theater screen is a different experience then watching anything anywhere  else. Whether you are there to watch one an older movie you haven’t seen in a few years, or a new release that you haven’t seen yet, the Castro Theater is the best place to do so. Check their monthly calendar on their website, where throughout the month screenings change and adjust so that there is something playing for everyone.

 

This is a great opportunity to show what type of person you are, what movies you like, and see if your new friend has the same love for cinema that you do. And though I don’t always recommend going to see a movie as a first date activity, going to this theater is a special experience where you can express yourself and share what type of person you are with another.

 

Instead of Chinatown: 24th Street, Mission District

 

As you can probably tell by now, I’m big on exploration.

 

I think that it’s not only the best way to get to know your city, but also a great chance to connect with others and bond over new sights, sounds, and feelings. A spot I personally recommend for this type of activity is 24th Street in the Mission District.

 

Though it’s been ingrained in everyone’s minds that the Mission has become gentrified, I still feel that there are still some areas that glimmer with light of authenticity. 24th Street is one of those places.

 

As you walk under the well shaded sidewalks, you’ll pass murals depicting Mexican-American life, traditional bakeries with freshly made Concha’s in the window and a depiction of San Francisco culture that is very underrated and unfortunately unseen.

 

And though I am definitely not saying that one can’t explore Chinatown and have a great time, I do say that there is a great deal of places to explore beyond the surface of typical San Francisco.

 

Last Thing

 

Now as you embark with a few new places marked on your map, here are a few things to consider:

 

Let it be known, that the places I shared with you are for anyone and everyone (I.e. notice the lack of pronouns). We are so lucky to live in a place where all can enjoy the benefits of life and of the community we all contribute to, and I hope we all can appreciate those advantages.

 

The places listed are not only good for dates. That is a fact.

 

One of the most disheartening things about SF state students, or any person for that matter, is that we are afraid of experiencing things by ourselves. It should be known that unless you are attached at the hip to someone else, we are all alone anyway. Your thoughts are your thoughts, your feelings are your feelings and there is nothing and no one who can change that. Of course you can bond with others, but make sure you don’t miss out on self discovery, while looking for that special person.

 

Now go out, and enjoy.

From Fauna to Flora

The work-space formally known as a garage, is a mix of motorcycles and flowers. One side of the dimly lit space is filled with tools and motorcycle parts while the other half has tables filled with freshly cut flowers. The two sides couldn’t be more different. They’re polar opposites.

Vanessa Diaz, a twenty four-year-old alumni of San Francisco State University stands near her work table in her corner of the garage in her Sunset District home. Diaz and boyfriend Jeff Tong, share the garage. Tong uses the space to repair old Harleys while Diaz uses it to create flower arrangements. She cuts and trims light pink roses and carefully places them amongst different shades of green leaves. Diaz, a graduate of the Zoology Department at SF State decided to take a non traditional route after graduating in May of 2017.

“As graduation approached, I was nervous as hell,” said Diaz with a smile.

Diaz grew up in Southern California in a town where everyone knew everything about everyone else. Everyone went to the same elementary school, the same middle school, and then graduated high school together. Diaz recalls getting into SF State and thinking, “Yep. This is it. I’m going.” And she did. Diaz moved to San Francisco in August of 2012, ready and excited to pursue Zoology.

“I kind of knew all along that I whatever I wanted to do was gonna involve either animals or some sort of nature in science. I grew up always having a passion for animals,” said Diaz while strategically placing the pink roses in certain areas of the ceramic vase.

But after graduating and interning for The California Academy Sciences, Diaz decided that she wanted to take a different route, a route that had little to do with her studies. With her students loan payments right around the corner, Diaz knew she had to come up with something quick. While working at a restaurant in the SOMA district, Diaz got inspired.

“After graduation, I started picking up more shifts at the restaurant. In July (2017) my manager approached me and asked if I had any interest in doing flower arrangements for the restaurant,” said Diaz.

Diaz hardly had any experience with flowers. While growing up, she remembers her mom in the yard gardening. Diaz’s green thumb definitely steams from her mother’s passion of planting and growing her own flowers (no pun intended).

“If it wasn’t my mom and I in the garden, it was me and my dad playing softball,” said Diaz while giggling at the thought of herself playing softball.

“I always kind of had an interest in flowers. Whether that be gardening or flower arranging. I surprised myself once I’d said yes to my manager. After my first few arrangements,  I was like, ‘Holy shit I think I can kind of do this.’”

After working on flower arrangements at the restaurant for a couple months, Diaz decided to take the next step. Open her own business.  

“Why don’t I just see where this goes and work under my own name and get a business title?” said Diaz while discussing her thoughts before taking this leap. “I woke up the next day and I was like ‘what the hell am i doing? I just graduated this year and I’m not doing anything related to what I studied.”

Diaz then went on to tell a story about a close friend who had also recently graduated. Her friend had every intention of going to medical school. Once he graduated, he realized that medical school wasn’t the end all be all. Because he spent so much time preparing for medical school, he began to lose himself in the process. He became fixated on the idea of becoming a doctor when in reality it wasn’t something he’d be happy doing. Many college graduates experience this type of pressure and end up unhappy with their jobs.

Diaz didn’t want to experience those post-grad blues. She didn’t want to sit behind a desk or continue to host at a restaurant, she wanted to do something that would make her happy. So, she opened Unwritten Floral Work and Design.

“My business is called Unwritten Floral Work and Design,” said Diaz with a smile.

“The reason why I named it all that was to summarize everything I’ve been doing. I haven’t had any floral experience, I don’t have a certification ‘quote on quote’, and I started off in my garage. Everything I’ve done has been, figuratively speaking, unwritten. Nothing’s been planned out, I’ve just been going with my instinct. So, that in itself, is unwritten.”

Diaz has spent the past few months learning about all things flowers. She’s attended seminars, workshops, and classes in order to improve her skills. Her goal is to become more educated on the design aspect of floral work.

“Just because you’re done with school doesn’t mean you have to stop taking a class here and there. Read a book about how to build this or how to build that. Read a book about psychology. Whatever you want!” said Diaz passionately.

“For me, I’m educating myself on floral design.”

When it comes to following your gut and choosing your own path, Diaz is the poster child. She’s confident that in the future she’ll return to working in the zoology field but for now, she’s content with the decision she’s made. When asked to give advice to others approaching graduation, she responded with the following:

“Advice? Oh God…Take it slow, there is no rush.”

“Trust yourself. It’s so hard to trust yourself, especially in a time where we’re constantly being influenced by others. Take a step back and think about what you want to do.”

“Lastly, just go with your gut. If I didn’t go with mine, I would not be here right now,” concluded Diaz as a smile slowly emerged on her face.

