Many years from now, I imagine my children asking me: “What did you do in 2020?” as they scramble to study for a history exam for what seems like the strangest year in memory.
This year has felt like a blur, not least because working from home makes every day the same. I decided to write out some highlights of what I actually did in 2020 if only to prove to myself that I did in fact do things.
It’s sobering to consider that this wasn’t a given for many people. I’m thankful for a job that allows me to work remotely. My work days lost a commute and gained a number of virtual meetings. I definitely miss being able to interact with coworkers in person, so this year I organized some activities to try and bring us together:
- Virtual Photo Scavenger Hunt – Early in the pandemic, I posted prompts in our team group chat to get folks to share photos of things in their lives, like the view from their window, 10 yellow things, something they did over the weekend, etc. It was something to look forward to every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday in place of the casual conversations around the office we lost when we moved to WFH, and a bit of routine to bring stability to those chaotic early days when it seemed like everything was changing constantly.
- Walk-Off Competition – Each October, our office hosts a “Walktober” competition to see who can walk the most steps during the month, so I organized a competition between the two halves of our team. It was fun to see who our top walkers ended up being, and at least for me it was great motivation to get out of the house and move throughout the day.
Connect with Friends
While the weather was good, I went for (masked and socially-distant) hikes in the Fells, walks in local parks, played games of Among Us or Portal 2 or Stardew Valley over Discord, and chatted through phone calls and group chats. Playing D&D with friends from college was definitely a highlight, as was going camping in New Hampshire. This year also marked the end of my first long-term relationship, which made me extra grateful for my friends’ support.
Old & New Hobbies
- Knitting – I decided to try knitting again, and made my first ever hat and mittens.
- Weaving – I made some circular weavings inspired by an Instagram artist I follow.
- Gardening – My roommate, Sam, and I both grew some vegetables on our porch this summer. I planted some tomatoes, peas, peppers, and strawberries
- Biking – To avoid public transport, and since I don’t have a car, I started biking more places and rediscovered how much I enjoy cycling!
- Hiking – As I started biking more, I explored some new places to hike (anywhere reachable by bike) as a way to safely get out of the house. Thank goodness for nature.
- I also took some beginner lessons in ukulele, though I’m not sure how well they’ll stick.
This one kind of speaks for itself. I’m learning how to better take care of myself so that I can be more confident and effective at work and with friends, and unpacking bad habits and coping mechanisms that are no longer serving me. The progress can feel slow, but it’s there.
PPE Gowns with Artisan’s Asylum
Just before the pandemic, I’d started going to the free Fiber Arts Work Nights at Artisan’s Asylum. These ground to a halt with the start of the pandemic, but the Fiber Arts workspace transformed into a volunteer-run production operation making hospital gowns as PPE for COVID-19 responders. From April to October, I went in ~2x a week to help cut, fold, and package gowns to be shipped across the country.
When the pandemic first started, I remember feeling powerless and overwhelmed. Things were changing quickly, there wasn’t clear information about how to stay safe or what people could do to help other than staying home and staying socially distant. Volunteering helped me feel like I was contributing in some small way to support healthcare workers on the front lines. Getting to interact with other volunteers was a ray of light among the dread and I’m so thankful for the people I got to know. 💜
Papercut Zine Library
Before the pandemic, I’d been volunteering with the Papercut Zine Library (PZL), a free volunteer-run zine library, as the catalog director. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the library closed for in-person browsing, so we shifted to online activities where we could:
- Our weekly volunteer cataloging became virtual, and we cataloged 350+ zines remotely!
- We also created a virtual zine library to make our collection more accessible during quarantine.
- I made a new website home page at papercutzinelibrary.com to make it easier to learn about PZL.
- We ran 3 “skill share” workshops: Intro to Bookbinding, Making Minizines for Justice and Healing, and Podcasting 101.
- Volunteered helping paint the ‘Black Lives Matter’ Street Mural in Somerville
I was definitely drawn to feel-good, low stress channels this year (and no wonder). My coworker, Naji, introduced me to the SteadyCraftin channel, which is an awesome overview for making all kind of craft projects. Jun and Rachel’s channels are a staple for comfort watching for me, and I may have watched years back into their content… I also got back into doing Yoga With Adriene since going to the yoga studio was no longer an option (in fact that yoga studio closed for good during COVID-19, which is a real shame).
15+ TV Shows
This year I got a TV as a birthday gift, which came in very handy during quarantine. My roommate introduced me to Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which I’d heard of but not seen before) and we watched the first three seasons this year! In turn I introduced her to Avatar the Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra (the latter of which I hadn’t seen before either).
I’m not as big on movies as some folks, but I watched a decent number this year. Some highlights:
Throughout gown volunteering, I listened to a lot of Darknet Diaries. In late summer I binged all of The Magnus Archives and a good portion of Stellar Firma. I started Sawbones and The Daily in December, and picked up the Critical Role Podcast (Campaign 1) for the first time in many months.
9 Video Games
I recently started Mutazione and I’m really enjoying the slow storytelling. On the other side of the spectrum, my roommate, Sam, and I have started playing Don’t Starve Together, a game I previously avoided because I kept dying very quickly – but Sam assured me that this is the point of the game and now we’ve almost made it to winter!
I didn’t quite meet my goal of 20 books read this year, but almost a book a month isn’t too shabby either.
I love webcomics. I have a list of them bookmarked in my browser and in the Tapas and Webtoons apps, that I check weekly (or as they update). I’m forever amazed at the artists and writers who are able to create these beautiful stories, and they bring me a lot of joy. Here’s a subset of my favorites: