There was a lot of bad in this year, but there were a lot of great things too. As I look back through my pictures, I realize that they describe this year better than anything I could write.
So here it is: my year, organized by the pictures I took in each month.
After working in the city for six months, January was my first trip to Powell Street, the tourist district. While I spent 40+ hours a week in San Francisco, I hadn’t gone there much for fun (since on my days off I just wanted to sleep). In January, I left my job in the city for one closer to home. This first trip to Powell Street with my sister marked the end of a good albeit very stressful season, and the beginning of one with more energy for trips like this.
At my job in San Ramon, I often ate lunch outside and watched the ducks play in the water. San Ramon is a beautiful little valley tucked in the hills about 45 minutes east of the bay. Big enough to have everything you need while being small enough to be quiet and clean. If perfect summer weather exists anywhere in the world, it exists in San Ramon.
One of my favorite things about our apartment complex in California was the sheer number of snails. Snails on the walls, on the sidewalk, stuck to railings, and occasionally, eating the bird seed. The birds didn’t know what to do about it, but I thought it was great.
The people I worked with in San Ramon were some of the nicest people I’ve known, and it was one of my favorite assignments. Every assignment I get is better than the last one and I say “this is the best job I’ve ever had!” and it’s true every time. But these guys are something special. If I hadn’t had to move, I would probably still be working there.
In May, I took a trip to LA with a couple friends for a Disneyland/Universal Studios extravaganza. I hadn’t been to Disneyland since I was a freshman in college and not to Universal Studios since I was five or so. We got there just a few weeks after the Wizarding World of Harry Potter LA had opened. Potterhead that I am, I was stoked.
My sister and I were able to make it to the San Francisco Pride Parade this year. It is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I don’t even know if I can quite put it into words to explain why. It was just so…positive. Everyone standing together and celebrating without judgement. So many people happy with who they are.
Taking place only a few weeks after the Florida nightclub shooting, it was especially powerful. There were multiple floats in solemn remembrance. When the first one came by, the cheering stopped. A street of over a thousand people clapped solemnly together, otherwise completely silent. People were crying. I’ve never seen something so powerfully moving. All I could think was how incredibly brave the people in the parade were.
My last month in California, I went to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 for the first time. It was the perfect day for it. Warm, sunny, blue skies, with a nice breeze. While Fisherman’s Wharf is the most famous, I personally prefer Pier 7. There’s nothing there but a few places to sit, but it’s long, wooden, and there aren’t many people. It’s a beautiful pier and my favorite.
In August, I came home for the first time since Christmas. As much as I loved being home, it was hard to readjust to a different kind of life. I wasn’t used to things being so quiet, so slow, so far away. But I was very excited to be with my family and friends again, and to be around so much nature. The Oregon landscape is pensive and healthy. The whole place feels like a prayer. I am happy to be back.
I’ve always noodled around with drawing, but it wasn’t until the last few months that I started getting serious about improving. I don’t know if I’ll do anything with it, but I’ve been enjoying getting better. I still have a long way to go, but it isn’t a skill I had anticipated developing last year.
This year I participated in Inktober, an annual challenge in the art community to make an ink drawing for every day of October. I didn’t succeed, but I think I managed about 16 drawings. As a result, ink has turned from a foreign artsy concept to my favorite drawing medium.
The presidential election hit me hard, as it did a lot of people. But along with the fear came a more determined, more intentional desire to work to make the world a better place for all. A vow my friends and I made that will shape our work from now on.
It’s been amazing being able to share the entire holiday season with my family this year. Last year I was home for a total of 48 hours (fly out after work Christmas Eve on Friday, have Christmas Saturday, fly back for work on Sunday night). I missed Oregon winters, I missed having the house decorated, I missed the wood fires. It’s been heaven.
2017 will have its ups and downs as all years have, but I still expect great things from it. As far as New Years Resolutions go, I’ve decided to limit it to three big ones (two plus one already in the works):
1) Get something published. I’ve been afraid to send anything out because it’s my first time, but this year, I’m going to jump in, arms flailing. I have a collection of poetry all ready to be sent out and while I’m terrified to send it off to a journal, I’m excited too. I’d also like to write more short stories and finish the first draft of Necromantic this year.
2) Get more in tune with myself etc, physically and spiritually. I’ve been feeling pretty disconnected this year, and it’s time to be whole.
3) Return to Japan. This is already in the works. I’ve been accepted to a Japanese language school for April through June. I am beyond excited and also in disbelief. It feels like I went to Japan ages ago. I’d like to eventually spend more time in Japan. Get a job, an apartment, really settle in. This is the first big step towards that.
Happy New Year everybody! I wish you all the best.