About the radio silence for the last few months.

Since most of the people who read this blog are looking for things like the Capcom Color guide and where to get started reading comics, or people who know me personally and have heard this story already, I’m not sure how much of this I really need to go into. But for anybody else, this is the “short” version that I typed up in about an hour and a half. There could be a longer version of this that goes into much more granular detail, but I think this more digestible version is all of the highlights that people need to know.

In the summer of 2023, after about a year of planning, a cousin of mine bought a house in a small town in Connecticut. I had wanted to move back to New England, as I was born outside Boston, ever since my family moved to the Phoenix area in 1996. This cousin had an extra bedroom, and offered it to me as a place to live while I got on my feet back in the Northeast. So in September, I moved! I sold off a LOT of my things, packed what was left in a PODS container, and flew from Phoenix to Philadelphia to Providence, which was the closest airport to the small Connecticut town I would be moving to. I was very excited to start a new life, closer to my extended family. I was excited to be out of the desert heat of Arizona, and I was excited to start everything over again. I’m in my early 40s now, the pandemic is more or less “over” (although COVID is obviously still out there), and it seemed like as good a time as any to start a new chapter in my life. I had plenty of money in savings that could float me for a while until I found a job, and then eventually my own place, and it all seemed like it was going to be great.

Unfortunately, the reality of the situation was not quite what I had anticipated.

The small town turned out to be smaller than I had expected, and I was unable to find employment quickly. Or, it turns out, at all. After a couple months of looking, I started asking around, and was told that basically there were no jobs in that town — People started working somewhere and stayed there until they got a job out of town, or until someone else left their job and a position opened up. In addition to looking for work in town, I had been applying for remote graphic design positions. But that turned out to be even more competitive a field, especially with the rise of all the AI-generated art out there.

I moved right in the last few days of summer, and experienced my first Autumn in New England since 1995. The color-changing leaves were gorgeous. The weather was much colder than I had remembered! Apparently, 20-plus years of living in the desert had accustomed me to much warmer climate. And with that cold weather came seasonal affective disorder. Looking back on it, I was absolutely struggling with depression. Not being able to find work killed my self-esteem. Being stuck in this small town without public transit to get out made me feel trapped. Every day, I felt like I was drowning.

But, I recognized that it wasn’t the worst: At the end of every day, I knew that I had a safe house to go home to, and a warm bed to sleep in.

And then, a week before Christmas, the tank that held the oil that heated the house started dripping. After three months of not being able to find a job, missing my friends, and feeling lost and stranded in this alien town, this was finally the thing that broke me. I called some friends in the Phoenix area to see if I could stay with them for a little bit, either until the heater situation got resolved, or until I could find a job and a place to live, whatever ended up happening. My old podcast co-host Jedi Stephanie agreed to take me in, and later that day I was at the airport, with just two suitcases full of clothes and a backpack with my Mac Mini, tablet, Nintendo Switch, and the assorted cables for those things and my phone. I apologized to my cousin, and told her that I depending on how long it took to get the heater fixed, maybe I’d be back in a week, or a month, or maybe I’d just stay in Phoenix. I truly didn’t know. And if I was gone, I’d come back for the rest of my stuff as soon as I could afford to.

I didn’t know where exactly I was going, I just knew that, in the moment, with a broken heater, I feared that I no longer had a safe house or a warm bed, the one thing I had been clinging on to.

My flight was supposed to go from the Providence airport to Washington, D.C., to Phoenix. And then a rainstorm hit that delayed that first flight. And then delayed it again. And then again, to the point where I was going to miss that connecting flight in D.C. The airline automatically rescheduled my flights, but the next flight from the nation’s capital to Phoenix wasn’t until 6 A.M. the next day… which meant spending all night in an unfamiliar airport.

I remembered that my mom’s best friend lived about a half-hour south of where I was, so I called her up and asked her, if I was able to reschedule my flight for the next day, would it be okay for me to spend the night at her place and then take off in the morning? She agreed, so I updated Stephanie on the situation, and spent the night with my mom’s best friend and her husband, both of whom I had known my entire life. They seemed more than happy to help me out, and treated me to dinner.

The next day, we got me to the airport in time for my flight. Blue, clear skies, not a problem at all. My rescheduled flight now went from Providence to Philadelphia to Phoenix, mirroring my flight back in September. After landing in Philly, I got talking to a woman who had just gotten off the same plane that I had. She was also flying to Phoenix, and we decided to grab something to eat. After I explained my situation, she offered to pay for my meal, which was incredibly generous of her. We got back to our flight with plenty of time to spare, got on board, and made our way out to the Valley of the Sun.

When the plane landed at Sky Harbor International Airport, tears of joy started welling up in my eyes. I had never been so happy to be in an airport before, which is maybe the dumbest feeling I’ve ever had. I collected my luggage and caught a Lyft over to Stephanie’s house. While I was in the air, my friend Susie messaged me and let me know that her daughter had just moved out, and she and her husband, Julian — coincidentally, my old manager at Samurai Comics — had an extra bedroom if I needed it for a while. That worked out great, because Stephanie had family coming to visit for the holidays later that week. So I spent the night and the next day at Steph and her husband’s place, trying to relax, and then Steph gave me a ride to my friend Susie’s place.

