Random 2020

So here we are in the last three days of the year that was so bad it killed 300,000 (and still counting) people in America alone. I’m not sure what I’m expecting to happen three days from now aside from a huge psychological sigh of relief. It’s January 20 I’m really aiming for, when the Secret Service dumps Donald Trump outside the gates of the White House and let’s the real world have at him. Fake news, my ass, here comes the Southern District of New York, Donald, and they have some questions.

So what have I learned this year?

1. Even if I am by nature a loner, happiest when in the middle of the woods with some dogs and a deeply suspicious cat, the lockdown got to me. I can’t imagine what this is doing to gregarious people. I mean I know everybody’s baking bread and exulting over their toilet tissue hoard, but it’s not the same as human contact. At this point, I’m even willing to drive to my daughter’s hellhole of a neighborhood just to see her and her family. (“Hellhole” is my take on an expensive suburban enclave backing up onto a gorgeous historic park: the houses are too close together, every lawn in manicured, and the people there never wear shoes from two different pairs because they can’t find the mates and really need to take the dogs out before they pee in the hall.). So my big plan is to get out more to see people I love as soon as this fuckery is over.

2. After ten months, it is dawning on me that just throwing stuff on the floor when I’m done with it because I’m living in the guest room bed eventually makes the guest room a landfill. I am excavating now, but note to self: do not do that again. Although I think it’s good for the dogs to have to fight their way to the door over clothes and books and yarn because it strengthens their legs and burns calories, I think seeing my floors again might be an improvement over walking on pajama pants from last spring. Just a guess.

3. While only leaving the house every two weeks for groceries had an appeal, it has faded. I would like to shop at Home Goods again, even though I don’t need anything. Home Goods is open, but the idea of risking my life for cookware stops me from going. More than that, I need fresh veggies and bread at least once a week from the grocery. While Amazon can send me anything in a bag or bottle in about two days, bok choy and shallots must be picked up (no, Amazon’s Whole Food delivery thingy won’t work here; I’m in the middle of nowhere). So from now on, I’m going out ONCE A WEEK. I was born a rebel so don’t neg me about this.

4. The thing about cooking that I have learned is, you have to keep doing it. Like cleaning but with more pressure. For awhile I just sacrificed one day and made up a bunch of freezer meals, but now I am spoiled and want fresh cooked meals all the time. I just don’t want to cook them, mostly because my kitchen is a nightmare right now (although I am not throwing food on the floor, so it’s not the bedroom situation all over again). On the upside, I can now make a stir fry from damn near anything and my pan sauces are superb, so the year hasn’t been a total loss.

5. Always have dogs. I knew this before the lockdown but, my god, what do people who don’t have dogs (or cats or whatever) to talk to and cuddle do in a pandemic. “We’re in this together,” I tell Mona and Veronica, and they look deep into my eyes, having no idea what I’m saying but secure in the knowledge that I’ll give them food at some point. It’s an elemental relationship, but a strong one. (I miss you so much, Milton. God, this year has been terrible.)

6. I was overtaken by the urge to do a Paradise Park collage, so I ordered the stuff I’d usually forage for in a craft shop from Amazon. William Morris paper and lacy cupcake holders (balconies and railings) and a ton of other stuff. Somewhere I have bags of stuff I bought years ago for this, so it’s going to be spectacular. But I feel like I have to wait until Jan. 1 to start it. Like there’s going to be a big screech of a needle ripping across a record at midnight and then the music will begin to play again, only, you know, good this time.

7. The journal came but was not as good as I’d hoped because NO STICKERS. What the hell? OTOH I got an entire thick volume of stickers that were wonderful, so I’m coping. The journal is also short, which is probably a good thing because it means I’ll have a chance of filling it up before I wander off. The no-stickers thing is a serious drawback, though.

8. The sound of dogs snoring is better than valium.

47 thoughts on “Random 2020

  1. Same here. Sad to say our lifestyle didn’t change much with the lockdown. But having to isolate is different from wanting to. We miss the two young girls next door who used to knock on the door asking to play with Scout. We keep looking on line at houses we’d love to go see and maybe buy, but then realize “Wait, we’re in the middle of a pandemic”. And it’s not getting better. The fact tens of millions of Americans voted for a man who is killing us saddens me beyond belief.

