2020 in Review

Mpepper/ November 21, 2020/ Flashbacks, Think Pieces

There are 39 days left in the year, which means it’s time to begin the process of reflecting on all that has occurred. And for a year spent mostly at home, there is surprisingly a lot to review.

I started the year with health issues and big plans. My focal nodular hyperplasia (FNH) in my liver had begun to act up, so I was sent for an ultrasound and then an MRI. That MRI took place on February 26 and was one of the last in-person doctor visits I would have, though I didn’t know it at the time. I was expecting to see a hepatologist in mid-March, but that got scotched. Two guesses as to why, and the first doesn’t count.

On February 27, my husband and I drove down to Disneyland. Again, we didn’t know it then, but it would be the first and last trip of the year. I was supposed to go to Texas in August for a reunion and to Japan in September, but… I came home from Disneyland with a cough that steadily worsened. The doctors only spoke to me via video chat and told me it was simply asthma. To date, I am not sure whether I had COVID-19 or not. I’ve yet to be tested in any capacity. But it was the worst cough I’ve ever had—and that’s saying something, as I have a history of routinely getting pneumonia and bronchitis. It continues to come and go, and doctors continue to treat me via video visits. Asthma and/or a fermentable food sensitivity have thus far been labeled the culprit(s). I’ve been punted to a nutritionist, so we’ll see what transpires.

Meanwhile, we were also supposed to host Japanese students in mid-March, but that trip was cancelled as well. On March 13, my kids came home from school and would never go back—at least, not in person. On March 14, we celebrated both Pi Day and eight years in California by going to a Sherlock Holmes-themed escape room and then to In-N-Out Burger. It would be our last “normal” day out in the world.

While I battled my cough, we hunkered down at home and have more or less stayed hunkered ever since. We get our groceries delivered. My husband’s office has had everyone working from home since March 9 and currently don’t plan to have people back until maybe next April? The kids have been doing school online. And I’ve always worked from home, so now I just do it with everyone else home, too. It means fighting for bandwidth sometimes, but we’re safe and mostly healthy, so that’s good. Meanwhile, the boys are still able to do fencing lessons (outside at the park), my daughter still horseback rides, and she and her younger brother are continuing Taekwondo. Plus, we swam in the pool for as long as the weather allowed, and there have been many walks, plus the rowing machine and a new stationary bike.

I did manage to write a book this year (The Ghosts of Marshley Park), and I think it’s possibly my most commercial manuscript yet. I’ve just begun the querying process with it. I also re-released both The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller and The K-Pro this year. Peter sold more copies in paperback than it ever did as an e-book, which doesn’t surprise me in the least given its genre and the likely readership for that title.

Besides writing, I was tapped for several school duties that have kept me busy via Zoom meetings. I like being involved, and I like having something to do, so it’s fine by me. I’ve read 61 books this year, which is fewer than the 81 I read last year, but I also didn’t write anything last year (except “Origami of the Heart”), so I guess it evens out.

Despite not being able to go to the Shakespeare at Winedale reunion in August, we did manage to create a distance version of The Winter’s Tale. I had a very small part, but it was fun to do, even if it was tricky to film. I continue to be hopeful my best friend and I will be able to go to Japan next fall… This year, friendship has mostly taken place via phone calls, Zoom get togethers, and text messaging.

We did manage to take the kids to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom one day this summer and to the Oakland Zoo on another day. And we did another escape room (“magic school” themed) on Hallowe’en morning. It’s pretty sad when you can count on one hand the outings you’ve been on in 8+ months. But we’re grateful we have the ability to stay home when many people do not.

I’m not naive enough to think the change in a calendar year will magically reset things, but I do hope that we’re progressing in the right direction and that, maybe by spring or summer, we can start to venture out more regularly. And I have hope that an agent will see value in my latest work and take a chance on it (and me). There could be a lot of curve balls to come, and not every ball we hit will be a home run, but to hit anything these days feels like a minor miracle. Even if it flies foul, at least you stay in the game. So I’ll keep swinging.

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