The Domain of Steven Pinnacle of Paperless Perfection

19Apr/074

Closure.

Every character in World of Warcraft is allowed to learn two tradeskills, things like blacksmithing or alchemy, though in WoW they're called professions. Professions are like college educations; they put you deep into debt in order to complete, and they're near-worthless until you finally do. Once you've learned all that you can, you want to put that knowledge to good use, namely to work off those training expenses. Some people tersely advertise "300 engi/alch," "port to darn/if/sw 1g," or "arc transmute 5g." I chose to advertise a little more flamboyantly.

"Like vibrating mechanical objects, but can't tell the difference between a Mechanical Squirrel and a Sniper Scope? Want to get back at that mage with an exploding sheep? Let Iskar the Incredible Inventor with his 300 Engineering handle all your engineering needs!"

"Have slippery fingers and keep dropping your vials? Whether it's Swiftness potions or Rocket Fuel, let Iskar the Incredible Imbiber with his 300 Alchemy handle all your substance-related needs!"

"Parents never talk to you about the birds and the bees? I can reenact the story with your Thorium Bar and Arcanite Crystal for just 5g! Come see the Miracle of Life...arcanite bar style!"

"Tired of Aragon the paladin and Gimlii the warrior begging for money? Change it up and have Llegolaz the hunter beg instead! Take a portal to Darnassus for just 99s! Friends ride free!"

"Tired of the contaminated canals of Lagwind and the soot-filled air of Lagforge? Take a trip to the clean, cool, tree-hugging wonderland that is Darnassus for just 99s! Friends ride free!"

I programmed all of these messages into individual "macros" that so I could advertise a particular service to all three major cities with the click of a button. The biggest rewards would be when people would LOL in the trade channel after my advertisement spam. The racier ones often provoke a LMAO or a WTF. Sometimes people would send me a private message saying that they didn't need a transmute, but if they did, they'd buy one from me. Whatever the reaction, I enjoyed eliciting them and making money in the process, and it's something that I've missed since I stopped playing WoW. I miss the people in my guild, their quirks, their voices, their talents, their generosity and companionship. I miss completely annihilating players that think I'm an easy target. I miss manipulating the economy, perfecting methods of killing a dozen monsters at a time when other people have to slog through them individually. I miss being good at something. The feeling of success is what I look for in a good game, and I stuck with WoW because it provided it so well.

The game has since changed drastically, and made itself dead to me in the process. I was in love with what it had been, not what it now is. I'm sure that I've changed in the interim just as the people who I played it with have changed. Even if they don't remember me as fondly as I remember them, the least I can hope for is for my guildmaster's words to ring true: "Iskar, no one will forget your macros."

7Mar/072

Sweet Dreams

I didn't get any work done when I was sick this past weekend. I had told myself that I'd rather be healthy and unproductive than ill and unproductive, but tonight is a night of healthiness and unproductivity, and I found myself wishing that I was sick so that people wouldn't blame me for being unproductive. That maybe if I had some terminal illness, people wouldn't expect anything of me. I don't want to do any of this. Sometimes I feel like watching TV, or playing games, but honestly I don't know what I want to do. At times like these I want to do nothing. Just play whatever game I'm hooked on, try new ones, make feigned attempts at exercising, sit around and wallow in my memories, sleep.

Resigning myself to a fate would be so much easier than taking control of it. It's especially hard when I don't much care where that fate leads me. College will let me go anywhere, but I don't want to go anywhere. I want to get a mindless job somewhere and live in a small apartment and spend my free time being lazy and doing useless things. Last summer's routine was wake up, work, load up World of Warcraft, raid, PvP, sleep, and it was great. I want a boring life like that because it isn't at all boring. It's filled with small pleasures. It's contentment. It's happiness. It's having nothing expected of you, nothing asked of you, no goals to meet and no achievements to fulfill.

