Trying to find some way that’s not cliche to talk about what an atrocious year this was for the country and the world.
For us, too, at least at the beginning. 2020 started with me out of a job (again) and my mother dying. At least we got to celebrate Mom and Dad’s 60th anniversary with them on Jan. 2.
When you know someone is dying and there’s not a lot you can do about it, the best you can do is make them comfortable and hope it’s not long and drawn out. Well, in that respect, it worked out well. She was only in assisted living for a couple of weeks, and in hospice for a couple more. We lost her in late January and have been learning our new normal since. Dad’s in good shape, actually – the second tragedy here is just as he was free to go out and enjoy life and newfound freedom from having to take care of someone, COVID hit and he’s been locked down like the rest of us. This is a shame – he needs friends now and had all sorts of things lined up, and they were all torpedoed. Luckily, Sibling Sam is there, and of course we communicate via email and Skype and phone. I did get to visit over June, and that was really nice.
Around the same time, a dear friend lost both her parents, one after the other – and then COVID hit. So she’s been dealing with isolation, mourning, two estates, a house that suddenly landed in her lap, the loss of work, and everything else. I’ve been trying to be as good a support person as possible. My only other travel this year, other than to my dad’s, was out to mid-nowhere, PA, for her dad’s funeral – a journey that started with me getting in a car wreck before I’d even gotten out of town. No one was hurt, and the (rental) car was even still drivable (although it was later declared totaled) and I was insured and I got out of it with no problems except, I guess, a mark on my driving record. Maybe that’ll be a problem if I buy a car any time soon, not planned.
But yeah, the first half of the year was me dealing with Mom’s death and cleanup from that, dealing with the car accident, dealing with unemployment and job search… and with constant tooth pain. My only post-COVID trips into Manhattan were to visit my dentist for various unsuccessful attempts to fix this and avoid the very obvious end – a root canal. And then I had a root canal and it wasn’t too painful or a big deal and it fixed the problem. The end.
Meanwhile, C, getting closer and closer to retirement, was delighted to have an excuse to work from home every day instead of going into the office. He’s still plugging away at his job, such as it is. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been good about getting out or staying mobile and he’s now feeling the effects of that. He lost a lot of weight on keto, but he’s also lost flexibility and balance. He needs to move more.
I started the year the heaviest I’ve ever been, and with the trauma of the first few months, decided not to worry about it too much, finishing every dinner with cookies and so on. (I tapered that off and switched to fruit.) I have been good about getting out to walk most days, but of course, that’s the only moving I’m doing, since I don’t go to an office and it’s not enough. I also am having problems, not with walking, but general standing up/sitting down/knee-related activities. My ice-skating stopped when COVID started – the rinks are open again now, with a lot of restrictions, but I’ve basically decided to skip the season. Current goal is to drop some of this weight before next September, because right now, I’m actually kind of scared to get on the ice this heavy. (I’ve mentioned before that a big focus of the new year will be to get my act together in terms of wellness, both physically and mentally, and that’s a big part of it.)
I did have a good year professionally, despite (or because of?) the unemployment. I used the downtime to brush up on skills and specifically to earn two business certifications. The first was in Cybersecurity Analysis, and I only jumped on that because IIBA offered a deal, and it sounded like it was easy to do (it was). But that pointed out the obvious, that it was a good time for me to study for and get my CBAP certification, the Big BA certification that employers look for. (BA certification wasn’t a thing 10 years ago, now they all want it.) So that was not easy to do, but I put in the work and I got the certificate and I’m pretty proud of myself for that.
And I got a new job! As I keep saying in these posts, culturally, it’s the opposite of the last job, and that’s the best. I like what I do, I like the people I work with, I like the organization’s purpose and goals, and the expectations for me match my energy level. My boss keeps pointing out that the training that we want me to take will look great on my resume (it will), but I just wryly grin – if this job stays as promising as it’s started, I’m not going anywhere until I retire.
Music-wise, I had no conducting gigs lined up. I might have submitted for Savonet’s 2021 show, keeping up the every-three-years schedule I’ve been on, but the 2020 Grand Duke got postponed a year when the entire festival was cancelled due to COVID. So… we’ll see what the show is for 2022
assuming there is one.
I only play horn when I have gigs, but I was looking forward to playing for Utopia Opera’s season – which got postponed like everything else. QUO did a ‘everyone record your own part’ version of the Carmen Act I prelude, which I played for. That was about it for horn.
But ‘trapped in the house’ also means ‘oh, hey, let’s spend time at the piano’. I put together a practice routine that only takes a half hour, have been keeping to it most days. I’ve spent the whole year doing sight-reading warmups, doing a scale a day and working on the two-part inventions. Then time on big pieces – recorded the MacDowell An Old Garden in memory of my mom, nailed down the last two movements of a Haydn D major sonata and have been plugging away at the (much more difficult) first movement all year. And some side trips, like Over the Rainbow for pride month and Christmas stuff this month. I’ll keep that up.
Top of 2019, I started writing again, but that got put on hold… and will continue to be on hold for a while, possibly til retirement. I do have some good ideas for stories, and am noting them down.
So yeah, let’s hope 2021 shakes out better than this. It almost has to. Me and my family are all doing OK, I continue to be blessed in love, and I have high hopes: first for our ability to dig ourselves out of this hole, and second, for a brighter future.
Happy New Year!