How Mission Viejo Differs from Seattle

I moved from Mission Viejo, California to an island in Washington by Seattle. I lived in Mission Viejo for the first 18 years of my life, and never moved. Moving to Washington, I don’t know how much of what I’ve noticed is specific to cities or is state-wide. Nevertheless, here are the random differences I’ve noticed.

  1. Axolotls are Illegal in CA

Axolotls only exist naturally in one polluted lake in Mexico, so catching and taking home wild axolotls is highly illegal due to their high endangerment in the wild. Because of California’s proximity to Mexico, axolotls are not allowed as pets to prevent axolotl trafficking. They are also illegal in New Mexico, New Jersey, Virginia, Maine, and Washington D.C. Don’t ask me why they’re illegal in the other states. But they’re legal in most states, including Washington, because they are distributed humanely.

  1. People Aren’t as Friendly

In Mission Viejo, everyone is always smiling and trying to look happy. Washington? Not so much. The gloomy weather leads most to not want to leave the house and gaze sadly out the rain-spattered window. It’s hard to seem happy when it’s always raining and foggy, and people in Washington just don’t care enough to portray themselves as happy. There are ups and downs to this. I feel people in Orange County are more fake nice and always trying to get on your good side to cash in the favor later, while people in Washington aren’t concerned about what you think of them and are more honest with their feelings.

  1. It’s Rainy

California is very sunny. Growing up 15 minutes from the beach, I didn’t realize how special that was. In Washington, if it’s sunny out, vendors will abandon their shop to stand outside in the sunshine. It’s a state-wide event. People will wear sundresses and constantly be talking about how nice of a day it is. When it’s sunny in California, it’s just a day. It’s crazy how a lot of the world only sees the sun a few months of the year.

  1. Everyone is Pale

I didn’t realize how much sunscreen I was using in California! Up here, you don’t need sunscreen. Ever. And everyone is super pale. In Orange County, everyone is always talking about how they need a tan. Here, everyone is pale and proud of it. I have not seen a tanning salon. It’s nice to be so comfortable with my pale self, as I always felt ashamed of not having a tan in Mission Viejo. But it’s weird having people not care about having a tan after being in Orange County!

  1. They Drink Coffee All Day

I thought people in California drank a lot of coffee. But I hadn’t been to Washington. Coffee is their water. Everyone always has a cup of coffee in their hand, even at 6pm! There are cafés everywhere, as well as drive-up coffee stands in every parking lot. I’ve never seen one in California, but they’re everywhere in Washington! Starbucks started in Seattle, and I think that says it all. People up here drink coffee all day, every day. I have never heard someone say, “You shouldn’t drink coffee right before bed!” They do not care. They drink it as their dessert. Washington is also the only state to have free coffee at every rest stop. They really love their coffee.

  1. Racial Diversity

Both Mission Viejo and Seattle are diverse. Both have mainly Caucasian people, but Mission Viejo has significantly more Hispanic people and Seattle has significantly more African American people.

  1. Storage Units

There are storage units everywhere here. I don’t know why, but here’s my theory. Orange County is newer, so people move there with few belongings, knowing how high rent is going to be. In the Seattle area, there are many retired people who don’t have space for their growing belongings and can’t afford a new house. But that like folding laundry and having band rehearsals. Storage units are used more actively here, opposed to dusty places you forget your own.

  1. Everyone is Sad

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is real. It’s depression due to lack of sunlight, and it’s very present in Washington. For example, there is only light out from 7:52am-4:16pm in WA on Dec 15, 2019m only about 8 hours of daylight. On that day in California, there are about 10 hours of daylight from 6:47am-4:44pm, California almost has two more full hours of daylight! Having less Vitamin A causes depression, which is probably why Washington’s suicide rates are above the national average, while California’s rates are below.

  1. There Are Fewer People

Just Orange County has a population of roughly 3 million, while all of Washington is 7.5 million! And Washington is half the size of California. There’s is a much lower population density state-wide in Washington, but Seattle is very packed. There are also just fewer people overall. California has a population of almost 40 million, over 5x that of Washington despite being twice as big!

  1. It’s Right by Canada

In California, people go to Mexico on the weekends, but in Washington, people go to Canada on the weekend. Both states border another country and seem to have more people visiting the US than Americans traveling across the border. Washington is the go-to for Canadian gamblers due to legal casinos and is more of a place to visit for foreigners, while Mexicans seem to move to California.

So yeah! Those are the random things I’ve noticed from basically moving from the Mexican to Canadian border of the U.S.

-Jessica F.

Why a Met on Demand Subscription is Better Than Any Other Streaming Service

Have you heard of the Met Opera on Demand streaming service?! Let’s be real, probably not. But I know many people who have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime to stream from… so I think this is might interest y’all, teens! It’s award-winning, recent, full length, HD performances from the Metropolitan Opera House. And it’s the best thing ever. Stop using Netflix. Cancel that Hulu subscription. Forget your Amazon Prime password. This is all you need in your life right now. Here’s why the Met Opera on Demand is better than any other streaming service.

1. You Can Learn a New Language

Operas are in English, Italian, French, German, and loads more languages! They have subtitles in English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, and Swedish! Opera is slow and repetitive, so it’s a great way to learn languages! If you’re learning German, for example, it might be useful to have English subtitles on an opera like Die Zauberflöte (which side note is a beautiful production… it’s just so pretty to watch, it’s like watching a moving painting). You’ll understand all the German being sung with the English subtitles, and some new vocab might stick in your brain if it’s being sung in a catchy tune over and over. I think learning a language through song is a great way to learn new vocabulary, and get an ear for the language. “Comic operas” like Die Zauberflöte and Carmen even have spoken dialogue. The opera singers’ pronunciation is amazing when singing and speaking!

