2017 in Review

My 2008 end of year summary came up in my Facebook feed today, which I re-read and made me think. In some ways, not much has changed. It was the year I started a 101 in 1001 days challenge, which I coincidentally also tried to tap into again at the beginning of this year (completing 29 items from that list, and another 18 in progress).

I also wrote in that post, “I discovered a real passion for driving on [my drive across Australia and back again], and reconfirmed that travelling to visit friends (even if only friends I met online) is one of the best reasons to travel anywhere,” which was also prevalent in my trips this year. Both with a 3 week road trip across the south west of the US, and with reconnecting with online friends in person. Though, admittedly, I only got to see one of my online friends on that road trip, which was more about re-connecting with family that I hadn’t seen in almost a decade, or longer (in some cases, 19 years). The only international travel was a week in Indonesia, visiting my husband’s parents, and his brother’s family. Aside from the road trip, spending a weekend with my husband at Lake Tahoe for our 11th wedding anniversary, and a weekend to San Diego to take my youngest son to Legoland, all the remaining domestic travel was improv-related. We do have one more trip coming up after Christmas, though, to round out seeing the rest of my husband’s family (his sister’s family) in Wyoming.

It has been a big year for me.

Improv-wise, in January, I performed at the Hollywood Improv Festival and SF Sketchfest with YUM, produced my first improv show, as well as launched the debut of an improv show I created, So You Want a Job, which I then got to take to Improvaganza – the Hawaii Festival of Improv, and was also invited to take it to the Alaska State Improv Festival in April next year. I left YUM in the middle of the year so I could take my kids on a road trip and pursue other improv I wanted to do, like So You Want a Job (which has allowed me to perform with a number of my improv mentors) and the non-verbal show [     ] that I do with Shirley Chan, Casey Busher, and Stacie Blanke. I enjoyed other improv festivals in non-performer capacities, such as The Seattle Festival of Improv Theater to support my friends in Hawaii (including one of those aforementioned online friends), Femprovisor Fest as part of the production committee (which I’m working on again now, for the 2018 festival, even though I’ll be in Alaska when the festival is actually happening), and the San Francisco Improv Festival, just as an audience member with a VIP pass to see all the shows. I also got to take workshops with some amazing improvisers, like Joe Bill, Garrick Paikai, Sean TC O’Malley and R Kevin Doyle, Eric and Aden Nepom, Tara DeFrancisco, Shaun Landry, and Jet Eveleth. I also took Leela’s final level class, level 7 (skipping level 6), and re-took level 1, which sparked some interest in me teaching, and starting to figure out details for a workshop I want to develop.

My experience with being YUM’s production manager for close to two years, and also travelling to multiple improv festivals, granted me the opportunity to take on a newly created role of Leela’s Production Manager Coordinator, so I could act as a mentor for their production managers, and free up some of Leela’s founders’ time to focus on other responsibilities in their company. It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience for me to be able to use my skills in that capacity, even if it’s only like 5 people that understand the extent of the position I have. It’s just nice to be able to use my skills to help people who aren’t just me.

Aside from improv and travel, I beat out my graphic novel count from last year by reading over 200 graphic novels (and read a bunch more through single issues), and learned that I am autistic. These two things are semi-related – when I talked to my new psychologist about being potentially autistic, I brought up my obsession with comic books. I consume as much as I do because it is an autistic obsession.

The year hasn’t been 100% positive, though. With the political climate such that it is, and the way my autistic brain handles empathy, I’ve had to check out from social media and connecting with people online multiple times. There have been days when learning more about how autism affects me has been challenging, and I’ve tried to remain grateful instead for all the friendships I’ve fostered with people who accept me regardless of the weird things I do as a result of being autistic. There have been days when I’ve feared the world might end soon, or maybe somehow something will happen that’ll cause people to turn on me (I can’t predict what, I just know sometimes people aren’t forgiving, and I’m liable to do unexpected and sometimes offensive things because I’m not neurotypical), and that sort of thinking just pushes me to do what I want to get the most out of life, and connect with the people I want to connect with, while I still can. I can see that attitude is seeing me through into the new year, with the various travel I already have planned.

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