A Year of Pandemic

Wed 3/31/2021

Earlier this month we celebrated my daughter Wendy's third birthday. The small gathering for her second birthday was the last time we gathered with family and friends, including Wendy's godmother Liz, who was visiting from Maine. Shortly thereafter the pandemic really hit the USA and everything went into lockdown. We've been hunkered down at home ever since.

I remember shortly after lockdown began, hearing about a kid who had their birthday and didn't get to have a party, and thinking how sad that was. I guess now, we have all had a birthday during the pandemic. Or, I guess, all of us who are still alive...

2020 was incredibly stressful in so many different ways. Now, heading into the second year of this process I feel so completely burnt out. Coping mechanisms that worked great early on are less effective now, and I find it harder and harder to do my day job, to find fulfillment in my creative work, and to enjoy time with my family. Anything that adds a little bit of stress to my life feels like a much bigger deal than it actually is. And I keep hoping I'll wake up the next day feeling refreshed and ready to start a new day/week/month, but instead I just feel exhausted.

In my experience as a parent, you go through periods where everything is relatively stable -- there is a routine, and you've developed methods for dealing with the current state of things -- and then everything changes. We are going through one of those big transitions now, where Suzanne is having a lot of trouble getting to sleep at night (she's up until sometime between 10pm and 11pm) and Wendy has begun potty training and is... being three. Again, these things aren't unmanageable, and in "before times" Claire and I would just deal with it, but right now it's an extra layer of stress that is draining what little reserves of patience and energy I have.

I'm just venting, with the hope that expressing some of these feelings will make others who feel the same way feel less alone. Everyone has their own unique challenges during these stressful times. Shoutout to all the parents struggling through this, and extra points for anyone with a three year old who is screaming/crying about anything/everything all day long.

It's depressing watching so many people jump the gun and starting to relax restrictions, start traveling, etc. before most people are vaccinated. I wish people could hang in there a little bit longer, so that we don't have to prolong this horrible situation any longer than necessary. It's disappointing, but not surprising. We're trying so hard to combat this with science and guidelines and laws and restrictions, but at some point human nature seems to overpower everything else.

Anyway, I'm glad winter is over and it's starting to feel like spring here in Santa Fe. I'm trying to just take it one day at a time at this point, and have not lost hope that over the summer things will start to look better. Hang in there, everyone!

Animate EVERY Day!

Sun 2/14/2021

My New Year's Resolution for 2021 was "Animate EVERY Day" (for 15 minutes or more). I actually started doing this back in October when I turned 41, and of course I've been drawing comics every day since July 2002. That has become so central to my art practice, and just "who I am" that I wasn't sure what it would feel like the process over again with a new medium. It has been amazing! It's so much easier to learn and get back into the flow on projects when I work on them a little bit every day.

I've been documenting my animation progress in a dedicated Instagram account, but back in January I also set up a vimeo page so that people who aren't on instagram can check out my animation work.

This also gives me the capability to embed my animation projects on other sites... like this one! Here are all the original short animations that I created in 2020:

And here are all the animation exercises I completed from online courses, and out of various animation book (all listed in the video!).

It has been such an incredible stress relief to lean into this hobby during the pandemic. I am learning so much, and often the highlight of my day is getting to animate for 15-30 minutes after the girls are asleep and my work is done. It's like a tiny reward at the end of these long, challenging days of parenting, remote day job work, freelancing, and comics projects.

December!

Thu 12/31/2020

Well, this goddamned year is finally over. Good riddance! My 2020 New Year's Resolution was "write more." These monthly blog posts grew out of that goal, and also as a way to back off of social media a bit. I (obviously) didn't know that it would end up being such a bizarre year to document. It often felt like I was writing the same post over and over again as the months blurred together, but December actually felt a little different.

A big part of that was just Christmas. The girls popped out of bed each morning and ran to open the next window on their advent calendar, and the countdown (or build up) to Christmas kept things chugging along. The day itself was stressful, but the infusion of new toys and puzzles has made these past few days of parenting a bit easier.

Another thing that felt different was I actually managed to complete a few personal projects. Claire and I put together our annual family zine (which doubles as a Christmas card) and after three and a half years I finally finished another issue of Phase 7. I am slowly chipping away at shipping out issue #024 to subscribers, and will have ordering information available in the new year. The very first issue of Phase 7 was also published in the last days of December (eighteen years ago!) so I always get a pang of nostalgia when sending out an issue during this time of year.

At the end of November Rivers Cuomo released 2,500+ of his demos from the last twenty years for sale on his personal website. For weezer fans this is the holy grail. I'm taking my time listening to them all - this month I made it from pre-weezer days up to about 2002. It's been an amazing experience. There are so many things I never thought I'd get a chance to hear, and it's incredible to hear songs form from riffs, lyrics, chord progressions, etc. It's given me much deeper insights into Cuomo's songwriting process, and the creation of so many songs that I love. I was initially upset about the delay of Van Weezer (their new album) until sometime next year, but now I'm like, "Take your time!" I've got plenty of music to dig through.

Okay, so... how did I do? Did I write more this year? Let's look at the numbers:

  • I wrote twelve monthly "backer blog" posts (about 6,000 words) for the Isle of Elsi Patreon (only $1/month if you'd like to join)
  • I wrote eleven posts for this blog (about 10,000 words)
  • I wrote four drafts of the fifth Isle of Elsi story, Liz Tekcar in The Contested Contest, which ended up being 29 pages. It is currently being serialized online, click here to go to page 1)
  • I finally wrote a blog post about Edward Lear that I've been meaning to write for a few years (tonight! I wanted to get it in before the buzzer).

This blog makes me feel two ways: 1) I want to delete it, along with all my other blogs and just start over with a simple, clean website that just has some of my work on it and like a CV or whatever. 2) If I delete it, it feels like the social media corporations win. Like the only way you're able to share anything online is through their toxic capitalist system. UGH.

I don't think I'll keep up the monthly blog posts, but I guess ideally I'll keep writing here. I think the key might be smaller posts, not big monthly recaps. We'll see how it goes...

Anyway, if you read these posts this year, thanks for following along with my pandemic experience! Here's hoping 2021 starts to head in a better direction for all of us.

 
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