I wish I could say “Happy New Year” but I really just can’t; I can’t ignore the suffering that Covid-19 has brought to the world, the failure in the response to it by the U.S. government, and the behemoth that 2020 was in dealing with all that externally while dealing with my own struggles of keeping a family alive and safe, and to a certain extent, content. I have had very little time for introspection, in fact probably no time until very recently. I made a conscious effort to actually take a break for the past 2 weeks since I was in the very privileged position of having an actual vacation (those don’t come that often in my line of work.) In fact, 2020 was a year full of privileges and victories career wise – I returned to union work, which is already a privilege in and of itself – but I also got to work on 3 shows that I never thought I would previously; it was a return to sci-fi action/adventure genre storytelling, which is where I actually started my career in animation way back in 2005, and I was so surprised to return to it, and to amazing crews as well. RWBY, Final Space, and now Star Trek Prodigy have been some of the best experiences as a story artist in my career, and now I can see so much more possibility to what I can in the field. At the same time, and something I started in late 2019, I was able to have a fairly good rhythm in keeping my personal work active, and I already completed 25 seconds of animation on a proof of concept animated short film version of my comic “Hockey, Love, & GUTS!” Of course, I know I won’t be able to finish the short in 2021, but knowing how much I accomplished in 2020 drives me to get even more done in 2021 (the whole running time is 1min and 50 secs, so I got about 1min 1/2 left.) But… hope is glitchy.

Amidst all these victories, I saw the pandemic numbers grow, and grow, and grow, and nothing about it surprised me. If you understand science, and exponential math, you knew all this would happen, and how it could have been prevented if we didn’t live within proto-fascist governmental structure… as left, or moderate left, or liberal, or progressive, or whatever I’d call myself at this point, it’s impossible not to feel complicit in all of this. I donate to progressive causes, and I definitely vote more often than I used to decades before, but it just doesn’t seem to matter when in about a month or so, about half a million people will die due to this pandemic. I believe in unity, but how can we achieve it if those in power, who are responsible for this practically genocidal response, aren’t taken accountable and to justice? We saw one of the biggest social protest manifestations happening around the world for black lives… I am so glad that BLM is a household name now, and that for the most part, those on the right failed to label it a “terrorist” organization… of course, there are still a huge number of the population that believes it… clearly a death cult that’s gotten us where we are with pandemic casualties… but, hope is glitchy.

And I somehow escaped infection. Seems like I got close – close family members got it, miraculously recovered from mild symptoms, and some struggle more than others, but we were the lucky ones. Time and again, that was the adage for those in my situation – we still had jobs, had our kids home 24/7, and that alone was already too much… but we are the lucky ones. I can’t say that I suffer from survivor’s guilt, but I can’t ignore it either – it certainly dulls all the successes I’ve had otherwise in 2020, which again colors a lot how I was able to see future ahead. And so, hope is glitchy.

I struggled to even put this together, and if you made it this far, thank you for reading. I struggled even to come up with an illustration that I do for every new year since this time I couldn’t come up with something “good” – I don’t think the above is that, but then again, I don’t know if that is the point of it; I’ve been doing these for probably a decade now and it’s usually a way to break the ice for the new year, and to start with good spirits, but this time I just couldn’t. So, it came out heavy handed – so much on the nose for what I would do otherwise that I couldn’t even come up with anything other than a hockey player (then again, I do miss working on the comic) – and it’s full of anatomical and artistic mistakes… so I won’t criticize it more to fish for compliments, or to degrade its value to me, but you see, hope is glitchy.

I recently returned to console gaming now that my kids are old enough to play more and actually progress in video games (old school Mario is still a huge challenge for them) but it’s been one of the best things to happen to my mental health recently I think. I grew up with video games and they’ve always been so much of a social activity for me: I’m Gen X adjacent, so arcades and fighting games and playing multiplayer in person is something I needed in my life after being away from it for so long. It’s not like I haven’t played games since my last console, but between the DS Lite over a decade ago and now a Switch, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. And the gaming that I did do in between was just a very lonely activity (and let’s not talk about emus and roms… positively or negatively.) But a recent return to it of course matched what we’re all feeling, locked in our homes – it’s escapism to cope, and just the nature of the medium really helps numb a lot of pain through directed distraction. And before this divulges into a dissertation into Animal Crossing, let’s just say that because of all of this, hope is glitchy.

It’s glitchy not because I believe in “The Simulation” but because like a glitch in a video game, it still works, just not optimally. Some glitches crash and stop games entirely, but most of them are an opportunity to discover something new. Street Fighter II’ is itself a glitchy game, right? If it wasn’t for those air fireballs and “turbo” speed gameplay, we wouldn’t have been able to have more SF games or really games at all. Maybe I’m making too much of this metaphor, and as I write this I completely forget that my kids were totally enthralled into the show “Glitch Techs” in 2020 (will it ever come back?)… to be honest, that’s not where I got the idea for this blog post, so let’s just live it up to coincidence because after all, hope is glitchy.

So, will it be a happy new year? Who knows. As I type this, I live in the Covid-19 infection epicenter of the world that is Los Angeles County, so to me, it just feels like an extension of 2020. And there are things to look forward to, of course: vaccines are effective so far, though vaccination programs are beyond slow at this point… and we still don’t know whether those immune can still carry the virus and reinfect others… but, there is, I guess a light a the end of the tunnel…. it’s just so far and small and dim, I wonder if it’s actually there, or if I just wanna believe that it’s there… because you see, hope is glitchy like that.