Good Things in 2017

This year was terrible in many ways but really really wonderful in many others. Some good stuff…

In July I spent a few weeks in Sweden, most of it hiking. A couple cold, soggy, windy days were terrible, but I can laugh about them now. And some of those days were right up there with the best days of my life, period. One of them was so especially grand that I still haven’t quite yet found the words, and may never, and maybe I shouldn’t.


Other travel highlights: a trip to see friends get married in Maryland; a workation to Chicago to spend time with the best team on the planet; and a visit to New Orleans to celebrate my grandfather’s birthday. Along with his travel and stay in Georgia for a few months, I got to spend more time with him than I had in decades. I don’t take it for granted.

I mastered sleep. Oh my lord has this been huge. My family spent the previous two Christmases at the beach. Both times, I ended up sleeping 10, 12, 14 hours a night… and napping in the afternoons.


After a few days like that, I felt like I was seeing in color again.

The freshness didn’t last after the first awakening – I spent a year squandering it – but the second time around I realized it was dumb to let myself spend months decaying into zombie mode. I just can’t thrive on 6-7 hours a night; I’m more of a 9er. A regular, earlier bedtime has cost me a few dozen late-night movies, but it’s been so, so, so worth it.

I started making collages every now and then. I tried it on impulse because I had some magazines and scissors nearby, and it was instantly therapeutic.


I found a meditation routine and got into a groove with it, and fell out and found it again, and again, etc.. I eat veggies every day (pretty much, mostly, I try?). I don’t do as many straight-up workouts as I used to, but the average day is more active.

I biked more in 2017 than any year since I was a kid. I barely drove at all (yaaassssss), outside of trips to my parents’ house or out for a hike.

Aside from the Sweden trip, I had a lovely day knocking out a 35K at Cloudland Canyon for my 35th birthday. And on a lark one Saturday I walked 20-something urban miles from my house in downtown Atlanta to the summit of Stone Mountain. Really glad I did it, and I will never do it again.

I put in a bunch of miles at my favorite state park once or twice a month.

I read a bunch of good books (8 them by John Mcphee 😎). Here’s the best of my reading year, with the top 5 distinguished with a *:

(On a related note, I’m in the market for more fiction…)

I didn’t see any movies released in 2017, which was fun for a few months… and then didn’t feel any particular way for the bulk of the year… and then felt deeply miserable for the last few weeks. But for the last few days it’s been nice to salivate and plan what I want to catch up on. Instead of trying to keep up with whatever happened to be new, I saw a lot of great old stuff and re-watched a lot of things I love.

The best of the new-to-me for 2017:

I perfected a bunch of small things. And I still feel really smug about these dumb little tweaks and upgrades to stuff that doesn’t matter very much but still makes a difference. I got a trim wallet and a fresh key fob and new keyrings that better fit my ideal pocket situation. I switched over to wireless earbuds and thin linen bath towels. I got new pens and longer Lightning cables and made fine-tuned some hiking gear. I donated a bunch of clothes, and standardized much of the rest (blue oxford-collar button-downs, grey sweatshirts, grey t-shirts, and jeans, or GTFO).

I finally took care of a bunch of tedious finance/household administration that I’d been putting off for, uh, years. I asked people where to spend more on charity, did it, and it felt wonderful.

Afters years of being inactive, I deleted my Facebook account and never looked back.

I let my 8-year-old Tumblr drift into dormancy, ported the posts over here, and decommissioned it entirely.

I let this blog lie fallow. And I started it again. ❤️

Favorite albums of 2012

My music listening was way down this year. I blame it on all the movies and starting a new job. The end result is that my best picks here probably aren’t quite as strong as they were in 2008, 2009, 2010, or 2011. But still, some good stuff. As in previous years, the vast majority of this came before 2012, but this was the year I paid attention.


Mariah Carey Greatest HitsGreatest Hits – Mariah Carey. This album saw me through the end of a hard winter. So much goodness. I don’t know if I’ll ever dive into one of her full albums… but some of these peaks are so high I may reconsider. Emotions!

Return to the Winners Circle – Curren$y. If I needed to, I could rank this solely on the strength of Moon & Stars Remix. Rare that the headliner and two guest rappers all just destroy their verses. And I love that backbeat.

The Soul Tape – Fabolous. I like Pain (“An old head told me, let nothing disturb your business / Beef is only good when you in the burger business”) and In the Morning.


