Monday, January 11, 2021

2020 Recap & 2021 Hopes

Around New Year's 2019/2020, we asked the boys if there was anything they'd like to do in 2020. While I was hoping for "be kind to each other" or something like that, I had fully intended to honor Ishmael's actual wish, which was "go to Chuck-E-Cheese." That was literally the only ambition he named for 2020 and it kills me (both humorously and with sadness) that despite the fact that I *hate* "child and mechanical rat casinos" and we have a Chuck-E-Cheese within a block of our house, it was a uniquely impossible goal for 2020. 

Most of my ambitions for 2020 were similarly unmet, but I walked away from what was undeniably a wrenching year for us all with more clarity and purpose than I could have expected. In therapy there is a practice of speaking to your childhood self to try and relay the message you had needed to hear that maybe you didn't hear in childhood. I haven't done that in therapy, but I have wondered if there is anything my childhood self needed to hear. In other words, what was my greatest fear or longing? I heard the affirmation that I didn't know I needed in 2020, and that was:

You will find your place in the world. 

It took me a long time to even name my fear that I might have no place or no purpose (at least not one that I genuinely believed in). Now that I'm learning my space, it's not always what I thought it would be. Through a series of events and learning and growing, I find myself engaging in the prison abolition movement. This feels informed by (and informs) my theology, my family, and my nationality. I feel like "finding my place" has not been propelled by my own hand, and I hope that that means it is the work of the Holy Spirit. Here's my meme-format summary of my face effected by the events and trajectory of 2020. 

If a pandemic happens roughly once in a 100 years, many people will be born and die before we see another one. I don't want to rehash all of 2020 - all of us who survived it know it intimately - but I don't want to forget it either. I've wished there was more information and personal accounts of the 1918 pandemic. I imagine it reached China, but I've never heard those stories. This year I read an autobiography of Don Freeman (renowned children's author and illustrator) who arrived in New York City to find his way as an artist on the very day in 1929 that the stock market crashed. He acknowledges the struggles and the chaos and the upheaval, but also life went on in the midst of that. 

What stands out in my mind about my experience of a pandemic year; being sick in March. Jonas almost certainly had Covid, my symptoms were less classic. There were not tests available to us yet to confirm. Both Jonas and I were furloughed from work roughly from March to August, and I was ultimately laid off from the food-service industry. Grade-school for our kids became at-home school for... everrrrr. We ate a lot of fried chicken sandwiches in 2020. There were blessings in the close quarters, but also much frustration, heartache, and uncertainty.  My creative outlet was themed dress-up outfits at home. We got our cat Soy who has been a wonderful addition to our family. I started a new job editing radio scripts from home (which I love) that has also given me opportunity to engage with the Bible in ways I've never been interested in doing before. Our community work in our neighborhood shifted with Covid of course, but that also held hidden opportunities. Some friendships deepened as we clung together over Facetime and Marco Polo. Others were strained as beliefs about Covid (and how to live in light of it) diverged over the months. For me, the daily mind games I play with myself are the hardest side affect. I am immensely grateful for the nurses and teachers in my life. Even with (or because of) the extra head space and slower pace of parts of 2020, I drastically rethought how I view money and hope that I can continue to grow in generosity. It felt like every day held a momentous political or economic world event. The Beirut chemical explosion sticks with me as gut-wrenching. Certainly the murder of George Floyd awakened much that was asleep behind White eyes, propelling me to new reflections and actions. Uyghur genocide began to get the global attention is warrants. US politics were chaos, but I felt freedom from expecting otherwise. 

The best thing I read was James Baldwin's A Fire Next Time. Other things I read are logged on GoodReads. I've listened to Hannah Bowman's theology of abolition at least 3 times already and was encouraged by the Bible Project, particularly their explanation of the meaning of apocalypse. Of course there was a lot of TV watching. I can't possibly recall it all, but things that stand out are the shows Jiri/Haji and Bob's Burgers, and the movies The Pillow Book, My Octopus Teacher, A Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and Mirai. I listened to a lot of Rosalia, Joni Mitchell's Cactus Tree album, HAIM's Women in Music 3, Joao Gilberto, Gillian Welch, and the Chick's Gaslighter album. I spent almost a month cross pollinating a rainbow of flowers in Animal Crossing and then creating an in-game replica of the Huntington Gardens.  

My niece Beatrice Jane Sears was born on January 30! We visited my sister in North Carolina in February to meet Beatrice, right before the pandemic. We ate at Roses', which was the best new (to me) restaurant of the year for me. I visited my brothers San Diego in August, my parents and sister Annelise visited us from NC in the fall, and we spent Christmas with Jonas' brother and his family (with many precautions) in Los Angeles. Written out in a list, that sounds like a lot of travel for this year, but I think I left Santa Maria about 6 times between March and December, and several of those drives were to neighboring Central Coast cities.

Things I blogged about in 2020: my grandmother, artist Sam Szafran, early pandemic feels, the set designs of Bernard Evein, changing my mind on purpose, apocalypse and revelation and service (church history and church future), reflections on wealth, pandemic feels in the style of dark mythology

Review of 2020 goals. 

  • SLOW DOWN. I want to have and make the time to play, engage in my hobbies, explore, entertain, cultivate relationships. I've been too drained and busy and stressed to do those things and I want to fight through the things I *have* to do to get to a place where things I *want* to do are woven in. I want to feel the peace and contentment that comes from not being over-scheduled all the time. 
  • Write a book outline.
  • Build a good credit score. Getting a credit card has been such a huge obstacle for me. 
  • Spend intentional time with each of my boys, not multitasking.
  • Take a digital design class. I doubt this will happen in 2020, but it's a goal to keep in my head.
  • Get a website and a start a mailing list. 

I'm thankful to feel like I've found security in my purpose recently. With that, my need to map out my future feels diminished. After thinking for a few days, I still found some goals for 2021, but they're less work or growth related than usual. It goes without saying that I'd like to grow and mature in the areas that I am "finding my place" in the community and the personal and practical work that entails. 

Goals for 2021:

  • try more of the Lompoc underground food scene
  • fix my hair
  • source my dream 2-piece suit 
  • plan a Japan trip 
  • more crafts/creative projects
  • focus less on imaginary/undefined evils (I can get caught up in railing against ideas instead of loving whoever is right in front of me)
And to all, an apocalyptic new year. 

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