new year old reading
You’re supposed to write these things before the end of the New Year, but that’s when everyone writes these things, and I find them melding into one mass of lists and conclusions and meditations. I read “Best Ofs” to see if I agree with them; I internalize the weariness of everyone’s year and allow it to compound my own. I always resent the snatch of days between Christmas and New Year’s — no one should be working, many people are, it’s difficult to calibrate yourself to work place rhythms because they’re so off-kilter. Over the holidays I find myself eating too much meat and too many cookies that aren’t even that good, they’re just there and they’re cookies and they’re supposed to be eaten.
And then there’s New Year’s! Few things remind me of how weird the contemporary condition is quite like New Year’s: a holiday that millions have come to resent almost entirely based on the fact that they feel they should do something (drink, stay up late, make resolutions, wear sequins, be at a cool party with cool people taking cool Instagrams) and yet, with all of their hearts, do not wish to do. You could bottle New Year’s resentment and market it as a poison. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, good for you! You have no social anxiety! You’re the worst!)
This year I took a vacation over those dumb in-between days and did my favorite thing on New Year’s: went out to a very good dinner, got slightly blitzed on champagne, talked with my boyfriend about all our favorite things of the year and the favorite things to come, and then fell asleep before the streets of Tulum filled with fireworks and revelers burning effigies of Trump. I read five books, and I spent a lot of time thinking about the project I’d started before signing off for vacation: burnout as the millenial condition. It’s still very much in progress, but writing this ballooning, unruly draft, attempting to tie together my own experiences and so much writing/theorizing/surveying about the way millenials work and live has proven surprisingly therapeutic. Nine days off work doesn’t fix my own burnout, but writing this piece — and actually staring the condition and its causes straight on — is clarifying. Treating burnout by thinking about burnout! What a cure!
The beginning of the New Year is often focused on looking forward, but I’m still thinking about what I’ve loved from the last year — — things to revisit, things that have beguiled and challenged me, things that make me want to be a better writer and thinker, things that will continue to motivate me even though the calendar year has switched over. One of the things I hate most about the current velocity of the news cycle is how little time it affords revisiting or even just actually visiting pieces that are a day, a week, a month old. Which is why I think it’s still worthwhile to make a list like this: think of this as your opportunity to savor something outside the bounds of the social media echo chamber, without the responsibility to summarize it or comment on it, just to absorb it or hate it or love it and not even have words to describe why.
I can’t wait to discover all the things that will make this list in the year to come. But for now, here’s to a the New Year and old reading:
The Smartest Writing on Horrible Things:
The Pieces That Explained America in 2018:
Pieces That Fundamentally Shifted My Thinking:
Culture Pieces So Good They Made Me Want to Throw Something:
Most Blissful Escapes:
“I don’t really want to start off by talking about Ariana Grande’s ponytail”
The Best Of “Just Trust Me”:
And finally, some things I wrote and love the most from the past year:
What a privilege it was to report on Texas and the phenomenon that was (and is) Beto
One of the hardest — and most rewarding — pieces I’ve ever (co)written (Spoiler: HE WON)
How do you rebuild your life after leaving a polygamous sect?
Apparently I ruined Nashville
Here’s to reading things when you find space for them and letting the sadness and joy and thrill and thought expand inside you. I can’t wait for more.