Aside from working on the script, I haven't worked on the comic in two months. That said, this has been for fairly productive reasons that I hope will result in more time to work on the comic long term. In May I shared with my employer that I planned to leave my position mid-July. I gave eight weeks of notice as I am not immediately moving onto something with urgency. However, for some time I have struggled to find genuine fulfillment in my work as a recruiter and finally reached a point where I felt ready to make a change.
My plans are still coming together, but I have a rough sense of what I would like to happen. First, I am not looking to jump into another job immediately. I plan to take some time off and evaluate when I am ready to take on a part-time position to help keep us afloat financially. I am also currently applying to an online Library & Information Science masters program. My parents each served as librarians for over 30 years, and in considering where I have found the most fulfillment in my (non-art) career thus far, it has been in organizing information, creating systems, and helping people navigate them. Once I've found a rhythm with school, my ideal part-time position might be shelving books at a local library or serving as a cataloging clerk. Outside of that, I hope to have more bandwidth and energy to devote to the graphic novel as well as some commissions that I have not been able to take on.
For a long time, I felt that I had two options for work. Either I commit to a day job that offers me benefits, a salary, and financial security, at the expense of my capacity to do art on the side. Or I resume what I had been doing before that: a part-time position with unpredictable hours, no benefits, but more time for art; essentially I saw this as assuming the "starving artist" state where one scraps together income to stay afloat. There seemed to be a third option, in which I force commissions and original artwork sales to be my core source of income, but I cannot imagine putting that much pressure on those sources of comfort and passion and living with that much risk in ever-fluctuating markets for the arts. This has become especially clear in the last year. For a while I considered whether the graphic novel was a possible exit strategy – perhaps if I could get some traction with a book, then it would justify leaving my full-time job? – but again, placing that much pressure on something that has only ever been a cathartic and personal effort just didn't feel right either.
It was only recently that I started thinking about whether there is a middle ground. Perhaps there was a profession and opportunity that would not result in 50-hour work weeks and 15 hours of commuting weekly, but with a stable salary, benefits, and a set of responsibilities that I would enjoy. I don't know why it took me so long to seriously consider libraries, but the instant I started thinking it over, I felt a shock of realization and relief and I could start to imagine other parts of my future coming together. It also feels like an opportunity to continue a family legacy that I've always been proud of.
I am very excited to dive back into drawing the graphic novel once I depart. Lately I have spent my weekends preparing materials for my grad school application and hope to have that submitted by next weekend, and then will wait and see about acceptance from there.
It is a very hard decision to resign after over five years at my current workplace, because I love the people at my current job and will miss them very much, and it means letting go of a version of my future that I had become familiar with over time. Leaving can be so bittersweet. But it is also healthy for me to feel optimistic about my future, so I'm trying to focus on embracing that.
Last week we visited both my parents and got to see my Aunt Mary who was visiting from Florida.
It was a pretty busy visit. Chris drove to his brother's house in lower NY Thursday night, while I went further west to my parents' house. Chris was partially returning his brother's car – which had ended up with us in a roundabout way – but more importantly meeting our new niece! We spent Friday at our respective destinations, and my dad and I celebrated my mom's birthday, and then Saturday morning I drove down to join Chris and spend the day with baby CJ. She is very sweet (not even a month old!) and was sleepy most of the day, even as we walked around town. She perked up about an hour or so before we hit the road. It was very fun to meet a new member of the family. We also spent some quality time with their dog Banksy, who is quite the character. He and CJ share a birthday, exactly one year apart!
On Sunday, we were back upstate and went to Ithaca to walk along Taughannock Falls, which I hadn't visited in probably 15 years. It was definitely the first time I'd been with a digital SLR camera so there was the usual procedure where everyone walked along at their usual pace while I hung back eagerly getting the lighting right on various rocks and water features.
On Monday we capped off the trip with a DIY engagement photoshoot, but I'll share that in another post.
For the last few months, we've noticed a flock of birds that have congregated on the surface of the pond near our house, swooping and diving on the hunt for bugs swarming the surface of the water. This is always at dusk, so we've only ever been able to see their silhouettes.
Last week we went a little earlier, and not only were able to see them in better light, but unfortunately also found one dead, floating on the surface of the water. The bird looked very peaceful, seemingly unharmed, with its beak barely submerged below the water. It almost appeared to be sleeping.
The iridescent teal wings helped us do a bit of research, and we learned that these are tree swallows.
There is also a little duck pond nearby, with a fountain going in the summertime.
And here's a little time lapse of the sunset coming through one of our back windows. It's projecting the shadows of a few window decals that used to hang from the glass door to my grandparents' lanai. Always makes me smile when I see them.
Chris and I are both fully vaccinated! Poor Chris got his second dose the day before his birthday and spent his birthday with a 100-degree fever. Our vaccines were staggered by about 2.5 weeks, with Chris fully vaccinated before me. Chris arranged both of his through CIC Health (the company I work for), though I had a slightly harder time because I needed two weeks of lead time to stop my immunosuppressant drugs; I managed to get my first appointment far in advance through Beth Israel. It was the same day as a rheumatology appointment which meant I had the vaccine and then blood work one after the other (multiple stickers and bandaids!) I also used the opportunity to bring in the latest comic pages to scan at the office, though it meant toting around a fairly heavy bag and with a lot of rain that day, I ended up getting some regrettable rug burn on my shoulder from the straps of my bag.
I did things a little differently with my second shot; traveling into the city means paying $20 for a commuter rail ticket and my appointment was in the middle of my work day. I decided to take advantage of the newly developed CIC Health walk-in feature the night before my existing appointment in the city. But as it turned out, it's the last week that CIC Health is operating vaccine distribution at Gillette (the most convenient location for us) and the after-hours schedule had been cut back, so we got there and the doors were closed. I ended up finding a Gillette appointment for the following day, cancelled my city appointment, and took a Lyft there (CIC Health was providing round trip Lyft rides for vaccine appointments). I got the shot, but then there were no Lyfts to be had back home since Gillette is in the middle of the suburbs, so I was stranded at the stadium for an hour and a half until Chris could leave work and come pick me up. The next day my temperature was a little high and I was feeling pretty foggy and tired so took a half sick day. But all that cleared up fairly quickly.
Over all, extremely relieved we have each had both shots and it was neat to get one of my shots through my place of work, and at Gillette no less. I'll be fully vaccinated on the 16th, and then a couple days later we do a little tour of NY to visit some family.
Before Chris started having side effects on his birthday/after shot #2, we checked out Ward's Berry Farm in Sharon, MA. They weren't doing berry picking yet, but there were a lot of animals to visit and I picked up a nice little turtle vine plant. I made a carrot cake that night, which we ate at his parents' the following day when he was feeling better. We saw a robin's nest in their shed.
Hannah Dunscombe is a painter and portrait artist based out of Mansfield, MA.