To close the year, we ask our staff what brought them joy — not within journalism, but life outside of it. Some picked up new hobbies, some spun their favorite album a modest 600 times, others reflected on new babies or engagements (keep reading to find out who!). Big or small, here are some of the musicians, shows, sports teams, hobbies and people that got The 19th through 2022.
Concerts returned in 2020 and especially in 2021, but I really didn’t feel comfortable attending anything other than an outdoor show — and only after vaccines. So, I only went to one outdoor show in 2021, to support a local band, and an outdoor music festival, which was a blast but still left me feeling uneasy in a big crowd.
Two booster doses later, I leaned into seeing live music in a major way this year. I danced, cried, yelled, rapped, sang and swayed in multiple cities, with old and new friends and felt the return of a long-lost joy. — Lance Dixon, audience engagement producer
This is the year I finally fell in love with Taylor Swift. With her “Midnights” album, at last, I get the appeal. And despite a few F-bombs, it’s something I can joyfully share with my 6-year-old. — Emily Ramshaw, co-founder and CEO
Shoutout to gratitude practice, because it blows my mind how easily I am now able to list things I am so deeply thankful for. Dinner parties, taper candles, Paige Wassel’s YouTube channel, and serving bowls have all been big hits for me this year. I can’t think too much about my trip to the south of France without checking ticket prices. Making wildflower bouquets, group chats and constantly rearranging furniture brought me tons of joy. The World Cup was an emotional rollercoaster and an absolute delight. But the discovery of the year that has really made me feel heard, has helped alleviate pain and has often brought me to catharsis has been IDLES. IDLES forever. — Lydia Chebbine, photo editor
The great music loves of my life make albums that let me discover and appreciate new elements with each listen. Beyoncé’s seventh studio album “Renaissance,” which was released in July, is no exception. In fact, after more than 600 listens (according to Apple Music), I am currently in the middle of a fresh wave of appreciation. “Renaissance” is a body of work that serves as a detailed tribute to Black dance music of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, with special attention to queer icons. But it also feels modern, with seamless song transitions and its use of West African Afrobeats, trap music from the Southern United States and other styles. In essence, “Renaissance” is a love letter to Black culture — and to me as a Black queer woman. This year it has been the soundtrack to my life, propelling me through the challenges life throws at me. — Candice Norwood, reporter
We need to talk about Anne Hathaway’s performance in “WeCrashed.”
Was it as revelatory as Amanda Seyfried’s in “The Dropout”? Was it as halting as Emma D’Arcy’s in “House of the Dragon”? Was it as absolutely absurdly glorious as Jennifer Coolidge’s in the second season of “White Lotus”? No, no, and no. But was her portrayal of a less-famous Paltrow and the wife-of-a-scammer CEO the role she was born to play? Oh, yes. It was maybe the most self-aware performance I have ever seen, one that gathered up every mean-spirited tweet, blog post, or review over her two decades on screen, chewed it up and digested it into a dazzling portrayal of a woman perennially not in on the joke, but longing to find a sense of identity, acceptance and, of course, adulation. — Jennifer Gerson, reporter
As a queer Filipino, it’s hard to describe what a show like “Drag Race Philippines” means to me given the struggles that LGBTQ+ folks are still fighting in my home country. I’ve spoken about my obsession with “RuPaul’s Drag Race” often, but no other spin-off announcement was as exciting as when I heard that the Philippines was getting its own show in the franchise. This first season in October did not disappoint and was unabashedly homegrown: Filipino superstar Ice Seguerra, a trans man, directed the show; Paolo Basteros, a renowned drag queen, hosted the show; and well known RuPaul’s drag race contestant Jiggly Caliente was on the judging panel. The format and challenges were littered with Filipiniana and “Beki” speak (a colloquial dialect unique to LGBTQ+ communities in the Philippines). — Jayo Miko Macasaquit, chief people officer
Although, of course, I was a bit sad that it had to end, I greatly loved the series finale of “Queen Sugar.” It was a deep reminder that — despite all obstacles — Black love, joy and perseverance can endure. This show, which intentionally gave opportunities to women directors, set the standard for how Black people should be portrayed on TV. — Rebekah Barber, editorial fellow
They’re two birds — a toucan and a song thrush — who are best friends. On its face it sounds, well, cartoonish. But in 2022, few things moved me as much as “Tuca and Bertie,” a (tragically canceled!) animated series about two young bird-women navigating adulthood. The show tackled subjects we often don’t see represented on TV: debilitating menstrual pain, the decision whether or not to have children, and watching how years-old friendships can change with age. Some episodes moved me to tears, but at the same time, watching never felt oppressively sad — a credit to the breathtaking animation, exceptional voice acting and an absolute banger of a theme song. — Shefali Luthra
I love a good music video. The format is short, budgets and production value can range wildly, and there’s usually a decent song involved. Here are a few videos, plus a performance, that I watched more than a few times this year:
— Julia B. Chan, editor-in-chief
At the beginning of 2022, less than eight months after the death of my husband, I started and then quickly abandoned a list of what made me cry. Among the few entries, “Station Eleven” is written down multiple times. A lot of shows about death focus on the mystery: What happened? “Station Eleven,” though, asks how we live with what happened, how we remember it, how we love and how we keep going. From the book and the show, we repeatedly hear, “I remember damage.” But the memory of the world created in the show is a welcome reminder that it’s not just the damage. — Terri Rupar, political editor
As the resident Astros fans (and Abbys) on staff, we’re here to gloat, one more time before the year is over, that 2022 marked the second World Series Championship for Houston. Normally, we’re all about asterisks at The 19th, but wow did y’all like to slap one on that 2017 win. We hope the roars coming out of Minute Maid Park this November were loud enough to drown out any trash can jokes for the remainder of the decade.
