New year, new me...?


Art by Wendy Bello Mata

2020. Where do we even start?


For Dungeons & Dragons nerds like me, a natural 20 (rolled on a twenty-sided die) means critical success. Accomplishment with flourish. It’s like having your teacher forgo finals and finding out that on the last day of class, you’ll be watching a movie.


Two natural 20s in a row? On dice, that’s a 1 in 400 chance. Like finding out that that movie is Shrek and your teacher plans on bringing donuts.


Two natural 20s in a row - there’s a 0.25% chance for that. Statistically-speaking, a person is more likely to score between 1400 and 1600 on the SAT. And truly, 2020 was improbable to say the least, though hopefully much rarer than 1 in 400.


Last New Year’s, enthused by the period of promise and possibility, I looked forward. I thought about where I wanted to be 12 months later, what things I wanted to change. Like many people, I made resolutions: Spend more time with friends. Relish my second-to-last year of cross-country and track. ONE MORE THAT IS NERDY AND FUN.


Rarely do things go according to plan, but when have they ever gone so awry?

“In 2020, I strived to do better. Going into 2021, my goal is to try not to let the world get worse,” says Eagle Rock 7th grader Mason Calderon. “As we’ve seen, it can get worse. It can get a lot worse.”


Indeed, this year, we took a collective bite into the proverbial Chocolate Chip Cookie of Life, only to discover that it was not a chocolate chip cookie at all, but a pathetic oatmeal raisin. And then, upon swallowing our first sad bite of deceitful dessert, we unearthed a grave allergy to all things oatmeal. And raisin.


Hindsight sure is 20-20.

@JudeBeck via Unsplash

Though junior Velouria Perez doesn’t set official resolutions each year, she did have ideas she wanted to keep in mind heading into her second-to-last year at Eagle Rock. Much of her friend group enjoyed spending time together at the Glendale Galleria, and she wanted to find more time to embrace that aspect of her life.


“I told myself I was going to be better about work habits, to be better about making time for myself to hang out with friends,” Perez says. “Well, that got thwarted.”


Not only is it physically impossible for her friends to gather in-person, but for Perez, as for so many students, work habits suffered in the transition to online-learning. “Work work work, sleep. Work work work, sleep. That has pretty much been quarantine for me,” she says.

The pattern of desk-to-bed migration is a familiar one. The predatory Schoology consumes what could be an abundance of free time, and interpersonal connections fall prey to the carnivorous Zoom.


Looking ahead, Perez plans on reusing those same resolutions in 2021. She says that even just calling a friend on the phone or trying to engage in digital activities with friends will help keep her laptop from siphoning off her spare time.


Perez has plenty of company in her desire to create space to relax. “Going into 2020, I determined I’d carve out space in my every day to read 15 pages of literature for me, not for work,” says Belinda Ortiz, ERHS 9th grade and DP English teacher. “My logic was that this habit would yield 100 pages a week, 400 a month, 12 + books a year. The end of winter break 2019-2020 provided me ample time to get a good start, but as the Spring semester picked up speed, my reading came to a screeching halt.”


What might have been oodles of opportunity to pick up a book wasted away in the hours Ortiz had to spend redesigning her curriculum to accommodate remote instruction. Now, with 2021 approaching, Ortiz reaffirmed her reading goal and added on a commitment to run or walk for 35 to 45 minutes each day. “Literature nurtures my spirit, so it is a need, as is exercise since it helps clear my mental clutter and refuels my energy,” Ortiz says.

@Betteratf8 via Unsplash

Exercise has established itself as a staple of many people’s quarantine experience. Michael Hicks, English teacher and Eagle Rock Scream supervisor, planned to exercise more consistently in 2020. Like Perez and Ortiz, Hicks found his aim nearly foiled by the rise of quarantine.


“Swimming and weightlifting are the activities that I like the most,” Hicks says. “But with all of the gyms that had these facilities closed, for months I couldn’t do these things.”

So Hicks and his wife threw down the cash for mountain bikes, only to realize they needed a larger SUV to transport them to the trailheads. “There were a cascading set of expenses that occurred in order to keep my New Year’s resolution of keeping fit,” Hicks says.


Despite the upfront costs, Hicks has enjoyed a lot of biking at local trails. He has even begun branching out to more remote places, though even this has been impacted by county and state restrictions.


Keeping active in the new year was also on the mind of Sarah Goldstein, 11th grader and editor of the Eagle Rock Scream. Goldstein says health was her primary resolution at the end of 2019.


“Weight loss was a New Year’s resolution that I’ve made every year because I want to be healthy,” Goldstein explains. “When COVID hit, I used it as an opportunity to really commit, and I actually did it this year. I told myself, ‘Sarah, you’ve got to do this.’ And I actually followed through.”


Encouraged by her success, Goldstein wants her resolution to roll over into the upcoming year. “I’m going to continue the weight loss journey. I want to do more physical activity. Now that we’ve been in quarantine, we’re at our desks a lot, so I want to be more active,” she says.


Admirably, Goldstein found her resolution facilitated by the stay-at-home. Understandably, many did not. But the spirit of the new year is, after all, in the trying. (No, 2020! Not “crying!”)


We take aim, and we do our best.


So what, if that looks like waking up with enough time to eat breakfast before Zoom class and summoning the will to change out of pajamas? You have to start somewhere.





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