2020 will go down as the worst year in my life - ever. And for many, including you reading this, that very statement may be true. It was filled with sorrow, despair, frustration, sadness, fatigue, rage, isolationism, fear, chaos, uncertainty, and death. And even after listing these adjectives, it doesn't accurately capture the 2020 experience - pun intended.
A once-in-a-generation global pandemic. Economic strife. Mental health challenges. Inequality exposure. Social awakening, uprising, and unrest. Political divide. Historical truth. Countless deaths. 2020 delivered body blow after body blow.
I am so very ready to leave 2020 behind. We all are.
As is tradition around these parts - the fifteenth Year in Review(!) - let's slam the door on this shitty year by giving out a few awards in reflection, sharing some personal thoughts, and looking ahead to a much anticipated 2021.
Of course, as always - I would like to thank you, the read, listener, follower, and believer in this little blog called Dome Pondering that has carried my thoughts, experiences, and wishes over the past 15+ years. I continue to try to make sense of things in this race called life, and it simply looks on in repose. None more true than 2020.
Here are the winners of the 2020 Pondy Awards:
THE PONDY AWARDS
*Crucial Moment of the Year: Murder of George Floyd
Nothing that I can recall shook and said so much about our nation in my life than those 8 minutes and 46 seconds that we watched of George Floyd being murdered senselessly by a police officer. After all, he couldn't give a damn. From exploding the Black Lives Movement (and affecting the political arena) to stirring discussion on racial injustice and racism within our country, we are STILL trying to unpack and understand the changes sparked from this moment - good and bad.
Honorable Mention - United States Presidential Election
*World Affairs Issue of the Year: Coronavirus (COVID) Pandemic
Duh. No need to explain this at all.
Continue to stay smart - and stay safe, everyone. And to all who have lost someone, or know of someone who has passed away due to COVID - God Bless you, and I pray for peace for you.
*Inspirational Story of the Year: Maya Moore
Maya Moore gave up two years of her once-in-a-generation basketball career to work on freeing an innocent man - even when there was little hope to do so. She is now doing so for other wrongly convicted men and women in the industrial prison system.
Moore is the example of the truest and boldest activist athlete. And yes, so inspirational for her gutsy and sacrificial efforts to a just cause.
Honorable Mention: Younger Generation (Equality Protests) and Long Waiting Lines to Vote
*Random Story of the Year: Kobe Bryant's Death
Before there was COVID, this rocked the world. And it really just came out of nowhere. I still remember the time, place, and moment I found out about his death. And exactly how it made me feel. Who knew that was just the beginning for 2020?
Honorable Mention: Australian and West Coast Fires
*Most Controversial Story of the Year: Wearing Masks
Something as simple as wearing a mask - in the most desperate of times we've ever seen, was too much of a sacrifice for many.
Honorable Mention: Black Lives Matter Movement, Police Accountability/Reform, and COVID Lockdowns.
*Most Overrated Story of the Year: Shakira and Jennifer Lopez Halftime Show Performance
I chose this story because, at one point in February, our nation turned an awesome halftime show of the Super Bowl into a bi-partisan debate of morality and ethics. Too raunchy? Disgusting! The fall of America!
Little did we know, a thing called COVID would absolutely shut down our lives for far more important reasons.
It is a great example of where we were as a nation in 2020 before the chaos of COVID.
Honorable Mention: Toilet Paper Need
*Tune of the Year: "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac
Everything music was weird this year. Sure, there was tremendous new material. But leave it to 2020 and all of our isolationism, and well...boredom, that lead to a viral video of a dude with cranberry juice on a skateboard reinvigorating a classic hit from 1977.
If you dive into the record written by Fleetwood Mac frontwoman, Stevie Nicks, you realize the song fits all too well the emotions of 2020.
Honorable Mention: "Savage" by Megan Thee Stallion ft Beyonce; "WAP" by Cardi B, "Blinding Lights" by The Weeknd
*Invention of the Year: COVID Vaccine
Yeaaaaaaaah, no explanation necessary.
*Comeback of the Year: Michael Jordan Nostalgia (The Last Dance Documentary)
For five straight Sundays, The Last Dance served two tremendous purposes - 1) It gave us original content that allowed an escape from the real world, and 2) It gave us sports when nothing existed. With the world's eyes on this 10-part documentary, the nostalgia of greatness (and flaws) of Michael Jordan came rushing back. It felt so good. It was just so right. The Last Dance will always be synonymous for its quality as much as what it accomplished during a tough time in 2020.
