Musings: It’s the Final Countdown

The trick is up. The shows over. It’s time to move.

Last night, Jenny and I went out to Serendipity in Georgetown for her birthday (frozen hot chocolate is AMAZING) and then came back to Navy Yard to eat cake with my roommate and his girlfriend on the roof.

It was a very weird experience. All four of us have rapidly changing lives at the moment, which is made all the more apparent every time I walk into my apartment and am greeted with stacks of boxes instead of dinner on the stove and Seinfeld on the TV. Sitting on the roof, like we haven’t done since the early days in the that apartment, was surreal. It was the second time in the past week that I’ve sat there with some of my closest friends, looking out at DC and saying goodbye (to the city, not the friends, dummies). The good news is that I’ll be saying ‘Hello” to a bunch of new things very soon.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be rising bright and early to load up my dad’s van with all of my stuff. The amount of crap that I own has expanded significantly this year, so we’ll be playing an impromptu game of Tetris with my stuff in an effort to make it all fit.

In a classic example of the “Why me?” scenarios that sometimes define my life, tomorrow is supposed to mark the return of 100+ degree weather, and old apartments don’t have central air. Such is life. Without a car in Baltimore, it’s going to be an interesting scramble to acquire an AC unit, some rugs, and the other random odds and ends that you never knew you didn’t have…which reminds me, I need to find a microwave.

In preparing for this move, I’ve noticed an emotional trend that arises when it comes time for my annual moves. It goes like this:

4 months in advance – ‘Ahhhhh, why is my rent going up/the school year ending/graduation happening. I don’t want to move’

3 months in advance – ‘You know, I should probably look for a new apartment. Nahhh, I’ve got time’

2 months in advance – ‘WHY ARE ALL THE GOOD PLACES GONE. STRESS STRESS STRESS’, followed by finding the first available place and settling for it.

1 month in advance – ‘This move is going to suck, but I’m pretty excited for all of the positive changes’

3 weeks in advance – ‘I wonder when a good time to pack is. Not now!’

2 weeks in advance – ‘Actually I own a lot of stuff. I should start packing now’

1 week in advance – ‘What do you mean 10 boxes wasn’t enough?’

6 days – ‘I should pack some more things. But not the TV, I need that. Or the video games. Or the computer. Or the clothes. Or the shoes. Or…..’

5 days – ‘WHAT AM I DOING I NEED TO PACK ALL OF THAT STUFF’

4 days – ‘I don’t want to leave’

3 days – ‘I reallllllly don’t want to leave’

2 days – ‘I HAVE TO TAKE PICTURES OF ALL THE WALLS TO REMEMBER THIS PLACE BY’

1 days – ‘Maybe if I just go to sleep, I’ll wake up and either have a renewed lease or find all my stuff already moved for me’

Moving day – ‘FML’

Day after – It’s not even worth saying anything, because no one will hear you from behind a 10 foot wall of boxes.

That is all. Wish me luck!

 

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Musings: Being an introvert

I was trying to avoid work the other day, when I came across an article in the New York Times about introversion and shyness. More specifically, it was about the evolutionary advantages that likely kept these traits alive throughout human history. As an introvert AND someone who thinks evolution is a fascinating model for explaining almost everything, it turned out to be the perfect way to kill time at work.

See, a genius AND an introvert. Sounds familiar...

One of the things that the author hits upon is the difference between introversion and shyness. The former is a preference for solitude; finding happiness in limited company. The latter is a fear of disapproval or rejection around others. I never really thought to differentiate the two, but with it all laid out like that, I’ve decided that I was more shy as a child and am more introverted as an adult.

As a rather intelligent youth, I frequently avoided speaking up in school out of a fear of being wrong. I had an indescribable pride in understanding things, which I didn’t want to have shattered by putting myself out for others to scrutinize. I was extremely quiet in public, never spoke much around new people, and only hung around with one or two very close friends; however, whether it was the trappings of youth or an effect of my personality, I didn’t spend much time alone. I spoke abundantly to the close group of friends and family that I had. I would have sleepovers every night until my parents insisted that I was intruding on other people’s homes. In other words, I was far from an introvert. I just hated opening up around new people.

The older I’ve gotten, the easier I’ve found it to talk to new people. I’m definitely still quiet around people with extremely outgoing and/or loud personalities. I have no desire to compete with their jabber and content myself with quietly agreeing or disagreeing. Still, I’ve developed an abundance of confidence since my elementary school years and, as a result, speak my mind more freely to a larger number of people. I’ve even introduced the concept of “small talk” into my everyday life. I’m friends with the entire support staff at work, the people at the front desk, and the Fedex guy.

Progress.

The main thing that has changed is my level of introversion. I was obviously never an extrovert, but as I proceeded through high school, college, and into working life, I’ve developed more and more of an appreciation for time spent alone. The last time I took the Jung and Briggs Meyer personality test, my results were 99% introvert for god’s sake. It’s obviously not to say that I don’t like hanging out with friends and family. Conversely, I enjoy the time I spend with them more, because it’s a special occurrence. Having alone time just gives me time to let my ever-racing brain zing along at its own pace without distraction. It lends me the freedom to do whatever I want or don’t want to do without having to worry about another person’s opinion.

