Wednesday, December 30, 2020

525,600 Minutes - How do you measure a year?

This is not my typical reflection on the year post. 

There’s no way in hell I could or would do that this year. I'm not feeling reflective.

As we crawl toward the calendar end of 2020, the only things that matter to me are we both remained healthy, we had food on the table, we lost income but kept our jobs and both houses, MFD's sobriety is intact, and we are lucky as fuck compared to who and what others have lost and what others have been through this year. I'm writing this from a place of immense privilege, like I write everything. I know where I sit. Friends and family who had Covid are still with us, those who have lost jobs and income are still hanging on. This has not been the hardest year of my life by far. I've had more personally devastating years. This year the aggregate pain of the world is an enduring pressure squeezing all the air out of the room and you can't be human and not feel that. 

Our collective personal lives have been drowned in the tsunami of a global pandemic, political theater, and social unrest. It's hard to feel anything matters beyond the very big national and global shit swirling around us, the reality of people dying around us, the disbelief of others that that dying is even happening, and individuals and small businesses suffering financially while billionaires get more billionaire-y when we have the economic ability to remove that suffering. It's a lot to process. It takes up a lot of space in my brain and my heart. 

But we beat on, boats against the current in our individual lives. Things have not stopped happening to and for us in the good or bad sense. Since 2011 I've kept this blog as a marker for myself, a journal of my life. In recent weeks I've found I have forgotten major things that happened in my life this year. Like our house in Philly being in the path of a tornado slipped my mind. I am also frequently surprised to find my mother-in-law is no longer alive. I see a photo of MFD and I in a fucking commercial that was on TV all over the place in an hour and a half radius when he was running for office and I feel like I walked in on Bobby Ewing who I thought was dead in the shower on Dallas. Did all of that happen? 

It did. It all happened. 

These are big life events in my life, and they've gotten lost this year. Writing is a big part of processing for me, and since creativity, focus, and writing took a pandemic hit, here we are. This is a list to remind me of what happened in my life in a year that is blurred at the edges and raw in so many places. There are some things on here from before the pandemic (March 16 is my Pandemic Date, what's yours?) that I forgot about completely. This list is also not complete. It's hard for me too look too closely at things after March. So if you're reading this, this is the skim. 

-My mother-in-law died in April after a terrible battle with cancer. The 10 person funeral we had is like a beyond bizarre dream sequence from Twin Peaks. No typical large funeral or lunch. No internment. It still does not feel real. 

-We lost other friends and family members and did not attend their funerals. As an example, we lost Aunt Clara on MFD's side, and she was just the literal best. It hurt not to be able to attend services for her like I know it hurt people to not be able to be there for MFD and his siblings and honor his mom. The loss of people outside of Covid and the inability to gather in the typical ways that become touchstones to that person's physical parting is one of the things that will stick with me the most. It's like people have just disappeared and it feels awful. 

-I did not once this after shit fell apart in March fall back into a bad old habit I have always fallen back into: smoking. Stress smoking, comfort smoking, social smoking...none of it, not once. 

-I lived at the shore from May through...well, I'm still here. 

-I went to the beach pretty much every day. I probably missed 10 days since May

-I have never collected so many amazing treasures from the sea

-Living mostly in an efficiency apartment showed me how much I keep that I do not use or need

-I worked from home from March 16 on

-I ate outside at a restaurant once since March 17 and inside zero times. I’ve never gotten so much takeout in my life

-MFD got on the ticket in a write in and ran for office, and got a lot of support and press. My house was a campaign office from the summer on. My neighbor let her sister use her house to stalk us and film us and put our private everyday living business on the internet and now is unsure why we are not feeling neighborly toward her. There were racist incidents PLURAL on my street with Black and brown campaign folks including a major incident at my polling station on Election Day. People continue to disgust and disappoint me. 

-MFD was shut down work-wise for a time by order of the governor and threw all of his energy into getting food to people in our community and his larger recovery community who were struggling. 

-He also started classes to add Certified Recovery Specialist to his skill set. 

-Our house in Philly was in the path of a tornado in early August. No one was hurt but the roof had to be replaced and most of my beloved tree removed. The skylight, window panes, and fence still need addressing. 

-Philly house, mostly before the pandemic hit: MFD redid the entry floor in Philly with floorpops. Vincent painted the spare room in the basement in BEHR Cherubic in preparation for my mother-in-law moving in which obviously never happened, MFD painted the dining room (gray, I can't find the color right now) and I painted some of its furniture, we replaced the dining room table with one on clearance from Pier 1, main level floors got refinished for a fucking steal from a local neighborhood team, and the kitchen cabinets got painted. Some of this stuff  like the entry and floor refinishing we’ve been talking about doing for 10 years.

