On the second floor of Erwin Hall, there’s a piece of art on the wall. The piece is sandwiched between the Office of New Student Programs and Sponsored Research to name a few. In the middle of the wall is a steam print piece completed by Steve Prince in 2017. Phrases, animals, faces, and other iconography encircle the people around it. The colors of these icons are red, white, and black work as the focal point of the art piece draws people in. The focal point is the family and their teddy bear. The family and their teddy bear allow the viewer to read this piece from right to left, left to right, or in any direction one sees fit. As I look over this art piece, I smile.
“We created this,” I thought as I turn away. “It was something of a group effort.” I walk away from the art piece and into the Study Abroad office where I was heading in the first place.
I take in a deep breath as I open up my mailbox and see the mail. Credit card information, old medical mails, magazines, and deep inside my mailbox is a big white envelope. On the side of the envelope in the sky-blue text is the name: GENESEO. I take in a deep breath, exhale, and grab all of the mail. I go over to the elevator nearby and press the button.
I look up, the electric sign reading: 15. I look over to my right and left, past the people in winter coats, I see the two staircases. I tap my shoe and fold my arms into my chest as I steady myself. Butterflies flutter the wings against the inner walls of my stomach. I rock slightly-back and forth and look down at the floor. I felt taller than usual, wider than before, and more aware than previous.
Just as I turned to take the stairs, the elevator doors slowly come apart and people walk out. I walk past them and stand in the back of the elevator. I continue to tap my feet as I purposefully avoid eye contact from other people.
The elevator reaches the eighth floor and I exit when it does. I walk quickly over to my apartment door, unlock the door, and run into the kitchen. I quickly open the package and in the big white envelope is a blue folder. I open up the folder and the first words I can vaguely recall are:
“Congratulations! You have been offered admissions to SUNY Geneseo as EOP student.”
The trees bloom with green and the wind carries through Sturges Hall. I am sitting where the benches are in between the Gazebo and Sturges Hall. I put down my book as one of my friends enters the room. They were wearing a grey long-sleeve shirt and black pants. That outfit felt all too similar to the clothes of the past summer. Just as I go to speak, my friend stops me. They look at the horizon; it seemed like the edge of the horizon was gobbling up the sun.
“Kazon, I’m transferring.” They said plainly.
I look at them and then back at my book; this time at the book cover. I scan over the cover, the title of the book: Between the World and Me. I look up at my friend and I let out a sigh.
“I see, I wish you could have been the first to say that.” And the conversation went on from there.
The sun had fallen below the horizon and I wave my friend a good night as they walk off to Monroe Hall. I turn away and walk into the entrance into Sturges Hall. The closest entrance. To my left is an art installation. It was by my friend and it was about retention rates for SUNY Geneseo students. The retention rates for students of color, particularly black students.
I watch a dim blue light hit the Union Ballroom stage. As the blue light shapes the darkness, Suji Lee runs on to the stage, wearing a green hanbok (조선옷); her face red. The girl runs over to the shaman, shrouded in a black cloak.
The shaman looked away as Suji ran over to her. Suji approaches her partially out of breath. Suji says, “Please Wul Hwa you can’t do this to me! None of you can do this to me! That was my true fate and becoming you isn’t! Please, I just want to be happy!”
Wul Hwa smiles in response and turns to her. She says sarcastically, “Suji, what a nice surprise.” Just as she finishes that statement she turns away, beginning to exit the stage. Wul Hwa had nothing more to say to the doomed girl.
Suji cries out, “No please, don’t go!” Wul Hwa turns around one last time and looks at Suji. Then exits the stage into the backstage corridor. As the shaman exits, Suji falls to her knees and cries.
Another girl, Hebin, walks on to the stage, a red ribbon in her hand. The red thread of fate… Hebin approaches; she was wearing a pink hanbok. Hebin reaches Suji Lee and starts tying the ribbon around her arm. Suji stops crying and goes to grab the red ribbon, but Hebin does not let go. Suji looks over Hebin and then lifts up her head.
“Hebin! It’s you! It’s always been you!” Suji exclaims. Hebin and Suji meet eye-to-eye before embracing each other in a loving hug.
The lights dim into darkness and the crowd erupts into cheers and screaming. Me and the others in the back smile and hold back laughter as the crowd roared in enjoyment.
The turtle, dwarf, an amorphous blob, a teenage boy, and a dopey-looking corgi scurry up the cliff. The turtle was sweating as he carried the corgi, the dwarf followed by stoically, the blob was somehow swimming its way up, the teen had a look of terror, and the dog looked about as happy as any dog would be when they saw new people.
The crew heard scuffling and splashing water below. The hobgoblins below were trying to get across the strong river and its currents which the team had previously managed to get across. However, as one hobgoblin tried to get onto the hill, the current below pulled them back in. The teen let out a sigh of relief as he made it the top of the cliff.
When the teen made it up, he spotted a dead pine tree; it was about 25 feet. However, its roots were dead and right on the very edge of the cliff. The teen runs over to the tree and starts pushing it; the other team members caught on and pushed with him. The corgi barks, the turtle and dwarf push with their backs, and the blob idly watches. Just as, the enemy had gotten on the cliff, the tree toppled down and onto the enemy. The setting quiets down but as the crew begins to relax, the teen spots a huge gray cloud coming north. They had gotten themselves into more trouble.
The white snow was pelting the window and a cold chill ran throughout the house. I push myself deeper underneath the warm sheets as the movie Camp plays. The song “Right on Be Free” by the Voices of East Harlem playedas snow closes off the windows. The line, “I’m gonna live until I’m dead” played in the background as I looked over a portrait. It was a portrait of someone my friend cared about. I frown; the person had died two years ago.
[Please, if you can, listen to the whole song. It is relevant to everything else I write about below.]
I went to Tora Con 2019 this past weekend. Tora Con ”is an annual two-day convention celebrating anime, cosplay, and nerd culture” which is hosted by Rochester Institute of Technology. Thanks to the student-run organizations like Geneseo Area Gaming Group and Geneseo’s Anime Club I got to nerd out with my friends. For example, I bought a bag full of dice, went to a panel on LGBTQ experiences and anime culture, ate at Plum Garden a hibachi restaurant, took pictures of a lot of amazing cosplayers, and got to spend time with my friends. In total it was an amazing experience.
What made the trip successful was how transparent my friends were about the convention. In particular, a friend was discussing pricing for the event. We had to figure out how much we were splitting for gas and food. Thanks to this transparency, I did not have to worry about concerns like transportation and instead I ate and spent time with my friends.
[A Video Highlighting Tora-Con 2019 and showcasing Tora-Con 2020]
Last week, I missed INTD 288. I missed class because I went to go see the keynote speaker for the Diversity Summit. In the end, I saw the lecture and it was a sharp reminder of how binary thinking is isolating.
I look at the blank screen in front of me and frown. I feel my ears grow hotter and hotter as I stare at the blank word document. On the bottom right screen, the digital clock read: 8:30pm. It was originally 5:00pm and before that, it was 11:00am but it managed to get this late.