I was there for about two weeks total. Susie’s daughter had taken her bed, but we made me a place to sleep out of a camping cot and a bunch of foam mattress toppers. It wasn’t the most comfortable, but I was legitimately just grateful for the help. After about a week I was told that Susie’s brother was in a situation where he needed the bedroom after the start of the year. I was posting on social media like crazy and calling everybody that I could think of to try and find somewhere else to go. Unfortunately, with it being the Christmas season, everybody was either out of town or had relatives staying with them. Luckily, of my friends suggested an extended-stay hotel. I managed to find one in my old neighborhood from before I moved to Connecticut. So on January 2nd, I paid for a week of life in a 300-square foot hotel room that was more like a very tiny studio apartment. It was nice for what it was, but I knew I would have to get something else going. But at least I could pay for short stays if it took a while to find somewhere better.

Speaking of which, while I was at Susie’s, I had already gone apartment hunting a bit. One of the places I found was literally across the street from the place with my old roommates, and it was amongst the lowest prices in the area. Without a job, though, they wouldn’t rent it out to me unless I had a co-signer. I’d been keeping my mom abreast of my situation as it was happening, and when I mentioned the apartment, she immediately offered to co-sign. So we got that underway, and I had a place to live.

The same day that I left Susie’s, another friend had reached out and said that the print shop he worked at had just had somebody quit very recently, and they needed to fill that spot. He asked if I could come in for an interview that Friday, to which I immediately agreed.

And then one of my OTHER friends, Ben, said he just happened to check Facebook and saw that I was in need of help. I filled him in on what had been going on, and he said that he didn’t really have a place for me to live, but his wife Julie’s job was changing and they had to convert their spare bedroom into an office for her, and needed to get rid of their bed. I almost cried at that offer. Previously, I was planning on just buying something like an air mattress and sleeping on that until I could get all my stuff back from Connecticut, when I would get the bed I bought just after moving. Ben and Julie had me over for dinner, I got to check out the bed they were getting rid of, and then they offered that if I needed a place to stay between the end of my time in the hotel and when I was able to move into my new apartment, I could crash there for a few days.

I went to the job interview at the print shop the next day, and was offered two half-positions on the spot. One as a part-time graphic designer to help with laying things out and final preparations for printing, and the other helping with shipping fulfillment; This particular print shop, Artist Express, specializes in independent comic books. They’ll print items for an artist’s Kickstarter campaign, and then also offer to help package and send out all the Kickstarter rewards. So after some finagling about money, I accepted the job offer, and agreed to start on Monday, January 15th.

Meanwhile, earlier that same day, I was informed that my apartment would be ready for me to move into on Friday, January 13th.

The weekend came and went, mostly with me trying to sleep and watching reruns of Friends on basic cable, and then over to Ben and Julie’s house I went once my stay in the hotel was over. And, holy shit, those two were amazing. In addition to the bed, they took me on trips to Wal-Mart and Target to help me get the things I would need to start a life on my own in a new apartment. Julie’s sister had mentioned that she was selling her couches, and agreed on a price I could afford, so we went and picked those up for me. We got everything moved in between Friday the 12th and Saturday the 13th. I spent most of Sunday the 14th putting things away and adjusting them slightly before starting my new job the next morning.

And that’s what I’ve been up to since then. Most times during the week are spent at work and then coming home and trying to relax, with me resuming a couple of my regular weekly hang-outs with friends. And weekends are often spent seeing old friends that missed me while I was away and are happy that I’m back. And at least once a week I hang out with my old roommates and spend some time with their dog, Aristotle, who became my absolute best pal during my time living with them before I moved.

Flying across the country, putting down a deposit for the new apartment, and buying things to make this place at least a little comfortable really wiped out what was left of my savings after my time in Connecticut. I’m still trying to save most of my money so that I can fly back to Connecticut to pack up and move my stuff back to Arizona. But that’s slow-going. I’m not sure how long that’s going to take.

But in the meantime, I realize how lucky and fortunate I am that I had happened to befriend a handful of really great people who were able to step up and help me out SO MUCH when I really needed it.

Needless to say, the depression I was struggling with prevented me from wanting to update further — I think you can see it in my Inktober output from last year, as the pieces get less detailed as the months goes on, and the last few are sloppy and more of a “I just need to do SOMETHING” post. And then there were just the two posts in November and December, because I just wasn’t inspired to post ANYTHING. And then, the second half of December and the first half of January were just so full of unknowns that I was too stressed at the time to post anything without fear of it being incoherent. And since starting at Artist Express, I’ve been learning two jobs, and continuing my work on Raw Deal®: Indy Card at night and on the weekends.

Thank you to my cousin and her kids for letting me try living in New England again. Thanks to my mom’s best friend and her husband for giving me a bed to sleep in rather than trying to stay awake overnight in a strange airport. Thank you to Stephanie and Connor for agreeing to take me in when I just had to leave. Thank you to Susie and Julian for giving me a place to live for a couple of weeks. Thanks to Anna for suggesting the hotel. Thanks to Mike for driving me around to check out a few different hotel options. Thanks to Anthony for reaching out about the job. Thanks to Tom and Joy and Eric for some financial assistance that I absolutely did not ask for but am incredibly grateful to have received. Thanks to Ben and Julie for the bed, a place to sleep, and for doing what you could to make it so my new apartment would be comfortable to spend time in. And thank you to both Wesley and my mom for being sounding boards while I was an emotional wreck and needed to work things out in my head to get my life back on track.

Thanks to you all, I ended up with a safe home and a warm bed. And a job so I can afford them. It’s hard to ask for much more that.

2 thoughts on “About the radio silence for the last few months.

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