What a year…
I don’t even have to mention it, COVID-19 screwed 2020, everyone, and everything. That’s it, that’s the tl;dr.
Much like the past years of my life, 2020 started full of hope and optimism, /ouryear/ and all that — only for situations that escape my control to throw a wrench at my life, forcing me to stumble and to play a constant game of catchup to recover my pace in this ongoing quest of building a new life for my brother and I.
Suffice to say, this pandemic was the one setback that I could not undo, I mean, who can?
This year was rough, many have lost their lives, many have lost friends, family, and loved ones. Jobs have been lost, many plans have been ruined, businesses have been forced to close its doors, and I’m pretty sure that we’re all mentally at a breaking point, regardless of who you are and what you believe in.
On a personal level, setting aside the pandemic, I would catalogue my 2020 as entropic and chaotic, but not outright bad. It was one hell of a marathon, with too many unrelated events occurring one after another.
Every time I finished dealing with something another thing would immediately pop up (like me solving clogged drains/apartment flooding issues only to face a month wide internet outage that began mere hours later). From Sony DMCA’ing my ass over memes to other types of interpersonal and internet dramas and situations of varied natures and importance, it really was an exhausting year, I only got some real respite during these last days of December.
Venezuela went through some changes over the past year, and none were for the better, with the pandemic exacerbating every aspect of our ongoing collapse. I managed to stay out of trouble, and while our life feels more constrained and limited as a result of the ongoing gasoline shortages and whatnot, I have many things to be thankful for. I’m safe, sound, and relatively healthy, for which I am grateful in my prayers every day. My friends are safe as well, and hopefully so are you, who is reading this.
Back in a previous job I had the responsibility to draft and prepare a semestral report on how things went in that particular office. Statistical numbers of applications processed, approved, rejected, and all that boring stuff that I’m sure nobody ended up paying attention to, while making special mention to unique cases or peculiar events that took place during the report’s period.
I’m going to take a page on that to make this final post of 2020, going through certain topics of my personal life to wrap up this most atypical year for all of us.
The lockdowns, the masks, the social distancing, the politics of it all, it’s all so tiresome, and worst of all, we’re still not done with it yet — this is, unfortunately, going to keep dictating the pace of our lives for some time.
Had the pandemic not occured, I would most likely be writing these lines outside of Venezuela, that was the plan for the year, once again thwarted by circumstances beyond my control. It affected my plans in such a way that not only have things slowed to a near crawl, but it’s had the terrible consequence of setting me back in some of the things I had achieved, such as my 2019 passport extension, which is now set to expire in three months.
The fact that this pandemic is still ongoing is much disheartening for me. Rumors of us going back to a fierce lockdown in January, coupled with the hearsay of further restrictions in air travel (which to this day remain very much restricted) is keeping me on the edge, despite my efforts to relax and not to worry much on things beyond my control.
Suffice to say, COVID-19 was the worst wrench in everyone’s life. I attempted to document how things went with it down here from my perspective through the ‘Lockdown’ series of posts, which, I’m sure that they felt a bit repetitive at times, but that’s because things simply just got stagnant. I will try to spice them up and make them more informative for 2021. One of my goals was to add more pictures and videos, but given the limited mobility that I have due to car issues and the ongoing gasoline shortages, I had to scale down on that — will definitely try to improve in this regard for future entries.
It goes without saying that I wish for all of you to remain safe, take it easy, I’m sure this will pass soon.
Household entropy and wear and tear
Having been forced to spend more time at home does make you realize just how things do begin to fall apart in a house after a few years of use.Things get damaged, things get broken, that’s just the way life is. It seems 2020 dialed this to eleven for me.
I’ve never had so many things get damaged and break apart over the course of a year than in 2020 to regular wear and tear. One can delay planned obsolescence by taking care of things, but sooner or later, things do start to break down. Even our household is succumbing to entropy, despite my best efforts on holding everything together to the best of my ability — this is, after all, an unfinished apartment in a badly repurposed building that used to be an infamous police headquarters back in the day.
Back in January, my then 8-year phone finally kicked the bucket. The internal battery bloated so hard that it warped it from the inside out, damaging its components, and forcing me to use some of my escape fund savings to get a replacement, affordable, and totally not backdoored Xiaomi phone. That should’ve been the warning sign for things to come.
