2020 In Bullet Points

2020 was the year that I lost the ability to string together complete sentences and thoughts. Bullet points and lists work best for me now, so here you go with a list of things that whizzed across my brain.

  • COVID
    • It was a hard year for everyone that was full of stress, loss, loneliness, confusion, and more. It was no different here, although life in New Zealand during a pandemic was the ideal situation.
    • We are so thankful to be here in Aotearoa New Zealand. This is a beautiful country which is being run by a most excellent group of people. We feel safe, happy, and calm here.
    • There’s really nothing good about a “we’re in the middle of a pandemic so the country goes into lockdown” situation but our family made it through. March 2020 was the beginning of our first NZ winter, so we did the hygge thing, took care of each other, and did the best we could. My favorite thing in the world is being at home with my family so the lockdown was, in a weird way, ideal for me.
    • Life in New Zealand during the pandemic is oddly almost back to normal. We go out to stores and restaurants. I only wear a mask on public transport. I use the NZ Covid Contact Tracing app at every location that I visit. I am OK with this and I have the utmost trust in the NZ government to protect my privacy. I wish everyone else in the world had access to contact tracing like this. Not only is it smart but it gives me a great feeling that if I were exposed to Covid I would be notified and I could safely quarantine myself to minimize exposure to anyone else.
  • LIBRARIES
    • I felt free, creative, and reinvigorated with the library work that was done during the Covid-19 lockdown. I was really impressed by the team that I oversee with their thoughts, creativity, communication, and more. It was not the smoothest thing in the world, but everyone played a great part and we got through it. It was amazing to see how much their work connected with the community.
    • Most of the year I struggled with my role as Team Leader, where I fit in the big picture, and how to understand all of the moving parts in my new library system. I am now 1 year and 2 months into this and while I do feel slightly settled it is not where I hoped I would be at this point. 
    • If I were to sum up my library career thus far: I like being creative, I love Youth Services, I do not like day to day management and HR type stuff, and I like leadership. I like seeing a problem in front of me and then working with creative and talented human beings to fix that problem. I like getting to the core of the problem and fixing it from there to make sure there’s a long term fix. I do not like “corporate culture”. I want passion and creativity. I want to make people in the community using the library to say WOWOWOWOWOW. 
    • I am adjusting to overseeing 4 community centres. This is a very different way of thinking, but at the same time it doesn’t stray from the “help the community you are located in” vibe of the public library. 
  • LIFE IN NEW ZEALAND
    • I completely underestimated how much energy moving to a new country would require of me. I am doing much better right now than I was in the beginning of the year (pre-Covid) but I feel that I am still recovering.
    • I don’t have as much hair on the top of my head. I have more grey hair. My eyes look tired. I have a stupid pain in my thumb that won’t go away.
    • I have had a hard time communicating with people here in NZ. I think that it is a combo of the different culture, the differences in language, adjusting to Te Reo Maori in everyday life, the overall weight of moving your entire life to a new country, and the process of getting settled. I do not feel like the Justin that I used to be. This could be growth but my mindset this year is that there is something damaged and I have to fix that damage.
    • We spend a lot of our time together as a family in our home. I really enjoy our little house and it has become a great place to be. I am thankful to the people renting it to us.
    • We talk to our family as much as we can. I text with my Mom daily. We talk to Haley’s mom on video chat almost daily. I have 4 different family Messenger threads that I use to keep in touch with the people I miss the most. I knew I would miss these people, but I am missing them a lot more than I thought I would.
    • I worry about the long term future of my family in Wellington. House prices are through the roof and everything is getting more expensive. I have a great job that pays very nicely, but it is still a struggle to live in this area. My head turns towards the future. 
    • AERO has become quite a breakdancer. FINN continues to grow into an amazing puppeteer and puppet creator. HALEY is doing a great job at being alive and is creating some beautiful art that I am lucky to be able to see. I love my family.
  • MUSIC 
    • Cornershop “England Is A Garden”
    • Fiona Apple “Fetch The Boltcutters”
    • The Beach Boys entire discography for half the year
    • Music written by Rivers Cuomo in 1998-1999
    • I recorded an album’s worth of original music and also some cover tunes. I feel a bit lost and confused when it comes to the things I recorded this year, but for the sake of documenting this moment in life I will finish an album and release it in 2021. This record will most likely be called IN PIECES. I do not know what I will do with the covers I recorded. 
  • WRITING
    • I am still writing for Information Today magazine and I am rediscovering my passion for having a column in that publication. At some point I would like to think about doing more with this part of my being.
    • I do not have much to say when it comes to justinthelibrarian.com so I am not writing for that platform as much anymore. 
    • I deleted my profile and writings from Medium.com
    • I think often about how to improve myself when it comes to lyrics in my music. Since 2015 I have engaged in attempting to write the most simple lyrics I can to get an idea across.
  • VIDEO GAMES
    • Animal Crossing New Horizons was great, but I still prefer New Leaf the most.
    • I enjoyed replaying Super Mario 64.
    • I did and also did not enjoy replaying Super Mario Sunshine.
    • Luig’s Mansion 3 was fun, but I abandoned it before beating the game.
    • I enjoyed watching Haley play the latest Paper Mario game.
    • It was a delight to see Finn discover Grim Fandango, Monkey Island, and other classic LucasArts and TellTale Games.
  • LOOKING AHEAD
    • Read more nonfiction.
    • Accept the slower pace of life here in New Zealand.
    • Think about the future, but do not let it overwhelm me.
    • Secure Resident Visas for my family in October 2021.
    • Find peace and happiness at work.
    • Take a large chunk of time off.
    • Write and record a very simple album

Thank you for reading and for being kind to me and my family this year. I am glad we are connected.

One comment

  1. Thank you for writing this honest and thoughtful piece. Your goals are very similar to mine – although I didn’t relocate to the other side of the world, I’ve spent the last nine months dealing with two cancer diagnoses (I’m doing ok and prognosis is good) and it has forced me to examine my life seriously and make some decisions that will create significant differences in how my life looks from hereon in. Sending lots of love to you and your beautiful family. Here’s to a happy and healthy new year for all of us!

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