While reviewing my expectations for 2021 from January, I noticed that the things I speculated on generally turned out a little better. But there were some big things I didn't see coming.
I look forward to the year that this won't get its own category. This is not the year. 2022 won't be either.
I don't think we'll get the vaccine until the second half of 2021 at the earliest.
Based on how slowly the vaccine rollout is starting, I'll be surprised if we get it before September. If we do, it will be thanks to effective organization of our local government.
Jon and I were both fully vaccinated by mid-May, so I was overly pessimistic about the vaccine rollout for adults. I was also wrong about the local government role in the speediness. Once we got our shots, I was feeling optimistic that kids 5+ would be able to get theirs by late summer or early fall, so I was a little discouraged that it took so much longer than for adults and teens. Adele was vaccinated shortly after she became eligible in November as an 8 year old, and Jon and I got boosted at the same time.
All things considered, I think it's unlikely for either us or The Neighbors to pick up the covid.
None of us got covid.
I am definitely concerned about our parents staying safe. I really hope that they are all able to be vaccinated soon. It will be a relief once they've all had two doses.
Thankfully, all of our parents are fully vaccinated on a timeline appropriate to their age. They're boosted now too.
For the entire pandemic, largely because of the people I follow on Twitter, I feel like I've been pretty consistently at least a week ahead of the latest concern wave or covid trend, and sometimes it's a lot more than that. Twitter has consistently given me the best window into what's coming around the bend on this nightmarish covid road. Like delta—how could you not expect that to be a disaster in the US if you followed what happened elsewhere in the world? I found out about rapid over-the-counter covid tests in June and we've been using them for months when they were barely part of public awareness. I started using a KN95 mask (rewearing them several times) in indoor public spaces months ago. On December 17, I saw the vertical line trends for covid cases in London and Norway driven by omicron and we stopped spending time unmasked indoors with even vaccinated friends unless we all rapid tested negative first. My highest priority was keeping us covid-free until Christmas so that Adele didn't miss another family gathering (she had the flu real bad in 2019 and would have been devastated to miss it again). Just like those other places, our area has also had a vertical line of new cases. Rapid tests aren't perfect, but used right before gathering, they are better than no information at all. We have enough disposable income that we can afford rapid tests, at least when we can find them.
My point isn't at all about personal responsibility. That only gets us so far. I only share the above because it's so frustrating to me that these messages and warnings either never made it to the people in power or they never thought it important enough to share widely.
For months now, we should have been at minimum:
- Making better masks (non-counterfeit KN94s, KN95s, and N95s) more widely available (e.g. subsidizing the cost, distributing them at schools and indoor events), running campaigns about how to wear them appropriately and reuse them safely, and requiring them in certain circumstances (e.g. airplanes).
- Making rapid tests widely available, more clearly communicating their value/strength relative to PCR testing, and requiring them in certain circumstances (as above). Furthermore, we should be making it easier for new kinds of rapid tests to be approved which would help with cost and availability. If you're interested in learning more about how we should be expanding our use of rapid tests, follow Dr. Michael Mina on Twitter.
- Aggressively supporting vaccination in other parts of the world (e.g. by sharing the vaccine "secrets" so they can be easily and quickly manufactured in other countries that have more limited vaccine access), further incentivizing and/or mandating vaccination in certain circumstances, and investing in the long, tedious effort of reaching and convincing those who are not yet vaccinated (especially pregnant women).
- Universal healthcare not tied to your job. Just make it simple.
- Paid sick leave for all workers (including for vaccine side effects).
- Subsidize childcare. Appropriately compensate and protect childcare workers and educators for the valuable work they do.
I don't think Adele will return to school in her building until the next school year. However, there's a possibility that they'll start a hybrid schedule in the spring. I'm not optimistic though.
I do hope they can return in person in August/September.
School resumed on a hybrid schedule with 2 days/week in person in the spring, with full time in person since the fall. No one in our pod had to isolate due to classroom exposure. The kids and staff are all masked and it sounds like everyone is pretty compliant. The school also often ate lunch outside, has good ventilation, and did some random testing (not nearly enough IMO, but apparently it did catch one case).
Thankfully we've got our shared arrangement with The Neighbors. [...] I'm not optimistic about summer camps being a viable option so we'll probably maintain the arrangement with The Neighbors for the next 8 months.
Adele did attend a few weeks of day camp while The Neighbors went to see family for a month. I intentionally scheduled her camps for the beginning of the summer because I saw how the delta variant was spreading in India and southeast Asia and surmised that as summer went on the cases would grow rather than continue to decline even with many people being vaccinated. Later in the summer we shared childcare again with The Neighbors. This school year we take turns carpooling to school with them and sharing after school supervision (i.e. play time).
I hope that by the end of the year, I will have at least a couple of new colleagues because we've been able to grow the team.
However, that involves convincing my boss that it's a good idea (his idea) to grow the team. I've been trying unsuccessfully for almost 3 years, so this might be a fool's errand.
I did manage to convince him, so now we're on to the other hurdles. Sigh.
I also hope my salary will at least be restored to its pre-pandemic cut level.
If I travel for work, I'd be surprised if it happens before September.
I did not travel for work.
Jon's work might have more changes this year [...] I think he'll work from home for all of 2021.
No major changes, except he got a big raise which was a wonderful surprise. For the last few months he's gone into the office just 1 or 2 days a week so he's still working mostly from home.
