March 7, 2020 was a Saturday. I woke up at 8am, which is as late as it gets, since the night before we watched Breathless and The Graduate back-to-back (the 1960s were a good decade for movies). Most of they was spent in visiting friends in downtown DC. They are a family of four in a tiny one-bedroom; we compared notes on where best to stash the extra flour, rice, pasta, and other staples1 we stocked up on expecting the inevitable. The inevitable came that night as we were heading out, when Mayor Bowser announced in a late news conference that yes indeed Washington DC had its first confirmed case of Covid-19: a man with no recent travel and no confirmed exposures, which is to say, there was already community spread. We got back to our apartment and closed the door; the next time that apartment would be empty of people again, as it usually had been on weekends and later summer afternoons before the pandemic, was more than five months later.
That was 300 days ago to the day, and as my favorite columnist and fellow millennial Janan Ganesh astutely noted, there were no grand lessons that these 300 days gave me, unless you count confirmation that humans can muddle their way through anything as a lesson. Harambe may have been killed in 2016, but 2020 was his year: a tragic, sensless event where everyone is responsible but no one is to blame — though I may be an exception in thinking this, since 2020 was the year of confirmation bias, the year of suppressing the opposing view points, the year of shaming. To complicate matters some more, it was also the year when crackpots and idiots joined into the Grand Coalition of Stoopid, expressing some points of view that maybe ought to be suppressed, and doing some things for which maybe they should be ashamed. Harambe indeed.
I finished the last year with a post about the great things that happened to me personally as the world stagnated in the 2010s. In the spirit of this year, I’ll finish with a list of failures instead, and I’ll do my best not to make it into a thinly veiled list of successes:
- I read far fewer books and watched far fewer movies than any year before.
- I wrote far fewer (medical) articles than planned.
- I wasted time on Twitter like never before (and, let’s hope, never again).
- I dropped more projects than ever before, including piano lessons, learning a new language, speed-completing the Rubik’s cube, and running in cold weather, among many others.
- I walked less than any other year since I started walking.2
- I commuted more by car than ever since moving to DC.
- I ordered more takeout than ever.
- And the one that hurts the most: I did not finish a single video game, or even play anything for more than 15 minutes, unless you count Good Sudoku which is truly a masterpiece of design and the highlight of the year. Yes, the highlight.