It feels a little weird to write this post. I know a number of people have been sharing memes saying they don’t need any year-end posts to make them feel bad about whatever they have done or not done to get through the year. I can respect that. For me, doing stuff is what got me through the year. Even if it was low-key stuff like baking bread and knitting socks. I am, of course, in a different situation than many people since I work from home and I don’t have to take care of anyone. We’ve all coped with this year differently. This post is about what I did.
Looking back at what I said I wanted to do this year, I feel a number of things. Obviously I could not have anticipated the pandemic and how deeply it would affect us all this year, so goals about playing roller derby and keeping up with my weight lifting are moot. Other things seem almost prescient. I talk about wanting to be less wasteful and not buy shit I don’t need, which has definitely been part of the spirit of living through the pandemic. Living through the early pandemic in particular made me get better at using what food I have on hand and not throwing away those last bits of leftover meals, habits which I’ve worked on through the year. I’m not saying I’m “grateful” for the pandemic (because I’m really, really not), but it has demanded a certain amount of reflection and reconsideration of how I run my life and relate to others.
This year has been hard. I feel a kind of survivor’s guilt because it hasn’t been that hard for me in a lot of ways. I have a stable income and health insurance, I have a cozy home. But the social upheaval and the uncertainty of this year have been challenging. I definitely feel less patient and more emotionally raw, as I’m sure everyone does. I have tried to channel that into, alternately, empathy and helping the people around me as well as relaxing and caring for myself. It’s hard, but I’m trying.
Something nice: this is my first full year of regular blogging (I started in the middle of 2019). If you click on the “2020” tag, you can see everything I wrote this year. I’m really glad that I kept up the blog this year. With the days of pandemic life blurring into one another, I know without it I would have looked back on this year and asked “what the fuck happened?” Despite the pandemic (because of?) I did a lot of things. They weren’t the things I expected to do, but I did things.
Books and Media
I read a lot this year! I am going to post my books of the year list later this week (I’m not done reading yet!), but I’m currently at 87 books. My private goal this year was to read 100 books, which is clearly not going to happen. I feel good that I’ve gotten quite close though!
One aspect of being at home so much is I started being more purposeful about what media I consume. I realized I wasn’t listening to much music and organized some new playlists for myself to make it easier to enjoy music. I’ve been trying to listen to some new (or new to me) artists so I don’t get too set in my ways. I’ve also been watching more movies and purposely picking what I want to watch instead of getting lost in the infinite scroll of netflix streaming.
As you might guess, most of my rampant consumerism this year focused on buying stuff for my house, like baskets for organizing my closet and bins for my pantry. I also got an air purifier (shout out to California’s worst fire season) and a rowing machine/exercise bike since it became more or less impossible to leave the house this summer between the heat and the ash. I also put a lot of effort into emergency kits. I can’t personally do much about the pandemic or the fires, but it does reassure me a little to have some emergency supplies in place.
Making Things and Doing stuff
Did you know I had to work at my job all year long? It’s ridiculous but true. I don’t write about work a lot, but I did a lot of fucking work this year. Pandemic notwithstanding, we did a lot of proposals and I took on projects like trying to help people understand how to write and organizing our reusable content. It feels really insane to me that many aspects of regular life have continued as normal while 300,000 Americans died of coronavirus this year. I’m lucky that my boss is understanding about how it feels to be alive right now and hasn’t demanded anything ridiculous. I’m a little affronted that we’ve had to keep working at all. Compartmentalization is at an all-time high.
Studying, at times, offered a good distraction from pandemic life. It’s an act of optimism to keep at it; a belief that I’ll eventually be able to go somewhere and talk to new people.
I really thought this was going to be the year I’d take the C1 DELE exam and validate my Spanish skills once and for all, but the pandemic has made fools of us all. That said, I did a lot of reading and studying in Spanish this year and I’m feeling pretty good about my skills. I even translated my voting guide into Spanish! I also started making efforts to do some volunteer translating work. I did a couple of small jobs and then it fell off my radar. Something to renew my efforts in for 2021!
Unfortunately, I didn’t work on Icelandic at all this year. My teacher was taking maternity leave and then the pandemic hit and I couldn’t muster the energy to study on my own. However, in a surprise twist, I did start studying French again, inspired by taking up ballet. I took three years in college but forgot a lot of it. It’s been interesting to get back to it, although I don’t love it as much as Icelandic (that’s right, I have favorites).
Knitting and Crafts
I went hard on knitting this year. I knit five pairs of socks! Ten whole socks! No wonder I feel like I want a break from sock knitting. I also knit an awesome top and two shawls. Many of these were gifts because who doesn’t love a handmade sock or shawl?
As far as exercise is concerned, this year would have been cursed for me, pandemic or not. I started off the year strong but sprained my ankle in February (a lifetime ago, by many reckonings). I had fun taking a few turns at coaching before coronavirus took us all out of the game. With pandemic boredom getting me down and looking for something to help my ankle rehab, I took up ballet in the summer. I didn’t really know if I would like it, but I have enjoyed it a lot. It’s been a good counterpoint to roller derby because I have to use my body in very different ways.
I looked back at the food photos I posted this year and noticed three trends: bread, charcuterie boards, and treats.
I made a lot of bread this year. Of course, this includes some springtime sourdough, which I made like everyone else. I like sourdough but learned that I don’t like the commitment to regular baking. Once the weather started warming up, I abandoned the project. I still made a lot of great breads and expanded into some more labor intensive breads like pumpkin knots and Poğaça rolls.
These aren’t technically charcuterie boards since I don’t have much meat involved, but this year saw a lot of snack board/charcuterie/shark coochie art. Am I a basic bitch or am I finding classy ways not to make dinner? You decide.
Finally, because eating is one of the few reliable coping mechanisms remaining to us in this pandemic year, I made a lot of treats. Some might even say it was too many treats (It’s Kirk. Kirk might say this). I tried some new stuff like cream pies, battenburg cake, and macarons. I also revisited some favorites like cookies and toffee.
Finally, here are some of the year’s best cat photos for your nerves. Huey and Viola turned 12 years old this year.