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It goes without saying that this year was an absolute shitshow. Our team has been through some pretty incredible ups and downs: Hours were cut, and bills piled high. Some caught COVID-19 and are still suffering from long-term symptoms. We were gassed and shot with pepper balls at protests. Stories we reported on took an emotional toll. Several of us lost loved ones.

We know first-hand this year has been one devastating thing after another. But even though they may be harder to see, some good things happened this year, too.

On this last day of 2020, we thought we would look back at some of the things that got Ms. Mayhem staff and our readers through it.

We went back and forth for days on how to do this. Do we only talk about things that came out in 2020? What categories do we include? Do we make a top 10 list? We nixed all of that and decided to have each person tell our audience about five things we really loved this year. It may be a podcast that we couldn’t stop listening to or a show that made us laugh so hard we temporarily escaped reality. It may also be a movie that came out two years ago or six months ago. Each thing was a significant part of our lives this year.

 

We also want to take this opportunity to thank our readers for your support. It means so much to us that our hard work has been appreciated these last seven months. We hope you continue to engage with our stories into the new year.

We asked our wonderful readers what the best thing about 2020 was for them. Their responses have been edited for concision and clarity.

 

Charly – @cheapthreatcharly: I got out of a two-year-long, trauma bonded relationship of horror, met someone new and kind, and did clinical ketamine therapy to finally get some help with my chronic and mental illnesses that were treatment-resistant. And it worked.
 
Cara – @carajeannethevegan: Honestly one of the best things that happened this year is sleeping with an acquaintance I’d thought was hot for years, and the sex is probably the best I’ve ever had. Or is that too spicy for your end of year stuff? That and seeing my friends’ kids more because I moved from Denver to Pennsylvania at the end of 2019 and finally living by myself!

Linda R. (Facebook): One very valuable thing I have experienced is that of Zooming with my [high school] friends, other friends, my granddaughter, and my Arnos and Rittenhouse cousins. 

 
Janine G. (Facebook): Favorite Poem Project is definitely one of them.
 
Lauren – @ladylaurenjaneGood thing that happened to me: I got a job at a nonprofit media literacy organization and learned how to write grants!
 
Name Not Listed – @larisssslove: 2020 has brought me a lot of wonderful things. First off, it forced me to face life & determine what I actually wanted from it. I was able to leave an emotionally abusive relationship and so quickly fall in love with who seems to be the one. I lost a job that I later realized wasn’t making me happy, and chose to leave the whole career field behind me. I adopted the most radical rescue dog who’d seen more trauma than me, we worked together with a trainer & now he could be a show dog! We got rid of the orange shade in our government. I’m so fucking thankful for 2020. 
 
Kayln – @kabetown: The best part of 2020 was adopting a sweet little three-legged dog, eloping with my wife, and working on virtual projects to keep my choruses going (Denver Women’s Chorus and the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus).
 
Paula B. (Facebook): Our daughter returned home from China and was accepted for graduate school at NYU; Our son graduated from college with a degree in journalism. A month later he became gainfully employed as a reporter for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
 
Darcy L. (Facebook): Today my 15-year-old son suggested we eat black-eyed peas on New Years Eve while putting THE BLACK EYED PEAS on continuous shuffle… smart kid!
 
Cassie R. (Facebook): There’s a bike park in our section of the Highline Canal trail. Throughout the pandemic people have posted signs in it encouraging one another, thanking strangers, and encouraging safety.
 
Lauren (@currentlycolorado): 2020 was a rollercoaster, that’s for sure. But within the chaos I actually found myself being able to reset and pause more than ever before. I found some me time that I didn’t think existed and my mental health is so much better for it!

Alexandra Cummings

The Queen’s Gambit (show) An orphan girl stumbles across a janitor playing chess in the basement of her orphanage and the rest is history. Okay but seriously, she discovers a natural gift for a game that has predominantly been played by men and leaves a trail of them behind her as she makes her way across the world making a name for herself.

Normal People (show) A story set in Ireland, this limited Hulu series takes us on an adventure through the complicated relationship between Connell and Marianne. Thanks to socio-economic divisions, these two star-crossed lovers struggle through tragedy, mental health, abuse and other life-altering events all while growing a bond that can’t truly be broken.

