Oh, my stars!
This was a hard one to write, y’all! I mean, how do I sum up a year I spent on depression and anxiety level one billion? A few weeks after the clock hit midnight in 2020 our terrible, awful, no-good, very bad impeached President was not voted out of office and got to remain as Commander in Chief, thereby launching one of the most vicious and turbulent elections in US history. A few weeks after that, COVID 19 started killing people around the world, and shit got bad.
But I was committed to wrapping up 2020 in the way I always do, so I opened up a new document and started to answer these questions that I’ve answered for years. And it was really fucking hard to own up to exactly how hard this year has been. But I wrote it anyway, and after Matt and Marisa proofread and edited, I was ready to publish. And then white supremacists stormed the US Capitol and DC got scary.
What I’m trying to say is SORRY THIS IS LATE BUT *gestures widely** THINGS HAPPENED.
1. What did you do in 2020 that you’d never done before?
- endured a global pandemic
- stayed at least six feet away from everyone (except for 8 people: Marisa & Mike & Matilda, Matt & Patrick, Jayme & Steve, and Erica)
- convinced my parents not to travel from Arkansas to visit
- switched to delivery of all groceries and household sundries
- stopped getting manicures, pedicures, or any other beauty treatment
- stopped going to bars, restaurants, museums, crowded public parks, protests, and outdoor public celebrations (like when Biden/Harris won!)
- stopped wearing bras
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions and will you make more for next year?
Not a single one. I didn’t do anything but survive the isolation of a global pandemic. Technically I could have done all the things on last year’s list, but since my energy and mental state allowed me to do a maximum of 2 things a day; mostly all I did was work and take care of Otis.
The To Do’s I highlighted for 2020 make a pretty good list, though. Here is my modified 2021 list.
- Read a book a month
- Take an online class for something creative (just one in 2021!)
- Write more — at least 200 words once a week
- Get arty — paint or something else at least once a week.
- Find a way to exercise that doens’t feel like horrible torture that I have to force or bribe myself do
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My sweet friend Susan delivered twins at 28 weeks. Her son and daughter stayed in the NICU for four months while Susan and her husband endured the hyper-strict restrictions of visiting a hospital during the pandemic. Happy to report that everyone is healthy, happy, and safe.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
My dad’s two sisters died four weeks apart. My grief is still unbelievably raw. How can I mourn them when I’ve not been to a funeral or seen my family? They both deserve more writing than what I can give them here, but this will have to do in the meantime.
My dad’s younger sister, Judy, was a delightful, giggly sweetheart of a woman. If we were watching the movie of her life, there would be a montage of her walking through the door, seeing someone she loved, and putting her tiny Bridges hands in prayer against her lips, scrunching up her shoulders, and squeaking out a hello filled with more joy than can be contained.
When all of us first cousins started having kids, my dad’s generation had a playful competition to be the babies’ favorite. One of them would buy a bigger Christmas present, another would send a more frequent message. But one day, Aunt Judy just decided she should be the favorite, crowned herself “Favorite Aunt Judy,” and started signing emails and cards as FAJ. It was really brilliant and we all loved it.
She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011. She fought that pretty hard and it went in remission. But sadly she was one of the miniscule percentage of women who get a very rare form of leukemia from chemotherapy. She fought that even harder, and after a while went into remission, only to find out that the ovarian cancer was back. She entered hospice in late July 2020, and our delightful FAJ passed away peacefully a month later.
In late 2017 as I was going through my Boob Thing, I found out that my breast sherpa, my dad’s older sister, Ginny, found out that undiagnosed breast cancer had spread to her bones, and as we say in the South, her body was “just ate up with cancer.”
Favorites aside, my Aunt Ginny was the one who understood me the best. We were so alike in so many ways that I never doubted our biology. Much like a family that all has the same pointy nose, we were the same in so many ways, indisputably related. Her personality was big and loud, and her stories were captivating and enriching. We shared a love of literature, writing, and creativity. When I was chosen to speak at my high school graduation, Aunt Ginny helped me write my speech. She helped me organize what I wanted to say, and kept guiding me back to King Lear, which I’d read that year and had enraptured me.
