What a wildly, polarizing year that was 2022.
Sure, as we close the year, 2020 feels like a decade ago, and "pandemic life" seems like a time that is difficult to remember (or understand). Yet, no matter how much we attempt to pull away, the awfulness of 2020 and all of its impact has left us in 2022 unpacking from it, cleaning up after it, restoring ourselves after it, and/or learning to deal with lingering leftovers as we move forward.
2022 was the perfect bundle of reflection and renewal. For good, bad, excellent, and worse.
Before jumping into this year's Year in Review, I want to THANK YOU, the continued reader of this blog and this eighteenth edition (!) of the Dome Pondering - Year in Review. It is not lost on me that my contribution to this site has slowed down (as such is life), and of course, the world consumes content in a much different (and some would say easier, but not better) way. Yet, after all of these years, it's still pretty damn cool to see the page views, reads, and interactions on topics of interest here on this small, tiny, wrinkle of the internet.
As always, here are my awards, The Pondys. Let's get it.
THE PONDY AWARDS
*Crucial Moment of the Year: Uvalde, Texas Elementary School Shooting
The most emotional event of the year (considering coming off the heels of the mass shooting in Buffalo), Uvalde continued the gun control discussion in our society, raised the consciousness of how corrupt our representation can be, and overall, continued the wonder of how we can do nothing when people - in this case, little children - are gunned down in school.
*World Affairs Issue of the Year: War on Ukraine
The world watched as Russia decided to invade Ukraine and destroy everything in sight thus forcing Ukrainians into becoming asylum seekers and/or migrants as well as a host of other international sanctions, retaliation, or effects.
Honorable Mention: Economic Inflation, COVID-19, and Extreme Weather
*Inspirational Story of the Year: School Girls Leading Iran Protest
Following the death of 22-year-old Masha (Jina) Amini by morality police in Iran, young women of Iran have begun their movement through protests and numbers looking for basic rights for women. It sounds easy, but considering the culture and government of Iran, so many of these young women are risking so much.
*Random Story of the Year: Elon Musk Buys Twitter
First, it was the offer, then the backout, then the official sale. It all felt rather random, and now, we're all unsure of what's next for the social media platform.
*Most Controversial Story of the Year: Abortion Rights
Ah, yes. Expect this to continue into 2023.
Honorable Mention: Gun Control Laws, Britney Griner Imprisoned in Russia, and Student-Loan Forgiveness
*Most Overrated Story of the Year: Will Smith Slap of Chris Rock
I was shocked. But I got over it. For me, I wasn't as locked into this as the media was. Honestly, it was as the award states, overrated.
Honorable Mention: War on Disney, Kyrie Irving Re-Tweet
*Tune of the Year: "The Heart Part 5" by Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick's album was easily one of my favorites of the year. However, this song...this song man... is pure art in the most powerful way. Ditto on the music video (you know, if people still care about those).
Honorable Mention: "God Did" by DJ Khaled ft. Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, John Legend, Fridayy; "Titi Me Pregunto" by Bad Bunny; "Break My Soul" by Beyonce; "N95" by Kendrick Lamar; "About Damn Time" by Lizzo; and, "Something in the Orange" by Zach Bryan
*Invention of the Year: Bi-Partisan Gun Safety Bill
Anything that brought the two mega sides of our political system to come together on an item that hasn't been updated or agreed upon for several decades - that's quite the invention. That's quite the discovery. That's quite the innovation. Let's keep that ingenuity going.
Honorable Mention: FDA Approved drug to fight ALS
*Comeback of the Year: Albert Pujols
King Albert finished his career on this last ride of his by smashing the 700 home run milestone and also being so productive that Cardinals fans wouldn't mind having him back! Considering where we thought he was headed...that's quite the comeback, quite the return.
*Wishing Well" Award of the Year: January 6th Accountability
The more we learn from these hearings, the more it's head-scratching what happened, who was actively involved, and how little has been done to hold them accountable.
*Just Go Away" Award of the Year: Election Fraud Claims
The whole "the election was stolen" bit is so played out. It's beyond embarrassing now.
Honorable Mention: Alex Jones, Kanye West, MAGA Politicitan Copy Cats/Pretenders
*"Largest Fortitude" Award of the Year: Angeli Rose Gomez (Hero Mom from Uvalde)
Everything about Angeli's story is guts and heart. From the initial defiance of orders from the Uvalde officers (who weren't active in the situation) to her taking it upon herself to jump the fence, enter the school while the shooting was ongoing, and securely remove her kids from the situation. Honestly, the story hasn't gotten the recognition it deserves.
*"We'll Miss You" Award of the Year: Uvalde, Texas Elementary School Victims
Every last one of them. RIP.
Honorable Mention: Other Mass Shooting Victims
*"What Were You Thinking" Award of the Year: Vote in Support of Slavery
We seriously have States out here voting against a ban on slavery. Like, there are people who said, nahhh, banning that doesn't seem to align with my values.
