Things I enjoyed in 2022
Just like last year, I don't have it in me to write a "year in review" post for 2022. It may be a long time before I have a year I'm excited to reflect on in detail, so this is my new tradition. Sharing a dozen or so things I enjoyed during these difficult times.
For the first time in my adult life, I gave myself a summer vacation. I still had some adult responsibilities (bills don't care if you want time off), but did my best to channel the child inside me that loved a summer off without responsibilities. After decades of capitalism leaving me with the crumbs of nights, weekends, and an occasional vacation, getting a whole season to myself was an indulgent treat. I had all the time in the world to take care of myself and enjoy my hobbies, which I desperately needed after the ongoing horrors of the last few years. I didn't get to travel because there's still a pandemic happening, but the long, restful staycation was glorious.
Early in my summer break, I read this book on the recommendation of a friend who found it helpful during their own break. It really helped me push past the Type A Puritan in my mind that never wants to stop working. I went into my vacation with a massive list of things I was going to do, and I'm really glad I did not hold myself to it. The point of my time off was to rest and recharge, not to overwork myself on hobbies and chores. I let myself be lazy, and my time off was better for it.
An anecdote in Laziness Does Not Exist really hit home for me. The author described someone who "was so mentally drained that she couldn’t sit through films anymore." I have loved film since I was a teenager, but I never cultivated it as a hobby in adulthood because of work. I did not take a single film class in college because it didn't fit into my grueling engineering curriculum. There were a few years early in my career when I frequented my favorite little neighborhood theater, but it was short-lived. At the height of my mid-career burnout, I was like the person in the anecdote. I could not make it through a new film. This brings me to one big project I did take on during my break.
One of the rare benefits of the pandemic is that it gave me the time and space to reconnect with film. Knowing that I would not be able to travel or socialize much during my break, I decided to spend time learning more about it. I found The Film Experience (a free class from MIT OpenCourseWare) and ordered A History of Narrative Film (the textbook for the course).
I went through most of the material for the class (I only skipped the non-textbook readings) and watched a bunch of additional films from the periods covered in the course (roughly silent era through the early 70s), which I had rarely touched before. I also watched a bunch of films from later eras just for fun. It was wonderful to have the time and mental energy to watch several films every week. You can tell when I was unemployed just by looking at my letterboxd stats for the year.
Some of my favorite films from the class:
- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
- Modern Times (1936)
- Rashomon (1950) - this is one of the rare ones I'd seen before taking the class
- Rear Window (1954) - and a ton of other Hitchcock films
- Cabaret (1972)
Some of my favorite films outside the class:
- Metropolis (1927)
- The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
- Sunset Boulevard (1950)
- High Noon (1952)
- Lady Snowblood (1973)
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
- Nine to Five (1980)
- Tampopo (1985)
- Raising Arizona (1987)
- In the Mood for Love (2000)
I had to wait what felt like ages to see this. It's not safe for me to go to a theater and early streaming mostly stopped when everyone started pretending the pandemic was over. It was well worth the wait because this film gave me feelings. It's beautiful and funny and weird in all the ways that I love. Michelle Yeoh is fantastic and deserves more roles that give her this much to do.
I watched the Daniels' prior film, Swiss Army Man, while I was waiting for this to come out. It was surprisingly good for something advertised as the "Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse" movie. That is technically what the film is, but it's also a lot more than that. I can see how they got from here to Everything Everywhere, and I'm so curious to see what they do next.
I love a good horror movie. This year gave us a bunch of them trying different things.
This book is a cozy fantasy that is the literary equivalent of sipping a delicious mug of coffee while snuggled in a warm blanket. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys fantasy and wants an easy read that will put a smile on their face from start to finish.
I got this bullet hell survival game for about $3 when it was in early access and have played over a hundred hours. That might be the best cost per hour enjoyed I've ever gotten out of a video game. I don't normally enjoy bullet hell games, but the execution on this one works so well for me. It's a great "zone out while I listen to podcasts" game. There's a mobile version now, which is even better for filling that niche.
Me and my toxoplasmosis had been long anticipating this game where I got to play as a kitty. It wasn't quite what I expected, but I liked most of what I got (although I totally get why it didn't work for some people). They really nailed those delightful little moments of cat behavior that helped push through some of the slower bits. The storytelling and world building really worked for me. I even teared up a little near the end, which is impressive since I'm not much of a crier.
I'm doing this for revenge
I'm doing this to try and stay true
I'm doing this for the ones
They had to leave behind
I'm doing this for you
These lines from Training Montage have been echoing in my mind for most of the year. A lot of my success in life has been out of spite. I'm doing this for revenge. It's hard to be a high risk person still being careful when so many have returned to "normal" despite being surrounded by increasing disability and death. In many ways, this year of the pandemic was harder than the last despite all my time off. Mask mandates went away right before my break and Portland was in a covid surge for my entire time off. I'm angry, but I keep masking and being careful. Protecting myself and others isn't exactly for revenge, but I scream-sing along to that line every time I hear it.
The rest of the album is also really good.
Yet another great album from an artist I've liked for a long time. Working for the Knife especially hit for me while processing all my feelings about work during my time off.
What a debut album! I love them so much.
A mix of podcasts from Cool Zone Media kept me company this year. I especially appreciate Margaret Killjoy's newer Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff as a more uplifting focus on people who kicked ass during difficult times.
Last, but not least, I did a bunch of writing about my job search process. It was time consuming, but I got a lot out of the introspection and the writing practice. The job search itself was incredibly stressful because the tech market is doing weird things right now. The market continues to be challenging, so I'm glad I wrote this down to help others navigate their own searches.