Tumultuous Times, Amperes, and Slime Rancher

life

Oct 15, 2017 • Matt • ~ 16 minute read • 1994 words


Now, it might seem that all I do is complain on this blog, and you wouldn’t be completely wrong. In this post, I’m going to complain a bit, but I’ll also talk about how I cope - music, video games, and the power of friendship.

The Big Hill

Every single year of the school, I’ll always hear about how this will be the “hardest year” of my high school life, even when I was a freshman. And every year, it really feels like it - life gets harder. This year is no exception: an unfortunate combination of unlucky school deadlines, university applications, extracurricular pressure, and some personal issues have compounded into a giant boulder that crushes all of my hopes and dreams.

But, as I said earlier, I’m not here to complain - rather, I want to talk about how I instead avoid complaining. So, let’s get into it.

amperes

Here’s a fun fact: university applications, especially to the U.S. (of which I am applying to) have morphed over the years - gone are the days of only admitting people with perfect SAT and ACT scores. Rather, I have to answer questions about myself:

List the titles of the films, concerts, shows, exhibits, lectures and other entertainments you enjoyed most in the past year.

List the titles of the books you read for pleasure that you enjoyed most in the past year. (150 words or less)

Virtually all of Stanford’s undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate – and us – know you better.

These questions don’t seem quite relevant to my ability to write code or solve a differential equation, but for some reason they’re going to decide whether or not I go to a university for the next four years of my life. I think this is actually a good change: it focuses on who students are, not just what they can do. That’s a huge indicator of their success in university and onward, and also creates the diverse marketplace of ideas that business-help books preach.

I want to talk about my answer to the first question:

List the titles of the films, concerts, shows, exhibits, lectures and other entertainments you enjoyed most in the past year.

Here’s a draft of my answer, if you’re interested.


Films: Arrival, Moana, Ex Machina, Zootopia, Deadpool, Inside Out, Get Out, Spiderman: Homecoming, The Big Short, Finding Dory, Edge of Seventeen

Television: The Office (U.S.), How I Met Your Mother, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Master of None, Black Mirror, Community, Bojack Horseman

Music: E•MO•TION by Carly Rae Jepsen, SATURATION and SATURATION II by BROCKHAMPTON, Pure Heroine and Melodrama by Lorde, Good For You by Aminé, DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar, 24K Magic by Bruno Mars, Starboy by The Weeknd, Future Friends by Superfruit, Issa Album by 21 Savage, Culture by Migos, Drive Like It’s Stolen by Injury Reserve, hopeless fountain kingdom by Halsey, After Laughter by Paramore, Connect the Dots by Misterwives, Worlds by Porter Robinson, Dangerous Woman by Ariana Grande

Spoken: Homecoming King by Hassan Minhaj

Podcasts: Planet Money by NPR, Freakonomics Radio by The Freakonomics Team


If you notice, I put waaaaay more albums on my list than any other medium. That’s not a coincidence: out of those 5 different forms of media, I really enjoy listening to music. I’m a listening learner - something that probably comes from years of being smick-smacked in debates. Music is able to tell me a story in a way that no visual form of art can, and unlike a movie or a television show music conveys this message in a short and sweet manner. It’s also pureply conveyed in one sense - to me, it gives it more focus, and also allows me to be flexible in how I interpret it (and what I can do while listening to music).

For the past 4 or 5 years of my life, Spotify has been the background soundtrack of my life - I listen to music while reading, on the subway, gaming, coding, in the car, walking home, doing homework, and even in the shower. It’s able to match my mood: there’s Rae Sremmurd when I’m feeling hyphy and Noname when I’m not, there’s Bruno when I feel like dancing and Halsey when I feel like sitting and listening, there’s Kendrick when I’m feeling sophisticated and rebellious and Lil Dicky when… well, I’m not.

When times get tough, music is one of the first things I turn to. There’s nothing like losing yourself to the complexity of To Pimp A Butterfly to, for a fleeting moment, forget about your own problems and instead live through Kendrick’s. Similarly, Runaway Baby makes me dance and sing along instead of yelling at the WAC team, and I can never not sing-along to

It goes Reggie, Jay-Z, 2Pac and Biggie

André from OutKast, Jada, Kurupt, Nas, and then me

That’s ‘Till I Collapse by Eminem, one of my all-time faves. The memorability of these songs never escapes me, even on my 100th listen of Boy Problems by Carly Rae Jepsen.

Now, let’s talk about physics.

ampere, noun, Electricity. the basic unit of electrical current

Amperes are a measure of current, and my “amperes” playlist on spotify is a collection of music that I’m currently listening to. That playlist is my go-to background noise - when a song is in “amperes”, I’ll hear it at least twice a day. Here’s what it looks like right now:

I’ll cycle songs in and out: sleeper hits gone mainstream like Bodak Yellow, bangers like Magnolia, soft smooth silky Little of Your Love, classics like Homecoming, or bops like Most Girls and How You’re Feeling.

