Coronavirus Days--Week 41

As I count into the next year, hoping that 2021 doesn't hold the same darkness as 2020, I look back, like many, wondering about the concept of time, about the constant sense of disorienting familiarity, about how there is no real predicting when it comes to these pandemic times. Earlier, Nan and I had many laughs watching Netflix's latest mockumentary Death to 2020even if the memories are difficult, counting all the horrors that this year held and holds.

For some, 2020 will hold sweetness, such as a colleague who had his first born, a friend who got engaged, but for myself and most of the people I know, this year goes down as one that has forever altered our landscape. When I see footage of groups of people without a mask, it doesn't look ordinary. A scene at a crowded restaurant in a film appears as past tense. My calendar holds no dates, no travel plans, nothing except a teaching schedule for the upcoming semester.

When I began these weekly chronicles in late March, I never imagined committing to 40 plus weeks of writing, trying to find the words to record my week. I snapped pics, a way of noting importance in the moment, sometimes using that as a springboard for my week's thoughts. Other times, my mood guided the writing. And some weeks, I just sat, even when I didn't want to, seeing these chronicles as an assignment, a writing intention in a year when I stopped keeping a file noting writing pieces I would work on. As I write this final entry for 2020, I am happy to earn an A, completing 38/41 entries, a 92.6%.

For the year, I eliminated most expectations beyond showing up for work, teaching classes and prepping, surviving the zoom world of meetings and squares on the screen. I didn't want writing expectations. Over past years, I've set rejection goals, aiming for one hundred, which forced me to finish pieces, submit them, keep track of them, and ultimately, usually have a success or two of published pieces. My writing had become too dependent on a sense of sending it out for external validation, so I pulled that back this year, wanting to write for the sake of play, craft, for configuring a path out of my head. But of course, I know that writing, as I tell my students, doesn't simply happen. Accountability, such as these chronicles, is often needed. I took an online flash fiction writing class, a hybrid/experimental zoom based writing class, and participated in an online writing group before the pandemic slowed it down. When I look in my writing folder, lots of words/works were begun and some, almost finished. In 2021, I might just be ready to return to my intentions calendar, prioritizing pieces to work on that were begun this year, forcing myself to revise and craft, practicing until pieces reach a state that feels done and brings a smile.

2020, despite its difficulty and anxiety, gave me time to take long mostly daily walks, train for a 10k, read once the summer arrived since I needed plenty of time to find a way to concentrate even when horrors swam through my consciousness. Many new recipes, a renewed love for playing with flour and baking, something untouched for many decades, and learning to get over my dislike of talking on the telephone, since I needed to connect, and often, the computer screen caused too much overload, proved steady throughout these 2020 months. I imagine that in the coming year, some things will not so quickly change. Last evening, I kept checking CNN's latest news to see if president golfer had signed a relief bill, which he did not, going to sleep with anxiety, worrying about the devastating economic toll that doesn't make the headlines. Daily, I still visit the Colorado Department of Health's statistics to see the positivity rate and the vaccine progress. Data junkie, yup. It's a weird sense of comfort.

This upcoming week, Nan and I will ring out the year with a fine meal and hold up a big fat middle finger to 2020, sharing the sentiments of this FU campaign. Before the year ends, I'll watch my first paid virtual concert, Patti Smith's birthday celebration. And I will continue to gaze upward, remembering what the stars and skies looked like this past Monday when I watched Pluto and Saturn, reminding myself that in my ordinary there is a constant--what I see.


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