Chapter One

 In which Our Heroine agonizes over which apartment to choose.

To quote Andie McDowell, I'm not a fussy person.  Ok, maybe I am a little.  I mean, I'm officially heading from middle to old age, and my five year plan includes retirement so, yes, a little fussy.  And now I'm going to be looking for a new apartment. 

First, what do I require?  Two bedrooms, minimum.  Two full bathrooms.  Not near the elevator or the garbage area.  Room for the bookcases.  And an elevator would be nice.  1100sqft minimum. Covered parking. Thing One requires a good kitchen, preferably one with a gas range.  Ready? Let's go hunting.

Believe it or not, it's more difficult than you'd think to find something like that.  We found apartments that had the right bedrooms and bathrooms, but were around 900sqft.  Nope.  There was one 1000sqft three bedroom, but two of the bedrooms had a gorgeous view of a brick wall and the master bedroom was in the neighboring roof deck's line of sight.  Nope.  There was a great possibility but there were game rooms on every floor (hint: young people live here) and it wasn't near much in the way of shopping, unless you're a huge Home Depot fan.

Then, based on a hint from the guy who showed us the Brick Wall Home, I looked in an entirely new neighborhood, one I hadn't considered before.  And there, on the waterfront, was a building that looked promising.  We asked for a tour.  Of the four apartments, one made my heart sing.  Maybe not enough wall space for all the bookcases, but the 8' ones would fit.  The bedrooms were nice.  Gas range.  Balcony overlooking the harbor.  Underground garage.  Near the T.  Not far from shopping.  Hmmm.....

But wait, there were three more apartments to look at.  So who knows, right?  Two were definitely in the "I'm making a good salary but just got out of college" mold, emphasized by the exhortation to refer our friends to get a rent reduction (most of my friends own, or live on campus).  And then, the final apartment.  Good layout, if a little odd in places (like a small closet in the master, but a huge one in the second?).  Electric stove.  Underground parking.  But right in the middle of Cute Suburb, with lots of restaurants and shopping and near the T and an easy commute to work.  Hmmmm....

For the next 24 hours I agonized.  Weighed pros and cons.  Talked with friends, who were not helpful (because they saw the same pros and cons and couldn't weigh things differently than I was). Agonized some more: go with my head (Cute Suburb) or heart (Harbor View)???

I went with my heart.  We've now signed 31 documents agreeing to not smoke, to grill only on the complex's grills, to call if we need exterminating, etc..  Move in will start on March 1, and we'll be done with Current Apartment by March 31.  Why then?  Because Spring Break. 

To be continued...


And people wonder where I got it from...

Just now one of my staff mistyped that she was going out and she'd be "bach" soon... I told her I was working on my To Do Liszt.  

Yeah, I know.  GROAAAANNN.

However, last week I was setting up our family Zoom and wondered if we were going to be boring and have it at our usual time, or if we'd dare to change the time.  And then, this:

Yep.  What's that they say about apples and trees?


Belated New Year's Posting

Philosophy Mom's post reminded me that I hadn't done this post this year!  That's what comes from trusting friends to prompt you, right?  Maybe I should start the 2021 version now and edit as I go?

1. What did you do in 2020 that you'd never done before?

Where to start?  Quarantined in my apartment for months on end? Worn a mask while going outside? Spent many long hours on a program I'd never heard of before, Zoom?  etc. etc.  It was... a lot.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

God no.  I was actually not doing badly, since I was off my Horrible Medications and getting back to life when we had to lockdown.  I confess, I'm a stress eater so there went my weight.  And many of my To Do list didn't get done because life/work interfered.

3. Did anyone close to you get married?

Not that I'm aware of.  However, several have gotten engaged so maybe next year?

4. Did anyone close to you get divorced?

Again, not as far as I'm aware.  People may be waiting until COVID lockdowns end before kicking their quarantine partner to the curb.

5. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Physically close? Yes.  Several colleagues.  But emotionally close?  See my answers to 3 and 4. (yes, that's a repeat answer from last year!)

