Monday, April 07, 2008

160. The Peak of Civilization: A Sports Absurdity at Angels Baseball Stadium

I believe it was Sunday, April 6, 2008. I was driving rapidly to the Angels baseball stadium to meet up with my father and the UCR Earth Sciences Department. I was convinced last week to go by Aaron, a new student in the department... I think under Mary. His positive personality and radiating smile convinced me to go... thinking maybe this was a chance to recooperate from the past. In the end, I felt like it was some kind of internal emotional mockery to me. I was far from ready. The experience was humiliating and drives me to further appreciate the situation I have right now at UCSB, perks and all.

I think I have a phobia of homogenization, similarity, and repetition. I appreciated Earth Sciences department when I was a questionner of reality. I was wearing a different hat and was looking into Earth Sciences with an outsider eye. Then I enter the department and I started to panic and freak out because everyone thinks all the same and there were close to no interdisciplinary outlets. So then I panicked because then I felt stuck. Now, the situation is I am at Bren and I am in film. I am surrounded by the most diverse, eclectic group of scholars, in the arts and environmental sciences. Not only that, film allows me to explore the diversity of roles and perceptions of the Santa Barbara community. I am attracted to difference. I live for difference and diversity. People. Tools. Organisms. Landscapes. Everything. And the College of Creative studies let me love it all. Thank you.

Back to my 80-mph car drive. I am a bit disoriented, hopping off the five freeway, from the 101, from Santa Barbara. Bub calls me several times from Mary's cell phone. I pay 8 bucks to park (shxt, that's a lot), and I am approaching the stadium, only to view lots of parking lot, cars, people, and two giant Angels baseball helmets.

Epiphany #1. The historical accumulation of human achievement has resulted in this: the Peak of Human Civilization. See photograph number one. My father is trying to wear a gigantic baseball hat.

Epiphany #2. People are paying lots of money to watch other human beings swing a stick at a ball, and run around a square. Including myself. The last time I was at a baseball game ... two games, summer 1999. I was in the process of exploring life outside of school. It was utterly meaningless. I watched two shut-out games. Angels got bageled. I don't blame myself for not going to a game for 9 years. Or perhaps more.

I am starting to get depressed very quickly. I am walking toward my father and I am already starting to feel very, very empty. Like I'm about to enter Disneyland. Close enough. It is much how I felt when I was playing tennis, even at a young age. My mother was pressuring me and my sister to play very well, and you get sponsors and glorified if you win tournaments. Then you become a pro and you are queen of the world.

I stare at the racket and the tennis ball, and I am subconsciously confused. All I am doing is swinging a stick with high surface area at a ball, trying to get it over this net and on the other side of some rectangle in a cage... and society glorifies you for this. My first conscious recognition of this idea was age 12. I asked: "What's the point?" I don't get it. Where did this come from? Why tennis over other sports? Why do we have the sports that exist in mass production today and not the origination and development of alternative sports, like nuts-and-ladders (invented by Kristin Hepper's new hubby, Jimmy). Not only that, I hated direct competition. I felt bad for winning and I felt bad for losing. In the tennis court, I was rationally stuck. There was no road or any way out to self-satisfaction and happiness.

EvPsych in my daily life. Primitivity in society exists everywhere. The overglorification of sports is a classical example. Music and Hollywood in general, as well. Humans construct a world around them that ultimately reflect and satiate their internal biology. Case in point.

Epiphany #3. My dad says... "We play sports because it prevents men from killing each other." It's a civilized exercise of primitive neurological programs of competition. And if we aren't playing sports, we're off into "recreational wars" like Iraq.

Ya. I know that. Triune Brain Model is Everywhere.