  2. Yes to once-a-week grocery shopping and nothing else. Except for doctor and vet and groomer appointments. And I have to get to my computer guy about a faulty USB port (but I’m still playing with it so maybe not). And a zoning board meeting (but maybe they’ll finally go Zoom).

    I’d like to attend a couple of in-person meetings with some (but not all) of my political groups.

    Mostly, I’m just greatful I have my dog because I get to walk her everyday. And pet her and feed her and cuddle and play with her.

    And books!!! And smoked gouda and good bread and olives.

  3. That Amazon link to the journal showed a page with stickers–they should’ve indicated ‘not included’ — I call foul. It’s a special kind of evil not to include stickers when they’re shown plain as day. 😉

      1. Amazon is great with advertising and a lot less wonderful at fulfillment and delivery. I’ve been much happier since I started dealing with their competition.

          1. You have to Google the manufacturer name and model number and see who else sells it on the internet. When Amazon didn’t deliver my sleep masks twice and instead of attempting to deliver the next day, sent them back to the vendor, I found the exact same item sold not through Amazon for over a dollar less per item with free shipping for everybody, not just Prime members. They mailed it through the postal service and it was tracked every step of the way.

            I’ve decided that since Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, he doesn’t need me to underwrite his lifestyle.

  4. I cooked, tonight, and it was wonderful. Unlike most of you, I did not chop, slice, or dice and toss it all into a crockpot or wok. I broiled a pound of New York Strip in my toaster oven, nuked some Bob Evans mac & cheese and some Jolly Green veggies for sides, and popped the tab on a diet root beer. Ambrosia. 🙂

  5. Must get a dog this coming year. Granddaughters got a kitten Dec 18. Very sweet little one.
    Hoping to visit dear ones in the late spring, early summer. Please!

  6. I actually got a fake robot cat for Christmas. A fake robot Baby Yoda is also coming in the mail eventually.

    I don’t have a pet for two reasons: (a) in the beforetimes I was never home except for sleeping and I am hoping that someday I can go back to that lifestyle choice, and (b) I don’t want to be a single pet parent. (You read one “how do I give my cat an enema alone….”). Also having a cat or other pet means more reasons to have to leave the house to have to get food or to the vet or supplies or whatever, not sure if cats are available IRL any more, etc. So, fake cat! It purrs and lifts its paw and blinks and doesn’t poop on things!

    In other news, I got shit today for not being willing to do a sleep study and make a bunch of doctor’s appointments because my dentist decided I am on the red flag list for sleep apnea because I said I don’t immediately drop off to sleep and wake up in the middle of the night (which has been always, I have no other symptoms and don’t snore). I was all, are you out of your mind, I don’t want to spend more time at the doctor’s right now! We’ll discuss it in 2022, thanks.

    I really have no desire to be out now that it’s all over the place and The Most Contagious Variant just made it to America (of course it did). But since I am dead last on the vaccine priority list, I’ll be indoors for most of 2021 too.

  7. I’ve been relatively happy self-isolating. We had an unbelievably beautiful summer that allowed me to get outdoors. I have about 20 hours a week of zoom calls for work and that fills my need for human interaction outside of time with my husband. I realize I’m blessed during this pandemic to have an introverted personality, no human children, and security in my employment which many people don’t have. I have sympathy for those who are more extroverted since my whole life I’ve been told to be more outgoing and expected to be social. So, I understand what it is like to be told to be something your not. I also get it is different when it is a “have to” vs “want to.” This is not to say I that I am happy there’s a pandemic because I’m not and I never would have wished for it and the suffering and loss it has caused.

    Anyway, good luck unburying the guest room and feel free to share pan sauce recipes.

    1. Yes please Jenny! I am bad at pan sauces too, and never know quite what might make it better without investing in super rare fermented ingredients of some kind.

      1. It’s pretty much:
        Sauté your protein until almost done and move to a plate to rest.
        If you’re going to do shallots or onions and garlic for flavor, do them in butter next.
        Deglaze the pan with wine, scraping the good bits (fond) up. Reduce for a couple of minutes.
        Add whatever savory you’re up for at the moment: herbs, Worcestershire, tamari, lemon, sesame oil, sriracha, etc.
        If you want more sauce than that, add broth and reduce.
        When sauce is right consistency (whatever you like) put protein back into the pan to finish. If you’re really motivated, sprinkle parm over everything and put in the oven to finish.

