2020 in Hindsight

Close up of the 'Olympia' logo on a 1953 SM3 typewriter. Photo by Reghan Skerry

I’m going to do something a little different.

This is usually the place where I look back at the previous year, my plans and goals and hopes, and think about what did and didn’t work. (Or it’s a place where I throw my hands up, admit that the ‘didn’t’ outweighed the ‘did’ and skim over it all.) 

But we’re talking about 2020. 

I feel like most of my posts this year have been about what a mess it’s been—how little focus I’ve had, how I had to abandon some of my goals as early as March, and how others have fallen by the wayside. I don’t really want to go over that again.

Rather than focus on everything that didn’t happen this year, I’m going to focus on what did: the things that made me happy in 2020. The things I want to carry into 2021 and beyond. That one (1) goal I definitely achieved.

And so, with no further ado… 

Things That Happened in 2020 That Didn’t Suck!

Shopping Small

From the very start of the lockdowns, I’ve made it a priority to shop at local and/or small businesses. They’ve been hit hard by the lack of foot traffic, and Jeff Bezos doesn’t need any more money. It hasn’t always been easy (especially without a car to take advantage of curbside pickup), and it’s sometimes—but not always—more expensive, but it’s been worth it, especially as more and more businesses have started delivering straight to the door.

Coffee beans direct from my favourite roaster. Eggs and apples and cheese from the farmer’s market, all of them so much better than what’s available at the supermarket. (I think my downstairs neighbours are on a first-name basis with the delivery guy from one of the local microbreweries.) I found most of my Christmas gifts—and an amazing sourdough starter—on Etsy.

I haven’t been able to stick to it 100%—some things just aren’t available without dealing with a big-box store—but I’ve done my best. And I’ve only ordered from Amazon twice. (Because I needed to get cat treats. Both times.)

So Much Amazing TV

The number of shows on my to-watch list has outstripped the time I have available in a week. Mostly, I end up watching the Arrowverse shows as close to live as I can manage (so I’m current for the crossovers) and then spend hiatuses trying to catch up on the shows I’ve been neglecting. Being able to start a new series is a rare treat.

But shortened seasons mean that, for the first time in years, I’m completely up-to-date on everything I had in progress, and I’ve had time to devote to the shows I’ve been missing. Watchmen, The Queen’s Gambit, The Hauntings of both Hill House and Bly Manor, Giri/Haji, The Umbrella Academy, and so many more. And I’m still in no danger of running out of fantastic things to watch. 

Getting the Hell Off Social Media

Hey, remember back in January, when I said that I needed to figure out a solution to the constant distraction of Twitter and Instagram? That they were actively harming my creative output? I really had no idea, did I? 

I admit, it got worse before it got better. I lost a lot of time in March and April to doomscrolling. At the time, I thought it was the constant barrage of bad news that was getting to me, but in retrospect, I realize that it was everything else

I spent most of 2020 feeling guilty. I wanted to be making art and writing stories and sewing, I felt like I should be doing all those things, but I wasn’t. And every time I looked at Twitter or Instagram or my blog feeds, I’d see all the amazing things that other people were making, and it just made me feel worse. Like everyone else had a handle on this whole thing and I was still floundering. (I had a not-insignificant breakdown over pretty loaves of sourdough bread. Imagine how actual art made me feel.) I had to take a break, just for a little while—a week, maybe two—just for the sake of my mental health.

I haven’t been back. I still have moments where I feel like I’m missing out on something important, and I do feel bad about not being in touch with anyone I know through those channels, but over all… it feels really good. Like I’m finally getting my brain back. (If you’ve tried contacting me: I’m sorry. I haven’t deleted any accounts, but I haven’t been logged in since early summer, and I’ve got all notifications turned off. If it’s important, drop me a line and I’ll apologize personally.)

My New (Old) Typewriter

I bought myself a gift this summer: a 1956 burgundy Olympia SM3, found (online) at a vintage shop a few blocks from my apartment, bought for no reason other than the joy it brings me. It’s an absolute workhorse, and its previous owner(s) obviously appreciated it—it’s well-maintained, and hasn’t spent fifty years in someone’s basement. And it’s just really pretty. (Also heavy, because ‘portable’ apparently meant something entirely different 64 years ago.)

I’m still getting used to using it, and I’m still figuring out where in the office it’s going to live permanently, but I love it so much. 

2020… it wasn’t the year I was hoping it would be. At all. 

I made it through better than a lot of people—believe me, I’m very aware that I’ve been in a relatively good situation these past months—but it still sucked. I still wish I’d been able to do more.

But there were bright spots. 

Here’s to more of them next year.