Illustration by Joi Fulton. For more of Fulton’s work, go to joifulton.com.

Well, crap. Like the unsatisfying feeling of a winter’s day without snow on the ground, so go our hopes for a 2022 free from worry about COVID-19’s ever-evolving hold on our health, livelihoods, and sense of community. The bitch is back, and even though her new drag name is Omicron (shout-out to Futurama fans who remember that Omicron Persei 8 is the name of Emperor Lrrr’s planet; apologies to everyone else), we all know that our tasks ahead are the same as they were in March of 2020: mask up, avoid large crowds, get the vaccine plus the bonus tracks. 

I spoke to Nick Wylie at Public Media Institute this week about all the ups and downs of life as a cultural producer in the wake of Omicron’s debut, and he gave me some food for thought: not the most pleasant situation but there’s some positive work happening with the help of foundations thinking in the right direction. And writer Adam Morgan graced us for the second year in a row with his picks for the best Chicago-linked books that were published this year. Yes, even in the face of total uncertainty and moments of hopelessness, the written word must still prevail. If you’re reading this, I can only assume that you are like me and still believe in the power of publishing, dear Reader reader. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving all of us a reason to keep writing, reporting, and bringing you the best of Chicago’s stories, despite whatever the virus has planned.