This year, man. It’s a mess. The world’s on fire, figuratively and literally. I’m not going to iterate through all of the things that are seriously fucked up right now – I don’t think it would help, and frankly you probably are already aware. On a macro level, it feels like we’re teetering on a knife’s edge in so many different spheres, whether it’s political, economic, social, environmental, or other areas. Depending on your point of view, in some spaces, it even feels like the edge has already slipped. On a personal level, though, I’ve been relatively lucky. It’s 2020 and I’m at Squam, so let’s take stock.
Luck is relative. I’m counting myself lucky in that while I know a few people who have caught COVID-19, it’s only a few, and to my knowledge have been comparatively mild cases (no weeks in the hospital on ventilators, no deaths). I’ve been relatively healthy and functional through the pandemic just in general. We’ve been practicing social distancing, and wear our masks. I’d say the riskiest behavior we’ve done is the flight out to Squam, and that was a calculated risk with precautions considered. It can still be a little nerve wracking, though, and I’ll be glad when we’re on the other side of the travel and know the dice rolled in our favor.
Outside of the pandemic, we have had a few scares: both my brother and my father had heart attacks this year, though again we’ve been lucky in that they survived and recovered. Things could’ve been much worse.
Career-wise, I’m doing fine: got a promotion and a raise this spring, even while so many friends elsewhere were getting furloughed or laid off. I’ve had an incredibly busy summer working on a major product release along with working on the tooling/infrastructure for our docs. It’s meant not taking many days off, but I did still manage to escape to the Olympics for a long weekend, and to Squam for two weeks.
Socially, the pandemic is obviously being a bit of a roadblock, and it’s certainly started to get to me, but it really hasn’t been that bad: I’m an introvert by nature, and the pandemic is a valid reason to not see people. But even for introverts, it does eventually start to wear on you. I’ve managed to do a few socially distant hangouts, but it’s something I definitely need to work on. I do at least have roommates, and online there are coworkers and friends and communities on various services, so there’s that.
Emotionally, I’m still in therapy, still on antidepressants (switched from Trintellix and Wellbutrin to Effexor, which I think has been a little more effective). I sometimes feel like I’m spinning my wheels, but we do still make progress, and those spinning wheels are definitely higher up than they were. I feel like one of the biggest remaining hurdles towards being in a good spot is the loneliness and trouble connecting with others. Those are tough, and sort of a perennial topic for me (for years), so I’m still not entirely sure what to do about that hump. I will say, online dating certainly doesn’t help those feelings, whether before the pandemic or during it. I know it can be effective for others, and has even been effective for me in the past, but I feel like as it’s become increasingly the go-to option for meeting people to date, it’s become more and more of a tire fire.
A highlight of the year continues to be my dog, Cecil. He’s a very good boy. He tends to follow me around, though he’s mostly figured out that when I’m working, I’m busy, and will go take a nap on my bed instead. I wish I’d been able to bring him to Squam (I think he’d love it), but it just wasn’t in the cards. My roommate has been watching him, with some other friends helping keep him happy and occupied.
I took him to the beach earlier in the summer (just a quick day trip), and he seemed to enjoy it, though mostly for the opportunity to sniff stuff, say hi to other people and dogs, and to explore – he had zero interest in the water itself. I’d like to get him more comfortable with longer drives and with swimming, but we’ll see how that goes.
I’ve also been fiddling with Swift again, fiddling with making a very very basic telnet GUI client for mudding. That’s been going less well than the Discord bot, but it’s still progressing.
In the “zero progress but having fun exploring and noodling with” vein, I’ve been trying out different game engines (RPG Maker, Unreal, Unity, Godot, Twine) and seeing how they work and what I might be able to do. I’ve also been talking with a friend from work about a project where I’ll be doing some lorecrafting for a game, and that’s been fun to brainstorm. I was hoping to get more done on that this vacation, but the time has been more spent talking to family. The vacation isn’t over yet (though my time at Squam nearly is), so we’ll see what else I manage to pull off in that space.
I was thinking about building a new theme for the blog, but I think I’m going to wait on that until I have a better picture of what I want to do.
I’ve even been working on some MUD projects recently! Dusting off a half-finished area project and trying to wrap that up, and also working on revisions for some of the staff manuals/guides. I feel rusty, but it’s been nice to fiddle with.
There’s been a contemporary fantasy novel idea that’s been churning around in the back of my head for a few years now, and in the coming year, I’d like to make more progress on getting that down on paper.
I wish I had more to share on any of these projects (and many more that I’ve either forgotten to mention, or omitted because they’re still just ideas and some notes). But I’ll get there. We’ll get there. While there’s nothing indicating that all of the troubles of 2020 will suddenly resolve in 2021, the mantra these days seems to be “just get through this year.” And it’s true. We just need to keep moving forward.