Hey guys, so, we're in the unbelieveably slow part of the offseason. Now seemed like a good time to share something that left me utterly shaken. I've known a lot of you guys longer than I've known people I meet every day in real life, and I feel like I can share. If what I'm about to post isn't your cup of tea, feel free to ignore it, but I had to tell someone.
This afternoon, I was at a rally for Ro Khanna (a democrat whose challenging incumbent rep Mike Honda here in the south-east bay.). Met the guy, and a bunch of other new people, and he seemed nice. My buddy who I work with (the rally was at my office) pulled me aside and gave me some news that just shook me to my core: there had been a school shooting at UCSB (its the guy who tried to murder an entire sorority, you've probably heard about it). Here's why I took that news so hard: I was a student at UCSB from 1996 - 1998, and I transferred to UC Berkeley for the fall of 1998.
Here's why that news hit me hard: I realized in a flash that no one, anywhere in this country, is now safe. If it could happen at UCSB, it could happen literally anywhere. If someone had told me that a shooting had happened at Berkeley, my reaction would be "yeah, I could buy that, that makes sense." The stress that Berkeley causes, its a pressure cooker of a university, can cause even the strongest minds to crack. I saw it happen time and time again to friends of mine while I was there, friends who just felt that they couldn't take it anymore and had to get out. I, myself, didn't cross the finish line by very much, but I crossed because I would not be denied.
UCSB, though, is a completely different environment. UCSB is the single most laid back place on earth that I've ever been to. Nobody there cared about where you came from, who you were or were turned off by your problems in life. I met a guy Sophomore year there who drank constantly, who loved riding his motor cycle so much that he showed up to class in a leather jacket, and who was a notorious bar hopper and womanizer. He was my economics professor. If that's what the adults are like, you can easily imagine what the kids are like. Most other universities, that econ professor would have been fired for misconduct, at UCSB it was more like "eh, what you going to do? We all have problems." The sun is always shining at UCSB, life is always good, and everyone there seems to have friends.
At UCSB, you don't need to go and find trouble, trouble finds you. At UCSB, you can make friends and score girls with no effort whatsoever. I spent the bulk of my two years there trying to get the grades to transfer to Berkeley, but I had an amazingly good time in the process. Saturday night at UCSB, we took our line after the United States Marines: we never left a man behind (from the party). It was the girls that I found most amazing. I have never been in another place my entire life, before then or since, where women were so easy to come by. If the UCSB shooter thought that girls, on that campus, were tough, he should try them anywhere else on the planet. People on that campus have a very high quality of life. When I was there, everyone was always smiling, everyone always seemed so happy. People there surf more than they study.
That's why this shooting bothers me in ways that other shootings don't. I can understand being a loner, being isolated. We all feel like that sometimes, some of us more often than others. UCSB though is the single most inclusive place I've ever been to. Nobody there eats their meals alone. Girls at UCSB are the most inclusive, and caring, of anywhere I've ever been to. Its the one place where I can honestly say I was never mistreated by a woman (we all have been, at some point in our lives, and we've all mistreated a woman, or said something we shouldn't have, at some point too). Girls there are like everyone there is, it just doesn't matter if you have a past, nobody there judges anybody else (I also went to small private High School, where judgement was, unfortunately, quite high). When I was there, I had a friend who had to get high on pot to have an academic discussion, I had a friend who had AIDS, I had a friend who never started writing a paper until after it was due, and I had a friend who I had to bail out of the city jail. None of it really bothered me all that much. They were still my friends. We all had problems, but people there looked past those things. The sun is shining today, the waves are kicking, who wants to go surfing?
So, for me, who remembers those good times, I hear about a shooting like this, and I have to ask, how bad do you have to be to be a loner at UCSB? If you were mad at the women there, I have news for you: based on my experience, the problem was probably on your end, not their's. You have to send out extreme warning signals for girls there to not want to hang out with you. Its actually something that takes effort. One of my best buddies when I was there, snagged the girlfriend we all dreamt of, She was smart, and beautiful, and he stayed in his room all day playing civilization two on his computer. He once complained to me that he was sick and tired of getting nuked every single turn by all the other civs. I had never played civ 2 in those days, and I suggested that what he needed was an SDI Defense (yes, I knew more about the Ronald Regan plan for space based laser missle defense than I did about popular video games) and he promptly informed me that was an option on the game, built one in every city, and thanked me for clueing him in on what an SDI defense city improvement was. That story, in a nutshell, is what this campus is like: everyone there was friendly, easy going and welcoming. It didn't matter if you were into the same things everyone else was or if you weren't (contrary to most people on campus, I didn't drink or experiment with drugs) people were happy to see you, everyone had friends.
Maybe my experience there was unique, but based upon what I know from other students who have attended that school, it was normal more than anything. That's what shakes me up about this shooting so much, and gets me so emotional: UCSB is, literally, the last place on the face of the earth where I can imagine something like this happening. Crashing your car because you were dead freaking drunk? Yeah, a school shooting? No. I realized today, in a very real way, that no place on earth is safe, no place is safe from the threat of firearms and the maniacs who use them. I realized what people in Newton Connecticut must have realized: if it could happen here, where couldn't this happen?
Thanks for listening guys. Maybe what I've said is relevant, maybe it isn't, but its something that I just can't stop thinking about.