Welcome to KirstieJ.com. I'm Kirstie, I'm 21 years old, and I'm a college student at UCLA majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Spanish Linguistics, excited to travel and work in the social media industry post-graduation.
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  »Get Outta Here!
November 18th, 2014

If you’ve stumbled upon this blog, you’ve come to the wrong place. It has been out of use for years, so please visit me at KirstieJ.com or VengaValeVamos.com instead. Thanks!

»Marry Me, Elections
November 3rd, 2010

I. Love. Elections.

I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert on politics. I may be head-over-heels in love with The West Wing, find government and political science classes interesting, and love watching CNN/MSNBC election coverage, but, like many Americans, my “passion” for politics is a biennial occurrence.

Yesterday was Election Day in the U.S., and though midterm elections aren’t quite at the top of everyone’s list of Most Exciting Things Ever, I woke up energized, planned to wear red, white and blue in celebration (before realizing how dorky I’d look), and was eager all day to get through classes so I could cast my votes. And I found myself getting chills while standing in the polling booth. Democracy is cool, y’all.

I got even more emotional yesterday when reminiscing about Election Day 2008. I had supported Obama from the beginning, so his victory was wonderful, even though I was too busy running around campus rallying against Prop 8 to catch the news channels announcing he would be the next President of the United States. I sprinted back to my dorm, turned on the TV, and fell to the floor in relief and excitement. Well played, voters of 2008.

But as big of an Obama supporter as I was at the time, the issue that really stirred me was California’s Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage. A no on Prop 8 meant a yes on gay marriage, and I was fortunate enough to be able to campaign with fellow opponents of Prop 8 on the UCLA campus on Election Day.

I have never been as adamant about a political issue in my life as I was about Prop 8. My personal marriage rights may not have been threatened by it, but never had an issue been so black and white to me. Perhaps we as a society place too much emphasis on marriage, but, as I see it, banning gay marriage implicitly declares homosexuals inferior to heterosexuals. It’s the equivalent of telling a particular race they cannot marry, and who could possibly justify that in this day and age? But I’m probably preaching to the choir here.

Standing at the top of Bruin Walk with a “No on Prop 8” sign and reminding passersby to vote against the proposition was an amazing experience. I was inspired by the countless students who gave us smiles and thumbs-ups, passing cars who honked in approval, and people who thanked us for standing out there. Sure, we were occasionally disappointed by students who proudly declared their support for Prop 8 (against gay marriage), but, overall, it was an empowering and unforgettable experience.

Of course, Prop 8 ended up passing, and this created a forceful wave of emotions in young, naive me. I felt like I had lost my faith in humanity. If even Californians, who are supposedly unusually liberal and open-minded, were this hateful toward a minority group, what did that say about the rest of the world? Over the next few days, I tried to understand where gay marriage opponents were coming from. Arguments between friends broke out in the comments of my LiveJournal posts, and I was infuriated by every celebration of of Prop 8. But I quickly realized that hating Prop 8 advocates was just as close-minded as hating homosexuality. I’m generally very open to hearing both sides of a story, but, like I said, never in my life has an issue been so black and white. For the first time, I just could not understand where my political opponents were coming from. But I made myself take a step back and listen to what they had to say, and I realized that they were not bad people after all. They had their reasons, however much I disagreed with those reasons. Many of them were good, intelligent, compassionate people. I knew this in my head, but it took some time and effort to know it in my heart as well.

The 2008 elections were exciting and monumental for America and the world. I love that they were the first major elections I was old enough to vote in, and I’m proud to have been part of the political process. Prop 8 may have been a major disappointment, but witnessing its passing and confronting my own feelings about it was extremely powerful and educational. I look forward to being similarly moved by political issues in the future.

July 31st, 2010

Dear Web Design Muses,

I truly appreciate it when you make appearances in my life, as that burst of inspiration that leads me to get lost in designing a website for eight hours and forget the rest of the world in the meantime is really quite fun. But would you mind being a little more convenient about when you appear? You always seem to come when I’m flooded with papers or final exams, and then when summer rolls around and I can stay up until 6am staring at my computer screen, you’re on vacation too.