        It’s basically crunchy bits (fond) plus wine plus flavors/seasonings you like plus broth if necessary. You don’t need anything fancy, the flavors you like and have on your shelf are a good bet. Good old Worcestershire rarely fails and onions-plus-garlic are always good. I’ve become a tamari fanatic (variation on soy sauce) and while I’m not a hot sauce kind of person, sriracha is really great, especially for pepping up chili. And lemon always makes chicken and shrimp better.

        Needless to say, this is not chef-quality cooking. There must be a million places on the net that can give you better directions.

  8. Every morning and evening, I write gratitudes, and I had literally finished writing, “Gratitudes: Zelda, having a rough day, but snoring at the end of the bed now. And she did eat something,” just about twenty minutes before I read this post. Yes to the sound of a dog snoring! My love of the sound is, at least in part, because I’m always grateful that she’s still breathing, but I do find it an immensely soothing noise in a way that human snoring is not at all. Human snoring = annoying. Dog snoring = gratifying.

    And my latest cooking joy is corn tortillas from scratch. So easy, so much better than store-bought. Not the same meal at all, in fact. I made them for the first time on Christmas Day, ate the leftovers on the 26th, made them again yesterday morning, made them again this evening. A warm fresh tortilla is delicious! Tonights were wrapped around fish and cabbage, but tomorrow’s will be wrapped around scrambled eggs with salsa and I’m already looking forward to it.

    1. I feel compelled to add a slight amendment (to my mind in any case):

      toddler snoring = adorable

      (and for some reason) baby snoring = hilarious

      This may have no small connection to the possibility of getting some sleep oneself…


  9. Amen to numbers 1 and 5. I’ve always been a loner and generally prefer dogs to people BUT… I have grown tired of my company and very tired of my cooking.

  10. On the one hand, 45* is entitled to lifetime Secret Service protection. No one has any idea how this will work if their subject is required to spend time behind bars — no, no, I mean moving to a room with artistically designed steel slats that you can see through. But literally, no one knows — presumably they’ll negotiate something with the Bureau of Prisons.

  11. I learned this year how to hibernate. Like I did cool things (started a company, started jogging, got an offer on my book, stayed fiscally solvent via freelance & unemployment payments after I got laid off in March). But mostly I feel like a bear who’s emotional fat has been eaten up by a really, really long winter. I miss hugging people, and restaurants, and farmer’s market food. I miss seeing friends every single day, instead of only a few times a week, often over zoom.

    I feel like the thing I learned this year was how to get by with less of everything, and still have the odd joyful day every now and then. But I am so, so looking forward to getting to a point where I can stop rationing many of the things that bring me joy.

  12. I’m not sure I want to think about what I learned this year, because I’m tired of being depressed and afraid. So I will think of the good things. Argh was great and a real comfort in a dark year. It’s nice to ‘see’ Bob again. I have two dogs who make me laugh every day. Really, you can’t beat happy, silly dogs who make you laugh. I have discovered, that when I just can’t handle anything more, I can re-read my favorite books over and over – sometimes even twice in a row! – and they still bring me comfort and take me to another world. This world is still beautiful. Flowers still bloom in the summer, confused deer wander down my driveway in the middle of the afternoon, a winter fog still leaves a lovely coating of hoarfrost on a dormant landscape.

  13. I tried to go grocery shopping every two weeks in the spring, but that only lasted a couple of months before I reverted to the pre-pandemic schedule of every 7 to 10 days. I felt a desperate need for fresh fruit, and things were just too stressful for me to give that up.

    Because my job is both essential and very difficult to do remotely, I have kept going to work this year. Our schedules have been modified, but we still go. Since the vast majority of my human interaction happened at work even before the plague, I didn’t really feel the kind of isolation a lot of others have dealt with this year. And since I find being around people a lot to be draining, it was fairly easy to adjust. I’m grateful for that. But I have barely seen friends and family that I would usually see much more often, and that has been difficult.

    I’m actually looking forward to New Year’s, which is unusual. I never go out then, but I sometimes feel un-fun for not making plans. That won’t be a problem this year. I have wine, chocolate, five more episodes of Bridgerton on Netflix, and Turner Classic Movies will be showing all the Thin Man movies. I expect it to be a good day.

