Writing Challenge Day 29: Things I h̶a̶t̶e̶d̶ loved in 2020

Let’s start there. That’s a tough sentence to finish, right? Massive wildfires, a pandemic, shelter-in-place orders, the tragic loss of RBG… To the questionable—yet I assure you it was real—Kanye West running for POTUS, toilet paper shortages, household Wi-Fi bandwidths stretched to their limits, and suddenly understanding why our dogs peer through the windows at the front of the house waiting for the mail. Waiting for anything, really. Yep it all happened, and all the posts this month prove we all have silver linings that helped us get through it. After all, seeing the upside of down is how we evolve, right?

This was my toughest year on record—both personally and professionally—but it was also my most rewarding. Why? Because I learned.

Things I learned to love in 2020, a thread:

My husband is an intense lover of vacuuming and dish washing. No wonder the house was always clean when I would get home after 10 hours at the office. /1

Someone will *literally* bring you food and leave it on your doorstep. No interaction required. Alcohol included. /2

Having two cars is obscenely unnecessary when you a) don’t have kids and b) work from home. Goodbye 2x monthly car payment, insurance, and gasoline. /3

It’s ok to fail. It’s even better to fail fast. It’s further proof that you’re trying. /4

Being an IT pro is a strong flex. Seriously, we kept businesses up and running and our home networks happy. /5

Masks and social distancing. I have a condition that includes immunodeficiency and in a typical year, I would have come down with some sort of respiratory infection every other month. But it’s now been 11 months since the last time I was sick. Nevertheless, please don’t ask me if I want these things to still be in place post-pandemic, because I will have an oddly unsatisfying, wavering opinion. /6

Knowing the day of the week is far less important than knowing where you are at this point and time. Yes, March was 284 days long. But I’ll be damned if it wasn’t (arguably) the most productive, introspective month of our recent lives. People slowed down, reassessed priorities, and many made drastic changes to pursue happiness, myself included. In a time when everything is “locked down,” we sure made some major moves along the way. /8

Meetings start on time now. Entering a meeting with 10 people already on the call and it’s not even :01 past the hour? If you told me in January that on-time attendance was a requirement in 2020, I would’ve preemptively set an auto response in Teams saying “I am perpetually running late due to conference room hopping. See you in a minute.” /9

Oh, and our jealousy-eliciting, always-working-remote colleagues no longer need to ask the meeting organizer to dial in the room. /9.5

Drive in movie theaters made a comeback! /10

Seventy percent of my wardrobe suddenly became acceptable attire outside of a gym setting. /11

Conscious relationships. Those who only stayed in touch because they needed something suddenly stopped calling. Meanwhile, I’ve been able to be more present and authentic in relationships that are bidirectionally invested. Conversely, my relationship with coworkers I knew very little about have become human. Now we start meetings by saying hello to their kids, dogs, cats, spouses, before acknowledging the person we’re actually meeting with. /7

Which leads me to a shout-out to my team and the entire THWACK community. We’ve been doing this online community thing for awhile (17 years, 6 months, 17 days. But who’s counting, right?) There isn’t a day that goes by that my team and I aren’t in awe of what all you have done here. We frequently find ourselves shuffling more folks into our top 8 merely because of your commitment to the success of your peers (MySpace Tom, we miss you!) I often say we have the best jobs in the company because we get to talk to you all, day in and day out. Don’t sleep on that compliment, either. I’m far more pessimistic than this blog post leads to believe.

Lastly, we rallied together in historic fashion. 2020—and I cannot stress this enough—was the most dichotomous, chaotic, surreal, tragic, sublime year in recent history. Your community means more now than ever. The lack of in-person interaction drove us to strive for change and reach people in ways never done before. Whether it be getting your hands dirty in a new hobby, discussing uncomfortable topics with those who have opposing views, or sharing your expertise out of sheer goodwill knowing it could help 1 person or 1,000. This year, we witnessed some of the most profound expression of understanding, listening and action. We learned. /14

So, what did you love about 2020?

  • Love this 

    What I loved this year:

    • All the new things I got to do this year by becoming a Head Geek. It has been a year of learning and doing, and it has been amazing in that respect.
    • THWACKcamp! I got to be a big part of it this year, and that was exciting and nerve-wracking but wonderful!
    • My son and I played many games together this year and escalated from board games to video games (Grounded, Ark, Among Us, Stardew Valley, and more.)
    • D&D! For those in the know, I have attempted several times to get into D&D in the past. This year was THE YEAR that I made it happen. Previous attempts have not gone well, but at the end of December we did a 9+ hour one-shot that was so much fun and so great. It was an opportunity for my cousin to try DM-ing (he did great) and for my brother, myself, and a friend to really try D&D out for size. We all had a blast and are already talking about a more regular group.
    • I built my new gaming PC this year. Perhaps surprisingly it was my first time building a PC from scratch.
    • My relationship with my son's other parents grew. I feel extremely fortunate (and always have) to have them as partners on this parenting journey. I also feel extremely fortunate that we have similar views on most things so even with this chaotic election year and a pandemic we were able to become closer. It's not always easy to get along with his dad, but his step-mom is a gem of a person and she always keeps us grounded. His dad spent a lot of time at home this year (he works at a vehicle plant so not as much as she or I did) and I felt that we got along better this year than we have in the past 10 years.

