The Domain of Steven Pinnacle of Paperless Perfection

14Oct/084

Where everybody knows my name

The French intern at my summer job learned English through British schools, and while he could passably converse with the rest of the Brits in the office, he found our American accents to be a rather big hindrance to comprehension. This amused me to no end.

I miss England sometimes. The company, too.

Perhaps it was the attention I received, not only as an American-accented Chinese (actually a minority for once) but also as an intern from abroad (of which I was the first). People were curious about me, about where I came from. They wanted to know whether everything they'd heard about New York City was true, and though I barely know the other side of my block, I had plenty of things to tell them about it. God, I had conversation topics. And each conversation, delightful in itself, was made all the better by hot British accents.

I was talking with Chris about my time there, since he is interested in studying abroad, and conveyed this sense of celebrity status. I would be singled out for being Asian, and pegged for an American once I opened my mouth. They'd ask almost immediately, "are you American?"

To the disappointment of some, I did not come back with a British accent, but Chris noticed that I was imitating a British accent when I quoted them. I hadn't done it on purpose, I was simply relaying what was ingrained in my mind. The "are" was pronounced more like a gentle "ah," and American used a "meh" in place of the "mare" sound.

When we imitate the British we make ourselves sound haughty, but when the British imitate us they make themselves sound like redneck retards. No joke. I also found this endlessly amusing. In fact, endlessly amusing would be a recurring theme while there, provoked by places like Poundland (as in currency, not weight) and conflicting concepts like suspenders. Everything there was different, and yet familiar enough to keep me insulated from the worst of culture shock.

Best of all? Net profit. Also, apparently I am the British definition of Filipino, as evidenced by their consistency in guessing my nationality.

12May/082

(mr)understood

Apologies in advance for obscurity.

There used to be a time when people would crowd into my room to watch Ninja Warrior and The Colbert Report. It was a time when Papa Johns was frequent and delightful, when we had to schedule hangouts on the weekends to accomodate my work schedule, when it was predicted and feared that seawater and the searing sun would cause my skin to have fits. A time of firsts: sleepovers, karaoke, banter, bunnies.

Those were not the most notable features of the time, though. It is more distinctly remembered as a time when memory foam was thoroughly appreciated, when strong tones were not, when steam was constantly recirculated in a futile attempt to make sense of it. It was when the borders of your mom expanded to gleeful smiles and rolled eyes, when you were young was fussed over and grown to be loved, and when Catan was played cooperatively. When talks would be long, frequent, and grandiose.

But that time is best remembered through the moments that caused me to lose more of them. Can I really say that I've gotten better if I often replay them in my mind? That I'm no longer affected by something I look back on with such nostalgia?

I moved off the reservation solely because of the hope that maybe I could relive some of those times. But it's never that easy to forget. You never need to tell someone what you think of them, and so you don't. It is always their intent to hurt you. They are always trying, but they're not the ones who end up hurt.

Some people miss the good ol' Calvin and Hobbes days. I just miss Hobbes.

12Mar/084

Becoming the earlier and forever kind

Spring break isn't anything remarkable to blog about this year. I didn't decide to to go some island with wonderful weather or abroad to some place with lax alcohol or drug use laws. Despite this, this spring break needs to be one of the most remarkable. The past few weeks have seen me at my most unproductive and most unmotivated, behavior that would only lead me back down a well-beaten and much-hated path, and I need to elicit change in order to keep me on a more desirable one.

Becoming a morning person would be exactly the change I need. Or at least, stop being a night person. It just isn't working out. Many nights recently have illustrated that very point. I love the worker's high that I get from being productive, from coding and seeing things work, from poring over and finally understanding concepts. I used to associate these moments of heightened concentration with late nights illuminated by my monitor and my desk lamp, but recent experiences have proven contrary. They've left me at the wee hours of the morning with little to show but a pile of fatigue on my eyes.

But I randomly decided to rest my eyes a couple weeks ago, and as with almost all instances of me resting my eyes during the school year, I didn't wake up for some time. This particular nap was particularly lengthy, and some would even call it sleeping. Yes, I think there's an unfamiliar but more fitting term for it, sleeping early. I slept at 8 and woke up at 4.

Now even for a normal person, waking up at 4 is like what the fuck are you doing you crazy bastard. I surprisingly didn't feel that way at all. I felt...energized. Refreshed. Better than I had ever felt even with 10 or 12 hours of sleep. I worked and coded in perfect contentment. It was a sight to see, and it is a sight I want to see again.

It will mean I will have to abandon all those late night friends, forsake all those late night conversations. They were what perhaps cemented me in my role as a night owl. I enjoyed the company, the support, the mutual understanding of our situations and the comraderie forged because of our similarities. Does this mean that I'm trading friends for sleep? If so, here's to the nights we felt alive, and here's to goodbye, because if all works well, tomorrow is not going to come too soon. It's finally going to come right when I want it to.

