1. What did you do in 2020 that you'd never done before?
I taught classes remotely, online.
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Every year, I resolve to eat healthier & lose weight, to de-clutter my house, to worry less about money, to keep up with paper grading (so that I don't develop giant backlogs), and -- my favorite one -- to see (on average) at least one live performance per month.
How did I do?
- Food, weight, etc: Thanks to COVID, I was isolated from the restaurants and hot food bars that I love too well. I did a lot of home cooking from April onward, which inspired me to sign up for Noom in September. Between then and the end of the year, I lost 31 pounds, and I'm still on the program, so ... success! But I have reached this level of success before, only to eventually derail, so I am only cautiously optimistic.
- Tidying up: Thanks to COVID, I spent a lot more time in my house than I would have done, and I did devote some of that time to de-cluttering. No dumpsters were hired, but I went through several large and old (30 years old, in one case!) boxes of papers. The ensuing trips down memory lane saw me tracking down (online) and getting re-acquainted with several friends from the past. Another little victory.
- Finances: I also more or less succeeded at the not-worrying-about-money goal -- despite my youngest's starting college -- because (1) I was fortunate enough to remain employed throughout the pandemic, and (2) I had no trips or events to spend my money on.
- Procrastination station: As for the "don't get behind in grading papers" goal, well, I'm afraid that one remains locked, as the kids say. Thanks to COVID, and as noted above, I had to learn how to teach from home over the Internet. Everything took two-to-four times as long to achieve, which meant I did get behind in both semesters, resulting in a few students (one in Spring, two in Fall) complaining to my department head about my slowness. I did have mitigating circumstances in the Fall -- my Mom was in hospice from October -- so the boss was nice about it ... but I don't think I can afford any complaints in the new year. Fail.
- On stage and in person: And finally, the live performances. I hoped to see at least a dozen, but thanks to COVID, here's how it went down:
|February-||Shakespeare's Measure for Measure at Chesapeake Shakespeare in Baltimore|
|March-||Postmodern Jukebox in concert at Strathmore in Bethesda, MD|
Did I make resolutions for 2021? You bet. Are they the same ones? Absolutely.
3. Did anyone close to you get married?
Yes. My brother got hitched, in an outdoor but still not super-distanced event that was lovely, but about which I worried for the full 14 days afterward (thankfully, no one got the virus).
4. Did anyone close to you get divorced?
5. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No. But my daughter-in-law is expecting again!
6. Did anyone close to you die?
No. My mom went into home hospice, though, and we played the waiting game through the holidays as she steadily declined.
[Note: Mom died two weeks into January, 2021.]
7. What countries did you visit?
No place outside the USA. I'd blame COVID, but the last time I traveled abroad was 1998.
8. What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?
Mastery of grading-related time management. Opportunities to attend fun events in person, safely. Peace of mind about my country's future. Financial opportunities.
9. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Learning how to give real-time lectures over Zoom. I am a real old-fashioned girl (we're talking a chalkboard user), so the learning curve was steep (and involved not only Zoom, but -- ugh -- PowerPoint. Still, I can do those things now.
10. What was your biggest failure?
As noted, I bombed completely at time management, and the ensuing grading backlogs were nightmare-ish.
11. Did you suffer illness or injury?
My right leg troubled me in the Spring and again in the Fall, but not in the Summer -- seemingly connected to the amount of time I spent sitting at my desk. The pain radiated from the knee to the muscles in both calf and thigh, as it did a few years ago when the orthopedist diagnosed a Baker's cyst, so I've been assuming the same cause in 2020.
12. What was the best thing you bought?
I made no major purchases for myself. However, late in the year I fronted my son's purchase of a laptop computer so he could work from home, and the deal we made was that he'd help me with some home improvements in the months to come. He started right after Christmas on a nasty wallpaper-stripping job that I'd put off for years, and that laptop purchase is already feeling like money well spent.
13. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Number Three was a fine quarantine companion, and he accepted with admirable grace the COVID-related disruptions to both his senior year of HS and the beginning of his college experience.
14. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Donald Trump. He is also going to be my answer for 2021, I expect.
[Note: I wrote the above on New Year's Day. As of Jan. 18th, I'd say my expectation has already been met.]
15. Where did most of your money go?
Tuition for Number Three. The college's financial aid package was not what we'd counted on.
16. What did you get
I was invited to the Baker Street Irregulars Dinner for the first time.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
- happier or sadder? About the same, and that's reasonably upbeat.
- thinner or fatter? Thinner -- or, better, lighter.
- richer or poorer? Poorer, thanks to all that college tuition.
Reading for pleasure. Also, everything COVID says I can't do.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Procrastinating. Also, I am ashamed to admit, dodging my mom's phone calls (that is, sometimes letting them go to voicemail, when I was tired at the end of a long day). By the end of the year, I'd've given a lot for her to have been able to make a phone call.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
At Number Two's house with the other boys for brunch, then home to nap, and then with my parents for the evening.
21. How did you bring in the New Year?
With Three, watching TV. We ate tortilla chips and Velveeta-and-salsa queso dip, channel surfed among a lot of mediocre programs, and then quaffed some Martinelli's sparkling red grape juice (delicious!) at midnight.
22. Did you fall in love?
No. I nursed 2019's crush through the opening months of 2020, then decided to let it go. I am thinking more and more that some people were just made for the shelf, and I am one of them.
23. What was your favorite TV program?
Cobra Kai, a You Tube-turned-Netflix series about the 35-years-later lives of the "Karate Kid" kids. Don't mock; I am a sucker for "where are they now" stories and for redemption stories, and this is both. I am a little old for the Karate Kid movies to belong to the pop culture canon of my formative years, but that didn't seem to matter.
