Quarantine journal — one year later

Tudor Barbu
4 min readJan 17, 2021


2021. The year of redemption! The year in which I will do all the things that I wanted to but I couldn’t in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, those are the very same things that I have wanted to do for the past 3 pandemic-free decades. You know, back when the world was open and we had to actually work for excuses…

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

Is 2021 really going to be any better? The pandemic runs wild with the same inept politicians at the helm taking the most idiotic decisions. Spain is experiencing one of the worst snowfalls in decades. The US is on the brink of civil war. An Indonesian plane crashed in the sea. And North Korea just announced they’re expanding their nuclear arsenal. Barcelona is under an ever-changing set of restrictions and the numbers are getting worse.

And since it’s just mid-January, I will with a no on this one. 2021 will not be any better. But will my 2021 be any better?

Was my 2020 all that bad?

The consensus is that 2020 sucked. And it did. For a very great many. I, however, can say I was fortunate. While some people close to me did contract COVID-19, they all got mild forms. None that required hospitalization. Everyone I know managed to keep their jobs and continue without any pay cuts.

Looking back, I have to ask myself: “was it really that bad for me?”. It started like any other year, with big plans and literally no intentions of following up on any of them. Then the lockdown came. It was long and sad. And cause me to lose all motivation. I did find it later, on the 1st of May of 2020. The day before “liberation”.

I still remember the day. I went biking like crazy until my legs quit on me. I was so full of optimism that I even put down a list of things to do in 2020. And I followed through for most of them:

  • I will learn Spanish. 2020 will be the year in which I learned to speak Spanish fluently — Done! I managed to receive training, pass my A2 exam, sell a moto, and buy another completely in Spanish. While I may not be Cervantes, I can get by and at the end of the day, that’s what’s important.
  • Once the regulations allow it, at least two weekends per month I will go out of the city and visit the Catalan countryside — Done! I visited a lot of Costa Brava, Girona (the province), and other historical and cultural landmarks.
  • I will pass my A2 license and buy a faster motorcycle. 2020 will be the year I will start my biker career — Done! After some initial hiccups, I passed the exam and bought a Kawasaki Z900. Which is an awesome bike by the way!
  • 2020 will also be the year I will see the Alhambra — Done! I drove to Granada with a couple of friends and we visited the Alhambra. Covid actually made it easy, since under normal circumstances tickets need to be purchased almost one month in advance. But due to the pandemic, we could get them on the same day.
  • I will spend at least 10 days driving across Spain — Done-ish :) It was 8, but still, 80% is a good number.
  • I will get my Advanced PADI license — Done! I got my PADI license and as a bonus, I also did the enriched air/nitrox training.
  • I will keep blogging. 2020 will be the year I restarted my blog — Fail! Keep reading about this one.
  • I will focus on my new position as an engineering manager. 2020 will be the year I have successfully changed my career Rescoped! Engineer vs engineering manager is for a different article
  • and since nobody I know was affected by the pandemic, I will be more grateful for what I have — I am focusing on the positives, so I’m counting this as a win

Overall 7 out 9 with one rescoped: management can be boring while engineering is always cool. So there’s only one true fail: I stopped blogging although I planned for it, feedback on my articles was generally positive and, truth be told, I do enjoy writing.

Then, what went wrong? Nothing! And everything. I just got sidetracked and couldn’t find the time. And when I could find the time, I couldn’t find the words. I am re-reading some of my old posts written during the lockdown. I was on a roll! Probably because there was nothing else to do. I am proud of last spring’s version of myself. I was productive. Words were coming easily to me. Dare I say, I was creative. But it all faded away. It seems that Virginia Woolf was right. Loneliness and creativity do go hand in hand.

It seems that Virginia Woolf was right. Loneliness and creativity do go hand in hand.

Or maybe I lost my motivation!?! That’s a common occurrence in my life. I operate based on stimuli. This is good in the short term: if there’s a need to take action, I will quickly jump in and address it. Not that great in the long term, though. Once a stimulus stops, so do its effects.

Being forced in lockdown by the government did create a strong stimulus for me. I wanted to push back, to not be defeated. To not have a wasted year. But that drive faded away over time as things felt back in something resembling normality over summer.

Could it be that it wasn’t a SMART goal? What does keep blogging mean? In measurable terms? Probably. But most likely a combination of these three and many more factors. But in 2021, I will keep blogging. No more excuses and no more procrastination. I will post at least 2 articles per month. Dixit!

Starting tomorrow :)