what I did last year

This is a post I intended to write in May, as my second academic year of unemployment-by-choice, as I've been calling it, neared an end, an end that began with ten weeks of summer break. But in May I was furiously wrapping up the first season of the Artists in Offices podcast. Check that off the list! For now, at least.

But first, before I get into my goals for this year, a (brief) look back, as I did last year, at the half-dozen blog posts I wrote in 2018-19:
  • A recap of the first time I spent 10 weeks of summer "break" with both kids in tow 24/7. Over that long period, I managed to carve out just one afternoon alone to go to a movie I really didn't want to have to wait until it was streaming on Netflix to see.
  • A DIY version of Arby's Jamocha shake for National Chocolate Milkshake Day. I mean, why not?
  • As if my crazy cat lady status wasn't already official, I wrote a cat-themed parody, with accompanying music video, of Sophie B. Hawkins' 'Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover'. Blog post here, in case this requires further explanation.
  • A late fall podcast status update.
  • Once the podcast launched, I wrote a fairly thorough summary of how the project went from idea to podcast, and everything in between.
  • And, over the summer, a little more about what the podcast is about.
So, yeah, the big project of the year was the podcast. But let's take a few minutes to review my original to do list after I left my last day job just shy of 2 years ago.
I'm truly, honestly still working on this, I swear. In fact, I was so inspired by my surprising ability to actually finish something big and creative that I decided, once I get caught up on all the things I neglected over summer break, that I'll work on only this in any kid-free time I have each week until it's done. Like, 100% done. Okay, maybe just the first, rough draft. But I'm still catching up. My goal is to be caught up on all the miscellaneous domestic stuff by about Labor Day weekend.
  • I need more time to make art in my cozy little backyard studio.
I feel pretty good about where I am in my studio practice after this two-year recovery period. At some point last year I declared Heavenly a necessary failure that was successful in transitioning me back into a more consistent creative routine. I've since devoted most non-audio studio time to a newer body of work collectively titled dollhouse/100 days in the dollhouse/I see things that nobody else sees (I should probably pick one title at some point...). It mostly lives on Instagram at the moment, but I'm excited to see how this project evolves over the course of the next 9 months or so. Like a fetus gestating in my studio womb. (Too much?)
  • I’m starting a podcast (and/or support network) about(/for) other artists in offices.
Done! The first season is complete, with a trailer, 10 full-length interviews, 2 bonus episodes around formal art training, and 2 bonus episodes catching up with the artists who quit their day jobs after our initial interviews. I'm currently exploring next steps. I'd like to continue the interviews, with a season devoted to parent artists, and for any creative book editors/publishers who might be reading this, I really feel like this could be a book. An authored book with contributing interviews and such, right? So call me, okay?
Uh, quite the opposite, actually, since I finally shuttered this business in December 2018, after years of limping along (the last time that income from my micro biz offset the minimal costs of running said biz was in January 2013, before my now 6 1/2 year old daughter was born). I'm still interested in design, just like I'll always be crafty and make stuff, even if I never have another art show. But running a business on Etsy just isn't what it was in the early days.
  • I’m working on a kids’ book based on the Cosmos series, starring a cuddly tardigrade as Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Zero progress made on this front. Also, do we still like Neil deGrasse Tyson? I'm not sure we do.
  • I’m planning to volunteer at the cat cafe until they just give me a job.
I no longer volunteer at Cat Town, spending all of my volunteer hours (about 4 a week, usually on one weekend afternoon) at Oakland Animal Services instead. I spend time in adoption as well as in the back of the shelter as part of both the kitten and cat "crews". If what I do as a volunteer there was a job, I'd apply in a heartbeat.
  • I’m compiling a “quit your day job” bibliography that will eventually be turned into a manuscript for a self-help book with the working title: “Little Boxes: How to get out of the office and into the studio...” (or something like that).
This has morphed a bit to focus on the podcast audience in particular, but it's still very much a work in progress. 
  • I'm going to figure out how to make hand-stitched felt phone cases for Android, minus the carpal tunnel syndrome.
Nope. Nothing. I got nothin' on this one. Not sure I ever will. When I checked in with Laura Torres, the second artist I interviewed for the podcast, who'd quit her day job for a few months to focus on her creative practice, she wrote this in her email update and it really resonated with me in terms of all the random creative/crafty stuff I think I want to do in my spare time: "When I was working a day job, I always thought I wanted to do all this other stuff. But I am realizing some of that was a sort of escapist fantasy." Same. I can't say I miss making those phone cases, so why devote precious time on that now? (And if you'd like to hear more from my follow-up conversation with Laura, check out the bonus episode here.)
  • I’m developing recipes for a cookbook called “Sweet on Oakland: Cookies Inspired by Oakland Neighborhoods".
No cookbook (yet), but I did make a few new cookies over the past year, mainly because I donated a six-month cookie subscription to my kids' school's fundraiser last fall. I still need to post recipes for the last couple I completed. Shelving this project for now to make time for all of the above.

So what's new this year? Well, if my extra debut in Season 2 of The North Pole is not the breakout role I'm fully expecting it to be (I'm kidding, of course), find another day job, basically. In a perfect world, I'd finish my screenplay and find some sort of funding for the podcast while I'm reviewing 7-figure offers on the screenplay and making sure it actually gets made into a movie. But until then, I can't not work forever. So wish me luck, friends, and stay tuned.

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