Peppermint (movie) For starters Jennifer Garner stars in this movie so already you know it’s going to be good. Garner’s character tragically loses her family and to make matters worse the justice system fails to hold those responsible accountable for their crimes. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t cheering her on while I watched.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (book) A powerful story where nature is also an important character, Where The Crawdads Sing is equal parts Bildungsroman and crime drama. This story is centered around Kya, a wild and unkempt girl that is outcast by her small North Carolina town. The book follows the ups and downs of her lonely but hopeful life and in even more exciting news, this page-turner will hopefully be coming to our TVs soon.

Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini (book)As a fan of historical fiction, I couldn’t put this book down. This book brings readers on an adventure with danger, romance and sacrifice during the World War II era. The story centers around real-life American Mildred Fish Harnack and her circle of female friends who courageously battled against Hitler in Nazi Berlin. If you’re going to read this I suggest you bring a box of tissues with you.

Favorite 2020 MM story- My favorite story Ms. Mayhem published this year was “Akiala I is fighting gentrification one block at a time,” by Dough Hrdlicka. While I had hoped to write this story myself, Doug beat met to it, and  I got to enjoy it as a reader instead. Five Points is no stranger to gentrification and one woman named Akiala has taken it upon herself to buy back the neighborhood one block at a time. Through a GoFundMe page, her goal is to restore its history and bring back the culture that once encompassed the predominantly Black neighborhood. I can’t wait to watch her succeed.

Best thing about 2020- For me, it was moving back to Denver. I originally moved to Denver in 2017 and loved my time here. At the end of 2019, I moved back to upstate NY for family reasons and had no intentions of returning. But during the global pandemic, I had to really think about where I wanted to be and what felt most like home. So I packed my car up, and my dog and I did the 26 hour trip for the third time. It’s my goal now to make the most of this city and that starts with telling the stories of the amazing people who live in it.

Annie Burky

Levar Burton Reads (podcast)– Also known as “Reading Rainbow for Grown-ups,” this podcast is a collection of Levar Burton reading some of his favorite short fiction. He tends to choose speculative fiction or magical realism and each time leaves the listener with a deep appreciation for literature.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (movie)– The title is aptly a call back to Henry James’ “Portrait of a Lady,” a novel in which a young woman is forced out of her independence and into marriage. This film is a twist on the tale as old as time but queers the story with profound grace and honesty (cue cave abortion).

The Best of Me by David Sedaris (book)– This is a collection of personally chosen short stories and essays spanning the author’s career, highlighting his growth, and offering us all a hilarious escape from a terrible year. For those who are only aware of Sedaris’s writing through This American Life, please take the time and read this gem.

Fleabag, Season 2 (show)– Don’t even bother with season one and jump ahead to a hilariously brilliant look at religion, love and devotion. The first time you binge the short 6 episodes you might find yourself a little heartbroken but by the fourth go ’round I promise you will feel reborn.

John Mulaney (in general)– John Mulaney gives voice to all us anxiety-ridden recovering Catholics. I specifically recommend his Kid Gorgeous special and Season 4 of Big Mouth.

Favorite 2020 MM story- My favorite one from this year was “The Significance of Amache for Colorado and the NPS.” I was not aware of the existance of Amache until I was 21. I once again felt betrayed by my state and by our nation’s ideals. In covering this story, I spoke to many survivors and descendants who were courageous and kind enough to share their stories with me. Listening to them will be something I carry with me for the rest of my life.

Best thing about 2020- Kamala Harris elected as Vice President. It’s so easy to focus on all the horrible parts of this year’s election cycle but the fact that a woman of color has been elected as vice president of the U.S. is a beacon of hope. While I am morally opposed to her practices as a prosecutor, little girls of every race will soon watch a woman be sworn into the second highest office of the land.

Amelia Petrini

Blindspotting (movie)–  I know this movie is a couple of years old, but it’s so well-written and real that it really brought comfort, especially in the summer with all the protests. It really tackles the issue of police brutality brilliantly.

Martinis & Murder (podcast)– For all the true crime fans out there, this is one of my favorite podcasts. Every week they drink a themed cocktail (with a recipe) and talk about different murders. Both hosts are also LGBTQ+, which is a plus!

