The year 2020 will likely go into the history books as a watershed moment. It was the best of times and the worst of times, all rolled into an escalating cluster* of human behavior. We have dealt with (sometimes well, sometimes poorly) a global pandemic, political gamesmanship, natural disasters, ignorance, picking at old ethnic and racial discrimination wounds, asking what constitutes a sexual identity, personal loss, and public tragedy.
Perhaps all years hold this mixed bag of mess to some degree, but it was our home-bound-ness and reliance on all things social media that magnified EVERY SINGLE THING. I personally began rationing my social media intake around June of this year, just so that I wouldn’t give myself an ulcer – or worse – a heart attack. Given the state of things, I will likely continue that limit well into 2021.
Given that it is the end of this year, I want to take a moment to review my accomplishments and speak about goals.
What I read:
This year, I set a goal to finish reading 10 books. As of this morning 12/30, I have now finished 11 books. While that may seem modest to some, I consider it an achievement. Being on lockdown for most of the spring/summer helped me achieve that number. As I have mentioned before, I tend to start several books at once, then gravitate to one as time goes by. Not the most efficient way to read, but I’ve always done that. Among the titles I finished are The Club Dumas, by Arturo Pérez-Reverte and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Both novels are books about books, and I seem to enjoy that. Also included were a couple of revolutionary war biographies, Benjamin Rush and David Hosack. The longest of my read books were Tune In, by Mark Lewisohn (a biography of The Beatles) and Sarum, by Edward Rutherford.
What I’ve cooked:
Like many in the early days of the pandemic, I started baking more. I like to bake anyway, so it wasn’t much of a stretch. I started my own sourdough starter and kept it going for a couple of months. Alas, that had to come to a close because carbs are not my friends.
I also have done quite a bit of smoking/outdoor grilling. in 2020, I’ve smoked 3 briskets, 3 pulled pork roasts, 2 turkeys, reverse seared ribeyes, 2 spatch-cocked chickens, a beef tenderloin, 4 racks of ribs, 2 batches of burnt ends, and smoked cheese.
What I wrote:
2020 was not the most prolific year in terms of writing. I simply didn’t feel like writing for large stretches of time. I feel like the things I did draft were of a better quality than most from years past, so there’s that. I didn’t submit any of it for publication, as my distaste of publication rejection continues. I strive to get feedback on this site to understand how readers perceive what I write, but WordPress readers are largely lurkers. Among the poems I’ve written this year, I’m most fond of April 2020 and A Violette, and most proud of Now is the Time for Harvests and Torte, with my Father. If you have a moment, please read and leave a comment or find something else you like and let me know about it.
Goals for 2021
My goals for 2021 are wide open at this point. I would like to write more and better poetry, be published in a recognized literary journal, and attend a writing retreat/workshop. I would love to be able to travel again with my wife with no concerns about pandemics. I will continue to cook because I love to eat. I will continue to read because books are a great way to escape into my mind.
To those of you who stop by regularly to read, I appreciate you and hope that you will continue to find something here that makes you think or that you enjoy. I wish you all the best in 2021.
Happy New Year!
This was a thoughtful read for me, helping me to see perspective: yours and place mine in context. You have taken our shared common experiences of the contradictions of 2020 and enunciated them. You definitely did some cooking, and nurture the body as well as the soul and heart and mind. In April 2020, you captured the paradox of what was lost and gained, with imagery that was clean and succinct. I commented on A Violette at the time, and even as I read it again just now, I was entranced. The metaphor and imagery, along with that wee bit of irony given our current reality was beautiful in Now is the time for harvests. Finally, as I shared at the time on it as well, Torte, with my father–my favorite of these. Indeed, I did feel as if I was at that table, and even more, at the table with my father in a parallel universe. I am hopeful that the world might come to feel greater empathy and be willing to take different action. Writing and sharing our writing is one of the best ways of doing so, and if there is one thing I love about blogging and the Internet, it is that we can connect with people whose locations and lives are very different and gain empathy and wisdom and understanding as we try to become more effective human beings. Taps and Ratamacues has a valued role in that for me, and I will continue to read and enjoy.
Thanks for your personal insight into the poems here. I am also hopeful for more empathy in the world. We, as writers, must keep that alive in our work. Happy New Year and stay safe and healthy.
‘We, as writers, must keep that alive in our work.’ It has always been so for the change seekers. Happy New Year to you John, and you stay safe and healthy as well. Your vision is needed and welcomed by many of us.