Dilovely’s New Year Questionnaire for 2021

Here we are! The fresh (2-week-old) new year of 2022! Off to a roaring start with Omicron.

A friend of mine on Facebook was reflecting this New Year’s that at the end of 2020, we were so happy to see the year finish, full of hope for an end to the pandemic. Then, 2021 crushed our hopes. She is hoping to re-find her hopes in 2022.

I feel the same – that by now, many people are more afraid to imagine a timeline for post-pandemic normalcy. And to be honest, I’m a bit stressed myself right now. Two weeks ago, as we headed into online learning, even though I’d hoped NEVER to do it again, I felt ready. I knew it was needed, so that our hospitals wouldn’t completely implode. I was putting on my emotional equipment to hunker down in the digital foxhole of Google Classroom. After all, lockdowns are perhaps the closest we pacifists will come to fighting for our country. I was all, “After two years of pivots, I can lock down like a boss. And when we go back, I will unlock in a similarly bosslike manner.”

This week, I’m not feeling bosslike. It’s not that I’m afraid of getting Omicron – I’m sure all of us will at some point. But I foresee trying to teach with classes half-full, wondering when (not if) our family will end up having to self-isolate, and how to plan for that time. (Which you really can’t, until it happens.) Ugh, uncertainty is a jerk-face.

In the midst of all this, I’m really getting a kick out of the whimsical governing style in this province. Ford and Lecce have perfected the techniques of a punky 8-year-old child: “Case counts are too high… so let’s just STOP COUNTING! Perfect! And wait – this is the best idea – families are worried about exposures in schools, right? So… let’s just not report them anymore! Boom, problem solved.” {insert high five}

But hey. We are a steely people. We can endure more than we thought. And I DO believe that we are actually on our way to the end – that this will be the year that we stop having to fret about Covid-19. Somehow, magically, it will happen. We have braced ourselves, regrouped, taken a big breath, buckled down to protect each other. Over and over. We can do one more. Right??

Disclaimer: Feelings of resilience and hopelessness are subject to change without notice, at the discretion of the provincial government and whatever else.

1. What did you do in 2021 that you’d never done before?

Me, Sean: Watched Stratford shows under outdoor pavilions – which was beautiful! Stayed at our favourite B&B yet, Birmingham Manor. (The hosts, Elena and Dom, are helping breed monarch butterflies – SO COOL.)

Stratford-pavilion
Set for The Rez Sisters.
decorative-masks
Decor at our B&B.
monarch-chrysalises-butterflies
So beautiful!

E: Went to middle school. Found it to be meh. (That second part had been done before at school – just not in Grade 7.)

A: This, at Big Bay: (hot rocks)

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions?

Me: Nope. Maintained some core fitness but not all; got rid of a few things that needed to go, but still working on that too.

Sean: Nope! I’m not yet fully manifesting the man I intend… but 2022 looks like a good time for that.

E: No, my novel The Death Gauntlet is no longer an aspect of life.

A: I am still an astonishingly good dawdler. But I can be all ready for bed in under 6 minutes when I’m being timed.

3. What is your resolution this year?

Me: Rebuild my somewhat-neglected core fitness and get rid of stuff I don’t need. FOR REAL THIS TIME. Do my online ukulele courses, if only to enjoy the sound of James Hill’s voice talking lovingly about his favourite chords.

Sean: Have still less screen time and read still more books; walk more.

E: Play more piano.

A: Have less screen time, focus, and don’t dawdle. I always feel better when I’m on-task, but I need help to get there.

4. Did anyone important to you die?

Me: Andy, one of my Quaker Meeting dads – a wonderful person I’ve known since before I can remember, whom I always trusted as I would my own dad.

Sean: My cousin Lieutenant Colonel Jeff “Bummer” Lyttle. The vacations we spent together are forever seared into my memory.

We also feel the loss of Jeanne Lamon, Desmond Tutu, R. Murray Schafer, Betty White, Stephen Sondheim, Helen McCrory, Christopher Plummer, Prince Phillip, Olympia Dukakis, Norm MacDonald, Beverly Cleary, Joan Didion, Lee Maracle, and Candy Palmater.

E, A: Sweet little Cashew the rat died long before her time. May she rest in Peace.

5. What would you like to have in 2022 that you lacked in 2021?

Me: A normal end to the school year. Please oh please.

Sean: More patience.

E: More time. Each day is 24 hours. Seems a little low, doncha think?

A: More focus, especially at bedtime.

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Me: Surviving weeks and weeks and WEEKS of online school combined with parenting my online-schooling kids. It was… a slog.

Sean: Reading more books and less Reddit… slowly but surely.

E: Graduating Grade 6, for which I received a lava lamp, and proceeding to work towards the coolest lighting collection any 12-year-old ever had in his bedroom.

lava-lamp
Grad lava lamp.
glass-jellyfish-lamp
Jellyfish lamp, bequeathed by Uncle Alex.
planet-lamp
Planet lamp, from Auntie Beth and Uncle Matt for Christmas.

