Thursday, December 30, 2021

goodbye, 2021

This is usually around the time I do my year-in-review sort of posts, sometimes more detailed, sometimes less, but I had a hard time motivating myself to sit down and do it this week.  Not that there weren't good things that happened in terms of writing and art, but more that so much else has happened that those things seem tiny to talk about.  In fact, when I think back, much of the early part seems like a decade ago, so it's hard to capture any of it in a nutshell. On a personal front there was the anxiety before vaccination, then a moment of relief and hope we'd be back to something like normal that lasted a few brief seconds in June or July, but then went from creeping anxiety again to full blown as Omicron moved in this last month or so. Also creeping dissastifaction with my day job and plans to remedy it in the new year.  I've had a lot in my head since early October, and it has made me distracted and absent-minded and not really in a creative zone.  Still despite that, there have been a few weeks growing in the cracks. A couple spooky short stories.  The art advent project all the creatures, stirring in December. Things still can bloom, even here.

As the year began, I was working on getting feed close to publication-ready, my first book going it alone without the support and work of publisher, and it was a little grueling in the layout process last December,. But shortly after the new year, I had a proof copy in hand.  It, it of course, would have taken a little less time to finalize had there not been racists and idiots swarming into The Capitol on the news the same day it arrived. So it took a little longer, but I had a book by the end of February and it sold really well, better than expected, especially since it feels like such a personal book. I didn't submit a thing, but I published a couple poems in journals, Pretty Owl Poetry and talking about strawberries all the time.  A poem in Masks, edited by our library artist-in-residence. I also did my first ever zoom reading with The Poetry Foundation.  Then a couple more.   I issued numerous little zine projects throughout the year, mostly electronically. The rest of spring is split between my feelings before vaccination (anxiety, dread) and after. It was short-lived of course as other places were still on fire, but for a moment, Chicago was faring well.  I did napowrimo, at least most of it, finishing a little series on Walter Potter's strange taxidermy, and another short spooky little series called the bird artist. We launched our Urban Legends exhibit at work, in which I had some pieces from my conspiracy theories zine project. 

By summer, I finally was back full force in terms of dancing girl press releases., after a year where my heart was hardly in it. I went to Rockford a couple times, and even got back inside a thrift store again. Without a mask, no less, in June.  I worked on poems about spells that became the working girl's grimoire, and plotted the layout for the 2nd book I planned to release in 2021, dark country. I used vacation days to create shorter weeks that made the summer feel a little more liesurely.  On those days off, I edited and wrote and drank coffee all day. I would arrive back at the Library on Wednesday with a boatload of work that never went away and I was poorly paid for. I began to feel listless.

By fall, I was ready for the semester to begin, despite creeping numbers.  In the first couple months, we were brave enough to have some in-person things like screenings and collage sessions and workshops. I did a couple virtual professional presentations on zines & libraries. I visited a class to talk about dancing girl press.  I began curating the Bad Art exhibit. I also began thinking about different trajectories that might ease some of my bandwidth problems-- the feeling that I've worked 20 years in a job, 40 hours a week, and am only making $100 more per paycheck than I was a decade ago, while at the same time, my job duties have tripled. That I've also been working another full-time job (if you take the hours devoted to  my own writing and art + editing and the press)  all done in the off hours and weekends, and I feel like I never have anything under control or enjoy things the way I should.  Also the feeling that the creative life was failing me. Or that I was failing it. I tried to shake things up by writing some fiction, the quality of which remains to be seen, but it was nice to switch up genres. I was also looking to ramp up my income streams and fiction occasionally pays in a way poetry does not. (obv. not a steady income stream, but a possible one nevertheless...)

I also started scanning job pages in my most discontented hours.  Began to feel that personal loyalty to people I consider friends is no reason to stay in a job you have begun to hate and are woefully undervalued. Also that the last thing I need is a full-time job, even a well-paid one, which wouldn't necessarily solve my bandwidth issues.  I explored a couple freelance contract things and started writing for  one, which opened a door and offered a little bit of the stability I was lacking when I considered going it alone.  Things are shaping up that I may be able to leave working full-time in the next couple of months, the logistics of which we are hammering out, but there is some hope on the horizon.  I finished the year out with this vision in my mind and the possibility to create something new from my days. Not only in terms of my own writing and art (which makes no money), but devoting more time and expanding press projects (which makes a little money) and running the shop and having the time to fill it with prints, paper goods, and accessories, possibly some vintage,  in a way I haven't been able to in about a decade (which will hopefully make more money and eek out a living). And of course, a back-up plan with a handful freelance work and design/editing projects I may take on for others. Maybe some workshops. It's terrifying to envision it, but also wonderful.  

So that  is where my head is at these days. The pandemic rages on. I still haven't really been able to get back to reading for pleasure. The news is, as per usual, alarming. I distract myself with youtube fashion videos and instagram reels, with trashy televsion shows, since i feel like I don't have the bandwidth for things I have to think about.  I go nowhere I don't absolutely have to and don't plan to change that anytime soon. Since my boyfirend is DJ-ing as per usual at a a bar on NYE (which is terrifying me, btw) I will be spending midnight in my pajamas and may be asleep by the time 2022 rolls in. It seems appropriate.  

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