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  • Writer's pictureChelsea Haith

In Review: 2020

I don't do New Year's Resolutions (see my blog next week when you're already fed up with the lag during your online yoga classes). But I do like making lists of things that have happened, mostly to prove to myself and the Lovely Man that I am attempting to sustain a healthy work-life balance. So here's a review of this terrible year and some of my shenanigans over the last twelve months.

Things that went unexpectedly well:

1. In January, we took a canoe trip down the Orange River in Namibia. We didn't capsize the boat, and came out of the rapids and reeds at the end ahead of the other boats. It wasn't a competition. But we still won. And then he said, 'Well, I guess after all that we can move in together'. It was beautiful.

2. On March 6th, Lovely Man and I moved in together. Then the pandemic became Very Serious. Some nine months later we still live together, the flat is still clean, and we laugh a lot (often at my expense). Below is a picture of us at the beginning of the lockdown, and at the end of this post you can find a festive photo of us on the same hideous, orange sofa taken a week ago. Always support your statements with evidence, I tell my students.

These were all the books we moved in with, consolidating our collections. He has read 103 of these just this year, read about that here. This year I have brought ±60 more into our home, and he has brought 12. One of us has a problem, but I'll leave it to you to decide which.

3. I recorded a limited-run podcast with some very cool people. Narrative Futures was a joy and a burden and learning curve and an absolute pleasure and I would absolutely do it again. For money next time though, ideally.

4. I got into audiobooks. Mostly because I like walking, but still. I recommend Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell, Everything Under by Daisy Johnson, and The Power by Naomi Alderman.

5. We went to Scotland! With our friends! And to York! With different friends! We have so many lovely friends! And we are so lucky and grateful for their presences in our lives this year. Big love.

6. I volunteered with Oxford Together from April to October, delivering food and prescriptions to the elderly and vulnerable 3-4 times a week. This was partly because it seemed like a good thing to do, and also to get out of the house. You can read about that experience here and see some great art commissioned to respond to my story here. I also donated a couple pints of my blood. This is just a good thing to do. I recommend it, the NHS blood service is the best (especially nurse Daniel at the JR).

7. I wrote some of my thesis. I will actually finish it in 2021. I am on track. Shockingly.

8. I was on Turkish television and in the Japanese media. For the same thing. No nudity was involved.

9. I learnt to make a number of new dishes, primarily paella and falafels. I am a falafel machine. Najar's is under threat.

10. We hosted an impromptu cider festival in our communal garden. "Sweet hot bins" remains the best tasting note I've ever heard. Sarah wins Cider Taster of 2020.

Things that went expectedly poorly:

1. I am a person involved in academia (for my sins), so I never think I've written enough. I hated myself a fair bit this year. I changed my depression meds twice. It was not awesome.

2. I was supposed to go to Chicago, Bucharest, and Berlin for work and conferences this year. I stayed home and have since sworn off conferences until either a) it's safe for them to resume in person or b) academia changes for the better.

3. I was also supposed to go back to Joburg for what would have been the best wedding of all time, and while the people in question still got married and it was still beautiful and I still cried, the 'in person' bit of the wedding didn't happen.

4. I didn't see my friends enough. Not even close.

5. Our holiday to what the Lovely Man calls 'The Most Beautiful Country in the World' was cancelled. (Iceland. Iceland is the most beautiful country in the world. Apparently. I wouldn't know, I haven't been. Sigh.)

6. I started this blog, and haven't been as consistent as I thought I'd be. Nothing is likely to change on that count. Keeping the punters begging for more.

So, the good stuff outweighs the bad. And now it's the end of the year. And next year will be whatever it will be. Some stuff will get better, some will be worse, and who the hell knows what's going to happen. No one. It's all a mystery, all the time. Merry belated Christmas.

And a Happy New Year!

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