Here are the moments I want to remember from 2022, in no particular order but maybe kind of a more organized order than last year?
Here’s what I learned about it.
*Hydrate first, then grab a cocktail or your warm and cozy beverage of choice, I’m leaving 2022 with lots of words. You’ll need a drink.
On this day last year freedom was the word my heart kept resting on. But the more I chased after it the more evident it was that in so doing I was just imprisoning myself. I was looking at this thing I didn’t feel like I had as though it were a destination I could only arrive if I unlocked the right set of circumstances.
And so I handed myself the keys.
Freedom became a land where I could append “and that’s ok, now what?” to any sentence and move forward with ease. Freedom was dropping judgment from my language. Freedom was allowing people to be as they are. Freedom was allowing myself to show up in ways I never have before.
And the best part after about six months of working with this?
I literally stopped giving a shit about being free from all the things I’d wanted to be away from and just let them in and dealt with whatever flowed out of that in all its messy chaotic beauty.
Chasing freedom was a way of keeping myself separate from things I didn’t want to look at. If I were *someone who wanted freedom* I was on one side of the equation and *those things* were on the other side. There’s no way to resolve that without making a mess. So I stepped into the waders and muddled through.
I didn’t die. And that’s ok, now what?
(If you don’t give a fuck about me rambling on about the Pine Barrens skip to the cute AI friendo in the photo after this one.)
An understandable response to forest fires is looking at them through a *how does this impact our lives* lens and we had a pretty epic fire this year. This kayak trip was a few weeks later but you could still see and smell the fire all around as we paddled down the Batsto.
Once we’re not in immediate danger it’s helpful to zoom out and look at forest fires from the *how does this impact our ecosystem* perspective. In the case of the Pine Barrens…they can’t exist without fire. Pitch pines require the heat of a forest fire to release their seed and also for the fire to clear the scrub brush away so the sun can reach the seedlings. Not many seedlings survive because pitch pines are tough mfers and it takes a LOT of fire to clear a path for sunlight.
But people hate forest fires because it might burn down their homes so we intervene in this regenerative process which means I spend a lot of time thinking about the ways we interfere with our own regenerative process and how humans are pests which surprisingly most people don’t want to talk about. Thank heavens we now have AI chatbots who are more than happy to have this discussion with me, best timeline ever!
(Do you even know me?!? Of course I’m not gonna have a conversation with AI about the environment but I suppose by writing this blog post it will get fed into AI somehow so I’ll close with this: FUCK YES FORESTS ARE AMAZING, THE PINE BARRENS IN PARTICULAR. GO READ SOME JOHN MCPHEE.)
That’s my contribution to society before it all burns down.
At least the pitch pines will benefit.
On that note, I collaborated with AI (Midjourney, specifically) a bit this year.
This is probably more pleasant to most people than my concern about the planet on which we live.
Except for everyone who hates AI art.
Earth was pretty and so much fun.
I’ll miss it.
Not sure where I sit ethically so I stopped playing with AI for a minute to figure that out.
And that’s ok, now what?
This is how I think. 90% of the time when I say I’m arting I’m actually doing this. Don’t tell anyone, don’t want them to think I’m sleeping on the job.
Also, I think too much. Occupational hazard.
(Since this is a choose your own adventure blog post if you don’t care about running you can skip down to the art where I’m pouring from an empty cup and spread way too thin. Can’t miss it, might explain a few things.)
Two weeks post-covid running my first 5k. It was literally the hottest day of the year and I’d overhydrated because I was worried about that and also I had no idea what I was doing. I wanted to puke the entire last mile and had to do a walk/run/omg hope I don’t die sort of thing.
And then I ran another 5k a couple weeks later which was much less dramatic.
And then somehow 5k became my easy run. I no longer wanted to puke during the last mile and actually…running became kind of fun wtf was this not supposed to be torture?!?
It boggles my mind that I can have a conversation while running. Every. Single. Time. But the chats (and sometimes singing!) we have while running give me life and have become my favorite part of the day.
Adequate rest be damned I will ALWAYS get up for a run with my friends.
Most of my running friendos have run marathons or hundred milers or some other kind of race shit I didn’t even know existed because they’re brilliant forces of nature. When I started running with them it took everything I had in me to just keep up with them but I refused to tap out and so I learned and grew and have (almost!) caught up with them (I keep trying!). Without them there is ZERO chance I’d be dragging my ass out of bed at 4 a.m. for a pre-dawn run in 19 degree windy weather.
This is not humble bragging but rather a testament to the power of having friends you care about enough to show up for in these conditions and for that I’m both lucky and grateful. We all need these kinds of people in our lives and if we do life the right way and get really lucky we get to be that person for someone else.
