Monday, March 24, 2008

154. "WWYDIYGIGS?" pronounced "Wideegigs" a.k.a. What Would You Do If You Got Into Graduate School?"

Where it begins
Is where it ends
Is where it begins
All over again.

I'm at a Starbucks in Corona, California. I was planning on going to Irvine, but I'm feeling weak and my plans for the day were "ruined." I'm completing a segment of Biologically Incorrect the Unfilmed Movie: "Easter Sunday I get a ticket from the UC Riverside parking services, and the next day I get accepted to graduate school... Bren, UC Santa Barbara. [I hear some lyrics from Alanis Morisette "Isn't it ironic"] I pre-maturely celebrated this occasion: last night I pigged out on cheese, meat, corn flakes, and onions... and carrots... unfortunately out of stress, not celebration. And a couple days before that I purchased the older version of 15" macbook pro to establish near-complete technological self-sufficiency in film. I just have to download final cupt pro. So now, instead of 'celebrating,' I need to mentally and physically deflate from past anxiety and acquire a new batch of anxiety. My cognitive tangled web derived from UC Riverside is now being lifted and re-located to UC Santa Barbara, except there, the web isn't so tangled. Things seem to make a lot more sense. It's where my tangled web has organized in the past. It's where my tangled web will organize now."

I guess I should capture this moment, just like I did with my 4-something year reunion with Armand Kuris. I'll try not to make this an Oprah-Winfrey moment, more like a "I-just-got-tested-out-and-beaten-up-real-bad-so-therefore-join-the-gang" type of plot. I was actually at a Kinkos in Corona (a couple miles down south Ontario Ave.) and I was going to check my emails to email UC Riverside a satirical image in concern of parking services practices on holidays... when suddenly I see this suspicious email from Maria Gordon that says "Congratulations!" Oh shxt.

So, as any reasonable, curious person would do, you would check the email to see what's up. Maria informed me that I was admitted into Bren. Yes, yes, yes! Based on this premise, your entire worldview must change. One must feel a bit uprooted. I started to write an email to Maria. I could feel all over y body a surge of energy. I could no longer stand still. I was barely typing out words to Maria. I barely sounded coherent. I raced out to the car, charged my cell phone, and "screamed" to Bub on the phone. He barely understood what I was saying, and then he told me to call Mumsy. And so I did. I was "calm": "So, Mama. I have good news. You have three chances to guess." She guessed it the first shot. I whined, "Am I that obvious?"

There was an older lady with a non-Californian accent sitting right next to the booth I was working at, and I told her, "I'm sorry you have to be a random victim of this, but I just got accepted into graduate school!" And she said with much happiness, "Is that what you were working on? You JUST found out?! Don't worry! I know how you feel! I went through that in Illinois when I was admitted to nursing graduate school back in '69." Wow.

I managed to crank out an email to Maria Gordon:

oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god
really i'm not a religious person
oh my god oh my god oh my god
i was sitting calmly in front of my computer but this is no longer feasible
a fuse just blew in my brain, no, this is good

Wow, thank you so much for informing me! This will be a very very nice spring break now!

I really don't think this has hit me in the head yet.
I'll let you know when it does!

What happened with the conference call? Did it go okay with the website ideas?

Can't wait to catch up after spring break! ~Victoria
Maria Gordon wrote:
Well done, Victoria! Oran just let me know you've been accepted to the Bren School. Congrats!


Then this question crossed my mind, "What does it all mean?" You're accepted. WWYDIYGIGS? Wideegigs! What would you do if you got into graduate school? Well, I have a long laundry list. It's a matter of "Just do it." I'm in the Nike-commercial mode.

