Thursday, December 31, 2020

Goodbye, 2020, and Good Riddance

College Avenue, Oakland
April 12, 2020
Photo taken from the middle of the street with no risk to the photographer (me).

Well, it certainly has been a dumpster fire of a year, one that I'm very happy to say good-bye to.

On the positive side:

  • My partner and I had work, a roof over our heads, a cat who tolerates us, and each other.
  • We didn't get COVID-19, owing to some combination of luck and caution.
  • We still like each other, after approximately 9 months of being stuck in the house together.
  • We are going full speed ahead on a long-overdue remodel of our kitchen, which is falling apart (literally).
  • I had a shockingly productive year at work, after a week of getting used to being home.
  • I read 77 books. I am way behind in Wagnerism, but okay. It's not light reading.
  • Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take office in just under three weeks. I will be able to stop worrying that I will wake up to find that the President of the United States nuked [country name] in a fit of pique.
Looking at my calendar, I attended three concerts before everything shut down: Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, in a lovely program that included a new piece by Kurt Rohde and Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time and both of Esa-Pekka Salonen's programs at SFS. One of the highlights was hearing his Violin Concerto again; they were both wonderful.

The last "normal" things I did before the shutdown were:
  • Attend the American Judo & Jujitsu Federation's annual convention (March 6-8); amazingly, it seems nobody spread the coronavirus at this, despite hundreds of people in close contact all weekend.
  • Teach safe rolling & falling on March 8, the last in a ten-week series of classes
  • Teach the one student who came to regular class that week, on Thursday, March 12
  • Get my hair cut and colored (fun colors, not cover-the-gray coloring)
On the negative side:
  • Hundreds of thousands of Americans are dead from COVID-19.
  • Even minimally competent leadership would have greatly reduced that.
    • Donald Trump would have been a hero if he'd modeled wearing masks and staying home. People on the left would have believed the science and worn masks. People on the right would have believed Trump and worn masks.
    • He would have been re-elected. 
  • Utter economic disaster for far too many Americans, owing to mismanagement, terrible unemployment insurance, the GOP Senate and Mitch McConnell's unwillingness to provide adequate relief.
  • Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and McConnell rammed through her replacement in record time just weeks before the election.
  • No concerts, no theatre, no opera since very early March.
  • Musical institutions of all sizes are under enormous economic pressure. They won't all survive.
  • Some are doing terrible things to their performing and theatrical staff. Yes, I'm looking at you, Metropolitan Opera.
  • Most musical performers have lost a year of work and might not perform in person again until late in 2021.
  • In institutions where management isn't trying to break unions, a lot of performers are looking at reduced pay for years to come.
It didn't have to be this way. We have giant amounts of money floating around; the government can print money quite freely; paying everyone who couldn't work safely to stay home, paying everyone who lost their job, enrolling everyone who lost a job into the ACA automatically at no charge, ongoing rent and mortgage relief for those who couldn't pay - if only the GOP and far too many Americans don't believe in taking care of other Americans. So much suffering could have been avoided, had we the political will and decency to do so.

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