And yes, it provided some awesome new memes.
Honorable Mention: Joe Biden
*"Wishing Well" Award of the Year: Justice for Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery
Both of these human beings were killed for doing normal things while black - sleeping and jogging. And still, we can't bring ourselves as a nation to empathize with that. SMH. They deserved better. Out society ought to be better.
Honorable Mention: Improved Economy and Media Accountability
*"Just Go Away" Award of the Year: Election Conspiracy
Until there is evidence presented - not speculated on - please stop this nonsense.
Honorable Mention: Confederate Flag, Confederate Statues, Kanye West, Aubrey Huff, and Jason Whitlock
*"Largest Fortitude Award of the Year: Stacey Abrams
Her efforts and dedication to registering voters and getting young people and people of color engaged in the political and voting process are remarkable. Abrams' fingerprints are all over this election.
*"We'll Miss You" Award of the Year: COVID Victims
All of them. Every. Single. One.
So many prayers sent up for peace and strength for all of the friends and families of COVID victims.
*"What Were You Thinking" Award of the Year: President Trump Bible Photo Op
By far one of the most jaw-dropping things I've ever witnessed in my life. I watched this unfold live. I remember thinking that this was the perfect moment for the President to deliver an oval office speech calling for unity, and yes, strides towards equality.
Instead, we got the tear-gassing of innocent protesters and a ridiculous photo op with an upside-down bible in front of a church that did not give its blessing to do so.
Honorable Mention: Toilet Paper Hoarders and 60,000+ Voters for Kanye West
*"What a Shame Award of the Year: Racism in America
You know what's scary? Can you imagine the United States without racism? What exactly does that look like? Tough to wrap your mind around, right?
Honorable Mention - Continued clearing of Amazon Rain Forest, and Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
*"Welcome to the Scene" Award of the Year: Juneteenth Holiday
It was a day only a few understood and recognized. In 2020, social awareness caused a thought process in how July 4th is viewed, as well as the importance of Juneteenth - June 19.
Going forward, Juneteenth is recognized on a broader scale, with many organizations and employers acknowledging the day as a holiday and for the observance.
Honorable Mention: Dr. Andrew Fauci, Zoom Calls, Remote Working/Schooling, and Social Distancing
*"This Should Have Been Done Before" Award of the Year: Racial and Inequity Awareness/Uprising
It took a gruesome situation and video to get our attention, but many who were unaware finally saw the system for what it is - and has always been - a structure built on inequality.
Honorable Mention - Easier Voting Access
*"The Incredibles" Award of the Year: COVID Vaccine Production
The production was super fast. So many props to all involved.
Honorable Mention: Single Parents in COVID, Kamala Harris, and NBA/WNBA Bubble Operations
*"We Need to Fix This" Award of the Year: Disinformation
Neither side wants facts - just the information that supports their side. Everything else is "fake news".
Honorable Mention - Nation's Political Divide
*"Biggest Letdown of the Year: COVID Presidential Press Conferences
SMH. These were the worst. The very worst. And considering the context at the time, watching daily pressers of our President and political leaders introducing CEOs to speak before us, undermining the protocols via Twitter after it was discussed, and suggesting the possibilities of injecting bleach - all of it was frustration and a huge letdown.
*Idiot of the Year: COVID Non-Believer
Yup. Idiot. And of the dangerous kind.
Honorable Mention: Suspects Who Plot to Kidnap Michigan Governor
*Dome Pondering Person of the Year: Medical Professionals and First Responders
I lived in New York City from May through June 2020. Anyone who did the same knows precisely how tough and depressing that was. From the constant sirens at night to the death tolls racking up, it's easy to say that New York City was the epicenter - a fancy word that doesn't even capture the horror, tragedy, bravery, and heroism that occurred.
On the other side of that fear were indeed Medical Professionals and First Responders who risked their lives to help others. Who, during those crucial weeks, where knowledge of the virus was still vague, the many in this field continued to rescue, treat, save lives, and yes, engage in those difficult decisions and encounters with families.
