Back in January of 2020 I was working as a nanny for a couple of kids, starting in maybe October of the previous year, shortly after I quit my software engineering job - another nightmare. God, I hate being a software engineer for other people. Or at least, most companies I've worked for have been soul-crushing, so I just assume they all are at this point. (Side note: I'm pretty sure at this point that I am ADHD and I think that's one of the reasons I've had such a terrible time at 8-to-5 open-floorplan-office developer jobs).
I began working once again as an adjunct instructor at my college that Spring 2020 semester, and I had gotten hired on at our college's Academic Achievement Center as a tutor for the programming classes. I wasn't sure I'd ever get a stable full time job that didn't make me want to explode into a billion wasps of hatred (to put it mildly). But I could at least continue teaching as an adjunct, though the class cap is 2 classes per semester, so only about $6780 per 16 weeks (about $1700 per month, before tax. But it's the best paying part-time job I am qualified for? And I genuinely enjoy it.)
The first two weeks of February we did our yearly trip to India to visit our family (Rai's parents, bro, friends). I'm really glad we got to do this at the start of the year; I think there was only one reported case of COVID in India at that time, and it was in south India. I took four books with me to read and I happily read those books. I usually have a hard time sitting down long enough to put all my focus on a book, but I like to use travel (and lack of internet in the village) as a time to really just read read read. I did get sick (just a normal sick) when we were coming home, and that's the last time I was sick all year.
The semester started but my one class (Discrete Math 1) was a fully online section. I was also meeting with students on campus weekly for tutoring, while also carrying around a bag of sanitizer wipes and generally just trying to stay super clean.
I was doing some work in the adjunct's office on campus when another faculty member swung by to tell me about the full time job posting for the CompSci department. I hadn't applied to it, but she insisted that I do so; I had thought I wouldn't be qualified because I have no master's degree (four time drop out!!) but I guess since I have a decade of professional work experience that requirement can be waived (though even the community college that *I* went to wouldn't hire me as an adjunct without a master's, ugh). Anyway, it was with her reminder and suggestion that I did apply for the position. (Interviews were pushed back a while later due to COVID but I did get the full time position! I started Fall 2020 as a full time permanent faculty member <3)
Around my birthday (and spring break) is also when our campus and most other schools shut down. We had a two-week spring break to give the instructors extra time to move their courses to Canvas, though my course was already online-only so I didn't have to do much - the main thing was that we could no longer use the testing center on campus for our exams. I also ended up helping out another person in our department on their classes, writing labs and helping with grading.
For a time, we cooked more at home. We would take turns going out for groceries, and my routine was always to immediately shower after coming home from The Outside, though I did that less as the year went on (still washing my hands and hand sanitizer all the dang time).
April was when we were all shut down. I was actually surprised that there was a shutdown; my faith in the systems we live within was already super low, and I actually didn't think they would shut down to save lives. I had a little bit of hope that we would take care of people, and later on that was shattered and my faith lowered even more.
Anyway, thank potatoes for Dungeons and Dragons, which I had only started playing the previous November. I began drawing more as well with DND as inspiration. I also spent a lot of time in Animal Crossing, much like everybody else. I got to catch up with some family and online friends via AC, and it also was something that one of the other DND players and I played a lot, leading to us to talking more and building a new friendship with someone I like a lot.
And otherwise, at the beginning of lockdown, I felt okay - for once, I didn't have that anxiety about always needing to get up and do stuff all the time; I was supposed to just chill out and stay inside.
Early on, Rai and I would drive to parks and just stay inside the car and hang out for a bit - get out of the house, but stay in our metallic bubble. Public parks would be so packed throughout the summer, and even now I'm not really sure what is best practices when it comes to being in an open-air environment around other humans, so I generally try to stay away from these things, except the protests.
I attended and volunteered some of the protests in Kansas City. Everyone at these protests were wearing masks and people were handing out free masks as well. I helped at a food booth for one of the days and we all wore gloves and gave people hand sanitizer as well. I'm so relieved that news reports afterwards showed that the protests were not a spreader for the virus - it shows that taking proper precautions works. There is so much to say about these protests and fighting police brutality than I can really say in a little 2020 summary writeup, but also if you're looking for a voice to listen to on these protests and Black Lives Matter, I am the last person you should be listening to. I will say that there's always more work to be done - voting isn't a fix, it's participating in a system that is not equitable. Voting is the bare minimum. Showing up to protests is bare minimum. If you're looking for ways to help, I'd suggest finding some Black voices on Twitter and learning from them by listening, and by doing research via search engine (don't ask someone to explain it to you, there are resources out there).
