2022 felt like a return to some normalcy from the previous two years, despite the world still working its way through a pandemic-upended existence. I look back at the previous two years and see that this year’s ‘Travel’ list below has grown substantially (to something like 15 roundtrip flights and a few driving trips). All of this just meant we got to see more family & friends this year which Maya and I cherished; and it was wonderful to flip back through all the year’s photos in preparation for writing this.
We got to spend a few weeks out west with friends in the Bay Area, got back to Chicago four times (three weddings!), got to visit my sister on campus on St. Louis, and made it back to Europe for the first time in three years (London, Cardiff, Amsterdam for me, Maya did 2 weeks just in Amsterdam).
This was the first full year of Maya and my marriage. We planned to head back to our wedding venue (a restaurant) for our anniversary only to not be able to make it because Maya was feeling the effects of her pregnancy. A good reason to skip out! So we’re looking to 2023 as the next big step in our lives as we’ll (hopefully) welcome our healthy baby boy into this world.
We had already added another member of our family this year when we brought home a new kitten in January. See (lots) more about Rizzo below! I changed jobs in April for what was a great opportunity then and has been, well, not as great as promised but still the right move for me. Working at Coinbase (and in crypto) has not been the sunniest place to be in 2022, but hoping for better days ahead. And I really like my job and my team (more below on that too).
What else? We’re ending our year with a bit of a staycation in NYC and have made the most out of what is actually a great time to be here—going into the city for shows and museum visits, spending cold days in movie theaters, and walking around on cold, empty winter streets (though we did just walk by Oscar Issac just the other day!).
I have a lot to be grateful for in 2022. Thank you to everyone that was part of it. I have no doubt that 2023 will be a world-changing year for me and I can’t wait!
Travel – Phoenix, San Francisco/Bay Area, Chicago, New Hampshire, Cleveland, Austin, Austin (again), Poughkeepsie, Chicago, Maine, London, Wales, Amsterdam, St. Louis, St. Louis (again), San Antonio, Chicago, Pinehurst, Washington D.C., Chicago
Writing – This is the first year on ericryangrant.com that a ‘Year in Review’ post follows another ‘Year In Review’ post which should tell you how much writing I got done this year. It wasn’t much. I managed a few LinkedIn posts and a few other odds & ends in the written word but it was low, low volume. I’ve found that when doing my Masters program (in Analytics), I’m so far on one side of my brain (the left, analytical side if you want to see it through that framework) that it’s hard to crack into the creative side even for bits of time. So I’m leaning into that—being left-brained for a few years and exploring what’s there (a whole lot). I’ll return back to a balance or lean the other way in some years in the future. Of that, I am quite sure.
Reading – You can see the full list of books I read this year here.
Professional – I made a big career move this year in April, moving from LinkedIn to Coinbase. It was a move not just in company, but also in focus/role. In 2021, I had moved to a data/Insights/analyst role at LinkedIn which I loved, but got a great offer from Coinbase in early ‘22 to lead a Learning & Development team. Part of the appeal (on both sides) was that the role overlapped almost exactly to my work at Uber (2015-18)—at a more senior position. I took the risk with the jump into Crypto and back into L&D and leading a team of 16 people. While I love my team and the work I’m doing there—especially where I can bring in my new Data background into the corporate learning world—working in crypto in 2022 has not been without its stress and I’ve felt that heavily at times. Hoping that we have some bounce back in the years to come.
Pearl Jam – Finally got some shows in this year (first ones since 2016!). Saw Eddie solo in February at the Beacon Theater, and Pearl Jam play Madison Square Garden and a week later in St. Louis with my sister. Great to see the guys back at what they do best—two great shows and a reminder why they’re one of the best live bands out there.
Favorite New Thing of 2022
Rizzo the cat!
On a cold day in January, Maya and I rented a car and drove to an animal shelter in Soho to see about adopting a kitten. They had just gotten six or seven kittens in and asked if we could come back after a few hours. We walked off to see (the great) The Tragedy of Macbeth at the (great) Angelika theater and sauntered back to find that the kittens were ready to be adopted (if we wanted).
We went in to their holding room and one kitten, a small black girl, reached her paw out to Maya (she was still heavily sedated from being spayed just a day or two prior) and it was love at first touch. We brought that cat home, whom we named Rizzo after my favorite Chicago Cub. As we were driving across the Brooklyn Bridge, she popped her head out of the carrier for the first time since the shelter to fully take in her new borough. Now she’s a Brooklyn cat for life.