Ashnikko (musician)– Though she’s been making music a couple of years, Ashnikko really blew up in 2020. She is unapologetic about her kinks and sexuality.

Sergei Parajanov (director)– So, this is a major throwback because this director is from the 70s. Based in the Soviet Union, he was a Georgian-born Armenian director who made surrealist films that were actually banned due to his support of Ukrainian dissidents. He was subsequently jailed—both for his anti-Soviet sentiments and “homosexual acts.”

Lido Pimenta’s “Miss Colombia” (album)– This album actually did come out this year! Lido Pimenta is a Colombian-Canadian musical artist. She sings in Spanish, predominantly about the problems faced by Black and Indigenous women in Colombia. Her music is kind of like an electronic mix of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous musical styles.

Favorite 2020 MM story- My favorite Ms. Mayhem story this year was “Sex positivity reigns at Awakening Boutique.” I didn’t know about Awakening Boutique, but it was really cool to see an adult store that was focused not only on providing a positive experience but also on being selective about what companies they source their toys from.

Best thing about 2020- I spent SO MUCH of quarantine watching musicals, it’s honestly kind of embarrassing. But let me just say being able to watch Hamilton was the cherry on top of that cake.

Esteban Fernandez

Taylor Swift’s “Folklore” (album)– The surprise release was such an about-face from her previous albums and it’s toned-down mood was contemplative departure from the anxiety swirling outside of quarantine.

The Expanse, Season 5 (show)– Season 5 of this brilliant show dropped earlier this month. It remains the best portrayal of geopolitics, social movements and terrorism ever made for TV.

Impetigore (movie)- Joko Anwar’s followup to “Satan’s Slaves” doubles down on his mastery of character, plot and cinematography. This Indonesian director mastered American-style horror techniques and uses to it to tell singularly Indonesian horror stories, single-handedly outdoing his contemporaries—like Ari Aster and Robert Eggers—in the U.S.

Don’t Think of the Elephant! by George Lakoff (book)– A great book on how people form beliefs and where liberal and conservative arguments come from. Essential reading when it comes to contextualizing the insanity that comes out of politician’s mouths.

Star Trek: Discovery (show)– This show had the single biggest turn around in 2020, going from poor/mediocre to genuinely great in Season 3. Character arcs set up from the beginning are finally developed in satisfactory directions. The strongest episodes of the show this season were also based around trans/nonbinary storylines, a first in Star Trek history. The change of setting away from prequel territory liberates it from living in the shadow of previous shows to standing on its own two feet.

Favorite 2020 MM story- Our 2020 election coverage. We pulled out a lot of great stories and Madison’s graphics for election results were fantastic.

Best thing about 2020- The temporary halt of the country’s slide into fascism.

Hannah Thomas

CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time (news program)– My love triangle with the Cuomo brothers began when Gov. Cuomo of New York took charge and addressed our nation on a daily basis with facts, strategy and empathy. On furlough with coffee-in-hand, I would tie up my messiest bun by 7 a.m. and tune in to feel more at ease about the disaster we were facing. Cuomo Prime Time has further won me over with Chris Cuomo’s unabashed, linear approach to reporting—and I’m here for it.

New York Time’s “The Daily” (podcast)– There’s something about imbibing a podcast first thing in the morning that made me feel grounded. Michael Barbaro makes it so easy with his soft, affirmative voice. His shows are well rounded and informative. Where other news outlets failed to expand, Barbaro prodded at specifics from an inclusive lens.

@fitfatandallthat (Instagram)– Hello 2020, hello thick hips! This year has wreaked havoc on my body positivity. With limited gym access, learning to cook at home and occasionally satiating my sorrows with some vino, my body has fluctuated quicker than Trump’s tweets. Julia and the amazing community that she has created with her page have taught me the importance of appreciating my figure. Her daily stories contain authentic and soulful reminders that we all need to hear.

Funny How It Works Out by Manon Matthews (book)– In this book, comedian Manon Matthews shares her fairytale-turned-dumpster-fire in a way that is relatable and full of hope. I laughed, I cried and in the end, I realized that the chaos of 2020 will pass—just in time for things to work out how they should. As Matthews would say, “There’s a lesson in each moment that passes, if you pay attention.”

