the light fantastic

It’s strange to me how so many important events occurred that shaped me on such an elemental level in both of the academic “junior” years of my life. It’s even odder to think that soon, I won’t even have that measurement; it’ll just be time, passing as time does.

But that’s another topic entirely.

I picked up my first Discworld novel during that first junior year of my life, the most harrowing and tumultuous time that is high school. There’s not much point in rehashing that mess, because let’s be real, everyone kind of had a crummy high school experience because it’s high school. But this isn’t about a crummy high school experience. This is about The Colour of Magic.

I had never read a book like The Colour of Magic before: a fantasy that was so light-hearted and funny and aware of itself in that most beautiful way where it’s not pandering to the audience at all, but it’s smart, and it’s alive. And it’s not childish: there is a way Terry Pratchett treats his readers, a very gentle way, a way that lets you in on the joke instead of being outside of it. I remember being in Physics class, reading instead of paying attention to the lesson (oh shush, we all did it at some point), and trying so hard not to just burst out in laughter; genuine, meaningful laughter. There was a tone to the work that I hadn’t experienced before: I loved each little tangent in the footnotes, the hilariously-accurate metaphors. I would stand outside of my German class with friends and read them passages out of the book that were particularly great. Even today, whenever someone is looking for a reading suggestion, a Discworld novel is my go to, because there really is something for everyone in them.

And the settings! Ankh-Morpork captivated me like no fantasy city has before it, because it had a feeling that Redwall Abbey, the Shire, or Diagon Alley didn’t have: it felt real to me. It was a real city full of heroes and adventurers and thieves and criminals and it smelled like New York City on a hot summer day, but my gosh, that made it the most wonderful place in the world to me. There’s a moment, and I can’t remember which book it’s in, but Rincewind returns to Ankh-Morpork after his travels, and experiences this utter joy at the grime and the odor and the chaos that the city is, because it’s his city, Ankh-Morpork is his home, no matter how dirty or on-fire it is.

And perhaps it’s my penchant for lanky, inept heroes, but Rincewind was immediately endearing to me. He wasn’t just the underdog, or an unlikely hero, he was just a guy. A failed wizard looking to save his own skin, like most of us are (maybe not the wizard part, but you catch my drift). He almost falls off the edge of the world, pulled into all sorts mischief and mayhem, and throughout the whole thing, he just remains this guy who is torn between wanting to go home and live a normal life, and wanting to prove Something to people. And because of that, the moments where he does something remotely heroic, they’re awesome. He survives by common sense and instinct, not flashy magic and tricks, and that makes him such a great character. I’m pretty sure he knocks a guy out with a brick-sock at one point. Maybe I’m remembering that wrong though. I’m fairly certain there was a brick-sock involved at some point.

Discworld changed me. It changed how I approached fantasy and writing. It made me realize that you can be silly and whimsical and funny and still have those serious and real elements in a story, in fantasy. It showed how fantasy doesn’t half to be these high-brow epics reserved only for the most dedicated of fans: it can be silly and comforting, lighthearted and quiet. It can be home, in the humble and cozy way that only home can be. And he was able to say all of those feelings in a simple sentence.

Thank you, Sir Terry Pratchett. Rest in peace.

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.

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


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


…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.”


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.