this year

Man, another year come and gone. I’d say it felt like it flew by but…it sort of felt like two years compacted into one. I guess that’s what happens when you measure time by semesters: the end of the spring semester feels like the end of a year, and then summer is this weird non-temporal space, and then fall semester feels like another year. I think it was aggravated by just…the amount of stuff I did this year. Since those two periods of time feel so separate, it’s hard to realize that it was, in fact, all within one span of 365 days.
I made two short films. A bunch of art. I worked on my comic a lot. I made a video game! Like, what the heck! A year ago, Paper Cranes wasn’t more than a pipe dream, and now it’s an actual thing that about forty people have downloaded and (presumably) played! Maybe that doesn’t seem like much, but to me, it’s the world.

I know I say this practically every New Year’s post, but I’ll say it again because it’s true: I’m in a much different place now than I was last year. And…I can really feel it. I’m just…I’m happier. I’m sitting in the same room, the warm crackle of a vinyl Mountain Goats album quietly filling every crevice, but everything is different, and it’s a good different.

It was such a little moment that changed everything. A little moment that made me realize that I deserved to talk to someone. A little moment that finally made it stick, that finally lit the fire that gave me the courage to get help. I’m not one to put any stock in fate or that sort of stuff, but it’s hard to imagine what the year would have been like if I hadn’t acted on that decision.

I’ve also come to love myself a lot more. I like how I look. I like my smile, my glasses, how I look in plaid button-up shirts. I embraced make-up, something that I hadn’t ever used because I felt like it wasn’t for me. My war paint became a t-shirt and black eyeliner. I am a goddamn unstoppable force of cuteness that could crush armies, and I love it. I love me.

I embraced the little things. In the stress of creating a 3D animated short film all by myself, I looked forward to coming back from classes and sitting down for thirty minutes with my dinner and watching some Game Grumps. I fell in love with just lying on my bed on an overcast day and dozing off as I listened to the Mountain Goats or Skyhill or Rush. I danced around my room unabashedly to Starbomb and Ninja Sex Party, let the music become a barrier to anything I was worrying about that day. I didn’t feel bad about taking a night to myself after finishing a huge chuck of work, a night to just relax with some cheap wine and video games. I reveled in a dinner downtown with a close friend, in inside jokes exchanged over Twitter, in waking up to Snapchats from friends who had sent me the exact same thing because they just knew me.

I poured my heart into the things that I cared about. Paper Cranes is so much a piece of who I am. It still seems so weird for it to be done, for other people to be playing it, because in my mind, it’s me. I’ve worked on it so long, and it is so much about who I have become and the challenges that I’ve faced and overcome.

It was scary, to show it to people. But being scared…that means I made something that I care about. And I want to keep doing that. Maybe not as intense and personal as Paper Cranes, but I want to care about the things I’m making and doing.

It’s really difficult to put it all into words. But that’s ok. It’s one of those things that just can’t be pinned down all the way, because it’s just too big, too impactful for me. I feel like I can breathe easier.

I’ve grown closer to some great friends, and I’ve had the opportunity to make new ones. I’ve finished some huge projects, and that’s pretty awesome, but I’m ready to get cracking on some ideas that I’m really excited about (including, but not limited to, more Dream State, and animated music video, and a visual novel).

There are still rough days. But they are just that: days. This too shall pass, and it shall pass with the best family and friends I could ever ask for.

I don’t want to forget this feeling. I don’t want to forget the accomplishment I felt when I finished Paper Cranes, how humbled I felt when people shared their responses to it. I want to hold onto that for as long as I possibly can.

If you are reading this, thank you. Thank you for your support and for everything.

Happy new year. May 2015 bring some awesome stuff.

mountain fold, valley fold

This is gonna be a tough one for me to get through; for good reasons though, I think.

It’s been about 24 hours since Paper Cranes—my BFA thesis project that I’ve been working on for over a year—has been live on the internet, for people to see and download and play. It’s a really weird feeling. A really good feeling. Like, for so long this has all been a what-if: I had an Idea for some research and a game, and even when I was right at the cusp of its completion, it still didn’t feel right around the corner. It felt like miles away, like I wouldn’t really ever reach it, finish the game and the research and the website. But I have. Sort of. Stuff like this is never really finished, I think, especially because I’m such a perfectionist, but it’s out there now, and I can’t really take it back.

The emotions I’ve been experiencing have been all over the map. I’m ecstatic, but also kind of…sad about the whole thing. Not sad, really…pensive? I’m not sure. This project has been such a big part of my life for so long, so it’s strange to not have to think about working on it every day now. It’s weird to think that people are playing the game, this thing I’ve built and poured my heart into.

I’ve gotten a lot of really fantastic and heartfelt feedback from people who have played it, and I can’t express how much that means to me. The fact that people are playing what has become in many ways a self-portrait for me, and connecting with it and appreciating it…it’s still so hard to grasp, honestly.

I’ve changed a lot in the last year. I know I said that at the end of 2013, but I really feel it this time. I’m happier; with myself, with my work, with my appearance. I look at myself in the mirror, and for the first time in a long, long time, I truly like what I see, both inside and out.

So much had to happen for me to be able to make Paper Cranes…and I had to gather up the strength to use those things that happened to create it. I made the step to go to counseling, to talk with someone about what I was feeling. I probably would not have been able to make that step without a couple integral moments, and that’s really remarkable for me to realize. If I hadn’t made that choice, I’m not quite sure where I would be. Maybe still unhappily trying to make animation work for me. Who knows.

Fun fact: I edited all of my research with my “pre-Attitude City” playlist on repeat. It consists of all of the NSP singles that have been released since Strawberries and Cream, since I’m an impatient dweeb who can’t wait for the album to come out. Livin’ the dream.

Tomorrow is the day that I have to present the project to all of the Digital Arts faculty. I’ll probably be nervous tomorrow…but I’m feeling really great right now. No matter what they say, I’ve made something I’m proud of. I’ve become someone that I think younger-me would be proud of too.

Thank you.