Wednesday, December 23, 2020

2020 Year In Review

(If you are looking for the recipes for the treats, they are here.)

Do we even want to review 2020? Wasn't living through it once enough? It's tradition though. So here I go. 

2020 is another year where we need to start with the end. In 2019, it was because Cale completed his doctorate in November, and we didn't want to wait until the end of the year in review to be introduced to Dr. Reeves.

This year it is because in November, Cale accepted a faculty position at Georgia Tech! 

They are remote in the Spring, so we won't move right away. Cale will teach from here, and we'll look at moving to Atlanta in the summer.

Now back to our regularly scheduled chronological year in review.

JANUARY
January was a simpler time, when we just hung out with friends with no thought at all.

What was this? HONKTX in January? Yes please. It was HONK Prom. 


FEBRUARY
Remember friends? We were still seeing them back in February.




Cale and I took a long, BBQ-themed weekend in Lockhart.


We didn't yet understand what was on the horizon for 2020.



February Wrap Up



MARCH
In early March, we still saw friends. But we knew something was up.




Then, on March 6th, things started to get real.
It was surprising how quickly it all moved. On March 10, United Way ATX hosted a 2-Gen Coalition meeting - our conference space full of people. On March 11, I attended a large work-event banquet at a downtown hotel - where there was hand sanitizer on the table and some people greeted each other with elbow bumps. And on March 12, United Way announced to staff that we were working from home indefinitely starting the next day, Friday the 13th.


The news told us to panic shop. So, we stood in an hour-long check-out line on Friday to stock up on groceries. It is a good thing we did, because groceries were hard to come by on Saturday - our usual grocery day. Side note, we still have that impulse quinoa and frozen fruit purchase. Just because the internet tells you to stock up on dry goods and frozen fruits, doesn't mean you should stock up on things you don't normally eat.


And that is when Cale and I began the great 2020 work from home. We set up two desks in the extra bedroom (back to back with computers at angles such that our cameras did not show the other). Cale was teaching his graduate-level statistics course via Zoom and his research group at UT pivoted to modeling the spread of COVID (using an agent-based model to show the impact of social networks, risk tolerance, socio-economic status, etc.).

We also went into hardcore quarantine so we could make and ship my family's traditional Easter pastry to everyone - including Grandma. We didn't leave the house for two weeks total (other than after work neighborhood walks and curbside grocery pickup - and we washed everything that came into the house).
We Zoomed a lot with friends






At the end of March, United Way ATX and the Austin Community Foundation launched the All Together ATX Fund for COVID relief. By December 14 (I am writing this the last day in November), we will have granted out more than $7 million to community organizations supporting those impacted by the pandemic and its economic devastation. I was on the backend managing all of the grantmaking process.

March Wrap Up


APRIL
In April, there was baking.






And lots of Zooming.


Cale finished his Ph.D. in November 2019. He was supposed to walk in the May 2020 commencement. By the time his fancy Ph.D. clothes arrived in April, the in-person commencement was cancelled. So this is all the wear they got this year.


There were some benefits to working from home. Like not getting dressed. I had two pairs of pajama bottoms on rotation.
April Wrap Up



MAY
In May, we were still doing our daily walks around the neighborhood, and we would take the portable disc golf basket to the empty double lot in the neighborhood.


I also learned that I would be remote for the rest of the year. It seemed so far away at the time. Surely, things would be safe by the end of the year? But kudos for United Way for having the foresight and erring on the side of safety regardless.
The baking continued too.




We got a smaller, inflatable pool. But without the filtration and chlorine system, the water got gross quickly. And taking it down and putting it back up again was a pain. So it didn't last long.


White America started to realize that they needed to have some tough conversations and get to work. And I realized I didn't know how to.



At the end of May, our local disc golf course re-opened. Disc golf is a socially distant activity. We disced basically every Saturday since.


And, finally, at the end of the month, we celebrated our 17th anniversary - with cheese, natch.


May Wrap Up



JUNE
I went out in public for the first time to participate in a Black Lives Matters protest.




It was negative.

The baking continued.


I confirmed something I had always suspected about my head.
But most importantly, in June, we moved! 

We had been unhappy with our rental duplex for years, but never got around to moving. Mainly because we wanted to move closer to town and our jobs and friends, but rents were so high we could not afford to do so. Also, because moving is such a pain in the ass. 

