The Domain of Steven Pinnacle of Paperless Perfection

30Aug/076

“I just watched her make the same mistakes again”

Instead of writing what I would like to think about, perhaps I'll write about what I am thinking about. Which, in fact, is nothing. Nothing at all. I'm feeling more listless now than I have all summer. My mind doesn't think of quips, it doesn't think of comforting words, it doesn't think of conversation...it just doesn't think. It doesn't process information. It forces laughs when they're prompted, it forces eye contact when it's prompted.

And yet I'm not sure what triggered it. My first day at work was spent being excited, nervous, and cheery. I talked to each and every customer with my usual gusto, left work happy, and met up with friends. And sometime between shopping with them at Bed Bath & Beyond and getting home, a part of me just stopped trying.

Perhaps I'm just tired. I dealt with a lot of people today, and had to wrack my brain for solutions to their questions. I know that I have a low quota for social activity, and I often appreciate alone time after going out with friends. But this isn't quite a need for alone time, because not even watching TV or checking my RSS feeds provided me with any satisfaction.

I originally attributed it to loneliness. Playing with Bunnie vividly reminded me of the lack of physical contact in my everyday life. As strange as it sounds, I had never missed it before she entered my life. I had appreciated it but never felt a desire for it. She was the one who showed me what I was missing, showed me of the power she held over me. I know that simply by hugging me tightly and not letting go, she could make me forget about my deepest and most entrenched worries. Strange and unnatural for someone who relies so heavily on reason.

But now, there's no one to go to. This is one of those rare occasions where I actually don't know the answer to my own question. Perhaps there is an answer out there, but honestly, I don't even know if there's a question anymore. And there's no one to notice that I'm not there asking or answering. The freshmen here are looking for the easygoing friends that they can become lifelong buddies with. My sophmore friends are in their own little worlds, and I suppose I'm in one of my own. The difference is...I'm not so sure I want to be in it by myself. I may have people here with me, but I certainly don't feel like it. I feel too awkward to call attention to myself, feel embarassed when I do get attention, and yet complain that I don't get attention?

Maybe I'm not lonely. Maybe I'm just regretting.

1Aug/077

Talisman of…Everlasting Power?

Back in Stuy, there was a saying that often wormed its way into speeches or closing opinion pieces in the school newspaper, like that joke about laxative* that stopped being so funny after you've heard seven different comics say it in a row. (I am surprised neither was anyone's yearbook quote.)

Welcome to Stuyvesant High School. Choose two of the three: grades, friends, or sleep.

The Friday before my Astronomy class final, I powered through a monster seven-hour study session with three classmates in preparation for the final. In doing so, not only did I fry my brain, but I finalized my answer to that joke in the process, an answer which I was leaning towards my junior year and had solidified by my final year of high school.

I choose friends. It doesn't matter what else I have. Without friends, being well-rested just makes me restless and bored. Without friends, the time spent studying seems even lonelier, and the grades feel hollow and pointless. Yet with friends, I can feel energetic and motivated even when I'm running on empty. A dollar spent with friends on five fried dumplings can feel more rewarding than any meal I've eaten alone. Friends can make me feel like I have a place in the world, a niche that no job earned by good grades could ever fill. Friends is the only choice that will comfort me when I don't have the others.

So thank you, all of you, for showing me this unique facet of the world: one where school isn't everything, where a simple piece of molded plastic can provide infinite enjoyment, where money is no longer considered squandered but merely spent for a good cause. As much as my future clamors for more attention, thank you for grounding me in the present. Thank you for showing me that even though the most enjoyable things are often ephemeral and a waste in the long run, a life not lived is the worst waste of all.

*There are some things that you need to buy together. "Should I get the laxative...or the toilet paper? . . . Give me the laxative. Paper bag, please. And yes, I want the receipt!"

**I was tempted to say, "Friends, I choose you!" but I choked and died a little inside. I still think it's a tiny bit brilliant, so it's been relegated to this addendum.

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.

11Jan/074

Mystic Snake – 1GUU

For the past twelve hours I have been thinking entirely in terms of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!: I keep envisioning myself blue sparking. Blue sparking around the enemies in the game I'm playing. Blue sparking around the hall. Blue sparking around my kitchen table.

I loved the game the first time I played it. It was easy to jump into, and it gave you a sense of speed not through being faster than other racers, but by the sheer chaos of what was going on around you. Whether you were facing an incoming shell, a pair of racers bobbing and weaving through your path, or a trio of giant pirahna plants ahead attacking riders who came too close, there was always some impending doom that you had to avoid. Because you received more powerful weapons the farther away from the lead you were, there was always a hope for redemption, and always a paranoia about the people behind you. You know, the ones that wielded weapons even more powerful than yours?