We haven’t been spending a lot of time together over the past few months, so it was nice to see you again tonight. And, miraculously, I redesigned an entire site (my best friend’s cakes website – I’ll put the new layout up once she approves it) easily and without encountering any serious bugs, which was very exciting!

Next I want to redesign this site. I got bored of this layout about a week after I put it up. And I still need to find a real purpose for it. So, Design Muses, won’t you please come again soon?

Much love,

»Public transportation? In L.A.? Surely you jest.
June 15th, 2010

With my departure from Spain and return to California quickly approaching, my head has been filled with all kinds of plans for what to do when I’m back. And living the tourist life for almost a year has made me want to continue seeing the world that way even after I return to the city I’ve spent my entire 21 years in. I want to take daytrips to cute nearby towns, like my current daytrips to places like Toledo and Salamanca. I want to discover adorable, hole-in-the-wall coffee shops like the countless establishments I pass by every day in Madrid. I want to visit all the museums in L.A. I’ve somehow managed to avoid my entire life (though I may die if I have to see one more 16th-century religious painting). I’ve taken advantage of all these things in the ten months I’ve spent in Madrid but never in the 21 years I’ve spent in L.A., but it’s not too late to start.

One of my favorite things about Madrid (and all of Europe) is the ease of public transportation. I walk a minute to the metro station, hop on a metro for a few minutes, maybe do a transfer or two, and then I’m at my destination, without having to worry about gas money or parking or focusing while I drive. Whenever anyone here asks me how the public transportation is in Los Angeles, I loudly guffaw and then answer some variation on, “Horrendous!” And L.A. public transportation definitely does get a bad rap, though I have to admit, I have very limited experience with it, so is it really as horrendous as I proclaim? I’ve taken the Gold Line from Pasadena to Olvera Street, which was easy and eliminated the parking problem, and I used to take the local bus the few blocks from my middle/high school to my house, which also worked well. I think people in L.A. believe public transportation to be full of smelly vagabonds and dangerous gang members, but I’m pretty sure it’s nowhere near as bad as some think. Besides, I’m very accustomed to visits from dirty, limbless, singing beggars in the Madrid metro. How bad could the patrons of Los Angeles public transportation really be?

So my plan this summer is to experiment with L.A. public transportation. I have a fantastic car with great gas mileage, but this will be an adventure. I’ve checked out Metro.net, which has a handy trip planner, and though there may not be metro stops conveniently located every few blocks like we have here in Madrid, and though public transportation, in most cases, takes a lot longer than driving by car, it’s definitely possible to get around. There’s a bus stop about a two minute walk from my mom’s house and a train station thirty minutes away (or five minutes by car, though a 30-minute walk seems minimal after all the walking I’ve done here). I’m sure the summer heat will make the walking considerably less fun, but it’s worth a shot, right?

Anything I can do to keep pretending I live in Europe. And maybe I can spend less money and save the environment while I’m at it.

May 2nd, 2010

I just coined that nickname. Pretty cool, right? So cool. You’re dying of cool overload. It’s kind of like Po’ Folks Restaurant. Or the po’ po’. Or, considerably less awesome, po-po-po-poker face.

Um, anyway, I finally got my portfolio back up, which you can see here. SimpleViewer ftw. I’m not the hugest fan of the designs I included in it, but I suppose that’s more incentive to work on my design skills, right? Maybe one day I’ll be as talented as these guys.

The first two are layouts I created today in Photoshop but haven’t yet coded. I’ve normally been one to design mostly via HTML rather than in Photoshop, but I thought I’d switch things up. And pardon the super narcissistic layout featuring a photo of me. I wanted to play with using images in my layouts, since my recent ones have been text and shape based, and I suppose if you’re going to have a photo of someone on your personal site, it might as well be you. Coding those layouts will probably be fairly complicated, so I’ll probably put it off a bit. And I did just put this layout up a few weeks ago (though, not going to lie, I’m already a bit bored of it).

I spent my day doing this rather than working on my 50-page paper about Twitter, but the class is called Internet Design and Programming, not Digital Marketing. I should be doing this kind of thing for my assignment, not writing an exhaustively long analysis of a digital marketing tool.