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  • Writer's pictureBecca Dzombak

corona-tine dispatch 12: new year edition

I don't normally make resolutions for the new year; I'm nearing 30 and I haven't learned much, but I have learned that writing "Finally get back into yoga!!" in a list on the evening of december thirty-first does not magically translate into a year of motivation to bend, stretch, and breathe on a cat-clawed rubber mat. In fact, it mostly translates into guilt, and with shocking speed. So I don't really do the goal-setting, envisioning-success thing.

Still, I wanted to see if I'd jotted anything down on this day in 2019. I journal pretty much daily, so I opened my bin(!) of journals and found the one whose dated label crossed the 19-20 threshold. Flipping through the pages, I landed on Dec. 31.

Predictably, rather than a deeply introspective post about the past 364 days and my aspirations for the coming year, I'd scribbled down an abbreviated activity log of the day—an MRI for my headaches (it was fine), a trip to Ikea for a dedicated shelf for my sweaters (which my cats quickly rendered useless), watched 30 Rock (again)—and, at the end of the page, scrunched into the last five millimeters of blank space: "Can't find any goals from last year but pretty sure grand canyon was on the list. This year: hawaii and a large sea turtle! hello 2020!"

I flashed back to early December 2019. We'd just gotten back from some time in Arizona (work for my partner, some good hiking time for me), where we'd stopped briefly at an iced-over Natural Wonder of the World. After waiting in a surprisingly long line to get in (it was Thanksgiving day, after all), we opted to pay the full $70 for the national parks pass. "We'll go so many places next year!" we'd said. "It'll be worth it!"

Ha. (We found the parks pass as we cleaned out our basement in November, exactly—to the day—one year after we'd purchased it. We chalked it up to a good donation to the NPS and moved on.)

In the park, we marveled at both the geology and the idiocy of some of the tourists who, despite most trails and a few roads being closed due to the severe winter storm that had just blown through, were venturing out onto ledges alone, in pairs, even with the whole family. Watching people take their entire brood out onto icy, precarious perches was more than a little distracting from the geologic wonder.

Anyway, as we drove north to Denver, we planned our travel for the year, the trips that would make our investment worth it. Hawaii was high on my list; Nik lived there for a while and was eager for me to see beach chickens and try surfing. It would also, we floated, be a great place for a little wedding and to take a break after we defended.

That was all recent in my mind around new year's eve 2019, which Nik and I spent at home (by choice), when I jotted that optimistic little note. "This year: Hawaii!"

Well, the best-laid plans and all that. 2020 was terrible in many—most—ways, but there were a few silver linings. Drumpf didn't win and Kamala will be Madame Veep. I really dug into my science writing and have made some big decisions on that front. I got my first two first-author scientific papers published. My hamstring slowly, slowly, slowly recovered from its injury last September, and I was able to run 10k this month with no pain. We got a hobie 16 and I learned to sail. I gave up on bras but still wore pants to feel like a real person. And I spent almost nine months essentially never separated from my partner, and we still like each other. (I work upstairs, he works in the basement, and we still visit each other and eat lunch together like we would at work.)

Also, I read 50 books (my original goal was 24), but I'm not sure whether to put that in the pro or con of this year because it mostly reflects (a) a need for escape from reality and (b) procrastinating from grad school work, but! I'll take it!

I'm allowing myself two goals for 2021: finish my Ph.D. and floss more. The former: if that doesn't happen, something has gone seriously off the rails, and all other goals would be moot anyway. The latter: the bar is so low. Come on.

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