19Dec/072

Ditching the logical

Here's to a semester where I wasn't ashamed to tell people how I was doing in school, where I didn't habitually cut classes, where I was proud of my work and myself, where I lost friends and met new ones, where I entered more contests than I've ever entered, where I won more contests than I've ever won, where I realized the path I should be heading along, where I discovered even more about myself, and where I finally picked myself up off the ground.

Here's to success. Here's to motivation. Here's to foolishly fighting the fight and forgetting to fascinate. Here's to falteringly forgiving the forgotten. Here's to obfuscation.

Here's to the one semester I would not have done any other way.

10Dec/074

Seriously, silversmithing?

It's still hard to imagine my parents as people who once had lives like the one I'm leading right now. To me, their lives had always started with...well, me.

It's when tidbits about their past are fed to me that I start to get curious about what their lives were like before they settled down. My father offhandedly mentioned that he actually entered Polytechnic University as a chemical engineer major, only to discover that he didn't like chemistry. It was then that he turned to silversmithing, and finally deciding on mechanical engineering.

My father, the man who loved his job so much that he set up a drafting table and work environment in his basement, actually thought he wanted to do something else? I can't imagine him as a chemical engineer, and I didn't even know silversmithing was a major!

My parents actually bought a house in Brooklyn, on 70th street and 20th avenue. They had intended to move out from our 1-bedroom apartment in Queens, away from all the relatives that lived above us or within a few minutes drive of us, away from the routes and venues and nuances that I know so intimately. I wouldn't have gone to Montessori, Renaissance, and maybe not even Mega Academy. I would have lived a mere three blocks from my friend Sally, who currently lives two hours away by train.

But for whatever reason, they didn't move out. My dad drove there during the fall to sweep the leaves in front of the property and in the winter to shovel the snow. Eventually my parents realized that they weren't going to move there, that taking care of it was too much of a hassle, and that they weren't strict enough as landlords to make money off of it. They sold the house at a loss just to be rid of it.

When I hear about my parents' pasts, when I learn about how they stumbled, when I realize that they might be perfect parents but were not always perfect people...through learning about their failures I find the courage to face my own. Not everything fell into place the way they wanted, but I can't imagine them falling any other way.

15Nov/073

Hot dog champ – .russian – Japanese small forest + altleft

Strangely, the closest I came to crying over her was when she was being cursed out. As with all instances of tearing, I was split between wanting to embrace it and suppress it.

It all came about from a thought that had been stubbornly persistent: if I could go back one year, would the knowledge of one outcome change my behavior? Would I work harder towards keeping us together, or would I be resigned and bitter? Would I do nothing and simply appreciate our time more? If so, what would happen when the last day passes uneventfully? Would I assume that the same events happened and call her a liar?

No, I never assume the worst of people; instead, I fear it. Every action would be laced with hesitation and restraint, every hug less heartfelt, every kiss reminding me of the things she did and might still do. The changes in my behavior would be the same reasons why I couldn't take her back.

Change is what everything boils down to. What would I change? What has changed? Could I change? Could she?

I have always honestly believed that people can be anything they want to be. That they could change themselves to be whoever they wanted to be. I do not, however, believe that you can change someone else; it has to be purely of your own volition and desire. At the end of the day, you are the only person there who can tell you to keep trying.

So no, I don't think I would try to change what happened, because I did nothing wrong. I did not give the relationship my all, but I gave the relationship everything I was willing to give. I did not always put her over everyone else because I needed to have a life apart from her, and the presence of that life was kept a particular rift from closing. What happened was not something we had any control over; it was simply a result of how we were.

Given the chance to relive that year, I would do everything the same way I did it, up to the day where it was done, and would once again be done. Would I be able to say all this while in the comfort of her arms? No, but that's exactly why I wasn't.

28Sep/070

spanish cousin’s mother – Industrial Age + modern chersónisos tou aímou – bumble – airnet quote

You don't have to worry about overstepping your bounds when you've got diarrhea of the mouth.

20Sep/072

is to be human – Yoú – roar, rewind, replay red rover record + you see?

She always told me that she wanted to make me confident in myself. She wanted to make me believe that I was as smart, sweet, witty and cute as she thought I was. I had always thought that somewhere out there, there would be someone who did find my jokes funny, and my quirks cute, my attempts at romance charming. And somewhere out there, there's someone who really does have the same balloon fetish you do, or thinks that the huge tumor on your forehead is actually pretty damn sexy. In each of my relationships, I had been propelled by sheer excitement. Someone actually liked someone as strange as me? Someone honestly wanted to spend time with me, and just me?

It was possibly the ultimate compliment. It made me feel secure about myself, made me feel that I could be myself and still experience that mystical feeling called love. That there would finally be someone I could pour all my effort into and have them reciprocate in full, that someone would notice all the little things, make me feel all the things I've wanted to feel and maybe a little more. And as doubtful as I had been all my life...she actually succeeded.

