i can still walk on

There’s something both exhilarating and terrifying about sharing your favorite song with someone.

And I don’t mean just a song that you like. I mean that song. The song that, when you heard it for the first time, struck you in an almost indescribable way, on some sort of innate level. That song that makes you feel alive and at one with yourself, that song that is who you were and who you are and who you want to be all wrapped into three to four minutes, that song that sends chills down your spine sometimes when you listen to it because you find it so hard to believe how much you connect with it, like the artist knew or something, but that’s impossible, so you just listen to it and stare at the ceiling and think about the stars that exist beyond the stucco and brick and drywall, about how you are so tiny and yet so infinite.

Other people have that song, right? That’s not just me? I mean, ok, maybe I got a little lofty there with the prose, but the thought’s there.

I think we all have that thing though, and for me it tends to be music. I’m not really well versed in music on a technical level, so maybe that’s some contributing factor: it’s like magic to me already, and then there’s that right combination of everything working at once and it just clicks in my brain and it won’t leave.

I feel really weird about the music that does that to me though, because I want to share it with others, I want to be like “hey, listen to this song, I really love it, let’s talk about it” and stuff like that, but then I also want to hide it, like it’s a treasure. There’s something personal about songs that really connect with you, so showing them to others becomes a vulnerability.

I make mix cds a lot for my friends. It’s sort of become a holiday tradition, and about a month ago I was at a party and my awesome friend Alex told me that they were talking about my mix cds the other day, and how much they really liked them. That made me so freaking happy.

Because I really put time and effort into each mix I make, you know? I pick songs that I like and think they’ll like, I make sure the flow of the songs feels good, that there’s nothing too jarring in song change-ups (unless it’s supposed to be jarring). Each mix cd is like a little story, a little piece of me that I’m giving to someone else. So hearing that it’s appreciated…it means the world to me.

It’s weird, because music used to (and in some ways still is) be a very public thing, but now I think it’s transitioned to being a lot more private. There’s nothing wrong with that, I don’t think, but sometimes it makes showing someone a song you like that much more powerful and meaningful. It’s like saying “this song reflects some part of me, and I want to share it with you, because I care about you and about us, and I want this private thing to become a collective experience”.

I’ve been trying for a long time to figure out what it is about those songs that makes them so important to me. I still don’t have an answer, and maybe that’s just how it is: maybe those songs—the ones that I hold so close to my heart—maybe there’s something about them that goes beyond words.

So hey. Let’s chill out and listen to some jams.

see you space cowboy

I always tend to write these things when I’m not in the best of places. I don’t know what it is about these moods that makes me want to put thoughts into words…maybe it’s some urge to put the introspection into a concrete form so I make those feelings real. Though, doing this is more or less just a More Efficient Way to Shout Into the Void (much like Twitter), but it matters to me regardless.

I wonder how I’ll feel a few days later when I come back and read this stuff, because I’m always super worried that it comes off as really douchey and self-important. Which isn’t my intent, to be clear, but I’m sure there’s some aspect of these blog posts that seem like that versus if I’m just normally talking about it, mostly because I can go over and edit what I’m going to say, so it sounds Super Planned Out and Articulate when it’s really just me stream-of-consciousness writing for a spurt of fifteen minutes and then staring at what I’ve written for thirty.

See? All that nothingness between the end of that sentence and this one? About five minutes of me just looking at the blinking cursor and seeing if I got a text on my phone because I thought I heard it go off. But in this format, you can’t see any of that! Nothing interrupts this thought from the last one, unless you acknowledge it, which you don’t, because that’s weird. Can you imagine what your favorite novel would be like if halfway through a chapter there’s just an insert that’s like “I went off to get coffee and talk a walk because this chapter was pissing me off, by the way.” That would be infuriating, but I’m sure there’s a novel out there that probably does something like that.

I’ve written about the feeling of temporariness before, so I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I can’t seem to get it out of my head. The first time I think I found some bliss in fleeting moments; this just feels like the opposite.

I’ve been a homebody for a long time: college was college, not home. Now home doesn’t even feel like home anymore. It just feels like a place, a place I live between semesters, not a home.