6. Did anyone close to you die?

Several friends lost their parents to COVID or other illnesses.  Only one of them was I particularly close to (we had an annual Red Sox/Yankees bet) while the others were less close to me, only connected through my friendship with their child.

7. What countries did you visit?

None, if you don't count Despair and Fatigue.

8. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2020?

Good health.  Less emotional stress.  The ability to walk around outside without fear.  

9. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Not going insane with the Days of Zoom and the need to completely revamp how we do our library program now that we're remote (or hybrid).

10. What was your biggest failure?

Not being able to overcome all this to get things done around the apartment: talk about a perfect opportunity to get organized, downsize, etc..  Or to be more accurate, perfect potential -- and completely missed -- opportunity

11. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thanking all the gods that my eye is still stable; as someone with an autoimmune disease, though, I've been terrified about going out and seeing anyone.  So no, no current illnesses.  And none in 2020.  I am not tempting those gods for 2021 though!

12. What was the best thing you bought?

A new printer/copier for home.  My old one was ok, but now that I'm working from home so much I needed a better one.  I can even print from my iPhone!

13. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Thing One.  He hasn't killed me, despite being locked into an apartment with me since March.

14. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

President Bonespurs Tinyhands (can't take credit for that, and I forget where I read it) and his enablers on air and in Congress.

15. Where did most of your money go?
Rent.  I didn't do much, for obvious reasons.

16. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Two things: no longer taking the Very Major Drugs (final doses in March 20) and weekly (since September) COVID testing at work.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
happier or sadder? sadder
thinner or fatter? fatter
richer or poorer? richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

It's not a "done" as much as "have energy to do" - organizing the apartment, weeding clothes and 'stuff' from my life.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Stress eating

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Chinese food and the BeeGees documentary.

21. How did you bring in the New Year?

Remembering my mother with a Yahrzeit that brought together members of my family from all over.  It was a lovely surprise for my father.

22. Did you fall in love?

I never saw other people to fall in love with!!

23. What was your favorite TV program?

The Great British Baking Show, Call My Agent, Doctor Doctor, Line of Fire 

24. What was the best book you read?

Go to my reading blog and chose any five-star.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

None.  I stuck with tried-and-true.   Yeah, I know.  Borrrrring.  But also comfortable, which was perfect for this time.

26. What was your favorite film of the year?

Didn't really watch any this year - more of a binge watching kind of year.

27. What was your favorite live performance?

None.  Had hopes, but, you know, COVID.  Maybe next year?

28. What did you want and get?


29. What did you want and not get?

An end to COVID and the political craziness.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I'm edging closer to 60 and traditional celebrations don't quite work any longer.  2021's birthday will be cancelled due to COVID.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not losing any real time off between March and Winter Break, but also being at work with students and colleagues.  Being with people via Zoom just isn't quite as nice, you know?

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020?

Pjs.  Seriously.  When "they" write the history of the COVID era they'll see I was nearly cutting edge.

33. What kept you sane?

The Herd.  The Things. And (contrarily) Zooms with friends and family.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

There's no way to describe my angst and anger at the idiocy of all political figures.  Even with the change in administrations I hold out no real hope for calm and cooperation.  

36. Whom did you miss?

Mom. And just about everyone else I was separated from thanks to the lockdowns.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

"Met" sounds weird, because it's only been through Zoom!  There's only one person I really met "for real", my father's new companion.  

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2020.

Things can always get worse.

39. What was your favorite moment of the year?

Thanks to a weekly COVID test, I was able to convince my father to let me visit.  That first hug?  Priceless.

40. What was your least favorite moment of the year?

Pick a day between March 13 and December 13 and you've probably hit on it.  

41. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2020 and change something, what would it be?

I can't really change the whole COVID thing, so what's the point? I mean, that is the one thing I would change, because without that I could have worked on a few other things and been able to strengthen and/or repair relationships.

42. What are your plans for 2021?

Working on my physical and emotional health. Getting my COVID vaccine.  Moving (see the moving on series).  And with any luck, getting back to normal. 



 In which Our Heroine discovers that she's soon to be homeless.