Men must endure their going hence, even as their coming hither: Ripeness is all.
As the date approached, she called and said, “You think I’m not going to be there when you give this speech?” And she came! She flew from Missouri to Virginia to see me deliver that speech. Knowing she was in the audience calmed my teenage nerves and made me feel very loved. She was good at that.
Like her baby sister, Ginny fought like hell.
Both women had been going through it, but Aunt Judy was the sicker of the two. Or maybe I just thought that because my dad and Judy were very close and lived in the same city. Toward the end, they saw each other every day. On the first Friday of August, my cousin Cindy, Ginny’s daughter, emailed to say that her mom was in hospice, too, and was unlikely to last the weekend.
I didn’t read the email until Saturday morning. My throat closed up, and I gasped for breath. I spent most of the day talking on the phone to my cousins and my parents, uncontrollably sobbing, only to hear from her daughter that evening that she was gone.
Ginny had been sick for 2 years, but I didn’t know it was the end until it was too late. But she’s always been a headstrong woman and acted intentionally on the things she wanted. I believe she was ready to go, so she just closed her eyes and was gone.
These women were two guiding forces in my life. Since I’ve been away from them for so long, and time seems to be a fucking joke, I really can’t believe they’re gone. It just seems like I haven’t talked to them in a while. And that’s the truth, actually.
5. What countries did you visit?
I barely left the apartment, so no, I didn’t leave the country.
There has been one thing that has really made this bearable: mini vacations with my pod, my quartet of fun.
It all started with complete devastation when, in April, we cancelled our June trip to New Orleans to celebrate Matt & Patrick’s birthdays. By the time mid-June rolled around, we were stir-crazy and missing each other intensely. So we looped in Erica, socially distanced hard for 2 weeks, and rented an Airbnb in the Virginia countryside, and officially became a pod. We practice the same COVID precautions, so we trust each other immensely: masks and social distancing always, minimizing time in public (ex: no fun trips to Target), being extra cautious in the weeks before hanging out, and informed consent about deviations from our agreed-upon plan. I’ve been called “really strict,” “overly-worried,” and “paranoid” by people I know for following these precautions. Ugh.
Since June, we’ve rented cabins along the Chesapeake Bay, northern Maryland, and in West Virginia for Christmas, among other places. So no, they’re not magical trips to other countries, but they’re magical trips nonetheless. I wouldn’t trade these trips for the world. We’ve decided to keep them up even after COVID is over, so things will only be more fun when others can join us.
6. What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?
I want my life back. I’ve accepted the fact that I will not be a mother. If you’ve read any of past years’ reviews, you already know this*.
So for the past few years, as the reality of non-motherhood cemented itself, I designed a life that was rich in friendship, culture, and freedom. I pay exorbitant rent in downtown DC because I love the city. I love falling asleep to city noises and sirens and talking to the weirdos I pass on the street. I love knowing I’m a car ride away from seeing live music or meeting up with someone who’s in town unexpectedly.
By staying inside to keep myself and others safe, the life I created for myself is gone. About two months into the pandemic, as the weather started to warm up and collectively we started to realize this wasn’t a “weeks-long” thing but a “months-long” thing, I had a fleeting dream to put all my stuff in storage and rent a house in the country for a year. I mean, if I’m going to be alone, I might as well be alone in the middle of the rolling hills & easy sunsets of Virginia. Sometimes I still regret not doing it.
But I think that would have ruined me. Without the idea that I could go stand outside on the stoop and talk to my neighbors, or have an impromptu early morning coffee and air hug with Marisa, I know I would have sunk even deeper.