WAP by Cardi B and Meg Thee Stallion (song)– If one were to take a look at my Spotify 2020 Wrapped, it would be no surprise that the majority of my top songs are by strong female artists. It did, however, come as a pleasant surprise that my most played song was WAP by Cardi B. I couldn’t be more thrilled. The song has a prominent, steady beat that is made for running outdoors. Also, what a time to appreciate and embrace womxn’s sexuality in all its glory.

Favorite 2020 MM story- “The Dirty P-Words: Pandemic, pivot, preparation–and the female restaurateurs who face them.” The Denver restaurant community has been inundated with words like “relief” and “stimulus” and “support” – but hasn’t received any. It was an honor to gain some insight from local, independent owners who have been able to survive on sheer grit.

Best thing about 2020- The vibe of 2020 was like a party that I so intricately planned for just for no one to show up—a level 10 on the disappointment scale. It all hit very fast and very hard. Every box I wanted to check vanished, and I had to be okay with it—we all did. Although forced, a lesson in patience was much needed: patience with myself, with others and with aspects of life that are out of my control. By no means have I mastered the art, but I will say that a pause in your breathing goes a long way.

Jenna Thomas 

Veep (show)– Sue, did the President call? Every episode. Every season. On repeat. There’s just something about Selina Meyer screaming profanities at her team of buffoons that really calms me.

Taylor Swift’s “Folklore” (album)– When Taylor Swift dropped a surprise album in July, I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief. The 16-track record pushed me to get outside, ride my bike and soak up some summer sunshine when it would’ve been much easier to hide under the bed fearful of 2020. Thank you, Taylor!

Elmo (character)- The high-pitched sound of Elmo is suffocating & maddening…but not if you’re a two-year-old. Happy Tappin’ with Elmo and Elmo’s Song have both been played on repeat since March. All day. Every day. Please keep me in your thoughts.

Color Trucks (show)– Thanks to COVID, my commitment to keep our twins away from screens blew up in smoke. For 15 whole minutes, I’m guaranteed some quiet as they watch backhoes, excavators and dump trucks change colors. They can’t share worth a damn but at least the two can differentiate between blue and green and purple and pink.

Dateline NBC (show)– Thankfully, COVID did not put an end to the storytelling of Dateline’s Keith Morrison. Listening to a true crime story narrated by him is about as close as I will get to meditation. And that’s perfectly fine with me 🙂

Favorite 2020 MM story- My favorite story this year was “The first-ever African immigrant elected to state legislature prepares to serve in Colorado.” Representative-elect Naquetta Ricks is an inspiration for all. She fled the Civil War in Liberia as a young girl and is now prepared to make history as a Colorado lawmaker. Her story is unlike any other.

Best thing about 2020- I have to pinch myself because working for Ms. Mayhem is exactly what I needed this year. It’s been incredibly rewarding to return to my days of true storytelling. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of the team!

Madison Lauterbach

What We Do in the Shadows, Season 2 (show)– I get a ton of shit for this because I’m of the opinion the show is better than the movie. But oh my god, Season 2 is absolutely brilliant. Being shut in like a vampire became even more relatable during the pandemic this year. If only we had a regular human bartender like Jackie Daytona.

Veep (show)– I know Jenna already mentioned this show but it really helped me get through this year. When my mom died in April, this is all I watched for weeks after because it was the only thing that could make me laugh. The absurdity of this show and the comedic timing is unmatched. 

What Next with Mary Harris (podcast)– Since I don’t really listen to music much, podcasts fill my driving time. I talk about this podcast ALL THE TIME. Not only is the reporting outstanding, but the audience hears from people well versed in the issues at hand. Mary Harris digs into the biggest stories of the day and those that many people may not think about. The offshoot What Next TBD has some amazing technology stories, like how hackers hold schools for ransom.

Crooked Media (media outlet)– I couldn’t decide between Pod Save America, Pod Save the World or some of the limited episode podcasts Crooked Media has released. Not only are Crooked’s shows really interesting and hilarious, but the company also did some amazing work to get out the vote in 2020, which they’re continuing during the Georgia runoffs. One of my favorite shows from this year was Wind of Change, which examined whether the 1990 song by the Scorpions was actually written by the CIA. Absolutely riveting.

