Saturday, December 29, 2018

Year in Review: 2018

Hello! It's the end of 2018 and this is my TENTH annual year-in-review post! (See also: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009.) This is a self-centric and navel-gazey exercise, but I keep it up because it helps me keep track of my goals and remember what happened each year.

2018 Accomplishments / Highlights:
  • I asked le Boyfriend to marry me, and he said "yes"!!!  
  • We went to Portland together for the holidays and I got to introduce him to my mom's side of the family, including my maternal grandparents.
  • I pitched "I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation" to BOOM! Studios, and they helped me create a whole new chapter with interviews from 8 other animation pros, tune up some of the art and lettering, and package it nicely for the book market! It's distributed by Simon & Schuster, and I think it's more widely available than any other comic I've drawn (except maybe Deadpool). If you'd like to buy it from a comic shop, you can use Comic Shop Locator to find the nearest one. Digital copies are available to purchase on digital book marketplaces, including ComiXology, iBooks, Google Books, and the BOOM! Studios app.
  • Took my two younger brothers to NYC! It was so cool seeing them see the city for the first time. I love them, and I loved spending that special just-siblings time with them. We were there during the "bomb cyclone" last January, so although our flights were delayed horribly and we nearly froze just walking around outside, we had some special experiences like getting seated right away at Momofuku and seeing the Brooklyn Bridge empty. Highlight: my high school friend Carlton Moe was, and still is, playing Piangi in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway - he got us PRIME seats to a show, showed us around backstage, and went with us to a cafe to catch up between his shows! 
  • Visited my brother Nick and his gf Sierra in Seattle and went to Emerald City Comic Con. It's one of my favorite shows; I always get to see a lot of my favorite comics people there. I got to meet Claire Wendling this year, found the nerve to talk with her in French, and we had a nice conversation about how I started studying French because I wanted to read Theo!
  • Went to Yosemite for the first time with le Fiancé! GOSH that place is beautiful. I had this really nice realization on the porch of Yosemite's Half Dome Village, sitting in rocking chairs, reading our books side-by-side, sipping wine and watching the sun set and all the people and dogs come and go from the hiking was magical!
  • We have lots of fun new people at work, and I feel like I made some good new friends this year! One of them is Carrie Liao, who is thoughtful and a really fun person to be around, and who loves to organize things for her friends like trips and gourmet food experiences. Another is Sam Vilfort, who is hands-down THE most positive-vibes person I have ever met, super funny and humble even though she has insane art-skills (and growing all the's unbelievable). I got to travel with them in Big Bear, Havasupai, and Egypt this year! :D 
  • Egypt was AMAZING. The history, art, temples, cities were...jaw-dropping. There's so much history still around that you can just walk up and touch from thousands of years of continuous civilization, and it's still incredibly well preserved in the low humidity of the desert! Le Fiancé also has family in Cairo, and they were SO sweet and generous welcoming us, letting us stay with them, AND planning our whole 2-week trip to Hurghada, Luxor, Edfu, Kom Ombo, and Aswan. I was really happy to meet and travel with them. Our trip would NOT have been the same without our amazing guide Iman, le Fiancé's sister in law. Iman was born in Egypt, majored in Egyptology, speaks 5 languages, and worked for years in the tourism industry. She knew the sites like the back of her hand and handled all of the arrangements and haggling that went with getting around Egypt. When we wanted to buy things, Iman helped us haggle and managed to get us good prices AND be friends with the merchants at the end of the conversation.
  • Went to Kauai with my family to celebrate my youngest brother Neil graduating from university! Time with family is really special; I don't get enough of it since leaving Oregon, so I savored this! And of course Kauai was incredible; I'd never been before and I looooooved how green and natural it was. We saw sea turtles every day. Spent time talking with my mom and dad in the hammock. Listened to Dad play ukulele on the deck. Heaven!
  • I mentored 3 amazing women story artists this year. I volunteered for Women In Animation's inaugural mentorship program, and I got to work with great artists Charis JB and Sarah Vettori this year. They were both delightful to get to know over Skype sessions, very hard-working, with lots to say in their work, and both juggling lots of life stuff while still managing to work on their portfolios for TV/feature storyboarding. At Disney I volunteered to be a mentor for our summer Story Internship, and got to work with Anchi Shen, who is so funny and smart, with a delightfully twisted sense of humor. Her CalArts junior film Barry is in the 2018 Animation Show of Shows, and it had the theater rolling with laughter. I really love her film Sisters, too. All three of these artists are going to be huge; I just hope they remember me when they're big-shot directors/showrunners and I need a job!
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet came out! I was on this movie for 2.5 years, and it's my first film credit! I feel like I learned how to be a story artist by working on this movie. I'm so grateful the team kept me the whole time, from the first to the last screening, and basically taught me how to storyboard, pitch, and participate in the story room. :-)
  • I got to do press stuff for Ralph, which meant getting more comfortable with public speaking and giving interviews. I also got to work with an amazing makeup artist at Disney who did my hair & makeup many times this year - she made me feel so confident and showed me how to do several tricks myself at home. That kind of thing can change your life; I was not feeling great about the way I looked for a while there, and she really turned that around. I drew her a thank-you portrait and just felt like it was a really special thing to meet someone like that.
  • I got to do something really exciting at work that I can't talk about yet...!  But I can say that I got to work with several VisDev artists I look up to, learn from them, and draw a lot of 2D illustrations myself. I worked with a ton of new people, learned a lot about the animation pipeline, and improved my social/management skills. I felt like it was a good, challenging experience I got a lot out of.
