Everyone always says that "(blank year) just FLEW by". I wish I could empathize, but I cannot with 2016. This year was, for me, filled with a great many things and events and joys and losses, none of which I can truly forget. Also, my status of still being without a permanent residence of my own has done nothing but add to the feeling that this year dragged by. Not to say that that, in and of itself, is a bad thing, but it certainly didn't fly.
The year started off in the most unbelievable and unimaginable way. I found myself working on a Simpsons Cough Gag with Mr. Eric Goldberg. To say that 2016 was "just a complete crap year" is an injustice to this one fact. I will NEVER forget the serendipitous series of events that led me to this one project. And I will also never be able to thank Eric enough for allowing me to be a part of his team. However, this most joyous event was tempered somewhat by the news that my last grandparent, my Nana, passed away on January 9th. I was actually working with Eric when the call came. He and his dear wife, Susan, were absolutely wonderful during this time for me. Though they offered to let me go to grieve, I went back to work. Some people may think it is callous of me, but I get through difficult times best by digging back in to work. True, I cried a bit on a few of the inbetweens, but Eric allowed me. He talked with me and I was able to share with him some of my memories of my grandmother. I only wish I had broken the one Golden Rule of working in this industry and told her what I was working on. She died before I was allowed to say anything of the Simpsons. I know that she must be aware now, but I wish she could have died knowing that, even in a small way, I had finally achieved what I had always dreamed. (I would have said so that she would have died proud of me, but I am not a fool. I know she was proud of me.)
Some very dear friends and I celebrated my birthday on January 14th at Disneyland- a very bittersweet day indeed. Every happy moment was chased by thoughts of my grandmother. I was taken straight to LAX after we closed down the park and got on a plane to attend my grandmother's funeral on the 15th. No one in my family remembered my birthday- but I cannot blame them. (They say life imitates art- haha. Well, my love of the film Sixteen Candles finally caught up with me.) The funeral was devastatingly sad, and yet... had strange surreal moments of humor. Anyone who thinks they can't laugh at a funeral has never been to their technology-impaired grandmother's funeral when the computer projecting the slideshow has to do a system update in the middle of the service.
In 2016, I got a new job to help finish an independent animation short, I quit a separate job that was doing nothing but hurting me, and I was offered another film opportunity- as a painter/designer for the animation sequences in the documentary film, Iron Will: Veterans Battle with PTSD. Having so many dear family members who have served our country in times of war and of peace, this film holds a special place in my memory as well.
The number of friends who have taken me in in 2016 has truly humbled me. I could never have imagined that I would still be floating after nearly 2 years of not having a place of my own. I have stayed with some friends for quite long periods of time, others only a couple of days. But each one of these friends are so very dear to me for opening their doors, couches, floors, and hearts to me. Regardless of everything else, I must say that 2016 showed me how truly blessed I am. Among these friends, I was able to watch two of my best friends get married (to one another) and the arrival of their dear sweet baby boy. I became an "auntie".
Lastly, there is a very important and significant point I came to realize in 2016. I won't go into deep details, but several events have made me analyze what it is I want in a career. I apply for any job that I believe I can competently do, but during a particularly intense moment of self-reflection this month, I made a startling discovery. While I can do MANY jobs in this life- and HAVE to keep food/gas/necessities of life coming in- when I truly asked myself, my answer was immediately, "I am an artist." To have that so clearly solved has made me look at things a little differently. Before I applied to CalArts, an accident nearly took the tip of one of my fingers from me. A very dear friend had an accident less than a month later that nearly severed his dominant index finger. He could not use his drawing hand for weeks. The scare of never being able to draw again is partially what drove me to dedicate myself 110% to getting into the animation industry. My life was too short to lose my ability to draw. And yet, as any loyal followers of this blog know, I do not draw as much as I should. I blame a lot of this on my not having a studio, or sometimes even a DESK on which to draw, but I cannot allow this flimsy excuse to prevent me any longer. 2017 will be the year of art. Sketches, studies, paintings- whatever it takes. I will strive to draw every - single - day! I will try to post here as much as possible. I just cannot let another year got to waste when I want to be in this industry so badly. And I had to admit, the fault is Mine. I am the one to blame. I do not make time for art, though I claim that art brings me so much joy. Perhaps the real reason I felt 2016 was such a sad year was because I got too far away from the thing I want more than anything.
So- I enter into 2017 as an artist. I go forward with a new attitude. I refuse to allow myself to sink into my own pit of pity and self-despair. I wish you all the very best in the year to come. I believe that life is (usually!) what you make of it. So I will watch out for you all in the coming year and hope that you will be along with me on this amazing ride!