Towards the end of November I was plagued by a sinking feeling that 2013 was a useless year, that I didn’t have a neat little list of accomplishments I could present to the world as proof that I did something useful with my days. I know that one shouldn’t measure years like that, but I do want to acknowledge how I felt because I think it’s useful in itself. I spent the last few days in New York City and one afternoon while Andrew was looking at camera equipment at B&H, I went to a diner across the street for a chocolate milkshake. I’d just bought a fresh new notebook from MUJI and wanted to write out my plans for 2014. I was thinking about 2013, about how it had felt at times as though it had been a failure of a year, and I wondered how that had happened. There was a lot of trying in 2013, I realized. Trying and not quite succeeding, which can be construed as failure, but can also be thought of as progress. As lessons. As movement forwards, even if it was slow or painful. There’s nothing wrong with trying and failing and it’s still preferable to not doing anything. So I suppose that’s what 2013 was for me: a year of trying. That’s not so bad. And despite everything, it also had many beautiful, lovely moments, lots of trips out of the city, fun afternoons and nights with loved ones, quality time at home.
I went to the west coast and saw things like this:
I lived on the Toronto Island for a week and wrote and rode this bike around:
Maya was consistently adorable, including that one week she was miserable in a tiny cone:
One of my best friends got married:
There were weekly family dinners with these people:
And lots of good food:
I was impatient with books this year and cast many aside when they didn’t speak to me in the specific way I needed at the time. But I’ll remember how these ones affected me: The Silent House by Orhan Pamuk, A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik, Fast Machine by Elizabeth Ellen, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, The Interestings by Meg Wollitzer, The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason, Blue Plate Special by Kate Christensen, Life is Meals by James and Kay Salter, A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam and Enormous Changes at the Last Minute by Grace Paley.
I listened to a lot of songs on repeat. Like this one by Okkervil River, or this by Vampire Weekend (or maybe I listened to this one more?). Also Michael Feuerstack. And “Blurred Lines” and “Royals”, but it’s not like I have to link those. At home we listened to records a lot, and mostly I liked Andrew playing DJ and flipping through the collection and putting the right thing on.
And so, while in my cynical moments I think nothing much happened in 2013, that’s not true. It was a memorable year. I’ll be happy to put it behind me, but I learned a lot living through it, and I’m grateful for that. I’m excited and hopeful about 2014. I have a feeling it will be a memorable one too.
Happy New Year, everyone. xoxo