2021 was pretty much the worst of times. Let’s be honest; anyone who would call it the “best of times,” is being a dillhole. But, I wanted to do a year end round up (what? we’re still within the January grace period), and in the interest of not being a total Debbie Downer, I’m gonna include some best things of the year as well as the worst. Note: these aren’t the best/worst things that happened in the world, because you should know what I call reading my US Weekly “catching up on the news,” but the best/worst things that happened in my personal world.
THE WORST OF 2021
I know my Nana was ready to go. She was 104, and she’d been missing my Dada for many years. But the shameful selfish thing is *I* wasn’t ready for her to go. Even though I only saw her on Skype until one last in-person visit near the very end, the world felt better with her in it. Everything was alright when Nana was here, when we could hear her giggle and say our names, one by one in a Skype roll call.
Rocky developed Cujophilia.
When we first got Rocky, he was terrified of everyone and everything, and he’d only been on a leash one time, when he went to the vet’s office with his foster mom. But he was such a quick learner and soon he was wagging his tail on walks, only occasionally getting his leash tangled up with Rosie’s and/or getting peed on by her. Then, after a month or so, he found his voice, but not in a good Ariel-sings-the-Ah-Ah-Ahhh-song way. He decided that the best way to say hi to other dogs was not the traditional nose sniff/butt sniff/tail wag combo, but a full-throated growl-bark one-two punch from his 70-lb body, terrifying all the neighbor dogs and their parents and mortifying me. Now, as I walk the dogs and see another dog, I have to cross the street or sheepishly say, “the big one’s friendly but he might bark” and then put myself in ready position like I’m in the Cobra Kai dojo.
Covid refused to die.
We got vaccinated, socially isolated, and wore masks like we were all understudies in Phantom of the Opera, but like Elizabeth Warren, but way, way less cool, nevertheless Covid persisted. Many friends and several close relatives of ours got Covid, and many of them are still dealing with the long-term effects. The kids are back in in-person school but we constantly live in fear that they’ll catch it. George’s school had to shut down for 10 days due to a huge outbreak and Hazel’s school had a student walk-out last week because the kids were protesting the piss-poor Covid policies because they’re worried about their safety.
People dying and getting severely ill (and losing their sense of taste/smell, *shudder*) is obviously the worst part of Covid, but the other bad part is all the things we are missing out on, including but not limited to: going to restaurants, dining in with friends, drinks (inside) with friends, Project Beer & Nachos, kids’ birthday parties, movies in theaters*, indoor shows and concerts, spending time with relatives, going to professional Bruins/Celtics/Red Sox games, buying my own groceries so I don’t have to go insane chatting with f*cking Instacart shoppers, leisurely shopping at TJ Maxx, indoor bootcamp (with Diane’s playlists!), the whitefish salad samples at Whole Foods, having a bunch of kids playing in the house, Friendsgiving, Christmas with my in-laws, riding public transportation without having to shoot dirty looks at the jabronis either not wearing masks or wearing them below their noses, and many more things I can’t think of right now.
America’s racism problem hit closer to home for me.
Normally, I try to make my blog posts at least kind of funny, but this one was hard.
Our house did not get clean.
You’d think spending pretty much all our time at home would force us to take a good hard look at ourselves and get our acts together. That’s a lie; if you know us at all, you would not think that. And guess what? We did not.
I did not write a book.
I meant to, I swear. Well, first I was gonna build up my “media platform” (this blog) and then I was going to finish writing the book, and then I was going to be a wealthy best-selling author and everybody wins! I even committed to it publicly. But what happened is I did my usual sporadic blog posting and am still waiting for my media platform to be enormous. Should be any second now.
We may have gotten a teensy bit sick of each other.
