January 21 always holds a little special place in my heart… it’s NATIONAL SQUIRREL APPRECIATION DAY. A day set aside for those of us who’ve yet to fully appreciate the beauty and the beastliness that is the humble tree rat.
It’s not anybody here of course.
So, if you see someone out there not appreciating… let them know that it’s far, far better to appreciate every day, than to appreciate one day.
Around this time of year I do a recap of the state of Bob. What I did, what worked, what I totally messed up… but, you know, mostly the mistakes.
In 2018 I worked harder than I’ve ever worked before. And yet, I really think this year (with a few exceptions) saw my weakest work ever. Some days I was scribbling just to stay alive. The content flow gave me purpose. Totally irrational. But, when you see a life preserver you don’t complain what it looks like, you just grab onto it and hold tight.
Yeah, it was like that.
The routine of the work, the process, was the only thing that kept me sane. Seriously. What’s worse is that all that grad school talk about process (the stuff that I listed under “total Bullsh-t”) is really true! Dammit, they WERE right. Guess that justifies the student loan I’ll be paying off until i’m 62.
All in all, this year can kiss Bob’s tail… along with assorted parts of myself. Some parts it can kiss twice.
2018 sucked. It aged me far more than the conventional 365 days would.
This year has been rough…what with the uncertainty of everything. Hold up… I take that back.
The only thing certain was/is uncertainty. 85 days this year there was nothing BUT uncertainty… along with a lifetime of wondering if it’s coming back. The “ALL CLEAR” in big bold type is followed by fine print that says, “… yeah, but watch your back… for, like…forever, sucker!”
There’s no more rest. It’s part of us now.
I started out near the edge of losing it all… with each day since January 1 doing what it could to push me closer and closer to it. There were a few times when I came close enough to look over. One time I did look over… and thought: “It might not be that bad…”
We were reminded of the brevity of it all. Of mortality. Of weakness in times of strength and strength in times of weakness. Of wondering when it’d all be over… and the emptiness of that moment when it was. I was encouraged, discouraged, enraged, emboldened and just so damn proud. Of wanting to change, knowing that change was needed, and yet still resisting the change because I was/am so damn scared.
I was up, I was down, I was like a yo-yo.
I was in my head more than I should have been. Anxiety was at an all time high. Panic attacks dive bombed me when I least expected it.
I was selfish, selfless, real and completely fake. I was alone more than I wanted to be. Ignored what I had, bitched and moaned about what I didn’t have.
Making plans that will never touch the face of reality. And reality… what a pain in the ass that is.
Reminded again and again of the risks I never took. The thanks I never gave. The total prick that I was. Seeing where I could be a better man, and wondering why I wasn’t good enough already.
Through ALL of this, there was that squirrel. The longest relationship I’ve ever had.
I love my wife, my daughter, my family, my dogs… but that squirrel… that made-up, talking cartoon squirrel, man… life preserver yet again.
I’m not hoping for a better 2019… hope like that is futile and just a set-up for disappointment. There are more challenges ahead as always. I’m just going to keep on being… protecting my life. Appreciating the little things and the big things like health and humor. I have to. Because I don’t know if I could do 2018 again.
Thank you all for sticking around. Your appreciation for my work is everything… but make no mistake, I need that squirrel just as much as you do… if not more.
Something has happened. Something that will delay the printing of the 2019 Bob calendar.
My wife gave me an idea.
As you know, I had the cover to the 2019 calendar all set. The only things left to do were the months. Did I want to rush it and just put old art in the spaces? Or, did I want to do all new, never before seen art on each month. I opted for the latter. New art.
But life is crazy… and thinking of 12 new pieces of Bob art on top of everything else, while not impossible, is not something that lends itself to the concept of “Quickly”.
I whine a little. I don’t whine much, but when I do, it’s a good whine. I tell Lez about it… and I ask her: “Bob calendar – what’s the first thing that comes to your mind: GO!”
She says: Bob sunflowers.
I say thanks. I walk away. I think about it. It’s a good idea. It is at that moment I realize why I married her… for an idea on what to do for the 2019 Bob calendar.
So, the good news is that I have a concept. The bad news is that I don’t have to think of 12 ideas for art… I have to think of 13. (New Cover).
Over the course of a week I managed to pencil each month. I finished the inking yesterday. On to color.
Bob’s 2019 Year in Sunflowers will hopefully be available in late November.