This summer I realized I wasn’t someone who exercised anymore, I was an athlete. This point was driven home when I injured my ankle while training for a 10k the wrong way and I landed in PT…and met the best doc ever along with a few of his partners in crime and amongst them they patched me together enough to…
…run across this fucking bridge and back…
…with all these running friendos and a few hundred more…
…and in particular with my lovely friend and also the person who keeps my hair looking amazing. Neither of us were quite ready for this 10k but we did the damn thing anyway and totally rocked it!
Highlight of the race: I got to use a Porta Potty that had never been used before. 10/10 would recommend, heavenly experience! #priorities and also yes I googled the proper spelling of whatever the disgusting white rectangle portable public bathroom is called.
Long run celebrations.
Vacation run celebrations because everyone loves a tourist doing weird shit that makes no sense.
Last run of the year which was fucking epic.
After never running before in my entire life naturally I’m running the Chicago Marathon in October, that escalated quickly. Gird your loins for lots of marathon training content, I know that’s why you show up here! #sorrynotsorry
THIS. Over and over again.
Getting offered my dream job but turning it down because logistics. And then realizing later I’d made excuses to not go for it. No regrets because I learned a little in the process and our path is our path. Saying no to one thing means you’re free to say yes to other things and vice versa. Can’t predict the future and never has this been more evident than as I sit here writing this.
Miami. I kept trying to write about this and failing. I left all the hearts.
This moment on the bay, though, my first night there, when they unfurled the sails and we flew across the top of the water…this is my entire Miami experience in one photo.
Writing. So much writing. Mostly things I don’t share.
Messy airport sketches.
Naps, so many of them, when things got to be too much which was more often than I’d like to admit this year but here we are.
I know rest is good but it’s against my nature and as much as I’d like to pretend and more specifically tell you otherwise I’m a shitty role model. I don’t sit still well. Never have, never will, if I’m not moving you need to check my pulse or shove me into the sunlight or something.
I’m not going to apologize for my inconsistency on this but rather caution you to adjust your expectations if you’re looking to me for some sort of guidance. I don’t always practice what I preach.
And that’s ok, now what?
FFS I literally can’t even with this one.
Someday I’ll be able to disappear into my art. Or my art will rise up to meet me. One or the other.
At this point we’re basically the same creature.
Wait what people want to pay me to teach them art things? I have no idea what I’m doing as anyone who has seen my work can attest.
This class took on a life of its own. Looks like such a mild-mannered group quietly cutting paper and gluing it down, right?!?
Mmmmnope…we got kicked out of the library. Go us!
(we were behaving it was just past library hours, next event will be planned accordingly and there will be cocktails as requested by most participants, thank you for this feedback)
I got to do some cool shit in Mexico this summer! I learned a LOT, specifically…I can bust out all kinds of work when I’m up against a deadline (no surprises); I can make impossible things happen (no surprises); I can have my experience and someone else can have their experience and both of those things can be true at the same time (no surprises).
In the end I learned that people really like my work and connect with it on lots of different levels and for that I couldn’t be more honored. This was a bit of a surprise especially as this collection earned me the nickname Jennifer Dahmer. I prefer Fraggle Rock or Fruit Stripe but hey you don’t get to pick your nickname right?
Just don’t call me Jenny.
Given my druthers this is the corner of the planet I’d want to smash into if I were set on destroying it. Can you even believe the clouds?!? I mean come on they’re like begging for an asteroid to whoosh in and wipe out all of humanity. We’re long overdue.
Am I an asteroid called Jenny?
I might be if I fuck around with AI enough.
Especially after I’ve stood in line at a mall in North Jersey for fifteen hours…
…because of this guy…
Ok I’d do that shit all over again in a heartbeat because when one of my kids suggests an adventure it’s game time. NGL though I really hope to never stand in a fifteen-hour long line for a cheeseburger ever again, that was a bit much.
Bursts of ridiculousness in the midst of serious.
The utter nonsense and chaos of having three children spanning 16 years and watching them navigate their relationships and the way that’s evolved over time. Never not Nerf darts flying.
Appreciating all the tiny threads here.
The last email I sent this year ended with: “You kind of taught me how to be happy and ok on my own. And so I am.” We only get the lessons if we’re paying attention. I’m a good student.
I feel like you kind of had to be there but you get the idea yeah? The smell of open paint cans and rotting wood and new wood and sea and sunscreen and steel drums full of dried ocean detritus scraped off the hull and overly optimistic UV hair protectant and the dreams of the people who deconstructed this boat while in the process of reconstructing it and the feel of the humid air around you as the sun sears your flesh and the energy of the boatyard, these things I can’t quite capture and share with you. I wish I could.
I know you see it, though. And I know you can feel it if you slow down a minute.
But who has time for that?
I always have time for that.
I will always make time for that because this year more than any other I realized how long and how short our time on this planet is.
I refuse to miss any more of my time here.
So I stood on my deck in the rain and watched fireworks and listened to everyone celebrating the beginning of a new year because it meant they survived the last one and maybe it was an easy year, maybe it was a hard year, but it was a year, and here we are with a new calendar page.
What will we do with it?