Obligatory New Year Post

Bokeh photo of people holding sparklers
This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Annual Soundtracks

There’s this funny game I’ve been playing for the past few months. Imagine this: a supervillain wraps a hapless woman in chains, balances a set of spinning plates on a stick perched on the tip of her nose, sets her on a unicycle, and tells her to make her way across a tightrope.

Or else — she dies. She dies, but more importantly, she proves herself incapable of functioning at a high enough level to keep herself alive.

The reward, naturally, anticlimactically, is to live another day. Or perhaps, in this case, there’s the satisfaction of proving my inner villain wrong, too. At least for the meantime.

Resolutions, Resolutions, Resolutions

In retrospect, I spent most of 2018 leaping into ever bigger fires (pyres?) and daring myself not to burn out. I’ve discussed the absurdity of this personal litmus test with several friends: the idea that you only qualify as “capable” if you do the impossible is a draconian standard that you shouldn’t wish on anybody, including yourself.

Easier said than done. But 2019 presents the opportunity for a fresh start, the burning world notwithstanding. I’ve stumbled into January a bit hollowed out and charred around the edges, but still alive. There might never be an ideal time to slow down, but this year might be as good a moment as any.

Slowing down ought to give me the chance to take more photos, which is another habit I’d like to cultivate this year. I don’t take nearly enough photos of my friends. Considering my memory problems, the fact that my past pretty much exists as shattered glass crunched into finer dust with every remembrance, I figured I should put more effort into storing memories through more reliable methods.

The Sounds of 2018

A couple of years ago, I started “recording” my year through a Spotify playlist. There was never an aesthetic motive for it — there was no “curation” going on beyond the gut-feel belief that a song belonged on the list, and that persists for this, the playlist’s second iteration.

This habit began as a practical answer to depression robbing me of words. As it turns out, the project works just as well even if work and perfectionism do the thieving.

So, here. 2018 took many things away from me, enough that I thought nothing of gambling my time, my energy, and on some days my sanity, just to see if I was “good enough” to keep them. That’s the part of my year that the playlist reflects best, I think.

But there were also many brilliant parts to this year, unexpected friends and life-saving constants. No Choir might be the only song here that acknowledges this, but at least it encapsulates these moments perfectly. To borrow from the luminous Florence Welch, the loneliness never left me — I always took it with me — but there were many people who helped me put it down with the pleasure of their company.