Once a month I write my personal review of the previous four weeks. In this final review of the most surreal year in my life, I look back at a fortunate cultural outing in between lockdowns and a year of heartache which developed into something positive. And as always, I’ve included my complete list of recommendations for films and series!
Off to a happier and healthy new year
First of all: a happy and healthy new year to all of you! May 2021 be kinder to us all and offer some fun things to look forward to. I remember starting last year in such a positive way and looking forward to all the exciting unknown adventures ahead. 2020 sounded so futuristic and special, but it turned into a surreal and grim nightmare halfway through the first month already after my best friend had so unexpectedly taken his own life.
Almost a year of lots of self-reflection later, things are slightly better but the pain remains forever etched in my heart. I know things will improve, but with the uncertainty of the coronavirus and Brexit I’m not quite ready to give 2021 a warm welcome yet. Neither am I too keen to reflect back on the past year, so I’ll try to keep this post brief. So unlike me, eh?
2020: a year of friendships lost and gained
There’s this saying that you get to know your true friends in times of a crisis. It’s been a sad realisation that the friends physically closest to me, were emotionally the furthest away and that those friendships didn’t thrive well during the coronacrisis. Instead, a few unexpected new friendships emerged, one literally two streets away from me, but most of which online.
This is so unlike me, as I’m always very hesitant towards such virtual relationships, but I found real comfort and support from my Instagram friends who have certainly helped me through the hardest time of my life. I’m so grateful for all these kind and generous souls who truly listened to me and even opened up about their worries and struggles. I’m hoping to finally meet some of them in real life in the near future!
Besides new friends, there also my old (and newer) friends back in the Netherlands. Most of them I’ve known over twenty years now. Those friendships have grown into unbreakable bonds in our mutual grief. It’s a comfort to be able to share our happy memories together and moments of sadness too.
But the main person to help me through this impossible year was of course Hubby. Despite his own health scare, he was literally my shoulder to cry on. His clothing must have soaked up litres of my tears in the last months. In the years we’ve been together, we’ve gone through a lot of happy ups but also a great amount of painful downs and 2020 certainly belongs in that latter category. We were already used to being around each other 24/7 but having spent several months in strict lockdown and having seen not more than five people maximum since March, it’s clear that we’re one of those couples ‘who isolate together, stay together’.
In between lockdown exhibitions
Hubby and I enjoyed a rare day out in London mid-December just after the 1-month long national lockdown had been lifted. It was one of the few non-hospital related outings too this year I realise.
Little did we know that soon after, London would be placed under the strictest corona restrictions again. Although I find it quite stressful at times visiting museums during the current circumstances it was a real joy being surrounded by art again.
We visited two exhibitions that day, starting with the Bruce Nauman show at Tate Modern. I hadn’t heard of this American visual artist before, but immediately recognised how much his work has influenced (and been copied by) so many contemporary artists! The installation in the photo on the left below really reminded me of acclaimed artist Olafur Eliasson (who had a big show at Tate last year) while the one on the right made me think of Tracey Emin’s works with neon lights.
The second exhibition was the highly anticipated immersive show on British choreographer Michael Clark. Again, I wasn’t very familiar with his works beforehand, but actually enjoyed the exhibition very much. It’s always a joy to see artists having fun in their work and looking at the image below of the bare-bottomed dancer you get a good idea of this cheeky performer (pun intended). Walking through the exhibition, Clark’s playfulness and attitude reminded me of the radical fashion designer Alexander McQueen. It was therefore quite funny to learn in the show that the two of them had collaborated on several occassions. (10 points for the Dutch Girl for getting that right!)
It was only a year ago that I wrote about how Christmas had lost its magic for me due to several personal losses over the last years. Well, like for the most of us, this year’s Christmas was truly the worst. Instead of spending it with my family in the Netherlands, Hubby and I spent it on the sofa enjoying a 2-day movie marathon, surrounded by snacks.
