My plans for 2020 were:
- Attend an MFA reunion
This kinda happened in the spring, for an hour or two on Zoom. A group of writers, a year inside: I better hear about everybody's pandemic project next year.
- Visit family in South Korea
LOL NOPE. Originally the plan was to go in October, but when it arrived I couldn't get there by law, by hook, or by crook because of COVID-19 restrictions.
- Health check (in Korea)
NOPE AGAIN. The reason I meant to do this in Korea is because even when I do have health insurance in my own country, it's intermittent, still prohibitively expensive, and not comprehensive. Meanwhile, in Korea I could get an entire inside-and-out body evaluation (bones, blood, weight, vaccines, vitamin deficiencies, allergies, cancer screening, and other bodily curiosities) for $500. I also get dental care for $40 whenever I visit (x-rays and cleaning), so even with the flight and hotel factored in it's a great deal, comparatively, because the United States is killing us with corruption.
- Save money
Sort of I did this? When I wrote it down I had a job that disappeared about a month later, but since I was able to get on unemployment quickly and have always lived below my means, while I haven't saved any extra money, I have at least maintained the savings I built up before. Turns out what I was saving for was weathering the third recession of my lifetime. That averages one per decade! Someone tell my boomer relatives these conditions aren't what they used to be.
- Become pescatarian
Success, however, I tried to go further into mostly vegan and ultimately wiped out because of cheese. I love it too much and am weak in moral fiber (is there a supplement for that?) and so have slipped back to consuming certain low-lactose milk products. I'm sure there's a compound name for what I'm doing (no eggs, yes cheese, no land meat, yes sea flesh, no preference pro or con on honey) but I'm not fully dedicated to any of it, just trying to make better choices and not consume factory-processed livestock meat because I know how the sausage is made, and it's not okay. My cat is also no vegan, she eats poultry, so I'll never be all the way out of the game as long as I'm feeding my favorite little carnivore.
- Write 1 TV script
This did not manifest in 2020, but it's scheduled to be first up in 2021. My collaboration buddy and I find that scripts aren't that hard or time-consuming to write...if we're in the right headspace. The pandemic year was not that headspace.
- Write 2 novels
YEP. One was a solo project, a follow-up to My Dear Watson written in diary form (look forward to Mrs. Watson: Untold Stories soon!). The other was a collaborative novel that I did the lion's share of writing on (because I'm the unemployed one), based on one of our shared script projects. If anyone picks up any part of it, we've got the full show and novel tie-ins ready to go, a nice package deal.
Other highlights of the year include:
- I increased my fitness efforts from two days a week to three and lost another 5-10 pounds because of it (neat!).
- I can now comprehend TV/movies/podcasts at 3x-4x playback speed. I'm very proud of this, I tell everyone about it, I feel like I'm reaching higher heights and am approaching the galaxy brain stage, etc.
- Due to these speed records, I now find reading via my slow human eyes to be pretty basic, and so at long last I've embraced audiobooks. Difficult books are easier to take in if someone else reads them to you, dull books are easier to tolerate if sped through, and if you can digitize a book at all you can make the computer machine read it for you (it's not perfect, but it is preferable to me now).
My plans for 2021 are:
- Write 1 TV script (at least) and 2 more novels (also at least)
One promised script, maybe scriptifying an old project, then one or two collaborative novels (we have two outlines that are ready to go and these years are LONG), plus one solo project if I can find some new inspiration. Also, I have a short story commission for January, going to start small and grow as time and stress permit.
- Find a job (???)
This isn't something I can really control, but I check for jobs regularly and apply when it's at all appropriate before sinking back into isolation...where I'm strangely comfortable. When I was a teenager, this was my life every summer: go nowhere, see no one, plan my days around input (TV, music, and books) and output (writing fiction, doing small crafts, and organizing). I was surprised to learn later on that the other teens went to the beach during summer? Weird, but who's flourishing now, eh? Ol' Latchkey Fields, that's who.
- Drink less, weigh less, move more (in moderation)
After a decade of consuming booze I'm starting to feel it (or I'm starting to feel my age in relation to it), and every overindulgence (a cute word for "bender") feels more damaging than it used to. I'm slowly replacing the booze rituals with tea rituals to at least keep me sober for the opening hours of each day—that's a start, and it helps fight the boredom of isolation. As far as other forms of health, I know the secret there: adjust food quality and fitness goals in tandem, but the trick is to find more small ways to notch it up without burning myself out entirely. What I gained in weight between grad school and my first stable job I have since lost, so it definitely works, it's just the tedium of it all that's the big problem.
The bigger picture:
Beyond that, it's obviously hard to plan for the coming year until vaccines reach everyone who wants one, and we find out what fresh hell the re-trashed job market is. As far as I know, I've lost no one to COVID-19, I remain healthy and housed myself, and I have stayed busy in ways that fill me with a sense of accomplishment. I've been lucky so far, and I'm cautiously optimistic about 2021.