No question, 2011 was a bear of a year! It was a year of overcommitment for me, and I let too many things fall by the wayside as I struggled and failed to meet too many of those commitments. It was a year of loss, a year of struggle. It had its high points, and they were great. But it had its deep, deep lows -- as much in the broad strokes as in the specific moments.
The year began with forcing my mother to deal with deteriorating mental capacity that required putting her, against her will, into a home. It was soon followed by the sudden death of a close and young colleague, who went from diagnosis to death from cancer in under a month. My old friend, writers block, returned with its usual neurotic and hard-to-explain-to-others inability to write in certain contexts. It brought an unwanted friend, an excruciating difficulty with responding to students' writing that made me not very good at my job. It was the year I had to go on strike to protect that job, and in the process engaged in a polarizing social drama on my campus. And it was a year where economic downturn served as the cover for retrograde policy on all the things that matter most to me and should matter most to all of us.
But pain and frustration were not the only qualities of this year. After all, it began with an engaging and successful social media art project that earned me a few lines in an ARTNews article this summer. It was the year I had a regular comic strip for a few months until the collaborative blog died a mysterious death. It was the year I used my cartooning and other talents to great effect for that strike effort. It was the year I figured out Instagram and found an amazing online community of similarly-minded net artists. It was the year I published an art comic in a literary journal. It was a great year for travel and performance: Maine, New Mexico, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alaska. It was the year my mother got a little better and managed to move herself into an assisted living community more to her liking.
I came into the holiday break flying on fumes, exhausted by the good and the bad of it all. I made a minimal effort at holiday celebrations with the ones I love most. Mostly, I hid in the bed covers, watched movies, and made art for my Instagram feed (the images in this post are a result of that holiday "labor"). I avoided leaving the house and going onto Facebook. I told myself this was all necessary, that I needed the time off, the serious down-time. I told myself it can't be all bad if I'm making art, right?
The New Year is here, and I hope it will be better than the last. I have a sabbatical coming (hopefully) in the second half of it. I have arts projects (performance, comics, digital graphics, etc.) planned that I think will be fulfilling. I get to teach a graduate seminar this spring that I am very excited about. And at the end of the year looms the next great global fantasy of the end of the world -- or its great awakening into new consciousness.
I write this today on my lunch break in my office at school. I am digging in to try to catch-up and get over the the damage done last semester and last year. But I pause to breathe, to resuscitate this blog, to make it my companion again for what I think, I hope will be a truly good year. We are, all of us, damaged a bit by this world. We are all of us making the best of it. I remind myself that, while my end-of-year time of rest was needed and welcome, little else is achieved from isolation. If 2012 is going to be a good year, we are going to have to make it so together. So, I am back, rolling up my sleeves, ready to get to work.