it's been a year. here is what we have loved, during a year so very hard to remain soft enough to enjoy.
→ Positions by Ariana Grande
m: if you need a bratty song to blow momentum into your new year, look no further than just like magic.
→ Dreamland by Glass Animals
m: 2020 escapism, in true dreamy Glass Animals fashion.
→ Monument by Keaton Henson
nadine: My favourite release of 2020. Keaton Henson releasing singles before this album release is what got me through the summer... "I'm off balance but I feel my soul"? "I know it's ending but I'm on the mend, oh unbalanced, triumphant, and trying again"? "I'm afraid I'm ablaze with the people I've been"? "Sorry I'm late, I was ablaze"? "I will make a mess of telling you"? "I'm the reason I can't sleep; I got all my baby teeth all buried underneath my grown ones"? I mean???
→ Light of Love by Florence + the Machine
nadine: Considering High as Hope saw me through March, the release of Light of Love was perfectly timed! This was my most listened-to song of 2020. And when I looked back on my year, I could see its influence everywhere... Here's to trying to soften, relentlessly and no matter what.
→ Beautiful Anyway by Judah and the Lion
soap: Every single time I listen to this, I can't help but cry. Watching a loved one suffer with depression and suicidal thoughts, desperately wanting them to see their worth and wake up every morning and decide to continue living. If 2020 has taught me anything, its to keep fighting when everything feels hopeless. You deserve life.
→ Fine Line by Harry Styles
soap: I don't know how I would have gotten through the year without Harry to lean on. The pop songs like Golden, the longer ballads like Cherry, the heart-wrenching finale of Fine Line...all of them inspiring me to love and love fiercely, and most importantly, TPWK.
→ Never Have I Ever (Netflix, 2020)
nadine: This was so bright and honest. Watching this as an adult dared me to look Teenage Me in the face. Can I have compassion for my younger self and all the stupid, brash, hurtful, arrogant, destructive things I've done? Yes. Yes.
→ slow-paced vlogs (K.A. Emmons, amandamaryanna, and others)
nadine: What better way to escape for a few minutes than watching prettily filmed mundane things with a somewhat philosophical voiceover.
→If Anything Happens, I Love You (Netflix, 2020)
soap: TikTok brought me a lot of joy this year, but this recommendation truly left me in tears. This short follows two parents in the aftermath of losing their daughter in a school shooting. A reminder to cherish those we have when they're here because we never know when we may lose them.
→ Cheer (Netflix, 2020)
m: You don't need to come from an athletic background to adore and cheer for this elite team of young athletes as they train for their most difficult competition of their careers, while simultaneously bringing you through their deepest heartbreaks and joys. Cheer is all dizzying and energizing, tearful and powerful.
→Little Women (2019)
soap: I have seen this now no less than six times this year, three of which were in theaters before the world began to shut down. There is nothing better than watching a family grow up together, fall in love, laugh, grieve, and comfort one another as they all discover who they are. It is a sense of belonging and support that we all need during these periods of isolation.
→The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)
m: Spooky in a way that will tap further into your tear ducts than your adrenaline, this one's a beautiful, albeit twisted, look at trauma, love, and ghost stories.
→ Anything by Kacen Callender, particularly Felix, Ever After and King and the Dragonflies
m: beautifully written prose on intersectional identities and love. love love love.
soap: Seconding on Felix Ever After. My absolute new favorite book of all time.
→ Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
m: picture this unimaginable situation: a pandemic sweeps the world, upending society. what then? this book is one part horrific and two parts gorgeous, a fully surreal and devastating 2020 read.
→The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
soap: I have always been a person who holds lots of stress and anxiety within my body, and learning about the intricate ways that trauma and mental illness affect your emotional and physical well being was incredibly fascinating. I don't know that this book necessarily helped me learn how to manage and overcome much of my trauma and inability to release pain, but from a sociological standpoint, it was educational and the narrative flowed beautifully.
m: This one's been a tough read during a time of collective trauma, but it has been clarifying. I'm especially interested in how time impacts trauma. Absolutely worth a read, at the very least, post Covid.
→Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
soap: One of the most interesting books I read this year, this book details two sides of a family tree from current day Ghana, one side of which thrived in British colonial rule and the other half which was in servitude to them. Compelling writing with complex characters full of motivations, flaws, and feelings, making nearly all of them relatable in some way or another. Gyasi's second book "Transcendent Kingdom" is currently sitting on my shelf, so I am excited to get to it this year.
→ Runner Ups: Empire of the Wild by Cherie Dimaline (indigenous horror), Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour (introspective fiction), Recollections of my Nonexistence by Rebecca Solnit (20's young womanhood memoir)
→ earl gray with a splash of vanilla oat milk
m: discovered via a reception for another literary/art magazine. warm and cozy and soft.
→ turmeric herbal tea with chai spices
nadine: the gold-coloured goodness that has been powering my afternoons.
→ copius amounts of kiwi starfruit drinks
soap: Starbucks was another shining light in the darkness of 2020. The Star Drink was the perfect concoction to spur me into my nostalgia of summer breaks in elementary school.
→ how to bake!
nadine: Like many others this year, I polished my baking skills! I can now make exquisite cinnamon buns, croissants, almond croissants, brownies, cream cheese brownies, cookies, cakes... Like seriously. Exquisite. This year, when it felt like nothing in the world made sense, delicious food was there to remind me that sometimes I have to accept that pleasure is the only thing that makes sense.
→ more lessons than I could list, and gratitude that I was in a position where I could learn them.
nadine: Really, I learned so much this year, about myself, about the world, about life. I saw Jojo Rabbit (2019) in February, and the part about looking the tiger in the eyes struck me. I spent the rest of 2020 trying my hardest to look the tiger in the eyes and not look away, and I'm so thankful that I had the support I needed to make it happen.
→ imagination is power.
m: Ah yes, another year of ~realizing things.~ So many times I packed up my heart and home and considered permanent moves into people's lives or states across the US. It's been a year of extremes, for everyone. Learning to hold a desire to nest safely and loved and known, in the same hand as a deep set anxiety and thirst to break away, free and unknown. Two threads follow through these fist fulls of desire for wholeness: Allow yourself to feel the chemically driven response of angst and fear for a moment, but let it become discernment after a couple days. Allow the unknowing. This too is temporary. Second, you need to start dreaming and imagining good futures. The only way out may be through, but it helps to have a place to press towards.
→giving up is not a sign of weakness.
soap: Something that I have struggled with for the entirety of my existence is having to see everything through to the end. I need to finish every homework assignment, I can't call in sick or leave work early, I have to lift just five more reps. While pushing yourself normally is good and healthy, I realized that it was causing me harm to continue to push myself with my meter hovering dangerously above empty. It's okay to skip a few homework assignments. It's okay to take a mental health day. If you can't do something, it's not the end of the world. There is always tomorrow.
here's to a better year.
a small collective dedicated to personal, creative, and communal growths.