I have no ambition. My soul was placed in the wrong body. My wonderful family and girlfriend were meant for someone who wanted to go places, to make a name for himself. He was supposed to make his family proud of him. I should have been born into the family that lived in the middle of nowhere and had no prospects, so that nothing would be wasted.

If I had that life, would I ever want more? I don't know. I certainly didn't know I would ever want to be dying and in pain. But as I'm lying here in a pile of failures that would take true ambition to climb out of, I'm wondering if I would even have the ambition to do everything differently if I started over. This semester was supposed to be the one where those habits stopped. I always start out so strong, so resolved! But there are more sentences I could use the word "always" in, and none of them speak highly of me.

I need stronger guidance. I need someone's ambition to ride along, to direct my focus and make use of it. I need someone to recognize what I can do and use me. After that...all I can hope is that they bring me to the top with them.

28Dec/062

Draw-go

If I had a lifetime to train as a fighter, I would specialize in counters. I would wait until my opponent attacked, then analyze and redirect it to throw him off balance, following up with an attack at the newly created opening.

When I play chess, I always prefer to be black because I do not like taking the initiative when the sides are equal. Even when playing white, I would use the extra move to build up a fortified position. As my opponent would mount an offense, I would deftly repel the attack and then take advantage of the weakness caused by overextending. (Skip to the next paragraph if you're not a chess geek.) I'm sure you've seen a bishop dive towards the side of the board close to the opponent's pawns in their starting positions in order to snatch up a piece. And I'm sure you've seen the bishop get chased back by the pawns, leading to the bishop getting stuck in some obscure nook while the pawn player's bishop, knight, rook, and possibly queen now have room to breathe. I'm the pawn player. They've looked to gain a small advantage or equalize the playing field, and I've manipulated the situation to deny it and open up more possibilities for me.

When I play Magic: The Gathering, I actually do not choose to go second. This is because I do not have to actively create new opportunities with all my pieces like in chess; rather, a new opportunity presented to me automatically each turn as I draw cards, and going first ensures that I can strike at an exposed opponent as early as possible. The board starts as a clean slate, unlike chess where everything is already defended. Indeed, my Magic playing style is no different than that of chess or fighting: I am what is aptly called a control player. I enjoy playing cards that break down the foundation my opponent tries to set up, or that nullify his efforts and leave his resources exhausted. By locking my opponent down, I can set up for a decisive blow. I also have a somewhat comparable propensity for cards in aggro decks, since constant overwhelming force keeps the opponent off-balance sometimes more efficiently than a control player could hope for.

I should have expected that in mediums with so many different approaches, I would learn more about myself by examining the strategies I used. I approach social situations the same reserve I bring to duels in Magic and chess. I want to predict the best thing to say or do, but that requires me to deeply understand the people I'm dealing with. I strive to be empathic to the point where I'm easily overloaded. I can read a single person, and am comfortable with a group of sociable friends, but group dynamics with an unknown person tend to be too much for me. In those situations I simply blank out: I'm fully aware of what is going on, and will respond to questions directed towards me, but I can't manage to think of anything to say. Even when conscious of my absence in the conversation, my mind works impossibly slower at generating anything beyond interjections.

I prefer to read and respond. I may start up conversation with you, perhaps lead a discussion, but make no mistake, I'm still of the same disposition, I've just analyzed the situation and determined that provoking a reaction was the best move. I mentally jot down potential conversation starters as the talk progresses, ready to whip out the most interesting one when the energy wanes. With groups, talks tend to move around too much for me to complete so many mental calculations. I can always jumpstart a conversation, but I can't think of ways to insert my own thoughts between keeping contingency plans and reading the everyone's attitudes.

I've noted many times, most poignantly when handing in late papers, that I should lower the standards I set for myself. If I did not expect myself to be able to handle my opponent's attack, how would my chess playing be affected? Would I not be as addicted to denial cards in Magic? Would I be more outspoken in conversations?

