Those Old, Unfamiliar Places

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

To keep my sanity during the Pandemic, I take a drive to see places I used to go before COVID-19. I go past apartments I used to live in, stores I used to frequent, or parks I liked to hang out at. These drives remind me of what went on before and what can again.

If a place is safely outdoors, I may even take a walk. Vaccinated, double-masked, avoiding people, I pass silently through places I miss. If an area looks to be filled with people, or if I see reckless behavior, I avoid it. It hurts to avoid places I loved.

It also hurts me that so much has changed in a year or three.

Stores I knew are gone. Apartments have sprouted up in places I’ve never seen. New shops have opened with hope and caution. I’m passing through a world I know that is totally alien to me.

What happened? What is this place? Who are these people? Where did this place go? I want to know what happened, I crave the story of the year gone.

A joke passed among my anime-loving friends is that when we finally have conventions, it’ll be like an Anime Timeskip. Everyone will have aged a few years, everyone will be different. The metaphor is funny, but it also acknowledges there will be stories of what happened. There will be a narrative because we can talk and because we kept in touch as best we could.

The empty buildings and new places where I used to go tell no stories. I didn’t witness their shutting down or going up. I wasn’t able to say goodbye or hello. They’re tales I can’t grasp quickly, and seeking them may be risky.

I feel a gap in the way the landscape of my life changed. People need narratives, we need to understand why something is and what happened. We are also creatures of place and context, from a comfy den to a favorite coffee shop. But places and their tales are different after the Pandemic, and there are holes in the story.

So I pass by and through these old, unfamiliar places. I want to know, I want to understand, I want to connect. I cannot.

I am a masked a ghost haunted by the new things and dead years.

Steven Savage

Fandom Reminders

You're in a job you don't like or aren't thrilled with.  You want to move up or out (or over).  It's tiring, exhausting, and you are having trouble focusing on what you like.

It's time for a Fandom Reminder.

Those posters in your cube?  A reminder of what you love.  That action figure?  A reminder that you want to move on to marketing.  That amusing LOLCat?  A subtle hint of the business you plan to start.  Those pictures from your last convention?  More than a conversation piece, a constant lighthouse guiding you to the day you'll have your own fan/geek career.

Those seemingly pointless reminders, collectibles, decorations, and pictures are a way to remind you of what you care about even in the worst job situation or bleakest career.  They're little sparks of light to guide you a bit farther whether you want to change jobs where you work now or want to start your own company.

Those geeky reminders that seem so pointless or ephemeral may be very important to you to help keep you on track in your life.  Don't discount them at work – a single desktop theme may be what you need to keep going a little farther.  Everything does add up.

In fact, it can be more.  Want to move to the IT division?  Put up articles on IT you've been reading for your co-workers to talk about and you to be reminded by.  Want to be a voice actor? Put up that picture of Scott McNeil or Steve Blum you took at a con.

If you're lucky your job reinforces you.  But if not, find a way to make your environment a little more of a guide and reminder to where you're going to go.

– Steven Savage