-Shore house: In February the small full bathroom in the upstairs of the shore house got a new sink and the big full bathroom got a new vanity/sink and shower pan (the old one was cracked and miraculously held through summer 2018) and we finally bought a new sectional couch for our shore apartment (in February, it would not make it there for quite a number of months due to the pandemic). We took the next steps in the year round plan at the shore: had baseboards installed in the bathrooms and started window replacement, which was supposed to start in the spring but we did not push the button on that because of income loss. Since you go under if you get too far behind on scheduled maintenance and you don’t have contractors available at the ready, we ended up putting the deposit down in the fall but the fucking windows are still not in yet. We also got rid of one of two remaining mattresses from when we bought the shore house (full bed), moved some beds around, and added a king. Also got rid of an old dresser and replaced it with one my Dad & Carol were getting rid of. I also got rid of Comcast cable.

-Mice. I fucking dealt with mice. A lot of mice. I became obsessed with their deaths

-I’m not doing world events but man losing RBG fucking hurt. A personal hero and birthday twin. So many times this year kicked us when we were down. This was one of those times for me.

-In addition to property manager and admin for the shore rental, I became a Covid counselor. I never imagined people would want to get so deep and emotionally bond with me as I was returning their money to them over and over and over. I rebooked one week this summer five times. I am almost unable to start for 2021. I have contracts unwritten all over the place.

-An impromptu trip up and back to North Jersey in January just to see Laura and have lunch, a weekend trip to Boston to visit Kim and Steve and Libby, a long weekend trip to Florida to visit Aunt Carrie and Uncle Jim in their happy place and saw my college roommate for the first time in many years while I was down there. I also spent time at Lori's lake house while tornadoville was happening in Philly. 

-We saw Aunt Mary Pat at the Ferko Clubhouse for a fundraiser. Harriett's Bookshop opened at the beginning of February and we were there for it.

-My dogs got a pink princess bed and I took 230984834 photos of them in it, I started Year of the Dip and let it mostly die on the vine after March 16, I was working 12 hour days and most weekends through most of January and February and it was killing me

-The love of reading, writing, cooking, dulled. Focus dulled. Creativity dulled. Exhaustion. Brain fried. Inability to concentrate. Forgetful. I’ve never spontaneously cried so many times in my life about things not personally related to me

-I started watching TV and movies again

-I talked out loud to the camera a lot purposefully and put it on Instagram. Lunch time check ins. 

-I lost friends because I did not choose whiteness over everything else 

-Due to shore house cancellations/WFH for all/covid protocol agreements, I spent more time with my niece and nephew this year than I ever have and it was really great. Truly one of the brightest spots, and time with them and my brother and Aubrey and parents are the only times I felt remotely normal all year. Thanks to the shore house which allows people to stay separate from us and the great outdoors I also got to see people in person throughout the year: Kim and Steve and Libby, Laura and Chris and MBD and the boys, Melissa and Jim and Zach and Zo, Debbie, Michelle and Amelia, Amanda and Frank and Eva who I saw the most and also made me feel like things were going to be okay. Outdoor gatherings forever. 

-Labor Day old school driveway party if we can consider under 10 a party. For the purposes of this year, we can and will. 

-Excellent text chains with my people

-So many fucking walks. So so so so many. Not many sunrises. Lots of sunsets. More soda than I've drank in years. More Snickers ice cream bars than I've ever eaten in my life. 

There is no putting a shine on this turd of a year and I'm not looking to paper the walls with silver lining. I think a lot about what the enduring effects of this year will be on my mindset. Were there unexpected side effects that turned out to be good or in my favor? Yes. Am I glad 2020 is over? Yes. But things are not going to magically change at the stroke of midnight. 

I'm prepared for that.

2021 is still going to be hard. 

Gratitude is not hard. I didn't accomplish much or set the world on fire and I cannot stress enough how little I care about that. I’m just thankful I held on through this year when my mental state took a huge hit, that I still have a job, that my husband picked up my slack and also helped guide me through when I’m usually the guider. I’m grateful for everyone and everything that kept me afloat. 

Hope is not hard. I am hoping for a better year for all of us. I’m hoping we remain healthy and careful until it’s time for vaccinations for regular people. I’m hoping we drop the fucking conspiracy theories across the board because they are fucking maddening and so tiring in an already exhausting world. I'm hoping our government starts governing for the people and that we hold their feet to the fire to do so. I'm hoping we do the hard work in confronting white supremacy in ourselves and in all spaces we find ourselves in to make this world livable for marginalized people. I'm hoping each of us individually finds it within ourselves to make sure that if things are good for us, we don't stop there but make sure they are also good for our neighbors (unless they stalk you, then fuck those people). I'm hoping we give each other grace as we navigate our way out of this pandemic and grapple with all the changes that have occurred in such a short time and all the inequities that have truly been laid bare for all to see - if we ignore them now it will be at our own peril. I'm hoping we take the good things we painstakingly extracted from this insane year and usher them forward, creating space for them. I'm hoping we leave old ways that were hurting us as people and as a society in the past. 

For 2021 I don’t have a word of the year or an agenda or goals beyond survival, health, rest, work/life boundaries, and hydration...but I do have a commitment to do my part to make the world I want to live in come to fruition. And hope. I have hope.

I’m hoping. I’m hoping. I hope you will too. 

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