2020 Annual Report: Containment

After the pummeling that was 2019, I was really looking forward to a return to normalcy in 2020. Lindsay, it should be noted, was always skeptical: at a New Year’s Eve party at Chez Nous she said the symmetry of the new year made her nervous. Most of us thought that was silly. A few weeks later we weren’t laughing.

2020 was, of course, shaped almost entirely by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever other micro forces weighed in from mid-March on, the macro-est of forces crammed our lives into a box. Work changed (less in nature than in location though, really); social gatherings were fewer, and altered; dinners out were essentially unsafe; travel disappeared altogether, and in my head remains more of a romantic ideal than a practical future. I’m glad I opted for a January work trip to Madrid, and doubly glad I decided to attach a quick jaunt to Egypt as well. Brother #2 was living there at the time, so we got to hang out, and I got to see a brief sample of what Cairo had to offer. We were also lucky that brother #1 was in town twice in a week, just before the hammer fell.

Normally at this point in the annual summary I’d quantify the total media I consumed, but (a) things were obviously skewed this year — for example, for the first time since 2001 I didn’t attend any TIFF screenings; and (b) Lindsay pointed out that it doesn’t really make sense to limit myself to things that came out only in 2020 anyway. Unless reviewing music or movies or TV shows or books is someone’s job or sole extracurricular focus, there’s no way to keep up with the amount of content coming out. I always flouted this rule when it came to books anyway. So next year maybe I’ll try just listing the most interest things I watched, or read, or listened to, regardless of when they came out. In the meantime, if anyone wants to read about what I liked in 2020, it’s over here.

So look, I won’t bother writing about what we all know: the death toll, the strain on front line workers, various dropped balls by governments (some more than others — NS seemed to handle this very well indeed by locking down hard and fast, though I guess it helps when you’re only connected by an isthmus), the parallel anti-racism efforts in the US/everywhere, the US election, and so on. It’s all well covered, not to mention well outside the remit of the annual wrap-up post on someone’s silly blog.

Sure, COVID caused some personal stress, some family stress (especially when some maniac started shooting up their home province where some of my extended family lives), and lots of work stress. But we’ve stayed healthy the whole time — not even a cold. We didn’t have kids in the house, or elderly dependents in long term care facilities, which definitely seemed to make things tougher on many friends and colleagues. Neither of our livelihoods were affected. The worst situation we had to deal with was Kramer getting a UTI. For us, it wasn’t a dangerous or traumatic time. It was a series of adjustments. Some were even beneficial. To wit:

  • Kramer absolutely thrived having us both home during lockdown. In February we couldn’t even pet him. Now we both give him lots of pets and scratches and rubs every morning when we wake up, and more recently he’s let us pick him up and give him kisses on the back of his head. He’s even starting napping on the bed (granted, we often lure him there with treats) but it’s hard to believe this is even the same cat.
  • I finally gave up on the notion that I was ever going to set foot in a gym, and bought a Peloton. I worried that I’d use it for a few weeks and then abandon it, but 7 months on I’m still really enjoying it. Between the exercise, and some light meds to help my blood pressure, I’m feeling better physically than I have in years, even though I’m ~10 kilos heavier than I was at my lightest, four years ago.
  • We’re both notoriously bad for exploring Ontario outside of downtown Toronto, but the off-lockdown summer months gave us a chance to explore a little, decamping for the gorgeous and relaxing Elora Mill Hotel for a couple of days of pure scenic nothingness.
  • COVID forced me to finally get my dad’s maple business online. I tried 20+ years ago when you had to cobble ecommerce together yourself, but now Shopify exists, so it took me…I dunno, like, a weekend? Anyway, he sold out the year’s supply even with little to no foot traffic, so we’ll call that a success.
  • Spurred by needing walls and doors and separate work spaces, we did what I never thought I’d do: buy a house. It’s a semi-detached place just a few minutes’ walk east of the loft, so it’s not like we’ve moved to the country or anything. I’ve kept the loft and am renting it out, but we moved at the end of October and it immediately felt like home. We’re slowly filling all the rooms, but on day one we could already feel the difference when I could work two floors away from Lindsay and not bug her.
    • We were worried about bringing Kramer here, but the move itself went better than we expected and he loves the house too, keeping a watchful eye on the street’s squirrels and passersby.
    • Having the house also let us play host to my niece, who we helped move in to university back in September, for the past two weeks since she couldn’t fly home for Christmas.

2019 was bifurcated by Lindsay’s ankle break. 2020 was more lopsided: two obliviously normal months followed by ten months of a sourdough-y, hand sanitizer-y haze. But if our biggest complaint thus far is a few cancelled trips (Madrid, again; New York; London; Montreal) and the inconvenience of having to wear a mask outside, then we feel very grateful indeed.

Things won’t suddenly snap back to normal tomorrow morning, but I feel like there’s hope on 2021’s asymmetrical horizon.

.:.

Annual reports from past years:

.:.

Cover photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

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