This was the start of the last post I started here on the site. It was meant for a different sort of post than I’m making now, which is of the “Can you believe the shit we used to think about before Covid-19?” variety. But, to be honest with you, even that sort of post feels a little disingenuine now.
I can’t speak to your situation, but I am more or less mentally through this thing. Words that made sense in the sparkling Beforetimes but may as well have been glyphs around the middle of March: I am ready for them to make sense again.
Right now, as we come to the end of our beginning of this pandemic, it feels as though the world’s ready to get on with it. I mean, science-wise, we are definitely not. Stay safe, etc.
From my vantage, discussion of the implications of all this last two months’ chaos—the “where could we go from here?”—are being encouraged to a close, and I am beginning to feel like we weren’t ready for The Fall of Capitalism timeline just yet.
No, it was only a pause. The world’s still turning. Dreamers, quit dreaming. It’s time to open up your drafts, figure out what those words meant again and grab hold of the present. We’re back.
There’s something going on inside me personally, too. I mean given the world, it would be honestly weird if that weren’t the case, but this isn’t anything to do with feeling lonely or missing airplanes. What I’m feeling is almost tectonic, the precipitation of something real which has been very invisibly in motion for the last few years.
I’ve just been off the last little bit—off to a degree that journaling alone wouldn’t fix. No, one needs an audience for this.
Hi. I’m Luca, newly minted amateur bread baker.
Where did we leave off?
It’s not like there wasn’t anything worth writing about after I left PopCap; I just stopped seeing myself as the person to write it. Looking back, I can see that year’s GDC, an event which is the Groundhog Day of this site, as the one where I began to realize I had been doing this for a while. I was no longer a freshman and the right thing to do for someone like me was to make room for new voices, to mentor, encourage or simply step back into the wallpaper. I chose all of those things in time, but the wallpaper was the one that really stuck.
I became exhausted by Twitter and quit it—for a while. I lost some of my hearing and started wondering if I would have to quit sound. I thought, if not this, then what? And why? Before I had a chance to answer any of that*, I did the thing I was supposed to do: I left the PNW for the air-conditioned meaning hole that is Irvine, California, and took a job for Blizzard.
*I still haven’t answered any of that, which is why we’re in this post.
18mos later I was car-bound for Canada with my two adopted cats, Hope and Dolores.
That was a short, traumatic and ultimately instructive chapter that I may retell in detail when the time is right. tl;dr—I got way better at sound design down there and built what I felt (until recently) was a totally unshakeable confidence in my own work—or ability to grow into doing the work I wanted. I left it feeling fairly reformed and whole and interelast year’s GDC more of service-oriented, summer camp sort of experience. Shortly thereafter, I was car-bound for Canada with my two adopted cats, Hope and Dolores. Everything in that last sentence belongs in my top 5 best life decisions.
Vancouver has felt right. It’s not Seattle, but it is good enough, and it is time to build.
I have to admit, though, that that ripple I felt back in 2017, the uncomfortable questions and foreshadowing and everything else—the sense that something besides my career wasn’t right, and that even my career might not be right forever—that hasn’t resolved.
It may seem to you that I’ve done well for myself, but the truth is that I think I am actually terrified of true success, of ‘potential,’ and of simply being fully and being okay with that. I can see this in where I’ve gone since 2017, that is, more offline and more into quiet service and acknowledgment of my life outside of the thing I should be really good at, the thing I have told myself I was meant for, sound. Maybe this is success aversion in action. I mean I left Seattle, the center of my world and a place I never, ever thought I would go from. I dropped off Twitter, twice. In California, I really just stopped participating in very much at all. I and then when I got to Vancouver I started participating in all sorts of new non-career things all at the same time.
I think that this has been a transformation arc, the likes of which we never really know we’re on until it’s over with. All of this is that same Question—why, and what next?
I’m trying new stuff. I’m still not sure what’s sticking. Sound isn’t all of it anymore, and I am still not sure why or if that will come back. I am simply taking a moment here, before we reopen and before I work myself up to the high responsibility of pre-production, to observe that I’ve made something of even all this running away, which is a commitment to more deeply building up myself as me instead of simply advancing my career.
There are, we learn, bigger chasms to cross than learning how to make dope sounds, and it takes some conviction to back out of our performative online arena and just be and do what your spirit needs.
For me, in 2017, that was love and acceptance. In California, resilience, and in this last year confidence—in a new place, in new friends, in my creativity and in myself. Throughout all of it, bravery in pushing myself into change.
That intro quote is the seed of the response to Eric Wargo’s Time Loops. I’ll never write it, but I now remember that I could have, and I am very proud of the self that could have done that (it was a hard read!), and wanted to. It’s time to go back.
I didn’t love the lockdown but was sort of hoping for it to usher in more History, to feel like a video game, to bring some disinfected package of meaning to my doorstep. I took two weeks’ vacation to hang around and wait for it, because seriously, all I’ve wanted to to do anymore is bake, working remote is hard and could someone just handle everything for me. Like many of us, I stopped marking time.
I cannot believe June is up next. Fucking June.
“Only Entropy Comes Easy”, reads Anthon Chekov by way of the very put-together energy, /r/malelivingspace-approved abstract art in my room.
These last few months have been absolute entropy, and I have been taking it real easy. Inside, however, the ground is settling, and there’s a whole new continent of meaning which awaits my first blind steps. It is time to reopen.
Last week, the trailer for Unreal Engine 5 released. It is bracingly polished and struck me with all the force of a Campbellian Call to Adventure and marks the second time in my life that Aaron McLeran has made me want to be a sound designer. So I go forwards into the future I design, one in which the author and the wallpaper and the runaway and the baker live united. There is going to be sound there.