The Domain of Steven Pinnacle of Paperless Perfection

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.

15Feb/072

Compulsive Research – 2U

Sometimes I wonder whether I made the right choice by majoring in computer science. There are definitely parts about the subject that I don't like: the algorithm analysis, the complex math, the debugging, the snowball effect that results from misunderstanding a concept...

But there are flashes of insight and revelation that completely reassure me that I made a good choice. They make me feel elated and ecstatic, turning my mind into a clairvoyant machine bristling with implications and inferences. My emotions snowball, but this time they gather understanding rather than confusion. Even when I'm doing math that seems way over my head, and that I've been struggling with for days, all it takes is that one moment of clarity to completely turn things around.

The most telling sign that computer science is a good fit? When I make those discoveries, I feel really, really geeky. And I love it.

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.

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.

16Oct/061

The mind-killer

There will always be people better than you, but it's not about being the best; it's about being there when it counts.

Filed under: Life, Musings, Thoughtful 1 Comment
28Sep/068

Smoky gists, meanings, essences, themes…

The desk lamp that casts shadows across the room can still wash away my worries and make my room feel like home. I love being in a school with such animate people in abundance, but it's still nice to be alone with your thoughts. As I look at my desk and see the free pens stolen from Splash and Collegefest, the post-its hanging off the side of my monitor, homemade Japanese flashcards lying next to new ones waiting to be filled, and my keyboard hanging off the table while being supported by an open drawer so that I can have room to put my books, I'm amazed at the extent to which I've settled down. In fact, the only thing that shocks me more is the realization that I'm not homesick, but happy and content.

Now if only this cough would go away and I could finally get the hang of Japanese and calculus, everything would be peachy keen.

I'd love some cheap Chinatown food, too.

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.

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.