I was obsessed with the game when I learned how to blue spark. All the on-screen chaos became perfectly controllable: a matter of judging the right angle at which to slide down the course and around the corner, of how hard to yank my vehicle to dodge an obstacle, whether I was coming in hard enough to snag the item box or not.

The kicker was that I could do it. Heck, I could do it wonderfully. I no longer just held down the acceleration button down a straightaway, I drifted down it like a snake, relying on the continual speed boosts to propel me faster than I could have gone just driving straight. I was constantly in the zone, each successful powerslide a work of art that I brought about with my own hands.

I believe that my mind is using the memories as an antidepressant, an upper. By constantly reliving my successes, I'm kept in a state of euphoria. It instills confidence into me about my skills and my judgement, my ability to predict what needs to be done and then take decisive action. My mind is cheering me up. My mind is a good friend.

For the past twelve hours I have been thinking entirely in terms of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!: I keep envisioning myself blue sparking. Blue sparking around the enemies in the game I'm playing. Blue sparking around the hall. Blue sparking around my kitchen table. Blue sparking around my worries. Blue sparking around my concerns.

When I blue spark, I feel like I can go anywhere and do anything. The problem is when I can't, and when blue sparking becomes an obsession instead of a tool. I become so overwhelmed with the need to blue spark that I don't pay attention to what is in front of me, and tumble face first into the problems blue sparking was supposed to avoid.

My mind means well but sometimes does more harm than good. Like my dependence on constant blue sparking, I have become so reliant on my mind's tricks that I'm not sure how well I could function without them. I just have to keep practicing and hope that one day I can finally obtain the control it makes me believe I have.

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.

30Jun/064

Madness took its toll

My hatred toward what he has done to us finally solidified when she told me that she wasn't sure. I had come close to breaking up before, but this time I snapped. A week from now I might feel sorry for injecting so much malice and spite into my words, but right now, I don't. For a few seconds I can feel calm, but I quickly remember what I lost and why I lost it. I remember who started its destruction and who finally gave her peace. As many times as I may try to say to myself that it was inevitable, and someone would have filled his role anyway, I still abhor him.

In a way, I hate what she did to me too, but I'll get over her. I won't ever get over him.

As we walked on rocky ground, it flashed in my mind for a second that I should stay with her so that the bastard never got what he wanted. I shunted it from my mind because that's no way to run a relationship.

I wish her the best and I wish him the worst. Her ostracism is so I never hear the details about those two desires conflicting, and so that I have no regrets, because I can't ever see myself stop giving less than three.

Goodbye, Cristen.

Filed under: Life, Sad, Sentimental 4 Comments
25Jun/064

Being a musical madman

I realize that even when you're alone, there's something to be said about having another body next to you. Perhaps not the confession of love, but the sychronization and disembodiment of movement, the comforting display of empathy and sympathy, not the feigned apathy feebly covering up the antipathy of loneliness.

No, that still does not excuse you.

18Dec/0511

I hope Salieri can absolve me

Everything I hear about MIT brims with coolness. Uberness, even. Running around in the middle of the night trying to avoid campus police, climbing on top of the dome, putting a car on top of the dome, creating ingenius works of technical brilliance, dressing up the school in homage to the video games of old...it's almost like the school is too crazy to be real. MIT seems like this mystical place where the best of the best go, and do things that are talked about forever.

Perhaps it's (counterintuitively) because I've heard such great things about it that I could never bring myself to even apply there. It's like I'm not sure if I'd be the person I envision MIT students to be. I don't know if I'm smart enough, resourceful enough, creative enough, motivated enough - heck, I don't even know if I'm weird enough! Stories tell of MIT students creating programs in their spare time that I've relied for years, yet even when prompted I couldn't create a program I'd use once a month. It may be that I can't do it, but I think it's more that I don't want to do it. I don't want to create something amazing, or to explore the intricacies of something we take for granted. That's not my bag of fun. Mine usually comes in annoyingly Starforce-protected form.

I suppose it's best summarized by my vocal explanation to my mother as to why I might be hesitant to apply to an extremely techy school like RPI, "I'm like 'Hey, compsci is pretty cool,' while people at RPI are like 'OMG COMPSCI RULEZZZZ!'" I don't think I could ever make the change that characterizes those students, and I'd be alienated. I'd be the kid that didn't do anything crazy; he just passed his classes, hung out with friends, and played lots of games.

Yet when I read it, I don't feel that there's anything wrong with that life. In fact it sounds great. I love friends, I love games, and I even love classes on occasion. I could live that life for four years in any other college and I wouldn't mind. I could live a 9 to 5 life for the rest of my life, with random socializing and games to mix it up, and I wouldn't mind. It's only when I see people doing so much more with their lives that I start to get envious. I'd love to be them, but I don't want to be them enough to do anything about it. Is it possible to be content yet left wanting? Can I really be content when I feel inferior?

This jealousy is going to drive me crazy one of these days.