Honorable Mention: Cleveland Browns Signing of Deshaun Watson
*"What a Shame" Award of the Year: Politicians on Gun Control
Politicians were blaming "Doors" for the Uvalde School Shooting. Yup, it's as absurd as we remember it. And, as it will look, when we look back on it.
*Welcome to the Scene" Award of the Year: Freedom of Speech Discourse
Ahh yes, the year when "Freedom" now becomes the crutch for being held accountable for saying awful things.
Honorable Mention: Social Media Accountability
*"This Should Have Been Done Before" Award of the Year: Bi-Partisan Approach on Gun Safety Reform
Seriously, why did it take yet ANOTHER group of children to be killed before our government made some kind of headway on this topic?
I know that's obvious, but still, it's incredibly frustrating.
*"The Incredibles" Award of the Year: Harry Styles
I am not a Harry Styles fan...nor do I hate the guy. But yo, this dude just sold out Madison Square Garden for 15 Consecutive nights!
That's crazy! That's utterly incredible!
Honorable Mention: St. Peter's University Run in March Madness and Meghan Markle Shows Up to Queen Elizabeth II Funeral
*"We Need to Fix This" Award of the Year: Misinformation
It's a remarkable world now with conspiracy theories, even darker corners of the web, and pundits that push "truth" to support their position (or for ratings/entertainment). In my opinion, it's quite a damaging concept to our democracy.
*Biggest Letdown of the Year: Uvalde, Texas Police Response
*Idiot of the Year: Andrew Tate & Brett Favre
I had this ready for Brett Favre and every idiotic thing he has done in stealing public money for personal gain down in Mississippi. Of course, Andrew Tate pulled off one of the most idiotic sequences of events we've ever seen in the history of this award. Tate called out Greta Thunberg, subsequently getting destroyed by her over Twitter, posting a video reply to her (ah mean, come on) which ultimately lead to his arrest for some horrible things.
Now, he can share the award with Favre.
Besides this occurrence, Tate really is an idiot for some of the things he has said in the past. Do note, he's an influencer. Beware of the internet.
Honorable Mention: Brett Favre
*Dome Pondering Person of the Year: People of Ukraine
It's an easy pick here to go with Ukraine President, Volodymyr Zelensky, as his leadership alone throughout the entire War on Ukraine scenario has been worthy alone of this award. However, along with Zelensky have been the stories of so many Ukrainians who have aided the country. Those who have helped others set up new lives elsewhere, safely. Those who have remained in the country to help aid the individuals defending the country. And of course, those who aren't even trained soldiers, who have picked up arms - teachers, electricians, everyday workers - in defense of their people and country.
Honorable Mention: Volodymyr Zelensky (Ukraine President)
*Wrestling Show of the Year: WWE Wrestlemania (Night One)
Steve Austin returning to the ring. Cody Rhodes' debut. Great wrestling. Wrestlemania is in the air. Can't beat it. So much fun.
Honorable Mention: WWE Summerslam, WWE Clash at the Castle, Impact Bound for Glory, and Impact Hard to Kill
*The Jim Ross "Business is About to Pick Up!" Award of the Year: Cody Rhodes WWE Return at Wrestlemania
It really was the worst-kept secret in pro wrestling. Yet, hearing "Kingdom" hit the arena speakers and Rhodes appear exactly as the AEW version of himself at Wrestlemania, was especially cool.
Honorable Mention: Brock Lesnar lifts ring up with Tractor at Summerslam and Bray Wyatt returns to WWE
*Pro Wrestling Match of the Year: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar - Last Man Standing - WWE SummerSlam
Look, there were plenty of really good matches this year all over pro wrestling. For me, there was something about this contest that just stood out when I thought about this award. From the star power to the tractor, to the shenanigans, to the drama - it carried a specific element of pro wrestling that the other bangers did not.
Honorable Mention: Josh Alexander vs. “Speedball” Mike Bailey - Impact; Gunther vs. Shaemus - WWE Clash at the Castle; Jordynne Grace vs. Masha Slamovich - Impact Bound for Glory; Seth Rollins vs. Cody Rhodes - WWE Hell in a Cell; Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre - WWE Clash at the Castle; Edge vs. Finn Balor - I Quit Match - WWE Extreme Rules; and Josh Alexander vs. Kazarian - Impact Overdrive
*Pro Wrestling Tag Team of the Year: The Usos (WWE)
I honestly don't think there was much competition around pro wrestling for this award. Just me...
Honorable Mention: FTR (AEW)
*Female Pro Wrestler of the Year: Bianca Belair (WWE)
She's so good, yet carries so much more potential. Bianca Belair is the standard for women pro wrestlers right now.
Honorable Mention: Jordynne Grace (Impact)
*Male Pro Wrestler of the Year: Roman Reigns (WWE)
WWE continues to sweep my awards this year. I gave Kenny Omega the nod last year over Roman Reigns. This year? It's hard to deny the Tribal Chief who is really in a sphere of his own when it comes to star power in pro wrestling.