Which is such a screwed up feeling, honestly. Like, of course this is home! I live here, my bed is here, my things are here, my family is here. Everything around me logically says that this is home, but it doesn’t feel like home anymore.

I by no means want to grow up faster than I have to—lord knows I’m not in a rush to pay taxes and crap like that—but I want more than ever to have a place that feels like mine. Home has become “my parents’ house”. The dorm is the dorm: I can make it comfortable, but it’s temporary living—I dress it up like it’s mine for two semesters and then I’m done with it.

I don’t know what it is that I really want. I don’t want to romanticize the future, because that’s just as toxic as drowning in nostalgia, but I just want some stability of my own making for once. I want to feel like I’ve really earned something. Like four years of college wasn’t a waste.

I’m lost, I guess. For the longest time I thought I knew what I wanted to do, now I just want to do Something once I’m out of school. I have no idea what that something is, I have no way of figuring that out until it’s there, so all I can do right now is put all that I can into what I’m doing now, and just hope for the best.

Whatever happens happens.

an exercise in fatigue

I’m writing this during what is very likely my Last Kid Summer: you know, when summer is just a really long break between school and you wake up at ten in the morning and don’t go to sleep till two the next morning because you’re up all night talking to friends and playing games and just having fun, or something of the sort. When summer is just this collection of care-free days that you can do with what you will: no class, no big responsibilities. You can build castles in your spare time and create legends for a living.

Ok. Maybe I’m over-romanticizing it. Most of us these days send summer working to have enough to keep going to school the next semester. But those jobs, they’re in-between jobs, or considered that way for a lot of people. We’re working to something bigger, we think, some sort of dream.

In less than a year, I’m going to have to enter the real world. Not that the world I’ve been in for the past two decades hasn’t been real, but soon I’m going to have to find a proper job, maybe move, settle myself in a different world and life. Or maybe I’ll go to grad school, or travel, or something I can’t even imagine right now.

I’m stuck in this conflict where I am both an adult and a kid at the same time. At family gatherings, I’m really the only one of my age. Aunts and uncles and cousins ask me how school is, do I have an internship, what do I want to do with my life, and then leave me be. I honestly might as well be there for fifteen minutes and then leave, because I’m sitting there the rest of the time by myself anyway: everyone goes on to have Proper Adult Conversations or Did You Hear About that Sport Thing, and I’m just taking up space in a chair somewhere among that. I can’t even strike up a conversation with cousins who aren’t more than six years older than me: it’s awkward and stiff, like shitty water cooler conversations in an office. “Gee, nice weather we have!” we painfully agree, both wishing we were somewhere else entirely.

On vacation, I was shopping with my parents when the clerk—who had to maybe be in his early thirties, if not younger—noticed the DuckTales shirt that I was wearing and remarked that it was cool to see “someone so young, younger than [him], appreciating that stuff”. Apparently despite being 20, I still look 12 or so. It’s a blast, let me tell you.

I want to be independent but I’m terrified of it. I want to move away from home but I’m afraid I’m gonna get lost and I won’t be able to find my way back.

What I’m getting at here, and I know this is poorly constructed and I’m rambling to high heaven, is that I feel like I’m supposed to be something by now and I’m not. I’m still a kid, sitting on her bed drawing comics about bunnies and thinking she knows something deeper about the world as she turns on some crummy alternative music and stereotypically contemplates futility or some shit.

And I know that’s not true. I know there’s no time limit, there’s no magic hourglass that says you have to be successful by this point and if you’re not, then suddenly the carriage turns back into a pumpkin and you’re standing in a field in rags wondering what the hell happened. There’s nothing that says that I can go through four years of college studying animation and then realize two years later that it’s not actually my thing. There’s nothing that says that you’re stuck in once place after you get your degree and you can’t do anything else with your life except that after you graduate.

I need that printed out at pasted on my ceiling. I need a reminder that if it seems like someone is established in their field overnight, that’s because they worked their ass off for god knows how many years before then, and no one saw it.

I can’t compare the foundation of my house to someone else’s finished mansion. That’s just not fair, to me, to them, to anyone.