What even happened specifically in the summer months? I can barely remember. I know that I did start seeing a select few people, spacing out visits. Things seemed a bit safer then, but also during the summer people were demanding the economy "re-open", rejecting masks as "virtue signaling", and demanding haircuts and bullshit. I remember hearing someone (online?) say "Why do we need masks if we're social distancing?" and right now the first thought in my brain is "I do NOT trust Americans to be able to eyeball how far 6 feet is. Americans are notoriously afraid of numbers." (I have more rant in me about education, school, funding, and the systems that want to keep people away from critical thinking skills, but again... this is supposed to be a summary.)
I also began running a DND campaign online for my friends, which has been a lot of fun and a really good creative outlet!
Oh yeah, July is when our air conditioning broke the fuck down. We were already looking at houses occasionally at this point, but we began looking more at this point. It took about a month to get the HVAC replaced (I mean, the landlord has to do that, it's not like we can just choose to do that ourselves as renters). In the meantime, every time the AC shut off (at least once a day) we had to go up to the attic (where the HVAC was) and use the shop-vac to vacuum out the water in the drip plate to get it going again. UGHGHH.
I went to the dentist for the first time in 2020 in August; I had cancelled my appointment earlier in the year for obvious reasons. I felt pretty safe at the dentist office, though, and they added some precautions to protect the staff as well. Weird to write about my time at the dentist office, but hey - it was a slow year?
Also went to the college campus to get some stuff set up for my full time position. Almost nobody was on campus, it was so weird.
I think the only indoor thing we went to all year was the Toy and Miniature Museum near UMKC. Everyone wore masks and distanced, and they specifically had an exhibit about tech history and women in STEM. It was pretty cool!
My cousin and I played Tell Me Why together and after episode 1 I broke down on the way home. Those trans guy feels, man. I usually feel pretty agender, but there are always those days where I feel much more like a guy. I want to be a cute boy. :'(
I also ordered some watercolors and began using that in my art! Creativity++;
I voted for Biden. Ugh, this election. There were so many potential candidates and we ended up with Biden. Jesus.
I also, on a whim, decided to build myself my own video game console since there was a lot of hype building up around the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X. I knew I wouldn't be able to get one this year, hah. My Vamoose is just a Raspberry Pi computer running the Raspi OS (Raspian or whatever it's called now), and since I do all my development in Linux anyway, my games already work on it - I just have to add controller support. It's not a great project considering that I can't really take it anywhere to play with people, but maybe eventually I can make a four player local game and enjoy it with friends, in person.
In November, I finally got my hands on Ring Fit Adventure, FINALLY. I played it regularly... until Thanksgiving week. As of writing this, I need to get back into it, but I will probably only do so after we're done moving. But I would like to be more active. I don't like exercising around people; I have a lot of anxiety around that. We did go to the community center in town last year and I'd watch stuff on my phone while basically just briskly walking on a treadmill, but we clearly haven't been to a gym all year this year, hah.
I didn't see any family on Thanksgiving this year, and instead I streamed video games ALL DAY online. I thought that maybe some other people were going to be bummed about not getting to see family and maybe my annoying self could entertain them for a bit. :P
We also began the process of putting in an offer on a house for the seventh(?) time, and we GOT IT this time! (We were ALWAYS getting out bid on houses. This housing market has been freaking wild.) Inspections, paperwork, loans, insurance... lots of phone calls and paperwork and stuff. Learning what escrow is. Am I an adult now??
I also finally shaved my hair, after months of dysphoria over it. I shaved around my head but left the top long, so I can tie it up and be a bit more masculine, or I can keep it down and still seem feminine. It might not be the best haircut (I did it myself, my husband cleaned it up for me a bit) but *I* really like it and it makes me feel happy. I also made a dysphoria trip to Target and bought a wallet and some mens' shirts, though my good jeans are basically dead now and my remaining jeans are shitty womens' jeans with like NO POCKETS. AGGH.
I finished up the Fall 2020 semester in December - it went okay, but there are always things I want to improve on each semester; I always do a little postmortem with myself to decide what to focus on to improve.
My sister and I played some Destiny 2 together, though at this point I'm already a bit bored of it. It just makes me want to play an MMORPG but like... a classic MMORPG. Not the whole theme park styled ones (whatever it's called?) where it's a very focused experience. I like my MMORPGs to be some part life-sim; I don't go to MMORPGs for story - at least, not story written by someone else. I go for emergent narratives.
We kept Christmas small. We did not see our parents for Christmas either, just out of safety. Since last year I like to make zines as gifts as well, which mean I can mail that gift to people instead of having to ship it or drop it off myself, so I think that worked out well.
We closed on our house on Dec 30th. Finally, we "have" a place. I can't wait to get fully moved in and just feel at home for real.