I’ve been doing this annual blog questionnaire for so long now that I don’t think I’m allowed to quit it. I am extremely belated in filling out the survey for the year 2020; however, of all the years, I think it would be quite regrettable to skip this one, so here I am.
Previous years’ answers are available here: (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). Over time I have modified and deleted some of the original questions, but here’s what I’m working with this year:
1. What did you do in 2020 that you’d never done before?
Spectated at an Olympic Trials race. Went on a trip with my husband and left the kids at home. Made my own sourdough. Sanitized my groceries (remember when we were told to do that?!). Wore a face mask. Taught classes over Zoom. Attended a work meeting while lying in bed. Went an entire year without seeing my dad or brother in person.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Last year, here’s what I wrote: “Dry January is happening again (we have been doing it yearly for a while now); I’d like to run a half marathon without getting injured in the middle of the training cycle (eyes on Magic City in November); and I plan to work with CW to organize our garage, donate some old furniture, and make better use of our third bedroom.”
The half marathon didn’t happen for obvious reasons, but everything else did. Except that the newly organized garage slowly descended back into a state of chaos during the pandemic. We shall re-organize! The bedroom became the site of not only a new desk & workspace for online teaching, but also the new bike. That room is working hard for us now!
For 2021, I am working on re-establishing a healthier, more moderate relationship with food and drink. Pandemic times led to coping with large volumes of both, and coming into 2021, my body is not feeling so great. That’s my main resolution. Note that this is not a weight-loss resolution or a fitness resolution. I have a lot of other hopes for the year, but we’ll see.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Internet friends and local friends. Two families among our local friends each had babies almost a year ago and we still have not met them, in fact. Eff you, pandemic.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Only about half a million of my fellow Americans.
5. What places did you visit?
In the first couple of months of the year, We traveled to Atlanta to spectate at the Olympic Marathon Trials, which was a super fun family trip. In March, right before everything shut down, my husband and I spent a week in NYC on our own. We came home and immediately quarantined. In July, when numbers were really low, we managed to swing a very cautious & limited family visit to Iowa.
6. What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?
WHERE DO I START. Number one wish is a vaccine. As I write this, I have my second dose already scheduled for next week. I want everyone to get theirs.
7. What days from 2020 will you always remember?
February 29. March 9-13. March 27. November 3. November 7.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Anything I did to get by in the months that my children were home and my husband and I were working from home. Those months are a painful blur, but we made it. I really nailed my pizza dough recipe and technique, too.
9. What was your biggest failure?
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
What a question for 2020. Back in January, L and I both had the flu. It was highly unpleasant.
My family was lucky enough not to have had any known exposures to COVID-19 or to have gotten sick with it, though. In the summer, after the kids had been able to return to school, a little cold went through the family — my first experience with a getting a COVID test — but it turned out to be just nothing. That was it.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Probably my Peloton bike or my KitchenAid stand mixer. Two real MVPs of the pandemic, I tell you what.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My husband and children. For the most part.
13. Where did most of your money go?
Daycare still takes the win here, even with a few months off.
14. What did you get really excited about?
I started out the year really excited for our planned trip to Xi’an, China, but when news came out about the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, that trip got canceled and we decided to travel within the US instead (at that time, there wasn’t any guidance not to do this or any known cases in NYC). So I then got really excited about our NYC trip. Honestly, it was a great time and a real highlight of the year. Then everything kind of crashed down the moment we returned.
Hamilton being released on Disney+ was a pretty fuckin’ exciting highlight as well. I feel like we all needed that.
Then the Biden-Harris win! When the news outlets finally called the election for Biden on November 7, that was one of the most pure moments of joy and excitement I recall feeling. Thank GOD.
I also got pretty excited for Christmas — the kids are at a great age for Santa, holiday movies, and fun gifts. They’re really into Star Wars, so light sabers and action figures and space ships were all big hits this year.
15. What song will always remind you of 2020?
“Don’t Stand so Close to Me,” by The Police. Ha ha. Look, I really had very little room for music this year. Stress and sensory overload are no good for my brain. If there was music playing, I probably wanted it turned off.
16. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? sadder
b) thinner or fatter? fatter
c) richer or poorer? the same
17. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I’m not going to list the things I missed here because I don’t wish I’d done more of them. Eating in restaurants or going to happy hours or having dinner at friends’ houses? I am glad I didn’t do those things but I missed being able to do them. I don’t know how to answer this question this year.
18. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Drinking. Late night snacking.
19. How did you spend Christmas?
Christmas at home, just the four of us. We basically overdid it on the presents for the kids, so it took all day to open them. It was fun. Pajamas all day. Mimosas & Cinnamon rolls.
20. What was your favorite TV program?
Ted Lasso and The Queen’s Gambit seemed to arrive at just the right moment and are each completely perfect. I also have enjoyed an Alias rewatch, the latest season of the Great British Baking Show, and The Mandalorian.
21. What was the best book you read?
I read a lot of garbage* this year, but here are a few hits:
- The Great Believers – Rebecca Makkai
- Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid
- Saint X – Alexis Schaitkin
- Quit Like a Woman – Holly Whitaker
- Here for It – R. Eric Thomas
- Know My Name – Chanel Miller
*note that I am a professional and allowed to call books garbage. Note also that I am not naming the garbage.
22. What music did you get excited about?
None in particular.
23. What did you want and get?
24. What did you want and not get?
A flattened curve?
A new car. Same as last year. I almost bought one in the year-end sale situation, but was talked out of it. It will likely happen this year, as my current car is having some issues that will be expensive enough to repair that it may not feel worth it.
25. What was your favorite film of this year?
I cannot think of any movies I’ve seen this year that weren’t animated (i.e. for children; I do not give a fuck about animated movies, SORRY). I am scrolling through a list of 2020 movies on Rotten Tomatoes and nothing is ringing a bell.
(I am not counting Hamilton as a film/movie.)
(But maybe I should as it is the only good one I saw?)
(NO. IT IS A FILMED STAGE PRODUCTION NOT A FILM OR MOVIE.)
Oh, okay, I saw Enola Holmes. It was fine. I saw Palm Springs and instantly forgot it. I feel like it was probably terrible? Oh. Yes. We did also see Wonder Woman 1984. Woof.
26. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 43. I don’t remember precisely what we did. We’d had so much cake for the kids’ birthday the week prior that I decided to bake a pie instead (pumpkin).
27. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020?
28. What kept you sane?
My neighbors. Having someone to talk to safely outdoors as we stood around at the ends of our driveways was honestly priceless this year. I’m so grateful for my little cul-de-sac.
29. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.
30. What political issue stirred you the most?
The 2020 election — and all the attendant chaos and lies being spun by those who were desperate to hold onto their power. As I write this post in February 2021, the second impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump is ongoing. What an absolutely maddening situation.
31. Who was the best new person you met?
“New person I met.” Ha. A ha ha ha ha ha. A HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
32. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2020.
Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Get the vaccine. Black lives matter. And, as I say every year, qui patitur vincit.
33. Quote a song lyric or poem that sums up your year.
There are too many poems to choose from this year. Here are two:
“When people say ‘we have made it through worse before,'” by Clint Smith
all I hear is the wind slapping against the gravestones
of those who did not make it, those who did not
survive to see the confetti fall from the sky, those who
did not live to watch the parade roll down the street.
I have grown accustomed to a lifetime of aphorisms
meant to assuage my fears, pithy sayings meant to
convey that everything ends up fine in the end. There is no
solace in rearranging language to make a different word
tell the same lie. Sometimes the moral arc of the universe
does not bend in a direction that will comfort us.
Sometimes it bends in ways we don’t expect & there are
people who fall off in the process. Please, dear reader,
do not say I am hopeless, I believe there is a better future
to fight for, I simply accept the possibility that I may not
live to see it. I have grown weary of telling myself lies
that I might one day begin to believe. We are not all left
standing after the war has ended. Some of us have
become ghosts by the time the dust has settled.
“Threshold,” by Maggie Smith
You want a door you can be
on both sides of at once.
You want to be
on both sides of here
and there, now and then,
did we call the life
we would wish back?
The old life? The before?)
alone. But any open
space may be
a threshold, an arch
of entering and leaving.
Crossing a field, wading
but timothy grass,
imagine yourself passing from
and into. Passing through
doorway after doorway.