2010, In Review

2010 was simultaneously horrible and awesome.

It was horrible because it was yet another year wherein I (and thousands of others like me) survived on part time jobs and freelancing. I do not want to sound ungrateful- I happen to love my part time job (more on that in a bit) and freelancing has been immensely fun, especially when I manage to actually get paid in a timely fashion. Any enjoyment that I had of 2010, though, has to be accompanied by a gigantic asterisk.

This wasn’t a year of great progress- it was a slog. All in all, a positive slog that will hopefully get us back to where we need to be, but for too much of this year surviving, rather than thriving, was the order of the day. And yes, I know that when someone like me says that it comes across as immensely arrogant. I’m a reasonably well-off educated white boy in the U.S.A. who has quite a few things going for him. It’s utter b.s. to pretend that I’m going to be destitute any time soon. However, I’m thirty years old now and would rather like to start a career. (Helllllloooo, grad school!)

That said, the one big job that I did have this year was immensely awesome. I loved it. I still love it, actually. I love that I’ve learned things from it, that I’ve become a better public speaker and better communicator. I love that I’ve learned how to be funny on a consistent basis and can get different crowds of people to laugh at the same jokes. I love being a performer, a showman, and a knower-of-things. I enjoy the hell out of being a tour guide.

Giving walking tours of Portland has been a fantastic experience, and has made me realize something that I always sort of knew about myself: public speaking makes me high. When I taught for GEOS and then Kaplan, I got some whiffs of that- those days when a class just clicked and the students all went “ooooh!” at the same time. For four years now my job has pretty much been “get up in front of a bunch of people and edify them.” Now, I finally realize that I’m quite good at it.

Again, I’m sounding arrogant. It’s very nice, though, to know what you’re good at. I happen to be a good public speaker and knower-of-things. This hasn’t just been applicable to tour guiding, by any means. I also officiated a wedding for some very good friends of mine back in March, and have occasionally done stand up comedy. Stand up, by the way, ranges from being transcendentally awesome to horribly painful. I try to veer towards the former.

It’s weird that a lot of the time, I’m a professional performer. It’s also odd to know that Performance Joe is very much a persona, and not one that I created deliberately. He has a different way of speaking, a different cadence a different sort of mode about him than me. This is true of all performers, and is not a new observation, but something’s always weird and new when it happens to you. (By the way, Performance Joe sometimes gets out during social occasions, where I’ve been told that he can be boisterous and annoying.)

Let’s see, what else?

Oh, yes. I talked to some very nice people. That was cool. I also finally encountered the storied and sprawling metropolis that is Los Angeles, which was quite an eye-opening experience. Spent plenty of time in San Francisco, as well, which has rapidly become one of my favorite places on earth, though one time I did have to spend ten hours in a car with a crazy man to get there. Also, a bunch of bigots ended up causing nothing more than a big party here in Portland, which turned out to be quite the uplifting experience.

Oh yes, and I led around a bunch of zombies on bikes.

Anyway, I had fun. Tons of it. I’m in no position whatsoever to say that 2010 was dull or boring or lacking in neato things to do. I have, though, been very conscious of the lack of real progress over that past year, and that remains frustrating.

In that sense, I’m quite ready to leave this year behind. C’mon, 2011- have something nice for us.

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