Grey’s Anatomy (show)– Yes. I know. It’s a terrible show that gives medical practice a bad name because everyone is unethical. But there’s something about it that I just can’t give up. It was also a show that I shared with my mom before she passed, so it’s nice to keep that connection and think about what her reaction would be to each new episode. 

Favorite 2020 MM story- I have several favorites. One of the most fun for me to report was the story on Awakening Boutique. Each story that passes my desk is great, but some of my favorites are the Vaden siblings at the Black Lives Matter protest, the inaugural Babe Walls event and Denver women opening the gates of financial independence.

Best thing about 2020- This year sucked for me like it did for so many others. My partner’s father passed away in the spring and a month later my mom died. I miss my friends and going out on Friday nights. I had to watch my friends suffer through financial instability and heartache. But there have been some amazing things too. I moved in with my partner in April. Thousands of people took to the streets to fight for racial justice for months on end. And the best for me personally, I launched Ms. Mayhem with the help of some of the best young journalists I know. The growth we’ve made over the last seven months has laid a great foundation for the upcoming year.

Padideh Aghanoury

The Sopranos (show)– As a wretched young millennial, I was too young to be interested in watching The Sopranos when it was on air, however, I do remember the furor over the way the series ended. I hit a level of boredom during quarantine where I finally, albeit reluctantly, started watching all the shows recommended to me by friends over the years, including The Sopranos. Exploring masculinity, old-world ideals, violence, drugs and mental health through the lens of one of the most truly vile social roles, The Sopranos does a great job of peeling back the “cool” factor of organized crime and highlighting the paranoia and fear lurking behind money-driven zealotry.

Salsa Fingers’ “Salsa Fingers” (album)– Funky, percussive and playful, this debut full-length album released by Jal, Mexico-based Salsa Fingers really kept my spirits up and my feet moving this year. All sorts of wild rhythms and a wide variety of drums, with goofy and self-aware vocals, make Salsa Fingers hands-down the most unique and groundbreaking album released this year that I’ve come across. It also supports my theory that the best dance music in the world right now is coming out of Mexico.

The Serfs’ “Sounds of Serfdom” (album)– Driving power-punk, droning synths and reverb-laden vocals are just a few remarkable aspects on this debut full-length release by the Cincinnati-based post-punk band The Serfs. From start to finish this album is positively riveting and rage-filled, making anyone want to smash some guitars in an abandoned warehouse, a feeling that coursed through me for most of 2020.

Stove’s “‘s Favorite Friend” (album)– Teetering on the edge of pop-punk, this 2018 album by New York-based Stove is the perfect sad girl album. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve cried to this record, which is why it was the album I listened to the most in 2020. Loud and sad, this album screams pain from the rooftops.

Da Five Bloods (movie)– Spike Lee’s Da Five Bloods, while not Lee’s best work, does a really great job of showing the disillusionment many Americans feel with the political apparatus and the psychological isolation that leads to populism and nationalist rhetoric. From the perspective of several Black Vietnam vets, similar to Miracle at St. Anna, Lee explores the exploitation and abandonment many Black soldiers experience. He also unpacks the unspoken traumas of war that are compounded with racial and economic inequalities. Delroy Lindo’s performance absolutely warrants an award, and the film is one of Chadwick Boseman’s final works before his passing.

Favorite 2020 MM story-The cruising culture of Federal has received unfair coverage, but it’s a major part of Denver’s history.” I loved this story because I learned so much about a subculture I grew up in proximity to but never fully understood. I thought the photos were gorgeous and highlights the Chicano cultural identity that is just so integral to Denver’s cultural identity as a city. I also feel that Chicano culture in this city is not acknowledged enough and that this piece did a great job of starting to remedy that.

Best thing about 2020- I feel that I’ve grown significantly as a writer this year, and have gotten several new opportunities, including being hired by Ms. Mayhem! I’m also deeply grateful for the health and safety of my family. I feel like this year helped me mature and realize the many privileges I have been afforded, and learn not to stress so much about little things. I also used my stimulus check to get some new music gear and have been finally making music, something I’ve put off for the last decade mostly due to finances.

Polina Saran

The Queen’s Gambit (show)– This is one of the rare moments where the show is so well written that it helps drown the viewer into another reality—exactly what I needed. Additionally, shows about women always inspire me.