I’m a chronic worrier though. It’s gotten better, but some days it just crushes on me like that one Greek guy who has to roll a rock up a hill for eternity in hell. I can’t remember his name, but you know the one. But sometimes, you get really close of getting it to the top of the hill again, and it’s easy and effortless, and you think you’ll never have to roll that rock up the hill for another day.

Then the next day the rock careens back down the hill, landing to rest firmly on top of you, and it’s a hundred times heavier than it was the day before, and try as you might, you just can’t get it to budge.

Sisyphus? Was that the guy? I could look it up, but eh.

The important thing is that you have to keep pushing the rock, no matter how heavy it is or how tired you are. Keep creating. Keep doing the thing you are passionate about and getting better at it. It’s gonna be hard. There are days where you don’t want to, days you wish you could just let the rock sit on top of you for the rest of your life. Those days suck big time, believe me. The fear of the future becomes a paralysis. You spend years worrying about it and then suddenly it’s here, and you don’t feel any better prepared for it than you did when you graduated high school.

But worrying…worrying just means you care. So it means you gotta keep walking up that hill, rock, future, and Hades be damned.

Because once you realize that no one else knows what the hell they’re doing too, pushing that rock because a lot easier.

freeze frame

I should be taking a nap right now because tonight/tomorrow is going to be crazy and long, but [waves hands erratically and makes ridiculous noises]. I’ve got time.

Which is weird to say right now, honestly, because lately I’ve been thinking about temporariness: in both the little cases and the huge overall case. This moment that I’m taking right now, to sit on the floor and type this out, is temporary. Within thirty minutes to an hour or so I’ll be done writing and editing this blog post and I’ll probably go off to do something else (maybe take that nap I’ll need). But when I’m here, it doesn’t feel like a fleeting moment. It’s encompassing and infinite when you’re within it. I could describe all the sounds and smells and feelings of this minute, but by tomorrow they won’t be significant, and they’ll be gone. The place won’t be gone, but the moment will, and there may be other moments like it, but they’ll never be quite the same: maybe the TV downstairs won’t be on, maybe more light will be shining into my room, maybe I’ll have rearranged some stuff so that the record player sits on top of a crate full of records instead of just on the floor. For sure I’ll be older. I’ll be different. Maybe not by much, but different all the same.

I visited Detroit last semester on a day trip with my learning community, and we went to a place called the Heidelberg Project: basically an outdoor art installation that spans about a block. Some guy bought all of the abandoned buildings on the block and decided to do something with them. Some people might have thought the installations to be trash, but they were cool and interesting and very ephemeral, I thought. Last time I went, it was a very haunting experience: I didn’t have any friends on the trip, and I felt very isolated and alone. The surreal installations just made things even more amplified. Last semester, I went with my roommate and close friend. Same place, different moment.

I took some crappy video clips with my cell phone with the intent of making another vlog or something, but in true Emily-fashion, I haven’t touched the footage in months.

The Heidelberg Project as I knew it is gone now. Most of it was destroyed by fire a few months ago—arson. Only two houses are standing still.

When we capture moments with videos or picture or words, we don’t defy its temporariness, I don’t think. The videos on my cell phone are not that moment, just like this blog post is not the moment of me, sitting here, writing it. They are ghosts, whispers, broken memories of a moment that will never truly be remembered, because we do not ever truly remember the things that happened to us.

I think that’s why I have such a passion to create art. It’s not an attempt to push against an unstoppable force, it’s an attempt to make more of these moments than I would otherwise. Things that happen to us are not inherently important. We make them important. We give them meaning.

Without us, the world just keeps on spinning, and even that too is temporary.

auld lang sine

2014.

It’s going to be a while until I get used to writing that collection of numbers down. Let’s place a bet on how long it’ll take me to stop writing 2013 on practically everything. I’m gonna go with two months, at a minimum.

I haven’t done anything special for New Year’s in a while, honestly. This year it doesn’t even really feel special: it’s another day, another night, tomorrow I’ll wake up and it’ll be January 1st, whoop de doo. The most notable thing about that for me is that it means there’s a new Welcome to Night Vale episode out, but besides that, it’s pretty unremarkable.