In 2015, when I moved from my last school to the current one, I also needed to move residences.  After a few trips to see apartments ranging from "frat boy chic" to "I'm too old to live like a 20-something" and finally to ones I could see myself in.  My current abode has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a basement garage and an elevator; the building is <20 years old and was built for "residents of a certain age... less aged than the ones you'll see being picked up by ambulance all the time next door"  The walls are quite thin, and when my neighbors sneeze, I want to say "bless you" and hearing one neighbor who enjoys his girlfriend's, um, company a little too noisily has been a highlowpoint of my stay here.

So the great apartment hunt began.  I want two bedrooms, two bathrooms, indoor garage and wall space for the bookcases, while Thing One wants a good kitchen set up.  Neighborhood / proximity to work is also critical: I don't want to live where the drive will make me cranky every morning, and it would be great to not live in an area devoid of any amenities, like a grocery store.  You'd think that wouldn't be that difficult to find in a major city, right?



Couldn't resist the snark

 This very well-intentioned post was on Twitter this morning: 

To which I respond, FEWER quotes.  Definitely more learning.


Don't let it be too late

 For years, my parents went to my sister's in Canada for Christmas and New Years - they helped with the tree, the stockings, the gifts and other traditions.  Two years ago, my mother was in hospice and then died, and last year my father was able to go to Canada.  This year, though, that was impossible because the boarder is closed.  We worried about him being all alone in the house on the anniversary of her death, so when he mentioned a Zoom for her Yahrzeit we quickly agreed... and then I had the idea to invite as many family members as we could as a surprise.  

There were  only 20 others who came ("only" 20, because I have probably 50-60 relatives that could have come) but the look on Dad's face when he logged into the Zoom and saw everyone was wonderful.  Instead of just three of us lighting the candle and saying Kaddish, there were others who also shared our grief at her loss and shared some of their memories of her.  As my father said later, it brought back their early days together (he remembered boiling bottles for my formula) and helped erase her last year.  

After, I got an email from a cousin who had spent a week a year with them as an adult.  He said, It was also interesting for me to hear so many people tell such wonderful stories about your mother, and to realize sadly that I really barely knew her."  Well, duh.

My mother told me several times that when he visited, or when my parents visited his sister, she felt very uncomfortable.  When they got me, she stayed home to take care of me -- and later, my sister -- but also did so many other things, like learning languages and tutoring and becoming a docent at the local art museum, and managing all our international travel and our investments and taking tax prep classes, and... and... and... I could go on.  But she never felt as though either of these siblings valued what she did or understood how damn smart she was (that part she never said, but honestly, she really was smarter than most people I know).  Later, his sister wrote, "Aunt B very much modeled giving a damn about people, both those that she was close to and those she didn’t even know, and showing up, again and again, whether by boycotting, rallying, or traveling to be with someone in need of support."

How I wish Mom was still alive to hear that.  

Don't let it be too late to tell the people in your life how much you value them.


Notable Quotes

Mom says, "I should have let you take as much time as you needed instead of worrying that you'd fall behind. Dr. Prince said that people-consciously or unconsciously-believe grief will take a set amount of time, like they expect that after a month or two, things will go back to normal. But for the person who's grieving, there is no 'back to normal."'

The Castle School (for Troubled Girls); Alyssa Sheinmel  


They lied!

 Last week I posted this to Instagram:

I mean, really!  Wasn't 2021 supposed to be the "good twin"?  And yet... it's more like 2020 dared the new year to be bigger and badder.  Consider the evidence:

  • In addition to the continued rise in COVID cases and deaths, the vaccine rollout has been botched in many locales.
  • Our election was "stolen" (or was it? depends on your political views)
  • A mob, spurred on by the President and members of Congress, not to mention Crazy Uncle Rudy, invaded the Capitol building.  Sedition?  Insurrection? Both?  It's still shocking that there are some who think that this was kinda No Big Deal and we should all just try to get along. 
And the icing on this particular shitcake?  My landlady is selling the apartment and wants us out ASAP (our lease runs through July).  So in addition to shepherding 600 students through the research process and calming teachers anxious about all-digital resources, and trying to avoid COVID until I can get the vaccine, I now have to find someplace new to live and pack up the apartment, and unpack on the other end.  No, I'm not comparing my rather trivial problem to what's going on in the greater world, I'm just saying... they lied.  