A: Having enough time to do extra math in class in Grade 4.

All: We painted these! (Thanks, Emi!)

Before glazing/firing.
After!

7. What was your biggest failure?

Me: This question annoys me more every year. It doesn’t take growth mindset into account. Now more than ever, we need to keep in mind that struggles are not failures. Shifts in priorities aren’t failures. Doing one’s less-than-ideal best under shitty circumstances does not constitute failure. I’m going to change it, right now (as it’s my blog).

7. What was your biggest failure?  What has been a struggle this year?

Me: Online teaching was a struggle. It’s hard to feel good at that job. Also… there are some struggles having to do with this blog. I always say I want to blog more, but I haven’t in 2021. Is it discipline? Work-life balance? A crisis of legitimacy?

Sean: Staying on track with my health goals (which feed into my life goals).

E: That after all these years, I STILL have to go to school.

A: Resisting the siren call of YouTube. There are whole channels devoted to slime.

8. Did you suffer illness or injury?

All: Basically none. We were very grateful for our Covid shots, and were all fortunate not to experience much in terms of side effects.

9. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Me: People who took their pandemic frustrations out on hospital workers. Also, the person who kept stealing “Hate has no home here” signs in my neighbourhood.

hate-has-no-home-hereOne was taken from our yard, which we replaced, and other neighbours have had at least one taken. We have one neighbour family who had at least four taken over the course of the summer/fall. (And replaced them all.) Who does that?? Well, according to her doorbell camera, it’s a dude walking two dogs at around 11:30 at night. Why does someone do this? NO IDEA.

Sean: Militant anti-vaxxers.

E: Whoever came up with the system where the months are different lengths. Just make them all four weeks!

A: Countless inanimate objects which are to blame for many of my troubles.

10. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Me: Front line workers, especially nurses and doctors who are STILL GOING after all this time. Thank heaven for them.

Sean: All the people who did their best to minimize Covid impacts.

E: I celebrate the behaviour of everyone who contributed to the Minecraft update.

A: I celebrate the behaviour of all the writers who write the Warriors series, under the pen name Erin Hunter.

11. What did you get really excited about?

Me: Summer was VERY EXCITING after ten weeks of online teaching in a row! Please also see #21 (best books) and #26 (life lessons).

Sean: Vaccines!

E: Getting together with my friend Elliot again over the summer.

A: Getting my first vaccine, starting to read Wings of Fire.

12. What events from 2021 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:

Me: Heat domes, wildfires, floods. Climate change be like, “HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW, HUMANS?”

Sean: The January 6th insurrection; my supervisor almost cutting his thumb off at work.

E, A: New baby rats! (Again.) Sandy and Shya. They don’t keep us from grieving our rats who have died, but they are lovely in their own right.

Shya on left, Sandy on right, Millie (step-sister/mom) above.

13. What political issue stirred you the most?

Me: The general Canadian public finally beginning to wake up to the realities of Indian Residential (and Day) Schools.

Sean: Covid, even though it shouldn’t have been political.

E: The inauguration of the 29th emperor of the Credit Union and his reaction to southern economic dropouts.

A: How the neighbour of the fifth daughter of the mad scientist reprimanded curly-haired folk singers.

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Me: There were definitely some more plays I would have liked to see in Stratford this year… like all of them.

Sean: Playing guitar.

E: Piano, Horizon Chase training.

A: Playing with my friends.

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Me: Tracking down online student work. I mean, I did as much as was necessary, but I wish I hadn’t had to. Probably should have insisted they all hand things in the same way (as opposed to “Sure, I’ll take your work as a photo or an assignment or an email or a shared document or a screen shot!”)… but then half of them wouldn’t have managed it.

Sean: Paying attention to the news.

E: School.

A: Dawdling, screen time.

16. What do you regret?

Me: The times I used the wrong pronouns with a non-binary student. I’m really trying, but habits will win sometimes. (Or, as E has been teaching me, “Habits go brrrr.”)

Sean: Not doing enough to improve my health.

E: Accidental deletions from Minecraft.

A: Not embracing more my friend L’s secret concept (that I helped make up). I can’t reveal the details.

17. What decision are you glad you made?

Me, Sean: Getting  vaccinated! Also being at Camp NeeKauNis for a week with some lovely friends.

E: Reading Wildwood, because it’s good.

A: I’m glad I decided with my friend Paige that we can walk home from school together sometimes.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

All: We saw as much family as we could, within recommended guidelines. We took walks, did puzzles, watched movies, and listened to lots of great music.

