I don’t want to get into a whole thing about best and worst and year-end lists, but OK some notes to self, off the top of my head about various things from this year:
Seeing Ariana Grande live for the 2nd time, at the beginning of the tour. She cried, her voice breaking, during “say goodnight & go”. Thousands of people shouting “N! A! S! A!” The immensely moving power of hearing “Into You” (an exquisite, perfect song) live, one of the most randomly spiritual moments of the year.
Went to see Built to Spill and ended up falling in surprise love with one of the opening bands, Prism Bitch – one of the most engaging live shows I’ve ever seen. Am hoping & praying they return to Boston before too long
Started & abandoned a lot of books. At a certain point I realized it probably wasn’t about the books! Maybe I am just becoming a person who gives himself permission to not finish books. Or: I still don’t know what I like.
Making the Trader Joe’s zine with Sarah. Laying it out was a little more work than I expected – as I wrote at the time, it’s wild how the tools for this have gotten worse over time, rather than better, but maybe something to do with the death of print ??♀️. Anyways weird to feel so much pride & enthusiasm around something so fawning about capitalism, but whatever! Gotta find your joy wherever you can on the trash heap at the end of civilization.
Peach still the best app.
Got intro’d & then very into the poetry of Brenda Shaughnessy. I have read a lot (a lot (a lot)) of dystopia/post-apocalytpics books, both fiction and non-fiction (reading about climate change & mass extinction has become one of my main fun hobbies in the past few years!) but The Octopus Museum was the first time I read a book on those topics that felt genuinely harrowing.
Jami Attenberg’s All This Could Be Yours was a tough read. Amazing, unique, powerful, but it took me a long time to get through. It’s about a bad man who’s in the hospital at the end of his life, and it landed in my life at a time when my father (let’s say: a complicated man) was in the hospital at the end of his life. Anyways. There’s a lot of things about that I don’t want to put on the internet but: it was a difficult book to get through, for all the best reasons.
Most engaging non-fiction book I read this year, that even months later I’m still thinking about: Gut by Giulia Enders. It’s about how your intestines work. If that sounds gross to you you will not love this book.
Tracking favorite songs became increasingly difficult b/c of how Spotify doesn’t pay attention to modes of listening. I usually have ambient music on in the background while I write so Spotify thinks that’s my favorite music. It’s not! Technically I think if I dig through the data a bit I actively listened to Jaden Smith more than anyone else this year. I’m fine with that.
Finished a book, S1 of Cutie Cutie Ghost Show, took a few weeks off, and then started S2. A lot of the writing hasn’t been on the page, it’s about things happening off screen, in the background, building the Bible of the world. So it felt like a slog for a while, but it was necessary, putting ideas on shelves, within easy reach. Now the world makes sense in a way that allows me to pull the chapters together much more quickly than I could in the last book. Still, I struggle with feeling like it’s not going fast enough, because it’s not, it never will, my writing does not go fast, or enough. But at the same time, I love the experience of immersing myself in each chapter, love the way (ugh, it’s so horrifyingly cheesy to even think this, but it’s true) the way the characters surprise me with the things they say or do. I’ll start posting new chapters in January and I’m looking forward to it.
Next year: new books by Amy Spalding, Miranda Popkey, Emily Gould, Zan Romanoff. Four books I’m confident I’ll enjoy, by people I like. Thinking of them like a modern pack of teenage literary ninja turtles.
TV: Killing Eve S2, Fleabag S2, The Witcher S1 which I have watched twice, The Terror S1, Fortitude S1 & S2. Elementary S7, a perfect show to the very end. Rewatched all of Justified & New Girl, as I do every year, as I will continue to do every year.
Saw Knives Out twice, could sit through it again with no trouble. First time, could not get over Toni Collette’s performance, 2nd time, could not get over Ana de Armas’s.
AO3: Knives Out Marta/Benoit fic but that’s all I’ll say about that.
Sitting in the theater, watching Parasite, a mix of wonder and delight and worry, the main experience that comes to mind when I think back on “what movies did I see this year?”
Brain stuff: my bell of mindfulness app that rings randomly throughout the day, forcing me to stop doing whatever I’m doing and notice what I see, what I hear, what I feel. Thinking a lot about Radical Acceptance, how to practice it, how to apply it. How to not be so angry about everything all the time, which misses the point completely.
More and more wanting to inject randomness into my daily life. The different way home. The walk down the street I never noticed before. Happily going slightly out of my way if it takes me somewhere I’ve never been.
Bike riding, to and from work every day. Even in the winter? Especially in the winter.
A thought that occurred to me yesterday when I was listening to Bassically by Tei Shi, a song that came out years ago and is one of my favorite songs of all time. I get goosebumps on my arms, every single time I listen to it. No other song has ever done that to me. Chills! Every time! And I always think: there will come a day when this song no longer does this to me, when I no longer experience this song physically when I listen to it. Maybe this time, now, is the last time it will happen. But so far it never has been.
As of this writing the best beverage is Orange Vanilla Coke and the best candy is Trader Joe’s Sour Scandinavian Swimmers.