2021 wrap up

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Seriously? It’s the end of 2021 already? How did that happen? I mean it’s been a helluva year for sure. We’ve seen friends and relatives die, related to COVID and not. We’ve seen new governments take control and, in some cases, make things better and in some cases make things much, much worse (and while I’d like to say this is an objective statement, I, better than anyone else since I repeat it several times every semester, know there is no such thing as objective.)

Not that it’s been all bad. Not at all. But I think 2021 will go down as a year of postponed opportunities. There are so many things we would have liked to have done this year, but disease and uncertainty caused us to stay home. I say “caused” and not “forced,” which is what I originally wrote, because this year, nothing was “forcing” us. We could have traveled. I know many people who did, but for us, it just didn’t feel like the right thing to do. Having a small child who is incredibly susceptible to illness (I know, I know, all small children are incredibly susceptible to illness) certainly made us more wary and in the end, it didn’t really help since, in November, we were all diagnosed with the plague anyway. Of course, by that time, Rasa and I were both double vaxxed and Monki, thankfully, caught a relatively light case (doesn’t mean she wasn’t miserable, but it passed fairly quickly).

But even with the plague, the goodwill which had been engendered in 2020 vanished along with the good sense of the general public. No more nightly applause parades or free YouTube screenings of live theatre. Nope, this was becoming the new normal and so we adapted.

The beginning of the year saw us make a big change in the dynamics of the household, swapping out the office room and Monki’s bedroom. As I wrote about it at the time, the best part was that it meant Monki got a bigger room, and in the year since, she has taken full advantage of that. Like my books, her toys have grown to fill available space so she is definitely doing okay in that regard. And she did graduate to the big bed, using her “Monkey with a Toolbelt” skills to help me take apart her old bed.

I also had some freelance work in between teaching classes online for the spring semester. It was fun to be tangentially involved in the video game industry, especially since Comic-Con Baltics was once again postponed. At the same time, I did some voiceover work for the Sugihara House Museum and some other dribs and drabs here and there, enough to keep my brain functioning.

Once summer hit, things looked to be getting a bit better on the plague front. We got our vaccinations, bought a new car, and even took some local trips around Lithuania. We weren’t about to leave the country, but we could travel around a little bit, which was nice. Even went to the seaside for our birthdays (Monki’s and mine). Overall, though, it was a fairly sedate summer.

By the time September rolled around, Monki was ready to start school. Now, sure, we’ve talked in the past about her various school exploits, but now, at 5, she was ready to at least start playing in the same ballpark as the big leagues. It started off well enough, but over the course of the first 4 months of school, Monki was able to attend in-person classes for a grand total of 15 days. That said, she’s doing okay. Even though she’s the youngest in her class, she’s in the top academically and she’s got some friends and has attended a few social functions, so it all seems to be progressing as it should. We’ve got a few more months of school in 2022 to get her immune system built up and to hopefully get her to outgrow the separation anxiety because honestly, she loves school, just hates being away from us. Can’t really blame her, though, looking at how her life has been so far.

Speaking of Monki, she’s also growing by leaps and bounds. Physically, she’s getting bigger and stronger, which is great, but mentally and emotionally she’s growing as well. We’ve had a few incidents this year, and I’m sure we’ll have more next year, these being the minefields all parents navigate, but when she’s been officially checked out and we’ve had it confirmed by a professional that she’s fine and we’re doing an okay job.

Whew!

This year, she attended her first (and so far, only) movie in a movie theatre (Paw Patrol) and enjoyed it pretty well. We’re still working on her sitting through an entire film at home, though, with practice and popcorn, but she’s getting there. And she’s trying new things. Slowly. Usually it takes us talking about, showing it to her, her rejecting it at first and then coming back to it on her own terms, but at least we’ve pretty much moved on from Peppa Pig and into the Netflix queue of older kid shows. We did show her The Christmas Chronicle with Kurt Russel, and our sensitive little girl had a little breakdown when Santa was arrested. It took explaining that it would all work out in the end to convince her to finish watching.

As for Rasa, she’s doing brilliantly working on her PhD, writing books and policy for the EU, co-authoring pieces with some of the leaders in her field, and just generally kicking ass. And that doesn’t even touch on taking care of a child and a grown-up with an immature mentality. She really is just amazing, and I have no idea where I’d be without her.

Now let’s talk numbers. I discovered a while ago that I like tracking things. I like to have some sort of accountability in order to keep hold of things in my head. This holds for any number of variables or metrics and one of those is book reading. I make a goal through Goodreads and I have a couple of different fun little forms to fill out, challenges to complete, throughout the year. This year, as I write this, with one day left until NYE, I’m about halfway through the final book to meet my goal. I’ll make it, I’m pretty sure. But even as I say that, I want to make a promise to write more book and film reviews for this blog this year. I say that every December and I’m good for a little while but then I collapse, stumble, and ultimately fail. Yet I keep on trying.

There are other goals I have for this coming year, involving my own creative projects, and if/when they happen, I’ll certainly write about them. I did something a few weeks which was really fun. I hosted the Kaunas Thursday night premiere of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which was put together by Comic Con Baltics. As many people have noted, I was in my element. I like doing these kinds of things, so I’m really going to focus on trying to be a little bit more creatively geeky this year, as well as trying to get some of my own creative writing done.

That’s a pretty tall order with a 5 ½ year old running around. Hopefully she’ll get back to going to school and we’ll have some time on our own to get our stuff done. And if we don’t, we’ll figure something else out. The stuff which needs to get done will get done and the rest, well, that’s what 2023 is for, right?

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