One Year of Working From Home

I’m so lucky, and privileged, to have even been able to work from home for the past 365 days. I understand that I am only able to do so because other people are not, that I am only able to have groceries and dinners and office supplies delivered to me during a year I rarely left my building thanks to the work of people who are not paid enough. I hope that you will join me in supporting the people and businesses that have sustained us throughout this year and who brought us joy in the time before… and the soon to come time after.

A year ago today, I set myself up to work from my dining room table after taking my laptop AND charger home from work, at the behest of my husband. The day prior, I was just getting settled in the office after a theme park visit (!) and a cruise (!!), but he was very worried about the news about the virus while I was much more nonchalant about it, so I humored him and packed my bag as though I was planning to do work over the weekend, which I hate and never do. That day, I remember tracking which office buildings near ours had confirmed positive cases: the building next to ours, a building owned by the same company, a building ours was connected to. The head of Port Authority was confirmed to be positive for the novel coronavirus after conducting visits to nearly every major airport, train station, and bus terminal. I went home early to avoid rush hour, but the trains were still full, and we couldn’t avoid feeling both in want of masks in such close proximity to other riders and consciousness of the stares other people of Asian descent got for wearing them. I asked leadership if we should expect to be back in the office after a week or maybe a month.

My office would ask employees to work from home one day after I began doing so. Later that evening, after “commuting” from the side of my dining table designated for work to the side of the table designated for eating, we would learn that Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks tested positive, the first celebrities who did at that time, and that the NBA was cancelling their season after Rudy Gobert tested positive. A day later, Broadway announced shows would be cancelled, and the majority of New York City offices were closed.

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Resolutions and Other Goals

Perhaps because of how my 2020 goals went, or just how 2020 went did much to rein in how ambitious I was come New Year’s Day, but my 2021 resolutions were decidedly shorter in number and smaller in scope. Maybe a year of setting SMART goals (Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-bound) has helped me reframe goal-setting in a way that sets myself up so that I can look forward to success rather than disappointment with myself.

In these first few extremely tumultuous weeks of the new Gregorian year, I’ve noticed that there are still ways I hope to grow into the person I want to be that I didn’t capture in my resolutions post, maybe because they didn’t feel specific enough or maybe because I didn’t want to commit to them in a formal blog. (I included a few tentative ideas for these goals at the end of my resolutions post. Looking back, I feel sheepish about hedging so much about the commitment of making them big-R Resolutions but apparently, 3 weeks later, I still don’t feel comfortable with these goals having the same priority as my resolutions.)

But I think it is still valuable for me to share what some of these other goals are, both for accountability and for the sake of documenting what was important to me to try to change, what kind of person I was hoping to become.

So, here are a few other goals I have been working towards, not just in for the year 2021 but for some time now.

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2021 Resolutions

Now that we have reflected on 2020, and taken out much of our frustration with the world on this year that held so much promise (I really was looking forward to deals on Lasik…), it’s time to look forward towards 2021, stretching out before us.

This year, I feel a lot less anticipation for the new year and the fresh start that is promises to bring. Maybe because I’ve been so worn down by the previous year, or maybe because I know deep down that the stresses of 2020 not only didn’t magically disappear when the clock struck midnight but are liable to stick around for much of, if not all of, 2021.

Still. I was forced to spend a lot of time with myself, in my home, confronted with my poor habits and my unmet good intentions. It was a case scenario I always feared as an extrovert: without social interactions to keep me lifted and energized, I would deflate and collapse into a shell of myself. During that time, I saw much room for improvement.

Resolutions for Your Best New Year |

The resolutions for this year aren’t going to be as ambitious as they were in past years, I think. Concrete ones will be very specific and more realistic for me to achieve, given how many years several of them have appeared on this blog. To be honest, I haven’t spent as much time thinking about these as I have in years past, and I’m not too bothered about it. My resolutions have always been an opportunity for me to reframe my approach to my habits and a time for me to set the intention of what kind of person I want to be. So many goals in my previous resolutions had, knowingly or not, dependencies that were outside of my control. My goals to explore the city more, during a year when I could not leave my apartment? Or to just invite people into my home more, during a year when indoor gatherings were lethal? I didn’t know. And so, as a result, my resolutions this year are fewer and more restrained. I am not pushing myself too hard in 2021. We all need and deserve some rest this year, I think.

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2020 New Foods

I made a resolution to try at least one new recipe or restaurant every week of 2020. This was easier some weeks (e.g. travel weeks) than others (e.g. deep in burnout, months into quarantine weeks) so there were a handful of weeks where I either only ordered from restaurants I’ve eaten from before or only cooked familiar old recipes.

This was a good exercise for me, as keeping this goal in mind did push me to try to order from new restaurants, at the very least, and to find new recipes to cook. But it did feel like a lot of pressure to try new things when I really wanted the comfort of familiarity during this difficult year. (For example, I would have liked to support restaurants more regularly, even though I don’t regret supporting different restaurants week to week.)

Here’s how I did, by week number of the year:

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2020 in Books

Quarantine led many people to read more books than they’ve read in a long, long time, with so much time freed up and a re-dedication to supporting local bookstores. Book clubs were a big thing this year for staying social, too, as reading became a lot more trendy in the social media circles I follow.

Well, for me… my commute remains my primary dedicated reading time and space, so when I stopped having a commute in March, I stopped reading for a long time, too.

Needless to say, it was another year of falling disappointingly short of my books goal, coming up shorter on my Goodreads challenge than ever before. It stings a bit to think of the years that I far surpassed the number of books I aimed to read, and that those numbers far exceed how many I got through this year. But I’m not too beat up about it, I know how difficult this year was and the only reason I read as much as I even did was because of many bouts of stressed and anxious insomnia. Probably half of my reading was done between 2-6am this year, hours that I am usually not awake for at all.

Here was 2020 in books completed:

Collage of covers for books read in 2020
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