Most of the things that I own are now 8-11 years old, and while I’ve taken care of it all, it’s starting to show its age, the same goes to our house’s infrastructure. I end this year with:
– A dead Laptop battery (still works though)
– Huge blotch on my monitor (switched to my old one)
– Worn out mouse wheel that is now erratic (using an old one in the meantime)
– Growing “Dirty Screen Effect” on my tv
– Busted Microwave Oven
– Clogged pipes that almost flooded my apartment
– Kitchen sink leaks that damaged the wooden base (this has me quite worried)
– Electrical problems, most notably in the bathroom’s lights
– Burnt cable tv coaxial problems
– Area wide ADSL internet cabling woes (it got repaired, but it’s not what it used to be)
All of this is material stuff that can be replaced or fixed, and ultimately do not matter in the grand scheme of things — in the end, what matters is that we’re safe and sound, have food, and a roof, even if some stuff is in need of repairs, others have it far worse than me, so I’m grateful that I at least have a working computer and an excruciatingly slow Internet line.
As for my failing hardware, it’s not stuff that I can bring with me once we get outta here, so as long as things continue to function and I can keep working on stuff with it until we can get our passports and visas then it’s all good.
The eternal Passport drama
This is where COVID really messed me up with.
The still ongoing restrictions on air travel burnt precious time on my 2-year passport extension. As it stands right now, I am effectively back to where I was in early 2019 with my passport situation.
One of my priority objectives for 2021 is to get a new extension or a new passport as soon as possible, the same goes for my brother’s passport, which is set to expire in June, either an extension or a new passport for him.
Paying the bribe toll of $1.400 to get an extension is out of the question for me, so I will have no choice but to either aim for a 2nd extension for my passport (and a 1st one for my brother), or see if I can try to get one of them sweet new passports with a ten year duration — which is a very, very longshot right now. I have the money saved for either of these scenarios.
In any case, we still need a pair of visas, which is the hardest piece of the puzzle so far. Hopefully I’m able to get them, it’s just that the pandemic really slowed things to a crawl with this regard.
Attempting to get a pair of Italian Passports for the two of us via our right to Jus Sanguinis remains out of the equation due to Force Majeure and lack of foresight on behalf of my father.
Vaifen, Swords, and Sinners
The dynamics of the year and everything that happened throughout 2020 really slowed me down on working on Sword. Having to juggle between so many things and responsibilities at once is something while maximizing the amount of time I can invest in Sword was something I kept struggling with — and I have to factor some self-admitted procrastination to the mix.
All I have pending on Sword’s final draft are some minor changes on the last two chapters, which will not change the original plot or its ending, but rather improve how things will unfold. If you still haven’t, please check out Sword’s 2nd Public Preview by clicking here, or by going to the project’s hub page.
Once I’m done with these changes I will have to hire an editor, commision a cover, and see how the hell can I even get this published while being stuck here in the first place. The fact that my passport is soon to expire presents another obstacle, cause without a legal identity document that proves I am in fact me (ie. a non-expired passport) then I can’t sign up with Amazon Kindle Publishing, not to mention that there are some tax-related documentations that they seem to require that I don’t even know where to begin getting.
I will definitely seek input and insight from other authors on this regard because I have no shame in admitting that I’m clueless at this — first things first, I got a draft to finish.
As soon as Sword is on track on publishing, and I’m more caught up with my visa journey then I will start working on Sins’ first draft. I do plan to get some more lore previews up for you all to read once Sword’s draft is done.
Learning, hobbies, and being a Jack of all Trades
I remained true to my ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ limited skill set during 2020.
Sure, a lot of time was wasted this year on so many things, but it wasn’t a full dead year all in all. I was able to learn a few more tricks here and there, new memesmith abilities, and I feel more confident with my writing and grammar as well — aware that it’s still far from perfect.
There’s stuff that a year ago I wasn’t able to do but I am able to now, from culinary recipes to handiwork repairs, and some stuff in between. It’s impressive what tricks you can learn by making memes and whatnot when it comes to video and photo editing. Sure, I’m not a professional at any of this, but learning new things is something I’m always up for.
Reading is the one area where I dropped the ball in 2020, that’s something I want to fix next year. Maybe try some new hobbies too (and retake some old ones) once life is more under control.