What's next? What's the IMMEDIATE next? I guess it's important to drive home, give Sir Bub and Mumsy (my mom and dad) two big hugs. My journey to Irvine is delayed, for good reasons. And if you are worried about my parental labeling, don't worry. Those are teezer names. Their official Greek labels are Mama and Baba. For a while I called my dad "Bubba"--derived from Disney's Duck Tales and retroactively being exposed to the Persion way of acknowledging fathers. Then it shifted to Sir Bub. For a while it was Chair Bub because he was chair for a couple of years of the UC Riverside Earth Sciences Department. Sometimes it's Senor Bub. Now Bubsy. Come on, people! Don't laugh! So, I called my mom "Mama" for a long time. But now, I call her "Mumsy" sometimes for kicks and giggles. I was inspired by a film with Meryl Streep. It was a movie about how people went to heaven and they experienced pleasureful things without suffering any consequences. There was a booth in heaven in which you could view your previous lives, and this guy was at one point a little British girl carrying a rag doll, calling for her Mumsy. So now, Mama suffers consequences from this cinematic inspiration. Don't worry. I DON'T call her "Mum." God. That's just so short, unpoetic, and the meaning isn't latching in my mind.

That was just a disclaimer about my parents' names. Let's get over it, will you? I was hyper, my stomach hurt, and I decided the next best thing to do was jog... again (I already jogged this morning, super hyper from the food I ate last night). While I was jogging, my mind went back to the "What does this all mean?" question. I got accepted into an institution because I Question Reality and acknowledge and explore the biological incorrectedness of human society. This is just... the most meaningful thing that has EVER happened to me. This is the FIRST TIME I have convinced an audience that my Questioning of Reality is legitimate. Question Reality is not only in my brain, but now is being manifested into workable material within the university. Man, oh man, oh man. Wow. This means a lot to me. I was so tired of QRing by myself.

It's like everything I've been doing the last two quarter counted, counts! The ploughing through people and departments. Taking the Films of the Natural and Human Environment course and drilling out an over-fifty-page essay on An Inconvenient Truth and the Relativism of Environmental Science. Starting the website and the blog. Blue Horizons. The previous year of painfully learning each component of film-making from music to acting to everything else. The trials and errors of technology and human behavior in the Goleta Beach film project. God man. Everything counts. I mean EVERYTHING COUNTS. I mean, I am accepted to a communit as a creator and and analyzer, a scientist and an artist, a hard scientist and a softy scientist. I have institutionally incorporated the coordinated gestalt properties of my entire brain! Not just my left brain, the analytical, linear brain, but also my creative, infinitely unbounded right brain. Man, oh man. This feels good. Oh so good. I'm in grad school and this will have meaning.

And it's great to be a part of a budding program because there's more degree of freedom in this circumstance rather than joining a pre-constructed, well-established program. I'm now in CCS for grad students. Safe. Whew.

I remember the one-hour talk I had with Dr. Oran Young in early January, which automatically flopped me from the Media Arts Technology Department, to crawling back to Bren. He said Bren's like CCS for grad students. Good. I felt like I could trust him after that.

I even remember the day when I approached Dr. Young during lunch during late January of 2008. I could see he wanted some alone-time; he was intensely reading some papers while munching on lunch. I was there, and well, it would be horrible if I didn't say hello, but I'd feel bad for disturbing him. I took my chances and greeted him: "Hi Dr. Young!" He said hello, but he seemed pre-occupied. Just a little bit. I told him, "I have a quick question..... Are you left-handed?" He seemed a bit puzzled by this question, especially since it was totally out of the blue, a stand-alone, without context... but he responded, "Yes, I am." And I was just so happy I spurted out, "Great! Me too! Okay, that's all. Have a good lunch." And I walked away. I returned to the car and called my dad: "Guess what? Dr. Young is left-handed!" My dad's like "No shxt." Well, my dad's left-handed too. I said, "You know what that means?" "What." "I'm safe!" That's how I felt. I'm like yes, yes, yes. I know how that prof's brain works already. I'm safe, safe, safe. Hide behind this guy. He knows what I'm talking about. Southpaws are by default, expansive, non-linear thinkers who find any possible way NOT to specialize into a tiny box. It's default. That's how lefties are.