I kept tracking my hours again this year which totaled 2007. I have about 10 annual holidays so 2007 hours divided across 50 weeks is 40.1 hours/week. I did take some vacation time (didn't tally how much) here and there. I'm working hard but making sure that I set boundaries, and tracking hours really does help me with that.
I still love my job. Some of this year was a roller coaster, but more ups than downs. I'm beginning to see some fruits of a long campaign to get us thinking on a longer timescale.
We've worked one biiiiig project this year:
We want to renovate the basement. For real. We've been talking about it for years. I think we can do it this year.
The basement is almost done! We hoped it would have both started and finished earlier, but I'm told this is par for the course.
We probably also have to find a separate shop space for Jon's tools.
Shop space hasn't come together yet unfortunately.
We took out a personal loan for the basement project but are now (I hope) are very close to refinancing to lower our mortgage interest rate and pay off that loan with a cash out refinance.
I am a little sad to end a 9 year commitment [...], but mostly I will feel relieved to be finished.
I wrote about this at length here. I intentionally haven't picked up any new commitments and I feel great about that.
2021 was a far better year for seeing family!
I hope to see my parents again by the end of summer, hopefully after they are fully vaccinated.
We saw my parents four times this year which is way better than the zero times in 2020!
Adele would love to go fishing with Jon's dad
This didn't happen but I hope it will next year.
Hopefully we'll be able to host Thanksgiving this year for Jon's family!
Yes! We were thrilled about this, especially Adele. Jon has a big family. Part of our motivation for trying to get the basement done this year was so that we'd have much more usable space for this gathering for almost 20 people. The basement wasn't finished in time, but it was finished enough that we ate down there at a big long table. Everyone did a rapid test earlier in the day before coming over and we did the same again at Christmas. Getting tests for everyone was a bit of a scramble, but we managed.
Vaccines made this a better year for friends!
I hope by the end of the year we'll be able to have friends over again (not just The Neighbors).
One Jon and I had 2 shots plus 2 weeks, we started seeing friends indoors again unmasked if they were also vaccinated + 2 weeks.
I also have a tiny glimmer of hope that we might be able to spend a few days with my good friend and her family at their family cabin this summer (we'd sleep separately in a tent and nearly all our time would be spent outdoors).
Adele and I did go to the cabin and it was lovely! I had my own space but she slept with their kids. We rapid tested before arriving and again midweek because by that time delta was spreading and we had visited a museum the previous week where we were the only people wearing masks.
I won't be terribly surprised if we have another stretch of time where a friend lives with us again
We had a friend (the one who almost lived with us in 2020) show up on short notice. We thought she might stay for weeks or months, but it was unfortunately just a few days.
With the basement still under construction, guest space is more limited so we haven't had anyone stay until just yesterday when our friend who lived here last year came back to visit.
I plan to continue the monthly calls with college friends and grad school friends.
The college friends one is sporadically attended but I'm still glad for it. The grad school friends one continues to be a great source of joy and friendly advice.
I hesitate to speculate much, but I want to hope that the new administration will be well on the path of undoing what damage can be undone in a year. It's going to be a tough few years ahead.
Well, the January 6th insurrection didn't exactly set 2021 off on the right foot. That was terrifying and infuriating.
We started this year in a deep hole, and we aren't as far out as I'd hoped. I have no regrets about supporting Biden since life choices in life are rarely about perfect and almost always about better, but I am especially disappointed that we aren't further out of the covid hole. Especially ever since omicron appeared, it's felt like we're at least two steps behind and the political excuses for our lack of preparedness have felt deeply irresponsible. You can't fight a pandemic with hope and vaccines alone, especially when so many people have essentially joined an anti-mask, anti-vax death cult. There's so much more we can still do rather than throw up our hands and say "how could we have predicted this?" But I wrote a lot more about that above.
I didn't do the best job with these and unhelpfully didn't do a good job keeping track of what I did do. But here's my recollection.
January: Find a contractor for renovating our basement. We can't do much else until we do this.
We made progress in January, but the bids came in way higher than we'd hoped. After trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to get more (and more reasonable) bids and hemming and hawing for a few months about the cost, we decided to go for it with the contractor that had the second-highest bid but inspired confidence. Ultimately we asked ourselves, a year from now, are we doing to be happy we did this, or regret it? Although there have been many, many problematic and/or annoying things along the way and it's not over yet, we don't think we'll regret it. It's a huge improvement. So, I guess this was "done" but not in January.
February: Read about how other people organize memorabilia to come up with a sustainable system that I will start implementing.
Um, I honestly can't remember if I made any progress on this in February. I just have so many sentimental things (papers especially) that I have a hard time parting with. We purged a lot while packing up the basement, but we'll need to do another round when unpacking from storage too. I did find that watching organization shows motivated me to get rid of more things, but not in February. But a system? Not really done.
September: buy nothing
I hadn't planned this one in advance, but I found myself over the summer doing a lot of online shopping as entertainment. Some of it was related to the basement renovation but none of it particularly necessary. This was just for me personally (not the household), and the goal intentionally wasn't spend nothing. So I could buy myself consumable treats and I got a massage, but the goal was not to buy any new stuff. It felt like a good mental reset.
I think there was a month that I unsubscribed from 30+ things again (maybe in March?) but I can't remember.
2021: better than 2020, I guess? It really took a nose dive in January, had some high points during the covid lows, and is ending the year on another low note.
I know there's probably just a few of you reading this blog, but I still enjoy writing it on these rare occasions. Thanks for being part of my life.