Here we are in 2021. I inaugurated the New Year in bed, reading. At one point, I checked the clock, it said 12:04, I rolled over and went to sleep and woke up 10.5 hours later.
Another month, another cancer update: blood are stable, side effects are basically stable, except holy shit am I tired. I think I felt like this at the end of last fall too, so it’s not a big shocker or anything. But the way the drugs multiply my fatigue and sometimes end my days when I don’t want them to is my current biggest complaint. The hand pain no doubt contributes to it some days as well.
My 2020 was better than lots of people’s. My main affects were horror at the state of the world and gratitude for my relative privilege given what things could be like. Sometimes I was angry. Sometimes I was happy. I know people who have had people close to them die of Covid–but I’ve been lucky that way. I have plenty of friends and acquaintances who lost jobs, job opportunities, or other access to income because of Covid. It fucking sucks.
I am fortunate. I have a steady job and income, good healthcare, the ability to properly socially distance, and a good home life with Carrie and the cats. Given the alternatives, I was glad to be teaching online, and all things considered it went as well as I could have hoped for. I also learned some new skills, producing at time 2 podcasts a week for my students. I’ve been giving the old landline a good workout, and it gets me into a comfy chair, usually near a cat, and away from the screen. The other thing I got good at it not working at designated times. I took days off because I needed to for both physical and mental health. That is a skill I’ve been developing over time, but Covid forced me to really build proper boundaries around my time, lest I always be available for everything, while simultaneously trapped in my (admittedly, very comfortable) apartment.
The downsides are predictable: I miss lots of things about being able to go out in the world — friends, playing music with my two pre-pandemic bands, shopping in the neighbourhood, etc. As an academic I have lots of experience working from home but working entirely from home definitely is not for me — there were more than a few times where I felt like things were invading my domestic space that I would normally keep outside it. Boundaries are good, it turns out.
I do worry about the world that we will re-enter at the end of the pandemic, though. Not because of the “everything has changed” but because of the insufficiency of our institutions and relationships. More on that another time.
My resolution for 2020 was to “press record” more and while I did, I didn’t do it as much as I planned. It was a good musical and audio year, though. I am continuing to improve at touch guitar and synthesizer programming and after all the podcasting I am very fast in Logic. Due to Covid, Carrie and I have formed a duo and are slowly writing some songs. We have 4 fully arranged and fragments of a couple more. We had originally thought we’d try and self-record an EP over break but came to our senses and chose downtime instead, which is what I needed.
I don’t make resolutions about my academic work because I have a setup that works for me and I mostly just do it. I was on sabbatical in the winter and spring, and while I lost research and presentation travel that I badly wanted to do, but after the obligatory couple weeks going “holy shit” about the lockdown like everyone else, I realized I had a job to do, and did it. I read a lot, and finished revisions on Diminished Faculties, which should be out in fall 2021. I redesigned three courses as well. Not bad at all.
My main resolution for 2021 is to keep my music space relatively clutter free, which is to say, “ready to cook” at all times. I often write amidst piles of books and papers, and that’s productive for me, but clutter interferes with music differently when I’m working with complex setups of modules or pedals. Especially because the synth lives on a table, there were times where stuff piled up and that that kept me from playing because I’d have to clean up first. I have to treat it more like the kitchen.
I would also really like to find a writing collective to be part of again. I co-write with people all the time and love it, but I’m thinking of something like Bad Subjects where there’s an online venue (other than this blog) where I can post occasional thoughts that are substantial but not long and not necessarily scholarly. Something like The Battleground or Crooked Timber or a group blog of some sort. That said, I am not going to push it. I have to find the right people and the right organization.
Other than that, I just want to keep doing what I’m doing. I have a fantasy that I’ll get the vaccine in May and then can take most of the summer off (except for talks I agreed to give) to savour being in the world, something I haven’t done since 10th grade. Dunno how realistic it is, but a man can dream.