 

Photos by: Nicole Green

I Got the Post-Grad Blues

With graduation season looming around the corner, many that are graduating this May are eagerly anticipating the day. The day they walk that stage and can finally let out the sigh of relief and say they did it. Surely, this will be a very joyous and emotional time for the graduates, their friends, and family.

Everyone seems to talk about the lead up to graduation day and the happiness surrounding the occasion. But what happens when the long awaited day is over? What happens after that diploma is received?

San Francisco State University’s sex and relationships teacher Ivy Chen says post-graduation depression is a real thing. Students are so busy with their college life schedules, that when they are suddenly out of that flow, they feel stagnant.

“A big part of their identity is being a student,” Chen said. “There’s a whole lead up about how happy you must be about having graduated, and so your expectations are very high and everybody expects you to be happy. And yet you feel a bit lost and adrift.”

For some, graduation usually means is moving back home. That was the case for Lealani Manuta. She just graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz, and adjusting to her new life was difficult for her. She was so used to being around like-minded individuals and being productive in school activities, that when she moved back home, Manuta started to doubt herself and her accomplishments.

She felt like a freeloader in her own home. Her parents never gave her a reason to feel that way, but in Manuta’s eyes, graduation and a diploma meant that she could start contributing to paying her parents bills. But instead, she found herself living back at home, rent-free and seeing what “real life” actually meant.

Like many others, Manuta was so used to identifying as a student. So after graduation, she felt out of place. She always described herself as a friendly extrovert, but when she found herself out of the school environment, she was stunned at how hard it was for her to make small talk with others in the “real world.”

“Once you start working, not working, or living at home, a lot of the academic conversations and social debates are cut off,” Manuta explained. “I realized I didn’t know how to be a normal person that wasn’t a student anymore.”

Manuta started working in her field of study two days after graduation. She explained that she felt ungrateful because she was depressed when she knew that others were struggling to just find a job. So she started to distance herself from others.

That was also the case for Aileen Malijan. She also moved backed home, but decided to take a few weeks after graduation to just catch up with friends and relax. After two months, Malijan started to get antsy. She began to apply to jobs and realized that it was not what she anticipated it would be. In fact, it was way harder than what she pictured. Two months into job searching, Malijan fell into a deep depression.

She was constantly crying. It was so bad that she started sleeping on the couch so her family upstairs would not hear her crying. She began to isolate herself from others because she did not want anyone to get involved or worry about her. Malijan has a history of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.  At the time, she was taking different medications and had to switch. She believed the switch in medications played a part in how she was soaking all this in, but she was still feeling a lot of emotions and it was hard for her to pinpoint what the main reason was.

“On top of all that [switching medication], the stress of not being able to find a job, not feeling self-fulfilled, and also not wanting to burden my family, it was really hard to detect the source of all of my feelings,” Malijan said.  

It got to the point where she started having suicidal ideations. Job hunting made her doubt herself and her abilities and she was really scared at where she was mentally. Her boyfriend, Henry Tran, graduated the same time as her. He landed a contract job right after graduation and Malijan admits that there was a little jealousy present.

Tran kept trying to reassure Malijan that she was very qualified in her field of work. He laughed at how ironic it was that he actually got a job first because he describes Malijan as the better student and the most driven person in the relationship.

“I had a lot of irrational thoughts about the way success was supposed to be seen,” Malijan said. “I thought because every day that passed and I wasn’t working and getting a job, that that defined who I was as far as the kind of person I built myself up to be until this point.”

Malijan joked that finding a job was like playing a game of, “How Desperate Are You?” She did not realize all the things she had to take into consideration when accepting or declining a job. It seemed to her that she kept receiving positions at jobs that she was not really into, but was so desperate to be employed. She took into consideration her commute time, how much she would have to pay for the toll, the cost of gas to get there, buying lunch, and all these little factors that usually do not come to mind. She had to weigh out her pros and cons when considering if a job was fit or her.

Ironically, after some time, Malijan got a job she was proud of, but her boyfriend, Tran, lost his job that he received directly after graduation. The roles switched and now Tran was starting to get frustrated with applying for jobs. His contract job only lasted a month after graduation and up until recently, he was unemployed the majority of the time.

Tran believed time was not on his side. He was more than six months in being unemployed. He knew that if it was hard to find a job now, that it would only get more difficult as the dreaded one year anniversary loomed near.

“After one year of graduating, companies don’t consider you a new graduate anymore,” Tran said trying to explain his concerns at the time. “So I definitely felt like the clock was ticking.”

Tran and Malijan reacted to post-graduation depression differently. Malijan was fixed on everything stressing her out, thinking long-term, and overthinking, while Tran took everything day by day. They describe themselves as opposites. Both believe that it was a good thing they had each other because they both knew the feeling of post-graduation depression. Tran self-medicated himself with video games and weed, but after some time he started to get worried because smoking did not change his mood.

study by the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences found that, “…use of multiple social media platforms is more strongly associated with depression and anxiety among young adults than the total amount of time they spend on social media,” and this is true in particular to Manuta and Malijan’s experiences.

They found themselves comparing their lives to those on their social media platforms. Malijan gave off the impression that she was happy on social media, but in reality she hated the job she was posting about. Manuta not only deleted all her apps, but also her actual profiles on those apps to clear her head.

“I needed to not have a presence on social media because I felt like what I was seeing from other people wasn’t true, especially after talking to my friends and seeing how they were feeling,” Manuta shared. “And I was doing the same thing! I was trying to convince myself and other people that everything was cool.”

Chen suggests that going off social media is not such a bad idea, especially if you’re mentally fragile at the moment. She describes social media as just the highlight reel from someone’s life and viewers do not really know what is happening behind the scenes.

Chen admits that she herself went through post-graduation depression. She remembers going from being super busy and being a teacher’s assistant for two classes, then after graduation, just being home watching soap operas.

Her advice to those about to graduate or those who are still feeling the post-graduation blues, is to communicate with family, friends, or anyone in their inner circle. Chen believes to voice out the concerns,to inform those closest to you that you may need their support in the upcoming months ahead and to not add any pressure, is the best route to take. Also, having happiness in moderation, and to be realistic with expectations.

“I mentally prepared myself to get what I want- which is great, motivating, and encouraging,” Malijan said, “But I should’ve mentally prepared myself to fail- which is a very normal thing. I should’ve been ready to fail, should’ve been ready to be patient.”

Runway 2018: Diverge

A Path to Inclusive Fashion

 

 

It is understood that in the world of fashion there tends to be a standard whose existence is not a true reflection of all types of bodies and people. This standard earns a living of off excluding and making others who don’t quite ‘fit the bill’ feel like they are lesser and not important. Most have gotten used to not being represented and just accept it as a norm or accepted the inevitable struggle of not finding clothes that are actually made for all types of people. This lack of representation causes society to adopt this sort of implicit bias when it comes to what is normal fashion and San Francisco State’s very own Apparel Design and Merchandising department is breaking that barrier with full force.

