2020 in Review

This will be my sixth year in a row doing these, so you can also read about 201520162017, 2018, or 2019 if so desired. They are inspired by Tilde, who has taught me that it can be a Good Thing to remember what the last year has been like. Many of the headers in this post are based on my goals for 2020.

The phrase for this year was welcoming others, as I wanted to return to helping others feel welcomed. I did that to some degree, but even more so — I survived this dumpster fire of a year. You did, too! Internet high five!

Let’s pause for a moment, because wow, wtf, 2020

Before getting into the rest of this, I want to pause and just say: WTF, 2020. Having infrastructural social support systemically undermined under Trump since 2016 culminated in this horror show. So many people are suffering. Un- and underemployment, evictions, police shootings, and an eroding safety net were all true before this year, but way to come to a fucking head.

Thinking about goals for this year, let alone trying to devise goals for next year, is a habit I’d like to keep up with. It’s in no way to say “look at what can be done in a pandemic!” or anything of the like. I’m incredibly privileged, and routine is part of my coping. With that in mind, let’s proceed.

Stated Goals

Devise new ways to connect with my crew (and do so)

2020 sure did force my hand on this one. I’ve been far more intentional in my relationship with Tilde, gamed regularly with Baron, had social game nights with family, and ridden bikes with masks on with friends more than 10 feet away. I’ve seen fewer people, less often than I’d’ve liked, but I sure did learn to be intentional about the time I’ve spent with others. I hope to bring this intentionality forward with me.

Take care of myself

I survived this year, and frankly that would be enough. I’ve kept up a physical routine despite health setbacks and depression, been reasonable about my ingesting of intoxicants, and bicycled pretty far.


I’ve been reflecting on my family’s history of substance abuse and what that means for me. I’ve made conscious, visible steps to being healthier in this regard for my future self.

And while I’ve given away 7% of my income this year, I’ve also set aside enough that I can start thinking about retirement, and entertaining the thought of not working until I die. Madness!

Pick up one side project

In addition to marching in protests, I also joined a motorcycle protest support unit, where we direct traffic. The point is to 1/ protect the protestors from vehicles and 2/ show that cops aren’t needed to do things like this, either. It’s been a highlight of comradery and usefulness in a year of ever sameness. I was lead coordinator for two, and support on another two.

So more of a new hobby than a side project, but I have discovered that I rather enjoy target shooting, and will be continuing to explore this in the upcoming year. This has caused no shortage of existential angst, because Guns In America. Here’s one thing I’ve listened to this year that has continued to deepen that angst, and two that have helped my framing.

Unmet Stated Goals

Maybe gestate

This is sort of met an unmet. I’ve successfully gestated, but not to term. This year I had both an abortion and a miscarriage. It sucks. It’s been a constant background noise added to the rest of the background noise of 2020. Hard to talk about because everyone ascribes different levels of value and concern, and my stance is that it’s a problem I have an answer to, but the machine keeps not accepting the answer. So frustrating.

Going to keep trying.

Bring passion back to my work

I ended my time at Truss (check out the Distributed Guide and Onboarding docs, the two objects of which I’m proudest from my time there) and started as an engineering project manager (EPM) in Apple’s security team in February. It’s been a wild ride of just figuring out how the company works and what my role is since then. I think I really like my job, now, although the secrecy is wearing. I hope to understand enough to bring my passion to work in 2021.

Other Things

Civics

With Tilde’s leadership, I hand wrote and addressed 50 postcards to Georgia voters (30 for main elections, 20 for runoff) to encourage people to go vote. Given how close things are, I feel like that in combination with donations to Fair Fight may have actually had a real impact.

Saw a man die

A notable thing that happened this year is that a man was shot to death immediately in front of my apartment. We heard the gunshots in the small hours of the morning, and despite thinking they were fireworks, got out of bed to check. We called the paramedics, who were unable to revive him. There’s a small memorial to him on the sidewalk now, and I’ve talked to my unhoused neighbors about him. His name was Dre, and although I didn’t know him, others did. It’s important to me to hold space for him.

Relationships

This year, my relationship with Reed has held a steady, deep role in my life. I’m forever grateful for him. He has been a stabilizing force and an instigator to improving my and our lives together. Things with Tilde have changed but also remained deep and worthwhile. Not seeing Jenbot has been an unexpected punch to the gut from restricted travel. I talk with other people dear in my life regularly, or less regularly.

Travel and Culture

It’s not really the year for travel, is it?

I did get to host a lovely online conference about how to recover from this pandemic, better, with a slew of wonderful folk.

I helped out with a thing called a Cartoonathon, put on by awesome human Pablo. An excellent way to bring joy and humor to difficult situations. It also spawned this blog post about collaborative note taking, as a way to get more of an audience involved.

Tilde and I made two Quaranzines, the second of which included the fantastic categories of Things to Keep, Things We’ve Learned, Things Giving Us Life, and Things We’re Forgiving Ourselves For. I continued the practice at work and gathered enough material for a quaranzine for the first 6 months of the pandemic.

Reed and I rode our bicycles from Gilroy to San Luis Obispo over 3.5 days. It was hard, it was gorgeous, I’m so glad we did it. The first time we planned to do the trip was cancelled due to heat waves and then it was good we didn’t go because fires, but October was perfect. There were vistas and tarantulas and an undying gratitude for gentle paved downhills. There was also the thing of reaching our destination after nearly no contact with other humans for the entire day with only a cup of water and 400 calories left between us, but that’s ok.

For my birthday in April, I hosted a round of Animal Talks. So many delightful talks by friends and family. And my brother wrote a 10 minute poem about hook worms, so that was A Thing. In verse, even!

Got a Cat for Our Cat

North is a very sociable cat. He was having a rough time being an only cat. So, we got him/me a cat. Welcome Doc, who is an excellent lap cat.


This is the best moment of the year:

Started learning again

Depression is a hell of a drug, and that combined with figuring out how to just work a day job without pulling 80 hour weeks on whatever it is I’m doing has lead to a years-long oscillation towards just vegging out. This year, at my brother’s suggestion, I started doing some Great Courses while on my long bike rides (specifically, Sci-Fi as Philosophy). I’m hoping this, in addition with rebalanced medication, will encourage me to rejoin a learning space.

2021

Like I said at the top, trying to set goals for next year seems laughable, given the trauma we’ve all endured this year. As my brother said, “it’s like someone knocking you down, kicking you in the teeth, and then bending down to ask what your five-year plan is.” Regardless, here’s what I’ve got:

  • Have “ideal behavior” in regards to my intoxicant intake 75% of each month.
  • Do something of which I am proud at work.
  • Finish a class and start on another one.
  • Donate 10% of my take home pay, or max out matching donations.
  • Keep trying for having a kid.
  • Buy a house if we find the right one.
  • Ride 200 miles every month I’m not pregnant.

My intention for 2021 is to restabilize. Because recovering from this trauma is going to take some intentional effort.

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