Journal #4 – All Investments Aren’t Business Related

As I’ve probably mentioned in a previous journal entry, I’ve had numerous lengthy discussions with my Sensei. I refer to him as such for multiple reasons. Referring back to my competitive gaming life, he is by far one of the best in this city. It’s not so much that he is ONE of the best in fighting games (most notably Street Fighter), but I tell people that he comes from the battle. The guy is a legit martial artist outside of competitive gaming. His approaches to fighting games practically parallel with some teachings he’s picked up in his many years learning martial arts. Whenever I’m looking for some major provokes on my mind, he’s one of the top people I’ll contact. In the discussion I mentioned in the last journal concerning the importance of progressing and uplifting one another by connecting with one another, there was something else he said that changed my outlook on something that often occurred throughout my life.

I’ll provide some backstory first. In the early and later times in my college career, I’ve been unemployed. Occasionally, I’d win a little tournament or get a bit of money from Mom whenever she could give some to me and my little sister. Other than that and other moments of fortune, I was broke. I figured I’d have to go home to eat after class rather than the cafe or any nearby restaurants. In the earlier times, my friends loved eating out on the weekends at spots like Applebee’s, Wild Wings, etc. I felt that I wouldn’t be able to go. Also worth noting, when I wasn’t accompanied by friends or family and wanted/needed to go somewhere, I was traveling on foot. As a matter of fact, I presently still walk to the campus on Mondays.

So what happened on those days when I’d be stranded and starving on campus waiting for the next class or just hanging with my friends? Occasionally, they’d buy something for me. As a matter of fact, the very first person to give me money for food while in college was not a friend but a stranger. It was a day in which we were all leaving the school rather late after having one of our long discussions (shaping up to be kind of a trademark of most of the people I know huh?). We got dinner at a nearby McDonald’s. Well…everyone except me. I told my friends I couldn’t get jack and decided I’d grab us a table instead. As I turned to walk away from the line, a lady standing in front of us stopped me.

“Here,” she said with this sunny grin whilst handing me five bucks.

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“No stranger ever gives me money…”

Still a super-animated young man (still kinda am, but I’ve toned it down since hehe), I looked alarmed. However, I was able to smile and thank her. She told me she knew how difficult it is to struggle financially during college. She also encouraged me to take every step of my college career seriously. I nodded and promised to do so, as I turned back to get in the line with my friends. I wouldn’t get a job until the next year, writing and doing the layout design for the school paper. The year after, I began a seasonal temp stint at the campus bookstore. I would work the spring, fall, and summer seasons for the next two years.

Before I worked any of those jobs, my friends would cover me for food and sometimes movie tickets. I always appreciated it, but at the same time, I always felt like a freeloader. I felt like out of everyone in the group, I was the only needy one. I even expressed the sentiment of being the only lingering unemployed person among my peers to my Mom. She responded by saying, “There must be something special about you for them to do such things”. I was down in the dumps when we were talking, so naturally I didn’t pay as much attention to that statement as I should have. I would tell Sensei about this discussion and he agreed that I should have been listening better. He reminded me that no one likes a freeloader and that eventually people will no longer invest in them. When he would tell his Mom that he’s going to a tournament, she would give him money before he left.

“She does that because she’s invested in my craft,” he explained. “People are willing to invest in you if they see something special and promising within you.”

It was then that I appreciated those things my friends did for me all the more. Knowing how most of my friends dislike freeloaders and drama, it should be obvious they aren’t just going to do stuff like this for anybody. It always made me feel kinda guilty because I was brought up around people that would always give like debt collectors. You know what I mean…always wanting to be paid back. Never any charity. Now I’m not saying go all out giving freebies, but sheesh…would one really damage you? Coming up around that mentality, there would come points where I’d openly refuse to eat around friends and they would relentlessly be like “Boy…tell me what you want off this menu.”

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Guess there’s no sensible comeback to someone trying to feed you, huh?

Sensei’s words even reminded me of some things people have done for me in competitive gaming. Not having enough money to enter one of local venue Prime Time Gaming’s tournaments, one of the staff members put me in the tournament anyways. At first, I figured I had fulfilled a stipulation that allegedly claimed to give a person free entry for every 3 or 4 tournaments. However, this was early when we just started having weeklies and it was only the second one. I later on found out the staff covered my entry fee. This also happened yesterday, when I went to Warner Robins with a teammate to a tournament. I was there for support and just to catch the action. Another friend of ours showed up, much to our surprise. I told him was there for spectating, but insisted I play. I told him another reason I wasn’t entering was due to lack of funds. He marched to the counter and paid my entry fee, despite shrugging when he asked if I wanted to play.

