I have a couple of caveats I need to get off my chest before I finish this. The first is that this wasn’t my first apocalypse. I have plenty of experience with dealing with my own armageddons, and 2020…well…but I digress.
The other caveat was that I already had made plans to go through my own judgment. I had reached the decision that it was time for me to leave Calgary and pursue my career. This was the year I was going to be a freelancer. Now what was I going to do with all this freelancing superpowers I had no idea, but I was going to give it a college try. I wanted to get into the film industry. Vancouver I thought would be a great place to expand and go into cool things. I was open to new people and new possibilities. So for me at least, I felt like I had a lot more say in the hand fate dealt me than most.
Unfortunately, this was the hand 2020 dealt all of us pretty much.
Turd, thy name is COVID. You stank.
So we all had that to worry about. And no one can be prepared for the insanity that followed. We’re still kind of insane to be honest. I never expected Orwellian concepts to actually happen, but they have, and people seem okay with it…I’ve seen mask fights, civil rights coming full circle and two monsters who don’t know my name fight for the right to tell my neighbors down south what to do for the next four years. All that happened and so much more. So much in fact, that aliens, killer stuff and other strange phenomena were completely ignored.
This is a year no one wants to repeat.
But it was what we had. I had to make some very hard decisions quickly. And I want to talk about all three of them here.
Decision 1: I Wasn’t Going to Abandon Compassion
During the start of the pandemic, I had to take a bus and two trains in vancouver as the world went insane. I will never forget the panic and fear and the emptiness of downtown Vancouver during the day. My whole time there, downtown was filled with people hustling and bustling and doing things. That last week I was there, no one, not even the homeless regulars on the streets were around. It was a ghost town.
Walking through downtown Vancouver station going home I ran into a very dirty, grungy homeless guy trying to go in the opposite direction. He asked me for a pen so he could draw on the train. This was a turning point for me. The virus was here and we were going to lock down. I was debating how long I could stay there before I couldn’t go home. The thought of not seeing my family, it was the only time I cried this whole time. The thought of not being able to see or hug my dad or sister…that brought me to tears.
Is a hug worth dying for? Is human kindness and decency worth dying for? All of that went in my head for thirty seconds as he held out his hand and I dug for a pen. I couldn’t find one. I usually had pens, but that day I didn’t.
“Sorry dude,” I said. “I got none.”
“At least you tried,” he answered and he held out his hand in thanks. For a minute I thought about not taking it. And then I realized how cruel this world had become overnight. I was willing to forego a handshake, a hug, over something that might never happen. Could I live with being cruel to people who mean well because of a possible virus?
I couldn’t. It’s just not my nature.
It was one of my three promises to myself. I wasn’t going to be cruel in this time, no matter what. I took his hand and shook it hard. I wasn’t going to be afraid. Even in this, I was going to be the kind of human being I was going to envision myself to be, even if it killed me.
This may be my downfall, but honest, I rather that than live in fear of dying. I know one day I’m going to die. I’ve made my peace with it a long time ago. I won’t do my philosophy of death here, but I know that without death, life would simply be stillness. That would not be a world I wish to live in. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Next year, I’ll be moving forward with the things I want to go do.
The Freelance Life
My goal was to move forward as a freelancer. And so far, I’ve done it. The first six months of my freelancing life was constant up and down. I made one mistake and I want to mention it here and now. Freelancing is ultimately about finding your niche. Although I pursued my niche, I didn’t realize it was my niche until much later.
I do a podcast. I interview people better than just about anybody. And I’ve done nearly five hundred of them. It took about six months and a lot of trials in different things, including audiobooks. I had some ups and I had some downs. And before I go forward I need to talk about my two biggest failures.
I had the opportunity to do an advertising campaign for someone’s Kickstarter. I won’t name names. I learned a very important lesson doing this. The first was that the people you work for have to believe in themselves and respect you, otherwise you cannot help them. I felt incredibly bad for what I had to do there, but I learned those lessons quickly. I know my own worth, but I wish I had done better communicating my concerns. Maybe there would have been a different result.