I think the best thing I’ve ever done on New Year’s Eve was a couple years ago when I had a friend sleep over: we basically just stayed up and watched videos the whole night. That was it. Nothing spectacular, nothing fantastic. But it was one of the best New Year’s none the less.

Maybe I should try to make a list or something of all of my year’s accomplishments. It might help put things into a little more perspective. So, here goes:

-finally made a website and uploaded most of Paradigm Shift, my first completed comic

-went to Scotland and had a blast

-started my third year of college and survived kicked the ass of one of the roughest semesters I’ve ever had

This is about as far as I got into the list before I realized that I should be listening to This Year on repeat and that’s kind of what I’m doing right now.

This has been a really rough year for me. I’ve had days, weeks where I’ve felt lower than I’ve ever felt before. Some part of me thought I wasn’t going to be able to do it. Some part of me, a part that was small but then started to overpower me, said that I was going to fail, that everything I had done up to this point was a fluke, that I would fail and then I’d be completely and utterly lost because I’ve been banking on art for my future for an unbelievably long time (though I suppose not really long, but long in the timeframe of my life) and if I couldn’t do that, I wouldn’t know what I’d do. At all.

I’m still scared about that, and a lot of things. Next year is going to be big. I hope I get an internship. I might not. It won’t be the end of the world, but I can’t plan everything that is going to happen to me. And even if I did, what kind of life would that be? A boring one. An even more shitty one than I can even imagine.

But regardless of the internship, regardless of whatever happens, the potential of the upcoming year is huge. I could do anything. I could do things that I can’t even think of right now, and I probably will.

It’s hard for me to quantify this year, which is weird, because I’m typically a list kind of person, but I’m just not feeling it right now. Maybe I’ll give it another shot:

-went outside in a middle of a blizzard and made snow angels with friends

-unearthed a sanctuary

-changed

…Maybe that’s it. I’ve changed. I’ve changed a lot this year. Because of things that have happened to me, because of how I’ve reacted, because of how I’ve coped, because of the things that have entered my life and become so important to me. Hey, 2012 me! In seven months you’re gonna be really bummed about life, and then you’re gonna find this cool podcast that’s terrifying and beautiful and life-changing, and it’s gonna be awesome. So, if for some reason you’re reading this in the past, you’ve got that to look forward to!

You actually have a lot of stuff to look forward to, now that I think of it. More self-understanding and self-awareness. Strengthening of friendships. Discovery of new passions. Rekindling of old ones. Spending time with your family.

It’s gonna be rough, I’m not gonna lie. You’re going to have days where you don’t want to get out of bed, days you don’t want to eat, but you’re going to get out of bed and eat anyway because sometimes that’s just how life is. But those days, you’ll get through those days. You’ll get through them for the good moments. For your passions. For your family. For the people who care about you, including yourself.

You can do it. Because you’ve done it. You’re here right now, typing this on the keyboard into the Word document, listening to This Year on repeat as you sit on the floor with your headphones on.

So face next year head-on. Because you’ve got naysayers to prove wrong, and you’ve got a fire in your chest, and you can set worlds alight with your passion, and you’ve got some of the best people in the world supporting you.

 

I’m gonna make it through this year if it kills me.

hiding places

My friends and I have a penchant for exploring some of the older buildings on campus during off-days: times when the buildings are quite, shells of themselves, echoing with the ghosts of classes held a hundred years ago, in some cases. There’s something intoxicating about it, exploring the halls which should be filled with people and voices when it is completely silent, and all you can hear is your own footsteps echoing against the floor.

IMG_0978It’s not trespassing. The buildings are open, and we just take the opportunity to walk through them when others would not. Perhaps it’s also my inclination toward abandoned buildings that fuels this exploration, but nevertheless, there are worse things we could be doing with our spare time than walking around campus buildings when they’re not in use.

Sometimes it’s a fruitless exploration. New buildings, they aren’t interesting: they’re clean and unbroken, they have no character. Even in the old buildings, only so much excitement can come from an empty classroom.