Not like full-on we hate each other, but let’s just say I found myself wishing we still had those inflatable log boppers we had one year on a lake vacation, where the “game” was “playfully” “hitting” each other with these inflatable logs and we all got a little too into it. It’s just that a full year of spending almost all of our time in one another’s company was definitely a strain. Hazy and George are generally really sweet, kind, and well-behaved kids with one glaring exception: they bicker like Estelle and Frank Costanza, and that’s in normal times. When forced to be each other’s only playmates/Minecraft partners for extended periods of time, they went kind of Scarlet Witch.
Speaking of white hot rage, I still have misophonia, and living with three other humans who insist on eating and drinking, plus two dogs who lick various body parts willy-nilly at all times of the day is my own personal hell and they should all be grateful I let them continue to live. Plus, all last year, Matty and I shared an office (well, the toy pit) and that’s when I learned I’d married someone with a Voice Immodulation Disorder. Someone inflate me a log bopper.
I got the worst haircut of my life.
I can’t go into any more detail and I can’t share a photo, because the person who gave it to me is very talented and it was 100% my fault and the cut itself wasn’t bad, it was just very not me. Just please, take it from me, never say, “Do whatever you like!” to a hair stylist, no matter how much you think you dislike your current haircut.
We started to get used to the pandemic.
This to me, is one of the worst things. It’s like we’re in the second hour of a disaster movie, so no one’s like, “What the F is this?” even though we should very much be questioning why we’re still going through the end times. Is the apocalypse supposed to take this long?
I hate that George sometimes forgets to take his mask off after I pick him up and that we now have a permanent place on our side table for our masks. I hate that my friend Lindsay and I were dm’ing about “cute” rapid Covid tests and which ones had nice UX (On/Go for the record) instead of our usual chit chat about old friends or embarrassing mom stories or funny memes. I hate that every time I’m texting or emailing with someone I haven’t seen in a long time, we have to say some version of, “hopefully this will be over soon so we can get together.”
It wasn’t all horrible though. Without further ado, I present…
THE BEST OF 2021
Rocky joined the family.
When I say Rocky is a ray of sunshine, I only mean he’s the happiest, most loving, friendliest living being I’ve ever met. He has brought unlimited love into our lives. Even Rosie loves him, despite appearances. He only has three faults that I know of: sneezing in our faces for attention, barking like a psychopath at random dogs on leash, and loving us too much.
So did Steve, Tony, Natasha,
Clint, and Bruce.
George adores Rosie and Rocky, but he got it in his head that he really wanted a pet or pets that was truly his own. He was really pushing for a monkey or a bird for a while, but we talked him down to fish. Right after Christmas, we brought home the Avengers: Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Natasha Romanoff, Clint Barton, and Dr. Bruce Banner. Guys, did you know you have to clean a fish tank by replacing a 1/4 of its water with fresh, treated water EVERY
WEEK MONTH? Neither did we, and we wouldn’t have brought home the Avengers if we had. (Breaking news: I just googled aquarium care, and it turns out super perky Deb at PetSmart is a liar, and it’s every month, not every week. That’s a big difference, DEB.) Anyway, in I-swear-unrelated news, Clint died a sad death at the bottom of the tank on his second day at Rancho Rourko. I’m sorry to say that we’ve also recently lost Bruce, but it was in 2022 so we’ll save that for next year’s Best/Worst of List. Natasha is still swimming along heartily, and I’ll also add, she’s definitely the prettiest.
We hugged Oma & Opa for the first time in a long time.
For a few summers in the Before Times, the kids and I spent a day a week with my parents. Seriously, we saw them every week. Now, they spend half the year in Florida, and during the time they were within visiting distance, we were living in fear of infecting two of our favorite oldies with our school and grocery store germs so we didn’t see them for 15 months! DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY WONTONS YOU MADE ME MISS OUT ON, COVID? I’ll never forgive you for this. But this is supposed to be the positive section, so let’s focus on the fact that we got to see them in May of 2021, play Horseopoly with Oma, eat wontons together, and allow Rosie to pee on their rug.
We spent a big chunk of time in our happy place, Maine.
