OK wow. So I haven’t posted here in well over a year. 😳 I don’t know why I just… gave up. Well, I have an idea why. Last year was something. Between the pandemic, and “civil unrest” (so cute they call it that when it’s rightful rage in my opinion), elections. It was a remarkable one. Not necessarily great, but definitely remarkable.

I spent most of 2020 hanging out at home. I’m pretty OK with doing that, honestly. I like our place. I only wish Aidan was here with me full-time. That would make it perfect.

A rundown of the biggest 2020 things:

  • WHEN THE STARS LEAD TO YOU earned out. That means any sales now all come to me! I get royalty checks! That’s fun!
  • Also, WHEN THE STARS LEAD TO YOU is getting a paperback with a new cover. It’s gorgeous and I’m so excited for it to be in the world. It comes out on April 27, 2021.

  • AND the German version, titled YOUR HEART, SO CLOSE TO MINE, comes out May 10, 2021.

  • I got to attend a movie premiere: ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES. It’s on Netflix. You’ll need tissues and something soft to cuddle when you watch it. It’s a tearjerker. I’m super glad I got to celebrate Jennifer‘s special night with her, and I’m glad we were able to squeeze it in before everything shut down.

  • I got to attend one writer’s retreat last year, and it was my last trip Before. I flew directly from Los Angeles to New Orleans, where I met with some writer friends. We had lunch and then drove to Gulf Shores, where the retreat took place in a beautiful, big airy house. It’s always good to be surrounded by other authors. And I loved the freedom of having to do nothing but write.

  • My hair grew back! It’s long again and I’m so happy. It’s still natural, also. I don’t think I’ll do the Brazillian Blowout thing again, so the truth length (to my armpits!) will remain hidden in my shrunken curls.

  • I started working for Humana again. I got hired full-time at TA Digital, and they have loaned me out to Humana. I’m back on my old team, with my old boss. I’m working from home for now. I hope I can keep working from home once COVID is all sorted. When I think of the panic attacks I had in 2019 the last time I worked onsite—the overstimulation and exhaustion, not to mention lost time with commuting and such—I get super anxious about it. But it won’t be for a while. Because COVID.

  • Oh yes. The elephant in the room. We’re in a deadly pandemic. Hence all the staying home. As of this posting, COVID-19 has killed half a million Americans. It’s scary and devastating, and the collective grief and fear weigh heavily on me. At first, the country shut down completely. But now, places are opening to 100%, which is super scary. There are 3 vaccinations approved for emergency use. They’re giving them out in phases, and I’m not yet qualified. It’s proving really challenging to get appointments for those who are qualified. This whole disaster has been mismanaged from the start. I have a lot of feelings about it, but not sure if I want to go into it now. (We all know this stuff, but I’m recording it here for historical purposes, so when I look back, I can be like: Oh yeah, remember that time?)

It’s a weird, weird time.

I’m glad to be working again. Wait, let me rephrase that. Working is always hard. I’m really, really glad to be earning a steady income (and have benefits!) again! I managed to scrape by last year with various freelance gigs and with help from Adam. I got to do a part-time marketing gig at Sourcebooks, in their romance department, and that was a lot of fun. Mostly I did research and made lots of graphics. I did a mentorship and learned I have a knack for developmental editing, which was a nice surprise. My passion definitely lies within that sort of work. But I get paid so much better being a copy editor in the corporate world, and I enjoy spoiling people I love, helping out my mommy, donating to charities, supporting my favorite creators, and buying fun things for me. Y’all know me. I like money.

And my job isn’t bad. I just miss my freedom to sleep in, to do whatever I wanted all day, etc., etc., but there are so many different kinds of freedom. Right now, I need financial freedom.

I’m doing OK. Mostly. I’m definitely tired, but that could be age. And diet. And lack of exercise. I don’t sleep well without some sort of help. I usually take Benadryl. Tylenol PM if I have aches. My back aches all that time—I haven’t had a massage or an adjustment in a year and my posture sucks. I also haven’t been to therapy in a year. And I grind my teeth so much that sometimes it’s hard to chew crunchy things.

I haven’t seen my mommy since Christmas 2019. I haven’t seen Aidan since January. I miss my friends and my family. I miss hugging people! I miss giggling with Jennifer all night over silly stuff. I miss traipsing around NYC with Wanda and T. I miss gently squeezing my mommy. I miss writing retreats and visiting Los Angeles and going to Disney World and shopping without this Thing in the back of my mind. I miss impulsively deciding to eat at a restaurant or going window shopping. I miss browsing in Target like I used to. Now it’s just in and out. Everyone wearing masks and scuttling around. No chatting with friendly strangers. NO DISNEY WORLD TRIPS. Yes, the parks are open, but I don’t want to have to wear masks, not greet characters, and not get the chance to chat with random strangers while standing in lines. I’ll wait until it’s all clear. The 50th anniversary celebration starts in October and lasts for 18 months. If it’s not safe to go by then, I don’t know WTF. 😩

But I’m also not in a hurry to go back to completely how things were. All the rushing and pushing and stress. It’s only slightly less now, though, so I don’t know. I do know that I don’t miss commuting. I don’t miss the breakneck pace at which everyone was hustling ALL THE TIME. I don’t miss this push to produce produce produce for less and less compensation. Except, in some cases, that’s still happening. Even more so than it used to be. The people who are still working are doing so much more because the economy is worth more to the people in power than lives. And once everything’s safe, I worry that this unsustainable level of pushing is just going to get worse, and it’s only going to serve to make rich people keep getting richer.

I keep having dreams where I book trips to cool places on upgraded flights, and then I never go to the airport. Or I’m at home frantically packing but the flight is going to take off in 20 minutes. Or I’m on a weird plane but that’s about all I get. I don’t know what these dreams mean. But I have too many that have to do with airplanes and flights, or missed flights. Hmm. Maybe the dreams have to do with my feelings about writing and publishing and self-sabotage. 🤔 I have definitely been having an identity crisis in regards to publishing so that tracks.

I’m still tired, and I feel guilty about resting all the time. But I make myself do it. I know all too well how the body will force one to rest if we don’t do it on our own.

My hope, although it’s quite a fleeting hope, to be honest, is that the way COVID-19 made companies and things reevaluate the way they do things will continue. More virtual offerings. Accessibility options like remote work and classes. I’d love to see a more hybrid lifestyle for those who desire it. Those of us who thrive working from home? Let us work from home while those who thrive onsite can do that. People who have disabilities? It’s obviously possible to accommodate them in certain cases. Keep accommodating them.

Those are just a few things I’d love to see happen.

I really don’t have much hope, though. I think things are going to rush right back to the way they were. They’ve been trying it for months now already! I remember around the holidays, when places were going back into “lockdown”, getting emails from shops with “in-store only” coupons. Like, really? Merciless and regimented and stressful. It’s in their best interest to exhaust the working people so the workers don’t have the energy to see how messed up things really are, and then to fight it.

I’m lucky that my job isn’t rushing us back into the office. I plan to work from home as long as I possibly can. But too many places are, and I feel like, the point of being onsite—collaboration, agile, face-to-face interaction—is lost when you have to wear masks and be behind partitions and social distance anyway.

This pandemic is a tragedy that keeps going and going, and I don’t think we (general we) have learned anything good from it. And that’s just another thing to grieve in regards to this whole thing.

Hmm. Maybe I’m not doing so OK. I’m trying, though. And I’m glad I’m still here.

 

 

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