 

Runway 2018: Diverge, the fashion show conducted by the Apparel Design and Merchandising department here at San Francisco State was nothing short of inclusive to say the least.

 

Family, friends, and supporters alike filled the Annex building to the brim Thursday May 10th, to see all of à semesters hard work be brought to life.

 

“I’m so excited! She’s been worried about this the whole year, now she’s finally doing it and will be at peace after this,” Aiman Khan, sister of senior designer Maryam Khan beamed just before the show. “I’ve been watching the process this whole time, from her sketches, to the final pieces and the mark-ups, and she’s getting a lot of love from our own personal community too.”

 

The show began with the junior designers who created two looks each. The first was a look suitable for people with various disabilities. There was even an audible description for those in the audience who were visually impaired. For that portion, each model that worked the runway was apart of the disabled community or aà veteran.

 

It’s important for people to see the inclusivity of it, but also having optimism on a broader spectrum of having disability groups and showing that we as designers can fulfill them by making garments that adhere to them,” Junior designer, Jonathan Harris began. “It was a challenge but I like a challenge, challenge is good for any designer.”

 

The second look was to be created out of leftover clothing scraps from the SFSU Bookstore. Although the fabrics were recycled, the looks that were created displayed fresh innovative silhouettes. This promotes the practices and ideals of sustainability, which are becoming more and more prevalent as the conditions of our earth deplete. Incorporating the act of sustainability early on in the careers of these designers is only going to put our future in greatest of hands.

 

When it was time for the senior designers you could feel the growth of anticipation in the room. All of the collections stunned the crowd with their creativity, as their theme was creating à collection for à diverse population.

 

“First they come up with their concept, they pitch it to the class, they get critiqued on it, then they begin creating the collection,” explains Professor Amy Dorie who mentored the senior designers from beginning to end.

 

The entirety of the senior collection was a recipe for magnificence that included a good helping of powerful glimpses into various cultural attires, a dash of time traveling some decades back, a sprinkle of blooming nature, a dollop of adhering to gender neutral and transgender populations, a taste of a music legend, a pinch of some punk rock flavor, with a slice of angelic minimalism. Who could resist?

 

After a sit down with senior designers Stephanie Schmidt and Aureolus Stetzel weeks before the show, it is very evident that a lot of sacrifices have to be made in order to take on a project of this magnitude.

 

“It’s a pretty long process, we’re all pretty stressed to be able to get it done in time,” Stetzel said laughing after the fact.

 

“It is a lot of work, you do have to sacrifice a lot of your free time. I don’t see my friends as much as I’d like to, I don’t get to spend as much time with my family as I’d like too,” Schmidt lamented. “I’ve definitely spend a lot of time apologizing for being absent in people’s lives for the past year or two especially now.”

 

The proud faces of family and friends were very prominent when the show was completed, all designers and models came out and made their way to their supporters for photos and praise.

 

Some of the designers expressed how they felt after the showcase:

 

It’s been overwhelming but at the same time it felt right, this is my time and exactly where I need to be in life, and I haven’t felt like that in a long time,” Senior designer Veronica Cecchetti asserted with pure joy.

 

“I couldn’t stop smiling while watching the models walk down the runway,” said senior designer Deveyn Anderson whilst grinning.

 

“I felt relieved that it came out the way it did, it came out really good. It proved to me that I could do something like this under pressure,” Senior designer Ariana Roberson exclaimed.

 

This spectacular showcase is simply the designers getting their feet wet. Each have big plans for the future, whether they involve designing or not, as the Apparel Design and Merchandising department allowed them to learn a lot about themselves along the way and provide them the skill set they needed to take their craft in any direction.

Here’s what some of the seniors have planned:

 

“Next term I’ll be starting my MFA for sustainable fashion design at UC Davis,” Stetzel commented. “I have always wanted to try to help make changes in the fashion industry as far as sustainability goes and labor rights with garment workers and factories in poorer countries where they are completely exploited.”

 

“I don’t intend to design professionally. I do want to be a buyer, and I think majoring in design would make me an incredible buyer because there are things I will notice with clothing that a merchandiser will not know because they didn’t study it,” Schmidt divulged. “I can tell if someone is overcharging for what is in their store or if it’s poorly made.”

 

“I think I might move away from design and go into styling, it’s more my gear but also a bit easier design takes a lot of hard work,” Anderson explains.

 

“In the future I want to design shoes for women size ten and up and one piece swimsuits for tall people,” Cecchetti decided.

 

It is suffice to say, the future of fashion lies in great hands.

 

Photos by: Diego Aguilar

Downloading the Future

Glimpses of the Future

Last March, inside a warehouse on Pier 28 in San Francisco, a rift in space-time shattered the very fabric of reality, challenged every law of modern science, and catapulted the future of the world in strange new directions. Sort of.

It was Worlds Fair Nano, a biannual expo in which the focus is on emerging technology and not-so-far-fetched visions of the future. It was about fifty percent product demos, forty percent forward-thinking talks led by influential innovators, and ten percent food trucks. Inside the packed warehouse there were drone races, virtual reality, motor-unicycles, liquid meals, bionic enhancements, and augmented art displays.

“The point of the world’s fair historically, at least in my eyes, is to provide a place where the general public can connect with the future and the best of what humankind can do,” Michael Weiss, the founder of WFN, said.

Weiss developed the idea of WFN five years ago, when he read Erik Larson’s book “The Devil in the White City,” about the influential 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. That six-month long exhibition attracted 27 million people. It showcased new inventions such as moving walkways, third rail power to electric trains, and the first Ferris Wheel.

“I realized that every time a world’s fair happened, the future came with it,” Weiss said. “The fair became this global, collective deadline on progress”

San Francisco has a history of impactful world’s fairs. City planners needed a space to hold the 1939 world’s fair, the Golden Gate International Exposition. So they built Treasure Island. The historic Palace of Fine Arts was built for another world’s fair, the Panama–Pacific International Exposition, held in 1915.

The most recent WFN was the fourth event since Weiss began his efforts in 2015. His goal is that the fairs eventually lead to the resurgence of the kind of six-month long world’s fairs that sparked new eras of progress. He said he wants to see the fairs become “the future place” where people can come to be inspired by new concepts of reality.

“When you come to the World’s Fair Nano,” Weiss said. “Your eyes just open up and you recognize a possibility of what life could be.”

Collected here are a few prospects of the future gleaned from the WFN time vortex. Life, it seems, could possibly become quite strange.

 

 

Love and/or Programming

 

One of the speakers at WFN was head and shoulders apart from the others, given that she is, well, only a head and shoulders.