I look back at all these things with knowing what I know now and feel so much better. In my heart and spirit, I know I’m no freeloader. Whenever someone does something for me, I always try to passionately return the favor in one way or another. It reminded me of another thing my uncle once told me:

If you can’t pay a person back with money, do it with some sort of labor”. 

My friend who paid for my tournament entry yesterday asked me to pay him back by teaching and sparring with him in Mortal Kombat X some more. That’s some paying back I’m always glad to give.  I recall once after getting some awesome pay from my bookstore job, I held a pizza party to say thanks to all my friends for putting up with me for all the years before. I bought all of the pizza. I don’t even think the amount I paid for the pizza would even cover how much they’ve done for me, but they loved and appreciated it much.

My friends know of the struggles I’ve gone through with finding work after the jobs I previously had. They even sometimes remind me that its a great thing that I’m still in college rather than wasting any potential or just expecting something to pop out of the ground. Always keep a bright, vibrant spirit about yourself. Don’t get so down that you’ll miss what someone is trying to show you. Had I paid closer attention to what my Mom tried to tell me, I’d be less subconscious and more driven to be someone others would want to invest in. It’s things like this that further prove two things to me that we’ve all heard. The first being, its not always the material things that matter. The other being that, the work that you do will speak prodigiously of you.

 

Journal #3 – Time Is Money…And I Always Feel Broke

I apologize for being away for a full 5 days. I am quite a workaholic, which I consider to be one of my best and worst qualities. It’s always good to keep busy and remain active. However, I also tend to load too much on my back which usually causes my focus to become unstable. For instance,  I’ll feel dissatisfied if I finish a chunk of school assignments, but don’t ever get to my poetry, art, or any other side projects. Its something else I have to work on mentally. I have to work on prioritizing and understanding why its important to do so. I mean hey…being only a few weeks removed from graduating college with a Bachelor’s, its a MUST to do this schoolwork. I feel this dissatisfaction and frustration sometimes comes from seemingly not having the time to do everything I’d like to do. With the massive amount of stuff I look into and take part in, it would be an impossibility to complete them all within the span of a day. Heck…I’ve got anime lists and albums on my Spotify and local library I have yet to get to. Lord knows I probably won’t even be able to get to all of that stuff if I had an entire month to myself to do whatever I wanted. In some aspects, I feel I need to lighten the load. In others, I feel I just need to exercise better patience. As I play the track “Step By Step” by the Alan Parsons Project, I remind myself that life is quite the mountain to climb. As long as I continue to live, move, and grow, I’ll eventually reach the peak, even if it involves taking life with small steps and chunks.

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“If there’s one thing I hate…all the clocks, clocks, clocks, CLOCKS!”                          Image by lamaksstalk

All in all, if I’m gonna spend time, I’d at least like for something to come out of it. My uncle once said something to me, that I’ve held close to my mind and heart ever since.

“If you go through an entire day and learn nothing new, you’ve just wasted it.”

Upon hearing him say this to me, those days in which my Mom would constantly ask what I learned in school seemed less annoying and made all the more sense. I always think of my uncles words whenever I find myself snared in a directionless, dry, insipid conversation. I was talking with Mom the other day as news outlets continued to report on the death of legendary musical icon Prince (God rest his soul). When hearing close friends, fellow musicians, associates, and other loved ones speak on how enigmatic he was even outside of his musical craft, Mom told me she’d love to have more people like that in her life. People that could help elevate, teach, and be more thought-provoking her mind. I’m pretty much the same way. Conversation may have endless roads as there are an endless assortment of minds that walk about this world. Nevertheless, most if not all should garner the same thing: some level of obtaining knowledge or what say you that helps you and others. When I have discussions/conversations, I endeavor to learn. I desire to take something back with me that I didn’t have before, as do I hope I can do for those whom I connect with.

I had another lengthy yet fascinating discussion with my good friend/Sensei, about this very same thing plus more. He expressed issues with how people, in some aspects specifically black people (“our people” as he’ll usually put it) can sometimes be numbed to what goes on around them in terms of communication. This all stemmed from a discussion about groups that identify as communities, but do not act or conduct themselves like one. For some reason, there is less of a desire among the masses to work together to achieve more. Instead, people are just bent on separation and somehow see that as a wonderful thing. People, especially nowadays, love to try to utilize history to justify many foolish things from violence to social standards. To which I usually rebut, in the case of some of these things, just because they were the standard back then does not particularly make them right. There have been numerous figures that have died and sacrificed themselves in fighting against such things that were unjust. No matter how you attempt to spin it, I’ve never seen division as much of a positive thing. I mean, yeah there are times even I want to separate myself from most people. At the same time, in doing so (especially in the case of spite), you’re cutting down and destroying bridges which is never really a great thing to happen. I’m not saying get all lovey-dovey with every person you pass. You can love someone from a distance, as it has been said about when respecting one’s “enemies”. Separation sometimes brings about weakness, especially with the possibility of turning the separated parties against one another.

