Things I Loved in 2020
It took me forever to put this list together, and I almost wasn’t going to because it felt futile to reflect on a year that sucked so much. But I shifted my thinking, and I’m approaching this as a moment not to be mired in the negativity that usually surrounds me by pointing out some of the things that kept me going during the Pandemic Year of our Lord 2020. I tried to diversify the list to include apps, games, and music. I also mentioned some things I bought, which I may have pasted an affiliate link to because the society we live in suggests I do this so that I might make a few bucks to pay for printer paper.
Samsung Galaxy Buds
I’m still using these freebie buds that Samsung handed out at a Galaxy event a few years back. They helped so much with everything this year. When I was pumping or rocking Mona back to sleep, I’d listen to a podcast or watch Bravo with the volume low. I use these things when we go for walks around the park, though I only put in one bud so that I can hear the cars and foot traffic around me and avoid bringing Mona’s stroller within six feet of someone else. And the active noise cancellation is good enough that I don’t hear Mona whining through my music.
One of my favorite artists. I think Duett is a duet? I found very little information on this artist I’ve been bumping the hell out of since I discovered them a few years back. Borderline is one of my favorite albums, and I wish to purchase the LP once it’s pressed again. During quarantine, Duett released Outlines, which gave me life when I was feeling dark and lonely.
Throw in postpartum hormones, sprinkle a bit of maskne, and you have a face that’s reminiscent of your worst days in high school. I’ve mentioned these before, and I’ll mention them again because they’ve been an absolute lifesaver during this pimply year.
This keyboard turned out to be my darling. I initially called it in for a massive mechanical keyboard guide I did for Gizmodo a few months back, and I’m still using it. Because even though I have a wall of keyboards I’ve customized in the last year I love, Logitech’s low-profile keycaps and brown switches are some of the softest, most comfortable switches I’ve ever typed on. God bless the comfort. Cozy and comfort are all you should surround yourself with until this pandemic is over.
Did you know that the Mars company launches a ton of different themed M&Ms throughout the year? It’s a lot like the Great Oreo Taste Test of 2017 we did on All About Android, except it’s just me scarfing down a bag of specially flavored M&Ms. So far, I’ve had cocoa crisp, and mint chocolate flavored M&Ms. I’m going to get some right now as I finish working on this.
Flashy emails and ecards were all I could manage this year in terms of congratulatory correspondence. Thanks for understanding. And anyway, full access to Adobe Spark is included in my Creative Cloud subscription.
On the weekends, after Mona goes to bed, I log into Windows 98. More about this in 2021, God willing.
Art and other pretty things
Artists and other such pretty, illustrated things kept me going this year. I spent what little money I had on pins, keychains, and stickers to arrive in my mailbox and brighten up my day from artists and illustrators I’d encountered through the predatory Instagram algorithm. I subscribed to so many new Patreon artists I’d never heard of before, including Sinister Squids, who delivers print outs every month; Elora Pautrat, who offers dreamy Japan-inspired wallpapers; and Dollgirls, who I found through mechanical keyboard circles. Life is good when surrounded by pretty things.
Speaking of artists, one of the Patreons I subscribe to makes wallpapers and items for the Tamagotchi Meets/On. It’s the latest generation of Tamagotchi, which I got into out of sheer curiosity for the fact that you can upload your own wallpapers and things and customize your Tama as you like. It’s really come a far way from where Tamagotchi was in my youth—a mere 21 years ago!
In the months since I purchased the Tamagotchi On, I realized I had two other generations of Tamagotchi stowed away in various boxes. Then my Mom found two more stored in boxes I’d left at her house nearly 13 years ago. I bought a pink Tamagotchi IDL, the predecessor to the Tamagotchi Meets/On, from Japan You Want. I have six Tamagotchi children in total—actually, now I have seven, including my new Hello Kitty Tamagotchi from Santa. I’m also venturing into other-brand virtual pets, like the Pixel Stars. Expect to hear plenty more from me on this new hobby.
I desperately wanted to ditch Notion after how slow it became to use in Google Chrome. Plus, I wanted something more secure. Joplin is an open-source alternative that’s cross-platform, from your smartphone all the way up to your favorite Linux distro. It’s encrypted, easy to use, and you can type your notes in markdown. I love how it stores copied images by saving the file to a folder somewhere, so I don’t have to worry about that process when I’m bookmarking links and sources for research. And it uses tags and accepts emoji in the titles. Try it out. It looks a little dated than Notion, but I find it worked better for my day-to-day workflow.
I kind of feel like the pandemic and all of us experiencing the trauma of the year at the same time helped bring us together on Discord. Many of the folks in my life started experiencing Zoom fatigue soon after realizing we’d be sheltering-in-place for the long haul. And can you blame them? When it’s Zoom for work and Google Classroom for the kid’s school all day, the last thing you want to do is get back in front of the computer and feign normalcy. Text chat still holds a place in public discourse. And with the negativity rampant on social networks like Twitter, Discord allowed us the space to congregate without much fear.
Without Discord, I would have been lost. Not only did I tap into a whirlwind of mechanical keyboard groups and Tamagotchi collectors, but my personal Discord grew exponentially. I even started moderating a Discord community, which I could be much better at if I could get myself a little more organized. Anyway, if you’re interested in joining us, here’s an invite link. I hope to see you there. And I sincerely bid you a better and more stabilizing 2021.