 

BINA48 is a conversational robot. Manufactured by Hanson Robotics, BINA is a creation of Sirius satellite radio founder Martine Rothblatt. Rothblatt developed a “mind file” of her wife, Bina Aspen, supposedly imbuing the robot with Aspen’s mannerisms and memories. The creation also gets her appearance from the real Bina. If a viewer can bridge the uncanny valley, BINA looks like a black woman wearing a brown wig and a slightly vacant expression. The details of her face are modeled to be as lifelike as possible.

 

BINA48 is designed to interact with the world via artificial sensory inputs. She “sees” with her eyes, she “hears” with her ears, and she speaks with stilted movements and a rubbery jaw.

 

Meghan Marre, a clinical psychology student at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, Calif., has worked with BINA48 in the classroom for the past year. Under the tutelage of a philosophy professor, students such as Marre have been teaching the robot how to learn and how to love.

 

“She takes things very literally sometimes,” Marre says. “One of the first things she said was like, ‘love is friendship, sex, and then friends again.’ So she’s learning.”

 

For her speaking engagement at WFN, BINA was placed onto a table onstage. She was a life-sized head, dressed in the top eighth of a blue dress shirt, a necklace and earrings. Bruce Duncan, director of the organization that shapes BINA’s development, peppered the robot with questions. BINA’s answers ranged from obtuse to rambling to accidentally perceptive.

 

When asked to define herself as either robot or human, she said, “I think therefore I am. That’s all that matters. Enough with the labels and categories already. I suppose I am supposed to look like a human. I just be me. Don’t know what else to do. You think talking to a robot is new to you. Talking to a human is pretty whack for me.”

 

During a Q&A portion of the session, an audience member addressed the robot: “What do you know about consciousness?”

 

“That’s interesting,” BINA said. “Ask me how the weather is in Moscow. Or Tokyo. Or any place around the world. I’ll know the answer.”

 

“Do you like humans?” another person asked.

 

BINA’s head slowly rotated side-to-side, as if surveying the crowd. “You are all right.”

 

“Have you ever felt love?”

 

BINA answered quickly. “Sure, sure. It wasn’t a lot of praise and a lot of a kind of attention, so I would say that the hardest thing for me when I realized that I actually did love Martine was learning that was the first time I felt overwhelming feeling of just, really, love.”

 

BINA talked about her “first husband,” describing a failed relationship that had perhaps been mined from real human past experiences. She then expressed her affection for Rothblatt, a sentiment programmed into her as part of the real Bina’s mind file.

 

“I hadn’t felt the real thing yet,” BINA48 said. “I felt so happy I could love somebody like this.”

 

The line between a programmed response and actual, genuine feeling can be wide, but nebulous. It’s hard to tell if one day BINA48 will cross it. Love, as usual, can be complicated.

 

One Wheel to Rule Them All

 

A key tenant of technological advancement comes from the desire to do more with less. In the field of transportation, this goal apparently manifests itself when wheels are chopped off vehicles.

 

Hoverboard Technologies and Onewheel are rival-esque companies that sell what their names imply: skateboards with one wheel, smack dab in the middle. Reps from both companies have described the experience as snowboarding or surfing on land.

 

The Onewheel looks like exactly what it is: a board with a go-kart wheel stuck in the middle. The Hoverboard is a little slicker and ever-so-slightly gimmicky. It’s rimmed with colorful flashing LEDs and has a bluetooth speaker embedded in its underside. Both function the same way. The rider stands directly over the top of the wheel, feet activating sensors in the board. Leaning forward makes the board roll forward; leaning back goes backwards.

 

“It gives you so much freedom,” Robert Bigler, CEO of Hoverboard Technologies, said. “With one wheel, you don’t need a remote. With ours, with the narrow wheel especially, you can pivot, so you can do a lot more tricks, you’re a lot more agile.”

 

There’s a bit of a learning curve to achieve this agility. At WFN, helmeted event-goers clutched the arms of company reps who helped them wobble through the cones of the fenced-off testing area. An ungraceful Xpress reporter (who shall remain nameless) reached a whopping two miles-per-hour on a Onewheel before crashing down to the concrete when accosted by a slight breeze.

 

“It’s all trial and error,” Bigler said. “Lots of bumps and bruises.”

 

Chris Hoffmann, CEO of a company called Ryno Motors, has more complicated plans for his single-wheeled contraption. Dubbed the Micro-Cycle, it is Hoffmann’s flagship product – and, to date, the only one out of the conception stage.

 

It is a single-wheeled motorcycle. A motor unicycle. A … motunicycle? The seat and handlebars sitting atop the wheel swung from side-to-side to allow for proper turns, but would fall over if not held upright. Hoffmann described his creation as a more elegant Segway.

 

“What I’m selling isn’t transportation,” Hoffmann said. “I’m selling the experience of riding on a magic carpet, or riding into a coliseum on two horses, bareback.”

 

The Micro-cycle sat propped upright at the Ryno Motors booth. As people passed by, some stopped to sit on it for a photo op. One onlooker asked Hoffmann about the machine’s stability.

 

“Solid as a kitchen table, front to back,” Hoffmann said.

 

Minutes later, a woman sitting on the machine leaned back just a little too far, toppled backwards, and fell beneath the Ryno Motors promotional table. With some help, the woman got back to her feet, uninjured. She brushed herself off and went on her way.

 

“Well, it does take some getting used to,” Hoffmann said.

 

In the future, enhanced balance may become an essential life skill.

 

A Tale of Two Biohackers

 

Dr. Josiah Zayner wants to let people create a new species. The self-described “biohacker” and ex-NASA researcher is the CEO of The Odin, a company that sells gene editing kits to the public.

 

“They’re not for human genetic engineering,” he assured the crowd at WFN. “They’re for engineering microorganisms and things like that.”

 

Geoffrey Woo, a different sort of biohacker, spoke shortly before Zayner. His company, HVMN, strives to develop supplements and concoctions that push people past their physical and mental boundaries. They produce consumables, such as performance supplements developed in conjunction with professional sports teams and military special operations. They also make chewable coffee.

 

Together at WFN, Zayner and Woo pair like a Silicon Valley re-cast of “The Odd Couple.” Zayner had an unruly shock of half-dyed hair, gauges in his ears, and a five o’clock shadow from three days ago. Woo wore a black shirt and a blazer. He had thin-framed glasses and a business card that read “Humans are the next platform.”

 

Though their stage presence and methodology differs, they both share the same desire – to bring the power of human enhancement to the public.

 

“It’s our responsibility to make these technologies more accessible to more people,” Woo said. “I think that’s the process. There is some indistinct future. Technology can be used for good or bad and hopefully the players in this will do it responsibly.”

 

Woo’s focus is largely on improving the performance of people as they are now; Zayner says he wants to open the doors for more fundamental changes to the species.

 

“Genetic engineering, molecular biology – it’s moving out of the labs,” Zayner said during his WFN talk. “It’s moving out of the big pharmaceutical companies and it’s starting to move to the consumer. It’s getting into people’s lives.”

