Freedom

My childhood was completely normal. I grew up in a two-story house in the suburbs of Houston. My parents didn’t beat me, nor did I ever go hungry, as evidenced by my obesity. There is nothing I can find in my formative years to complain about, except for the usual lack of control a child has over his own life.

School was fine, even fun sometimes, but I still had to go every morning. Even when I was sick, my mom forced me to sit in science class with snot running down my face. My classmates called me Typhoid Matt. And every time I had to go to the bathroom, I had to ask the teacher; nowadays if my boss made me get a hall pass to go to the bathroom, I’d tell him where to shove it.

The only thing my parents valued were grades. Play time and relationships were frivolities.1)The joke is on my parents though, because they’re never going to have grandkids because of my stunted social skills. Learning didn’t matter unless there was an A to go behind it. Continue reading

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. The joke is on my parents though, because they’re never going to have grandkids because of my stunted social skills.
Don Draper in "Person to Person"

Mad Men: Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

Spoilers for Mad Men and The Sopranos follow.

“How hard can getting up for an 8 A.M. class be?”

I asked myself that question as a freshman at UT. Like every college student learns, the answer is, “Damn hard.” Your pre-semester optimism gets cut every morning your alarm clock rings.

I asked myself that question before my first year at community college. “This time will be different,” I thought, but now I want to stay in bed every morning. No matter how much I want to change, I keep making the same mistakes. Continue reading

Nothing Was the Same by Drake

Restarted from the Bottom

I fucked up my life. In high school, I was a straight A student who graduated sixth in my class of eight hundred. I was accepted to the University of Texas as an honors biomedical engineering student. My first semester GPA was a 4.0.

Then I slacked off, and everything went to hell. I failed classes and lost my scholarship. Engineering turned into philosophy, bringing constant questions of, “What are you going to do with a philosophy degree?” In May 2013, I dropped out. Since then, I have been slaving away at the same grocery store I worked at in high school

Today was my first day back at school in two years, albeit community college. Even though I have previously taken multivariable calculus, differential equations, and discrete math, I am currently enrolled in college algebra. I have forgotten basic math concepts like factoring, and I keep making careless arithmetic mistakes. In my academic career, I have restarted from the bottom. Continue reading

Jamie Lannister

Game of Thrones: The Vows Men Make

Full spoilers for Game of Thrones follow.

Most of America dislikes Kanye West, but none of them have produced a genre-redefining album. Kanye has made three.1)The College Dropout808s & Heartbreak, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Musical genius allows you to be arrogant.

However, a legitimate criticism against Kanye is that he broke his word to his mother. At age 20, he dropped out of Chicago State University to pursue his music career but declared in “Hey Mama”, “I know I act a fool, but I promise you I’m going back to school.” As of 2015, he still does not have a bachelor’s degree.

Yet Kanye keeping his promise would be a waste of time. A bachelor’s degree will have no impact on his career. College is for people just starting to blaze their trail. However, it still bothers me that Kanye has not kept his word. Should you keep your promises even when doing so is foolish? Maybe that’s the time you should do so the most. Continue reading

Footnotes   [ + ]

Don Draper

Mad Man

Next week my life might change. At some point near the end of Mad Men‘s series finale, I may have a life-changing epiphany. Like Don Draper, maybe I will jump out of a window. Maybe I will hijack a plane. Or maybe I will fix myself and become complete.

Don Draper is an everyman. His story is unique, but Don is relatable because he is broken, just like the rest of us. Mad Men has always been asking, “Who is Don Draper?” Season 1 answers that question with details about his past: He is the Depression-era son of a prostitute who stole his dead comrade’s identity during the Korean War. But those are just events. Later seasons take a more universal approach to “Who is Don Draper?” by asking questions such as, “Are you alone?”

I have spent hundreds of hours watching and thinking about Mad Men. I must have seen every episode at least four times. The show is so richly detailed, it constantly makes me think about my own life. Is it possible to find a partner in life or just a wife? How important should my work be to me? Does smoking make me look cool? However, the conclusions I draw from the show about my life are not completely my own; they are at least partly Matthew Weiner’s. Continue reading

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 3.30.13 PM

The Software Writer

Nobody reads this blog. I have seen the stats. My typical audience is people who accidentally click one of my links while on the fifth page of Google search results.

My lack of readers makes my writing hobby seem pointless. Why not devote all my free time into programming? But even if my words are being thrown into the darkness of obscurity, I will keep on writing because it does more than create unread blog posts.

I never used to enjoy writing. Math and science were my favorite subjects in school; English was too soft a subject. Like most students, half a page of content would be stretched to two pages. Poland was not invaded by the Nazis but rather “military members of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party”. Needless adjectives and adverbs were my friends. Double-spaced? Let’s try 2.5-line spacing. Continue reading

Yao Ming & T-Mac

Ghosts of Yesteryear

I don’t remember the Houston Rockets winning their two championships in 1994 and 1995. I wasn’t even five years old yet and was far more interested in Power Rangers than professional basketball. I struggled to spell my own name, yet alone Hakeem Olajuwon1)Even at age 24, I had to check Wikipedia to make sure I was spelling the Dream’s name correctly..

Instead, Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady were my original superstars, and so even the best years of my Rockets fandom were ruined by injuries. Following a completely terrible team sucks, but it’s not gut-wrenching. At no point during the 2005 Houston Texans 2-14 season did I think David Carr’s prime was being wasted. But every time I think of those mid-2000s Rockets teams, I wonder about what could have been.

My favorite playoff series was the 2009 Rockets versus the Lakers. The Rockets had no chance: T-Mac was already out for the season. Yao went down with a hairline fracture in his foot after Game 3. And while the Rockets had great role players in Ron Artest, Aaron Brooks, Shane Battier, and Luis Scola, the other team had Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in their primes. But despite being outmatched, the Rockets were the only team to take the eventual champions to seven games in the playoffs. Continue reading

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Even at age 24, I had to check Wikipedia to make sure I was spelling the Dream’s name correctly.
Gone Home

Gone Home: The Homeless Problem

Full spoilers for Gone Home and The Lord of the Rings follow.

Gone Home is the scariest game I have ever played, even though there are no monsters or ax murderers. You walk through a house, find light switches, and examine objects. I might be a coward.

The Fullbright Company, Gone Home‘s developer, uses the scariest tactic known to man: the unknown. Most gamers come to Gone Home with no idea what genre the narrative is, so for the first half of the game, every clue is over-analyzed. I saw the JFK conspiracy notes in Dad’s office and wondered if this will be a sci-fi story where Mr. and Mrs. Greenbriar are time-travelers stuck in the past. I discovered the ouija board and hypothesized that Sarah had been abducted by Oscar’s ghost. With no idea what kind of story I was experiencing, my mind imagined terrifying scenes in every new room, making me afraid to turn the lights on. Continue reading