It’s a strange and darkly funny story — Tim Minchin wrote the album this is from, Apart Together, well before the pandemic hit and social distancing became the norm, and I assume I am not alone in finding that the song resonates unusually strongly as a result.1 By Jove, it resonates.
Nobody needs me to say that it’s been a rough year. People have been complaining that each of the last few years were terrible, and looking forward to the next one, and being disappointed — as if years were coherent bundles of quality, and there was any reason to expect discontinuities in how things are going to occur around January 1st — and as if there were additionally any reason to expect such discontinuities, if they did exist, to be positive ones.
Seriously, do you remember when we thought 2015–2018 were bad?
"AH YES, THE BAD YEAR IS NEARLY OVER" I SAID FOOLISHLY FOR THE FOURTH YEAR IN A ROW, UNAWARE OF WHAT FRESH HORRORS 2019 WOULD BRING— NOT A WOLF (@SICKOFWOLVES) December 10, 2018
And yet… I feel like overall, 2020 went quite a bit better than expectations for me. Which maybe means it’s astronomically better than the average person’s 2020. I had a long draft for this post that slowly accumulated words over the year as usual, but a lot of the ramblings I’d usually include now seem unusually vapid, and a lot of the deeper trends and experiences I might normally reflect on are things I don’t think I’ve really gone through or thought about for long enough to achieve closure on. This is partly due to the pandemic scrambling a lot of plans and partly because last January, nearly a full year ago, ✈✈✈ Galactic Trendsetters ✈✈✈ won Mystery Hunt and so we’re writing the 2021 hunt. The ramifications are still being felt and will accelerate until it actually happens two weeks from now, and that’s all I’ll say about it here.
Still, I guess there are a few obvious milestones that deserve to be mentioned. In May, I graduated from MIT a second time after writing a masters thesis. In September, I got a bunch of other people together to run DP Puzzle Hunt. In October, I moved to the U.S. west coast to start my first full-time job, which, after a series of rather wild plot twists, has turned out to be working on end-to-end encryption for Zoom.
This blog exists now. Although I posted a lot less this year, I actually shared the Advent of Code post in a few obvious places, and people read it.
I figured it out, I think, and might well write about it for the next or second-next blog post. So we’ll see.
I’ve gotten worse and worse at concluding these posts, so I’m just going to link to a milquetoast meme and sign off. See you next year.
…it seems very relevant to be releasing an album called Apart Together during a pandemic. Do you know something we don’t, or does your work just have that ability to find relevance at all times?
I actually seeded the coronavirus just to support my album release [laughs].
(If I had seeded the coronavirus, it would be so I could convince every employer I’d been talking to that I should be allowed to work remotely, as I had been trying at the time. Sorry, everybody.)↩