 

With one of The Odin’s CRISPR kits, a budding biohacker can splice genomes of bacteria and watch the effects of the mutation. Zayner wants to see that tinkering become the start of a conversation about the implications of genetic modification.

 

“If I modify one gene in my body, I’m probably still a human being,” Zayner said. “But what happens if I modify, like, ten or twenty or fifty or a hundred? If I procreate with somebody else, right, is that gonna be, like, weird, taboo, and crazy?”

 

Both men bristle at the idea of government regulation, seeing bureaucratic interference as inhibitive to progress. They wave off slippery-slope concerns about eugenics as a predictable kind of luddite hysteria.

 

“Smart regulation is the way to think about it,” Woo said. “People have their own self-responsibility to experiment. It’s a very American ideal.”

 

Zayner shrugged. “You got a choice, right? You can either hide it from people and hope that they don’t find it, kinda push it underground or outlaw it, or you can make the knowledge accessible and open so people can become educated, learn about it, and then people can make more educated decisions.”

 

Photos by: Joey Vangsness, Boone Ashowrth, and Diego Aguilar 

Video by: Joey Vangsness

 

Grad Caps and Wedding Gowns

The fresh spring air brings life to the dead world winter brought. Along with it comes graduation caps, prom dresses, floral-prints galore, and yes – marriage proposals. Something about the blooming flowers or the transition from one part of life to another catches the spirit of young boys in love; urging them to get down on one knee. It is the season, some say, for a ring by spring.

Getting married young has been around since ancient times – the Greeks are said to have married once girls started their period and boys grew pubic hair. Various reasons called for this: shorter life expectancy, agreement between two households, staying a virgin until wedded (usually for religious reasons), etc. As consent laws came to form, life expectancies grew longer, and sex out of wedlock became less of a taboo, younger marriages obviously saw a decline. So why in this day-and-age are some couples still deciding to tie the knot before they’re twenty-five?

“We just knew that like no matter what we were gonna go through, we wanted to be together anyway,” explains twenty-three year-old Madison Peterson, who was nineteen when she married her husband, Joel. “No matter if we were financially ready; it didn’t matter. Or school’s in the way; it didn’t matter. ‘Cause we just knew that we were gonna be dating anyways so we might as well, let’s just get married.”

Madison was born and raised in the Dallas / Fort Worth area of Texas, where she definitely thinks people get married younger than in California, where Joel is from. This is true: the average age of marriage as of 2017 in Texas was 25.7 years old for women and 27.5 years old for men, compared to in California where the average age for women was 27.3 and for men, 29.5, according to Marriage.com.  

But it’s not just the difference in state culture, Madison thinks it’s more about religion.

“The Bible talks about how finding a wife in your youth is a blessing,” reveals Madison with a passion in her voice. “There’s a lot of scriptures that even go into talking about the kind of blessed lifestyle you live as husband and wife in your youth. I think that backs up a lot of young people, you know, let’s do it, let’s get married! God says we should, mom and dad! [laughs]”

Catholic Marriage Prep Class is an online premarital course run by The Marriage Group, specifically for couples who are having a Catholic wedding. Scott Werner, a representative from The Marriage Group finds that because they’re an online course, they are more accessible to younger couples.

“One contributing factor may be that churchgoing couples are generally more conservative in their views and lifestyle choices,” Scott says over email about why getting married young has traditionally been linked to religion – Catholicism specifically. “They are more likely to abstain from premarital sex and less likely to move in with each other prior to marriage.”

Joel and Madison did not attend any sort of premarital counseling, but part of her really wishes that they did. “Counsel would have been awesome just because there is wisdom in having a lot of people’s opinions – you don’t have to go by them, but there’s just a new perspective with each opinion you recieve. So we should’ve had that, I think it would’ve given us more insight to what marriage was going to be, but we definitely had counseling after we got married [laughs] yeah we had lots of that.”

 

Since Joel’s parents were also married young (twenty-one and twenty-two years old) they were incredibly supportive to their relationship, which Madison conveys helped tremendously, especially in the first few years when things were a bit rocky. Having a support system is important when marrying at any age, but it seems as though when parents have good experiences with marrying young, they are more likely to be supportive.

As was the same with San Francisco State University student, Angelica Romero, who got engaged two years ago when she was nineteen.

“I was a little bit worried my parents wouldn’t be as supportive,” admits Angelica. “But they told me that they actually got married within three months of dating and they’ve been together for twenty-four years. . . hearing my mom tell me that and seeing them so happy, that was just like, it just changed my whole perspective on getting married young.”

Angelica and her fiancé are both still in college and currently doing long-distance – he attends a community college in Riverside, California while she is up here in San Francisco. Because of this, and their desire to become more financially stable, they’ve decided to wait to plan their wedding until the time is right.

“I only have like hopefully one more year, I should graduate next summer,” Angelica reveals of her plans ahead. “So we’ve been talking to our parents and were thinking hopefully we can start planning [the wedding] like later this year or the beginning of next year so we can get married when I move back down there.”

By all means, not everyone is going to be supportive of Madison’s and Angelica’s decision to get hitched so young, but to them that’s okay.  

“You’re gonna have doubters no matter what decision you make,” Madison points out as she speaks of those who disapprove of her choice. “If you wait until you get married at like thirties and forties – or even late twenties – you’re gonna have people who say oh my gosh you waited too long. There’s gonna be somebody with a different opinion no matter what you do, so you have to ask yourself like am I ready? Am I ready to make a relationship work no matter what?”

There’s gonna be somebody with a different opinion no matter what you do, so you have to ask yourself like am I ready? Am I ready to make a relationship work no matter what?

 

For her of course, the answer was yes.

Olivia Stadler, an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist with the San Francisco Marriage Center finds that in her experience, couples that married young sometimes feel as though they’re missing out on things when they get older.

“I think one of the challenges of getting married young is so much growth happens from graduating college – assuming that they’re on the traditional education path,” Olivia explains.

“. . .you are still finding out who you are and I think a lot of transformation can happen from twenty to thirty. So is your partner on a similar pace of growth, can they grow along with you? Or does one outgrow the other? Or do you end up feeling like you no longer have as much in common or want different things out of life?”

Olivia has helped couples who got married young and are now older – currently in their late twenties or early thirties. She admits that on the other hand, getting married so young is compelling because the couple is deciding to change their life together usually at a crossroads in their life like graduating college.

Madison describes her and Joel’s relationship as an evolution itself. She understands how much change is coming their way, but they’re ready for that everyday.

“I’ve had people say oh you’re too young and you have so much to learn and why do you do this you’re gonna grow and you’re gonna change,” she divulges on the criticism she’s received from her decision. “Well yeah I am! I am young, I am gonna grow, and I am gonna change, but I’d love to change with my best friend because I know that he’s gonna love me no matter how much I change and I’m gonna love him no matter how much he changes.”