  14. I love sharing my favorite web comics with others. Stuff like El Goonish Shive, or Grrl Power, or Sequential Art, or Order of the Stick, or Dumbing of Age, or Questionable Content or for this post, Living with Hipster Girl and Gamer Girl by Jagodijuba, a Mexican comic artist who puts out both a Spanish version and an English version. I so want to share living with hipstergirl and gamergirl 467 english, the most recent comic, but it won’t be available before tomorrow night – I’m seeing it a day early on his Patreon page, to which I cannot link.

    This one is a New Year’s Eve cartoon. In the first of two panels, Sophie (hipstergirl) is saying to her roommates Artur and Erika (gamergirl) and their petite friend Elly, (who are all off-screen) “Come on, I know this has been a terrible year. But don’t you think you’re exaggerating a bit?” In the second panel, the shot pulls back so we can see the others all sticking fingers in their ears or covering their ears. In the background, you see the shouted words, “Seven! Six! Five! Four! Three!” Artur replies, “It is still a countdown of 2020. We don’t know if we will hear Happy New Year or an earth-shattering Kaboom!

  15. The dog definitely kept me together.

    But it was the garden that was the haven. Yoga in it. Lying in the sun in the verandah. Growing bok choi from the first time I bought some. Cooking more adventurously.

    My question was how did people cope with out green space of their own.

    I’m pretty outgoing. But the thing I miss most is hugs. The last good hug I had was in May. And prior to that, March. So yeah, that’s the toughest for me.

    1. We coped relatively well, being a fsmily of 4 introverts.
      But having no garden nor balcony got to me, severly, this year.
      Or apartment house dies have a green courtyard, but that was full of really loud small kids. Quite badly behaved kids. That added to the stress.
      Thankfully, I wasn’t hindered by a sore heel back then, so could use my bike to hsve some fresh air. However, most green stretches of the city were full, too, with people.
      Sometimes I hate the city.
      Quite often nowadays.

  16. I learned that I really miss going to the movies. REALLY MISS IT. And getting on planes to go other places.

    I will confess to the occasional trip to HomeGoods/Marshalls/World Market/Target this fall. I always went during the work day and not if they seemed crowded, but I wasn’t able to give them up completely.

    For the first few months I went to the grocery store about every three weeks. I got vegetables from a combination of the farmers market, which mostly stayed open, and a local vegetable delivery service. Vegetables are about 90% of my shopping anyway, so that worked well. I also got through much of my freezer, though it seems to have filled up again. I think maybe for January I will pull everything out of the freezer and organize it/cook through things that had gotten lost. Maybe I’ll do the entire refrigerator.

    1. I know, it was quite a shock when I realized my freezers were clean. And I did both fridges last week. Suddenly there’s all this room in there and everything is organized. It’s wonderful.

      1. I got a new standing freezer for my mudroom mid-pandemic and A) had to clear out everything that was too old and needed to be tossed and B) reorganize it all. The new freezer is about 20% larger than my older one, since apparently they don’t make the smaller size now, and has (gasp) shelves on the door and (double gasp) a light inside. Between the larger size and the door shelves, I can now actually see everything in the freezer, which makes me much more likely to actually use it up. Thus, hopefully, avoiding more “A” in the future. My happy moment was buying new organizers to put in it. Yes, I’m weird. It has been a few months, and I still occasionally pull open the door and look in just to see how neat it is.

          1. I can’t believe how happy it is making me. (Unlike the new dishwasher, which doesn’t work nearly as well as the old one, thanks to energy saving “improvements.”)

        1. Organization makes me happy too.

          Have you watched “The Home Edit” on Netflix? I stumbled across it a few weeks ago and binged all 8 (or so) episodes in two days. I have been buying clear bins ever since.

  17. Things I’ve learned from 2020:

    1) about work: I don’t really miss going to the office (will never miss the commute); my productivity working from home is higher; my stress level is lower (don’t get me wrong it’s still pretty high, but being able to literally walk away and get down on the floor and stretch whenever I want helps A LOT); I am still capable of learning new tech; I genuinely like the firm I’m working for.

    2) about writing: nothing stops me.

    3) about gardening: a little bit goes a long way when you have a tiny yard.