By that time, I really trusted Dr. Young. I felt comfortable and unafraid. That Friday late in January, I was shocked that he sat right next to me at the Environmental Media Initiative (EMI) meeting. That was really cool!

I guess this day represents a "turn of the tide" of my love-hate relationship with the university. This theme is the central component of a song I created called "Rock." It takes one rock to make me, one rock to break me, one rock to take me, far far astray. The very rock that holds me, can be the rock that harms me, the very rock that leads me back on my way. These central lyrics were inspired by the Nevada field trip with Seth and Joe during October of 2004. The other day, when I drove home to Riverside from Santa Barbara, I looked at the ocean again. Just a couple of months ago, it was overlaid with the stigma of a "C." And that day, I looked at the oil rigs and the islands while driving (I know it's a bit of a dangerous habit I have acquired from my dad), "I have this love-hate relationship with the ocean. And all the people and creatures and scapes associated with it. But a love-hate turmoil is better than no emotion at all. Is better than apathy. Whether positive or negative, helpful or harmful, this emotion means that I am attached. I am rooted. This emotion means that I care. I care." And as any typical female would do, I cried a little bit. Not much. And I screamed out that I cared. But no one heard except me and my voice recorder. From that point, I felt emotionally resolved from negative events of the recent past.

So, besides my love-hate relationship with my mother and the ocean, I have this love-hate relationship with the university. It all started when I was a single cell. A zygote. Half my genes are from a university professor. I was born and raised playing on the university. My mind went through series of "critical periods" on university grounds, from learning new things to meeting new people. Being a part of the university is my baseline of childhood experience. It's like homing behavior. I feel safe there, but at the same time I feel like I'm a part of an unknown, uncharted jungle. I think that's where I feel safe: when I have my little bubble of Known, but I am surrounded by the awaiting adventures of the Unknown. So, I told Maria Gordon the other day while we were at the Natural Cafe,"I don't want to be a professor, but I always want to be a part of the university. I want a foot in the door of the university and a foot in the door of the real world." It's scary to think that I'm biologically addicted to the university. I can blame my dad for that: "Thanks a lot! Look what you did to me! I got addicted to the university! I got addicted to flowers and trees and the like. Why didn't you get me addicted to more popular things, like playing Super Mario Brothers video games? What's wrong with you?" Thanks a lot to biological understanding, I can actually blame a lot more of who I am on my parents than I previously could.

The university was a cool place until freshman year at UC Davis. That's when things started to go to hxll. That's when my relationship with the university went bipolar. It's one thing to be a kid playing on the university grassy areas. It's another thing to choose a degree and major and pick out a few select people to associate with amongst thousands of professors and students. It's different playing the university video game, especially when the video game wasn't spelled out to you very well. The university tries to brainwash you to play their video game a certain way: here are 100 different partitions of spacetime called "majors" and you just choose which specialized "box" you want to put in, go in the box, and get your degree. My mind didn't like playing with those kinds of rules. I started discovering my own rules of "trying to see how all the little boxes fit together to a larger picture" as soon as a got admitted to the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara. In these times, generalism and interdisciplinary practice is not a very welcomed behavior in the university.... except for UC Santa Barbara. It's all a disguise though. Every single university claims they are on the "cutting edge" and give the word "interdisciplinary" a lot of lip-service, but does anyone truly practice what they preach? Right now, I'm a bit mentally crutched to UC Santa Barbara simply because of this whole CCS deal. Other potential places I might be able to survive is this Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Cruz.

So, I synergized with the university 2000-2003 at CCS-UCSB. Then I went bipolar again from 2003-today. I had to create my own "CCS" by going on two years leave of absence. It was painful though to pursue intellectual things in relative isolation. If I get feedback from other people, I tend to learn more things at a faster pace. I found out I cannot survive well at UC Los Angeles or UC Riverside, both for a unique suite of reasons I'm not going to get into right now. What can I say? I told Bruce Tiffney early this year, after all my trials and pains: "I'm crawling in agony back to UCSB. I am literally on my hands and knees. I felt like the world outside UCSB was like a torture chamber. I need to come back."

