Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 Diary & Photos: Lists Of Everything That Kept Us Thriving, Sane, and Finding Joy In This Year of Chaos

My birthday was one of many summer trips to San Diego Zoo (Taken 9.28.2020)

I started this post in August, and then things started opening up again and I thought that it was no longer relevant, but as everyone gets around to their end of year lists and reflecting on the year, I thought I'd revisit and finish the post once and for all....after the jump.

It started when I kept getting tagged in the top 10 lists on Facebook. You know what I'm talking about. "Post a pic, no explanation" blah blah. And maybe they're fun for other people, and I don't mind seeing other people posting them, but for me, you're giving me an assignment and I have to remember to do it daily and I just don't have it in me. But then I got to thinking I could just post my 10 movies and 10 albums here. And why stop there? What other top tens could I do?  And why stop there? Top ten things you've cooked. Top ten things you've learned to do/make during lockdown. Top ten things you've found while cleaning other shit out of your house. So here you go. Maybe not 10 of everything, but lists to be sure. And a couple articles I've also posted but that feel relevant to all of this. 
And I realize it's funny to do this post and not list all the great books I read (thank you San Diego Public Library, San Diego County Library, and Chula Vista Public Library for your apps), great shows and movies I watched (thank you Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Topic, Curiosity, and Hoopla), and amazing music we had on heavy rotation in the speakeasy (with the help of CDs from Jeff, SiriusXMU, Google Play Music, and later when it converted to YT Music), but I'm not really trying to go that deep into my brain on specifics. For me, 2020 was more about the feelings. 
The feelings I got when we were...
Sitting outside together under our shade sail. Blasting ourselves with a backyard sprinkler. Playing games. Doing puzzles. Calling friends on HouseParty. Darren reminding me to go look at the "orange ball in the sky" at sunset when I was in the weeds of news and media briefings. Cleaning up the studio to create our 'speakeasy'. Finding long neglected house projects. Planting flowers, buying shade plants, getting cuttings from neighbors, growing a little succulent garden, throwing seeds on our gross and dry spaces to see them turn into little flowery and green spaces. Waking up in the morning to Nova practicing piano, flute, or teaching herself guitar. Staying up all night and watching the sunrise from my catio. My family letting me sleep all day when they knew I was up all night. Getting up early in the morning to make runs to stores for supplies and being able to visit my parents for drop-offs of goods. Crafting. Cooking. Enjoying Darren become a master in the kitchen. Being spoiled by a family that adores me. Noting that I managed to get out of bed everyday, taking a shower and shaving and self-care and getting dressed (all but maybe three times this entire pandemic.) Loving my family who proved to be nothing but supportive and resilient and strong and generous.  
I know we're all supposed to hate the 'dumpster fire of 2020' but I don't. Of course I miss the before times and the life we knew before, but we grew, we were challenged, and we learned just how strong we are and can be in the face of total and utter chaos. I always get weepy at the end of a year, but I don't know that I've ever been quite this grateful of the things I have as we move through this arbitrary calendar date.
And I know it was hard. Of course it was. We didn't know what was going on. Things changed all the time. What we know only became known after we knew it. Businesses died. People lost everything. People died. A lot of people died. Inequity was amplified. Racial issues were impossible to ignore. Politics became unavoidable. Families and friends split. I blocked people I love. I've cocooned so much I haven't spoken to some of my favorite people in months. 
I have faith and believe that we'll get through this. We'll (kinda) pick up where we left off, but hopefully smarter and more loving, empathetic, and intelligent than before. I felt hope when Obama was elected (I'm still reading Becoming by Michelle Obama) and I can only feel that hope again as a new year, a new administration, and hopefully a whole new era comes upon us. 
As Darren always says, "Who's to say? Who's to know?" And he's right. But I wish love and peace and joy for everyone and let's reset and find a better year ahead. 

Ten albums from my youth that that greatly influenced me and/or my taste in music. 
  • "August and Everything After" Counting Crows
  • "Pale" Toad The Wet Sprocket
  • "Cake" Trashcan Sinatras
  • "Some Friendly" Charlatans UK
  • "Pies Descalzos" Shakira
  • "Greatest Hits" James Taylor
  • "Burning My Travels Clean" Rocky Votolato
  • "Trace" Son Volt
  • "Colour By Numbers" Culture Club
  • "Morning Wood" The Rugburns
Artists we loved and listened to more than ever in 2020:
  • Phoebe Bridgers 
  • Waxahatchee
  • The Havnauts
  • Soccer Mommy
  • Lucy Dacus
  • James
  • The Beths 
  • Frances Quinlan
  • Sylvan Esso
  • Fenne Lily
  • Snow Patrol
  • Decemberists
  • JS Ondara
  • Eve Owen
  • Mondo Cozmo
Favorite/influential movies (even if they don't hold up now)
  • Reality Bites
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Clerks
  • Beautiful Girls
  • Dead Poet's Society
  • Love Actually
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • La Femme Nikita
  • L'Auberge Espagnole
  • Chasing Amy
  • Garden State

