2019, 2020, COVID and Me.

When I first started this draft, it was titled 2020 in review. Though now that we’re almost half a year in, I guess I’ll have to settle for something more generic. I’m not sure what I want to write about yet, but I really can’t justify paying for my own web hosting each year to not have written anything since 2018.

Part of it was feeling like I ran out of topics to talk about (at least somewhat intelligently), and so I pivoted a bit more into fiction. I ended up writing about 10,000 words in a D&D story before my progress kind of slowed. I just wasn’t very good at it. I write too slowly and have a hard time coming up with interesting plot ideas. My wife, on the other hand, has no trouble charming hundreds of readers with her regal x manga-inspired romance fiction.

Fanart drawn by one of my wife’s readers, littleroundpumpkin.

Like seriously. Her fiction has over 150,000 words and more than 12,000 clicks. And even though I see her writing most of the time, I still have no idea what her secret sauce is (I don’t have them).

All that leads me to my next point: what have I been doing for the last few years? The short answer is not much. Even if the last year was mostly a write-off due to Covid, my life was settling into a routine long before that. I would work M-F and then take some time on the weekends to try new restaurants or go to coffee shops to read my books. It wasn’t bad by any means, just a little stale.

Thoughts on COVID-19

Lockdown in North America started in March. In hindsight, I made two decisions right before it that could easily classify as both the best and the worst. On the plus side, I took an extended pilgrimage back home to Taiwan with my wife and her family that December. It was nice to see everyone for 3 weeks, live a slower-paced life and install match-3 games for my grandparents. It’s an annual trip that helps me put my life in perspective, sometimes as simply as looking out the window into a very different city.

When I returned to the States in January 2020, however, my brain had the genius idea that Covid was just a flu and that going to New York to see some friends would be a good idea. It was only my second trip to New York. The weather was a bit colder than I thought it’d be, but by far the most surprising fact was that I didn’t personally pick up Covid. New York would turn out to be the first hotspot in America where the virus was likely spreading as early as January.

William Vale rooftop with a nice view.

I definitely caught a break with the timing. And by the time I flew back to the west coast and gone back to work, it wasn’t long before the world turned into something none of us would recognize.

From the onset of shelter-in-place, I felt a sheepish joy which I can only describe as a very understandable aversion to commuting in the Bay Area. I didn’t think the virus would be that serious, and I was glad to get a few weeks where I could just wake up and roll into a meeting. Except the weeks turned to months, and soon I was on a flight back to Vancouver with just a small luggage of my essentials.

At this point I must go on a tangent to thank my roommate Kyle, who not only turned the negatives of a Covid-driven work situation into an absolute career-defining win, but took the time to help me clear out my belongings as we came to terms with the fact that Covid was going to last a very long time. I’m not sure anyone else would’ve had the patience, and I can’t be more grateful.

Today would mark almost exactly one year since my flight back to Vancouver, and what a year it has been. Even now I don’t think I fully grasp the magnitude of change that Covid will impart even once this is all over – the way we work, the way we share information, the way we interact with our governments. It’s kind of overwhelming, but on the balance I think a lot will be for the better.

My life now fits another set of routines, but not without some big differences. For one, my wife and I are finally reunited. We’ve been living apart for most of my time in the US (she worked in Hong Kong) without a clear goal of how our lives will come together. Covid accelerated that timeline. And even though our future is still up in the air, at least we’ll worry about it together.

Coming back home also means seeing some old friends, and that was something I missed in the Bay Area. I generally see myself as a pretty solitary person, but there are some things much easier to do with friends than doing alone – like starting a small business! Over the last few months, my friend and I worked on a felt crafts hobby together, eventually deciding to launch it as a small business. It’s in pretty early stages, but I’m excited to take on a brand new challenge.

A rose bouquet made with felt!

All in all, I would say that I’m beyond fortunate that Covid hit me at the time it did. I’m not a college senior trying to get that first internship or someone trying to re-enter the workforce while shouldering financial or familial burdens. My challenges were at best inconveniences, and often times not even that. I hope that by the end of 2021, we will be able to find the new normal, one that weaves in our multi-faceted needs honed by the reckoning of this global pandemic.

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