Since then, Rizzo has brought us immense joy and has quickly become my constant companion (to Maya’s dismay) as I work from home. Some pics below and a video of her playing her favorite game (jumping and chasing hair ties around our apartment).
Other Favorites: What Makes This Song Stink Youtube series, Maine blueberries, getting back into weightlifting
Favorite Book Read in 2022
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Maya and I both really enjoyed this one and heard back from several folks we recommended it to that they felt the same. Gabrielle Zevin’s story of two video game makers (and their producer) is a trip through time, a lesson on video game design, and a study in characters who commit everything to their art form, especially when that makes them contrarians or outcasts.
It’s a really enjoyable, fairly quick read that has plenty of humor in it, emotional connectivity, and ups and downs through the characters’ lifetime. If you’re put off at all by a plot revolving around video games (and video game culture), I assure you that’s where it takes its base but it goes far beyond there (the title, for instance, is from Macbeth!).
Other Favorites: Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel), Why Fish Don’t Exist (Lulu Miller), Red Notice (Bill Browder)
Favorite 2022 Movie
Everything Everywhere All At Once
There’ve been a few theater-going experiences I remember vividly over the last ten years or so. This is the third—the others being Whiplash and Arrival. The theme with these three specific experiences—amongst dozens of other cinema trips—is an utter ignorance of what is about to be unspooled in front of me over the next two or so hours. That feeling, that total surrender to whatever’s coming while realizing that it’s the work of utter talent makes those trips so memorable, the films all the more captivating.
EEAAO was just like this, though the warning signs were there. The Internet was already on this one (“unlike anything you’ve seen”, “hard to describe”, etc…) and I think if I had to have waited any longer to see it, it may have been spoiled. But I was lucky to see it early on—on a random Monday morning in April in between jobs—and it wow’d me something big.
The totally unknowning-ness of what the next scene(s) would bring (action? family drama? comedy?). The Daniels really put together a movie with everything and did so cohesively. Can’t wait to see what they do next.
Other Favorites: Vengeance, Tàr, Armageddon Time
Favorite 2022 TV Show
For all the critics’ takes of the last decade that TV is now as good as movies are/were, I haven’t quite bought in. I still prefer the tightness of movies to the hours-long slog of most TV series (and each season being something like a sequel). But Severance (Season 1) managed to be not only tight (not a lot of wasted moments), but suspenseful, well acted, and exceptionally well directed. And it never seemed to drag on.
I’m probably in the minority here of not wanting another season (though I feel that way about most shows), but I’m sure I’ll be excited when it’s back. Hopefully they can keep the great shots of the workplace (the colors!) and the pace of season 1. If not, the idea behind the show is as interesting of a premise as we’ve seen and worthy of the central question—is severing yourself worth it? What’s the fallout? What does that tell us about the future to come?
Other favorites: Bad Sisters, Severance, The Rehearsal, The Bear
Favorite 2022 Article
‘Did the FBI Steal Nine Tons of Civil War Gold?‘ (Chris Heath, The Atlantic)
This one is both fun and infuriating, but an all-around good read. It’s got treasure hunters, state and national land ownership rights, the FBI, and, at the end of it, the great question that the title begs.
This may spoil the article just a bit (probably not though), but there isn’t a resolution in this case. What we do know—what we get from the article—is that several people are/were very sure that there was buried gold in a specific cave in Pennsylvania, and the FBI took this seriously enough to plan a whole dig there.
What happened during and after that dig, however, is not just unknown but rather suspicious. So much in fact that the treasure hunters who began the journey are still on the case.
Read this one for a great old-time thriller, I really enjoyed it. And I thoroughly enjoyed all the other ones here. I read or listened to (mostly listened to, through the Audm app) hundreds of these long articles this year and saved each of the ones below to my file immediately after finishing.
