we’ll find another way

If you haven’t caught on by now, I’m the kind of person that jams a lot of meaning into little things. It’s just my nature, I guess: I feel like if I’m making something, I need to just pack as much personal connection into it until its fit to burst. I make the best art that way, I think, and I think the work in which I do that connects with people more.

About a year ago, I thought about getting a tattoo. Me, with the pain tolerance of a tiny child, who never even got her ears pierced! And I decided to sit on it: think about it for a while, and if I still wanted to get it in a year, then it won’t be something I’ll regret or dislike down the road.

And today, I did it.




I’m lucky and thankful to have amazing friends who supported me during it, because even though it was small, holy crap did it hurt. I was bracing myself for the worst, and while it wasn’t that bad, it was definitely something indescribable. In fact, a lot like a needle being jammed into your skin over and over and over again and a rapid pace!

The crane just seemed natural; with everything I’ve done, my thesis, how significant it has become to me, I knew I wanted it. The words…the words took some thought. I was worried about them, to be honest. I’ve talked about how music affects me before, and I’ve talked about this song in particular on multiple occasions. But eventually, I decided, it’s not just the song that made me want it: it’s the memory and the feeling it encapsulates, and what both the song and the crane signify together.

This song isn’t just the words and the melody and all that jazz: it’s the moment a year ago when I decided that I wasn’t happy with how things were. It’s the moment where I picked myself up, with the support of so many wonderful people in my life, and decided to get help. Because, for the longest time, I didn’t think I deserved it. My problems were tiny and minuscule compared to other people’s issues, and I knew I was being too hard on myself, and I knew that I wasn’t a failure in any respect, but the part that knew and the part that believed didn’t connect, and I would get trapped in loops of self-loathing and misery and it sucked. Sometimes I get stuck in those loops again, but it’s different now. I know those loops are just lies, just roundabouts in my head that I’ll find the exit from soon enough.

This song is the courage to go to counseling. This song is the strength to pick myself back up again when I feel directionless. This song is that change in my life, one that I can actually see in my art and in myself: a change I made to really, truly, start to love myself again.

And it’s a realization that I never have to be stuck doing something that I don’t love, at least not for long. Graduating with a degree in something doesn’t seal my fate or anything ridiculous like that. There are so many paths, so many different ways I can go in my life, and I’ll never be able to take them all, but I’ll always be able to take one that’s right for me when I need it.

And the crane, the crane probably can never be properly explained, there’s just too much within it. If you’ve played my game, you’d know those three cranes, what each of them signify. Home. Self. Others. The crane is Hase escaping the Cells. The crane is Katz telling Hase that she’s worth it. That I’m worth it. I’m telling myself all of these things. Katz is me telling myself that it’s the people you love that make home, telling myself that I am strong and I can do this, no matter what. And after so much struggle, I’m starting to believe them.

I’ve been really anxious about the future lately: getting a Real Job, going out really on my own for the first time. It’s been really taking a toll on me. But getting this…it just reminds me that it’s gonna work out, no matter what happens.

When I came home from the tattoo place, my dad gave me a gift: a small, ceramic blue paper crane. “If I remember correctly,” he said, “this means you’ll always have a home.” (As you can imagine, there were many tears after that.)

The City as You Walk and the paper crane are not so much a beginning and an end as these moments in time that are forever connected, and will forever be a part of me. So, I wanted that part to show, because I never want to forget it. It’s a gift to myself, at the closing of the only chapter of my life that I’ve known, and onto something new, something that I can’t even predict. And no matter what happens, I know I’ll find my way through it, and it’ll be awesome.

Open your eyes. I believe in what you saw.

White and yellow lights blink off.

I can still walk on.

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.