Some of my favorite things (way more than 10) we've cooked/prepared in the kitchen. [Alternate Title- Things Nova Ate That She Was Too Picky To Eat Before]
  • Poke bowls 
  • Bechamel/Alfredo sauce
  • Frozen burgers and home cut fries
  • Prosciutto and provolone on baguette and other simple sandwiches
  • Korean style steamed egg
  • Fried rice (Thanks, Uncle Roger!)
  • Chicken and jack cheese green enchiladas 
  • Banana bread
  • Giant Denny's style breakfasts
  • Rib eye roast
  • Pizza with crusts from scratch
  • Hawaiian-style macaroni salad
  • Teriyaki chicken
  • No-bake cheesecake
  • Tacos/Tostadas/Burritos of all varieties
  • Classic sugar cookies
  • Cheese and charcuterie boards
  • Hot wings
  • Dumplings
  • Indian food: curry from packages or simmer sauces, saag from scratch, frozen samosas

Things I miss and can't wait to get back to. And yes, about half of these are still options under stay-at-home order but I can't handle the anxiety of being around or having to confront the deniers/maskless/wreckless crowds:
  • Casbah and everyone I work with
  • Live Music
  • Ken Club and Devlin
  • The Office and Julie Mossa
  • Bar Pink and everyone (you shall rise again!)
  • Taking my laptop and working from the San Diego Zoo treehouse
  • Shooting photos at San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and La Jolla Cove
  • Hiking and day-trips to Cuyamaca and Anza-Borrego
  • Carefree days at the beach
  • Dog parks and dog beaches
  • Balboa Park lawn beers with friends
  • Biking
  • Public Transit
Things I enjoyed through 2020:
  • Time with my household
    • Speakeasy nights with Darren
    • Watching shitty TV and movies 
    • Cooking/Learning new recipes together
    • Backyard sports and gardening
    • BBQs and eating outside
  • Not feeling obligated to go anywhere or do anything
  • Discovering new apps for communicating (Zoom, Houseparty, Phone, Call Recorder)
  • Writing non-listing articles and interviewing people for NBC SoundDiego
  • My articles converting to news items shared on NBC
  • Discovering new/deep cut shows and movies on streaming services 
  • Crafting and painting
  • Fixing up my balcony/catio from storage to an outdoor chill area
  • Repurposing things we no longer used and/or junk from the yard into new things
  • Cat videos and news blooper videos on YouTube
  • Watching series while Nova slept and Darren made music in the studio

Sports we played in the backyard
  • Tennis (serving and volleying)
  • Badminton
  • Volleyball
  • Shooting soccer goals
  • Bowling (working on this one)
  • Playing catch with softballs or football
  • Archery

Favorite Free Newsletter Subscriptions:
  • The New York Times California Daily
  • The Washington Post 
  • Wired
  • Vice
  • Sierra Club
  • Fatherly/Scary Mommy
  • Lefsetz Letter
  • California State Parks
  • San Diego County News Center
  • Conde Naste
  • Johns Hopkins Center For Health
  • Bloomberg Coronavirus Prognosis 

Favorite places to go during semi-lockdown:
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park
  • San Diego Zoo
  • Fiesta Island Dog Park
  • La Jolla Cove
  • My parents' backyard
  • OB Dog Beach
  • Bayshore Bikeway (Mostly IB portion)

Where we spent our money:
  • Costco
  • Grocery Outlet
  • Big Lots
  • Petco/Petsmart
  • Vons
  • Ross
  • North Park Produce
  • Home Depot (regrettably)
  • Pancho Villa
  • Old Navy
  • Avacare Medical (online)
  • Hanes (online)
Favorite purchases and acquisitions (aka how did we ever live without these things?)
  • New Camera!!
  • Bluetooth/CD Player for the Speakeasy (Gifted By Jeff) 
  • Thrifty Ice Cream Scooper
  • Deep Fryer
  • Fancy (for us) Knives
  • Backyard patio set (from Buy Nothing FB group)
  • Pair of patio loungers (from a Facebook friend)
  • Patio chairs and side tables from Rite-Aid (at 50% off!)
  • Plants from Succulent Swap Facebook group and our neighbor, Sam
Pandemic Vocabulary/Words I Use Regularly That I Never Used Before:
  • Pandemic/endemic
  • Droplets/Aerosols
  • Fomites
  • Spike Protein
  • mRNA- messenger RNA 
  • Viral Load
  • Crisis of Care
  • Before Times/New Normal
  • Exponential Infection
  • R0/R-naught/R-effective

8 Things Happily Married Couples Do for One Another Without Being Asked - Fatherly (3.28.2020)

Things For Which I'm Grateful:
  • My parents living close by
  • Having the studio/speakeasy space for storage, hanging out, making & playing music
  • Creating this site 14 years ago as my eternally evolving emotional outlet (and the fact that anyone still reads it)
  • Having pets (and Kiwi making it another year. A 22 years old cat!!) 
  • Streaming services, even the dumb ones and dumb shows I watch
  • My Casbah and SoundDiego friends (even when I'm no longer employed by either)
  • Nova being a relatively easy teen, even as puberty is hitting her full blast
    • Having San Diego Derby open, at least for most of the year
    • Nova finding love of music and practicing flute and piano for her own fulfillment
    • Quitting soccer when it was clear people weren't following safety protocols
    • She treats recipes like science and has learned to fully cook more things at 13 than I could into my twenties
  • Working cars to get us where we need to go when we need to go
  • San Diego weather
  • My friend Jeff, who surprised us with dozens of surprise alcohol & music deliveries
  • Darren being an eternally amazing, supportive, patient, and cooperative partner
  • Naps & comfy pajamas 
  • CARES Act and other financial assistance that got us through 2020
  • Darren learning to sing and play all verses of "Rainbow Connection" 
  • A new administration in 2021

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