Da ChipDa Chip Vol. 1 & 2 was a fun listen, but probably works best if you’re already familiar with Daft Punk, right?


Senor Coconut, El Baile Aleman

Sometimes you don’t realize it, but what your life is missing is an awesome collection of Kraftwerk tunes covered with a Latin/lounge feel. Thankfully my buddy John knew what I needed to hear: El Baile Alemán from Señor Coconut y Su Conjunto. For all the campiness, there’s some smart, creative arrangements here. Neon Lights and Showroom Dummies are good examples.

Fuck a Mixtape – T.I.. I don’t loooove the whole album, but worthy of mention: No Competition is my JAM.

Big Bach Set. It’s a great bargain. The Mass in B minor is a big draw, but besides that, the Adagio from the Concerto for Two Harpsichords in C minor, BWV 1060 really stood out. Pizzicato in stereo is so wonderful on headphones.


Young Jeezy, Come Shop Wit Me

My best music month overall.

Come Shop Wit Me – Young Jeezy. I’m 9 years late, but it’s album of the year for me. My faves from Jeezy’s second are: Let Me Hit Dat (love those reverb guitars and the overactive bass; Fi Chief & Big Dank kill it), Take It to the Floor (pump-up/act-like-I’m-someone-I’m-not song), Come Shop Wit Me (fun storytelling, and the overdriven bass line reminds me of a late ‘80s video game), Thug Ya (steel drums!), and Bananas (fat, dopey bass, and something about his voice in the verses here: looser, goofier, unhinged).

Way Down Low from my friend Kat Edmonson. Listen to “Hopelessly Blue”. I mean, geez. Incredible voice.

Blue Afternoon. You’d figure I’d catch on to Tim Buckley sooner, having spent college obsessing over his son’s music. You’d figure wrong. Listen to Happy Time and Blue Melody. He’s got a wonderful back-up band. The whole gang is so loose. And look at that album cover!

And I can’t forget Françoise Hardy’s Soleil. I don’t understand any of it, but the mood is right. My favorite track is Je fais des puzzles.


Beach House, BloomBloom – Beach House. It’s a lot like the previous three, which is totally fine by me. (I think only Bach and Camera Obscura beat them in my music archive for comfy, catchy, beloved predictability.) Myth is an obvious stand-out, but I think the verses on New Year are kinda genius. Same for Wild.

Shortly after that album came out, I caught Beach House on tour again. On the drive back from Athens, a friend introduced me to Bad Vibes by Shlohmo. Drippy, druggy lullabies. Places and Seriously are favorites.

I got nothin’.


My Bloody Valentine, LovelessLoveless – My Bloody Valentine. Woah. Slept on this one but the Grantland article woke me up. I was so proud of myself when I recognized the Loomer/Optimistic resemblance.


Tangerine Dream, Thief

A great month for radio in the car!

Kaleidoscope Dream – Miguel. Adorn has gotten crazy playtime in Atlanta. That bass is perfect for your car. And I love how the harmony is a little suppressed, so that voice and the bass do all the driving.

Trilla – Rick Ross. My friend Katie and I were driving to one of my favorite places to eat too much, if I recall correctly. I heard the opening sample from my favorite Stevie Wonder album in Here I Am and I was sold. I made her Shazam it for future reference.

To round out the group: Channel Orange – Frank Ocean. WRAS 88.5 FM played Pyramids while I was driving over to another friend named John’s house and I lost it. I *had* to call in and find out what it was. You can’t beat that feeling.

I didn’t hear it on the radio, but I can’t forget the Thief soundtrack by Tangerine Dream. Probably best if you’ve seen the awesome movie, but it’s great for working on secret projects.


I didn’t bother with the whole album, but Clique from Cruel Summer is dope. Perfect beat, but the song doesn’t really take flight until Jay-Z gets on the mic (that jet engine glissando helps). Kanye takes lovable insufferability to a new level.


Toru Takemitsu, Asterism, Requiem, Green, Dorian HorizonAsterism/Requiem/Green/The Dorian Horizon – Toru Takemitsu. I really like it, but only recommended if you’ve got ears for late 20th-century orchestral music…

It’s not too late for your suggestions!

Favorite albums of 2012

We expect too much from January and not enough from February.

@mlarson, aka me. I think I’m on to something here.