I just noticed I’ve actually veered way off from the initial topic of time. However, you can see that from these conversations, I’ve come away from them with something quite considerable. Now that I know much more and better, I desire to do more and better. I also love it when I engage in conversation with someone totally random. Granted I only really talk to strangers if I feel friendly, non-malicious vibes, there have been times strangers have provoked my mind. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a myriad of minds out there. You just never know what someone could present to you. If I could set aside as much time I wanted for such intricate, wise, beautifully complex minds, I’d give a lifetime’s worth.

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R.I.P. Prince Rogers Nelson ( June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016) [Artwork by igot2ne1problems.tumblr.com]

Journal #2 – Just Throw Me Off The Cliff

If there’s one thing about me I can say has improved throughout my college years, its social skills. Granted I still think they need work, I’m much better off than I was around my late middle-high school times. Around those times, I paid big time for my naivete in thinking that every person I crossed was my friend. I was never the type to gossip, spread rumors, or any of that infamous, scandalous crap. When someone would tell me a secret, my lips were sealed, locked, and cemented shut. I knew how it felt to entrust someone to something secret, have them swear on whom or whatever, aaand then turn around and spill it like poorly screwed pipes. The end result was a bloated, embarrassing mess that buried me further down the totem pole. After that, I became much more darker and reclusive. Though my open attitude was “screw people, you all suck”, there was something inside me that screamed and cried for a real friend. After school, it was just me, schoolwork, video games, books, poetry, drawing and Cash Cab. Wasn’t going out to parties and hanging with friends. Pretty much, I was a heavy introvert around that time.

Upon getting into college, I transformed into more of an ambivert. I was more willing and comfortable with being sociable. I was more introverted when it came to me just not being in the mood to deal with people or when I was working on one of a thousand of my personal non-school related projects. Sure, I ran into some high school style drama here and there, but overall the community and being surrounded by awesome friends who taught me much practically boosted my confidence.

The purpose behind this little backstory about my internal conflicts with introversion, ambiversion, and extroversion is…well…I’m right back at it again. Yeah…I feel like I’m turning back into my old, cold, broody, reclusive self. I won’t go into detail but point blank straight to the point, I was recently betrayed by some “friends”. Ditched, abandoned, left out to dry on a rainy day…of all days. I didn’t hear back from them at all. Not later that day. Not the next day. Not EVER. The people in question know where I live and have a crap-ton of ways to contact me. The thing that hit me the most was that this wasn’t the first time someone has done this to me. I’m sure you at one time or another have been stood up before whether it was friends or even a lover. What I’m getting at here is that this had been done to me thrice in high school. Even more, I eventually found out that the people that had done this to me did so for the same reason: They didnt want me around. They were apparently trying to “send me a message” or something.

I have a pretty weird and rather psychotic outlook on betrayal. It amazes me how we live in a society that apparently LOVES and VALUES honesty…especially if its “brutal honestly”. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before:

“I’m gonna tell it like it is!”

“I’m not gonna sugar-coat the truth!”

“I’m gonna tell ’em the truth straight to their face!”

Yeah, yeah…shut up. For one, some people just claim “brutal honesty” in their words as a cop-out for just being nasty, hurtful, and anything but honest. Look, I’m not saying just give someone a slap on the wrist or be all cuddly with them, but if you’re gonna knock someone down, pick them back up and help put some ice on the wounds.

Second of all, I’ve heard some of the very same people who have pulled crap like misleading, abandoning, and standing someone up say this and other forms of this crap before. If you claim to be so big, bad, and bold, then how about doing as you say and tell someone up to their face. In this case, I’d preferred that if these individuals did not want me around them, that they would’ve just straight up told me. At least I wouldn’t have wasted any of my time and crazy as it sounds, I would at least respect that more. Yeah, as insane as it sounds, I’d rather someone looking to backstab me actually stab me in the back instead of giving me a fake pat on it. You’re not doing some goodwill or charity by dragging someone along. Additionally, as much as you supposedly claim to be bold, real and honest, by doing so you’re actually being really feeble and fake.

