I reviewed albums by Laura Stevenson, Iron & Wine, Jessica Pratt, Lady Lamb The Beekeeper, Torres, Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Harmer, Frightened Rabbit and Laura Marling. I poked at the lonely pleasures of The Postal Service’s Give Up. I talked with Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman about the debut of their very long-delayed musical. I explored the buddy-buddiness of weed and country music.
I burned out on “music writing.”
I took a road trip with my mom. I rode MARTA and wondered why.
I interviewed and profiled and obituarized a bunch of staggeringly brilliant people and made four issues of what I think is a pretty fine looking alumni magazine.
I thought about an old neighbor and Girl Scout cookies. I thought about childhood and fear of death, my own at least. I thought about Christmas trees and the life-cycle of traditions.
I came clean about my lady mustache. I told a room of strangers that I once believed my husband when he told me grizzly bear penises make a hissing sound when fully erect.
Also I met a clammer named Dave, spent some time in Dayton, Tenn., talked to a bunch of young country music people and thought about hunger, literal and figurative, but you’ll have to wait for 2014 for all that.
HIDDEN BONUS TRACK: What I Didn’t Write, 2013
I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but late last year I decided that I would have written a book by the end of 2013. Or, a “manuscript” I guess is what you call it, a thing that wants to be a book but doesn’t yet exist in its intended form. The plan was to write one piece a month for twelve months and by the end of the next December a book would sit in place of what had once been nothing but vague rectangular yearning. As 2013 rolled in I was very pleased with myself for coming up with this. This undertaking I had dreamed my whole literate life of undertaking suddenly seemed so easy! Which should have been my first indication that things would not go as planned.
In June, when I finally felt as if I had finished what-would-be-the-book’s first piece, the goal still seemed attainable, the timeline just… compressed? But not discouragingly so! Here now in December, I somehow don’t feel all that bad about what now has only a few hours to not be a complete failed promise. At first I thought the problem was that a year was not enough time to write a book, and then I wondered if a year was too much time to write a book—maybe I had allotted myself too many minutes to potentially be diverted into some other non-book-writing activity? Maybe if I’d had less time I would have used it more wisely? Maybe, or maybe the answer is that this thing needs to happen on its own timeline, which will only reveal itself to me once I’m at the far end of it.
Not that the plan was a complete bust. I did write some part of what might one day become something, or maybe it won’t, but mostly what happened this year was I learned a number of boring but, ugh, apparently much-needed lessons about patience, pacing, rejection, drafting, revising, breathing, edit-taking, expectation-management, jealousy-management, and most importantly the various means by which to adjust Word and Google Docs windows to just about but not entirely block out the entire rest of the connected world. (Bless you, Freedom.) I learned a lot, but apparently not enough to not carry the goal over into 2014. I figure I can squeeze at least a year or two more out of it before it ascends to the level of neutered perma-resolution, a la “floss more.” We’ll see!
HEY, BUT ALSO
To anyone who read anything I wrote this year, or anything I wrote any other year, I would like to say a big sloppily earnest and sincere thank you. When I stop and think about it too hard or too long it starts to seem very strange that I would expect anyone to give up any amount of their precious finite life to sit and move their eyes over words on a screen or a page that I in turn spent possibly too much of my own precious finite life arranging and rearranging, and rearranging and rearranging. Very often this strikes me as possibly insane behavior, even when things are going very well. It can be easier to imagine writing into a deep black void, because that at least is a bottomless receptacle with no to-do list, no partner or children or parents or friends to spend time with and tend to, no job to do or dogs to walk or self to feed and take care of. I am never going to waste that void’s time. The void has time to spare. But I am always in danger of wasting yours. And the goal is to not do that. The goal is to make that time better, or at least not worse. I hope I have. At the very least, I’m very grateful to have been given a chance.
Onwards! Onwards into the future!