This is where another point made in the article comes in. Based on a number of studies, introverts are much more likely to consider the feelings of others, be faithful, and generally be more observant of the world around them. On the whole, I think all of these points are grounded in truth. One reason that I enjoy doing things by myself, whether it’s reading a book or taking a trip across town, is that I do feel a constant need to consider others, and it gets exhausting. I hope it doesn’t sound terribly selfish, but when you can’t shut off the instinct to think about others, the only relief is some time spent worrying only for yourself.

Another of the author’s points is one that I grapple with on a daily basis. Introverts tend to thoroughly access risks. As far as evolution goes, this is a great benefit. One can imagine an extrovert who never stops to think, running headlong off of a cliff. An introvert, who is much more cautious, considers what is ahead, and is much more likely to survive (and thus pass on their genes to future generations). On the one hand, I enjoy having this trait. I’ve been able to make myself financially stable by worrying and planning in case of an emergency, never wanting to make a mistake. The overall title for my personality type is “mastermind”; one who sits and plans something, piece by piece, and then enacts it to great success. That’s essentially my goal in life. Hell, I even like video games that are very difficult and take planning to succeed.

The problem is that risk assessment is also a great way to hold yourself back. I can plan all I want, but I’m worried that I’ll hesitate too much to put anything on the line. As much as I enjoy my personality type, this trait is going to be my final frontier. I think I’ll be ready to make it when I find the right balance of caution and recklessness. Keep your fingers crossed; I’m sure I’ll be thinking of everyone when I’ve got more money than I know what to do with.

Formative Years: Goldeneye 64

If I were to pick a single moment in time when I was most excited about video games, it would have to be around the launch of the Nintendo 64. There was something about the introduction of 3D gaming and being 9 that had me unbelievable stoked for the console. When I finally got my grubby hands on the thing on Christmas of 1996, I was beside myself. Despite following the library of launch titles extensively through EGM (once the greatest publication known to man), there was no way to fully prepare for how different things were going to be.

I still vividly remember hauling the console to my grandparent’s house (where we go for Christmas dinner every year) so that I could continue playing Mario 64 in their bedroom. That game deserves its own post; to this day, it may have the best designed gameplay ever found in gaming.

Not to mention being synonymous with Christmas.

It was during the summer of the following year that I was given a copy of Goldeneye. Although I had played FPS’s before, like Doom and Hexen, this one was different. First, it wasn’t set in some sort of sci-fi alternate reality like most other FPS’s at the time. Second, it was based directly off of a James Bond film, which is more than enough for any elementary school aged boy. Finally, and most importantly, it offered a full blown 4-player multiplayer mode.

Chills.

At this point in my life, I was constantly hanging out with friends. At my Mom’s house, there was always someone from school coming over to hang out. At my Dad’s house, I had two good friends and 4 cousin-in-laws that were around all the time. It quickly became a Friday and Saturday night ritual to hole up in my room with the lot of them, surrounded by snacks, and stay up the entire night playing. Whenever there were more than 4 players, the lowest scoring player had to give up the controller. No Oddjob. There was just something about learning the nuances of each level, finding a favorite gun and a favorite character, and blasting the hell out of your closest friends. Online gaming, while great, isn’t the same experience.

Nowadays, people always seem to throw in an obligatory line about how dated Goldeneye feels whenever they mention it. This always gives me the overwhelming urge to smack them upside the head. The game is 14 years old, of course it’s going to be rougher around the edges than games with over a decade’s worth of improved technology; however, calling it “terribly dated” makes it sound like it’s unplayable these days, which is simply not true.

The thing about Goldeneye is that almost anyone born during the 80’s was at the prime age for that type of game when it launched. Whether someone was a Nintendo or Sony fanboy, literally everyone played the game as a kid. Now that I think of it, that’s what makes the Nintendo 64 such a great console for me. Everyone that I went to high school and college with were at the perfect age for that generation of consoles; they were old enough to have a console, but no one had grown out of gaming yet. It’s why every band practice ended with Bomberman 64, or Wayne Gretzky’s Hockey, or Goldeneye. As I was saying, I really can’t accept that Goldeneye feels overly dated, because it was the one game that we could always pull out during college and be guaranteed to have a blast with.

Although I’m a pretty avid gamer, I’ve come to find that in retrospect, there was only ever one or two games that I was really into at a given time. Whether it was a few months, a year, or longer, these games capture a slice of my mindset at different points throughout my life. For Goldeneye, it was that point of my life when I was just starting to feel independent enough to stay up late into the night, but was still extremely close to a fairly large group of people. It was a blip of time when life was devoid of stress and pressure. A time when happiness was a chocolate cake and a RCP90 in the Complex. And let’s be honest, that will NEVER feel dated.

TAKE THAT ADULT LIFE