kestrel

kestrel
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Ezoic
2020-12-30 15:49:27 (UTC)

Annual Review: 2020

Personal entry follows.

Annual Review: 2020
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I have a friend in Ohio, many hours' drive away from where I live, who roasts coffee tremendously well, and I throw money at him when I can, "so I kin git me sum." He sends out emails to his customers on a mailing list a few times a year, like one a month, and this time round he asked a few questions that I've decided I'll use to wrap my end-of-year review into a manageable format.

1. "HOW WOULD YOU RATE 2020 ON THE WHOLE?"
(1 is "The Worst Year Ever" while 10 is "The Best Year Ever")
My Rating: 4

This is not the worst I've had it, but it's firmly in the lower-half of that spectrum. For instance: I wasn't dating someone long, so no major relationship ended. I did not lose or leave my job. I did not have to relocate. I did not have to kill a porcupine by stabbing it to death with a pitchfork (thanks, 2014). I was not hit by a car, or go through surgery and the following (even more painful) physical therapy. I did not lose a parent, lover, or other relative to cancer or some other terrible disease.

At the same time, it was revealed to all - not just me, personally - that the world's wealthy rulers just don't care about most of the rest of humanity or the planet, and that affects everyone. In a sense it's a good thing that this was finally revealed. But still, it stings in a way I don't think the human race was really ready to digest. The United States meanwhile is an empire in decline, with artificial wealth, and its ruling class is sucking up everything it can before the corpse completely dries up and blows away. The ever-increasing speed of the fossil-fuel treadmill is finally causing a breakdown.

There may be some vague sense of "hope" left, but there's no chance of an alternative infrastructure being built before major collapse of the dominant culture, rule of law within the United States, or of the environment. Maybe all will crumble completely at roughly the same time. I feel the worst for children, who didn't ask for any of this, and who will have to deal with all the can-kicking that's been happening since Reagan.

2. YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIFE AT THE END OF 2020 IS _____ COMPARED TO THE BEGINNING.
(Selections range from, "About the Same" to "Unrecognizable.")
My Choice: "Different in certain important ways."

Life wouldn't be so different, were it not for quarantine and self-imposed isolation. Unfortunately these things affect nearly every aspect of typical human life.

My daily life is dominated by how I perform at my (non-profit, human services) day job, and my job has changed significantly due to these requirements. We started nearly-complete "work from home" status for everyone starting in mid-March, under the direction of city government. Our office focuses on training, counseling, coaching, and instruction of individuals looking to go back to work or be promoted in the jobs they already have. Since most of that work was face-to-face, and a lot of it was in large group settings, obviously major changes needed to take place in order for our agency to stay in operation and for everyone to keep their paychecks.

One thing I started doing regularly during quarantine - that I never expected to enjoy - is shopping at the grocery late at night. The local grocery closes at midnight, so I would leave the house at 11pm on Saturday night, shop at the grocery, and make it home before 12. I think that, sometimes, I was the only customer in the store and there were maybe 3 staff in attendance. This is likely something I plan on continuing to do even when quarantine isn't being enforced.

Related to this is the fact that I can cook at home more often. My typical lunch while working from home is rice, lentils, and topped with salsa. This is a simple dish that tastes great, and better yet I can put the grains in the digital pressure cooker and they take care of themselves. My landlords also invested in a refrigerator for my use, and it's parked just outside my room. Though I'd appreciate more freezer space, having more than a cubic foot of fridge space to myself is a relatively new comfort.

Finally, it's significant and important that I want to move out of the United States - or at least to a less-populated part of it. I do not need a luxurious life. I do not want to live a life that others envy and/or are jealous of. Life in the city is where people like me (white, educated, with savings) are supposed to thrive. However, it's not just about me thriving. It's about the community where I live and work thriving as well. It's disheartening to the point that relocation has become a significant preoccupation of mine. Settling on another place to live, on the other hand, is still difficult. To do so alone - without a community or just a partner - seems an impossibly daunting task.

3. DID YOU LOSE ANYTHING IMPORTANT TO YOU THIS YEAR? WHAT WAS IT?

I didn't submit an answer to this question. I felt the answers were too personal to share with my friend. I lost nearly all trust this year: in government institutions, primarily. But also in the worthiness of maintaining current society.

The main priorities of the current dominant culture seem to be as follows:
- Make more humans that think and act like you and your tribe. Punch down on the rest.
- Take all the resources and space that you can hang on to. Subjugate the environment.
- Gain the highest status possible, by exhibiting your wealth with physical possessions.

I cannot appreciate any of these tenets, yet I see them promoted and celebrated and taken for granted every day. It's very possible that 2020 was the year I became an alien. I stay near town because I love my day job and enjoy my work team. I think I haven't considered suicide for a long time because my mother is still alive and I wouldn't want her to suffer the loss of one of her grown children.

But where might one go? I have visions of an off-grid, secluded homestead, akin to what I'd find at the eco-compound I want to visit. Were I to strike out on my own, however, I'm certain I'd be dead within like two years. I don't have the skills necessary for complete self-reliance, so joining or building a community would be required.

Were I to examine my social dimension, I could say that I've lost my identity this year. Being hit by the car a few years ago shook me to my core, and forced me to question myself and "who I am." This year, I feel further removed from society, and typical relationships beyond that of coworkers: the people I've spent the most time with this year. My attempts at starting another relationship were short-lived and not fruitful at all. I've begun considering a future without a romantic partner for the rest of my life. I feel equal parts melancholic, relieved, ashamed, and validated through this dilemma in particular. It's a complex mix of my feelings of self-worth and my impression of society that seems to be steering me towards that end.

4. WHAT STRESSED YOU OUT THIS YEAR? HOW DID IT CHANGE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR?
Starting in the late Spring, I became worried that the current president would be re-elected for a second term. That really didn't change until maybe early December, when he finally conceded.

At the same time, I am nonplussed with Sleepy Creepy Uncle Joe at the helm. I predict that within a year he'll become "medically unfit" or whatever and his VP will take over, and she'll be re-elected for another term. If there's a way for Sleepy Joe to keep the office long enough that Harris will be able to go for two full terms, they'll make him do it.

At the outset of the year, I was excited with the possibility of being in a romantic relationship. I felt I'd taken enough "time off" that it would be worth having another go at it. At this point, I don't have a very high opinion of myself, or the notion of being able to fitfully support a woman through her inevitable struggles. I don't mean to say that I feel like women have "too many" problems or whatever. Rather, that I doubt I'm up to the task, and that's what loving, supportive partners are supposed to do.

In the cases of the women I dated earlier this year, I feel I came too quickly to the mindset of: "I ain't got time for this." Withdrawing is easier to do, when the alternative is to endure the anxiety of maintaining a relationship. Platonic seems to be the way to go. But loneliness is undeniably a drain. A major shift in my personality or priorities will need to take place in order for this to change, and meanwhile this doesn't seem high enough a priority to divert attention to it and increase my odds for satisfaction.

5. WHAT WENT REALLY WELL FOR YOU THIS YEAR?
Learning how to create a serviceable online classroom and format for online meetings for the day job.

I did some very interesting projects and learned a lot about the laser cutter.

That's about it. These successes will be what buoy me into the next calendar year. Considering that I am feeling a growing urge to relocate - to do -something- to provide relief and accomplishment - this doesn't seem like a very stable foundation.

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TO SUM UP 2020, GLOBALLY: It coulda been worse. And it was pretty shitty.

TO PREDICT 2021, GLOBALLY: It'll get worse before it gets better, if at all.


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