Color washes over a grayscale city in a field, with a mountain in the background. The sun, just below the horizon, renders the sky a mix of hues ranging from red to violet. Two large, multicolored hot-air balloons float off to the side of the image.

On the farthest reaches of the western ocean lies a sylvan paradise where departed souls come to rest. Ancient Greek mythology speaks of Elysium, the Isle of the Blessed, which manifests the comfort of an unchanging horizon. The living wander through life, aspiring toward the haven of rich soil and feathered trees.

The Elysian Fields warrant the struggles we endure, and even in paradise our pursuit of absolution does not go unnoticed. The ocean breeze carries our stories to shore: an orphan rediscovering her origins. A widower coming to terms with his grief. An aboriginal rendering his anger into language.

This issue of Vertigo chronicles our conceptions of the path to paradise.

—the Editors, Spring 2012

Table of Contents


Kimberly Tan: Footprints in the Sand
Ashley Wu: Speak, savannah
Jane Jun: The Cuckoo
Emily Su: Waiting Winter
Jessica Kim: Watchman
Darya Charkashyna: Your Frozen Eyes


Jeffrey Yang: Digging Up
Jenny Liu: Flare
Helen Jun: Homeward
Vivian Chan: Look Behind, Look Here, Look Ahead
Christina Zhu: Mermaid Dream
Irene Hsu: My Crooked Neck
Jefferine Li: Rebirth
Emily Liu: Speechless
Nikita Gourishetty: Stress
Christine Wang: The One-Eyed Stuffed Bear
Catherine Pugh: Waiting
Jeffrey Yang: Waiting for a Train