To me, amperes is my first defense against things that life throws at me. Listening to music non-stop is part of who I am, and it’s become as natural to me as eating, sleeping, or breathing.

Slime Rancher

Though, music (at least in my view) isn’t a social activity: while I can share and discuss my love of music (like I have many times on this blog), I can rarely listen to music together with someone. That’s where video games come in: unlike any other form of entertainment, video games are inherently social, even singleplayer ones. To explain why that’s the case for me, let me first tell you about Discord.

Discord Logo

Discord is a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service - it functions as a competitor to services like Skype, Teamspeak, Ventrillo, and more recently, Google Hangouts and Facebook Video. Since I live quite far from most of my friends, meeting them in person is quite hard, so I do the next best thing: talking to them on Discord. We have little rooms where we hang out after school and shoot the shit: who’s the latest trap rapper that we hate, what game will blow our minds away, and what will happen next on the CW show Riverdale (which is a very photorealistic and serious drama).

Whenever I play a video game, I’m always in Discord - when it’s multiplayer, I’ll use it to communicate with my teammates (and occasionally vent some well-deserved anger). When it’s singleplayer, I’ll still chill in there and talk to my friends about the wonders of the game that I’m playing.

Recently, I’ve taken a break from the classic stock of multiplayer games I play (League and CS:GO) - I’ve been a bit tired of random people online telling me to kill myself. As a result, I’ve been focusing more on singleplayer games, and I’ve found one gem: Slime Rancher.

Slime Rancher Logo

Slime Rancher is my shit. It’s a pretty basic game in principle: you’re a slime rancher, taking care of them while collecting valuable plorts. You explore a well-drawn world filled with cute (and sometimes feral) slimes, and you just chill. It’s a really relaxing game to play - there’s very little pressure, and you just enjoy yourself.

Slime Rancher Gameplay

But, don’t just take my word for it: many players are literally saying that Slime Rancher has literally made them less depressed. These kinds of games are the ones that make those bad days a lot better; it’s hard to stay angry at these cute pink slimes. This kind of game is one of my favourites, because to me it fulfills one of the most important aspects of video games: to have fun! I think with modern-day competitive video games (think LoL, DOTA, CS:GO, Overwatch, etc.), I’ve kind of lost that ability to just have fun and instead focused too much on being good at that game. And don’t get me wrong, it was really satisfying hitting plat this season, but I think that playing League put too much pressure on me when I’m supposed to be having fun! This idea makes me reminiscent of the times that I played Minecraft with my friends in Grade 7: instead of going for a good KDA, or beating an opponent, or gaining a certain amount of points, we all had a common goal of building an awesome base - no strings attached. Slime Rancher, among other games like Stardew Valley or Terraria, reminds me of why I loved playing video games so much when I was younger.

friendship is magic

But, I’ve saved the best for last. And I’m sure that, by now, the support of your friends has been one of the most cliché things that helps people stay happy. But for me, it’s true. Even though times have been quite tough, I’ve been able to talk to my friends, in real life or in Discord, just how shitty things have been recently. And it’s way better to feel bad with other people than to feel bad by yourself.

I’ve also tried to make more of an active effort to do less work and to be more social - I think something that’s been generally missing throughout my high school experience has been the creation of these social connections. Last year was kind of a wake up call for me: I realised that I hadn’t done anything with my friends for 4 months, even through the March Break. Yes, academic success is important, and yes, extracurriculars are great, but the ability to be social and to make social networks is equally as important, if not more, than the “school” part of school. It shapes the kind of person you become, and I think that’s quite important in the grand scheme of things. No job is going to ask you what your SAT score was in grade 11.

This year, I’ve tried to do more things “for the boys”. And I don’t mean that literally, or even in the mostly figurative sense, but from the most abstract perspective - doing things because I like doing them with my friends. Sometimes, that leads to spontaneous ideas that seem rationally bad: UberEats-ing (is that a word) $100 of McDonald’s for lunch, or staying up until 3 AM talking about our greatest fears, or trying the medium spicy salsa at Chipotle. Last year, all I would’ve done is stick with my mild salsa at Chipotle, collapse in my bed after finishing all of my work, and diligently eating what the absolute minimum of what the word “food” means at our cafeteria. Doing these things in the moment, just to enjoy them, has made my days a lot better: similar to debate tournaments or MUN conferences or a 24-hour charity stream, it gives me something to look forward to, and it gives me something to look back on.

After all, who’s going to ask about the WAC website in 20 years?


Thank you for reading Tumultuous Times, Amperes, and Slime Rancher. It was written on Oct 15, 2017 by Matt. It was 1994 words long, and should be a ~ 16 minute read. It was categorized under life.