We’re still here.

If someone had told you just what 2020 was going to entail 365 days ago, would you have opted out for the year?

All of us have had a fair bit to deal with in 2020 – lockdowns and layoffs, facemasks and social distancing, loneliness and depression. At times, it’s seemed like there wasn’t a lot to be grateful for in 2020. We’ve had a lot of changes, especially to our daily routines, forced on us by this awful pandemic, and that’s never comfortable.

In my wife’s and my case, with the exception of grocery shopping every two weeks and the odd quick trip to my parents, we haven’t left the house, basically since the middle of March. We’ve had to take extra time disinfecting the groceries once we get them home and be extra-organized about what we do buy and how much. For this year, at least, the days of running to the corner store or ducking out to grab this or that because we’ve suddenly run out is not on.

Frankly, it’s been scary. Both of us have asthma to one degree or another, and I’m a smoker. We’re not sure either of us would survive a bout of COVID-19 and we’d prefer not to find out. And so, we stay in. We mask up. We use hand sanitizer. We social distance.

We’re still here.

And we remind ourselves that there are, worldwide, nearly two million people who can’t say that and probably that many, if not more, whose health has been so compromised despite “recovering” from COVID-19, that their lives are forever changed. And, even now, with the vaccine starting to be distributed, there will be more.

In addition, I miss hanging out with my friends and being able to hug them, feeling safe in public places, and going to the movies or meeting friends at the bar on wing night for a couple of drinks to watch the hockey game.

It is really easy to focus on all this “bad” stuff that the year has thrust upon us. We can get caught up with all of it swirling around us and the anger and fear bubble just below the surface. Sometimes, if we’re not careful, they erupt – usually when we least expect it and, often, with unintended consequences.

There have been all kinds of unintended consequences in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, a lot of them negative. But a great many of them have been positive, too. Some of those positive unintended consequences even had global implications. I’m sure if you take a minute, you can think of several. But discussion of those is beyond the scope of this post.

What I’ve been trying to do is to think about the positive unintended consequences from 2020 that wouldn’t be there without “what we’ve gone through” this year.

Not only did I become a published author for the first time in 2020, but I published seven books in total. Six of those seven were not written this time last year. Hell, they weren’t even conceived. It’s only because we were shut up in our house that I had the time and inspiration to write them.

When I got laid off from my day job, after several months of scrambling, we were able to turn that into Stories Rule Press, an independent publishing company. That had always been the plan. My wife has been writing full-time for the past five years and we always talked about getting her writing income up to the point where I could be at home, too. With my severance cheque in the bank just as the first lockdown hit, we just decided to go for it. We incorporated Stories Rule Press in July and, while we haven’t set the world on fire, the bills are all paid…mostly.

We’re still here.

We’ve eaten really well this year. Not only have we indulged ourselves with junk food and the like, but I’ve been extra-busy finding new recipes to relieve some of the meal monotony (a lot of what I found all came from one website – I’ll talk about that in another post in a few days). In addition, I’ve been baking bread and cinnamon buns (with cream cheese frosting) on a regular basis. The house smells great!

Not only that but, hockey is about to start up for the season! I’m SO looking forward to that! Go Oilers Go!

I want to thank each and every one of you for being here, sharing this time with me. I’ve got lots of new stories coming down the pipe – more Sister Jacobine, more Thomas Billings, and I’m tossing around the idea of starting a weekly serial story, a time-travel thriller that I’ve wanted to write for a while now (think 11/22/63 meets The Bourne Identity).

We’re still here.

And 2021 is going to be a great year!

I’d love to hear about your positive unintended consequences from 2020. Just click in the ‘Comments’ section and start typing. I’ll answer back. I promise.

Here’s to the new year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one and may we all be home before she’s over. (Bonus points for anyone who can tell me where that’s from.)

 

Mark