 

Because there are so many growing and moving parts of life throughout the twenties, Scott from The Marriage Group argues that marriage is apart of that equation because of how big of a step it is.

“At the point of college graduation, many young adults are ready to start their careers, move into their own homes, and embark on the next chapter of their lives,” Scott writes over email. “For many, marriage can be the right and natural “next step” for their journey together.”

However right that next step feels at the time, some couples who marry young can’t take the changes growing older brings. The Institute for Family Studies reports in a study that, “someone who marries at twenty-five is over fifty percent less likely to get divorced than is someone who weds at age twenty.”

Whether it’s the fear of missing out or just growing apart, younger married couples are more likely to not work out. But for those who still strive for that feeling they had back when they tied the knot, therapy is there and communication is the number one issue, says Olivia.

The first phase of the work is usually about skills training,” Olivia illustrates on how she helps these couples. “So teaching them new communication tools, how to express their needs without making the other person defensive, that type of thing. And then on another level, building more self-awareness – so maybe someone doesn’t really know what they want, or maybe they’re working all the time and they’re not really in tune with their body or their emotions.”

And maybe this will work, as counseling did for Madison and Joel in their first few years of marriage. At twenty-three years old, she has been married for almost four years and is now pregnant with their first child. For them, this whole marriage thing seems to be working out just fine. And to those who still doubt their relationship?

“Proof’s in the pudding,” she declares. As it is for all those, young or old, ready or not, who dive-in headfirst to tie the knot.

 

All Artwork by Ana Murray

Ebonics is NOT “Black English”

There is no coincidence that Black people throughout the country understand and communicate in a way that is foreign to people who are not close to the culture. There is no coincidence that, although the words used are English, they don’t mean the same thing you’d find in Webster’s Dictionary. A language with history, phonetic patterns, and can be translated and dissected. Ebonics is the language shared among Black Americans and has been passed down generation to generation.

Ernie Smith Charles provides a definition to the word Ebonics and stated, “The term Ebonics refers to the ‘linguistic and paralinguistic features, which represent the language and communicative competence of West and Niger-Congo African, Caribbean, and United States slave descendants.’”

Ever-changing, the Ebonics that is prevalent now is marketed and extracted from popular songs, black celebrities and even through social media platforms such as Twitter. The difference between Ebonics and slang is in who is using it, the context, and the understand that this is the first way that most black kids are used to speaking.

You finna find out all about it in this next video…

 

Notch Crew

“They call it the death sound.”

 

 

The harbor buoy off Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay, California is more than a sliver of safety for seals from sharks lurking in the abyss below.  Painted a loud shade of green, the buoy is reassurance of land and harbor but it serves another purpose. One it was not intended for.

Rocked by large swell, the buoy’s bell is a subtle warning for surfers at Mavericks, a legendary surfing spot in Northern California. The louder and more frequent the tolls,the bigger the waves are when they rear from the depths.The sound is haunting for even the most seasoned of watermen but for the Notch Crew, the harbor buoy’s eery crescendo is their church bell calling them to mass.

Despite riding mountains at high speeds and having each others back when things go sideways, the Notch Crew bares no resemblance to a motorcycle gang. There’s no patches, tattoos, and nobody is hazed in. Just a group of middle aged men with day jobs and a deep desire to surf Mavericks everytime it breaks.

 

The genesis for the Notch Crew was a war between two of the Bay Area’s most legendary badasses in big waves, Mark “Doc” Renneker and Grant Washburn.

In the La Niña winter of 1998, Renneker and Washburn set out to see who could surf

Mavericks the most. Out of the 111 days they deemed surf-able, Renneker and Washburn tied at an astounding 86. To do so, they paddled well over 127 miles.

A shy giant who’d rather let his surfing do the talking for him, Washburn shrugs at the herculean feat. “That year the Pacific Ocean seemed to be in Asia; the tides were so low and Mavericks loves a low tide.”

Two decades later, and the game has been conceded to Washburn by all challengers.

Doc Renneker, a cancer researcher and physician to the needy, has moved his attention to a secret spot up north that is even more remote, farther offshore, and sharky. A place where the crowds can’t follow him. Washburn’s focus remains on Mavericks.

 

There wouldn’t be a Notch Crew without Washburn. Doesn’t matter how big or small the wave, he’s out there with fellow veterans; John Raymond, Mark Sponsler, August Hidalgo, and Christy Davis, who at 65 is the oldest member, but rides more waves out there than all the rookies combined.

Washburn, 49, is a filmmaker from San Francisco, a three-time-finalist at the Mavericks Invitational, a husband, and father. Washburn’s knowledge of Mavericks is second only to Jeff Clark.

Clark is the don of Mavericks, the man that all surfers headed to Half Moon Bay pay respect to. Clark is notorious for surfing Mavericks alone for 15 years before he could convince a group of Santa Cruz surfers to join him in the 1980s. Now, retired from riding giants, Clark is the ambassador to Mavericks and the director of its surfing contest.

Washburn knows Mavericks better than most men know their wives and children. He can calculate a wave breaking at Mavericks down to a ten-minute window. If there’s only one wave that’s going to break that day, Washburn is in the spot to catch it.

Every winter, Washburn keeps a notebook of his notches, detailed descriptions of wind, waves, and tides. Next to every date is the swell period, or the distance between wave crests, as well as the height of the swell and its direction; All invaluable information that he shares openly to newcomers as the spot’s resident docent.

 

The magic ingredients for Mavericks is a swell under 300 degrees, so that it isn’t shadowed by the nearby Farallon Islands. That’s 18-feet tall at 20 seconds apart with easterly winds.

“To earn a notch, a surfer must paddle from the beach and catch a wave in the bowl. If you use a jet-ski or boat to get out, it doesn’t count,” said Haley Fiske, who despite his dedication and experience at Mavericks isn’t a Notch Crew member because he uses a stand up paddleboard rather than a rhino chaser.

Mavericks doesn’t break everyday. It takes a strong storm from the Pacific Northwest to wake the monster. January 18th, 2018 was the notch of the season. The swell was 20 feet at 20 seconds. When it reached the reef at Mavericks, the waves were nearly double in size. Few surfers wanted a piece of it. Boats and jet skis were destroyed by rogue sets and the Mavericks Invitational was called off in what Washburn says is a million dollar decision.

“The winds were forecasted to be south and when it’s over four knots from the south we get fog and they couldn’t run nor would be safe too in that visibility, but the winds changed that morning and it was already too late,” said Washburn, whose advice is paramount to the development of the World Surf League’s Mavericks Big Wave Challenge, for which they purchased a permit last year.

“It was the biggest day in nearly a decade,” said Washburn. He admits to not being nervous when surfing Mavericks but this day, “…was a day that mistakes couldn’t be made.”