*I never wanted children, I wanted a family. I did not EVER want to be a single mom. Had I been partnered up, I’d have tried to have biological kids, and had that failed, I’d have loved to be a step-mom, a foster mom, and/or an adoptive mom. But partnership didn’t happen, so neither did motherhood. And if partnership happens in the future, starting a new family this late in life is not at all desirable, so the dream is officially dead. (Step-momming would still be very awesome, though.)
7. What dates from 2020 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
- Monday, March 16: Paul and Rachel (who lived downstairs in my building) came to say goodbye before they left DC to move to Minneapolis. I remember looking at them and saying out loud, “I think I’m going to cry,” and then seeing huge tears roll down Paul’s face. We three-way hugged and sobbed for a few intense minutes. We were definitely sad to leave each other, but there was also such uncertainty and fear in those tears. I didn’t touch another person for 3 more months.
- Monday, July 6: Started a new job.
- Saturday, August 1: My dad’s older sister died, my Aunt Ginny.
- Monday, August 24: My dad’s younger sister died, my Aunt Judy.
- Wednesday, Sept 9: I moved into a new apartment.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Realizing that my job and my apartment weren’t going to cut it. Pandemic or not, my apartment was too small, and I’m too pretty and too old not to not have a living space that refreshes me. And as for my job, last year’s “biggest failure” was enforcing a work-life balance, and I’m very proud that I honored that desire to even it all out by leaving a job that was structurally unforgiving and had no leadership to fix some deeply flawed ways of working. (Meaning, the bosses knew that there was no way we could keep working at the pace we were going at with limited resources. But they also didn’t know how or didn’t care to fix it, nor would they compensate us for the aforementioned shortcomings. Thus, I had to dip.)
9. What was your biggest failure?
Not reaching out for help. Like, at all.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I threw my back out in late September just after I moved. NBD, considering. And I didn’t get COVID.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
I leased a new apartment that has everything I’ve ever wanted. A washer/dryer, a dishwasher, a garbage disposal, central AC (no more window units!), and a balcony where I can open the door for a waft of fresh air, or sit outside with my face to the sun, rocking in my chair with a book on my lap, while my plant bebes thrive in all the late afternoon sun that streams through the window.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
All the honest people (mostly women) in our federal and state government who are fighting so hard to undo the damage that Trump and his bullshit Republican lackies have inflicted.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The non-mask wearers. I really cannot understand how wearing a mask became a political thing. What has happened to humanity?
14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent, health care, and a bit more to Amazon than I’m proud of.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I got excited about leaving DC to go on our Pod Vacations. I got excited about moving. I got excited about running the dishwasher for the first time. I got excited about sitting out on the balcony on the cool autumn days and rocking in my rocking chair.
16. What song will always remind you of 2020?
WAP by Cardi B and MeganThee Stalion.
Any of the songs that were crazy on Tik Tok. Savage Love by Jason Derulo. Savage by Megan Thee Stallion. Blinded by the Light by The Weeknd.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Self-care. There’s a saying in the 12 steps that when you’re in a meeting, your addiction is in the parking lot doing pushups. I’ve heard another variation that I’ve applied to my depression. I picture it like a dude in the basement, sweating and pounding on a punching bag, getting stronger and stronger, just waiting for me to slip up a tiny bit so it can take over again.
The moral is the same. The disease (addiction/depression) is never gone, and it’s easy to think that it’s gone when it’s just dormant.
For someone fighting addiction, all it takes is one drink for the thing inside you to come out swinging.
For a depressed person, it’s not taking meds, not enough self-care, not the right kind of mental stimulation, and isolation, most of which happened in 2020. I never stopped taking my meds, but without the opportunity to connect with others and practice self care, shit got bad.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
TV, Computer, phone. Big Internet, medium Internet, tiny Internet.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
The pod and I spent four days in West Virginia: movie marathon, new recipes, old traditions, games, dogs, and #friendship.