    There is a lot to be grateful for this year, and I feel fortunate that I have had so much good to counterbalance the bad. I look forward to continuing to promote the positive in my life as life goes on.

  • Nice writeup  

    Things that i loved in 2020:

    Life has slowed down and personal relationships are back on track

    This seems like truly a work life balance

    We now realize what's happening around us unlike in the past when we use to ignore a lot of things

    Resources required for basic necessitates are being utilized well - be it food, travel, shopping ......

    Earth is healing as emission of gas & waste has reduced ...... 

  • Things I loved about 2020?  Well, most of them were impacted in one way or another by COVID-19.

    • Working full-time from home.  It proved WAY more effective than my management team expected.  And it saved me sleep and gas money, wear & tear on the vehicle, and clothing costs.
    • Discovering more and better teleconferencing solutions.  Goodbye Skype!
    • New truck & 5th wheel camper: WOO-HOO!  (OK, the truck's five years old, the camper's 10 years old, but new to us, and WONDERFUL exploring fun was had this year!)
    • New wrap-around / loop driveway (for getting that big 5th wheel camper rigged up with my boat trailer and the truck)
    • New expanded parking pad by the garage (widened/lengthened to accommodate the camper)
    • Skid Steer rental & operation (I enjoyed moving many tons of Class 5 gravel for the driveway, new shed base, and parking pad expansion. Plus I used it to expand the back yard further out into the woods, and move a lot of dead/downed trees, scrape the forest floor for grass next spring, and move some boulders bigger than my full-sized refrigerator out of the ground and to new strategically attractive locations.)
    • Lots of wood cut to fireplace length (by product of cutting down a bunch of White Pine, Poplar, Birch, and Maple trees to accommodate the new circle driveway), stacked and ready for sale or to give to friends for backyard campfires.
    • Plenty of time to work on home projects, thanks to COVID-19 cutting 900+ I.T. staff members from my company (me included).
    • New musical practice area in my basement (something I'd always considered doing, but never had time to start or finish).  Now I have a pair of Yamaha keyboards, a keyboard amp/speaker, two saxophones, a flute, a pair of bass guitars and a big bass speaker enclosure (dual JBL 16" speakers in an Acoustic 402 enclosure), as well as the matching Acoustic 200 Watt Amp.  And I set up my cell phone to play my truck's Sirius XM account, and tied the cell into a Bluetooth adapter I've run into a separate 200 watt stereo receiver that plays into a pair of 19" Yamaha NS 690-II speakers--this enables me to play/practice with any kind of music I tune in via XM Radio.  Sweet for a '60's / '70's nut like me who will (hopefully) continue playing in local bands once the COVID-19 vaccination is deployed successfully to everyone.
    • New trail cam, capturing Gray Foxes, Timber Wolves, porcupines, and more in my back yard (Yes, northern Minnesota really is like that when you're away from the few cities)
    • Discovering which friends take the time to reach out to me, and reaching back out to other friends in turn, which I wasn't doing a good job of prior to 2020.

    Yes, there's loads of silver linings in the 2020 clouds.

    On the other hand, there's some irony when I overhear my kids trying to find their way in COVID-19 fears.  When they say it's not so bad that "all these old people are dying from COVID", because they're taking up resources the rest of the world should be able to use, don't have "real" lives anyways, etc.  It's easy to see I have new things to work on with their minds and fears and sensitivities (or the lack thereof).

    2021, may You bring empathy and education to all, and may reason win out over ignorance and greed in every way.

    Rick Schroeder

    In the Little Red House

    In the Saginaw Wood

  • I loved several things that all tied to the lack of commuting during days when I was either working from home or on-call. Gaining two hours or more each day let me sleep later. As an aside, the lower traffic volumes still make my commutes take less time. It also made me able to be home for installation of our new air conditioning system without taking leave. (No, , I didn't get away without major house repairs, some of which are still outstanding. Good for you, though!). Being home also let my wife and I chat during the day since we were both there and sometimes even have lunch together.

    While I know a lot of people that love sleeping in Shabbat morning since they do not have to get to the synagogue, I actually don't love that. Sure, my body adores the extra rest. However, I miss the getting up by 0600, running out about 0700, starting services at 0730, and having kiddush (think whisk(e)y and food, usually even hot food) after services by 0930. I miss the characters in the early service ... and the group that attends that hashkama minyan has its share.

    Something I love about that hashkama crew. Our oldest regular, a Holocaust survivor -- the only Jew to escape from his town -- chants the haftarah, an additional reading following the Torah service, each year on the Shabbat during Chanuka. It is near his birthday, so he also chanted that at his Bar Mitzvah 87 years ago. Earlier this month, we all got together on Zoom to celebrate his 100th birthday. With the coronavirus lurking, I understand he hadn't been out of his apartment in months. I will love getting back to seeing those folks in person once this pandemic is behind us.

  • The thing I loved about 2020 was the way, for many of us, it stripped away the pointless and useless and unessential and sensitized us to what was truly important, truly valuable, and truly necessary.

    I love that in many cases, those important, valuable, and necessary things weren't what we expected.

    I love that we are already looking forward, with delight and relish and anticipation, to things we had previously dismissed or taken for granted.

    And I love most of all that through this last month of the year we've come together as a community to think deeply about those things, and share them with each other.

Thwack - Symbolize TM, R, and C