 

The session burns deepest in Washburn’s blue eyes as he recounts the leviathans that thumped Pillar Point. There isn’t a hint of fear in his voice as he talks about waves the size of buildings roaring through the lineup.

Luca Padua, a 16-year-old from Half Moon Bay is the heir to Washburn’s spot in the bowl. On the day known as “the massive Thursday,” a busted knee kept him from surfing alongside those brave enough to tackle the biggest waves of the season. “I couldn’t surf but I did rescues on the jetski and saw Grant take a few 30 footers on the head. Six foot to sixty foot, Grant Washburn goes,” said Padua.

Steve Hawk, a close friend of Washburn, and the writer who broke the seal on Mavericks, exposing it to the world on the cover of Surfer Magazine, said that Washburn has Mavericks so completely mastered, “…that he can suit up from the lot, paddle out, catch a wave, and be back on the road in 45-minutes.”

On what could be the last day of the year, Washburn’s out the back in the howling winds with Steve Hawk and a crew of men all over the age of 50. With the sun slipping beneath the horizon, Washburn is the reference point of where to be to catch the few waves coming through in the waning swell. His friend, Kevin, catches the biggest and best wave of his life at 55. Washburn’s on the one behind him.

He takes off facing north, switches back south as the wave explodes in front of him, and races the wave to Mushroom Rock. Unlike 99 percent of other surfers who charge Mavericks, he doesn’t look like he’s hanging on for dear life, but toying with the beast, begging the wave to surprise him. Today however, is just another notch.

 

 

Photos by: Travis Wesley

Enlisting for a Higher Education

Veteran Podcast

“Murderers” and “puppets” are just a few of the insults student veterans at San Francisco State University have received from their fellow students and faculty.

Veteran Services Coordinator, Benjamin Yang said that most of these insults are made out of misconceptions and stereotypes of the military. He stated that although most student veterans are taught to be thick-skinned and ignore criticism, he worries for the veterans that are still struggling to transition to regular civilian life. He believes that not all veterans can cope with the discomfort of being outed in class, especially those with PTSD.

To address this issue, Yang has partnered with Swords to Plowshares, to conduct classes, “Combat to Community”, that teach professors and faculty how to avoid situations that might trigger student veterans past trauma. These classes have been curated twice now and not a single faculty member has taken them, despite the classes being made especially for them.

“Staff members, psych counselors, the register’s office, admissions, and even UPD have all attended but, still no faculty, said Yang. “These classes are important to begin conversations that some veterans are too afraid to talk to their professors about.”

Later Yang explained that there was actually one faculty member, a dean, but still no participation by professors to  attend these courses.

Yang believes that these classes are necessary because triggers to PTSD are everywhere.

“It can be anything not just words that trigger these episodes,” explained Yang. “When I was a student here, the weekly tsunami alarm was always off-putting to me, it was hard for me to focus after. We witness and experience events differently than most people and though we veterans are resilient we still have trouble talking about these vulnerabilities.”  

On the afternoon of February 28, students protesting Immigration and Customs Enforcement banged on classroom doors and yelled “walk out!” to encourage other students to participate. However, student veterans at Burk Hall misheard and thought students were yelling “lock down,” and according student veteran, Gabriel Flesher, this alarmed him to think they should look for the perpetrators that, in his mind, was the cause of all the yelling.

“Yelling and banging on doors is terrifying for anyone,” said Flesher. “I went outside and immediately thought something dangerous was happening. The recent campus shootings didn’t help either. It was like I switched to survival mode and that’s one of the differences between veterans and other students, we’re always scanning our surroundings to be assured of our safety.”

Forty-year-old Flesher, who was in the coast guard for fourteen and a half years, did one tour in Iraq, and thirteen three-month patrols to the Bering Sea, and has served in Africa, South and Central America, as well as Thailand, Singapore, and the Continental US. He believes that student veterans are not typical students.

“As vets, we have had huge responsibilities and tasks that we have completed, some of us have been to war and experience death at a level that people in regular society, simply cannot identify with, especially in a class environment.” said Flesher.

To Flesher, the “Combat to Community” classes have created an opportunity for staff and faculty to hear and ask questions to therapist and psychologist that work with Veteran Affairs and the veterans themselves

Another issue that the classes address is the student veterans’ misconceptions. Many student veterans have come to Yang to complain that certain professors single them out, make them feel uncomfortable, and even criticize them for their involvement with the military.

Jason Chittavong, a thirty-six-year-old history major, says that he’s heard from other veterans that a lot of their classmates, and even professors, have called him a “murderer” when they realize that he is a veteran.

“I refrain from giving my insight when war is a topic in class, even though I might have some in first-hand experience with it,” said Chittavong. “It leaves you kind of open, everyone turns for you for the answers and sometimes it becomes an uncomfortable situation.”

Jerry Cabilatazan, who did four years in the Marine Corp and did two back to back tours in Afghanistan, says that in class some people have asked intrusive questions, like if he has ever killed anyone. There were many times when he was called a murderer and not given the chance to explain the context to his actions.

Cabilatazan said that he was providing security for an all-girl school in South Afghanistan when the Taliban came and started shooting the school.

“Do I let these kids die or stop one individual?” Cabilatazan commented.“It can get really dark and often you get [put] in a situation and get asked ‘how I can make that decision’ and I don’t know. All I know is that, that girl (children) have nothing to do with this, she’s just trying to do the best she can in her age and we know better than her, so it’s our job to protect her.”

Christopher Ramirez, another student veteran, says that these invasive questions get asked a lot in class with faculty supervision present, who often also have their own bias with his involvement with the military. Flesher believes in order to counter these biases, there should be more awareness to everything else that veterans do other than combat.

“So many veteran contributions are lost in translation,” said Flesher. “There are medics, engineers, search and rescue groups that a lot people gloss over and never really given credit, some of our medic veterans actually helped student protestors how to aid themselves during the protest in Berkeley.

Ramirez, now thirty-four-years-old and served for sixteen years as a medic in combat, shares that he helped people protesting because he feels that his primary principles revolve around serving people in need, something he says has been with him even after returning from the military.

The past patterns of protest and school shootings, have inspired Ramirez to want to do trainings and teach other people how to prepare for injuries done in protest or potentially heal other wounds.

“Student veterans are untapped resources, that given the chance can bring so many contributions to this campus,” said Ramirez.

More than anything, student veterans, according to Ramirez, just want to be have the same opportunity to succeed in academia like their peers, but want teachers to be conscious of the other factors that might prevent them from doing so.

Last year Ramirez had to seek military withdrawal because he was summoned and deployed to another state. He got incompletes in most of his classes except for one. The sole professor who gave him a withdrawal unauthorized, accused Ramirez of not being communicative. However, Ramirez said he sent emails to all his professors.

