the year we lost

Manila, 19 December—The Atlantic calls 2020 "The Year we Lost" and it's something I've been thinking a lot about these days, as we enter the 'yearender planning' part of the holidays.

This time of the year has always felt a particular way—even when I was at the pits of a depressive cycle, December somehow always managed to be somewhat festive. All that requisite gift shopping, plus the back-to-back Christmas parties and reunions, made for a thoroughly exhausting season but they truly were always worth looking forward to, even when I had to cut back on my drinking (it has not been easy to accept that this body can no longer drink like it used to, haha, but I've made my peace with that).

2020 has muted the usual level of merry-making and gift-giving (but not the road traffic, unfortunately). It's not just Christmas, even—2020 has transformed all of the birthdays since March into virtual commemorations. Experts say this contributes to the perception that 2020 has passed us by in a 'blur' — our minds make milestones out of these celebrations, and that's how we mark the passage of time. Without any notable celebrations, not even for the minor bonuses that allow us to splurge on lunch outs every now and then, we can't tell what has made 2020 memorable.

Memorable outside of the pandemic, that is. This year is memorable—on a grand scale, a level that is beyond all of us. It is enraging.

I don't think I've been angrier than I was throughout this year—and this actually says a lot, because anger is an emotion I'm not necessarily drawn to. But with every year under this godforsaken administration, I find myself thinking that maybe I'd probably never get angrier than I already was, but here I am anyway—seething even harder at how this government's ineptness has robbed all of us of an entire year, not to mention all the deaths and all the job losses and all the closed small businesses, the shuttered dreams, the postponed plans, the missed milestones—the whole nine yards.

Director Alice Wu, who made one of my favorite movies this year The Half of It, has this timely reminder for everyone:

It’s a difficult ask. When I look back at this year, I’d probably remember it the most for being about working hard but never being quite enough, and that constant erosion of the work-life boundary since March. Pre-pandemic, I’d just been getting the hang of completely dropping out of work mode at 6 p.m. C had just started being office-based, and we were just figuring out a new rhythm to our workdays. We were going to the gym! We were volunteering for a community group taking care of neighborhood stray cats.

Then bam, the quarantine hit us and we’ve never really moved since. The days just ebbed and flowed, we worked and we ate and we slept and then we did it all over again the next day. And before we knew it, here we are, less than two weeks away from the New Year.

What the fuck.

I have a confession to make: I thought being in quarantine would push me to write more fiction. Nothing has been farther from the truth. I have been writing, of course—there’s this weekly newsletter, and then there’s the ridiculous amount of writing I have been doing for work. Between those tasks, I have been whittling away at a folder of WIPs and… well, it has been unsatisfying, that part of life.

Anyway, I don’t want to remember 2020 for these frustrations and disappointments; I want to remember the good parts of 2020, too. Believe it or not, they’ve been plenty. I got back to reading books again, at least during the height of quarantine; I’ve been tracking my days better, too. We caught a lot of good things on Netflix and YouTube, too—many of them were even local! I may not have been creating as much as I wanted to, but there were definitely people out there who were creating, all right. I mean, how good were the albums released this year, huh? And two for Taylor Swift? Sana all productive LOL.

Certainly, there were a lot of good things I may have missed, so I’d like to take this moment to ask you, too: What made your 2020 more memorable and bearable?

& because we’re serious about asking, C and I made a survey (using Canva! So pretty.)

You can answer as long or as short as you wish, share as many movies, music, books, etc as the fields would allow. None of the items are required, but I’d be grateful for every answer you share. I’ll be compiling them into the yearenders that I will be working on over the holiday break.

Leave an email if you want me to send you my answers to the survey :)

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