Farewell 2020… I mean 2021

Here we are again. 2021 was… a year to say the least. It started with joy at Georgia doing the right thing in the Senate runoffs and feeling like my vote mattered, along with the possibility of getting a vaccine in the near future and putting an end to this hellscape. It ended with a Senate that can’t do a damn thing, a new and potentially more concerning variant, and wondering how much longer I can put living life on hold.

To be honest, it still hurts like hell. I finally went more than about three miles away from home for the first time since the Before Times and realized just how small my world had become in 2020. I got on a train for the first time in over a year. I went to Dragon Con and somehow only freaked out about it from a social standpoint. I slept in a bed besides my own for the first time since the Before Times. I’m finally seeing my parents for the first time in two years.

Despite everything, we keep going, even if we can’t keep going the way we want to. Some people had gone on vacations, taken long road trips to reunite with old friends and family, seen movies and packed themselves in bars again. Others are still cautious, and understandably so. Our definition of “normal” has shifted as the months and variants wore on. We haven’t had a chance to mourn what we’ve lost because we’re constantly waiting for the next shoe to drop.

There’s an urban legend where a scientist put a bunch of fleas in a jar. With no lid on the jar, the fleas jumped out quickly. But when the scientist added a lid, the fleas discovered they couldn’t jump out and eventually stopped trying, even after the lid was removed. That’s how I’m starting to feel. I had so much opportunity and while it’s still there, the uncertainty of the world right now makes planning a vacation more like an exercise in anxiety. If I could drive, I’d do that. But I can’t, so I have to weigh the decision of whether to risk taking a bus or other form or mass transit when it comes to going somewhere too far away by foot.

Given the nebulous nature of 2021 after the hellscape that was 2020, I kept my yearly goals modest. A little too modest, really, with one big exception.

I did start revising my NaNoWriMo 2020 novel, I wrote 100,000 words for NaNoWriMo 2021, and I read 50 books. I won’t be able to get a true total until after receiving my W-2s and 1099 in a few weeks, but based on some back-of-the-napkin math, I’m going to call my goal of saving half my post-tax income a success.

Among other things, I quit my miserable job for a much better one in the late summer, complete with another raise. I never did plan to stay in that miserable job long-term, partly because I was a contractor (who could be hired eventually, but signs were pointing to unlikely for reasons that had nothing to do with my performance). It was the stage of the pandemic where things started looking okay again and return-to-office talks were starting, and my contract was renewed, which made realize I would be commuting an hour each way to take the same calls I could take from home since the folks I worked with most regularly weren’t in my local office. The team I was working for was a sinking ship with no plan of rescue. It was time to put on my own life jacket, and I started at a great new role about three months later, with another raise and 100% remote work. So far I really like it, with my only big complaints things that you’d find at just about any company. I can deal with that.

On another work-related note, I quit my primary freelancing gig after running the numbers and realizing I’m making significantly more on an hourly basis at my current job. It was a good run when exchanging my free time for money did make a big difference, but now that calculation is less favorable and I’d rather have my time back. If I decide to freelance again, I know my worth and what to ask for, especially for a role in my field.

I started rewriting the Anxiety Girl novel but found myself redoing the entire plot in an attempt to understand how plotting in general works — a true mystery when

Now let’s talk about 2022 goals. Let’s keep them simple.

Read 50 books. I know this goal stays year after year but I usually squeak across the finish line just before NaNoWriMo or in early December, so it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Write 100,000 words for NaNoWriMo. Once again, straightforward. I have a streak to maintain.

Edit one of my novels so someone else can read it. This is most likely Anxiety Girl (which will have a title one day, I swear) but could be Stellabot if I get off my butt early in the year.

Reach out to 24 old friends and acquaintances. I’ve talked about the process of making friends as an adult and making my own social life over the past few years. I did decently at this for awhile and started improving as I started making more local friends through other hobbies (Pokemon Go among them), but a lot has changed since then. Namely, the plague. I was going to put conditions on this, such as only people I haven’t talked to in X years or had a certain rapport with. But the reality is that the pandemic has wrecked so many of our social lives, not just for me but for everyone. I have considered creating a private Discord server like some of my friends have, but there’s so much overlap in those servers and there are some friends of mine who don’t like each other and some people in my extended friend groups who I would not invite to such a private group even though we’re in other groups together. My bigger grumble here is that I might actually have to use Facebook. Sigh.

Investigate getting sterile. Abortion restrictions are becoming more common than ever, and besides simply not wanting kids, pregnancy in any form is a major squick of mine. I’m getting older so it’s time.

I have some bigger long-term goals in mind and you’ll hear about them in due course. For now, this will do.

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