Saying Goodbye to 2022

Folks are posting their year-end wrap ups and roundups across the internet as we begin ringing in the New Year around the world, and so I, too, sit down at my keyboard for this final post of 2022, which has certainly been another roller coaster, though in my corner of the world, mostly good. Deeply sensitive to the ongoing pandemic’s cruel disruption of so many lives (including our own, as I, my husband, and my youngest child all succumbed to Covid at various points this past year) alongside the recent frigid polar vortex that ripped through my country leaving devastating conditions for people to navigate, yet I am on the whole grateful for 2022.

As a writer, I had an energizing year. I opened 2022 with the publication on January 2 of my poem, “Never Was a Princess Girl” in Star*Line 45.1, and the year unfolded with a steady stream of acceptances–17 poems, 4 stories, and 2 works of creative nonfiction, in some really nice venues I have long admired, including Star*Line, Spectral Realms, Illumen, Haven, Liquid Imagination, Black Fox, and Gyroscope Review–and several readings and a con appearance (virtually). I was deeply honored to see Arthurian Things: A Collection of Poems receive a nomination for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Elgin Award for best book of speculative fiction, my poem “Riding Down a Dream” (Star*Line 44.4) nominated for the Dwarf Star award for best short speculative poem, and my poem “This Risky Business of Mortal Being” (Poetry South 14.9) nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize. To be nominated for one award is delightful; that my work received this level of attention was deeply humbling and I am greatly honored by the readers and editors who appreciated my work with these nominations. I closed the year out with ten submissions of further work and a chapbook under review. For 2023, I have a few projects up my sleeve I hope you’ll enjoy, and have set myself a goal of writing a story a day through January and a poem a day through April to jumpstart new work. I’m really excited about where my writing is taking me, and looking forward to sharing it with you in due course!

As a scholar, this year was one of my most productive yet. I published an essay I really love, “Female Friendship in Late-Medieval English Literature: Cultural Translation in Chaucer, Gower, and Malory,” in Women’s Friendship in Medieval Literature, edited by Karma Lochrie and Usha Vishnuvajjala and published with Ohio State University Press. I completed and submitted final drafts of four further articles and essays and a first draft of a fifth article, and completed two edited manuscript collections, one currently in production for a summer 2023 publication and one under review, and five book reviews. With two further book projects and a chapter under contract, my monograph requested by a press upon its completion next summer, and a journal special issue under development, 2023 is already completely full so far as research and scholarship are concerned, and I am working on some further developments that could take me in some new and exciting research directions I am very excited about. 2022 also brought back the in-person conference, and while I have truly appreciated remote conference options, which I believe firmly we should continue to support for those for whom in-person remains challenging, I have to be honest that there are few things I love so much as being in the same room as other people who share my intellectual and creative interests and having those face-to-face conversations, and few things I need so much as I do those couple of nights in a hotel room away from my everyday life to recharge and reset. Excited to be off to at least two conferences in 2023!

As a teacher, I taught the Introduction to Global Gender Studies course this Fall, and what a truly fantastic and overwhelmingly humbling experience this was for me. I inherited this course from a dearly beloved professor and colleague whom I admire greatly, and I knew I couldn’t possibly fill her shoes and shouldn’t even try, so I set out to craft a new syllabus that kept some of her incredible assignments but came from my point of view. I spent much of last spring researching introductory gender studies course syllabi and finding that the vast majority of them, even when they have “global” in their titles, really mainly focus on U.S. based scholars and concerns through an American lens. Of course, for our students this is important, but I really wanted the course to reflect that “global” context. So I went beyond gender studies to look at sociology, psychology, anthropology, and cultural studies syllabi as well, and developed a truly global and interdisciplinary course that I am tremendously proud of. The experience of teaching a course so immediately relevant to students’ lived experiences and interests and from which, based on their comments throughout the semester and on the final evaluations, they also learned a tremendous amount of information they found rewarding and important was revelatory, and I learned so much in developing and offering this course that I hope will transfer to how I approach developing and teaching all of my courses regardless of subject going forward. One of the greatest things about teaching is that you never stop learning, and this was definitely one of those experiences you simply never forget and that transforms your outlook. I’m so grateful for that! In 2023, I’m teaching another new course–The Medieval World–and I’m ready to innovate and experiment with it!

2022 was definitely not all work and no play (although I have to point out that a lot of my work is a form of play for me, as a creative.) With vaccinations and masking, we definitely took advantage of the ability to attend live concerts, performances, and events again. Our eldest child competed in their final year of Robotics, and our youngest, in her first year of competition dancing, so there was a lot of proud parenting at their competitions. I watched the Six Nations tourney live in a pub, like a proper fan, for the first time in two years and we attended a few Cardinals games (because, baseball!) We saw some great concerts, including Santana and Earth, Wind and Fire, the Black Keys, Train and Jewel, Korn and Evanescence, and The Head and the Heart. We went to the Festival of Nations and several mead, beer, and whiskey tastings; attended live outdoor performances of Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Saint Louis symphony at Forest Park, and I saw Rent, Riverdance, and resumed my annual tradition of seeing The Nutcracker performed live–I don’t mind sharing that I teared up at those performances and immediately vowed that there will be much, much more live theater, dance, and opera going forward. And maybe even a return to the stage for myself–I do miss performing.

And of course, our lives are immeasurably enriched by the continued presence and love of our pets. My Raven celebrated her 16th birthday this year (which Google tells me is the equivalent of 80 in human years). she isn’t as active as she used to be but she still eats, purrs, and snuggles with all the zest of a cat half her age. So grateful she is still with us as we close out 2022!

Not bad for 80! Our beloved black cat Raven, sleeping in her favorite snoozing spot on my youngest daughter’s pillow.

Korra, our beloved corgi, continues to thrive in her agility classes and make the world a better place just by existing. I am a complete convert–I can’t imagine life without a corgi in it now! I have it on good authority that we owe Korra to Tik Tok, as my youngest daughter pestered us for years to get a corgi because of Tik Tok videos with corgis in them, and we eventually capitulated–so, thank you Tik Tok! Which is a thing I never thought I would write.

As these sorts of posts typically come across as conveying perfect, ideal lives with nary an issue or problem in sight, let me be very honest with you that there were many roadbumps. One of our cars died and we bought a new one, only to learn after a heavy rain that the sunroof drains had not been connected, oopsy-do. It was a fun couple of days of scooping the water out of the footwells in the backseat and from the trunk, then wet-vacuuming the car, then putting charcoal into the car to soak up the rest, all the while hoping to heaven it wouldn’t wind up going all moldy and that we hadn’t fried the electric board in some way because we couldn’t figure out how extensive the flooding was until we were able to get it into the shop. Thankfully, it was salvageable and no further issues arose, because I promise you we barely had the funds to cover buying this car, much less a second one. Also, car insurance does not cover flooding. GAH. Then, despite being vaccinated and extremely careful with masking everywhere in public, only attending outdoor concerts, and otherwise not being in crowded places beyond my classrooms, I contracted Covid in July, and my husband and youngest daughter also contracted it (likely from me), leading to several weeks of quarantine in this tiny, three-bedroom apartment, a deeply unfun experience for all involved. My case was the worst, and to be honest I’m still not fully recovered–it definitely did a number on my stamina and blood pressure, both of which I am still navigating. And I had some other health things that so far have turned out not to be serious (knock on wood) but that have been worrying, leading to an uptick in doctor visits and tests, which of course sends me into anxiety overload. There have been many adrenaline baths this year.

But, in the end, we’re all still here, mostly healthy, and very happy.

We closed out the year, as has been our custom, at my parents-in-law’s home on top of a mountain in the Virginia Appalachians, and as usual, my happy place did not disappoint–despite the frigid temperatures, I was able to get out for a late-afternoon hike that definitely restored my rumpled spirit. This truly is a sacred place, and how fortunate I am that I can return year after year to its restorative and inspiring peace and beauty. I will never take this for granted.

So, while it was most definitely not all happiness and sunshine and glitter and rainbows, on the whole 2022 brought more positive than negative in our lives, for which I am grateful. I hope you have also had a more good than bad year, and that 2023 brings with it possibilities and promise, hope and enjoyment, and opportunities for as much happiness as you could want.


About Melissa Ridley Elmes

Professor and writer; Unrepentant nerd; chaotic good. Author of Arthurian Things: A Collection of Poems. PhD, MFA. She/hers. Views my own.
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