How I spent most of the year: working in bed with a cat on top of me.

Goodbye 2020.

It’s almost the last day of 2020 and I think we’re all breathing a collective sigh of relief.

I mean, I don’t really know why, it’s not like things are going to magically get better when midnight strikes. In fact, I’ve seen every version of Cinderella and it’s a well-known fact that midnight is when everything turns back to shit. Midnight is when we all turn back into pumpkins and mice and unappreciated nobodies who just wish a prince would fucking notice us. Midnight is when the fantasy ends and reality sinks back in.

But still, 2020 is almost over and I’d probably rather be a pumpkin right now than an actual human being living in America, so I will take what I can get.

And I guess that we can all hope that 2021 is going to be better than 2020 ever was. The new year has no where to go but up, right? Vaccines are starting to roll out. A new president is on the way. Maybe 2021 won’t be so bad? Maybe there’s a chance for the world to go back to normal again?

Maybe? I guess we can hope.

The last time I ate in a restaurant, in early March.

The last time I ate in a restaurant, in early March.

2020 has been both easy and hard for me.

In some ways the year was actually, weirdly, a welcome relief. I’m a pretty extreme introvert much of the time, so being forced to stay at home was actually a blessing. I didn’t miss going into work. I didn’t miss celebrating holidays. I didn’t miss going to bars. I didn’t have to change out of my pajamas. I didn’t have to wear a bra. I got to sit at home by myself with my cats watching reruns of Top Chef over and over and over. And I love sitting at home by myself with my cats watching reruns of Top Chef over and over and over.

I was lucky enough to have kept my job and transition to working from home. I had some extra time to work on some blog stuff. I managed to save a little money from not having to pay for transit passes and happy hours.

Sure, it was a little boring, but, on the surface, it wasn’t all that bad.

But then there was that shroud of fear, doubt, confusion, sadness, that washed over every moment of the year for me.

I went into 2020 with such high hopes and with everything in my life finally feeling like it was coming together.

I’m going out of 2020 exhausted, sad, and beyond broken.

I work in the arts and everything we do shut down in March. My company had to cancel some monumentous productions that had been years in the making. There was extra stress of cancelling things left and right and living with a foot in multiple realities, preparing for the show to go on while simultaneously preparing for the curtain to never rise again. And the extra stress of constantly wondering if today would be my last day.

That on top of being constantly told to take care of ourselves, to take our vacation time, that no one is expected to be at 100% during a pandemic all while actually being expected to work at 200% during a pandemic. I had a big project that had me working twice my normal amount of hours for two months. Four months of hours in two months. I didn’t do anything between October and November but work, try to sleep, and force myself to eat. Most of those days I didn’t shower and worked from bed because I couldn’t muster the energy to move. I slept with my laptop beside me and opened it as soon as I opened my eyes and shut it just before they closed.

How I spent most of the year: working in bed with a cat on top of me.

How I spent most of the year: working in bed with a cat on top of me.

And I didn’t travel this year, at all. I barely even left my apartment. I had to cancel concrete trips to New York and Disney World along with theoretical dreams of road tripping to Oklahoma and Tennessee and through Washington, Oregon, and California. Dreams of going back to Spain or Thailand. Dreams of sipping cocktails on a Mexican beach. Heck, even small dreams of taking a weekend in Casey, Illinois to see all their Guinness world record holding world’s largest things.

The annual hot dog eating contest looked a lot different this year.

The annual hot dog eating contest looked a lot different this year.

And 2020 was the last year of my thirties and I’m sad that I didn’t get to take advantage of that, whatever the hell that means. And I’m sad that next month I am entering my forties, probably celebrating my birthday sitting at home by myself with my cats, probably watching reruns of Top Chef.

I’m currently two and a half weeks into a three week staycation away from work. And while I’m not being nearly as productive as I usually am during this holiday break, I’ve gotten a fair amount done and have started to actually feel at least a little human again.

I finished my annual apartment deep clean, taking everything out of every closet and every drawer and every cabinet and scrubbing and reorganizing. I scheduled months worth of social media posts and got back on track with a plan for my other blog. I’ve rewatched a lot of Top Chef.

The combination of having some time to get myself organized, having some time to relax, and seeing people I know start getting vaccinated has started giving me a little hope for the future in the last couple of weeks. A little hope that there is a future. A feeling I haven’t had in a long time.

But I’ve also had some extra time to reflect on all the things I’ve lost out on this year, all the things I didn’t get to do, all the things that were taken away. And I just get sad again.

So goodbye 2020. I hope to lose you at midnight like a glass slipper that will never find its way back again. And I hope that in 2021 the fantasy begins and our shitty year of pumpkins and mice turns into carriages and dancing and balls and fairy godmothers. And that that prince finally fucking notices us. And that life can be lived again.

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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

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