For many people, 2022 was the first year of this decade that didn’t feel like a full-blown, hellish fever dream plagued by a myriad of problems ranging from mental instability to a literal plague. Of course, there are events that occurred in my life this year I can’t publish in this essay which will be with me forever. And, obviously, I’m one of several million people doing a self-reflective, borderline masturbatory essay about this year. I’ve never once claimed to be very original.
Looking back on 2022, I can’t help but commend Jack Kaup for what he’s done. I use my name in the third person because the Jack Kaup from February feels way more immature than the current one, and the Jack Kaup from July is certainly much less intelligent than the latest iteration. Rather than wax on endlessly about all the things I’ve done this year, I settled on some numbers that highlight how buckwild 2022 proved to be.
For the first time as an adult, I took a solo vacation to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. I drove Kendra, my Nissan Sentra (a family heirloom of sorts), to and from the sinking paradise. I stayed in a dusty little apartment within an old Victorian house nestled in the lovely Uptown neighborhood. I thoroughly enjoyed getting drunk on Bourbon Street during Fat Tuesday, rocking out to blues tunes at Tipitina’s, and laying out on some random beach that I had all to myself in Mississippi. New Orleans is downright magical. I hope to be with her again soon.
On my 25th birthday (although technically a day or two before because streaming services got it earlier than anticipated), the second Maniacal Sauce album dropped. There’s so much packed into those dozen songs. It’s a heartbreak album through and through, and I 100% used that as an excuse to experiment with styles and instrumentation that stand in stark contrast to the debut Sauce record. I expect to release the third Sauce album in 2023, although I’ll admit I’ve put practically no legitimate work into it (yet).
This is the total amount of hours the Headspace app said I meditated since March 2020. At some point early on this year, meditation stopped being an exercise to ease my anxiety and bring me into the present. I’d find myself getting distracted and, rather than come back to the object of focus, I’d consciously stay distracted because I felt whatever thought I was having was more important in the moment. By mid-May, I decided to stop meditating since I ended up planning, fantasizing or spacing out most sessions anyway. I do feel like my spiritual growth has been somewhat stunted since, but I also know, whether it be meditation or something else, I can dive into practice again any time I want.
I lived out a childhood dream of mine on July 9: driving an IndyCar. I had the opportunity to do so at Michigan International Speedway, one of my favorite tracks growing up (Please, Roger Penske, get the series back to that track if it can be done safely). This was the quickest lap I turned during my 15 minutes on the 2 mile oval. Had the rev limiter not been there, I would’ve gone even faster in my last few laps. I felt so confident with the level of grip I had through the corners that 150 mph or faster would’ve been no problem… maybe. The cockpit of a race car is my new happy place, strangely enough.
On August 17, I went out for a run. I was aiming for a fast pace, but by no means thinking I’d push myself to any kind of limit. Then the first mile time came into my ears: 8:25. “Fuck,” I thought. “I’m flying, but I don’t feel like I’m going fast at all.” I slowed up during the second mile so I could save energy to push as hard as I could during the last one. I ended up running the fastest 5 kilometers I’d run since I was a teenager. Next year I’m shooting to finally break my personal record (26:58).
This is how many days it took COVID-19 to get from patient zero to my triple-vaccinated sorry ass. I finally got the ‘rona shortly after a bout of pharyngitis, which undoubtedly weakened my immune system and made me ripe for infection. Thankfully, my case was mild and I recovered in about a week.
After releasing the album, I was already a few weeks into a self-inflicted creativity hiatus. However, in June, I woke up uncharacteristically early one morning and a large portion of a short story came pouring out of my fingers and into my iPhone. The hiatus was over and it wasn’t my choice. I decided shortly after that I needed to temper my creativity so I could produce work in a more even-keeled manner. I’ve started a poetry project in which I’ll write over 100 poems in as many different forms. I’m aiming to write a new poem each week. In 2023, I’ll be facing new challenges (hello, grad school), so I’m unsure of how I’ll progress with this poetry project and the third Sauce album. Nevertheless, this year’s left me with a seemingly endless drive to explore the depths of creativity and humanity.