21. Did you fall in love in 2019?
22. How many one-night stands?
23. What was your favorite TV program?
A very normal question that I had to google because I couldn’t remember anything I watched. Not everything below came out in 2020 but I had a lot more time on my hands to watch older stuff, so these were my highlights: Tiger King, Cheer, Broadchurch, Away, and Schitt’s Creek.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Anyone directly or indirectly related to the horrible American response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I cannot comprehend how human lives were on the line and our government willfully ignored scientists, purposely confused the public, and failed to organize a strategic response to combat this. They all have blood on their hands, and I wish they could be held accountable in their for-profit prisons from which they get rich.
25. What was the best book you read?
I read zero books this year. ZERO.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
There’s a sweet young person named Madeline with a voice from the past, and she got a record deal because of her wide spread exposure on TikTok. Social media is changing the world in so many great ways. I’m looking forward to hearing more of her crazy voice.
I also loved Dua Lipa and The MisterWives.
27. What did you want and get?
New apartment and new job.
28. What did you want and not get?
Love, romance, sex, stability, adventure, travel, newness.
29. What was your favorite film of this year?
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I had just moved into my new apartment, so my COVID crew came over on Saturday, the day before my birthday, for a box-filled celebration. I also celebrated with Mike, Marisa & Matilda at some point, but not sure when. Matilda said my name a thousand times and kept giving and taking back a tiny elephant keychain. My actual birthday was spent at my old apartment selling my table and doing other errands. Sigh. 45. What a life.
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020?
My concept is that I don’t care what I look like, which according to the Delta Gamma rush process 1993 – 1997, is not great. It’s imperative that we take pride in our personal appearance.
Eh, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I DO care about what I look like. But not for the following things: getting a super big gulp diet coke from the 7-11 in my building, going out to meet any delivery person, going on a walk, hanging with my pod (because they know I’m not a better friend or person if I have make-up on or round-brushed hair) and that’s mostly all that I do, so…..
Thus, I present to you, the best thing ever: The Breathe ON joggers from Old Navy I own three pair of gray. I check at least twice a week to see if the black is back in stock.
So much of American culture will be changed after the collective experience of the pandemic. I predict the end of the 40-hour in-person work week. Working remotely was wonderful for a million different businesses, and we all learned that productivity didn’t wane by working from home, and many parents were able to accomplish just as much in compressed schedules, while also being teachers, and day caregivers.
THUS! Loungewear is here to stay. As are bras without wires or anything pokey, tight pants, outfits that require shapewear, and shapewear in general.
33. What kept you sane?
Friendships. Oh my stars, my friends. (If you’re reading this and wondering if I’m talking about you, you’re right…I am!)
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Kamala, who is on her way to being our first woman President. #2024
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The complete failure of the government to keep us alive. It shouldn’t have been political. But alas, Trump.
36. Who did you miss?
37. Who was the best new person you met?
I met a few people at my new job that I’m jazzed about. And by met, I mean that I have emailed and zoomed with them.
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2020.
Things actually CAN get worse, so hold on to the laughter and joy that you have and make it last. Also, if you live in an apartment, have a way to stand outside without a common hallway, or having to use an elevator or stairs.
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
The Indigo Girls, “All That We Let In”
Dust in our eyes our own boots kicked up
Heartsick we nursed along the way we picked up
You may not see it when it’s sticking to your skin
But we’re better off for all that we let in.
I take this to mean that the consequences of what we do, who we are, are hard. We pick up pain that we would not have had if we’d remained still and sheltered, but we got love. If you can’t understand the lesson when it’s right in front of your face, we are better people for all the heartache and teary eyes we’ve had as we move through life.
I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to reflect back upon this year and love the amount of growth and change I experienced despite the horrible circumstances…that the dust will be worth the boot kick.
What I hope for 2021 is this amazing song from MisterWives, “Superbloom.”
I deserve congratulations
‘Cause I came out the other side
I’ve been having revelations
And I’m gon’ let them shine
I deserve congratulations
I’d never thought that I’d survive
If you tell me I won’t make it
That’s when I, that’s when I
If you got this far, thank you for reading. I hope you have a happy and blessed 2021.