The second part of this is the audiobooks. I don’t consider this one a full failure. In fact, I still offer the services on the website. I learned an awful lot about audio editing with this project and it’s made me a better podcaster and producer. This was very important as my circumstances when I came here were less than ideal audio wise. It made the podcast difficult to produce. Going through this process was a great way to learn some stuff.
But I don’t love it. I enjoy the narration part of it. I still do it on the podcast. Reading Alice in Wonderland on the air and The Cloud Diver has been a blast. It has helped me in my writing as well. And whose to say I won’t do it again, but it’s not my love.
I had a great friend come up to me. She told me not to pursue a hollow path, but one filled with love. I love interviewing people. I love stories, creating them and listening to them. So that’s what I’m going to do.
The Podcast Becomes a Broadcast
My goal with the podcast was always to do a talk show either on the radio or television. I truly enjoy this. Once I figured out that I had my niche, I said to myself, why not just go for it now?
Before I got there, I need to mention that at the beginning of this, I wanted to do something. On my Youtube Channel while I still finding my niche I had the chance to do my first ever Zoomcast with Sofia Evangelina.
Sofia Evangelina is an amazing person. She inspires me and ultimately taught me the most important lesson about the year in how she goes about and does things. This conversation has its flaws on the production side of things, I’m proud of this chat. It was my first live conversation in this format, and the thought crossed my mind I’d do it again.
Going all in, I decided to do my thing on Twitch. You can follow me here and hopefully soon I become an affiliate. I feel what I do is worth, and based on the growth of the channel that may be sooner than later. (If you want to support me, hit subscribe on any of the links above. Or, support my Patreon.)
It airs 5 days a week. Monday through Thursday are standard interviews with amazing people, but Friday will feature the Drink and Draws with illustrators.
Unlearning and Learning
Getting out of your comfort zone was the final promise I made to myself. My sister bought me an art book and it took a while. I have to confess I looked at it for months and months and months and didn’t do a thing. If I was honest, it was because I was scared. I was afraid to look foolish. Most of all I was afraid I would look bad.
I have to stress something. Not much scares me, but this did. Because I had no idea what would happen. The drink and draws on the podcast are not just to advertise the illustrators coming into the show. It forced me to come out of my comfort zone.
You know what? It hasn’t turned out so bad. I should have thought of Sofia. Sofia just goes for it. It’s the best approach, and to watch someone like her who is so talented at what they do make a mark is nothing but inspiring. And it’s not just her either.
I’ve met so many cool people this. I will never ever forget chatting with Christina Z, Mog Park, Anh Vu, William Holland, Kurt Zauer, Michael Oden, and countless others for the first time.
Some of them are drawing with me. It’s incredible. I drew with Rich Perotta (see the bottom, best interview I did this year.) Also I met incredible world class artists who wanted to draw with me. My life is awesome.
If I was to give people advice about what I learned with this it’s this. Unlearn the fact that you suck. Things change. I had to unlearn the part that said I was bad at this. I didn’t really have to believe that perception. I could change, and not worry about perfection. Instead, I decided to have fun.
That’s the approach. Perfection is an overrated concept. It’s a great ideal in art, but the important thing is do it. Let it be something you love and enjoy and see where it takes you.
At the end of the year my first art piece is up for auction. You can bid for my piece here.
I haven’t covered the events, the stuff I published, the kind notes. I made 2020 the best year I could. I discovered things about myself and taught myself the importance of letting yourself being whoever you want to be.
Who am I you ask? I’m Joshua Pantalleresco. Author. Illustrator. Producer. Broadcaster. I’m looking forward to seeing where all this growth takes me from here. Stay shining in the darkness. I will see you guys in 2021.
Episode 654: Just Joshing Episode 654: Drink and Draw with Rae Hope Pantalleresco Part 2 – Just Joshing
- Episode 654: Just Joshing Episode 654: Drink and Draw with Rae Hope Pantalleresco Part 2
- Episode 653: Just Joshing Episode 653: Drink and Draw with Rae Hope Pantalleresco Part 1
- Episode 652: Just Joshing Episode 652: Kaki Olsen
- Episode 651: Just Joshing Episode 651: Betsy Ross
- Episode 650: Just Joshing Episode 650: Christian Tiege