The Domain of Steven Pinnacle of Paperless Perfection

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.

29Mar/082

Chunk of hay + an indefinite article – Mirror 3 + AD replacement

The Sims is a series of award-winning games that let you control simulated people, each with their own needs, desires, relationships and futures. Some players choose to build elaborate houses, giving their characters a dream home and letting them roam free to do as they pleased.

I, on the other hand, played The Sims very efficiently. I built rooms only as large as they needed to be, with items strategically placed to minimize the space they took up and the time to travel between them. I did not decorate the interior of the house, because pretty scenery really only mattered when they left the house to go to work, and indoor decorations would not help that. I did not buy a full-length mirror because a square hanging mirror served the same purpose at a fraction of the cost while not taking up any space.

I built bachelor houses that were essentially very large cubicles, with no extra money spent on walls for the bathroom because no one would ever see him and it would never be an issue. I did not buy a lounge chair or sofa because it would not double as an eating chair, and which I would then have to purchase separately. The house had one chair. It was the chair in which my Sim ate, watched television and learned skills from. I spent money making it extremely comfortable, because that chair and the bed were the only sources of rest I provided my Sim. When he needed comfort, I did not let him simply sit down, I would top off his fun need by also making him watch TV. If he was already at full fun, I would discontinue TV watching and make him read a book to learn a skill.

But hermit Sims have stunted job progression because later promotions require you to befriend your neighbors. To accomplish this, I had a systematic way of rapidly maximizing a relationship level. I did not bother with most of the interaction options like backrubs and pranks, I did what I needed to do in order to get where I wanted to be, and then I sent them along their way.

I would talk to them until our relationship level rose a bit and then mixed in jokes, all the way until when a hug became the best option to increase relationship points. I chose these because they were efficient and reliable, but also because they raised fun points as well.

Talking, joking, and hugging were fun. With just those three, my Sim no longer felt the desire to watch TV. As long as he could keep talking, he never wanted to read a book, or play games on his computer. To keep the game understandable and not needlessly complex, the developers generalized a Sim's need for recreation into a single quantity that rose whenever something that could be construed as fun was accomplished.

It doesn't work that way in real life, sadly. Given constant exposure to something, we grow tired of it, and we are not as affected by it. Conversely and notably, the absence of something can make us profoundly affected by its reappearance.

For the past year I have been in the presence of amazing friends and socialization. I love being with them and have made shockingly large changes to my plans for next year in order to keep being with them, but they are not everything that I am. They don't do everything that I like to do. And so sometimes, as much as I want to spend every moment with them, I also want to spend moments relishing the comforts that I enjoyed so dearly before I met them.

Yet even with the best of both worlds at my fingertips, each having done nothing to dilute each other, I can't have everything I want. I am always missing something, missing someone, neglecting someone.

But given the choice to be everywhere and do everything with everyone, would I take it? Would it only make me tire of everything faster? Maybe it would. But at least I would never have to apologize.

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.

4Feb/082

Fan sand ninja – Jeremy Piven’s Gold + Thousand nation descent – Xi’an romanization

She once told me that if we were to be together, she would probably have an argument with me and break up with me after only a few months. She had told me more than a few times that I couldn't handle her temper, that no one could, that I was only inviting disaster by asking for full disclosure.

I am reluctant to admit that she was right, but she was.

Yet things were completely different for me when I was instead just a friend. I was able to bear the brunt of an attack the likes of which I'd only seen once before, one that had been a giant blow to my sensibilities. I was able to push past thoughts of her being with other guys, to embrace her as eagerly and passionately as I had done hundreds of times in years past. I was able to learn of things that I would not have thought I could tolerate. I was able to put myself and my own needs above those of other people.

That last note is the one that gives me pause, for that selfishness is exactly what was enabling me to function so well in the presence of difficulties. I have sometimes said that unlike those who treasured independence, I loved being dependent. I loved having someone to whom I could dote on, who would appreciate the details I paid attention to and fuss over.

But I was not always able to meet expectations, and my need for their approval ensured that I always felt it. It is in the dissolution of this dependence that I became more resilient. Perhaps only ever so slightly, but noticeably.

Is the improved defense worth staying single, worth putting myself before other people? Is this, in contrast to how I have lived my life all these years until now, perhaps the better life for me after all? I can already see Cristen telling me that to lead such a life would cause me to miss out on life itself.

Or perhaps I have simply underestimated myself. Perhaps my being unscathed should be attributed not to being selfish, but to simply knowing when I need to back down. Perhaps my tolerance is owed to an understanding of new rules.

The one thing I do know is that being godlike is not all it's cracked up to be.

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.

12Oct/072

En + K’nex rival – Letterafturcay + Satiate – Essay

Defiantly, exasperatingly, but resolutely choosing friends once again. For once, I'm going to douse a bridge.

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.

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.