I feel so fortunate that we discovered this area of Maine (Bethel, near Sunday River) and that we are able to stay there for an extended period of time for very short money. There’s something about a change of scenery that makes you feel less annoyed about spending all your time with the same people. Like, at least we’re annoying each other near a waterfall now! And hey – fresh corn!
We learned to adapt to stupid Covid by getting fire pits, outdoor couches, and projection screens.
You think you’re gonna stop me from eating cheese, drinking wine and hearing my friends’ relationship origin stories, Covid? It’s nothing two pairs of pants, a fire pit, Mr. Heater™ and a sleeping bag can’t fix! (Also works in warmer weather, no sleeping bag or Mr. H required.) And now I have enough material to write 4-5 rom-coms that would blow your minds. A forced motel stay during a storm! An older sister’s off-limits ex-boyfriend! A sexy saxophonist! Someone page whoever the new Hugh Grant is. (Tanner Buchanan?)
We got to go on a mini-vacation to Lake Sunapee.
I’ve always considered myself very fortunate in that I have the best friends in the world. My friend Lindsay and I worked at summer camp together when we were teenagers, reconnected over Facebook, and then discovered we both lived in Jamaica Plain. Right when we were going through Maine withdrawal and lamenting that we couldn’t afford to rent twice in one summer, Lindsay swooped in like a combination Captain Marvel-Valkyrie-Dora Milaje and saved the day by offering up her and her husband’s gorgeous Lake Sunapee home. We swam, we thrift-shopped, we took two terrifying dogs kayaking. It was heavenly.
I discovered my love of freelance.
The first two times I freelanced, I never quite got in the swing of things. The first time, I kind of knew it was a temporary thing and I just didn’t really know what I was doing. The second time, I still felt like a newbie somehow and couldn’t figure out where to start. But three is the magic number (right, de la soul?) and I’ve finally found my groove. I feel like a boss, and not just because I have a piece of paper taped to my wall that tells me how to email #likeaboss. You should see my emails now, by the way, not a “sorry” in sight. I love my home
Also, I have several gigs that I’m really enjoying, including one that’s all about easing anxiety for 10-13 year olds (hello, perfect fit) and one that fulfills a dream I never even dared voice aloud – getting paid to watch TV and write about it. So, you won’t see getting laid off in February on the Worst List, because it was a gift.
We had a weekend in NYC and got to see Misong (and Hamilton).
We’ve wanted to see Hamilton forever, but it gets second billing to Misong, because one of these things is a life-changing legend and the other is just a really good Broadway play. Also, due to my kids’ obsession with the music from Hamilton, it’s begun to grate on me, but I’ll never tire of Misong or our song, the Dan Band version of Total Eclipse of the Heart (“f&cking turn around, f*cking bright eyes…”). We have brought down many an NYC karaoke joint with our performance.
Anyway, it was really fun to be tourists in a city Matty and I called home for over a decade, doing all the stuff we avoided doing when we were actual New Yorkers, like stepping foot into Times Square.
I know I complain a lot about my kids’ sports and the toll they take on our schedule, but when the only time you leave your house is to go to your kids’ soccer or hockey games, it actually becomes kind of a lifeline. I especially love soccer because we’d be outside, usually in lovely weather, and could even sometimes bring the dogs. Hockey games are fun too, but being indoors with a crowd during a pandemic is dicey, and people are a little hit or miss with the mask-wearing (I’m looking at you, Westborough).
Wishing everyone a fun, happy, healthy, and socially-fulfilling 2022 with well-behaved pets and soft-spoken, silent-eating family members!
*Fine, we saw one movie in 2021 – Spider-man Far From Home. I enjoyed it but I still felt paranoid about getting Covid, even though there were only four other people in the whole theatre. And unlike when we saw Rise of Skywalker in the same theater, at least Matty didn’t yell, “Aw, don’t kiss!” during a crucial point in the movie. Spoiler alert.