OK, let’s start from the beginning: I lived in or around Chicago almost all my life (all of it except my freshman year of college) until the age of 28, but had long contemplated living abroad. Sure, lots of people do. But actually getting your ass in gear and moving is another matter. Anyway, I was working in administration at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago at the time, and I started to think (more, again…) about going to graduate school. I never went to art school, and I had art-school-envy, especially when I was there in the midst of all those mostly-rich-kid-mostly-morons who just piss their time away; valuable time that could be spent playing with all those art toys!! So I was thinking about going to graduate art school in London, and applied for two different grants to get me there. They both fell through. Meanwhile, I was getting involved with Matt Madden, fellow cartoonist and true love (and now husband), and he had been contemplating moving to Mexico for a while. He had been several times, really liked it, was learning Spanish, and, in an effort to make sure he could make a living there, he had even gone to school to get a Master’s degree in teaching foreign languages (mostly English for non-native-speakers). I was already in the mode to leave town, and so was he, and then my much-beloved boss quit, and a new not-beloved-at-all boss came in, and that clinched it. Actually, it was already clinched; that just made it easy. So we moved in March of 1998, about six months after the boss-quitting part.
As artists and as curious people, it seemed like the right thing to do, and we were, fortunately, correct. Mexico City is an incredible place, we made lots of great friends, and we had a great apartment. The cost of living there was really low (especially when you’re earning in dollars, like I was, and even though my income, by US standards, could not even have been considered “paltry”), which made it possible to stop working a day job and make the transition to being a full-time artist, something I was struggling with in Chicago. If you want to know more about the actual Mexico part, check out my Mexico diaries.
In April 2000, Matt and I returned to the US, and spent a few months living with various parents and getting ourselves married before we moved to Brooklyn. We left Mexico because, although we loved it, we couldn’t picture committing to a really long term there due to the fact that that would entail being a lot less “under the radar” than we had been, and, thus, would subject us much more often to the endemic corruption and crime, among other serious difficulties. We miss it a lot, though.