The upside is that there are only 356 days until 2022.


A Lazy Year in Review

Last year, Chuck pointed his blog's readers to this post.  It struck me as a great way to think about my year, sharing some of what's gone on with you, my faithful reader (or readers... I'm ever hopeful that not everyone has deserted the blog!). Then, just as I was working on this post, Meredith posted about her year and I decided to combine the two.

On the Blog:

I've been trying to blog more this year (not because of COVID and lockdown, but just because), and this makes the 56th post on the blog this year, up from 32 in 2019 and 27 in 2018. It is still a lot less than the 111 I posted in 2010 and a far cry from the 375 of 2008 (yikes!  I've been blogging a long time...) .

So which posts caught readers' fancies this year? Here are the five most popular 2020 posts:
There were even some older posts that also received attention: 
Obviously Meredith (not just for this post!).  But also Sara, Courtney, Kelsey, the AISL and ISS and CLA Librarians, Laura, Beth, Joanna, my father, Wendy S., David, Corey, Anne, Terri, Thing One, Thing Three, Ebit and so many more. 

Around the Web:
I've discovered a few new sites this year that have amused me and/or kept me sane during this crazy year.  Maybe they'll do the same for you? Poorly Drawn Lines, Arrant Pedantry and Linguist Laura

Whelp.  Hmmm... not much.  There were plans to go to Providence RI, Portland ME, Chicago IL, Denver CO and Lisbon (Portugal).  Those got cancelled. As has January's trip to Indianapolis.  I did manage to go to my father's a couple of times. 

I confess:: I've been listening to far too much "comfort" music this year (haven't we all?).  While working both at home and at work I've had the good fortune to be able to listen to my iPod and ignore the world around me.  Forget the savage beast, it sootheth the fretful Lazygal.  Who?  kd lang, Rachid Taha, Coeur de Pirate, Noir Silence, Julia Haltigan, the Puppini Sisters, Camille O'Sullivan, Postmodern Jukebox and random other songs and albums in my collection.

Live Performances and Art Exhibitions:
None.  Anything I've seen has been streamed, because COVID.  Sybarite 5 did a wonderful winter concert, and Camille O'Sullivan's At Home Lockdown "gig" gave me hope.

Obviously, my Year-End Round-up has the statistics and links.

Films/TV Series:
Great British Baking Show, Derry Girls, Lucifer, New Tricks, Boarderland (aka Sorjonen), Call My Agent (aka Dix Pour Cent), The Heart Guy, Full Bloom, Tea with the Dames, 

In addition to listening to music while I work, I finally got to listen to podcasts (with a 15min commute, it's very difficult to do while driving... but when WFH, well...) Three on the Aisle, You Must Remember This, Hell and High Water, The Oath, and Chuck's radio show (technically not a podcast). 

And Then . . .  small moments of joy
My weekly Zoom with my father, sister, niece, aunt and cousins... spending time with The Herd, who calm me down when I'm stressed... reading... Heather Cox Richardson's morning eletter... random comments from students that show we've connected...

2020 Reading Review

Another year with 305 books read, just barely going over the goal of 300 for the year.  Reviews are over at the reading blog, but again some fell into the "you can't talk about this" category for the Book Award Committee.

So... here's the 2020 reading analysis (2019 numbers in parens):
number of books read in 2020:  299 (305)
best month: July/36 (August/50) 
worst month: October/17 (April/15) 
average read per month:  24.8 (24.4)
adult fiction as percentage of total: 14 (20)
children's/YA fiction as percentage of total:   17.7 (18)

Advance Readers Copies: 226 (257)
eARCs vs print: 186 vs 40
books read that were published in 2020: 209 
books that will be published in the 2021: 41 
five star reviews (aka "Must Read"):  26 (30)
one star reviews (aka "DNF"): 15 (11)

While Mt. Bookpile was 278 this time last year, it's at 286 now.  I'm going to take it a little easier in 2021 and make my goal 250 books because I have several big, thick books taunting me!  Let's see how things go.