Any doubt that this team is something special has finally been silenced. Whether it was veteran second baseman Jose Altuvé registering his 1,800th major league hit, rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña sending us to the American League Championship Series with an 18th-inning solo home run, or “Air” Yordan Álvarez quite literally making the ballpark shake with a three run, 450-foot moonshot to secure the World Series victory, the ’Stros’ historic season brought us immense joy in 2022. — Abby Blachman, full-stack product engineer, and Abby Johnston, editorial director
I loved the book “Fair Play” by Eve Rodsky. Not only does it highlight so many common inequities in the home that often fall along gendered lines, but it also outlines a useful, legitimately innovative framework for couples who want to improve that dynamic. It’s both validating and actionable, and I’d recommend it to anyone struggling with division of labor in their home. — Julie Bogen, audience engagement editor
This season I revisited a book that I often recommend to friends who are going through it: “Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times” by Katherine May. The author gently explores the idea that we all will winter at various points in our lives, and while we rarely control when we winter, we can control how we winter. It’s a lovely reminder to care for yourself in a society that often doesn’t let you make room to do so. — Alexandra Smith, audience director
This year, I got really into paint-by-number. I think I had resisted this as a low form of art, but really gave in when my neurologist suggested the mindless repetition of painting those little numbers would be meditative and healing for migraines. Painting without thinking helps me zone out, and I’ve “made” tons of “art” that I shockingly want to hang on my walls and saddle my friends with. It’s been totally healing during a very tough year. — Kate Sosin, LGBTQ+ reporter
In September, my first baby was born and my life completely changed. I’ve been living in a tornado of dinosaur sleepers, white noise machines, and BabyBjörn bouncy chairs ever since. Waking up to those beaming baby smiles is magical — even when it happens at 3 a.m. In the meantime, I’ve been working on a novel with the help of The Novelry, which has given me the structure I needed to make progress. It’s been nice to have something just for me. — Ben Werdmuller, chief technology officer
This year I moved into my own apartment. It’s my first time living solo and having a dining room table all my own. Once I settled in, I started hosting friends for dinner. I switch between cooking some of my favorite meals to trying new recipes, like pasta with a spicy vodka sauce, spicy thai peanut chicken and honey garlic shrimp stir fry (I also started making charcuterie boards).
These dinners often turn into late, wine-filled nights with deep conversations and impromptu dance parties. There’s something so sweet and intimate about connecting with friends while sharing a meal in your home. It has become a new way I’m able to show my love to the people in my life. And it has filled my heart with so much joy, laughter and, of course, good food. — Marissa Nelson, events producer
This year started with a peak-pandemic-style breakup — Zoom was involved — and is ending with an engagement. (If I know you and this is how you’re finding out: Surprise! I’m gettin’ hitched.) The intervening months had a fair share of heartache, seismic life changes, picking up and discarding of pieces, surprises big and small, then eventually healing and peace. The thing I love most about 2022 is that it reminded me how to love and be loved. — Karen Hawkins, story editor
In 2022, I got really into playing indie games. I was an extremely casual gamer before (who didn’t love “Animal Crossing” in 2020?) but I really stretched my limits and got experimental, dipping my toes into games like “Hades,” “Disco Elysium,” and “Return of the Obra Dinn.” I especially loved “Cult of the Lamb,” a weird little rogue-like dungeon crawler where you play a cartoon lamb who, as the title suggests, starts a cult. The music is fun, the game-play is easy to get the hang of, and there are some truly bizarre moments that brought me a lot of joy. — Sara Luterman, caregiving reporter
I loved video games this year. When I got COVID, I dived into “Horizon Zero Dawn” (and “Horizon Forbidden West”), where you hunt massive robots with a bow and arrow. Later I revisited games I’d bought and never played — like “Control,” where you infiltrate a government agency that monitors the supernatural, and “Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture,” where you walk through an abandoned town until you learn what happened to all the people there — and what happened to you.
Honorable mentions: Roaming an underground city as a cat in “Stray,” plus escaping a homicidal dungeon master’s cabin in “Inscryption.” — Orion Rummler, LGBTQ+ reporter
I woke up on January 1 and casually decided I would become a runner. Casual? Not quite, but I did go from thinking “how do people enjoy this misery?” to “this is actually fun” in a year’s time. I ran my first 10K race through downtown Charleston in April and just finished out the year with two back-to-back 5Ks. Challenging myself to try something new turned into more personal growth than I could have imagined on that random, revelatory morning at the start of the year. And The 19th’s cohort of runners has been so supportive along the way! — Megan Kearney, digital producer
A few months ago I rented a plot at a community garden a few blocks from my house, and it continues to delight and amaze me. As someone who frequently kills hardy houseplants, I was under no illusion that my gardening hobby would be a successful one here in Tucson, Arizona. But it turns out a winter garden can be very fruitful. Every time I see something new nudging out of the soil I feel like I’m watching a miracle emerge in real time. First it was my hearty bok choy, and shortly after, some lettuce began to make an appearance. My carrots sprouted too and the sugar peas are just now shooting out their tendrils in search of a trellis to climb. When the world has felt bleak, it has truly been a bright spot of my year to watch something grow and flourish and persevere — in a desert, of all places. — Jessica Kutz, climate and sustainability reporter