Once again taking a page from Austin Kleon’s book, I really enjoyed reading and responding to this New York Times article, in which 75 artists were asked about how they spent the last year.
Here are my own responses (even though no one asked me):
1. What’s one thing you made this year?
I spent quite a bit of time writing stories and chapter for a book no one will ever read. As far as responding to the world, I turned to collage as a way to channel the anxiety and fear we were all feeling.
I also started writing on this blog every day. (That’s gotta count for something.)
2. What art have you turned to in this time?
There were two definitive highlights in regard to TV watching: Friday Night Lights with my roommate last summer and Cobra Kai with my mom this winter. Each of these series was just fun–more fun than I’ve had in a long time. There was also a period where I watched every Godzilla movie made between 1954 and 1975.
As far as listening, Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher, The Menzingers’ Hello Exile, Silverstein’s A Beautiful Place to Drown, and Jimmy Eat World’s Surviving, which has become an unofficial soundtrack for this time, both in terms of the existential dread, but also the attempts to grow and better myself.
Ben Gibbard’s live stream series last spring was also a life saver. So much so in fact, I have one of the stream series posters hanging above my desk.
3. Did you have any particularly bad ideas?
I seriously considered starting a podcast, but that’s not the main thing, is it? I also spent quite a bit of time tinkering with a novel I eventually gave up on, which I think will prove to be a good thing in the long run.
On a personal note, trying to date during a global pandemic was also an awful idea.
4. What’s a moment from this year you’ll always remember?
In no particular order:
- handing out fish hot dogs on Election Day
- the night my roommate asked me “Do you know how to get out of Los Angeles, in case things get any crazier?” (re: last summer’s protests and the violent response to them)
- losing my mind one night and called a dear friend, who reminded me “We are not our thoughts, but our actions.”
- playing a set of songs live on Instagram
- watching The Social Dilemma and deleting all my social media
- my roommate telling me Biden won the election as I was in the shower. I responded, “Lemme put on some pants and I’ll come hug you.”
- picking up my sister in Chicago and driving her to my parents’ house for Christmas
- watching the Insurrection live on television while saying prayers and drinking at the same time
- making brunch with my parents and watching the Inauguration on television
- walks with my dad while stranded in the midwest
5. Did you find a friendship that sustained you artistically?
My roommate and I were close already, but we’ve both articulated how this time has brought us even closer. We’ve managed to sustain and support one another not only through the pandemic, but also through the personal, professional, and creative upheavals that accompanied it.
I should also give a shoutout to my mentor, Ann Garvin, whose been another tremendous source of light and inspiration. We spent quite a bit of time hanging out, walking around Los Angeles, and talking shop.
6. If you’d known that you’d be so isolated for so long, what would you have done differently?
Honestly, not much. I told everyone I talked to that this is the time we all didn’t know we needed. I’ve grown as a person and as an artist in tremendous ways throughout the last year. As exhausting as it’s been, I can’t really imagine these circumstances playing out any other way.
7. What do you want to achieve before things return to normal?
Acceptance into a graduate program for playwriting is the first. After that, only continuing to survive, stay sane, and wake up each morning with the goal of getting better at my craft and learning as much as I can.