An earnest end-of-year recommendation
I swear I came up with this myself
Here's a recommendation to close out this trash year -- you still have a couple of hours if you’re in my hemisphere, or hell, just do it tomorrow or on Sunday because the way we measure time is arbitrary anyway.* Go through your phone's camera roll starting with January 1, 2021, select one photo from each day or event that made you happy or just images that bring you joy, and make an album with some sappy title like "2021 Happiness" or such. That's probably enough to achieve the desired effect -- reminding yourself that maybe not ALL of 2021 was trash -- but if you're so inclined, sit down, crack a notebook or the Notes app and write out why it’s a fond memory.
I came up with this hokey, self-help, new year-new me exercise all on my own (versus reading about it in a hokey, self-help, new year-new me article or podcast). Maybe it’s some form of self-obsession, but I have a tendency of looking through my old photos anyway, something I've discovered is better for my mental health than scrolling through Instagram or Twitter (not always: sometimes when glimpsing a past me in my camera roll, I get stuck on thinking about how I wore the wrong bra with an outfit). Sitting in a dreary present, it makes me surprise myself: huh, there were actually a bunch of times I managed to have fun!
Doing it for the entire year brought me a certain lightness. After making the album earlier this week, I sat down with my notebook on the evening of the 30th, told my husband I was "working," and he happily went to watch Alien vs. Predator, a big no thank you for me. Somewhere around photo number 10 I thought to myself that this process needed to be ritualized, so I made tea, lit a candle, and turned on Joni Mitchell, not because I often listen to Joni Mitchell, but because I can't get her out of my head around this time of the year because many rewatchings of Love Actually burned into my brain a Joni Mitchell-Christmas association (Emma Thompson gets a Joni Mitchell album from Alan Rickman, a terrible gift from a terrible husband, all in a movie that I realized way too late in life is pretty terrible).
As previously established, 2021 was not a great year for obvious, global reasons, and for a couple of my own. But my album still ended up having 43 photos in it, the number shocking me thoroughly. Here are a couple of entries (edited for clarity):
2. Andrea and Nick [friends] bundled up in Okemo [skiing]. God was it freezing, but we will remember it!
7. My vaccine selfie. Not objectively joyous, but in the moment, I was elated
21. The girls in cute summer outfits during our vegan girls dinner. BECAUSE CUTE OUTFITS WITH THE GIRLS [I made them do this and I am no longer vegan]
26. August 3. Misha making a dumb face like he usually does when I'm trying to take a couple selfie. Us wearing matching Brooklyn Cyclones hats in the bleachers of the stadium. A wonderful first wedding anniversary date
32. Karo [my best friend] with little Olivia [her baby daughter]. My heart swole [lol yes I wrote “swole,” not on purpose] about three sizes when I got to meet her.
36. LOL ANOTHER WALK, this time for my birthday. Because it was a pretty perfect day
The entries are kind of dumb, and most of the photos are not actually great shots. That’s sort of the point. This morning (the 31st) I saw a bunch of people doing a form of this on Instagram, a photo dump recap. Maybe this is slightly hypocritical of me because I just publicly described some of my yearly highlights, but the goal of making this album was that it would be for my eyes only, an opportunity to lift the end-of-year gloom and be damn grateful.
Until next time!
* I thought of acknowledging that the last time you got this newsletter in your inbox was in... Never mind, let's not dwell on it. I'll probably be better about writing this this year. Probably.
I haven't really thought this through because this is a spontaneous newsletter, but do read some fun things like romance novels (my faves this year are Beach Read and Evie Dunmore's series A League of Extraordinary Women) and Tana French mystery novels (I'm like 15 years too late but she really is as good as they say). Listen to the back catalog of the podcast You're Wrong About (this recommendation is a mere year late to the zeitgeist). Powder Days, Why We Swim, and Wintering were some of my favorite nonfiction reads this year. And I guess here's a couple of things I wrote.