Single dad and big brother at the same time
I don’t know how to properly self-assess myself in this area. When it comes to taking care of my brother while fulfilling both parental roles and being his big brother at the same time I suppose that I did a decent job all things considered, and we continued to make a good team when tackling the nuances of the country and its shortcomings despite our numerous flaws.
I’ve noticed he’s gained some weight compared to last year, maybe I pamper him too much with sweets, then again, the pandemic has forced him to be more sedentary than any previous year combined. I need to be more on track with his studies, this is where I dropped the ball, but it’s hard for him to stay focused when I’m not there to be on his toes — not to make excuses, but I simply haven’t had the time, I still have so much to do, and I still have to find spare parts to repair my old computer so that he can use it for his studies, his old laptop is struggling as it is.
I suppose I shouldn’t be so hard on myself for not being a perfect role model, he is, at the end of the day, safe and sound, just need to make sure he redoubles his efforts in his studies (he wants to learn how to code to eventually make video games).
Personal Health and well-being
If this was a subject area on some sort of academic pensum I would’ve flunked it so hard by now, I really need to get my shit together on this.
While I’ve done some attempts to exercise and get in shape, I always stumble at some point, and end up going back to square one. Needless to say, this is all on me, so I need to commit and dedicate more time to exercising if I want to get in shape, I am, after all, getting older by the minute, like my brother with his studies, it’s hard for me to do this when I don’t have anyone to hold me accountable for my lack of proper exercise.
Despite my slow progress, I am in a much better state than I was last year, I’ve also been cooking things in a more healthy way — courtesy of my minor improvements in the culinary arts over the past twelve months.
I need to stop delaying this further and get my thyroid tests to see how I fare with this whole hypothyroidism thing, the last time I got a test was over six years ago. Gotta get my eyesight checked as well, these pairs of glasses are quite old now.
One of my personal flaws is my constant lack of self-care, and that’s something I must continue to improve throughout 2021. I am very aware of how bad I look, and that’s one personal flaw that goes hand in hand with my overweightness, which creates a lack of self-confidence feedback in my head – but hey, nobody’s perfect, so yeah.
I am extremely worn out and exhausted, not gonna lie. When it comes to sleep I owe my body incalculable hours of sleep. Christmas day was the first good night of sleep that I’ve had in months.
It’s not like come January 2021 everyone’s energy will reset like a video game, so I need to once and for all, get a better grasp at this whole sleep thing, for my own sake, and get my fat ass in shape while at it.
Personal life, or lack thereof
This was another year of me pausing literally every aspect of my barely existing personal life so that I could focus on the main goal of starting a new life abroad with my brother, just with a pandemic pushing everything aside, it’s not like I have social life, and with all these lockdowns it wasn’t the most appropriate year for that kinda stuff anyways.
As I approach my 33rd birthday I once again get that sense of dread behind my head that reminds me that I’ve barely lived at all, and have missed on many aspects of a ‘normie’ life. It is what it is, though, I tried being a normie once and it was awful.
On opening up to the world
I do feel like I’ve improved a little, I feel less out of my ‘shell’ so to speak, and feel somewhat more easygoing.
Paradoxically, as the world is forced into isolation and distancement, I feel more open towards it. I find myself more talkative, more expressive, and all that stuff. I should feel good with myself that I’ve been slowly improving on the whole social outcast/socializing thing. I am aware of how lipsy and broken my voice is, and how ‘peculiar’ my accent may sound, a few years ago I wouldn’t even join a voice chat, now here I am, with some actual confidence.
I still have that whole self image issue thing to work with, but that starts with getting in shape, that’s always been where I lack self-worth the most. I’m very self-conscious on how I look and my weight, I’m pretty upfront on that.
On Mental Health, Depression, and Anxiety
Well, it’s been a rollercoaster, that pretty much sums it up. I’ve had my ups and downs all throughout the year, and the year before, and the one before, and the one before, etc.
It’s been more than a decade of this, and seeking some balance or compromise between my state of mind is part of who I am by now, it’s how I function I guess. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to this, always at odds with myself.
Maybe I do need to talk with someone about this one of these days, mental health is one thing I never cared much about because so long as I’m able to get stuff done and help others then how I feel feels irrelevant to me.
