2022: A Year in Books and Movies and Other Things

2022 has been a year of radical change for me. I fell in love again towards the end of 2021, but due to distance I wasn’t sure how it would all play out. In April of this year, Chris moved here partially due to economics and to see if we had something more than my random visits to Texas. Love is challenging at a distance. It is hard to know what is real when every time you are together it is full of longing and excitement. Neither of us had been in a live in relationship in a long time. But if the years of Covid have taught me anything, it is that you can’t put things off for later. There might not be a later. I am so happy he came here. We are complimentary people while at the same time being very different. He is the first man I have trusted in a very long time. He earns it every day.

The last several years I have spent working on myself, learning to love the person I am, and trying to figure out why my life unfolded the way it did. In this research, both in books and in my heart, I have discovered that I have spent a life on the Spectrum. I arrived at the place by understanding that my child is there too and that the late discovery is because their behaviors mirrored my own and I was supposedly “normal.” I read the book “Divergent Mind” by Jenara Nerenberg this year and spent the entire book crying as I saw myself on every page. What a miraculous thing to discover the reason you’ve suffered a lifetime inside a book. A book filled with science. This book gave me the courage to claim my traits, to be able to discuss them and understand how I manage relationships. So many friendships and relationships failed without me understanding why. The reflection is just as priceless as being able to move forward as a whole person without masks and the struggle to be like everyone around me. It has made the end of year more quiet for me. So to my friends out there in the world, I love you more than you can ever know. I’m just digesting life. I haven’t forgotten you.

I became an empty nester this year right around the time Chris moved in and it was more change than I could handle. Anxiety was my constant frenemy, but both Kai and Chirs got me through with soft hands, good hugs, and understanding. I love change. It is where creativity comes from, but large change really fast makes me nuts. So to battle that, I added more change. Seems counter productive, but that nervous energy needed action. Chris and I started painting the interior of the house. The colors are bold and full of life. The rooms are being transformed into the spaces I had always imagined: a bright orange art studio, a sky blue meditation/yoga room, a desert sand guest room with vibrant paintings everywhere, ocean blue hallways, and more to come. It is something spectacular to watch the house of my dreams become a reality.

2022 found me lucky enough to have three books of poetry published: Looking for Wild Things (Impspired), Running Red Lights (Gutter Snob Books), and Layers of Half-Sung Hymns (Cajun Mutt Press). I stretched my art legs this year and have done seven book covers this year. I also was part of my first ever art show called Climate Change: The New Economy 2022 which spoke out about the effects of climate change on nature and society. There was a jury prize offering for those artists that could use upcycled, recycled, and green materials. I worked very hard to meet these demands and gathered much of my supplies from the banks of the river. I was utterly surprised when I won first place. I was finally, at age forty-nine, both a paid writer and a paid artist.

The first of year always starts with a hike for me and 2022 was the year I was determined to get a Finger Lakes Trail badge for completing fifty miles of trail. This year was the 60th anniversary so we had to hike sixty miles, but they were kind and gave us the first three months to gather miles anywhere outside. In April, Chris joined me on most of my hikes and he was there when I completed my 60 miles for the year just after Thanksgiving. He keeps me moving when I think I can’t find anymore strength in the uphills and always keeps me laughing. I am so happy to have earned this badge with his help and next year, we earn one together. We hope to complete the entire Crystal Hills Trail map as well as the M12. Maybe we will have enough in us to start a new map.

I set a goal to read/listen to 50 books this year, but hot damn, I read 71. Here are the goods:

Fiction

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (January)
The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan (January)
The Care of Strangers by Ellen Michaelson (February)
Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune (February)
Jakarta by Rodrigo Marquez Tizano (March)
A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet (May)
A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion (October)
The Spectacular by Zoe Whittall (December)

Non-Fiction

Untamed by Glennon Doyle (January)
The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (April)
Divergent Mind by Jenara Nerenberg (October)
Homegrown Berries by Timber Press (November)
Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile (December)

Fiction (Audiobook)

Memorial by Bryan Washington (January)
Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey (January)
Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (February)
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (March)
Send for Me by Lauren Fox (March)
Actress by Anne Enright (April)
Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens (May)
Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin (June)
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (June)
Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline (June)
The Guide by Peter Heller (July)
Ways the World Could End by Kim Hooper (August)
On A Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass (August)
Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh (September)
A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw (October)
Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima (October)
Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine (December)

Non-Fiction (Audiobook)

A Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron (January)
Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald (February)
Wow, No thank you by Samantha Irby (February)
Wandering in Strange Lands by Morgan Jerkins (February)
Owls of the Eastern Ice by Jonathan Slaght (March)
Music is History by Questlove (April)
Feminism is for Everybody by Bell Hooks (May)
When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut (May)
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walkers PhD (July)
The Secret History of Food by Matt Siegel (July)
The Selected Works of Audre Lorde by Audre Lorde (September)
Never Simple by Liz Scheier (October)
Cinema Speculation by Quentin Tarantino (December)
The Philosophy of Modern Song by Bob Dylan (December)

Poetry

Noise by Misti Rainwater-Lites (January)
All Around Cowboy by Scot D. Young (January)
Kinky by Denise Duhamel (February)
Space Time Continuum for Dummies by Michele McDannold (February)
The Gypsy Ballads of Garcia Lorca by Garcia Lorca (February)
Marilyn by Kerry Trautman (March)
No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay (March)
Views of Jeopardy by Jack Gilbert (March)
Something Like Forgiveness by Rebecca Schumedja (March)
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker (March)
Confined Spaces by Cord Moreski (April)
These Hands of Myrrh by Scott Ferry (April)
Medicine for Busted Hearts by Dan Denton (April)
Raven Songs by Meg Macleod (April)
PostColonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz (audiobook) (April)
Frida & Vincent by Catfish McDaris (April)
Sundown at the Redneck Carnival by John Dorsey (April)
Prying by Micheline, Bukowski, McDaris (April)
Dear So and So by Rusty Barnes (May)
By Plane, Train, or Coincidence by Michele McDannold (June)
You Better Be Lightning by Andrea Gibson (June)
Proper Etiquette in the Slaughterhouse Line by James Duncan (June)
I am the rage by Martina McGowan (July)
Evidence by Catherine Harnett Shaw (August)
As Meaningful As Any Other by Donna Snyder (September)
Crow Funeral by Kate Hanson Foster (September)
Felicity by Mary Oliver (September)
Radioactive Starlings by Myronn Hardy (November)

When the summer got too hot to be out of air conditioning and way to deadly for me to be in the sun, Chris and I started watching Oscar winning films for Best Picture. It started out as a joke, sort of, but became an obsession. Mine more than his, but the journey has been wonderful. There were films I hadn’t seen in decades and films I had forgotten. It was different to watch them under the lens of having won the biggest prize for film and to talk about why or why not it seemed worth the win. Plus, snuggling under blankets in the winter is pretty darn awesome. Here is the list we made it through so far:

8/27/22: Nomadland (2021), The Hurt Locker (2010)

8/28/22: Argo (2013)

8/30/22: The Departed (2007)

8/31/22: Parasite (2020), Slumdog Millionaire (2009)

9/1/22: The Silence of the Lambs (1992)

9/5/22: Gladiator (2001)

9/6/22: Annie Hall (1978)

9/7/22: All Quiet On the Western Front (1931)

9/11/22: The Godfather (1973), The Godfather II (1975)

9/15/22: Birdman (2015)

9/27/22: Around the World in 80 Days (1957)

9/28/22: The Shape of Water (2018)

9/29/22: Spotlight (2016)

10/9/22: Green Book (2019), The King’s Speech (2011)

10/11/22: Midnight Cowboy (1970)

10/12/22: Terms of Endearment (1984)

10/13/22: Amadeus (1985)

10/17/22: Rain Man (1989)

10/31/22: American Beauty (2000)

11/2/22: Crash (2006)

11/3/22: A Beautiful Mind (2002)

11/4/22: Shakespeare in Love (1999)

11/10/22: Kramer vs Kramer (1980)

11/12/22: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1976)

11/14/22: Dances with Wolves (1991)

11/15/22: From Here to Eternity (1954)

11/18/22: Casablanca (1944)

11/19/22: On the Waterfront (1955)

11/20/22: Out of Africa (1986)

11/23/22: Forrest Gump (1995)

11/29/22: Chariots of Fire (1982)

12/6/22: Patton (1971)

12/12/22: The Apartment (1961)

12/13/22: The French Connection (1972). The Lord of the Rings (2004)

12/14/22: Ordinary People (1981), The English Patient (1997)

12/20/22: The Greatest Show on Earth (1953)

12/21/22: Platoon (1987)

12/26/22: Titanic (1998)

12/28/22: Cimarron (1932)

This year was full of love from family and friends. It was a year of letting go, discovery, and patience. I hope all of you have found the things to be grateful for this year. The world feels like an unhinged place these days, a dystopian movie in real time, but there is still love and books and good times. Be an explorer. Do all the things you never thought you could. Be kind to each other.

Love,

Aleathia

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