Before the storm, there was plenty of salt and brine placed on roads and parking lots.
While I stayed home, my fictional characters went to work.
Meanwhile, back at home, I got lots of work done on some new storylines while listening to Chicago and Fine Young Cannibals. Hope you were safe and warm during Snowzilla 2016.
As some of you know, last fall I began teaching a Friday gym class as part of a local tutorial for homeschooling students. This semester, I gained a few more students and one of my new students asked if I ever used the online classroom to assign homework. My answer was no. I explained the goal of the class is to do the work (running, games, sit-ups, push-ups, crunches, etc.,) while in class and hopefully to inspire students to do more during the week. Ever exercised and felt your muscles “talk back” to you the next day? If you didn’t overdo it, then this is your body reminding you to keep it up. I would rather instill a love of exercise and fitness than to make it a requirement.
Lifeguards, however, must stay fit in order to keep their jobs. This involves jumping in the water and swimming a minimum of 500yards every two weeks, something not all of us enjoy doing. What I lack is the capacity to keep count of the number of lengths I’ve completed. Oh well, I guess I’ll just swim another 200yds then. Occasionally teenagers get lazy and either don’t log their swim (like me) or attempt to skip it entirely (fictional guards in this cartoon.)
Truthfully, I am swimming between five and eight miles a week with DAMA (Durham Area Masters Aquatics) and loving life in the fast lane. Yes, I’m finally there. Those jammers make a big difference!
Here is a sketch I made this week for “instaswimusa” on Instagram. It was in reply to one of their posts showing a shark in an indoor pool. (Insert cartoon panel: “Aaauuuggh”) Seriously, no worries; I’m pretty sure it was photoshopped.
Another day this week, one of the lap swimmers handed me a quarter upon exiting the water and said, “Thanks for watching the pool.” It’s not every day a lifeguard gets tipped like a valet. (Hey everyone, the quarter that used to be on the bottom of the pool is in my pocket now!)
The following day, I replaced some of my old gear for swim practice. In addition to purchasing new fins and goggles, I also found my jammers buried in a dresser drawer, but decided to order some new ones based on the fact that eventually all swim fabric either fades, blows-out, relaxes or splits at the seams. If you are wondering what jammers are, they are like biking shorts. (No padding in the seat though, as that would only be comical in the water.) If you are wondering what I was wearing before, the answer is ordinary swim trunks. Now the Coach doesn’t say, “What? You’re swimming in trunks again?”
Then this weekend, I completed my lifeguard recertification. Lots of overwhelming material to cover, but I managed to stay sane. It was great to see my lifeguard instructor along with other guards I haven’t seen in quite a while. Always important to reconnect with co-workers and refresh skills.
Between being tipped by a patron, reuniting with my jammers for the first time since high school, getting recertified as a lifeguard and making new friends on Instagram, things are looking pretty good for the New Year!
As a fairly young adult, I have never really made any New Year’s resolutions. I have always set goals for myself, even as a little kid, and then worked my way to achieve them. Sometimes the achievement was later than I expected, and sometimes this led to the detriment of family harmony. Does anyone else have this problem?
While I lack the experience of setting long term goals, this season is a great time for reflecting and setting realistic goals for the coming year. Still, it’s fun to make some crazy goals like swimming the English Channel. By the way, several of my coworkers have completed this goal or are well on their way to completing it. They broke it up into the number of swims that would work for them. Hmm, how many miles to walk the Great Wall of China?
Reflection: This year, I got on social media starting with facebook (yes, I had no facebook account until July of this year), then Instagram, tumblr and finally twitter. I am now contemplating the benefits of Pinterest, so if anyone out there uses this platform, please help me by sharing your tips and how you use it. While I didn’t gain 10k followers in six months, I at least got my work out there and that is a start. Goal: Post more often on social media to gain followers.
Reflection: I copyrighted my work so that there is a document that acknowledges that I created the cartoon and characters of “Suits and Guarders.” Goal: Repeat process for new material.
Reflection: I had a few cartoons published in the Lifeguard Times, an online journal for lifeguards. They also hinted at a few more cartooning projects so I am hoping to do some work for them in the future. Goal: Do more collaborative projects with people that have similar goals to create a win-win.
Reflection: I started swimming with DAMA--Durham Area Masters Aquatics this fall. I am the youngest member but these guys are all really fit and very fast. Goal: Just keep swimming with these guys. You are who you swim with!
Reflection: This time last year, I began the process of taking all my rough sketches finalizing dialogue (agonizing over punch lines), upgrading to Bristol board and India ink, coming up with the name for the cartoon strip and reading lots of articles about how to publish a web-comic. Goal: Next step, e-book!
What are your goals for 2016? Please share in the comments below this blog.
Ian Johnson was born with a crazy cartoon character perspective on the real world. “Suits and Guarders” is loosely based on his life as a lifeguard and swim instructor at a local pool. Any resemblance of characters in this work to persons, drawn or imagined, is purely coincidental.