But it’s worth it for the occasional discoveries.

One of the original buildings on campus also houses a theater within it: one that has been a) out of use for several years ever since the new theater building opened, and b) is rumored to be haunted, like most old, unused places.

Needless to say, in our innocent exploration, we found the door to this theater unlocked, and, well, you can assume the rest.IMG_0944

It was like a time capsule. As we delved deeper into the structure, we found dressing rooms: walls covered with graffiti from stage productions past. The most recent date was 2010: upon which, I assume, the old theater was abandoned in place of the newer, more modern facility. The earliest recorded date that we found was in the 1980’s—years before our births. Coffee cups sat on tables, untouched for likely years. Two pianos stood abandoned on two different stages: I still yearn now to rescue them, for them to be used.

Despite the fact that I’m not musically talented, forgotten instruments oddly wound me. They’re meant to be played; that’s their life, their purpose. Left alone, gradually falling into disrepair, they become no more than oversized paperweights. I suppose that’s true of most things, though.

But regardless, I felt an eerie sense of peace in that theater. Partially like we had discovered something, an ancient relic. We were secret archeologists, and we had found the Valley of the Kings.

form3Partially because it was an escape. It was still in the environment that I associated with stress and anxiety, yes, but it was separate, cut off. It was a hideaway, like a clubhouse in your backyard when you were a child that was magical despite it being in plain sight.

It was a temple.

IMG_0979A few weeks ago, I walked by to discover it locked. They had found it, I mused. They had found our clubhouse and cut it off from us. I got strangely emotional. I cried. In the moment, I thought; Is this was growing up is? The secret cubby holes, the sanctuaries, they’re slipping away and I can’t do anything about it.

It was the only place I felt pure, a place where I just felt aware of my own existence, aware of my clothes touching my skin and the stale air touching my face and the dust floating and settling every time I inhaled and exhaled. And it was gone.

I almost settled into the despair, until a friend told me: “They don’t slip away and disappear. You just lose sight of them. You’ll find them again.”

value3_1

That’s the important thing, isn’t it? I will find them again. They’ll be different, of course. But they’re not gone.

let’s talk

It’s the middle of summer, and I’m sitting on my bed with my laptop in an old oversized hoodie.

It dawns on me that I haven’t actually worn this hoodie in about two years.

It’s pretty ragged, actually. It is one of those hoodies that was made to already look sort of worn, so some of the edges aren’t hemmed and the fleece from underneath sticks out of the sleeves and out of the bottom, right before the elastic bits.

On the front of the hoodie is the letters of the university my brother went to. I was pretty young when he went off to college: maybe fifth grade. He was and still is everything to me, and it was hard adjusting to being alone when he left. Then we moved to California, and the adjusting was even harder: for both of us, I presume. I became pretty secluded. I remember one Christmas when I watched him play and beat Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door. I beat it a couple days after him, I think. He didn’t watch me win against the final boss. He had to take a phone call.

That was ok though. I felt like he was proud of me. It was just a video game, but still.

There’s a hole in what is now the stretched-out elastic part of the left sleeve. I remember I would bite on the sleeve when I was nervous or bored or sad, or a combination of all three.

I wore this hoodie throughout pretty much all of high school. It was an object of comfort, both literally and figuratively. I would stick my head down so my nose would barely peek out of the top of the hoodie when I was extra cold or extra overwhelmed. I would let the sleeves hang down—they were (are) just a little too long for my arms—and curl up into the sweatshirt, or playfully smack at my friends with the loose flapping fabric. I would dry my face with edge of the sleeves, or bite at the strings that tighten the hood.

I was probably wearing this hoodie when I discovered the first band that I loved. I was probably wearing this hoodie as I listened to the first album that made me feel so many things, that made my cry while sitting on the floor of my room in a denim beanbag chair, that gave me hope during the roller-coaster of hell that is high school.

The nice thing about roller-coasters is that at least you know you’ll probably get off safely after it’s over.

I kind of have a problem with hoodies and sweatshirts in that I own way too many of them. But none of them are like this one.

