What did you do in 2020 that you’d never done before?
I wore a mask on days that weren’t Halloween or Halloween-related. I ran in the park in a mask. I wore a mask to the laundry room and to take out the trash. I wore a mask in the grocery store, the pharmacy, the doctor’s office, and the optometrist. I wore a mask to pick up take-out and get haircuts.
The few times I saw my parents and sister, I wore a mask. The few times I saw a friend or two—outside, socially distanced, and ever so briefly—I wore a mask.
Sometimes, alone in the car, I wore a mask.
The few times we had furniture deliveries or maintenance in the house, I opened some windows and wore a mask.
Today, I’ll wear a mask. Tomorrow, I’ll wear a mask.
Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn’t make resolutions last year. I did hope to visit Chicago and Atlanta and Greensboro and Omaha to see family & friends and catch some WNBA games in cities I hadn’t been in in a while.
In early March, those plans were dashed. I did see some of those family & friends on Zooms and face times but not in physical presence and not sharing the same air, which, in this year, could’ve been disastrous.
I saw no basketball live this year but watched more WNBA games this season than I ever have, thanks to the #wubble and nearly every game of every team airing on television or streaming.
I miss our seats in STAPLES, though, and the crazies we are privileged to scream and cheer with nearly 20 times a summer. I hope we can get back to that in some way in 2021.
Did anyone close to you have a child?
Not that I’m aware, but I got this wrong last year. My cousin Tiffani had a new cutie pie in 2019.
Did anyone close to you get married?
There were a few postponements that I can think of but no virtual ceremonies that I remember.
Did anyone close to you die?
It feels weird to say in such a year of loss but no unless we count the collective mourning of Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s deaths by this city and the world.
There was death, to be sure. News of family members of current and former colleagues succumbing to COVID became far too familiar. And family acquaintances or distant relatives also passed. Still, the constant worry was a dreadful call or text about someone contracting the virus, entering the hospital, and never coming back out alive.
I did not have that experience this year, and I am grateful.
What countries did you visit?
This year, it may be more appropriate to ask which counties? I only left Los Angeles County twice this year. Once in January (Broward County) and once in very early March (New York).
What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?
Handshakes, hi-fives, and hugs.
Going inside someone’s residence other than my own.
Shared experiences that allow me to be anonymously or collectively loud.
Lingering in a space. Meandering from place to place.
What date from 2020 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
“Rudy Gobert’s status for the game—it was bizarre; he was listed as questionable just 30 minutes before tip-off. Then I saw the Thunder’s head doctor, Donnie Strack, come running off the bench, literally seconds before tip-off—the ref’s already got the ball in his hands. Players are lining up in a circle, getting ready for tip-off. I see Donnie Strack running out, and I knew right then and there: Something’s going down.”
What was your most significant achievement of the year?
I’m alive. I didn’t make anyone sick or kill anyone by being cavalier in my response to the pandemic. Every day, I tried to think about how hard it is for all I encountered and chose to give whatever I could when asked: time, patience, forgiveness, cover, space, cash, quiet, candor.
I may have been my most humane in 2020.
What was your biggest failure?
Excuse my french but fuck a failure in this most abnormal 12 months. Surviving and not harming anyone else was the only requirement in what NPR Music has called The Fugue Year.
Did you suffer illness or injury?
Oddly, this is probably the healthiest I’ve been in many years. I switched doctors, and she got my hypertension under control, put me on some vitamin D, and has me thinking much more deliberately about my choices.
I’m sleeping better.
I did have some soreness in my right knee for a bit that was more than a little bit annoying, but some self-care and wearing an over-the-counter brace for a few days solved that, and it hasn’t returned despite an increase in cardio/aerobic exercises over the last few weeks.
What was the best thing you bought?
I’m in love with the bookcases that got recently delivered and that I framed and hung lots of wall art. I get a little spark of delight every time I see them.
I’ve also become a robe person in the last month or so, snuggling into a flannel one every morning.
But, it’s working appliances that are the best thing I bought, specifically, the dishwasher. Sure, we also replaced our laundry center with the non-drying dryer, but it was the dishwasher that had been the bane of my existence since the dawn of the pandemic.
Our old washer had utterly stopped working a week or two before stay-at-home orders began, and after a few months of constant dishwashing, I had tried in vain to get it fixed under warranty at least three times. Each time, they would replace the same part, and each time it would stop working again after a few days.
So, we bought a very nice replacement. When it arrived, the delivery guy couldn’t install the machine. Our electrical socket in the dishwasher cabinet had to move. A couple of hundred bucks to an electrician, and a few weeks later, it was finally in its place and ready for use.
It’s quiet. It’s attractive. It has a silverware rack.
And, as the daily slog of constant dishwashing was threatening to break me, that it merely works is heaven.
Whose behavior merited celebration?