Trying to capture the importance of this group is impossible. Attempting to describe their value for this award is difficult. Looking to capture their role within the context of 2020 is incomparable.
We are in debt, forever.
Thank you, medical workers, and first responders. 2020 Dome Pondering Person of the Year.
Honorable Mention: Essential Workers and Educators
*Wrestling Show of the Year: WWE Royal Rumble
I hate to say it, but it's true...everything during the pandemic has been hard to gauge because of the missing element of the roaring audience. The Royal Rumble was one of the very few wrestling shows this year (and it was early) where wrestling felt like wrestling. It gets the nod this year.
Honorable Mention: AEW Revolution, WWE Wrestlemania, Impact Slammiversary, and NXT War Games
*Pro Wrestling Match of the Year: Adam Page and Kenny Omega vs. The Young Bucks - AEW Revolution
See above on issues regarding the match of the year.
I re-watched a few of the honorable mentions for this award from this year, and this tag team match completely sucked me in because of what it was. An amazing tag-match!
Honorable Mention: Kota Ibushi vs. Kazuchika Okada - Wrestle Kingdom (Night 1); Men's Royal Rumble Match - WWE Royal Rumble; Undertaker vs. AJ Styles - Boneyard Match - WWE Wrestlemania 36; Sasha Banks vs. Bayley - Hell in a Cell - Hell in a Cell; Deonna Purazzo vs. Jordynn Grace - Slammiversary.
* The Jim Ross "Business is About to Pick Up" Award of the Year: Edge Returns at Royal Rumble
A new award here for the Pondys celebrating the best moment in pro wrestling for the year.
So, the best wrestling moment of 2020? For me, it isn't even close. Edge coming out after his theme music hit - you think you know me!!!? - was just old-school-wrestling-surprise-levels.
The kicker was the genuine look on Edge's face once he cleared the smoke and the moment consumed him. Just, awesome.
Honorable Mention: Sting Returns to TNT Television, Tessa Blanchard wins Impact World Championship; AEW/Impact Collaboration; and, Roman Reigns Heel Turn
*Pro Wrestling Tag Team of the Year: The North (Impact)
As far as I'm concerned, this isn't even close. The North gets the nod.
Honorable Mention: FTR (AEW) and The New Day (WWE)
*Female Pro Wrestling of the Year: Bayley (WWE)
Bayley made HUGE strides this year, and really, was one of the better acts in WWE for 2020 after turning heel. From her work with Sasha Banks as the Golden Role Models right into her solo act, Bayley's transition and catapult in 2020 was yes - ding dong! Hello! - amazing.
Honorable Mention: Deonna Purazzo (Impact), and Jordynn Grace (Impact)
*Male Pro Wrestler of the Year: Randy Orton (WWE) and Drew McIntyre (WWE)
This one was tough. In fact, it pained me to give the WWE so many awards, because quite frankly, WWE was terrible during 2020. However, Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre carried the company during the craziest time to exist. Even more so for pro wrestling with NO fans allowed. They did it first when we didn't even know what that looked like.
Both men were consistent, always on your screen weekly, and delivered strong content whenever it was time to do so - even despite the content in question.
Honorable Mention: Randy Orton (WWE); Jon Moxley (AEW); Drew McIntyre (WWE); Chris Jericho (AEW); AJ Styles (WWE); Moose (Impact)
* Sport Event of the Year: MLB World Series - Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
In a year where sports were just weird, the World Series was by far the most entertaining event to happen this year. Dodgers vs. Rays was good stuff. Still happy for Clayton Kershaw.
Honorable Mention: NBA All-Star Game
The Derek Jeter Flip Play Award of the Year: LeBron ode to Kobe - Fast Break Reverse Dunk
Great plays were still present on big stages for sports this year. But there was nothing like LeBron's ode to Kobe with that windmill reverse dunk on a fastbreak. The dunk, the exact carbon copy of a Kobe signature moment, was eerie, amazing, and captured so perfectly in a photograph. We didn't see it coming, and when it happened, we all knew. Especially in 2020.
Same arena. Same basket. Same dunk. 19 years apart. 💜💛 pic.twitter.com/fj7HRmqv3c— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 8, 2020
Honorable Mention: Arozarena Game Winning Trip-Dash Home; Kyler Murray's Hail Mary Pass
*Coach of the Year: Andy Reid
A football lifer who finally captured that elusive Super Bowl championship. He also exorcised his own demons by getting to the big game and winning it. And oh yeah, he also helped develop the game's current biggest superstar in Patrick Mahomes. The big fella earns the nod for 2020.
