There are many, many, MANY reasons to be glad to see the end of 2020. Rather than focus on the negative, however, I wanted to take the time to look back at some of the good things that happened to me over the past year. Here they are, in no particular order:
I got to spend a lot of time with my family. When the pandemic was just getting rolling and the first lockdowns were imminent, my parents encouraged me to come stay with them for a while so I wouldn't be isolated. What I expected to last a couple weeks or months, however, stretched to cover much of the year. Had I been alone in my apartment with virtually no in-person human interaction, I think I might've lost my mind. I'm grateful that I had the support I needed to weather the storm.
I started getting in shape. When I first arrived at my parents' home, they were on an intermittent fasting diet. I ended up giving it a try, and I discovered that it worked pretty well for me. My weight had been spiraling out of control, due in large part to stress-eating and snacking late at night. "Closing the kitchen" after dinner probably cut my calorie intake by at least a thousand a day and let me start shedding some of my excess pounds. I've also had back issues since college that have prevented me from maintaining a workout regimen lately, but the reduced weight took enough strain off of my back that I've been able to start running and using weights without my spine going screwy every other week. Since March, I've lost 30 lbs and feel better than I have in years. I'm grateful that I was given the tools to put that part of my life in order.
My cooking game jumped up a level. This may sound counterintuitive with the weight loss, but one of the nice things about intermittent fasting is that you don't have to regulate what you eat so much as when you eat it. I started making bread shortly before the pandemic started, and during lockdown, it became a hobby for me and for my dad. I, in particular, made and cultivated a sourdough starter and have been experimenting with it for months. I also made mojo pork Cubanos and enchiladas, baked a cheesecake with homemade cream cheese, and had numerous other new culinary experiences. I've been considering making a comic cookbook for a while, and this year put me a great deal closer to actually doing it. I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity to grow my passion for cooking and food.
I performed a marriage. One of my few forays back to Columbus during the pandemic was for a wedding. My close friends Trickssi and Fractali had asked me to be their officiant before the pandemic started, so when they decided to go ahead with having a small service, I was honored to return and assist them. It was a safe and socially-distanced affair, performed on my porch with the brides, two witnesses, and a photographer. I'm grateful to have been allowed to help my friends enter the next stage of their lives together.
The Legacy of L was published. I started working on The Legacy of L in 2017. When I finished the final page in January, it felt like the finish line was close. The Kickstarter for the print run was fully funded on March 1st, right before things started getting crazy in the United States. Once the pandemic properly reached us, I discovered that trying to get a book printed when print shops were operating with minimal staffing and new social distancing procedures was going to be challenging. It took months to get it done, but when the book finally came out, it was the biggest feeling of relief I'd had in months. Throughout all the delays, the people that backed my Kickstarter were supportive and understanding. I'm grateful that they gave me the opportunity to share my graphic novel with the world.
My freelance work started taking off. I feel a little guilty bringing this one up, as I know many people have faced employment difficulties. As it happens, however, this was my most successful year as a freelancer. I released a book; worked with several anthology projects as an artist, technician, and organizer; drew title cards for Play Disc and album art for Stages; and almost have enough CosPain strips to shop an official collection to publishers. On top of that, my business expenses this year have been a fraction of what they were in previous years, since traveling for cons was no longer a consideration. Considering how difficult a road it has been these past few years, I'm grateful that, in some small way, my work has finally started to bear fruit.
These are just a few of the things that have gone right for me this year. We've all had different struggles, and I suspect (and on some level, hope) that 2020 will not be remembered fondly. Nobody knows what the future holds, but as we move forward together, let me offer you this: Happy New Year, and may 2021 be your best year yet.
Rock on, guys, and never stop drawing.