It should go without saying, but moving to Portland was far from easy.  Even recently there have been some days where I just wander the streets of Old Town or Lloyd Center, hitting up any happy hours that I can, wondering what the hell I’m doing with my life and if I made the right decision.  For six months I’ve been thinking about how much I miss my friends and family back in Chicago, and how I don’t know what I’m doing or what to do next.

Even now, my computer is dying and I have to find a way to cough up $1300 to get a whole new one, otherwise my entire operation is screwed.  I spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas alone (away from my family) because I couldn’t afford to fly home.  I’ve had numerous job and art opportunities die on the vine, and (without going into too much detail) had my heart broken TWICE in one month.  It’s gotten to the point where, after a very stressful holiday season, I decided to get counseling for my anxiety disorder (amongst other reasons).  Worries like this almost crippled me when I was in Minnesota, and too much is at stake these days for me to fall prey to its influence again.

Coming home for New Year’s has been exactly what I wanted…but the more I stay in Chicago, the more I realize things aren’t the same anymore.  My family has changed.  My friends have changed.  The city has changed.  I’ve changed.  Even though it’s been hard, I realize more and more that, even if it was hard, moving to Portland and getting a life of my own was the right decision.  It’s great to come back and relax and catch up…but this isn’t my life anymore.

So, rather than be hard on myself like I usually am, I decided to do another round up of the things I got to do and experience in 2012.

Here we go:

– I managed to get “Oh Goodie! Vol. 2” completed and run a successful Kickstarter campaign for it.

– Even though I had to cut WAY back on my conventions this year, I still managed to go to two of my favorites and had the time of my life, and interact with one of my idols there to boot.  AND I got confirmed for my favorite of the two for next Spring.

– I managed to make it to Portland and eventually get settled, where I’d be able to pursue art opportunities I wouldn’t have had in Chicago (this part I again could not have accomplished without Tyler McDonnell and Taylor Harmon taking me in.  Thank you so much guys).

– I’ve had a great time at my volunteer position, and want to teach more workshops there next year.

– I got a kickass job doing portraits at Oaks Park, which paid for most of my settlement and later got me the gig at Mayor Adams’ party.

– For the first time in my life, I have my name on a lease and a rental agreement.  And I have enough employment and income to pay my rent without any trouble at all.

– I participated in a major gallery show and took my first steps back into doing fine art (on my terms this time).

– Even though it almost killed me, I created a story in a scant three or four months that reached almost half of the content of my first book, with much better writing, art, and scope.

I got to see my favorite band give the best show I’ve seen them put on thus far thanks to the generosity of Hal Stern.  And I’m almost finished writing my complete reviews of their extensive catalog (that is going to be finished soon, stay tuned).

– I biked so much in Portland that over the course of the summer I lost thirty pounds and have managed to keep the weight off.  I’m actually now five pounds below my high school weight, something I previously thought would be impossible.  Since coming home, all of my friends keep telling me how unrecognizable I am.

– And I have plenty of new stuff planned down the pipeline, on my own or with others.  My first year in Portland has been fulfilling and paid off, but it’s a “good start”.  I still have a lot further to go.

…And right now, I’m going to head out with my old co-workers to spend New Year’s with them.  These are my old friends, my mates, my comrades in arms, and all of us have moved on to other things in the last six months. But we still have enough camaraderie and friendship where we wouldn’t want to spend the evening with anyone else.

Happy New Year everyone!  See you in 2013!