2020: The Retrospective

This year was nothing like any of us could’ve imagined. It started off as a beginning to something new and great: I got accepted into a graduate program at FAU and left my corporate job to learn how to teach. I spent the spring reading books and hanging out on campus at the Writing Center. My classes were tough but I managed to excel in them. However, all of this was brought to an abrupt halt when the pandemic became a serious concern for the country and beyond. Classes switched to remote learning and we all had to suddenly adjust to a new everyday existence. The semester ended with a lot of fear, anxiety, and isolation, and this all continues into the new year – something else we certainly didn’t expect. The pandemic has caused so much death, damage, and uncertainty, and our incompetent, unempathetic leadership has only managed to exacerbate an already dire situation. Fortunately, my family is healthy and has survived. But many families are not and have not. I know some of them.

It is bizarre to think about how we were very nearly going to sell our house at the beginning of this year. Not only does it feel like a lifetime ago, but we ultimately decided against at just the right time, since that’s exactly when the pandemic was starting to spread.

I didn’t do a jar for this year like I usually do. I really have just a few items I could’ve included: my acceptance letter from FAU, a business card for the Writing Center, and a postcard from a friend who actually didn’t go anywhere (like all of us). I think it makes sense that there is no jar. It’s a year that many of us wish would disappear and would be okay with letting go.

Despite the pandemic, there were some noteworthy accomplishments. I began teaching in the fall. Some of my colleagues taught in-person classes (despite poor attendance), but I was able to teach an ENC 1101 class fully online. It was an unusual, unprecedented time to do so, and because of this, much of it involved trial and error. I tried to be as flexible as I could with students given the circumstances – after all, they were just beginning their first semester of college during a pandemic and adjusting to their new adult lives. I learned how important it is to have a teaching philosophy based not just on the acts of interrogation and critical thinking, but on empathy as well. In this way, this fall was formative. I managed to also form a cohort of English teachers with whom I can commiserate. It makes the whole endeavor feel not only less lonely, but worth it. Sometimes you need those little reminders. Our group is so smart and funny. I look forward to meeting them all in-person for the first time, which is strange, because I feel like we know each other so well already without having even really met.

This past fall I also helped edit FAU’s literary journal, the Swamp Ape Review. It was fun, and I can’t wait to see the fruits of our labor in print. I’m looking forward to working more closely with the poetry team in the future. Here’s to good poems and their urgency.

It is so strange though, because this is the first year that I won’t actually meet my reading goal. Even though I read a ton this year in terms of student papers, magazine submissions, and literary criticism, I didn’t get to read as many book-books that I wanted. I think I finally understand how my husband feels when he says he’s tired of reading because of grading.

David and I celebrated our third anniversary earlier this month. The traditional gift for this year is leather, so I gave David a custom leather bookmark. Shout out to my sister for the idea! David gave me some books about love, so this was perfect. We are always in sync, whether we realize it or not. We paid a visit to Tree Tops Park because we hadn’t been in a while. The weather was cool and cozy, just like it was on our wedding day.

You should also know that we adopted a new kitty named Tommy. Well, really, she decided to adopt us. That’s the way these things work. One day she visited our porch and decided to stay. David fed her and she kept coming back. She is small and very fluffy. She was quiet at first but now she mews constantly and follows David to the mailbox. She was another bright spot in this terrible year.

Finally, here are all the pieces of media and art that defined this year and helped it be less terrible (in particular, shout out to all the cozy videogames that let us inhabit an idyllic fantasy world, even for just a little while):

City of Night by John Rechy
Another Country by James Baldwin
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde
The Rain God by Arturo Islas
The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez
Memory Mambo by Achy Obejas
Sexile by Jaime Cortez
A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez
Lot by Bryan Washington
Boy Oh Boy by Zachary Doss
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Phaedrus by Plato
Beyond the Pleasure Principle by Sigmund Freud
The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault
Staying with the Trouble by Donna Haraway
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Most Dangerous Book by Kevin Birmingham
Undersong by Audre Lorde
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
Here for It by R. Eric Thomas
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
Literary Publishing in the 21st Century by Wayne Miller
The Shadow of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee
Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod by Traci Brimhall
Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz

Birds of Prey
Circus of Books
The Half of It
Uncle Frank
The Boys in the Band
Wonder Woman 1984

TV Series:
The Dragon Prince
The Great British Baking Show
Grace and Frankie
I Am Not Okay With This
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay
One Day at a Time
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
Parks and Recreation
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon
The Umbrella Academy
Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts
The Good Place
The Conners
Animaniacs (2020)

Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Tabletop Simulator
Coffee Talk

Blush Blush
Summer in Mara
Shadow of the Colossus
Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark
Samsara Room
Monster Rancher 4
Yes, Your Grace
Hand of Fate 2

Day of the Tentacle
Grim Fandango
The Sexy Brutale
Star Ocean: The Second Story
Red Strings Club
Monster Prom
Sushi Strikers: The Way of Sushido

Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple
Petals for Armor by Hayley Williams
Gaslighter by The Chicks
Ungodly Hour by Chloe x Halle
Nectar by Joji
In the End by Sheryl Crow
Living With Ghosts by Patty Griffin
Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa
Bloom by Troye Sivan
Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers

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