Thursday, December 31, 2020

the annual year-end post

Usually on the last day of the year I publish a list of the cities I stayed in away from home. But this was the year of not going anywhere, so my list is accordingly short:

Seattle, WA
Mountain View, CA

Seattle was the one actual trip I took, in January. For a final vacation, possibly ever, it was sweet, even though the occasion for it was a memorial gathering for a dead friend. I saw many live friends - and not only at the gathering; I did my usual Seattle rounds including bookstores and Pike Place, attended a Seattle Symphony concert, and one special thing: a day trip to San Juan Island, which I hadn't visited since childhood. Out of tourist season, cold and dripping wet and nearly deserted of non-residents, it provided my idea of a perfect vacation day.

Mountain View is the town next to ours, which I hadn't had need to stay in since I actually lived there more than 30 years ago. But it was the location of the hotel I retreated to for a couple of nights when the summer heat became too much and I needed something with air conditioning. This was in early September, by the way. I wouldn't be able to do that now, if it were needed, because now the pandemic is so severe even the hotels are closed. I hadn't done this before, but I'm sure I'll need it again next summer.

That I've attended online concerts and plays held as far off as places like Syracuse and Baltimore, and participated in an online conference that would have been in Oxford had it been real, and which I wouldn't have gotten to if it had, doesn't seem worth the enumeration. I'm finding myself less likely to do this stuff. If I want to listen to recorded music, there's studio recordings with my choice of repertoire at my bidding; if I want a dramatic performance, there are movies; and attending an online conference also has an artificial air compared to just reading the papers, and I find I'm just not putting the mental and full-time commitment to it that I would if I were there. Thank goodness I'm not still in school and having to do this full-time; I'd probably have given up and gone away. (I'm also thinking back to my professional work as a library cataloger, and if I could have done that remotely: I'm not sure. I did my work on computer, but I was in constant need of consulting a vast and miscellaneous array of rule and reference books that didn't exist online. But I retired over a decade ago, and maybe now they do.)

This year I wrote 8 professionally-published concert reviews, one of them of online pandemic-era performances and the others predating it, plus 3 feature articles on music performance, two of them summarizing pandemic-era events. With my other hat I co-edited an annual volume of Tolkien Studies, contributing personally to the Year's Work and the bibliography; and I had one paper published in another journal, a previously-written conference paper I decided as late as July to submit. It was edited fiercely into shape and the online edition of the journal issue was released just this week.

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