Wednesday, December 21, 2022

State of the Me: 2022-2023

This year's "State of the Me" is probably going to be the most positive one so far in this whole series! I'd just like to remind readers that I started this series in January 2010 because I was depressed about moving from France to Switzerland and really needed to make some long-term changes to get my life in order. So if this post looks at all like a brag-fest, it's that a bunch of goals I've been chipping away at for the past decade or two have actually wrapped up successfully in 2022!!

First and foremost: I actually finished illustrating book 1 of my comic book!!!

To recap: I wrote the script for the 3-book series during a fantastic vacation in Paris in 2014. By the end of 2015, I had the main concept art done. By mid-2016, I had finished illustrating part 2 of book 1. By mid-2017, I had finished illustrating part 1 of book 1. And then part 3 of book 1 -- which was supposed to be easy because it took place in mostly the same places as parts 1 & 2 -- took me until midway through 2022.

I need to do a bit of last-minute cleanup/corrections before printing a batch of copies of the comic book, but I expect to have it ready to go before the end of my Christmas vacation.

My plan had always been that I'd look for a publisher once book 1 was done, but I feel like I'm not quite ready to do that yet. Since it took me about five years just to draw these last 16 pages, I need to ensure that if & when I find a publisher, I'll be in a position where I can reduce my work hours and do whatever else it takes to draw the other two books as quickly as possible.

This leads into my main goals for the upcoming year:

1. Improve my skills at tools for creative processes. Specifically, I'd like to get better at creating music with the computer and at creating (2d) animations (probably with Unity). Plus I bought a green screen -- and my kids and I tried it out and found that it's quite easy to swap out the green background using ordinary editing software.

I'd like to be able to create at least reasonably professional-looking videos. I have no intention of doing it professionally, but I love storytelling through various media (amateur theater, comic books, puppet shows), and I feel like if I put in just a bit of effort on learning the tools better, I could make stuff that would be cool and that I could be proud of.

Additionally, it's fun doing collaborations with my two (now adult) kids, like our Totally Normal Town series, and I'd just like to get myself into a position where I feel like I have the skills to create a good video whenever inspiration hits.

I'd like to be in that position before I lock myself into another who-knows-how-many years of focusing on drawing the other two books of my comic book trilogy (hence wouldn't have the time to build these background skills) which is why I'd like to do this before doing a serious search for a publisher.

2. Improve my tool set for drawing my comic book. When I first started drawing it, I developed some simple tools in Python for some image correction tasks, and I've stuck with the same toolset and techniques for the whole eight years or so that I've been working on it. Now that I'm at a good breaking point, I think I can use that experience to evaluate how I can improve my techniques in order to create my drawings faster as well as better.

Once I've accomplished those two goals (hopefully by the end of 2023!) I think I will finally be ready to start looking for a publisher for my comic book.

Another related goal I've set for 2023 is that I'd like to join the local English-speaking community theater group (along with my kids). This so completely nails what we need in our lives right now that I'm kind of afraid to get my hopes up too high with respect to this working out. But here's the situation:

My kids attended the French school (Lycée Français de Zürich), so they never learned German quite as well as they should have, and they speak almost no Switzerdutsch. Since they have always been close with each other (plus they're not neurotypical), they didn't really even make a lot of lasting friendships among their French-speaking classmates. And English is the language they're most comfortable in by far.

A few months ago my older son Nico was feeling stressed about various aspects of his life -- including his lack of socializing outside the family. So I made some suggestions: (1) that we take a Switzerdutsch class together, and (2) I recommended joining an English-speaking community theater group I had heard about.

So we took the Switzerdutsch class together (the last class was this past Monday), and we're planning to sign up for the English theater club in January. The Switzerdutsch class was not great for socializing (it was a tiny class), but it was a good opportunity to get out and interact with other people (the institute that Nico is attending to learn video game programming/design is mostly online).

I think the theater club will be better because it will give an opportunity to interact with all sorts of people in real life -- in English -- doing something fun and creative together. I'll try to get my younger son Léo to join as well since improv theater was one of his favorite after-school activities. And we could all use some new friends -- especially locals who might be interested in collaborating with us on our other creative projects. (My husband might also participate a bit, but maybe not since he has his own separate interests.)

Naturally I'm always grateful for my more distant friends and creative collaborators! Here are some who've been keeping Main Street Plaza lively as we enter into awards season again:

I have a list of good ideas for more blog posts, but somehow I've been doing a bad job of buckling down and writing them. Maybe this will change now that I've discovered Mastodon (where I post as I always liked the decentralized landscape of the blogging world, and I'd been long hoping that a communication network like the #fediverse would come along and replace the for-profit social media platforms. Now I find I'm energized about connecting with people online again!

And now for the latest status on my other long-running goals:

1. Learning German and Integrating:

We're officially Swiss!! My husband and I and our two children now all have Swiss passports!

To some degree I feel like I will always be a foreigner wherever I go, but this step has had a huge impact on my outlook. Now I feel like I belong here -- like I'm a part of this place and a part of this culture.

I'm also happy that I was able to get my name change recognized. When I became French, I changed my first name from Carol to Carole, but I had to jump through some additional hoops to get this name change legally recognized in Switzerland (since my birth certificate says "Carol"). It's a silly little thing, but it's part of my chosen identity as a European.

My German is pretty fluent, but I've been wanting to at least understand Swiss German for a long time -- ever since I noticed that hearing it made me feel excluded. But it's really hard to find any reasonable materials for learning it!! The course I took with Nico was somewhat helpful, but not as helpful as I would have liked.

My new plan/hope/goal is to use the book Züritüütsch isch aifach schön -- which contains the lyrics to 5 CDs worth of clever Züritüütsch songs with transcripts and translations into high German and English. I like it so far -- I just need to set up a schedule to learn new songs from it regularly.

2. Freeing my apartment of clutter:

I've been talking about this one for years, and I think it's finally in a good state. It's not perfect, but I've managed to donate (online) some of the larger items that were still good, and I've recycled and reorganized and thrown away so many things that I now have space to breathe. I no longer feel like I'm drowning in junk!

3. My job:

My career is going amazingly well. Since I've been at my current company, I've had a vision of building a centralized DevOps/Cloud Infrastructure team that meets each tech team where they're at -- providing as much or as little setup/training/support as they need to deploy their projects to the cloud infrastructure (which we maintain) in a scalable and automated way. And I've made it so.

Looking at my team now, this positioning seems expected and inevitable -- but in reality, it took some work to convince various teams across the company to trust us with this responsibility rather than fragmenting the DevOps tasks.
I've had the pleasure and privilege of training and collaborating with some fantastic colleagues. My boss has done a fantastic job of helping us prioritize a new roadmap of system-wide upgrades. And the icing on the cake is that I earned a big raise and promotion -- I've been the tech lead of my team for months!

My only goal on this one is to update my CV and my linked-in profile with all of the fantastic successes in this job!!

4. Anything else...?

I've gotten all recommended vaccines and boosters, and we're still masking in the public transport and while shopping. So far none of us has gotten Covid at all.

The protection provided by the vaccines has allowed me and my husband to resume some of our favorite leisure activities, especially travel and throwing parties.

On the very bad side, the world's response to climate change is still nowhere near where it needs to be. But at least in my little micro corner of the world 2022 was a good year. Let's hope 2023 will be even better!!

1 comment:

Donna Banta said...

I love all of this! Especially your creativity goals, branching out to video and music, and the boys' venture into theater. Also your decluttered house. This year's move forced us to do the Marie Kondo thing, too. I love that I actually have some empty drawers now!

Best to you and yours in the New Year!