Honorable Mention: Nick Nurse, Erik Spoelstra, Kevin Cash
*Team of the Year: Los Angeles Dodgers
Expected to win it. Won it.
In a year with no off-days in the playoff rounds leading up to the World Series.
During a Pandemic. And extremely difficult win.
And they got it done.
Honorable Mention - Seattle Storm, Los Angeles Lakers, and Kansas City Chiefs
Dome Pondering Athlete of the Year: Lewis Hamilton
One of the biggest under-the-radar stories of 2020 has been Hamilton's rise among legends in Formula-1 racing. Hamilton, the only black driver in the sport, has smashed many of super-legend Michael Schumacher's records over the past couple of years, including this year where he tied Schumacher with seven F-1 titles. Hamilton's 2020 was ANOTHER impressive F-1 season that included winning 11 of his 16 races, with a short stint away because of testing positive for COVID (of course, 2020), and contributed significantly for equality throughout the racing world.
Honorable Mention: LeBron James, Breanna Stewart, and Naomi Osaka
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN...
I typically sit down to ponder and the words come spilling out for this section of the YIR post each year. After all, I bottle up all of my feelings and harness them jusssssstttttttt right for a reflection on my year.
However, this year it's not so easy to do so. Because my year has been much like your year - exhausting, chaotic, unpredictable, fearful, worrisome, and any other word you would like to add. And depending on who you are, your year might be all of those things amplified for an even tougher 2020 experience.
Regardless of personal details or experiences, 2020 has brought all of us various feelings, emotions, challenges, and so much more. Really, 2020 is the year that is too daunting to even begin to describe, yet, just by the mention of its very name - exhale, 2020, whewwwww - each of us knows exactly what it means.
For me, looking back on 2020 starts entirely with my dad. If you follow this tiny piece of the internet called Dome Pondering you would know that my dad passed away in March (Making the Call). That rocked my world, and truthfully, I've yet to recover. I'm still trying to figure out who I am on this earth without him, without his presence.
And yes, it also closed a five-year chapter of my life that was inevitable - his passing.
Then, there was the passing of one of my best friends, Q (Goodbye, Good Friend). I'm also still reeling from that. Still recovering. And much like my dad's passing, again, still finding my way without him as well.
It was so sudden. Just like that, a month after I buried my father, he was gone as well. Unexpected. Unwelcomed. Unimaginable.
And those were just my personal crosses to bear. There was also the number of societal deaths that surrounded us all in 2020. Kobe Bryant's tragic passing rocked me as a father well before my personal life experienced it. There were iconic figures like John Lewis and Ruth Bader Ginsburg who made you ponder about your own life's impact. And of course, the climbing number of deaths we watched increase to new levels of shock on a daily basis that still seems too large to digest.
It taught me so much through the vice of its vicious, unrelenting clutches.
My biggest lesson was indeed this - I learned to feel, more importantly, I allowed myself to feel. The aura of death that hung over my life - from my personal heroes to the distant ones, to the constant sirens and grim aura that hung over New York City in March, April, and May like no other - it quickly smartens you up that this life is not guaranteed - I know, cliche, but true.
You learn to feel deeper for injustices. You embrace that employment isn't a guaranteed cycle of paychecks, or even, a source of comfort. You become in-tune with the unprotected risk that is this race we call life. That loneliness isn't a lack accompaniment source, but that of rich connections. You realize that purpose is the biggest driver of who we are - of what we ought to be. The truest fulfillment of it all.
And with that, yes, comes the essence of taking greater leaps of faith. Because anything - EVERYTHING - can change overnight.
I learned that it is okay to NOT be able to...well, be okay.
Attempting to fix everything broken and be there for everyone around you is not the measure of accomplishment, worth, success, or personal strength. It's a great litmus of character, but even Superman (and Superwoman!) are vulnerable - even superheroes hurt.
I spent too much time in my own head, and I know you did too.
Yet, when you believed you didn't have any more to give this beast called 2020, somehow we were able to reach down into newly discovered levels of reserves, and at times, go even deeper, and deeper, and deeper. Some of us learned how to live when there was nothing left in the tank.