If you’re happy, I’m—
I don’t wanna sound melodramatic because it’s not so bad, and most of it is probably a combination of the continued struggle against all these obstacles in my path to get outta here and start a new life with my brother, plus some mental woes that I’ve been carrying for years now — all made worse by this pandemic.
What can I say, this disaster keeps getting worse by the minute.
This year wasn’t as heated as some previous ones, protests did occur and took place, but not with the same magnitude. The year was not without it’s unique events, from the whole Operation Gedeon stuff, the steep gasoline shortages, our new Chinese, Iranian, Russian, and Turkish overlords setting further foodhold and taking more of our resources, the departure of DirecTV Venezuela — and its lackluster and disastrous replacement, and so many other stuff.
The rest is the same old tale, this pandemic and the ongoing hyperinflation killed the Bolivar for the nth time now. Hearsay of a possible currency reconversion is up in the air, so that means even more zeroes might be axed from the currency scale soon.
We’re at a point where nobody wants Guaido and Maduro, but we’re stuck with them, you can start arguing that both sides are now usurping functions if you fancy that. Things may start to get heated in a few days, when Maduro’s brand new and 100% loyal National Assembly is seated, following our latest riggest elections that took place earlier in December.
We continue to live under this pseudo-dollarization of the economy that’s not the full thing, ironically, the only thing keeping this country afloat are the once demonized US greenbacks. Some may still say ‘muh sanctions’ but you see even more stores filled with imported goods from the US that the sheer majority can’t afford. Brand new vehicles imported from the north now run through our derelict and worn out streets — and many more clear signs of rampant money laundering.
Societally, we’re less than what we were, if the past years of political crisis hadn’t exhausted us then this pandemic was the coup the grace. People will continue to flee through whatever means, and we’ll keep being the worst migrant crisis in the region in recent history for some time to come — still on track to surpass the Syrian refugee crisis without a single bomb dropped here, just a matter of time now.
On pending bureaucracy
To this day, there are still matters unresolved when it comes to paperwork following our mother’s passing in 2018, and I couldn’t get any of it done in 2020 with all the relevant offices closed.
The matter of my brother’s survival pension is one of the things that remains unresolved, then again, he’d be getting an amount that’s fewer than $1 per month. The amount of money I’d have to spend to get it all processed would be far more than years of his pension.
I have to juggle all of that pending paperwork with the nightmarish bureaucracy of our passports and visa and see if any of that stuff is worth investing time into. These are the sort of juggles and choices that I must make over the next months, because, at the end of the day, my priority is the same as before: our passports, our visas, and our escape.
Goals for 2021
I want to remain hopeful and optimistic, even if I barely have strengths right now. I wish that 2021 is a better year for each and every one of us.
I wanna keep growing as a person, and continue to find my own place in this world, just like the past years, I’ll keep telling my story, I will keep finding ways to help others with their dreams, and continue to entertain through memes and shitposts, don’t forget, all my jokes are cries for help!
I will keep working on that Crimson Dream of mine, publish Sword, and start working on Sins right away, hoping that the series is received with success. There are other big works in the way that I hope I’ll be able to speak more freely about over the next months, I hope those things are successful as well. I will keep taking care of my brother, keep building a good future for the two for us, and find new ways to help others.
Whatever success and good things come from Sword and my other upcoming works is something that I hope allows me to become that which I want to be: a force of good in this world, and the son that my mother deserved to have.
I want to make people smile, protect said smiles, and inspire, that’s more or less the gist of it. There are some in what’s left of my family (and outside of it as well) that call me childish, immature, and idealistic for saying or thinking like this, but at least I am honest about myself and what I want to accomplish with my dreams.
Hopefully our escape plans ramp up over the next few weeks and I get to swiftly fix the passport situation and get the visas that I’ve long yearned for.
Once again, thank you for having read my ramblings throughout 2020, thank you for supporting me and my brother over the past year, I know how difficult things have been all around the world. Thank you for once again having listened to me and endured my flaws and shortcomings, and thank you to those that have blessed me with the gift of your friendship.
You have no idea how all of this means for a social outcast such as myself.
I promise that sooner or later I will pay this all back somehow, and pay it forward a hundredfold.
Happy New Year, may the best finally come to us all.
I love you all.