The Year 2020

I enjoy the twisted plot of a horror movie or book and tried writing a story that would cause one’s blood to run cold. I read several books that sent chills up my spine.

One of my favorites was Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason. This macabre, darkly humorous story has a great twist worthy of an author’s debut novel. My attempts at writing scary stories have fallen far short of causing a person to coil back in fear and turn on every light in the house.

Last year, scary but true stories filled our newsfeed. One of the ongoing horror stories is the pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus. Worldwide, it has infected 105 million people with 2.29 million deaths. About 460,000 of those deaths were in the United States.

The Black Lives Matter protests over the murder of unarmed George Floyd by a callous police officer, the divisive impeachment of President Donald J. Trump, and the West Coast wildfires and Australian bushfires that left thousands homeless and destroyed countless acres of land kept people riveted to the news.

Shocking, newsworthy deaths that touched the hearts of many included that of a phenomenal basketball player Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others in a helicopter crash; the trailblazing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Marvel superhero, Black Panther actor, Chadwick Boseman; and beloved Jeopardy game show host, Alex Trebek.

The massive accidental Beirut Port explosion that killed at least 190 people and injured thousands could have been prevented. The authorities were forewarned about the dangers of storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate at the port.

Then there was the Washington state invasion of Asian giant murder hornets which can wipe out an entire colony of honeybees in a matter of hours. When that attack happened, I thought that in my wildest imagination I couldn’t write scarier stories.

The year 2020 was the boss of horror stories. I looked forward to a different 2021. Then the storming of our capitol happened on January 6, 2021. I’m almost afraid to think that 2021 might up the scariness of the previous year and have my fingers crossed that this year has to be better.

Birth of a Journalist

As a high school journalism student, I dreamed of becoming a columnist for one of the local newspapers. I envisioned myself interviewing people and publishing their stories. However, the teacher gave me the unsatisfying task of finding local companies willing to place ads in our paper to help defray the printing costs. I didn’t complain because the alternate task of editing the stories written by others was even less appealing.

One day as the class was working on the layout of the ads I secured and the stories my classmates wrote for our next edition, the principal rushed into our classroom. After he whispered something to our journalism instructor, I heard my name. Why? I hadn’t done anything wrong.

The principal smiled and asked me to come to his office where he said, “You’ve been selected to represent our school because the teacher said you’re not shy around strangers. We have an important visitor arriving here soon and we want you to interview her.”

There was one catch. I could only ask the visitor one question. “What is your opinion of Fidel Castro?” I had little knowledge of the political significance of Castro, but that didn’t matter. After repeating the question to the principal’s satisfaction, I walked with him to the school library where the interview was scheduled to take place.

We arrived to see several faculty members, a few students, as well as newspaper reporters and cameramen. This was my first experience with the professional media. I was not impressed until it was my turn to approach a tall, majestic looking woman who smiled at me with her right hand extended. Former first lady, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, shook my hand as I greeted her and calmly asked my question. This happened so fast, I did not have time to get nervous.

Mrs. Roosevelt’s hand felt like velvet, her eyes were warm, and her voice was strong and self- assured. She answered my question confidently as the reporters took notes and the photographers snapped away. I doubt if I closed my mouth the entire time. I don’t remember her words, but I do remember her opinion. She didn’t like or trust Fidel Castro. She had no positive words about him, but I had a positive feeling about her. My time with Mrs. Roosevelt was short, but memorable.

A few days later, I received a slightly out-of-focus photograph of Mrs. Roosevelt with me as I asked my question. I treasured the photo of that tall, impressive important world figure who took the time to answer the question of an inner-city African American journalist.

Stuck at Home? Now What?

During our current world-wide health crisis, many people have discovered they don’t know how to handle the isolation. Now might be a good time to review your 2020 New Year’s resolutions for something to do.

Is that boring? Let me give you a few suggestions that might interest you.

1. Move – Walk, dance, or follow an exercise expert online.
2. Communicate – Phone a friend.
3. Read – The books on your shelf are gathering dust or you can order new ones. 4. Learn – Take online classes to learn another language or how to do Tai Chi.
5. Create – Try decoupage, painting, drawing, crocheting, knitting, or sewing.
6. Teach – Volunteer online to teach your neighbors’ children, your grandchildren, or adults who need help in navigating the internet.
7. Write – Try journaling what you’re feeling now. Not a writer. So what! No one else will read what you’ve written. Or you could put pen to paper and start the novel you’ve always wanted to write.

Think outside the box. Do you have any suggestions for us to find ways to occupy our time and minds?

My 2020 To Do List

“When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” – Frederick Maryat

Last year, I resolved to read one book each month. I read eighteen books in 2019. I also resolved to write 600 words a day. I didn’t come close to that number, but I wrote often without worrying about my daily word count. Organizing my closets also fell short, but I’ll try again.

My 2020 To Do List:

1. Purge my unworn clothes and excess books which I started doing in December.
2. Read a minimum of one book a month.
3. Finish the rough draft of the manuscript for my novel.
4. Submit a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Did you complete your to do list from last year? Congratulations if you did. If not, don’t give up. Just start anew. What is your list of things you wish to accomplish in 2020?

Time to Purge

Both my New Year’s resolutions and my new word list begin with “purge.” How about that for multitasking! Purge is the perfect word for what needs to happen at my house.

I have too many books and magazines to finish reading in my lifetime. My closets hold more clothes than I’ll ever wear. I also have too much needless stuff no longer relevant to my current lifestyle.

I’m not waiting for January 2020. I’ve already started the not-so-easy task of purging, because it’s hard to get rid of the sentimental items. I hope to find local charities or organizations that will give my castaways a new home.

What task or adventures are you trying for the new year?