Mistika (podcast)– This Russian podcast is about the most interesting and weird criminal stories from all over the world, but mostly England, Russia, and the U.S. I just like to listen to these wild stories and to say out loud “Wait, what?!”

The Last Ship (documentary)– This is a documentary about Kazakhstan in Russian. It really inspired me to travel to Central Asia as soon as possible, not only to see beautiful landscapes but meet my 83-year-old grandfather that I have never met.

Let’s Sing a Song to the Ocean by Tosya Chaikina (song)– I listened to this song at least a thousand times this year and it definitely helped me not go nuts by being so far away from my home, the Baltic Sea. I would just sing this song to the ocean and get inspired to move forward knowing that when I go back it will be there.

Chiki (show)– If you ask a Russian speaker what show helped them get through this year, most likely you will hear Chiki. It is a story about four women sex workers from a small town in southern Russia. One day they decide to open their own business to be independent and stop working at a brothel. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to leave their pimp. This show is definitely a rollercoaster of emotions.

Favorite 2020 MM story- My favorite story was the “Obituary for Lisa Irene Kazazian” by Madison Lauterbach. It is a very fragile, full-of-emotion piece that takes your breath away and makes you think about your loved ones. What is interesting is that I come back to this obituary in my head once in a while, this is how beautiful it is.

Best thing about 2020- Work was the best thing for me this year. All year long I was filming and editing. Despite COVID-19, I have met a lot of people and produced dozens of videos. Work at Ms. Mayhem always had the most interesting assignments and amazing stories to work on. This kept me moving.

Richard Muller

Midnight Gospel (podcast/cartoon)– Midnight Gospel is an animated podcast that explores abstract concepts such as consciousness, meditation, presence, reality, grief, life, death, the afterlife, and coming to terms with all of the above. I had a lot of “coming to terms” with these concepts in 2020, and this show helped a lot. As said on S1E5, “The moment that you accept things as they are, you don’t need to hope anymore. Because you realize that where you are is kind of okay.”

“This is America” by Childish Gambino (song)– Whether protesting the police in the streets, celebrating “black joy” with the roommates over a bottle of Hennessy, or posting personal stories to social media about the marginalization America reserves for select groups of its population, my Spotify will have you know there is no better anthem for all occasions of 2020 than Childish Gambino’s, “This is America.”

Behind the Bastards (podcast)– 2020 ignited a bastard fighting fire inside of me, and this podcast certainly fueled the flames. Highlight episodes include their mini-series titled Behind the Police and all five episodes dedicated to everyone’s favorite Social Media CEO, Mark Z.

North of Providence by Edward Allen Baker (play)– I had been preparing to perform this play in March of 2020 before the theatre closed due to COVID restrictions. Then in May of 2020, my mother called to tell me that my little sister was in a coma in the hospital, and for hours, all I could do was stare up at the ceiling in silence while I let tears slowly slip down my face. Finally, in some sort of surreal autopilot, I set up my camera and poured everything I was feeling into the monologue my character says to his sister at the end of this play. It helped.

BoJack Horseman (show)– Every shit day of 2020 where I went to sleep to some crippling, painful reality I didn’t think I could move on from, I remembered the cold, sad wisdom from the series finale of BoJack Horseman, which summed up the show perfectly. BOJACK: “Life’s a bitch and then you die, right?” DIANE: “Sometimes. Sometimes life’s a bitch, and then you keep living.”

Favorite 2020 MM story- My favorite story from this year was the Cleo Parker Robinson profile. I find Robinson’s energy, enthusiasm, and persistence contagious and invigorating. Going into the New Year, we all could learn a lot from this passionate woman’s drive for community, love, and care for one another.

Best thing about 2020- Though the worst of circumstances brought us together, I spent more time around my family in 2020 than I had in over 7 years. AND I gained a lot of chosen family this year as well. And that proximity to family, old and new, is what got me through the year.

Maria Muller

Never Have I Ever, Season 1 (show)– Yes, I binged the entire first season of this teenage rom-com about a first-generation Indian American teenager going through the drama of her high school sophomore year. In fact, I binged it twice. The first time was two weeks after learning my 22-year-old daughter was in a coma, on a ventilator, had the coronavirus and had suffered severe brain damage. I desperately needed to escape this world. I started in on the beers, plopped down on my bed and entered the world of Devi and her friends. I cried as much as I laughed. The second time I watched it was three weeks after my daughter died. After seven months of fighting, her body gave up. That second time I decided to watch it with my family. I drank just as much, I laughed just as much, but I did not cry that time.