The hoodie doesn’t really smell like anything because I wash my clothes and stuff. It just smells clean. It just feels safe.

Sometimes you just need that.

maybe if I smash my hands on the keyboard, something will work

This is my first time using WordPress, which is probably evident by the fact that I’m still using the default theme and haven’t been able to make heads or tails of the code to edit it at all yet. Also, something about child themes? I probably should have done more research on PHP sooner, but it’s in my traditions to jump head first into something without planning it properly, so, here we are.

I sometimes find it really difficult balancing being a creator of stuff and a consumer of stuff, you know? It’s more often than not that—when I get into a Thing—that is the only Thing I am thinking about or drawing for at least a week or two. I totally neglect other projects, ignore my original work, because man guys, this Thing, have you seen this Thing yet? It’s so great. I’m not complaining right now, because it’s summer and I really have nothing better to do, and I like enjoying other people’s creations since I think that’s an integral part to existing, but it just feels frustrating at times because it highlights—to myself—some of my own inadequacies as a creator.

Granted, I’m probably being unnecessarily hard on myself, as most creators are. I tend to go through phases where I can look at my art and go “woah, that’s something that I made, holy crap” and then other times where I want to delete most of the stuff I’ve made and throw my computer out of a window: this feels way more amplified when I sort of “dive in headfirst” into some content that a bunch of other people like, because now I’m looking at everyone else’s fanart and going “man, that’s so great, why didn’t I think of that, why does all of my stuff look amateurish and cartoony, it just doesn’t work, you know?” and then I basically end up lying on the floor for a couple of minutes and having a short-lived pity party. Going through those phases gradually—a sine wave over a couple of months, maybe—really isn’t that bad: some of that critical eye on my own work helps me find areas I want to improve, techniques I want to try next time, and so on. But when you’re shifting back and forth between these feelings in a single day, it’s damn exhausting.

The only way to get over this is to just keep working, I think. Being a creator is difficult and frustrating and sometimes you just want to give it up, but if you just keep trudging through the mental molasses, you’ll come out of the other side of it with more knowledge and creativity and confidence. That’s the theory, at least.

And then there’s the second aspect that happens when I get into a Thing, which is that I don’t shut up about said Thing. It is inevitable. You can look at my Twitter feed  or Tumblr blog and find the exact time when I started watching Doctor Who, or reading a comic, or (in this most recent case) listening to Welcome to Night Vale (are you guys listening to Welcome to Night Vale yet? You probably should be. Also, have tissues on hand for Episode 25. Just trust me on this one). It’s pretty cool, I think: it’s interesting to scroll back through what are basically online diaries and just track my interests and thoughts and how they’ve developed over a pretty short period of time. We live in a world where we can share stuff with friends instantaneously, where people can make comics and videos and art and music and podcasts and whatever the heck they want to make with greater ease than ever before.

People always say that they’d rather live in a different era, but I don’t want to live in an era where I can’t create so freely and share those creations so effortlessly, you know? There’s still so much potential that hasn’t been explored with the tools we have today. We live in a pretty cool world, I think.

Plus, I wouldn’t really want to live in an era without indoor plumbing. Or central air. Or the internet.

So, there’s that.

 

Pardon the dust.

So, woah dang this is a blog type thing. A very simple blog type thing currently, but a blog type thing never the less.

Anyway, hello! If you’re here, you may know me from various blogs on Tumblr, or you just stumbled upon this website like a drunk person stumbles into a Taco Bell. Regardless, I’m glad you’ve made it!

A brief introduction: I’m Emily; animation student, artist, aspiring cartoonist and author, hilariously funny (to myself), so on and so forth. My interests are endlessly varied, and I’m passionate about most of them. You’ll probably see them more as the days go on and I post more to this blog: once I get started talking about something, it’s pretty hard to stop.

Regardless! I’ll hopefully figure out my way around customizing WordPress soon (and then be able to get more comics up once I can figure out how to do that), but in the meantime, why not check out this super cool interactive comic I made, or take a gander at my art blog?

That’s all I’ve got for now. Time to dive headfirst into some more website stuff!