I noticed my freshman year of college that I approached people with confidence, raised up and cushioned by the fact that I had someone to run back to if a social encounter ever failed. It made me more confident and outspoken around everyone, and I really do have to thank her for that. It made me unafraid of sharing my hobbies, my jokes, my self...and I had a better idea of who that self was. She reinforced that in me, that my real self was so close to the one she loved, such that I embraced it and let it fly. She helped me define me, even while she herself was so unsure.

But the dip in the Styx wasn't perfect, and the qualities that perhaps made her cling to me so readily and lovingly were the ones that have left deficiencies in me. Would I ever be able to find a girl that didn't make her interest so obvious? Would I ever be able to ask one out, or make one see me as a lover and not a friend? Would I ever be able to keep one?

Which is why I have posts like this. Thoughts, dreams, nights, days like this. Just optimistic enough to hope, too rational and risk-averse to substantiate. It rarely affects my attitude towards people...but that doesn't keep it from affecting me. But I'm still here. I'm still hoping. And perhaps one day I'll start trying and things will start happening. Because now I know what I want to reclaim, match, and exceed. I have her to thank for making me sure like never before of my reasons for defying reason.

13Sep/070

On seeming a little weird, but not giving yourself away

Always...and never. Now all that's left is just to keep holding my head up high and try to find a decent engine.

9Sep/073

Soñando, deseando, haciendo

Rising Stuyvesant sophmores used to be required to take Drafting 1, and were then required to take either Drafting 2/Honors Drafting or Introduction to Computer Science.

For once in my life, I went past the call of duty by not only taking Honors Drafting, but Intro to Compsci at the same time. To top it off, I took an optional compsci course at the same time, and followed both drafting and compsci course paths to full completion in later years. AP Compsci, both of the senior-level compsci courses, Technical Drawing, and Architecture were what padded out my remaining years at Stuy. Choosing to do the extra work and stick it out with both course paths turned out to be one of the smartest things I've ever done, because despite my major being computer science, I was totally prepared for both of my internships, especially my current one at JDP Mechanical.

Transitioning from CADKEY to AutoCAD was easier than I expected. I was already familiar with how CAD drawings are handled and manipulated, so all it took was a little experimentation and direction to find out which command I needed to enter to do what I wanted. CAD work is actually quite fun, and while I'm very efficient, I'm still amazed at how fast my dad can mold his drawings to what he sees in his mind.

Unfortunately, drafting is only half the battle, and the lower-paying half at that. The reason my father gets paid the big bucks (big = only slightly more) is because he is able to solve problems. The primary problem is that New York City is brimming with people, Manhattan in particular, and every cubic foot of space is precious. Given the choice between making the machine room comfortably big and squeezing out a couple extra hundred thousand dollars isn't really a choice at all. Landlords will always choose to make the extra money and hope that their AC and heating units will fit in the little niche carved out in the basement. And therefore, landlords will always need companies like the one my father works for. He coordinates with all the other contractors, trying to make sure that his water pipes can fit alongside the gnarled masses of the electrician's cables and the plumber's sewage lines, while making sure he isn't getting in the way of the gigantic ducts strewn across the ceiling.

My father is paid well because it is difficult to compensate for human error while minimizing costs and working on a deadline. It's a difficult job that requires an intimate knowledge of the industry and its conventions. From a purely practical standpoint, it's the best career for me to jump into. It is such a niche field that experienced, dedicated workers are far and few, which means companies are more willing to train and cultivate workers. I already have a great foundation of CAD knowledge, and I found that my mind easily warped to decipher schematics and reconstruct them in my mind. To top it off, I have one of the best draftsmen in the industry as a personal mentor.

But the best worker and father I've known also gave me one of the best pieces of advice I've ever heard: "Do something you love, because if you like it, you won't mind putting in the hours to become great at it." It summarizes very well the key to his success, but it also summarizes why I'm so hesitant to take up what would otherwise be a great opportunity. I know I could be good at it, but I don't know if I would be willing to put in the effort to become great. I remember happily spending hours coding up my first programming project, making a freakish monstrosity easily two or three times the size of everyone else's projects. At least a third had been handwritten during my free time between classes and on the train, without ever wondering or worrying about the amount of time I was putting into the project. Programming was fun, and still is. Debugging is frustrating but ultimately rewarding. Difficulties are exciting challenges, not hinderances.

That's the attitude my dad wants me to have, because while he would love for me to follow in his footsteps, he wants me to be happy most of all. My job is going to be somewhere I spend 8+ hours a day, so given the chance, I ought to spend all that time doing something I love. I want to keep being able to say that I love my life and have never regretted the choices I've made.

So I'm going to go for it. I'm not going to settle; I'm going to keep dreaming and desiring, so that one day I'll be able to do. If I fail, it is not going to be for lack of dedication. But if I succeed, it will be.