Epiphany #4. I showed my father an image I took of the crowd of speckled humans. As seen above, and the zombied, somber face of the concessions boy, selling junk food to the crowd. Though I saw them selling cups of fruit this time. My father commented: "I don't know how so many human beings can co-exist in one place." I felt like we were watching a modern bullfight match in an arena, except that it is mediated by ball and bat. We were all amused at the same thing. We were all amused with men swinging at balls with sticks and trying to catch them in the field, like Garrett Anderson, and then you get glorified and paid millions of dollars. And the salary of my English teacher Ann Camacho in 1995-1996 was $27,000. Such a discrepancy between what we value and what will keep the infrastructure of this society up-and-running.

Epiphany #5. I was starting to think about the anatomy of an audience. Loose clusters of family and friends, distantly knowing each other. Lots of kids, parents with kids who are little leaguers. We all in this stadium have one thing in common: space. We are all "Angelenos" or Southern Californians at least. I went through flashbacks with my dreaded experience at the Harder Stadium in San Diego in last summer's American Idol. But that is another blog on its own.

Epiphany #6. The Belljar of Advertisement. Buy! Buy! Buy! More, more, more! Every moment you are flashed with hundreds of thousands of advertisements in the stadium. Buy this do that. It's abnoxious. We have televisions now when we pump gasoline. We have advertisements before movies in movie theaters. We wait in line in a grocery store, and they pop a television advertisement there as well. Every single gap in space and time. Every single time a human being waits in line, we are bombarded with advertisements. And such is the baseball arena. Baseball players stamped with advertisements. Are we truly in control and in charge of technoogy, or the summation of coupled-human-technological behavior has taken over our lives? I do NOT wonder why people get depressed and take psychiatric pills, given the summation of the modern system humans have built around us. And I was born in it. I inherited this. Shxt. And we're supposed to clean up the summed mess of our past ancestors? We have to take responsibility not because we have any terms of endearment for dead people. We have to take responsibility because it's a matter of SURVIVAL.

I am in Santa Barbara, and I feel much better. This town gives me hope.

So, this is the Biologically Incorrect ambiance of the Angels baseball Game. Then add the social ambiance of the Earth Sciences department: mostly Mary Droser's lab. I thought I would be happy and excited to see everyone, but it ends up not being an ideal "social environment" for mingling. The loud noise. Mary was with her kids. Diana and hubby. Pregnant. Kristin and Jimmy. Married. Greg's friend. Aaron... and to-be wife. Getting married April 30. Wha? Bub was there and so I felt obligated to give full attention to him. I managed to congratulate Kristin and Jimmy for getting married. Summer of 2007. Bay area. Cool. I'm sad I missed it. But then again I was doing Blue Horizons, so... I wasn't exactly fully aware of what is going on.

A giant knot. I started to freeze again. I felt stuck. Stifled. One. The time gap with everyone. I haven't kept up to par with people and their lives. The sociology of scientists soap opera of Riverside I used to keep track of so carefully. Two. The severed relationships. I felt like a failure. I just wanted to crawl back to Ann Aasen (my social psychologist during 2005-2006). I also felt weird because everyone's getting married and having kids and taking care of kids, and here is me. I felt like this... freak. Simply because I value other things? Because I decided to give birth to ideas and not babies? I wanted to shrivel and leave. I also started thinking about re-defining my gender. I am a female, but I don't fully conform to all female attributes. I'm not gay. Whew. Or bi. Whew. I am a neutralist female, I suppose. Middle of the road. Female who's comfortable with tomboy features. Athleticism. Dressing drabby and casual. No desire for kids. For meaningless relationships. Maybe it's not a gender identity thing. Maybe it's a societal thing. How American society pressures people to be in relationships for the sake of being in relationships. And if you're not... then you're a "quirky alone." Some new lingo from a lady up in San Francisco. Which I feel is misrepresentative as well. So I decided to be ISI: Intellectually Self Indulgent. I live in my own brain. It requires high maintenance so I give it high attention.

Well, enough of that. Being immersed in UCR Earth Sciences in a social occassion reminded me emotionally and intellectually that I have a 2-3 year knot in my mind and my mind's heart. A giant knot to untangle. One day at a time. I am humbled and appreciative.

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