19. What song will always remind you of 2021?

Me: “Ode’min Giizis” by Tara Williamson and” One Drum” by Leela Gilday – songs I did with the choir for the CBC Music Class Challenge. If you have a minute to watch Tara’s video, you can learn a little bit of Anishinaabemowin/Ojibwe language, and some teachings too! It’s really lovely – and turned out to be the most-recorded song on CBC’s list!

Sean: “Here’s a Health to the Company” by the Longest Johns.

E: “Escalade” by Waterflame.

A: “We Got This”, from Zombies 2.

20. What was your favorite TV program?

Me: Sex Education, New Amsterdam, Bridgerton.

Sean: Sex Education, Downton Abbey. (First time!)

E, A: Futurama, Baking Impossible.

21. What was the best book you read?

Me: In fiction, The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. In non-fiction, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (started in 2020, but took me a long time, mostly because I kept having to re-read sections that were too beautiful to absorb in one reading). In short story collections, As Far As by Nancy S. M. Waldman (who happens to be one of my amazingly talented aunts!). Nanc, I couldn’t even pick a favourite! All so different and so good.

Sean: The Orenda by Joseph Boyden, A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell, The Overstory by Richard Powers.

E: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

A: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

22. What was your favourite film you saw this year?

Me: booksmart, Shang Chi, Respect.

Sean: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Dune.

E: Luca.

A: Encanto.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Me: 43, went on a beautiful hike (which resulted in my first tick! Thankfully not the Lyme disease kind), had festive dinner under the gazebo.

Sean: 44, went sliding on the backyard rink at Grammie and Papa’s, ate Thai food.

E: 12, had a swimming party at my cousins’, got a real gaming chair from my parents.

A: 9, had a patio party with some of my friends, got a bajillion trending fidget toys (the squishy, the stretchy, the mechanical…).

24. Whom did you miss?

All: Clansfolk and many Family Campers we’re still waiting to see after so long…

25. Who was the best new person you met?

Me: A kindred-spirit co-worker I shared Learning Commons (“office”) space with this term.

Sean: Darshan at work.

E: Nobody. (Officially. But I have admitted to my mom that most of my Grade 7 teachers are nice.)

A: Adelaide, the cutest neighbour baby possible. (She was born in 2020 but we got to hang out in 2021, mostly on beach days.)

26. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021:

Me: At least one valuable life lesson in EVERY EPISODE of We Can Do Hard Things podcast. Remember when I first started talking about Glennon Doyle, back when she she was an awesome blogger who hadn’t yet written three bestsellers and founded a charity that changes lives all over the world? Well, she just gets better and better. Especially when accompanied by her sister Amanda, her wife Abby, and the incredible guests they have on the podcast. Honestly, it’s just wisdom-wisdom-wisdom insight-insight-insight laughter-tears-laughter every episode. SO SO GOOD. So here’s a life lesson: go check out this podcast if you haven’t already.

Sean: Always know where your hands are when using the band saw.

E: Don’t get too deep into the theoretical sub-existence of political feuds.

A: Always bring your duo-tangs home. And don’t argue with snowman presidents when they are trying to throw a national snow holiday.

27. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

“And to be loved, we need to be known
We’ll finally find our way back home
And through the joy and pain that our lives bring
We can do hard things.”     – Tish Melton

5 thoughts on “Dilovely’s New Year Questionnaire for 2021

  1. Beverly Shepard says:

    Well, what fun! I love it (as always)! The one I’m going to have to tell some friends about is E’s last answer, but I’d like to respond to a number of the answers. Just can’t do it right now…

    Thanks for a good read!

  2. Auntie CL says:

    Like my sis says: so much to respond to!
    First, you say: “Somehow, magically, it will happen.” that is what Donald trump declared. (Just sayin’)
    I just stumbled across the poem I wrote at the end Of 2020, which names it as a hard year. Wow. I hadn’t seen nothin’ yet!
    In the answers to #1: The picture of A is the first time I have seen a resemblance to her second-cousin Hayden!
    #6: I feel very sad indeed for the little figures suspended between a rock and a hard place, or jagged peaks and terrible teeth, or whatever it is…
    There are certainly interesting things like books and podcasts to follow up on here; thanks!

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Well, I certainly didn’t mean to quote Trump, but at this point, I think we’ve earned a little magical improvement in the state of things.
      And I’ll take your word for it on the resemblance, but that’s cool! About the jagged peaks – not to worry, the character is swimming through a spiky tunnel, not falling. Good to hear from you! I’m curious about your poem…

      • Auntie CL says:

        The poem was included in our Christmas card last year; at least the paper one. Re-reading it made me think it didn’t really belong in a Christmas greeting, but it was truly how I felt! (Ha – somehow I mistyped Re-reading and it came out Rue-reading, which is about right!)
        I can send it to you (by email) if you want.
        I am so glad it’s swimming, not falling! Brave little swimmer, not sad little faller.
        Magic would be good, if somebody has some for can evoke or invoke it.
        The resemblance is no doubt created by the angle.

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