Oh 2020. You messed-up weirdo of a year. Perhaps surprisingly, there’s still been stuff to be grateful for. Perhaps more surprisingly, this list has been easier to compile than the one of my goals for 2021…
- I’m working. In a time when so many of my colleagues have had all their work stripped away, I’m lucky enough to have multiple jobs, to still have (online) performance work, to have paying academic work that will boost my CV once I’m done with the PhD and looking for jobs, and to have some freelance web development work and teaching work (mostly paid) too. It’s not easy – I’ve never been so busy, never been so exhausted – but I’m grateful to have it.
- Gosh it’s nice to not be travelling all the time. While the loss of performing work has been difficult, and I really miss the trips to Bath, it’s been wonderful to not be perpetually on the move, to be constantly packing and unpacking and preparing for the next trip.
- I’m finally getting to explore an area I’ve wanted to play with for a very long time. That is, live online performance. It’s fascinating, and I feel there’s so much that can be done in this area, and finally an actual audience for it. And it allows me to use my tech skills alongside my music skills, which is fab. And to exercise my introvert tendencies to their full extent, which is also fab 😀
- I’ve just made the transition from Mac to Windows and it’s turning out a lot less painful than I thought it would be. I’ve been preparing for this for a while now because it seemed inevitable with Apple removing the option of upgrading their hardware and costs spiralling, but I’ve still been dreading it. As it turns out I found some nice hardware and have found some great software alternatives so in spite of a rocky couple of days and some ongoing swearing, it’s been pretty OK.
- I’ve got really good at soda bread! Yes, I have 🙂
- I’ve managed to increase my level of daily exercise. Not by a whole lot – it’s still a work in progress, and not nearly enough, but it’s a significant improvement on where I was at for exercising while at home when the pandemic started and (so far at least) it’s seeming to keep the blood sugar stuff under control, even if not the weight.
- Djelibeybi. This may be getting a bit dull – he’s always in these lists, but I’m always grateful for him because he’s pretty amazing. This year, I’m grateful that somehow, even after 23 years together, we still get along very well so that being locked down together for the past 9 months hasn’t been a chore at all but mostly just a rather nice chance to spend a bunch of time together (see point 2).
- The internet. Yes, there’s been problems with slow connections, dropouts, assorted vagaries of networked communications, but overall we’ve got a nice fast, reliable broadband connection and it’s made a variety of work still possible, along with dinner parties, coffee dates and trivia with friends and family in this time zone and far afield. I’m sure the 1918 pandemic wasn’t half this fun and productive while keeping yourself and your community safe.
- Online teaching. From both sides of the equation. For being able to teach without needing to travel and stay overnight anywhere right now; and for being able to attend seminars, lectures and research group meetings that I couldn’t have if they only happened in person. It’s been fab.
- Vegetables. This is a multi-faceted gratitude. 2020’s been the year I finally became inspired by vegetarian food, thanks to Melissa Hemsley’s Eat Green, which I found in a local charity shop for £2.99. And it’s also the year I finally made a vege patch in the garden, after having meant to every year for the past 3 years at least. And it’s been great. Good exercise, and satisfying to be eating our own produce. There’s not been a huge amount of it, but we’ve had beans, lettuces, bok choy, pumpkins, eggplants and many tiny tiny strawberries, some of which went happily to their doom in a Tom Collins (something I finally learned how to make this year after a couple of years of meaning to learn how to)
In short, it’s been a weird, exhausting but satisfying year. The last few weeks have felt like maybe the world is edging slowly towards a general position of more sanity and kindness. Here’s hoping it’s not an illusion but bodes well for 2021!