Our collective 2020

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This special year-end recap edition was written by you and edited by me. Thanks to everyone who shared the details of their 2020. You can read all 470 answers here.

See you in a new calendar year! Next week's edition will be a very brief one, and then we'll be back to our regular programming.

We created new rituals.
Our days were filled with walks and lit with SAD lamps. We sat in bed and scrolled instagram for hours. We brewed our own coffee and whisked matcha lattes. We did the NYT crossword and the spelling bee game. We did ten minutes of Duolingo Spanish and felt a massive sense of achievement. We finally started stretching, and turns out it really does feel good. We also started wearing sunscreen (TikTok convinced us), even though we basically never leave the house. We took our temperature and used a pulse oximeter every morning. We checked out other people's masks and judged them—or made a note to get the one they have. We watered the plants. We gua sha'd while watching TV. We talked to our sisters on the phone for hours. We went to Al Anon. We wore perfume, just for us. We hand-washed our clothes because we were scared of the laundromat. We showered at night, after coming home at the end of the day, cleansing the body and mind. We did nightly yoga on the living room floor, followed by a good cry. We asked our partner what the best part of their day was. We slept fitfully.

We ate dal.
So much dal. And all of the casseroles. Yes, we baked bread. We made toast. We made elaborate, fancy-ass sandwiches. We fed ourselves with porridge, shakshuka, halloumi and quinoa salad, omurice, meatless meatballs, and endless ramen variations. Samin Nosrat was our queen, and her buttermilk chicken sustained us. We ate Haribo by the handful and popcorn made on the stovetop drenched in Miyoko's vegan butter and too much salt. We put beans—any beans—in the blender with garlic, tahini, ice water, olive oil, beans, salt, and lemon juice. We slurped soup. We sipped New York sours. We ate Biscoff cookies and pretended we were on an airplane. Are brownies more glamorous when they're Katharine Hepburn's? We baked tahini buns and cookies, plum torte, and many lemony turmeric tea loaves. We made Depression Cake. We nibbled edibles. 


We wore the same four pairs of leggings.
Leggings, over and over. Joggers. Flannel. Dungarees and jumpsuits. Customized Carhartt pants. Secondhand cashmere. House cardigans, house coats, house dresses. Those socks that are grippy on the bottom. Blue-light glasses. Crocs. Sweatshirts with earrings. A shirt that says "It's Okay, I'm Okay." NO BRA EVER. (Ok, one of us wore a bra once.) Sometimes, a bralette. But we are all underwire-free now. Our blanket coat. Our weighted blanket. Very large sweaters—like, so large you could fit us and all of the friends we miss inside them. Oh, and of course face masks.

We masked up.
We miss lipstick and hate smelling our own burps. Our glasses fog. Our phone can't identify us. And we can't identify other people in their own masks—we have definitely waved at strangers and ignored neighbors by accident, though that could also be because of our foggy glasses. We can't drink coffee while out and about. Teaching a group of masked children while wearing our own mask makes us cry nearly everyday. We have to remember to bring a mask with us wherever we go. Our face is too small for most masks, or our face is too large for most masks. It keeps giving us pimples—or is that the stress? Did we mention the glasses fog?

But we've come to regard them as a fashion accessory, and also a way of living our values. We feel like we're taking care of someone else just by wearing one. Now, no one can see us sigh or grimace when we're annoyed. We don't worry about how our breath smells, even when we just slurped 20 oz of coffee and forget to brush our teeth. We can lip-sync in peace. Fake-smizing is so much easier than fake-smiling. Now we don't feel the need to wear makeup in public—and the mask covers up our stress acne. We've let our chin and lip hairs grow long and wild, and we never worry if there are broccoli bits trapped between our teeth. Turns out, we love to breathe with our mouths hanging open. We love muttering obscenities unseen. Our faces are warm—no more wind-chapped lips. Our exes will never recognize us at the grocery store! We feel like we're in our own little world. Oh, the bliss of hot, sweaty anonymity.