If you despise me enough to want to throw me off a cliff, then just throw me off. Again…as insane as it sounds, I’ll at least respect you.

 

Journal #1 – Sick of Silver & Bronze

So yesterday, I competed in another fighting game tournament at a local venue in Macon called Prime Time Gaming. It was yet another joint Street Fighter V and Mortal Kombat XL tournament. Despite not having the hardware (A Playstation 4 or a good enough PC), I’ve apparently become decent at playing both games. As of the recent 3 or 4 tournaments I’ve competed in, I ended up placing either 3rd or 2nd. Prime Time has had various players from outside of Macon win Street Fighter V and as of the last few couple of Mortal Kombat X tournaments, we’ve had the same local guy, this guy named Anthony, be the champ. This time around, he wasn’t present as he was unaware and out of town. With the other former champ, a player named Jibril who was also the inaugural Mortal Kombat X champion of Prime Time, also not present, all eyes were on me as the favorite to win. Granted I wanted to beat them to win for the first time, there still lay some competition in yet another outsider.

There’s been somewhat of a stigma…curse…whatever you wanna call it, involving people from outside of Macon coming in and dominating us in these games. It has been the case since the beginning from what I’ve seen. Even some locals openly calling out and criticizing local Macon players, saying we cannot even defend our own turf.

This paired with the idea of possibly winning my first Mortal Kombat X tourney after being stuck in 2nd & 3rd place, motivated me to still bear down and not get comfortable. The tournament ended up being round robin and I went undefeated. There was one final match between myself and the “outsider” here named Kezz. Seeing that I was once again close to finally winning for once and could possibly be “The Guy” to break this curse or whatever, I mentally burned myself out playing. Though Kezz didnt really feel like he was all that good at Mortal Kombat X, the guy was NO pushover. His main reason for being at Prime Time was Street Fighter V. Still after a fierce couple of bouts between my Sun God Kotal Kahn and his Ninjitsu Scorpion, Kezz came out the winner with a score of 3-2. I tallied up yet another 2nd place finish.

I was mentally fatigued after that match. Street Fighter V was instantly afterward and it was difficult getting my head back on.  Seeing that I had major plans after graduating next month, this was more than likely my last time competing. I wanted to end it with a bang. I wanted to add some gold to my competitive resume. I wanted to break this losing streak vs. outsiders that Macon has.

I’ve been thinking about this all day even today. Originally, I never did get why people who placed 2nd, 3rd in contests would sometimes be upset or sad. I always thought of it the same way everyone who tried to console me after losing in grand finals (again).

“You did great,” they’d say.

“You placed higher than me.”

“You always get 2nd or 3rd here. That’s good.”

…and so on and so forth. I’m sure you get it. It’s not that I don’t like the fact I’ve constantly placed high among competitors here. It’s not that I don’t appreciate 2nd or 3rd place victories. There was a time I was nowhere near at the level I was now. Constantly placing at the bottom at every competition near and far. I think I’m starting to really feel what that competitive “fire” is like. I just really want to win. Me specifically, I’d just like to pin one first place victory on my record.

Many times I’ve seen in wrestling, anime and other TV shows, the character that just can’t seem to win the big one. Others are always telling them things along the lines of, “There’s no doubt you’re good, but you’ll always be just a B+ player”. Five points if you recognize that reference. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m in that underdog’s shoes. In my mind, there’s just something incredibly frustrating about being stuck in limbo like this. It’s like the end of the world just occurred and yet I’m not terrible enough to be thrown into the bottomless pit or good enough to drink and feast with the gods.

Interestingly enough, this could apply to almost anything I’ve done competitively. I get pretty far, sometimes to the end, only to practically choke. I can’t remember the last time I was #1 at anything. Again, praises and honorable mentions are always appreciated, but for one time I want to be the champion. Even more, I want to be a reigning-defending champion. I know with some of the all-time greats in the various areas of competition, that being in such a position encourages the strengthening and pushing of one’s limits and spirit. There’s just something oddly exciting about being the one with targets all over them. It reminds me of one of my favorite anime characters, Korosensei from Assassination Classroom. Korosensei is a tall mutant Octopus who is the target of most of the other characters in the series, seeing there is a bounty on his head. His incredible speed and sharp thinking are what makes him a difficult target to touch or damage, let alone, kill.

I wanna feel that type of tension and suspense. It encourages and invigorates me.

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Korosensei being targeted by his class in Assassination Classroom