Cristen's continued presence in my life answers my question for me. Yes, if I changed my attitude, my behavior would change, possibly for the better. But at the same time, I can be wonderful just the way I am.

14Nov/065

Requiem

Can a couple have a glaring problem go unnoticed until a better lover comes along?

If it was grounds for breaking up, why was it not noticed before?

If it was noticed but ignored for lack of a better lover available, was the deserter justified in making the abandoned believe nothing was wrong and that their future was assured, even while unhappy?

13Nov/062

Preceding the advent of okaasan

Are reunions really about enjoying each other's company and bragging about accomplishments? I get the feeling that underneath it all, everyone is secretly interested in not just seeing whether or not their friends have changed, but finding out whether they've changed themselves.

15Sep/065

Ai? Hai.

I had cried that night.

I was sure that if I kept my mind off of it, I could have not cried, but I wanted to. In breaking up with Cristen, out of spite and frustration and bitterness, I chose to give up. Whether it was because she couldn't see my point, or because I was trying to remove the tetraskelion, I was exhausted, and just wanted to let it all go. To speed up the recovery time by releasing all my emotions in a successive bursts, leaving me shaken but not stirred. To curl up, only to want to stand up and stretch afterwards.

I had had the romantic notion of crying in the shower, the closest thing I could come to rain, removing the need to open my eyes or wipe away tears or even be seen or heard. I hadn't intended to tell my mother about it when I went into the bedroom to get fresh clothes, but after a long pause and a concerned look from her, it just came out.

Saying it to her was even harder than saying it to Cristen, because it was no longer an attack, but a loss that I hadn't fully thought through. But before I speak, I think. And so I thought, and I cried and I ran. I wish that there was someone there in that moment that I could have run into and grasped for dear life, like Cristen once did for me. A person, even uncaring or unattached, would have provided so much more comfort than the tile wall. The warmth helped.

To her credit, my mother let me talk it out with her afterwards, but I didn't have any more steam to vent. I was just...gone. I had cut my ties, paid my dues, and was willing to try to move on.

But random luck and unintentional conversations succeeded for the second time at bringing us together. I've forgotten how the talk ebbed and flowed, but I do know that the small flicker of hope that I couldn't quell was fed and had begun to flourish. It wasn't tempered with regret, but instead the ecstasy of comprehension, the contentment of appreciation.

I'm glad that you realized that you wanted to be with me, Cristen, because I want to be with you too.

2Dec/057

Roly poly rhymes

Happy and sad,
Tired and awake,
I'm not sure how much more
of this cycle I can take.

I procrastinate. I sleep at 1 or 2 AM on a daily basis, waking up at 6:25 AM. I do very little homework, if at all, due in no small part to my tendency to get sidetracked as well as starting my homework as late as 11 PM despite coming home several hours earlier. I regularly feel remorse for my actions, though inaction would be the more appropriate term, and then five minutes later go back to procrastinating.

And yet I keep doing it because once the ten seconds of remorse runs its course, I'm perfectly content. Maybe even happy. There are plenty of things I love to do in the world, plenty of things that I have already done, and plenty of things that I have yet to do. I could step away right now and I'd be satisfied with the things I've done. Content with the memories made.

That contentment is perhaps what's keeping me from being more efficient. Most of the time I like how my life is going. Sure, I'm sleepy during particular classes, and will eventually get yelled at by a teacher for handing in a project late, but I'll do fine. I've done fine, I will do fine, and I'll be content with however "fine" is defined, so why change that?

I had thought that with my shifting from Xanga to Blogger to Deadjournal to Freewebs to Movable Type to WordPress that maybe I wasn't a traditional. I do like new techy things: new gadgets, new programs, new discoveries. Yet the more I think about it, while there may be instances where I like to shift around, I really prefer to settle into grooves. Be it in an online world or in school, I've had the most fun when it was something I could rely on.

I just hope that when the dust has cleared after I've left college, that something will be a someone.