Everything by Mary J. Blige (song)– I used to sing this song to my youngest daughter when she was a baby. I’d dance around the living room while holding her above my head, turning in circles and belting this song out as loud as I could. When she was older I told her about this, and she later told me she did the same thing with her own little girl. This year, when I visited my daughter in the hospital day after day, for seven long months, I played this song so many times. At this point, she had come out of her coma, but she was in a state where I had no idea if she knew what was going on around her or understood what I was saying or singing to her. I like to think she heard the song, and that it meant as much to her as it did to me.

My Dad Wrote a Porno (podcast)– This British podcast is run by a trio of writers, one of whose father writes said porn. They dissect and make fun of the ridiculous, poorly written “erotica,” written weekly by good old dad. Instead of hot and bothered, the material left me laughing out loud. It was nice to find something that could take me out of my sadness and make me smile.

Hunt by Elfquest-Stargazer (comic book)– I started reading this comic book 40 years ago and was thrilled to learn the creators, who are a husband (writer) and wife (artist), had started a whole new series this year. When I was a little kid and wanted to escape the reality that was my life, I would dive into my collection of Elfquest and retreat to the world of two moons with elves, trolls and preservers. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, there was a seven-month stall on new issues. But they recently started up again with some of my favorite characters and brand new stories.

Stuff You Missed in History Class (podcast)– I started listening to this history podcast a few years ago and it quickly became one of my favorites. When we had to shelter in place this year, I decided to go back and listen to every episode, starting from the first episode in 2008. Having gone from the 8th grade straight to college I never got to learn a lot of history and this podcast has helped to fill those gaps. I’m always learning something new and this podcast has accompanied me while working in my garden, driving, cleaning, painting and pretty much anything I do that takes two hands.

Favorite 2020 MM story- My favorite is “Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Celebrate 50 Years of Bringing Communities Through Dance.” When I pitched this story I couldn’t wait to write it. However, getting an interview with Ms. Parker proved easier said than done. But I kept pursuing and pushing and when I finally got to talk to her it was well worth it. I don’t always feel confident about a lot of my writing, but I felt very proud of this one.

Best thing about 2020- My kids and my garden. All my life, whenever things got rough I would always think, “As long as my kids are OK and healthy I can get through anything.” And then 2020 came along and took that away from me. On May 3, my youngest daughter who was 21, suffered cardiac arrest in the ER and slipped into a coma. The 20 minutes her brain went without oxygen caused permanent brain damage and she had the coronavirus. For seven months I watched my child go through stuff a parent should never have to see their child suffer through. And then, after she went through all that, she passed away the day after Thanksgiving. I’ve never known pain like this. When the writers of Ms. Mayhem were given the task of finding something good about 2020, I wracked my brain. I surprised myself by finding numerous things. But the most important one this year was my other four kids. Two weeks after my daughter went into a coma, my kids came out to Colorado to be there for me and each other. One from California, one from Arizona and the one with my two grandsons came from Nevada. We cried, we laughed, we told stories, we got drunk and we did our best to comfort each other. We even transplanted all the veggies I had growing into a garden we created in my backyard. Working the garden was soothing for all of us and continued to help me get through this year until everything had been harvested. Two days after my family came together, my daughter started moving and reacting to the doctors. Did she sense all the energy and love we were sending out to her? I like to think so. A week later, she tested negative for the virus and we were able to visit her. We went every day, trying to get her to respond to us. After a few weeks, my kids went home. They still had lives to live. But I have no doubt that I would not have gotten through that first month without them. In August, my oldest son, Richard, came to visit me again. After visiting for a few weeks, he made the decision to move from L. A. back to Colorado and stay with me. He has been my rock, my inspiration, my confidant and my biggest supporter. He also recently became a photographer for this magazine. He’s pretty awesome. I have never in my life been as grateful for my kids as I was this year. I know I’m going to have many many dark days ahead of me as I try to deal with the loss of my child, but I also know my other four kids are there for me as we go through this together.