Every person who has left their home daily at risk of a deadly disease because what they do might keep all of us, collectively, alive deserve all the flowers.
Where did most of your money go?
Into this home in a variety of ways. Into political campaigns and charitable donations. Into digital goods and services.
I put my money into continuing paying people whose services I enjoyed in person before the pandemic to work remotely if possible or stay home if not.
And into savings and investing for the future, whatever may come.
What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The Biden-Harris victory. That morning of extended joy will be the second day of the year I will most remember.
What song will always remind you of 2021?
I wrote about Lockdown in my year in music.
Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?
Perhaps, I am most known for how emotionally balanced I am, but there have been more days of melancholy this year. I remain hopeful and optimistic for a better tomorrow, but happiness has been harder to come by.
I spent more time feeling sad or anxious or frustrated or, worse, nothing. Much of July through maybe mid-October is a blurry haze for me in which I felt the least like me. I’m not sure what broke me from that, but I’ve been better since then.
But there are still more days like today when I woke with my spirit feeling small, quiet, and low on joy.
I suspect I’ll find a smirk or smile or maybe even a full-on song in my heart by day’s end though that’s not guaranteed.
This is new.
ii. Thinner or fatter?
Three months into safer-at-home, I had lost ten pounds.
I’ve gained them all back.
iii. Richer or poorer?
We had a great year financially. I feel sheepish writing that for the world to see but, it’s true. I didn’t lose work. I got a bonus. The stock market—despite volatility—has been lucrative. We were able to make some smart money moves.
I’m grateful that at a time of such a struggle for so many, we are not. The question I’m continuing to ask myself as we head into 2021 is how to be sure I’m not taking my good fortune for granted and “sharing the garden,” as Noname puts it in the Lockdown remix.
What do you wish you’d done more of?
Gone outside and explored the natural world.
What do you wish you’d done less of?
How did you spend the holidays?
We ordered in for Thanksgiving from Bar Ama, which was delicious. I made banana pudding and biscuits for my family and traded them for a pie and mac & cheese. The fifteen minutes I spent with them during that exchange was not enough but sustained me on my favorite holiday.
Christmas was low-key but fine. A gift exchange with Tiffany, a family Zoom, and all the NBA I could muster made up the day.
We are doing NYE at home, which is no different than any other recent year. I may even be looking forward to dressing up, getting drunk, and dancing in the living room as we say goodbye to The Plague Year.
What was your favorite TV program?
There was nothing I looked forward to more this year than watching The Mandalorian season 2 and Star Trek Discovery season 3 over the last few months. Both sci-fi series have been fantastic in all the word’s meanings and filled my mind with dreams of brighter, more interesting, more inspiring times.
Other shows worth your time:
The Good Lord Bird
The Haunting of Bly Manor
Better Call Saul
Star Trek: Picard
Power Book II: Ghost
What was the best book you read?
Other books I recommend:
Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke
Trouble Is What I Do by Walter Mosley
Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow
Red At The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Superman Smashes The Klan by George Leun Yan and Gurihuri
Little Weirds by Jenny Slate
Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers
What was your most significant musical discovery of 2020
What did you want and get?
A Democratic victory in the presidential election and Nithya Raman on LA City Council
What did you want and not get?
I wanted Americans to come together in more significant numbers and show their better angels and sense of community to get us through coronavirus with far less unnecessary death.
What was your favorite film of this year?
I didn’t watch many films this year, but I dug The Old Guard and Soul and didn’t hate Wonder Woman 1984 despite the social media critiques.
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 45 a week after the pandemic became official, and I’m pretty sure I spent it entirely on the couch playing mobile games and coloring with the Apple Pencil Tiffany got me as a gift.
What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Being free to move about the cabin.
What political issue stirred you the most?
That public health became political.
Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
How would you describe your fashion concept in 2020?
Looking great from the waistline up. Thanks, Stitch Fix.
What kept you sane?
The morning is quiet and dark. I remember to meditate. As the sun comes up, I catch the birds and squirrels starting their day in the thicket of trees that make up their neighborhood. I listen to a mix of music and podcasts as I empty the dishwasher and start the coffee. I make myself a proper breakfast and eat it at the table.
It’s the end of the workday, and I treat it as such. I close work tabs and get up from the desk. I go for a long walk. I see the eyes of strangers. I listen to the sounds of the city. I break a sweat.
I don’t bring my gadgets to bed.
Every day I accomplished at least one of these routines, I was a little saner the next.
Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Who did you miss?
Everyone but perhaps most frequently, I longed for the strangers on the bus. I wanted to be shoulder-to-shoulder with people on their way to and from work or school. I wanted to be just another slightly familiar but nameless face with my fellow LA neighbors and be in the mix.
Oh, what I would give to feel like just another soul in the Southland, again.