Holiday Ruminations

Most of my trip back home to Virginia for the holidays was spent like this in my ninja shoes fending off my mom's evil (and loud) poodle and drawing backed up illustration projects.

Most of my trip back home to Virginia for the holidays was spent like this in my ninja shoes fending off my mom's evil (and loud) poodle and drawing backed up illustration projects.

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Disclaimer: As I am wont to do, sometimes I do more journal-like posts—more about life, less about illustration, more about reflection, less about work. This is one of those posts. 

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It's amazing to look back on this year and remember where I was for the holidays in 2011. I remember it all pretty vividly. But this year, geographically in the very same place as last, the differences feel all the more stark. I think for the purposes of this rumination, I'm going to stick to one of my platitudes and just say "a lot can happen in a year" because.... it's fucking true. Some elaboration is probably too personal to post here, or just plain would not make sense, but at this very moment in time, i feel like the luckiest girl on the planet. A year ago, with some stubborn determination, I set out a list of things I wanted for myself.  This December every single one of those things has come true (but not without a hell of a rough year in between). I bought my first home and studio, I have several international trips planned for next year, I've gotten a couple dream jobs which allowed much of this to happen, I've revived some very special friendships with people I now can't imagine not having in my life every day, and I'm finally in a relationship with someone so awesome I couldn't have even dreamed him up if I tried. In fact, he's been my friend for years, but sometimes it just comes down to is timing. It feels like the calm after the storm right now... And not to get too literal, but I really think Sandy may have washed in a few of the last things on the list. Traumatic situations and loss all around us have a way of reminding us what's most important.

Some shitty things happened this year too—for one, I'm learning to live with some pretty frustrating tinnitus (ringing in your ears) that I got from noise damage a few months ago. I guess the main reason I'm even mentioning it here is because through acquiring it and learning about it, I've learned how shockingly prevalent it is. My dad has it. My boyfriend has it. Five of my friends have it, which I only just learned from the process of trying to treat it. It's a stark reminder and merciless lesson to never do things I'm not comfortable with. I mean that for particular situations and settings, but also more generally. Taking risks is positive and vital, but I also think one's gut always sings loudest. I need to listen to mine more. If I had I never would have been at a loud show that damaged my ears in the first place. Anyway, several thousand dollars worth of doctors later, it looks like it's here to stay. It's been one of the toughest challenges I think I've ever dealt with, probably mostly due to my obsessive personality and affinity for pure quiet... which of course no longer exists. It's a condition that digs its annoying little finger into all my phobias and weaknesses. I'm at a place now where I'm trying to see the silver lining. If anything, in a weird way, I'm more grateful for not having something more serious go wrong, and I think you also start to be a little more sensitive to various conditions of those around you. Usually not one to get tattoos that mean anything, I got a PMA (positive mental attitude) tattoo on my right index finger to help me remember to put things in perspective and be thankful when I'm zoned out and drawing... and that little tea kettle going off in my head starts to grate finely at my nerves...

PMA.

Here's the shortlist of special things from the year that I'm grateful for: Yosemite with Dave, finding Chinese medicine, Reasons to be Creative Festival, Roger, being at a place in my career where I can travel for work, my team at IBM who has given me support and security, my family, salon dinners, Sunday night family dinner, encouraging notes from strangers, finally having a real home.

Family photo trolling in my mom's house. Mom and dad.

Family photo trolling in my mom's house. Mom and dad.

My beautiful baby sister Emily got engaged just after Hurricane Sandy hit. We visited Tredegar Iron Works downtown as a potential wedding venue while we were home. The brick is incredible.

My beautiful baby sister Emily got engaged just after Hurricane Sandy hit. We visited Tredegar Iron Works downtown as a potential wedding venue while we were home. The brick is incredible.

Iron works. Tredegar, RVA.

Iron works. Tredegar, RVA.

Roger exploring and figuring out how everything worked.

Roger exploring and figuring out how everything worked.

They just don't make buildings like they used to. Tredegar, RVA.

They just don't make buildings like they used to. Tredegar, RVA.

I like to call this photo "The Face-Off"." To my shock and joy, Roger invited my dad for a bike ride. My dad is an ex-rower for Princeton so it's not like he can't hold his own, but Roger is well, really, really fast. He races for and is sponsored by Team Sixcycle.  Rowers tend to be pretty good cyclists because the range of motion is very similar, but my dad had a hip-replacement several years ago from a bike wreck. I was pretty tickled my two main men were able to have themselves a little bonding experience and get in a workout in milder VA weather.

I like to call this photo "The Face-Off"." To my shock and joy, Roger invited my dad for a bike ride. My dad is an ex-rower for Princeton so it's not like he can't hold his own, but Roger is well, really, really fast. He races for and is sponsored by Team Sixcycle.  Rowers tend to be pretty good cyclists because the range of motion is very similar, but my dad had a hip-replacement several years ago from a bike wreck. I was pretty tickled my two main men were able to have themselves a little bonding experience and get in a workout in milder VA weather.

Sun shining and afternoon riding.

Sun shining and afternoon riding.

That is all for now. Bring on the new year. Lucky 13.