We were sustained by small kindnesses.
Our grandmother wrote us letters from her senior-center condo. A high school friend invited us to join her for weekly virtual games, and gave us something to look forward to. Faraway friends texted links to music they knew we'd like, and we felt connected, even across many hundreds of miles. New-ish friends sent us Cameos for no reason, and we were tickled. Our families respected our decision to stay distant as a matter of safety. Our coworker surprised us with a box of pastries before we co-led a presentation on Zoom. Our former mentee threw us a project that became a new full-time job. Our mom has been helping us virtual-school the kids, and we wouldn't be surviving without her. Our roommate offered a hug. Our new neighbor gave us handwarmers for our first winter in Canada. A friend sent us a box of pears after we had a miscarriage, and even though we'd always thought pears were kind of "meh", these were delicious. It turns out we hadn't been letting them ripen sufficiently. 

The people we love went into quarantine with us. They cleared the dishes from our desks. They propped up the phone, turned on FaceTime, and watched movies with us. They mailed us books. They wrote us a poem. When we were going through a particularly dark month and couldn't see anyone in person, they sent us tamales. Once, they baked us banana bread and hand-delivered it on a chilly evening. They said yes instead of no. They sent flowers on our birthday, and threw us a distant party on picnic blankets in the park. They celebrated us at a virtual bridal shower. They injected us with medication when we couldn't bring ourselves to do it. They made us a photo book. When we lost someone we loved, they asked us to share our favorite memories. At a time when we felt like we were falling short, they told us that we were a loved and valued friend.

We made things.
We made a hand-illustrated garden book, one terribly crocheted scarf, 100+ pairs of polymer clay earrings, a super cute green side table, some t-shirts for friends, a cabin in our parents' backyard, many messes, postcards, bigger boobs, an Animal Crossing island, a hummingbird feeder, a recipe notebook, junk-mail collages, flavored simple syrups, a fence, friends, masks, a rainbow quilted pillowcase, a PhD thesis, and twins.

Some of us just made it through the year, and that definitely counts.

We're different now.
We have better boundaries. We have zero FOMO. We love our bed. All of our schedules have melted in this rubberization of time. We notice how much we catastrophize. We actually really love our home. We are going to the fucking dermatologist. We're sober. We are mothers. We're in therapy. We can run long distances! We're more thoughtful about how we spend our time because we have fewer things to do out in the world, and we value our time outside much more than we ever have. We are working on patience and acceptance. We eat slower. We are kinder to ourselves. TikTok has taught us there is truly a tribe for everyone. We're a better long-distance friend. We have let go of relationships that weren't sustaining us. We think knowing your neighbors should be mandatory. Weirdly, we are more confident. Everything is burning, and we've found that hanging on to a sense of "not good enough" does nothing to stop that. We are trying to come from a place of curiosity rather than judgment. We're more impatient than ever. We are more grateful and more scared. We can't believe how resilient we are. We are clinging to hope.

And finally,
We're ashamed to say it but, there's a part of us that will be sad to lose the pause, the withdrawal, the slower quieter pace that COVID has provided. When we are 80, we will know without a doubt that the hardest thing we ever did in our life was parent during a pandemic. We feel bad about having anything wrong because it seems so small compared to the really big things going wrong for so many people—we're really lucky. But our hearts beat too fast and too hard and our heads hurt all the time. We've found that sometimes things are very bad and sometimes they are very good, but most of the time they are both and we just haven’t been paying attention. 

We hope that, when this ends, we are more grateful but work harder for the things we want, while helping those around us with whatever they need. Our 2021 resolutions are to dress in monochrome, drink more water, and hold Joe Biden accountable. We're starting to believe in time travel.

The Classifieds

Are you a Type A done living their Plan B? Create the 2021 you want. Start today by booking your free coaching consult with Possible Things.
Celebrate the holidays with your favorite teen dramas, like "Beverly Hills, 90210," "Dawson's Creek," and "The O.C." XOXO, Gossip Girl
You made it to the end of 2020—congratulations! Now make 2021 a gift to yourself. Expert video therapy, feminist sensibility. Let's conspire.

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Testimonial
Since you collectively wrote this week's newsletter, here is my testimonial for you:

Sometimes I can't quite believe that so many thoughtful, kind people read this newsletter. Your notes this year have really sustained me, and your responses to this survey made me cry more than once. If you're reading this, I'm grateful for you and your role in our weird little inbox-based community. I hope 2021 brings more sweetness than difficulty for you, and that we all keep showing up for each other.

This newsletter is a group text.
Forward it to your group text.



Ann Friedman
AF WEEKLY

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PO Box 26932 | Los Angeles, CA 90026
© 2020


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