It was fun, though I can’t deny a few tears were shed as well, but I’m certainly glad that the ‘festive time of the year’ is officially over. We even skipped New Year’s by going to bed at 10.30pm! With everything that happened last year, the ongoing coronacrisis and Brexit officially arriving on 1 January, we just really weren’t in the mood for it.
Films and series recommendations
Looking at my list, December certainly was a busy film month. It’s obvious we were successful at taking off the weekends from work and blogging. But also our two-day film marathon over Christmas added at least ten films to the list, hence a few Christmas-themed films here. I was happy to finally see some more arthouse films on demand thanks to a free 7-day Mubi trial. We’ll be certainly joining this streaming service this month and take up on their special offer (till 15 January) of three months for only £1!
Some of my personal favourites this month were Wine Country, an entertaining ‘chick flick for adults’ and Denmark featuring Rafe Spall, possibly one of my favourite British actors of the moment. Nicolas Cage’s latest film, Jiu Jitsu, about an alien frequenting Earth to fight jiu jitsu warriors on the other hand, was just as bad as it sounds. Combining elements from Predator, Alien and Mortal Kombat, it certainly was a memorable flick, unfortunately not for the right reasons…
We didn’t bingewatch many series this month. We watched only Fargo and two seasons of Friends. We’ve arrived at the final season of the latter and I realise I have no idea what’s happening so wonder if I ever saw it at the time. As for Fargo, I’m sad to say that I found the fourth season quite disappointing.
You can see my full list of films and series below. As always, I’ve marked my recommendations with a *.
- 5th Wave, The (Amazon)
- *Blow the Man Down (Amazon)
- Delirious (2006)
- *One Way to Denmark (original title: Denmark)
- *Edward Scissorhands (Disney+)
- Escape Room (Netflix)
- *Falling Down (Netflix)
- High Life (Mubi)
- Home Alone (Disney+)
- Honest Thief
- Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark (Amazon)
- Jiu Jitsu
- Midnight Sky, The (Netflix)
- *Nimic (Mubi)
- Non-fiction (original title: Doubles vies) (Mubi)
- Passengers (Amazon)
- *Professor and the Madman, The (Amazon)
- Soul (Disney+)
- Sunburnt Christmas, A
- *Super 8 (Netflix)
- *Tim Burton’s The Nightmare before Christmas (Disney+)
- *Timecrimes (original title: Los cronocrímenes)
- Triangle (Amazon)
- *Undoing, The
- We Can Be Heroes (Netflix)
- White Boy Rick (Netflix)
- Wild Goose Lake, The (Mubi)
- Wild Mountain Thyme
- *Wine Country (Netflix)
- *Woman in the Window, The (Netflix)
- *World War Z (Amazon)
- You, the Living (original title: Du levande) (Mubi)
- Fargo SE04
- *Friends SE08-SE09 (Netflix)
Things to be grateful for
I think that all of you will agree that 2020 was confusing, frustrating and debilitating. Many people I know have lost loved ones and were unable to attend funerals which is just heartbreaking. Lots of us have lost income and have been unable to see family and friends for months. I relate to all of this, but although it’s so easy to wallow in my sadness, I mustn’t lose sight of the good things in life. Even if it’s just a way to stay sane, it’s good to acknowledge the things in life to be grateful for.
We live in a beautiful house – despite being completely flooded in a flash flood last summer and now experiencing leaks through the brand-new roof we had installed when we moved home. I have a fantastic husband and we’re both healthy – Hubby fortunately managed to have surgery this year to remove a malign patch on his head. My parents remained corona-free and this year has showed me once again I have some truly incredible friends.
I also learned a great deal about myself this year and have a clearer idea of my strengths and weaknesses. Despite being unable to find much blogging inspiration over the year, the stats for both my websites were great which is so surprising in a year when travelling was pretty much non-existent. And I ended the year with an idea for a new platform that will be a creative and positive output of last year’s misery. But this shall be revealed next month, so stay tuned!
Let me finish this post with a heartfelt thank you for your support these last months. Here’s to a better twelve months ahead!
So far my brief review of the last month and final reflections on 2020.
How was your month / year?
Let me know in a comment below!
Thanks, Zarina xxx