For me, it was every day of quarantine with a toddler while working from home, in New York City -
teaching, working, surviving. There was somehow another layer of depth, more to give. More than you ever imagined.
For every heartbreaking story from a student. For every colleague furloughed or laid off. For every death relayed to my ears. For all of the uncertainty - there just seemed to be just some more left...
And when there finally wasn't anything left, again, that was okay too. It doesn't make you a failure. It makes you human. Because truthfully, no one has enough to give anyone what they need as we end 2020.
The murder of George Floyd, like everyone, rocked me this year. But even before that, it was the case of Ahmaud Arbery that sent anger and frustration into my own heart. He was just jogging(!)...and his life was taken by two men who didn't even hold any kind of social power other than being white.
Wearing dark skin sets you up for a certain kind of life in this country the likes of which many never understand. The constant hoop-jumping and leveling of yourself to disarm your skin for activating the stereotypes and bigotry of others is a tiring, tiring, burden to carry.
I learned we lose too much of ourselves catering to the falsehood of whiteness.
My patience left my body when I watched George Floyd take his last breath. If that didn’t affect you and make you want to reaccess the way to you want to address a question that includes racial injustice in our country after you watched that man die in the middle of the street, somethings off. I don’t know if it’s your heart, I don’t know if it’s your mind, but I don’t accept either of them anymore. I will not tolerate it anymore. In a year when we learned vulnerability so transparently, I find myself trying to drop many of those internalized mechanisms. Yes, they are and were meant for survival, but are also too heavily relied upon.
- Maria Taylor
I will speak up. I will continue to learn. I will continue to advocate.
There are so many lives that depend on it and need it. Including, mine.
2020. Be YOU, unapologetically.
HEALTH IS PARAMOUNT
My experience of navigating healthcare for my father for the past few years illuminated my awareness of the wackiness that it is in America. Who gets it? What your status gets you? And of course, the "kind of sick" you have to be in order to get help.
In a year that a pandemic dominated, health, how we view it, how we prepare for it, and how we maintain it, is more paramount in our lives than ever before. This includes our mental health. Our social health. And even, our financial health. It's all intersected. And shouldn't be confused with productivity.
Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.
I've always attempted to make self-care a priority. And I've been bad at it. Terrible, actually. 2020 makes you realize it's not something you fit into your life, it's something that MUST happen in your life.
Your own self-care isn't a bargaining chip or a product of guilt by way of "selfish desires". We ALL have to learn to find outlets - our own outlets - for self-care. We have to find ownership of that care.
And that comes from us - not others.
GOOD PEOPLE, EH PEOPLE
2020 taught me not just about the good people I have around me, but the people who are invested in me. I'll never forget the individuals who reached out to me shortly after my father passed away. I've saved all of the messages, texts, and cards. Even if I didn't respond, trust me, it meant a lot to me.
Ditto on checking on me throughout the year.
On the other side of the coin, there were many people who pulled away, some for reasons as simple as politics - and that's okay, too.
2020 has given me - all of us - a redefinition of human contact and connection. With that comes the relationships that ought to be invested in, and the others which I can begin to redirect my investment elsewhere.
GOD IS GOOD
We may not understand why, but I can't imagine my year without my faith. And a renewal in many ways of it. 2020 stripped away so much to show us what we've lacked in appreciation for. I can't thank God enough for the lessons, the experiences, and the strength.
God is good. So good.
Here are a few other quick life lessons from 2020:
- "Unprecedented" is the most overused word for situations we're uncomfortable with.
- Many of our elected officials are great at being politicians and awful at being leaders and visionaries. Some don't even have conviction.
- There are consequences in voting (or not voting).
- Fear drives much of how we think as a society.
- Teachers are among the most undervalued and underappreciated people within our society.
- Working from home taught us that the eight-hour workday is a sham.
- Zoom calls are more annoying than in-person meetings.
- I'll forever find ways to be gracious to grocery store workers and essential retail workers
- Jeans are overrated (I can say I never wore a pair of jeans for the entire year).
- Humor is a super-cure.
I thought 2020 would be the year I got everything I wanted. Now I know 2020 is the year I appreciate everything I have.- Melody Godfred
I can be changed by what happens to me but I refuse to be reduced by it.Maya Angelou