2022 Up Up Down Down

This year, my life began its transition into a new chapter, a quieter and more insular one. A lot of what brought me to San Francisco has left. Friends have either moved away, broken up, no longer go out, or drifted onward. I do miss conspirators to paint the town red, but I’m even more shy these days at looking out for new people. I’m no longer a party animal—just a retiring light-up dinosaur. Still, I would like friends to meet regularly in a bar or try a new restaurant. 

I have drifted more into the life of a hermit. I read, I putter, I build LED contraptions, basically I have turned into my Dad. Fine if I were out rambling the country, but a bit out of place for roosting in the center of San Francisco. Adam taught me that it’s okay to watch a television series from the couch on a laptop. I did join the Roxie movie theater as an annual patron so I now catch a film there weekly, although mostly alone. Tickets are free and they do give me complimentary popcorn.

In the spring of 2022, as the Covid pandemic waned and the starving animals came out of their burrows, I decided to live with Ruben for a week and Adam for a week. I needed a change of scenery and social familiarity with another person around to share space. Adam likely thought me odd, but I found charming going out to fetch him a burrito or watching with him each evening several episodes of the Vikings television show.

This was the year of work. In the summer after a successful work coup d’état garnered me a new department, I managed 17 people, almost too many. I endured and created such work drama, some of it thrilling, a lot of it exhausting and unnecessary. I got mean, I got tired, I got wiser. I appreciate all those that work for me and how much they have grown and accomplished. Work drama ratcheted in November with a 25% reduction in force.

Blitzy pinged me in February about a potential big Burning Man art project called The Afterlife. He suggested I build two LED Dragons, each one the complexity of an entire previous project. I said “fine” and “good luck,” until he returned in March to announce winning the art grant that suddenly precipitated six months of actually building these two dragons that needed not only to light up but also to fly, breathe fire, break down flat for transport, and cost less than $1000 to make.

Fortunately, I had already built scaled animals for my six Fish. Furthermore, during the April month of prototyping, I got clever with strip lighting, scale construction, and framing. Throughout the project, I got to meet a bunch of other skilled and kooky artists and engineers, especially the kind and helpful Tim, master rigger. Although I spent most of my summer ziptying, soldering, and sewing, the project did finish on time. I am disappointed that the lights are too dim and the harsh desert weather tore the hundred of hours of work to pieces, recoverable but arduous. The Dragons live now in a warehouse storage locker. They will require 2023 refurbishment to get them closer to my vision. At least I have something to do.

Brother Ray was kind to pull me out of San Francisco into far flung destinations. We flew west in March to the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Oahu. Juggling work near the beach may have ruined my paradise holiday, but we did get a chance to drive to the top of Maui, snorkel off of Kaui by ferry boat, attend a pleasantly drunken luau, and buy a lot of poke from Foodland. We saw so many epic beach sunsets and even a few breweries because Ray is still Ray.

In May, Ray and I met again in Denver, principally to see Meow Wolf’s new art installation called Convergence Station. We stayed in a wonderfully twee part of Denver, rife with cocktail bars and cannabis dispensaries. I showed him how bike share works so we could zoom around to art museums. I could live in Denver although it snowed in May just after we flew back home.

Turning 50 in September could have been depressing with so few friends around. The previous natal day was a sad disaster. Best person ever Adriene suggested surprising Ray in Yellow Springs, Ohio, at one of the bars where he works part time. Even brother John and his wife drove out from New York for this Dudek sesquicentennial  stunt. We avoided informing Ray for the day before the big event and then celebrated the most marvelous weekend with stops at a Dayton Mexican restaurant, Ray’s porch grilling, and Adriene’s horse farm. Ray is so wonderfully accommodating and kind.

My parents are getting older. I worry so much about them, but now have so few means by which to contact them. My father cannot hear on the telephone and does not have an email account. Mom’s dementia gets her confused talking with me. So I write letters monthly to Dad. I flew out for Thanksgiving. I was so happy Ray traveled as well and John drove down with his lovely wife Andrea and his two rockstar daughters Sasha and Isabelle. Dad is slowing down, Mom is better than I feared. It’s a tough place to be, but makes me think lots about my own mortality and what I want to make of the time I have left.