    4) about our friends: they are nearly all as bad at staying-in-touch as I am. However, the iPhone I was forced to get for work has meant I can Zoom and FaceTime and do Acapella (only once so far, but still), and seeing someone’s face really helps.

    We do not have plans for New Years Eve. Last year we went out to a dinner dance with our four best friends. This year, two of those people have moved to Texas, the dance is not being held, and we may end up drinking Veuve Clicquot by ourselves and doing a little hug-and-shuffle in the man-cave. The husband and I have not danced at all since our last tango lesson before the lockdown, but a NYE dance is our tradition and I don’t want to break it.

  18. I learned that if I decide to say a Hail Mary every time I catch myself in an imaginary argument with people in my life who persist in propagating conspiracy myths, I’ll say a lot of Hail Marys.

    1. I have a lot of imaginary arguments. Maybe if I made myself say Hail Marys it would distract me.

    2. I also need to stop arguing with others in my mind. Especially, conversations that are decades old. Anything to break the rhythm.

  19. We have 5 Ragdolls (1 per person) and it’s been a sanity saver through this last year. Everybody has a devoted feline friend. Also it turns out it was a really good idea to sell our perfectly good house and buy a fixer upper in 2019 because it’s twice the size and has a garage and a larger yard and has made all of us being in it 24/7 much easier. We turned the 2nd master into a home gym that has also been a sanity saver as gyms (and our ballet school) have been closed most of 2020. I wonder how many people are rethinking tiny houses after being stuck in them for a year.

    1. My house is a perfectly reasonable size (about 1,200 sq ft) for one person. I took in a friend at the beginning of the pandemic because she was high risk and her then-boyfriend worked in a grocery store and didn’t take this thing seriously. I have seriously been wishing for an addition ever since 🙂

  20. I am someone who is perfectly happy spending the bulk of her time alone. So naturally, I let a friend/one of my artists/the cat sitter move in during the beginning of the pandemic, so I have spent most of it with someone else in the house. She spends most of her time upstairs in her room, so it’s not terrible, but it is still a huge change. In those early uncertain scary days, I suspect it was a good thing for me to have someone around. Now, I’m mostly used to it. Mostly. And the cats love her (my beloved Angus, who died at the end of September, adored her to the point of meeting her at the bottom of the stairs in the morning, escorting her into the kitchen to get her coffee, and then sitting with her on the couch and gazing at her adoringly while she drank coffee with one hand and petted him with the other–for spoiling him rotten in what turned out to be his last six months, she gets to live here as long as she wants).

    But I do miss being with “my” people. Especially my Witchy gang. We managed to do a few things outside when the weather was good, distancing and wearing masks, but it wasn’t the same. And as much as I don’t like traveling, I miss being able to go to conferences (writing and Pagan), my once-a-year visit to my parents and sister and the ocean across the country in San Diego. I missed the few regular events I normally look forward to all year long, and which I use to reward myself for surviving all the rest of life. I miss hugs. Many, who knew an antisocial not-very-huggy woman could miss hugs so much.

    Thank goodness for cats, and good books, and discovering (through the housemate) Lucifer and The Try Channel–on Youtube, a hysterically funny bunch of videos of various Irish people trying things, many of them alcoholic, which literally has gotten me through this pandemic–and introducing her to Leverage, which has necessitated me watching them all again. I have eaten way too much really good (and expensive) chocolate and drank way to much wine. Drunk too much wine? Either way, there was wine.

    Managed to keep writing, although it was mostly like pulling teeth. Discovered that I really missed my day job running an artists’ cooperative shop when we were closed down for 3 months. Then discovered that what had been a tricky but relatively stress-free job during normal times was a complicated, stressful, and nearly impossible task during a pandemic. It often felt as though I was holding the place together with duct tape and the sheer force of my will. And on the verge of running out of duct tape. But we made it through the holiday season with reasonable success, so I now get a couple of months of relative calm to regroup and catch up on the writing.

    Hopefully things will be a bit better by spring, although I don’t expect any major changes until the end of summer at the earliest. Mostly I will just be happy to show 2020 (and one particular White House occupant) the door.

  21. My teeth are starting to itch I’m so bored. I’m bored even though I created four quilts since Thanksgiving (Two were started in previous years so it’s not really all that work in a month.)

    I want something to happen, but maybe I just need a nap.

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