Other favorites: ‘It Was Just a Kayaking Trip. Until It Upended Our Lives’ (Jon Mooallem, New York Times), ‘Is Selling Shares in Yourself the Way of the Future?’ (Nathan Heller, New Yorker), ‘True Grit’ (J.B. Mackinnon, Atavist), ‘Stone Skipping Is a Lost Art. Kurt Steiner Wants the World to Find It’ (Sean
Favorite 2022 Album
(tie) Gang of Youths – angel in realtime // Black Country, New Road – Ants From Up Here
I get to make the rules around here so I’m making this a tie. If I really, really had to pick, I think the BCNR album was a bigger deal for me (more plays, more awe of them making this album) but this year was another one where Gang of Youths was the most played artist and getting to see them in Brooklyn was a major highlight. AND I think their ‘angel in realtime’ album is spectacular. Both these albums had 3 tracks in my Spotify top 10 this year and it looks like the entirety of the GoY album is in my top 100.
I had never heard of Black Country, New Road before this year and happened to catch a positive review of their album before checking it out. I was floored. It sounds like nothing I’ve heard before—part jazz, part monotonous singer/lyrical wizard, part eclectic rock, part a whole bunch of other musical experimentation (read: lots of instruments). Some of the songs somehow come together in a poppy way, others remain esoteric enough to be less accessible but still really, really good. Give it a listen (start with the songs below).
On the Gang of Youths side, this album may not be as good as their last (which is a 10/10 album for me) but after hundreds of listens, I’m confident it’s a great step forward for them. They’re proving they should be a band for many years to come and Dave, the lead singer, is just getting more and more creative in his approach, his lyrics, and the band is surrounding him with richer music. Their live shows prove just how much juice this band has and how big they can be!
Other favorites: Wet Leg – Wet Leg, and that might be it. Man I really don’t listen to much new music anymore!
Favorite 2022 Song
Black Country, New Road – ‘Concorde’
Hard to pick a favorite from the two albums above but ‘Concorde’ feels like the winner—and was the most played in my Spotify this year. It’s the most accessible song from the ‘Ants From Up Here’ album and carries through the lyrical theme of airplanes as romance, and the musical theme of jazz-y exploration. And the music video is about as weird as you might expect if you listen to the full album.
Other favorites: Black Country, New Road – ‘Good Will Hunting’, Gang of Youths – ‘goal of the century’, Angel Olsen – ‘Big Time’, Porridge Radio – ‘Back To the Radio’
Favorite 2022 Podcast Episode
‘Third Eye Blind’ (Bandsplain)
Look, this may be a surprise pick for anyone who hasn’t paid attention to Third Eye Blind since the 90s (I wouldn’t expect most to). But here are two truths: (1) their debut album is a perfect album and (2) that this Bandsplain episode captures this truth.
It’d be more accurate to say not that this is necessarily my favorite full podcast episode but the time where that first album is discussed (59:00-1:57:17) is my favorite hour of podcast content this year.
Typically, Yasi (the host) will play 1-3 songs per album when doing an artist on Bandsplain, and yet she—rightfully—plays six songs from their debut, including the final four tracks which are just excellent.
The best moment of all? That shriek of “The background!?! The f*cking Background!” at 1:36:48. It’s just the exact right reaction at that point of getting all the way through this album only to find that the last few tracks are better than anything that has already come. The fact that the album is so much better than anything else the band did, well, makes it all worth the expletives and incredulity this episode is riddled with. And that moment is before she even gets to ‘Motorcycle Drive By’ or ‘God of Wine’ to fully close things out!
Other favorites: In Triplicate (Revisionist History), Madame G (Episode 1, Persona: The French Deception), ‘Radiohead’ (Bandsplain, 2 parts), ‘Weather Conditions above Mount Fuji’ (Memory Palace)
Favorite 2022 Place Visited
I believe this was the only new place I visited all year! But I have to say, Cardiff was a delight. I got to venture to Wales from London with my cousin Rob for a few days. We got an Airbnb just outside the main part of town but an easy walk and right around the town’s main castle and big park. The city was abuzz for the weekend which we found out later was because it was Pride weekend. We caught a bit of the parade and spent our nights out at bars with excellent cover bands (of which there were many).
We did a short hike one day and a stop at a pub outside the city (getting only a little bit lost). We visited a seaside town where Rob’s dad hailed from and overall just got a small glimpse of what looks to be a beautiful country (Wales). Would recommend anyone who makes it to the UK to try and get to Wales if they can.
Of course, visiting some of the more familiar places were great too! Amsterdam came right after Cardiff and was definitely a highlight as Maya and I got to enjoy summer there—biking around, eating great cheese, and drinking good beer!