2020 was a year like no other, though I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that. For me it was harrowing and sad, yes, but more than anything a near constant reminder of just how lucky I am - to be healthy, to be employed, to be safe.
Externally, I wasn’t very productive at all: I didn’t write any blog posts; I dropped my resolution of sending out a monthly email newsletter in March; I didn’t work on any side projects (other than Textmoji, made with the good people of Postlight!); I hardly posted to Twitter, or Instagram. Frankly, these things didn’t feel important for me to do, so I didn’t.
I did do a lot of thinking, and a lot of listening. A lot of resting, too. There’s been plenty of hand-wringing elsewhere on the internet about 2020 so I won’t waste your time with any more of that. Here are some things I did. Here are some things I saw.
I’m still here, and I hope you are too. 🎈
I’ve been talking about adopting a cat for the longest time, but never did for this reason or that. A friend suggested I follow the Instagram account of a local pet rescue and just a few weeks later, I fell in love. I immediately sent a message and after a bit of paperwork (and an increased adoption fee due to his ‘special’ breed: lynx point siamese!), we were on the way home from his foster caretaker. I wanted to get more a feel before deciding to keep or change his name, but right after we got into the Lyft on the way home, Blue in Green by Miles Davis (from the album Kind of Blue!) started playing on the radio. I knew, then and there, his name was Blue.
I could go on and on about how much I love this little guy, and how much he’s helped me through this year. But for now, I’ll say that I’m so happy to have found him, and that you can follow him on Instagram here, if you would like.
Black Lives Matter
On May 25, an innocent man named George Floyd was murdered by a police officer on the streets of Minneapolis. Within days, protests sprung up around the world demanding justice for George, as well as a national reckoning on police brutality and systematic racism. New York City was home to some of the largest demonstrations in the United States, and I joined with millions of others in amplifying the voices of the black and brown organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Getting around a city as reliant on public transportation as New York during lockdown was complicated. Prior to mid-March, I took the subway multiple times daily: getting to and from work, running errands, seeing friends, going out, etc. Between March and June, I didn’t ride the subway at all. This meant that if I wanted to see anything farther than walking distance (at least safely), I’d have to do it by other means. Usually, that meant by bike.
Last summer, I fell in love with bikepacking (though I’m still coming to terms with that cumbersome term 😅). This year, I went on several solo trips, usually to Harriman State Park, about 60 miles each way from my apartment in Brooklyn (route here, if you’re curious). These were my first solo camping trips, but I came to appreciate the solitude as a welcome respite to the increasing time spent cooped up at home.
Like many others, I got into baking early this year, due in part to shortages at the grocery store and in part to an increase in time spent at home. I began a sourdough starter in late March and baked my first loaves in mid-April. I came to enjoy the process, however tedious. Levain, autolyse, bulk ferment, slap and fold, slap and fold, slap and fold, shape, rest and proof, bake. I began to notice the subtleties of the the dough - when it needed more water, flour, heat, or time. In the microcosm of my kitchen, I had full control over the variables and could manipulate them at will.
In the end, I baked 10 or 12 loaves, each better than the last. At some point over the summer, store-bought bread became easy to find, and the weather had become nicer, so the idea of spending a whole weekend tending to a boule became a harder sell. I let my starter fall into neglect, and I returned to buying store-bought bread. Still, I enjoyed the process of cultivating a starter, coaxing life out of a slurry of flour and water, and hope to return to it someday soon.
Here are some other things that I enjoyed in 2020:
- Trips to San Francisco, The Berkshires, Cape Cod, and Hudson, NY
- NYC Open Streets initiative
- The Overstory, by Richard Powers
- RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 12
- These recipes: Carmelized Shallot Pasta, No-Fail Roast Chicken with Lemon and Garlic, Spiced Chickpea Stew With Coconut and Turmeric, and Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk.
- These video games: Manifold Garden, Untitled Goose Game, Spelunky 2
- These museum exhibitions: SOFT POWER at SFMOMA, Making Marvels at the Met, Judd at MoMA, and Kissing Through a Curtain at Mass MoCA.
Here’s to 2021. Thanks for reading 😘