My Totally Random and Non-Definitive Best of 2017 List

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Best Resolution from 2016  I Followed Through On

In December of 2016, as the world was just beginning its descent into the chaos and horror that would be 2017, I decided now was the time to start meditating every day. For real. None of this, okay, I’ll do it for a few days and then stop. None of this, missing one day doesn’t really matter. I was going to commit to meditating and for me that meant making spreadsheets. And color-coding graph paper. Which I did, because at this stage of my life, I know what it takes to motivate me to change my behavior. It is spreadsheets and colored pencils.

The year isn’t over yet, but so far I’ve meditated a total of 354 out of 365 days. I know because of the spreadsheets, you see. I’m considering that a success on many levels. Meditating every day makes my thoughts pleasantly slippery. That really bad class I would’ve obsessed over for the next week? Good-bye! That shitty voice in my head whispering that I’m a horrible person? See ya! Meditation gives me the super-power to tell that voice to shut the fuck up and go away. In fact, meditation makes it almost possible to replace that voice with this super-peppy version of myself who shouts things like, “You rock! Everyone loves you! You’re a trooper!” This is a voice I have never had in my head before, so I am turning the volume way, way up.

Best New-to-Me Music I Listened To

Josh Ritter (thank you, Dave Tegeder). Courtney Barrett (also Dave Tegeder). Langhorne Slim (thank you, River Roots Music Festival). Hiss Golden Messenger and HoneyHoney (thank you, Jane Vonderheide). Ryan Adams (I came for the cat pictures on Instagram and his cover of 1989, I stayed for Prisoner). Lily Hiatt (no idea how I found her). St. Vincent (thanks, Jenny Irons).

Best Music-to-Survive the Apocalypse We Are Currently Living Through

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, of course. How many times this year have I listened to The Nashville Sound and cried? I cannot tell you. Then I get to the last song, Something to Love and I feel a little bit more okay. Something to love. Yes, I have that. Good.

Also, Possessed by Paul James and his album, There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely. Yes, indeed, there will.

Another Good Resolution I Made

The spreadsheet included a cell for daily writing in 20-minute blocks. So I did a lot of writing this year. And even on the days when I didn’t want to, I set a timer and tried to do something for at least 20 minutes. If I could do that, I could usually do more.

Best Young Adult Book I Read

Oh, this is so hard, because there were so many good ones. Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor. But also, Alan Cole is Not a Coward, by Eric Bell (technically this is middle grade, but just an amazing book). Of course, of course, The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas. I hope this book will be showing up soon as required reading in high school classes across the country. And just here at the end of the year, When Dimple Met Rishi, which was just word-by-word perfect. Like, do you ever want a book where nothing really bad happens? And especially because you love the characters so much, you think your heart will break if something too bad happens to them? And even though it’s a romance, you’re so happy that the people are really only apart for like fifteen pages max, because it’s been a hard year, and you just can’t even take that much heartbreak? When Dimple Met Rishi is that sort of book. Read all of these if you can.

Best TV Show

Duh. Second season of Stranger Things.

Best Movie

I don’t know. I don’t see movies. But probably, it’ll be Star Wars, which will also be the only movie I see in the theater.

Best Thing I Ate

Brioche with spinach, poached egg and mustard sauce at Croissants de France in Key West. Simple. Perfect. Also, it’s in Key West, so.

Best Baseball Moment

Finally seeing a game in Wrigley Field. It was truly everything I thought it would be. Like the purest form of baseball distilled into perfect form. I bonded with the woman from Wisconsin who’d driven nine hours to see a Cubs game with her family—her 30th anniversary present. I soaked in the Chicago accents of the guys in front of us who bemoaned that the beer guy wouldn’t make the trek up to our section. I cried. More than once. I cried as we were walking in. I cried when everyone cheered, like in the right places and as if they were paying attention and knew something about baseball. I cried singing, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” I cried when we all stood up for the dramatic last at-bat, in which Bryce Harper struck out. I felt for a few hours that everything would be okay in the end. If we could still all love baseball together, we could find our way back, eventually. I hope 2018 proves me right.

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