The worst part about my being so psychologically rooted in the university is that I am TOO attached. I am so psychologically wrapped around my academic pursuits that if things don't work out, I live at the shrink's office for the year... which was the case at UC Riverside. Either I'm thriving or I'm mentally dying. There's no in between for me.

So here I am, I crawled back to UCSB and humbly knocked on the door. I've been knocking since summer of 2007. I'm crawling through the door and basically I see myself collapsing on the other side, finally breathing without a heavy weight burdening my chest. I've been waiting 4.5 years for this feeling. That's a long time. I'm sure the stress knocked off a few years from my optimal life span, but at least it ONLY gave me ONE gray hair thus far. My sister has had dozens and she's two years younger than I am. But what am I talking about? I nearly melted when Seth stated in the car [paraphrased], "I can't wait to get gray hair! If only one day it will mean that I am wiser." Gray hair is an asset. It's just a matter of perception.

I get bored of breathing well pretty quickly. After that, I hit the ground running.

Basically, Biologically Incorrect the movie is the modern, intellectualized version of Slacker and Animal House. There's a girl who struggled to get accepted into graduate school because she wanted to pursue a Ph.D. dissertation on a most crucial and timely question: "What's the point?" The film would document the chain reaction of serious intellectual comedy from the original premise: a rebellious academic environment (grad students AND profs) of chronic flux that documents a time of re-invented thought on the relations between humans and their environments. Man, it's going to be a RIOT ACT! So, this should be a primary incentive why I must keep writing and blogging and writing and doing art, because this will just formulate a dream story and script and document a history in the making.

I have barely filmed anything. But I made a crucial step in progress: getting accepted to UCSB. I must thank a whole bunch of people. The credit list is already so long!


Baba aka Bub (Richard Minnich)
Mama aka Mumsy (Maria Davaris)
Jenny aka JenJen or Ms. Jenkins / and Justin too!
Ray and Marion Minnich (my grandfather and grandmother)
Uncle Dwight, Jean, Chuck, Jennifer
Jery Lyn and Steve Dillin (who always kept motivating me to do art even though I was shunned otherwise)
Mike Dillin (come back to California!)
All Family at Thanksgiving and in Greece!

Hugh Marsh (how he can put up with me, I don't know)
Bruce Tiffney (how he can put up with me, I don't know)
Armand Kuris (how he can put up with me, I don't know)
Miriam Polne-Fuller (it's all her fault, her shoreline preservation class gave me all these ideas!)
Mary Droser (who's been so supportive of this earth science to environmental media transition)

Oran Young (brain-sponsor)
John Melack (brain-sponsor)
Milton Love (scientist in comedian's body, King of Patience)
Nancy Kawalek (it's-okay-for-scientists-to-have-emotions, whew)
Art Sylvester (geology and life-pursuits-go-to, King of Patience)
Steve Gaines (unflinching environmental media supporter with unbound enthusiasm!)
Denise Belanger (university generalist guru)
Blue Horizons profs and peers (cheers to Guinea Pigs in science and film!)
Greenscreeners Goleta Beach
Lauren Wilson (who put up with a bit o' my griping :-)
Alexios Monopolis (for putting in a good word for me)
Films of Natural and Human Environment
Constance Penley
Dick Hebdige
Maria de Oca (I'm not the only one applying to grad school!)
Oscar Flores (Producer and Editor of Everything, Film Psychologist, has a Canon XL2)
Dulce Osuna (chronic source of encouragement)
Julie Ekstrom / Kyle / Karl / Lisa / Lisa's mom (housemates who keep Victoria in a state of seeming sanity)
Mini (Miss Einstein), Onyx Megafauna, Bentley the Ambassador Dog (pills of psychological relief)

No comments: