One year

Things I have learned, done, or am grateful for since the start of the pandemic, one year ago;

1. How to properly fry an egg. I figure out my morning egg cooks more evenly when I break up the white membrane around the yolk, and then cover it with a lid with a steam hole. Shortly after I figured this out, I saw a video on TikTok that showed how this was done at restaurants. I felt smart and fancy.

2. Wearing an apron while baking or doing dishes is actually a really good idea.

3. Investing in having my fireplace and chimney repaired so I could use it. It’s really nice to have another spot in my house to sit when it’s cold!

4. I invested in a SodaStream, which makes soda water at home. I love soda water so much that I think I have been hydrating far more since getting it, and it cuts down on bottle recycling since it uses the same bottles over and over.

5. I’ve started using more environmentally conscious stuff around my home, including dishwasher tablets, and dish soap. Thankfully, both products work great.

6. I’ve been able to invest more time in issues that are important to me, because my time is used differently now that my work scheduled has changed and a daily commute no longer exists. I was able to focus and help contribute to the UPAA Best Practices for Inclusive and Diverse Photography in Higher Ed paper, and I’ve had the mental space to think deeper on ways the organization itself can be more inclusive.

7. I’ve been able to curate my TikTok a lot, which seems really silly, but actually, when you curate what you see in your TikTok (which is videos made by anyone shared on an app), you learn a lot. For example, I’m learning about native people and their tribes because there are quite a few activist creators on the site. It has also opened my eyes to the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women which discusses the staggering number at which Indigenous women are murdered. I’m following a lot fo Black activists as well, and am learning little things that open my eyes to aspects of Black culture. For example; one person posted a video talking about “Black” names. She talked about how when Black people were enslaved, they were given names by their enslavers. Giving children today “Black” names is a way of reclaiming their right to have names that do not connect in any way to their traumatic history of enslavement. Now, the woman sharing this? I don’t know if she’s an historian, but her point makes sense.

8. I’ve learned how to make macarons. Mostly.

9. I’ve learned how to make bread. I mean, simple bread but still. Bread!

10. I was able to make my sewing skills helpful in a few ways – I could provide people with masks that they needed, and I fund-raised over $1200 for COVID relief funds and voting rights organizations while I was at it. being able to do that helped me feel less impotent during a shit time.

11. I reconnected with college friends who I used to be close with but don’t typically communicate with a ton. Now we chat more regularly.

12. Some friendships don’t make it through pandemics and I’m perfectly OK with that.

13. I really don’t like my desk at work and the daily rush hour commute really effected my quality of life.

14. The people who step-up and help in a family emergency are not always family members.

15. There are people in my life who will help when I ask for it. And that it’s OK to ask for help, even if I could probably do the task on my own.

16. I’ve learned that I am far more content by myself than I am comfortable with. I’ve also learned that I am happier when I do talk to others.

17. This pandemic has been a great excuse to put dating away for a while, because I’ve come to feel like I really don’t care about it anymore. This fact actually makes me a bit sad because I do feel I have a lot to offer, and sharing my life with someone would be nice. After so many years of trying though, I’m not very interested in continuing to. I will, because I want to be surprised, but COVID has made it OK to not bother for a while.

18. I did murals on my carport and heard from neighbors that they liked them. It makes me feel good knowing that something I created made someone smile.

19. I did a lot of reorganizing – in my office, in my basement. And I repurposed things too.

20. I came up with some good photo project ideas, including Pandemic Hobbies, and photographing my clients in their masks.

21.Needle felting!

22. I had the luxury of being available Harlow was sick.

23. I was able to be helpful when Dad was sick.

24. My friends are awesome. They lean on me and I lean on them. Just today a friend called and said “I need your advice” I listened and I gave some. I was able to be helpful to her and be an ear. I love being able to be that for my friends and I’m lucky to have friends who want to be that for me, too. As for our differing pandemic experiences, I never hear from them “Well, you have it easy. I have kids to deal with!”

25. While it’s really sad how little I have been able to see Little, I’ve been grateful for the times we’ve managed to get together and hoping we can do it more soon. Warmer weather will help!

26. Ice cream! How could I forget that I made ice cream over the summer?! That was fun. I liked that all my making of things made it possible to deliver treats to local friends and my parents. That gave me the warm and fuzzies.

27. I have learned how to use my voice more effectively in group settings and in meetings. Both when to speak up, and when to keep quiet so others can have the space to speak.

28. I was elected to the board of the UPAA!

29. I know very few people who have gotten sick from COVID. The one friend who did still has lingering effects, sadly, but I feel really lucky (and privileged, of course) that I haven’t lost anyone.

30. How could I forget one of the MOST uplifting events of the year – a flipping of the White House, and the first woman to be elected as VP. Such! Good! Stuff!

31. I finally started being more intentional with exercise. My morning routines include stretching, and it makes such a huge difference. I’m always a bit stiff in the morning and the stretching really helps me feel a lot better. The exercising has helped me feel better too. Even when I don’t feel like doing it, and I do it anyway, I feel better afterwards. Probably because I’m done.

32. I hit my ten year anniversary of working at BU. No one noticed or acknowledged it, but it happened.

33. I did a grown-up thing and refinanced my house and now I’m scheduled to pay my house off a year later than planned.

34. I made bookmarks. That was fun to figure out how to do.

35. I have found the internet a great source of company. Interacting with strangers in small ways makes me feel a bit more connected to humanity. It could be a quick back and forth with a creator on TikTok (commenting on their video and making them laugh and comment back), or even messaging a baker on TikTok with a question about their buttercream icing-making technique and getting a friendly answer in response. Even being able to encourage a stranger after they’ve posted something personal and feeling like you are bolstering their confidence feels nice. A while back I had a bunch of extra macarons. I offered them up to local friends on Facebook but no one asked for any. So, I went to the Everything’s Free Medford FB page, where people can post about anything they are getting rid of and offer up to people nearby. I posted a photo of the macs, and they were not only gone within the hour, but the recipients really seemed to enjoy them and told me so. I was happy to give some strangers a little treat that night. Even on the post I made about giving some macs away, I had some chats with people there about techniques I use and recipes I’ve tried. Even something as little as “Oh sure, here’s the recipe I used and her website is really informative!” makes me happy.

36. I have managed to stay healthy.

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