art by Luis Logam
  • I exhibited at CTNx and CALA for the first time ever! GREAT shows. Lots of people came up who had read "I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation", and they said some of the sweetest things to me I have ever heard in regards to my work. Some people said they had given up on animation jobs, then read the book and started applying again, and now they work in animation. *cries* If I can help anybody like that, that's the highest achievement I can hope for.
  • Hosted my buds Sib & Manu during their epic US road trip.
  • I cooked a lot of new things in 2018 - mochi, daifuku, king oyster mushrooms, bok choy, pad thai, dan dan noodles, etc. 
  • I also entertained more in 2018. I even hosted Thanksgiving for the first time! We had a big Werewolf night and lots of movie nights. ^_^
  • Read the Count of Monte Cristo and Cyrano de Bergerac in French this year!
  • Paid off my car this year! No more monthly car payments, it's amazing.
  • I uninstalled Facebook from my phone and I spend a lot less time on it now. Yay!
  • My doctor prescribed me Spironolactone for my acne, and it made a big difference. Hallelujah. 
  • Had some fun with the Next Five exercise on social!
2018 Shortcomings / Lowlights:
  • I only visited Portland once this year...! That's not enough...! I love my family and that was definitely not enough time with them...!
  • I have had TMJ for 2 years straight. My jaw has been locked into a narrow range of motion so I can't even eat a dang sandwich. It's been 2 years of soft foods and small bites. I am always the last person to finish lunch by A LOT. I've seen TMJ specialists and tried lots of (expensive) things that have not worked. I just started Invisalign because all the doctors said it was the next logical thing to try. I am not stoked about it and we're not even sure this will fix things. Fingers crossed?
  • I had a mystery medical problem causing me a lot of pain and a lot of doctor visits this year, BUT I think we finally solved it and it is not a big deal, PHEW.
  • Somebody smashed into my car while it was parked outside of my house overnight, then...drove away. That sucked a lot. I had to file a police report, pay a $500 deductible, and go without a car for a couple of weeks. Thanks, asshole. (Yes yes yes, it could have been worse. I'm glad nobody got hurt.)
  • Again, I did not get my will / durable power of attorney / letter of instruction in order...maybe this year...? I really don't want to put my loved ones in a bad position by not having these done if something happens to me.
What Did We Learn?
  • Life is too short to spend any more time answering the same questions over and over again on social media. I made shortcuts in my keyboard to answer the same 5 questions I get over and over again.
  • When I have a new book or project coming out, give it to my friends for free a little bit ahead of the release, and ask them to signal boost on the release day. That made my latest book reach so many more people than previous books!
  • Splitting housework: assigning different tasks to different people works better than trying to split every task 50/50 (e.g. if one person cooks, the other does the dishes).
  • Say "women", not "female" (why?).
  • 5 days is enough for a family trip...! And it's going to be OK if I move further away someday (like France).
  • BUT I really want to visit my family more OFTEN, and be with my family on actual Christmas next year. 
  • Cooking dinner at night is a nice transitional activity to turn off my workbrain when I come home. Bonus: I get to eat at the end of it! The key for me is to have an idea of what I want to cook before I get home, AND have a few back-up recipes where I always know I have the ingredients (for me that's been pad thai, spicy peanut soba, seitan/mustard/cream/rice/parmesan, and...ramen with an egg ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
Goals for 2019: 
  • Get le Fiancé over the the US!
  • Visit Portland / family more often in 2019! Make it home for real Christmas!
  • Take my brothers to SDCC this year!!
  • Go to Annecy and visit Le Fiancé's family in France! ^_^
  • Do a good job at work on (very exciting thing I can't talk about yet)
  • Thanksgiving - maybe travel with Le Fiancé? Japan? Mexico? National Park?
  • Keep studying film theory, watching classic movies and movies from lots of different cultures / perspectives
  • Gym at least 2x/week after work (stretch even if I'm not up to running)
  • Print a sketchbook this year for Lightbox Expo...?
  • Make a writing habit - keep my iPad on me, make sure I'm still building my own IP and working on stories that I own. Get out to cafes, doodle and write, have fun.
  • Do a good job at my first storyboarding workshop and book signing at Gallery Nucleus on January 5!
  • Re-release my Europe sketchbooks on Gumroad
  • Make some tutorials for storyboarding?
  • Do not take on freelance work! I don't need it right now and it really stresses me out! Don't get pressured into it, be strong!
Notable Media:
Books: The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris
TV shows: Hilda, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Aggretsuko, Big Mouth, End of the Fucking World, Fleabag, Mortified Guide, The Good Place
Shorts: Futon no Naka Kara Detakunai, NYT's Conception season 1 and season 2, Bao, Weekends, the Only Slightly Exaggerated Travel Oregon ad
Comics: Spinning by Tillie Walden, The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang, The Hidden Witch by Molly Ostertag, Take A Step Back by Kellye Perdue, Anna Walker Farris's Madagascar travel comic, My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris, Dead Weight by Terry Blas, Molly Muldoon, and Matthew Seely, Rat et les Animaux Moches by Sibylline, Jérôme D'Aviau, and Capucine
Stand-up: Hannah Gadsby's Nannette, John Mulaney's Kid Gorgeous at Radio City
Podcasts: Heaven's Gate by Glynn Washington
Films: Black Panther, Won't You Be My Neighbor, Bad Genius, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Isle of Dogs, The Breadwinner
Music: Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe, Expectations by Hayley Kiyoko. And here's My Spotify Top 100 playlist

And some older stuff I saw/read for the first time: Adventures of Prince Ahmed, Rusalochka, Secret of Kells, Kirikou, The Count of Monte Cristo, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Godfather 1&2, Surf's Up, Silence of the Lambs, Bladerunner, Dr. Strangelove, Stagecoach, the Peanuts movie, Alexandre le Bien Hereux, Lawrence of Arabia, Citizen Kane, Singin' in the Rain, Chinatown, Some Like it Hot