Happy new year, everyone. Twenty-twenty was a wild ride, wasn't it? In fact, I decided to dedicate this journal entry to handing out my very own made-up 2020 awards to all people and characters that made this year memorable for me. This was kind of a last minute idea - I've only been scrolling through 2020's journal entries for about an hour, and I need to start writing. No offense, but when midnight rolls around I'd rather be having champagne outside by the fire instead of at my computer writing. So without further ado, let's hand out some accolades.
The biggest chumps of the year - the people that made a terrible 2020 even worse. Buckle up.
- To the drag racers on East Wash. These toolbags cruising East Washington in their crappy modded Honda Civics showed dedication that you can't help but admire. It didn't matter if it was a weeknight, if it was dinner time, if the city was burning with riots or if a pandemic was rife in our community. These knuckleheads were there through it all, revving their engines as they flew by our dining room window.
- To the oven repair guy we hired earlier this year. Dealing with the stress of grocery shortages and a new baby in the house, I can't express to you how uplifting it was to pay you a hundred dollars just to lecture me about how I stripped the screws around the igniter and how I had too many pans stacked in my warming drawer. You didn't fix anything, you didn't schedule a follow up appointment, and my wife had to watch a YouTube video to install the new ignitor you had mailed to our house without warning, but without your biting commentary on how dirty my stove top was, I don't know how I would have gotten on with this year.
- To Blippi. You were silent for most of the year. You kept us guessing, and for a time I thought you were cooking up something very informative and encouraging for all the kids stuck in their homes this year. But you surpassed my expectations when you broke your YouTube silence just to publish a video where you showed kids how to operate dangerous power tools in your buddy's garage. Thanks for the important lessons, Blippi.
- To Marissa. You are the love of my life. You astound me with your beauty, skill, and grace on a daily basis. You are a wonderful mother and a brave companion. But you operate our coffee maker like an ape. I still occasionally wake up in a cold sweat thinking of the gruesome scene you left in our dining room that one morning you decided to brew coffee, and for that, you are one of the chumps of 2020. Please never make coffee for me again.
- To John Krasinski. Remember when you decided to launch an adorable web show to make us feel better during quarantine only to take it off the air while you sold Some Good News to a TV network? And now we find out that you're not even going to be the host? Jim Face - you're a chump!
- To that weenie on ebay who scolded me over direct message for not including a picture of the item I was selling. You were right - I listed it again a second time, and it sold immediately, but what kind of person just cruises around ebay looking for poorly documented listings to shame? A chump, that's who.
- To Hy-Vee's software engineering department. Your website is so cruel and poorly designed, it makes me wonder if it was done on purpose. The way it logs you out automatically every five minutes. The way the dropdown menus stutter so you click the wrong item. The way the search is so unbearably slow that my browser assumes the page isn't responding. Not only will I never use a website to order groceries again, but I'm contemplating never touching a computer again after quarantine..
Brave (or Stupid)
The bravest people I came across in 2020. So Brave, you have to question whether or not it's just stupidity.
- That nerd who knocked on my door during dinner time to canvass for PBS. I don't feel bad calling you a nerd because you immediately started berating me for claiming to like Mr. Rodgers without financially supporting his broadcasting station. I tried to intimidate you, then brush you off saying that I would "donate over the phone later", and you accused me of lying. I was lying, and for that you get the bravery award.
- Nurse Kenzie of Meriter hospital. You were the nurse who told Marissa that because of an obscure requirement for iron levels that Marissa would not receive an epidural during childbirth. For her professionalism and for remaining in the room without knowing what damage Marissa is capable of, you get the bravery award, Kenzie.
- Our saltwater shrimp. All three of them. There was Stephane I, Stephane II, and Bruno. They say you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and that could be true of new hobbies and cleaner shrimp as well.
- The medical assistant that checked me into an exam room when I nearly sliced my finger off a few days ago. As I sat bewildered clutching a wet mess of bloody paper towels in my lap, he asked me to step on the scale, and even commented on how far off my actual weight was from my medical chart. "Makes sense... holidays..." he said to himself. Brave, I'll give him that. Maybe if I hadn't lost so much blood already, those would have been fighting words.
To the lucky ones.
- Zoom. Not Skype, not Google Hangouts. It had to be a company that practically nobody had ever heard of. Have you ever stopped to appreciate even how terrible there name is? Zoom sounds like a placeholder word. And if not for a global pandemic, they would still be just a terrible name.
- Our friends from Dublin, Rafael and Miguel. Looking back at my entries, they managed to squeeze in a visit to America in March just before things got real. They drank wine with us, tried deep dish pizza for the first time, and got out a-dodge before COVID was even a household name. For that, you two are probably 2020's luckiest SOB's.
- To Paw Patrol. Rodney was done with you. You were on the way out. There was a glorious three months where Rodney had moved on to better and more exciting shows. But a well placed add on Nick Jr's website pulled us right back in. You've respun the whole Paw Patrol universe all over again with "mighty pups" and for all I know we have a whole new Paw Patrol desert to cross.
- To anyone who didn't get to see Hamilton live. I count us lucky. Of all the things we missed this year, at least we didn't have to pay $300 to learn that Hamilton was just OK.
Still bad, but not as bad.
- To Baby Miles. You had a rough start. I feel like we had to pick up a lot of slack for you in your first few months on earth. It didn't seem like you were a fan of sleeping, sitting, or just generally existing. But you really turned things around this fall and now I barely even notice you. Speaking of which, where is Miles?
- To Rodney, specifically for you great poop work this year. I spent so much time this year trying to convince you that your poop wasn't angry at your or your poop didn't belong in your feet that I thought there was no hope.
- To the Chicago Bears, going from being an unstoppable 5-1 juggernaut, to a hopeless six game losing streak, to turning it around just in time to give me feeble hope for the playoffs. Someone on twitter said "only the Chicago Bears could experience three completely different football seasons in one year", and I'll leave it at that.
- To Krang, my sourdough starter. I'm sorry for the months I left you malnourished in the drafty corner of our house. I really didn't know what I was doing, but my goodness did you stick with me. It's amazing what living organisms can do when you, you know, feed them and care for them correctly.
MVPs. My heros. The people that made this year a little less crummy.
- To Portillo's. My rock. My saving grace. You shone your heavenly light on the dark wasteland that is East Madison fast food, and for that I am eternally grateful.
- To the coffee shop on Willie Street. I'm sorry that I got distracted and accidentally left Ziggy's steamy bagged hot dog poop on your window sill. Thank you for not pursuing me down the street.
- To the Madison quarry. Thank you for your stewardship over the big hole in the ground and letting us chuck our dirt and bricks into it. I don't know how I could have gotten through quarantine without that occasional cathartic release.
- To Chef John, and all the other YouTube chefs I follow. Thanks for coming alongside focus-challenged millenials like me and showing us the things we should have already learned from books and from our grandmother's.
- To Joe Exotic. And while we're at it, wild documentaries like My Octopus Teacher and The Last Dance. I may have never gotten to leave my house this year, but there were a few documentaries that at least mentally transported me somewhere else for a while.
- Lastly, my friends, my family, and my readers. This one is sincere - thank you for spending this year with me in words.
Here's to our last day of 2020. Happy new year, my friends. See you next year.