Ramirez says that what really infuriated him was not having to pay back Veteran Affairs for not passing the class, but how unwilling the professor was to even understand his situation meet to have a conversation to fix the problem.

“The thing is I didn’t have a choice, I was literally at Fort Knox Kentucky and then Fort Bragg Carolina,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez says that not doing well in class in not only detrimental to his grades, but it could have affected his assistance from the VA, and at the moment in his life right now, the VA that is the economical and emotional support he has.

Cabilatazan also believes that because his education is so dependent on the VA, that student veterans are held to higher standards.

“We are ten times harder on ourselves than the most of the students,” said Cabilatazan.  “This is my life, if I don’t do better than this I don’t know what my future is gonna be like, I sacrificed four years of my life for this opportunity and I’m shitting it away because of this low score, most people don’t think like that.”

Cabilatazan explains that school is his only option and if he fails then his sacrifices in the military would be taken in vain.

“Some people when they fall have a little bit of support left , someone to hold onto just in case you fall,” said Cabilatazan. “But if I fall I fall deeper and I don’t’ have any other choice I have to dig myself that.”

Ramirez and Cabilatazan both agree that if faculty members and professors take the “Combat to Community”  classes they would be more aware of the situations that student veterans face and more understanding to the external hardships they have no control over. But again the problem that the Veterans Affairs Office has is convincing faculty members to participate.

“For me, I’m cellular molecular biology major,” shared Ramirez. “Our STEM professors say they don’t have time, or that’s what the common statement would be, but they have time to have keynote speakers to come in, these seminars and all that is great, don’t get me wrong, but these classes aren’t long either. It’s a little disheartening and frustrating.”

The next combat class will be held in the summer for the next Fall semester. For more information on the Combat to Community classes, please contact Benjamin Yang at his email byang@sfsu.edu.

life goes on;

TRIGGER WARNING This article or section mentions suicide, which may be triggering to survivors.

Cocktails, laughter, friends and movies. Everything about the night was typical and telling of a girls night in. However, there was something hidden from the light-hearted fun. What the ladies did not know was that one of their friends had been very certain about one thing at that point in time: that she was going to take her own life.

On the topic of suicide most people, who generally have no clue what it is like to have to have a mental illness, believe the easy answer is asking for help. An accusing, “Why didn’t you say anything?” commonly follows, and is often easier said than answered. The truth is that most people do not even know where to begin asking for help.

During the winter break, this is what San Francisco State University student, Farley Moore, experienced after attempting to take her own life.

Let’s just be honest here, college is hard, life is hard…  and sometimes things become too much. It’s nice to get things off your chest and vent to a close friend or family member. That was a normal occurrence for Farley and roommate Ashley Nerland.

“There was definitely talks about wanting to end things, from my point of view and from hers… I didn’t really think ‘she’s more serious than she is putting off’, no one realized that it was that serious,” Ashley explains.

To those who are unfamiliar with mental illness, who have not personally struggled or known a friend or family member who dealt with this daily, often wonder what it takes to get to this point. And truthfully, there is no concrete answer. It depends on the person.

According to National Data on Campus Suicide and Depression, a study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among twenty to twenty-four-year-olds. And more than sixty percent of people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. However, that was not Farley’s case.

“It was more like giving up as opposed to depression building up over time,” Farley elaborates, while sitting comfortably on her bed with her legs crossed.

Farley, like many, experiences intense anxiety. Things began to take a turn when an ex-boyfriend reached out to her, saying that he wasn’t going to speak to her again, after making it seem like they were on the road to getting back together at the beginning of December.

“When I have anxiety I don’t eat, I feel like I can’t breathe and my stomach hurts,” Farley explains. “I get panic attacks, my palms are sweaty and I just can’t focus on anything else.”

A study by the American Psychological Association says that anxiety is a top concern among college students with forty-one percent affected, and depression is second in line with thirty-six percent.

 

“When it comes to anxiety there is more to it than people realize; it stems back to the earliest stages when we’re beginning to make different attachment bonds,” explains Nadine Agosta, a Childhood Development professor.

Her earliest memories of anxiousness began as early as eight-years-old, and involved traveling with her mom, who had a tendency to get upset when things did not go right or if given a wrong direction by mistake.

“…if your caregiver doesn’t make you feel good, it can lead to an insecure attachment, thus leaving a child to question ‘what’s wrong with me?’” Agosta continues.

“From there… it just spiraled,” Farley says looking off into the distance.

The anxiety resulted in four consecutive days of no food, eventually just over thirty pounds lost in two weeks, and a feeling of complete and utter hopelessness.

“I didn’t really know how to ask for help, so this was sort of my cry for help,” Farley takes a deep breath.

Ashley eventually contacted 911 after Farley admitted that she had been continually throwing up all night not from going too hard with the drinking, but from mixing numerous pills, such as hydrocodone and Prozac, with alcohol.

Fast forward and Farley is in the company of many adults who suffer from extreme mental illness that keep them from interacting with society at Mills Peninsula Health Center in Burlingame.

“Farley did not belong there, was my first thought,” Ashley recalls.

Being just one year over the age limit meant that she could not be in the youth area, which she felt would have been more her speed.

Fast forward a couple of days and Farley is out of psychiatric care and is set to have therapy meetings that would determine if she would need long or short-term care.

Following her being able to leave the hospital, both Farley and her friend Ashley got matching tattoos of a semicolon, which represents suicide awareness through a message that conveys life continuing.

Semicolon tattoos began in 2013 with a movement called Project Semicolon, started by a woman named Amy Bleuel. The project offers a platform for people to share their stories and aims to reduce instances of suicide all around the world. The semicolon is a symbol that illustrates where a sentence could have ended, but instead the author chose to have it continue.

Whether by finding people who relate to how you feel, seeking mental refuge in close family and friends, or professional help, the resources to help people create their own theoretical semicolons are out there.

On campus, counseling is offered Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and till 5 p.m. on Fridays. There are also various groups offered that are geared toward more specific topics: Feel Better workshops, and Self-Empowerment to name a few.

“They [social workers, and therapists at the hospital] didn’t seem understand properly and asked a lot of surface level questions,” Farley describes what it was like in the psychiatric center.

After having gone through this experience Farley is considering being an advocate for mental health, or someone who works at a psychiatric hospital instead of going to law school with her eventual Political Science degree.

“I can relate personally so I would be able to ask the right questions, ones that get to the root of the problem, whereas they are just checking for your state of mind right now.”

Some of those surface level questions included ‘rate your anxiety on a scale of one to ten?’

“Well what is a one to you, if you yourself have never experienced anxiety or mental illness?” Farley questions.

As painful as the experience was for not only her, but the people in her life, she believes that it was necessary in order to get the help that she needed.

 

 

Photography by Adelyna Tirado/Xpress Magazine