2. You Can Learn History

Opera loves to take place in ancient times, and tries to be as authentic to the time period as possible! When learning history, sometimes it’s hard to picture the time period. Watching an opera in the time period you’re learning about really helps you picture what you’re learning. Also, many operas are based on true stories. For example, there are three operas about Adrienne Lecouvreur, a French actress who mysteriously died in 1730. Or Boris Godunov, an opera about real events in 1584 surrounding a real Russian tsar. Or Doctor Atomic! It’s an opera about the test of the first atomic bomb. And all of these have full HD videos of the performances! There’s so much history to learn with this subscription.

3. You Can Learn About Books

Reading Shakespeare in school and struggling to picture the action? Well, Met on Demand has you covered! HamletMacbethA Midsummer Night’s Dream, and more are full-length operas that come with this subscription!

Der Ring des Nibelungen (although Tolkein denies it) is the basis for The Lord of the Rings. Don’t believe me?! Watch it on Met on Demand to see the shocking similarities.

The opera Marnie is based on the book that inspired the Hitchcock classic of the same name. (the 60s movie where the lady gets stabbed in the shower to strings going EEK EEK EEK).

There is also audio of operas based on The Great Gatsby and An American Tragedy, which are books titled of the same name.

If you look up the operas on the website, I’m sure you can find more book-related stuff.

4. It’s Relaxing

The Met’s performances are beautiful. The performances are visually dazzling, and the singing is world-renowned. It’s a nice thing to just have on quietly in the background. If the stunning video is too much, there are recordings dating back

-Jessica F.

Opera, Opera, Opera!

Would you pay $26 to see Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton on Broadway, live?

I know few Orange County friends who love opera, let alone are willing to see one. This may be because Orange County has few operas. I’ve been looking! The Segerstrom Center for the Arts has some performances, but Costa Mesa is pretty far. Moreover, it only has concert performances (full shows done without staging or costumes in front of an orchestra).

Recently, I discovered my favorite opera, Carmen, broadcasted live for free on the Santa Monica Pier from the LA Opera. The LA Opera is the grandest local opera house, and witnessing something this professional live was moving. Dancers were hired from the depths of Spain for a genuine Spanish vibe, and costumes shimmered and poofed in all their Spanish glory. Tickets are at least $90 for a “cheap” theatre seat, in which performers can barely be seen or heard; free showings are unheard of!

My friends and I zoomed to the pier and fangirled over the huge stage and thick French accents. The music can be found in our playlists; we hummed along the whole time. The opera is risqué, funny, and dazzling. If more people had access to opera in Orange County, I’m sure we could love and appreciate it the way this crowd did on the Santa Monica Pier. It was so enjoyable!

The Live at the Met series is broadcasting full operas live from the Metropolitan Opera House in most Regal movie theatres. This is the best opera house in the country! I’ve never seen a bigger stage, and the cameras show so much detail I can see reflections in the characters’ eyes. Tickets are around $26, with over 10 operas this year! More than the average movie ticket, but very cheap compared to live tickets, often at Hamilton prices ($855+). Only internationally famous and experienced singers have been cast! If you’re an opera fan like me or are ready to behold these regal performances, please come and support the art by attending. Few people know about it, but more should.

This is the same as $26 to see Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton live on Broadway, in the movie theatre!

The Orange County School of the Arts is also doing L’Enfant et Les Sortilèges in the spring, so look out for that!

Meanwhile, I will be hunting down local operas. I’m determined to find performances in Mission Viejo! Operas can be expensive, but I’m working on finding deals so teens can experience this difficult and powerful art form at an accessible price. I’ll keep you updated!

What local opera productions do you know of? Please comment to let me know!

-Jessica F.

Apparently, I Can’t Ride a Boat

On Saturday, August 12, from 3:30-6pm, my friends and I built a cardboard boat, and attempted to race it across the Sierra Recreation and Fitness Center Pool.

We were given two large, cardboard boxes, a roll of silver duct tape, and a new X-acto knife (in the package!). We had 60 minutes to mess around and figure out how on earth to get 16-year-old-me across a lap pool against kids a third of my size.

We decided a canoe shape would stand out aerodynamically and also look cool. We used a red pen to trace the outline of one cardboard box and had great ideas while listening to Hamilton. We made flaps to keep the edges together and coated it in duct tape.

Soon families began to cart their boats to the pool. Their boats looked very different from ours! We wondered if this was a good or bad thing. We looked back on our hard work and realized in our strategic placing of cardboard and duct tape, we had forgotten to include the other cardboard box! We hastily taped together supporting poles from the other box and hobbled the odd raft to the pool as an employee insisted we’d be disqualified in seconds.

We waited for our team name, Wrong Direction, to be called, and lined up on the bright poolside. I was the smallest, so I had been nominated to maneuver the raft. I was given a plastic, green shovel to navigate the treacherous water. How I was going to get in, I did not know. My friend etched the boat over the pool’s peak, and when he megaphone blared “GO!” I nervously put one foot in the boat and it instantly collapsed under my weight.

Laughing, I sunk into the chlorinated water and held onto the soggy, floating cardboard to try and recompose myself. The failure of our creation was magical and hilarious. It took me a while to stop giggling and not-so-gracefully heave myself out of the water. Wrong Direction did not care at all that our hard work and been reduced to mush because creating it and watching me sink (mainly watching me sink) was an as good as a reward as any.

We had so much fun, and will definitely be staying updated with the Sierra Recreation and Fitness Center’s activities, as I recommend you do as well.

-Jessica F.