2009, in Review

Yeah, yeah, I know this “year in review” thing is a little late…

For me, personally, 2008 was pretty much the Best Year Ever. At the end of last year, I wondered how the hell 2009 would be able to compare, but also had high hopes regarding my career and future travel.

2009 was not what I expected, but still neat in its own way. Sure, I spent most of it rather ingloriously unemployed in Portland (an anticlimax compared to last year) but there was a very, very positive side to that.

When abroad (and before that, in Eugene) I had fond memories and good thoughts of Portland. I remembered it as a vibrant, liberal city, a place where something was always going on, and where the high amount of culture and activity belied the city’s more modest population. I was worried, somewhat, that these were memories colored by nostalgia, that Portland was only slightly less gray than any other American metro area.

Fortunately, though, I was wrong. This past year I’ve found that my geographical parent is even better than the home that I remembered. I hadn’t lived here properly since high school, and I’ve since found out that Portland is a land of zombie bike rides, clever smut, vampiric awesomeness and Star Trek in the park. Also, lots of really excellent beer. Having my nostalgia be confirmed and even exceeded has been an interesting experience, and I love this city more in reality than in abstraction. Portland, the place I call home, has been inspiring. I’ve had bouts of creativity and productivity here that I never had in Japan, and am perplexed and thrilled by that.

My experience is probably colored by the fact that for the most part I’ve spent 2009 writing. While I have worked for five different employers this year (GEOS, a canvassing company, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Kaplan Aspect, and Macy’s) my primary focus has been on my own creative endeavors. I have managed to actually get paid for it once, and have a small gig with a tourism website at the moment. I’ve also managed to get myself into a nifty local ‘zine somehow, which is a fun project.

This is great. Really fantastic, actually. Prior to this year, I thought that it was kind of ludicrous to expect anyone to pay me for anything I’ve written, publish it, or whatever. However, I’m getting some pretty dangerous ideas here, and I think I can pull it off. You all may need to pull me back to earth if I get too optimistic- I’m actually pitching stuff to websites, stitching together a *cough* book *cough* (I’ve been sort of embarrassed to admit that) and (this is the part that boggles my mind) actually being accepted on occasion. Last year I ended 2008 saying “in 2009 I’ll start my career.” I was anticipating going into the Foreign Service or Peace Corps, but I guess this counts as a different kind of start, something I’ve always wanted to do, i.e., be professionally creative.

I wasn’t entirely stationary- there was a little vagabonding going on. 2009 was also a year in which I rode quite a bit on the I-5 corridor, going down to Eugene and up to Seattle, down to San Francisco, and, of course, to Burning Man. (And yes, Burning Man really is neat- it’s not all hype.) Not only is Portland wonderful, but the rest of the West Coast has some pretty cool stuff going on as well. Seeing friends up and down the tectonic plate made me wish I could teleport, or, at least fly really fast. Something like that.

I have no idea what’s happening in 2010. I’m scheduled to join the Peace Corps, have a fantastic new girlfriend, am working on turning Hired Tongue into a book, flinging unsolicited proclamations of my awesomeness to editors and literary agents, and suddenly don’t really know what’s going to happen. I’ll be thirty years old, writing furiously, and still wandering about. I don’t mind that, really- it certainly beats banality. This lifestyle is fitting, for a time, but it has to lead somewhere to be truly satisfying. I don’t know how much of a vagabond I’ll still be in a year’s time. 2010 looks uncertain, but I know it will not be boring.

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