Now that we knew that I was remote through the end of the calendar year and Cale wasn't teaching any fall classes, we really had no near-term reason to move closer to town. So why not move farther out, where rents were cheaper? The biggest part of the move is that it is a three-bedroom, which means that Cale and I were no longer back-to-back in our tiny extra bedroom. We each have our own home office now. The new house was really a game changer for our pandemic quarantine mental health.


June Wrap Up


JULY
Things continued to be very busy at work for me. In addition to administering three rounds of funding for All Together ATX that would ultimately grant out more than $7 million. We were also administering two funds for child care providers totaling more than $6 million. I appreciated knowing the work I was doing was helping people in the community during this crisis.

July Wrap Up



AUGUST
In August we had settled in to a pretty standard routine. 

Weekdays: Work all day, go for a walk around the neighborhood, watch an episode of Jeopardy on Netflix or Hulu, cook dinner, read books on the porch until it was too dark, watch something on TV, sleep, repeat. I tried to add in exercise first thing in the morning at least three days a week. 

Saturday: Breakfast tacos, plan meals for the week and place grocery pickup order, disc golf, laze (or work, as needed), pick up groceries, cook, read, TV, sleep. 

Sundays: Sara maintains the lawn while Cale makes breakfast, laze (or work, as needed).

In August, we also took a week off work. Though we didn't go anywhere, we finally got in some creek time. We had tried visiting the creek on a weekend, only to discover it too full of people for our liking. It was basically empty on weekdays though.


As I mentioned, we disced basically every Saturday.


And Cale turned the big 4-0. We weren't able to gather with friends the way we would have liked. But it was quite the exuberant Zoom.


August Wrap Up


SEPTEMBER
After more than five months, we had our first attempt at socially distancing in person with friends.


Neither of us have had hair cuts since March. By the time I am writing this in November, my hair is so ridiculously long. We tried creative ways to maintain Cale's long look.


United Way saw the writing on the wall.
Sara also saw the writing on the wall.
September Wrap Up


OCTOBER
Cale took the first step towards what would eventually become a full, green-screen studio in his office.


He also sold his car. He realized that he was overdue for an oil change based on time, but had only put 200 miles on the car since the last oil change.
We reached the point of stir crazy with the quarantine, so we decided to try a socially distant trip. We rented an AirBnB in Amarillo so we could to do Palo Duro State Park. Fun fact, on the drive up, my news told me that the governor had declared a state of emergency in Amarillo due to the rapid increase in COVID cases and was sending medical personnel from around the state. Oh, great. You know it's really bad if Abbott is willing to do something about it.
We were successful in staying away from humans for the trip though and it was great to see something other than the inside of our house.


Very important, in this month we early voted. Because, oh, did we desperately need a new president!


And Cale made the most adorable socially distant Halloween.


October Wrap Up


NOVEMBER
We tried more socially distant activities with friends




And virtual activities with family.


There was also bad news in November. Cale's grandmother died from COVID complications. His mom was also sick with COVID, and we were so grateful when she recovered.

Because of the illness in the family and the rising cases across the country, we cancelled our plans to drive back to Indiana for Thanksgiving (we had planned an entirely socially distant trip, but it was not the time for travel). Instead, we fried a turkey at home.


And then, at the end of November, some amazing news. Cale accepted a faculty position at Georgia Tech. I tried to get video of us celebrating after he accepted the position. But as it turns out, if you leave a split of champagne in your fridge for, well, years, it might not be champagne anymore.


Cale will teach two courses at Georgia Tech in the spring semester. But since they are remote in the spring, we will still be in Austin. We'll move to Atlanta some time in early summer.

November Wrap Up


DECEMBER
There is still half of December to come. But with the way time is working now, December will be over in two days and last for seven years.

So far in this month, we got out of the house.


And Cale put the finishing touches on his office studio.


From which, he hosted a pretty impressive webinar about the agent-based model he built. If you want to hear Cale speak, you'll find him at the 31:30 mark.


This webinar is part of the LBJ "Resiliency in the Age of COVID-19: A Policy Toolkit."

To replace his sold car, Cale bought an electric motorcycle off a friend in Indiana. It arrived just in time for Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, this is Sara updating the year-in-review post with things that happened in the final days of the year. Something she always promises to do, and then never does.
Here's the card y'all got in the mail!
 
If you didn't get it in the mail or at least in an email, and you want to, reach out to get on the list.

We Zoomed with family for Christmas.
 
Grandma's first Zoom? We talk on the phone every week. But it was great to see her face.
December Wrap Up