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Belated 2013 Favorites, And The Word for 2014 Is…


Yes, I suppose I could do the usual “goals for 2014″ post or a resolutions one. It’s that time of the year; it’s in the air. And I do have things I want to accomplish, and a loose roadmap for what I’d like to happen and when. I am enough of a type-A personality for that.

But the one tool that I’ve found, more than anything, to help create a year that has true intention and purpose behind it is having that one word for the year. The theme. The compass. That’s real elegance and simplicity to me, which gets more and more appealing as time goes on.

More than any book to write, side hustles to launch, projects to complete, places to go, things to do — I want 2014 to feel full of ease and white space and grace and kindness and gentleness. A yin year, a year of textures and fragrances, open air, wider horizons, breathing space, peace. But none of those words quite fit for what I wanted to create this year; I needed something more sensual and earthly. What’s the purpose of all that serenity in the first place?

And then it hit me: I wanted all that space and time because I wanted to let things soak in deeper. To really feel the passing of moments. To luxuriate in everyday pleasures, and feel to the end of the echoes of the larger world around me.

To make coffee in my French press and enjoy the smell of it on a cold winter morning. To play my sweetheart’s Nick Drake records and really listen to music in a way that I haven’t in awhile. To sit down with my nieces and nephews and watch them blossom under the gift of someone’s absolute, full attention. To let the moments accumulate and take shape, rather than rush through them, even the uncomfortable ones.

To savor life and experience as deeply as I can, of course.

I keep going back to geology, and the idea of the water table and how much water the ground can hold before it saturates and can’t hold anymore. At some point, any water that wants to soak into the ground with a high water table can’t seep into the soil, and so it floods and runs off. You just can’t soak in anymore. And the earth floods and water — and emotions — overwhelm everything.

I guess this year I want to absorb more, more deeply and more steadily. And so I’ve been thinking of what keeps me over-saturated (to keep running with this metaphor) and what I need to clear out to make more room. It’s been a nice inquiry, and still something I’ve been thinking over. But yeah, savor…that feels just about right.


But in the meanwhile, something completely random: I had an whole entry on my top music that came out in 2013, but I forgot to publish it. So here it is in part, in thumbnail form, not in order:

A$AP Rocky, Long.Live.A$AP

His lyrics aren’t great or evolved and there are better rappers out there, but the album was surprisingly Goth in terms of its sound. Top to bottom, it was tight and unified, a great surprise after having pegged Rocky as basically a singles guy. The whole thing was pretty much my workout jam.

Agnes Obel, Aventine

Scandinavian, melancholy, feminine…what’s not to like? Dark, but with delicacy and strength. A perfect winter record.

Serafina Steer, The Moths Are Real

I’ve been on the Serafina train for awhile; she’s an oddball harpist with occasional electronic flourishes and a simple, mordant surreal humor in her lyrics.

Daft Punk, Random Access Memories

I got suckered in, but I don’t care…a great record is a great record. If you’re doing it right, everybody will be dancing. Daft Punk does it right.

Laura Marling, Once I Was An Eagle

This one took me by surprise, but why am I so surprised? Laura Marling has always been a great singer and songwriter. The real surprise is how female singer-songwriter-y I got this year, I suppose.

Lou Doillon, Places

Places is really sincere and earnest and her voice is so deep and smoky. I remember reading in Elle than she joked she was the “Taylor Swift of France,” and while she shares a certain openness and honesty with T-Swizzle, Lou is much more musically sophisticated, bad-ass and un-passive-aggressive. She sounds like a cool chick to get a drink with, which is a nice quality to have in the musicians you like.

The Knife, Shaking the Habitual

This album took me awhile to get into because it’s rather daunting, but then I liked it a lot.

Other 2013 favorites: Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove; Frances Ha; that episode of “Game of Thrones” when Daenyrys gets all bad-ass with her dragons; Lorde in general made me wish I were 13 and discovering music again; the way Kate Middleton disappeared after having her baby; Pope Francis for surprising people; was my favorite Tumblr; Los Angeles; my sweetheart for being sweet, my nieces & nephews for being honey, my friends for being funny, and bowling and horses win Best Miscellaneous Everything. And this Josh Hutcherson SNL skit was my favorite comedy thing (whoever did the costuming was genius).

Like what you just read? Maybe you'll like my book as well

All Things Glorious and True: Love Letters to Pop Culture, New York, Fashion and Other Objects of Affection is a collection of essays exploring how my crushes on music, dive bars, books, outfits and so much else gave me a braver soul, more open heart and even love. All Things is like a great, stylish mixtape: surprising, kind of punky, fun and often heartfelt.


Tags: 2013, A$AP Rocky, Agnes Obel, Daft Punk, Laura Marling, Lou Doillon, , , Serafina Steer, The Knife