Honorable Mention: Josh Alexander (Impact) and John Moxley (AEW)
*Sports Event of the Year: AFC Divisional Playoff Game - Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs
I don't consider myself the biggest football fan. However, this game was easily the best football game I've ever watched. The most drama-filled game I witnessed all year.
Honorable Mention: FIFA World Cup Championship Game
*"The Derek Jeter Flip Play" Award of the Year: Aaron Judge 62nd Home Run
I still find it severely underrated (in regards to mainstream coverage) in regards to the mental focus Aaron Judge showed in not chasing pitches, staying poised, and not feeling pressured by the attention and the closing days on the schedule as he approached the record. This moment was cool, historic, and yes, relieving as well.
Honorable Mention: Albert Pujols' 700th Career Home Run and Patrick Mahomes' 13-second drive against Buffalo Bills
*Coach of the Year: Becky Hammon
Hammon left the ranks of the NBA, accepted a whole lot of cash in the WNBA to become the Ace's head coach, and then well, delivered. Never wavered. Always delivered. Just another accolade to the building legacy of Hammon.
Honorable Mention: Dusty Baker, Steve Kerr, and Dawn Staley
*Team of the Year: Golden State Warriors
Just when we thought the dynasty was over, the Warriors gave us one more run to remember.
Honorable Mention: Houston Astros, Las Vegas Aces, and Argentina Men's National Soccer Team
*Dome Pondering Athlete of the Year: Aaron Judge
The big fella bet not only bet on himself when it came to a contract, but he delivered in one of the most historic seasons we've ever seen. Here's to the new Captain.
Honorable Mention: Steph Curry, Lionel Messi, A'ja Wilson
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN...
On a random summer evening in 2022, I discovered my loneliness.
2022 was isolating for me. And it took me a while to understand it. But I remember the exact moment.
It was a beautiful summer evening. I sat in my backyard under a sunset sky that boasted an explosion of pastel colors that would make any other day jealous. Things were great. I sipped some red wine. I relaxed upon the sounds of an empty house. I took a break from my latest book, when, bam! The thought captured my existence among other preceding thoughts.
This normal, wasn't, yet, well, normal.
Remember: the time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. Life's cruelest irony.Douglas Coupland
2022 has been the closest to 2019 since the pandemic altered everything. With that, for me, a return to "normal" included just that - life returning to normal. Well, normal-ish. Something, comfortable. Something, familiar. That is "normal", right?
Yet, this was the first year, despite their deaths occurring in 2020, that I lived, "normally" without my dad and one of my best friends.
For every home project that I complete without my dad, I hear his voice in my head offering advice, or even at times, alone in imagining what he would actually say at the moment. It feels somewhat real in those isolated moments.
There are also countless solitary instances where no matter how big or how insignificant an occurrence is, I find myself laughing or immersed in this one-sided interaction of comfort. There is a deep loneliness rooted in knowing that the only person who would find the matter amusing or provoking, or whatever, as I did, could not respond to a text. Or a phone call. Or at all.
You know, the simple stuff that gives us connection...when things are normal. Again, whatever that is.
The biggest life lesson from 2022 for me is that as we begin to move on from everything pandemic-related, and as we figure out what to bring forward with us as "normal" becomes normal, I am not prepared for said, normal. At least, not yet. I'm still disconnected. Unplugged.
My new normal exists in a new town (and state), at a new job, and ultimately, a new way of adjusting to life. Without my dad. Without one of my closest friends. And really, to much of what once was my normal. I'm very much unplugged. Very much, isolated. Lonely.
While most have reconnected within their new normal, I'm truthfully still attempting to understand how I move forward. In some ways, typing that sounds ridiculous and embarrassing, yet, it is the most real statement I've punched the keys to express all year.
I chose loneliness in 2022. I didn't know I did until I did. Until that summer evening under that fiery sky.
As I sit here looking to close 2022, a year of renewal and reflection, as well as putting to rest all that is 2020 and picking up the armor of a renewed self heading into 2023 that we all aspire for, I'm learning to embrace the loneliness in that process as needed.
So many of us are trying to reconnect to something - for some, it's anything - following this time in history - whether it is making up for a lost time, trying to move on from some life challenge or life-altering occurrence, going full steam ahead on new principles learned, or whatever else fills that void or moves your heart and spirit going forward. Reconnecting is the ultimate goal of this renewal and reflection period that made up so much of 2022. Some have (some, easily). Some haven't. Some are still chasing it. Me, I'm being patient through it.
Remember not the former things,nor consider the things of old.Behold, I am doing a new thing;now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?I will make a way in the wildernessand rivers in the desert.Isaiah 43:18
It very well has been that kind of year - of reflection, renewal, and an honest assessment of reconnection. What does my new normal look like? And, how can I completely embrace it with complete authenticity and gratitude?
I'm still working through that process. And it's completely OK if you are as well. Embrace the loneliness. Get YOU right.
In 2023, What does your new normal look like?
Happy New Year!