I also liked Young Sheldon, Star Trek: Lower Decks, and Murdoch Mysteries (a party I came pretty late to!).
24. What was the best book you read?
I haven't been able to name a "best book" for a few years now. I do *buy* good books, but I don't seem to have much time to read them. That said, I got part-way into an intriguing tome called Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away, by the always brilliant Rebecca Newberger Goldstein. I'm sure it *would* have been my best book of the year, had I finished it.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Trout Fishing in America. So much fun, and yet another party to which I was a (very) late arrival.
26. What was your favorite film of the year?
Well, there weren't too many, were there? Pixar's Soul, which sneaked in at the end of the year, was rather nice (though not exactly what I was expecting it to be), so I'll name that. You know, though, the earlier 2020 Pixar offering, Onward, was also good -- a very affecting story about family. Dunno why it didn't catch on; released too close to the start of quarantine, perhaps.
27. What was your favorite live performance?
I liked both of the ones I saw very much indeed, but I'll give the edge to the Shakespeare play. I had never seen or even read Measure for Measure before, and I was totally drawn in by the excellent performances of the Chesapeake Shakespeare crew (the actor playing Angelo had been Hal in the company's 2019 Henry IVs). Also, the play was surprisingly relevant, for all its issues (there are always issues with Shakespeare, amirite?).
28. What did you want and get?
Time with my grandson. A certain amount of Sherlockian fun. Continued employment (I even got a little raise from one employer). Weight loss. Freedom from COVID for me and mine (I would have like the same for everyone else, too, but that's not how it went down). Trump to lose the general election. The Dems to win both houses of Congress.
[Of course, I had to wait till 2021 to be sure about that last one.]
29. What did you want and not get?
The end of the pandemic. A definitive downfall for Trump (impeachment plus conviction & expulsion). Mitch McConnell to lose his election. RBG to survive till January 21, 2021. Normal, in-person interactions with friends, extended family (my immediate family were in my bubble, thankfully), and students. Live performances. The opportunity to speak at two conferences that had invited me, but then had to be canceled. Music-making with my church choir. TRIPS TO NEW YORK.
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
2020 saw the beginning of the end of my 50s (thanks for asking), and my b'day outing (held the day after) was the "Postmodern Jukebox" concert mentioned under Question 2 above. Ten days later, we were starting to batten down the hatches for quarantine.
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Maybe romance? I vacillate between longing for it and being sure it would be a needless complication of my current life.
I keep saying that it would have been great if Trump had been impeached *and* removed from office, instead of just impeached, but every now and then I wonder whether I could have stood President Mike Pence...
Of course, a miraculous healing for my Mom would have been best. I could have said that most years since 1977 (when her physical problems began); however, in 2020, with end-stage liver disease, there was more at stake. But frankly, despite my evangelical-ish faith, I'm not sure an 80-year-old person's liver regenerating is the kind of thing I actually believe happens, so it wasn't the first thing to come to mind.
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020?
Nice shirts over pajama bottoms.
33. What kept you sane?
Oh, a lot of the usual --
- The sheer existence of my adorable grandson
- My sons, esp. companionable housemate Number Three
- My Sherlock Holmes activities, at least the non-canceled, Zoom-able ones
- Political commentary from Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, John Oliver, and Samantha Bee
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Stephen Colbert retains the top spot. His wife was frequently on his quarantine show (as an off-stage audience of one), and his interactions with her are so endearing.
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Christian Trumpism (because "stirred" means "upset," right?)
36. Whom did you miss?
On the public stage, President Obama (still and always). In my personal life, Number One Son (he visits twice a year, and it's not enough). Also, my best friend from college. We don't see each other heaps and tons, so we really value the visits we get ... and we didn't get any after March 3rd (she went to my b'day concert with me).
37. Who was the best new person you met?
I didn't meet any *new* people (quarantine); I did, however, become a closer acquaintance of a staff member at church whom I already admired. It's been nice, in this season of life when I'm mostly disenchanted with the institutional church, to know someone that I regard as a spiritual role model. (I mean, there just aren't many out there -- I know *I'm* not one.)
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2020.
Don't put off till tomorrow what you should have done three weeks ago.
39. What was your favorite moment of the year?
You may have heard that 2020 was a fairly crappy year. That said, my brother's wedding will go down in family history as a shining moment within that crappy year, because we were all together on the day and my mom happened to be in unusually great form (physically, mentally, emotionally -- the whole nine yards). Two weeks later, she was in the hospital and we were having the hospice conversation.
40. What was your least favorite moment of the year?
The worst moment of the year that wasn't about me personally was the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The worst moment in my personal life was when the family realized we needed to choose hospice for mom.
41. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2020 and change something, what would it be?
Something that might have been within my power to change, as opposed to something requiring magic powers? I might have argued harder for delaying the start of hospice and continuing a bit longer with what had been the course of pursuing full treatment of Mom's various problems as they came up (whack-a-mole style). Why? Because the hospice thing ended up being much more protracted than we'd been led to think it would be, and with only palliative medication, she wasn't a full person for most of it. But hindsight is 20-20.
A less dramatic do-over would also have required the ability to see the future: viz., I have more than once wished that I could reverse the decision I made to cut my annual January NYC trip short by one day. The final day of the NY stay is always a Sunday, and as a church organist I have to use vacation time for those. I only get two Sundays off per annum, and I wanted both for those aforementioned later-in-the-year speaking engagements at a pair of conferences that ended up getting canceled. Oh, well.
42. What are your plans for 2021?
Keep losing weight. Get the vaccine. Resume real life. Co-edit a book (this isn't a speculative goal; I have the gig). Complete some home improvements. Read a non-work-related book (fiction!) all the way through. Mourn my mother. Become a grandma for the second time over. Sing.