2018: A Review

2018, You get 5 stars.

What. a. year. Wow. This was perhaps my most simultaneously challenging and incredibly rewarding year to date.

In just the last 12 months, so much has happened. I have done, seen, experienced, and witnessed so many good, brilliant, exceptional, awesome things. Here are just a handful, not to mention all the little celebrations along the way to each of these:

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  • Searched for and bought a house, and moved from Brooklyn to the ‘burbs with my now-husband - this was the most challenging and exhausting thing, but we found a home that is perfect for us and I’m so grateful for that.

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  • Witnessed (and photographed) my brother propose to his now-fiance at a waterfall after ice-climbing - I hid in the woods in the snow for an hour an a half before he popped the question and I’m so happy to have a new sister so soon!

  • Had the most incredible bachelorette party in New Orleans with some of my dearest friends and sisters and have never felt so loved in my entire life.

  • Spent a week hiking in Utah with four of the coolest ladies I know, and came out of it a better hiker, a better friend, and having seen some incredible sights.

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  • Celebrated my 28th birthday (a week before my wedding and in my favorite place, Maine), my dog’s 2nd (kept her alive!), and my mother’s 60th

  • Planned a wedding and got married to my favorite human in the world after 8 years of dating and had the most perfect day.

  • Went on an incredible honeymoon to Italy and got to see Naples, Positano, Capri, Amalfi, Ravello, and Rome for what is hopefully only the first time. I will eventually do a full blog post about this one and finally go through all my photos!

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  • Celebrated my sister-in-law’s engagement to her now-fiance in Chicago (I’m getting a new brother-in-law and I’m pretty stoked!)

  • Saw Florence & The Machine in concert… twice

  • Continued the work with my friend Courtney on our newsletter and women’s group (we took a longer-than-we-hoped-hiatus, but we will resurrect it anew!)

  • Quit my job as a Product Manager after 6 years in the adtech/martech space

  • Officially started my photography business

  • Invested in and prioritized myself and my continuing education in photography, art, politics, history, intersectional feminism, and the environment

All of those things are events that people may have seen on my instagram or elsewhere. But what no one would really see concretely, is that I also made personal decisions and strides to benefit my physical and mental health, my relationships, and my overall wellbeing that I’m incredibly proud of. I started the year having a few breakdowns over the stress of my job, my house hunting, wedding planning, etc. but somewhere along the line, I figured out how to take a step back, and how to prioritize myself. I have started writing more, reading more, meditating more. I have been paying more attention to my most important relationships. I am in such a good and awesome place and I am so glad to have had the support of my husband along the way.

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Now, I am a huge fan of music and am virtually never not listening to something. Spotify agrees. I listened to hundreds of hours of music this year, 18 of which were Florence. That’s not counting the times that Brian was playing music on his phone while we cooked or in long car rides with the radio on, or the many concerts I went to. So, I should take note of some of the most important and influential music in this year of my life. (Thanks to Dave Marcus for his annual music reflections that inspired this.)

Top 10 Albums of the Year: I struggled to put this together, frankly, because so many of my favorite artists only put out singles this year, or I haven’t gotten a chance to listen to the full albums of some new discoveries, but here’s some stellar picks from this year.

10. Let’s start this list off right with Courtney Barnett’s Tell Me How You Really Feel, which is my favorite moody album to work to on a Friday afternoon.

9. The Wombats are BACK with Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life. I was pretty obsessed with them my senior year of high school. They’ve put out a couple of albums in between, but this new album is everything I ever hoped for in a return this year, and I believe it’s their best in the last decade.

8. The Revivalists’ Take Good Care: I don’t even know much about this band, but I haven’t ever fallen so quickly into listening to an album like this. I missed out on seeing them live with a friend a few years back and am now quickly regretting it. Take a listen to Next To You or You and I.

7. Generationals’ State Dogs: I saw them perform a few years back at Bowery Ballroom and got to stand next to their parents in the crowd, which was maybe the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. They put out an album of their 2018-2018 singles they’d released and they’re all catchy as hell. I love Silent Ocean and Turning the Screw.

6. Boygenius is a collection of songs by Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Daucus and I’m so grateful this thing exists. Three badass artists coming together for this album is a dream come true.

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5. Matt Kearney’s Crazytalk is unabashedly pop-y and I think he’s totally weird, but I love him and his bassist Philip Moore. I saw him in March for the second time and he puts on a super fun show and always brings along great openers. This year it was Andrew Belle who opened (whose album Dive Deep from 2017 is worth checking out), and, he honestly rivaled Kearney’s performance.

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4. Mumford & Sons’ Delta - I’ll be honest, I didn’t listen to the full album until after I saw them perform at MSG earlier this month, but GOD DAMN, Mumford puts on a good show. I’ve since listened all the way through the album several times and I am even more impressed now that I know exactly how talented Marcus Mumford is. Also, they brought Maggie Rogers along, whose album I look forward to putting on the top of the 2019 list.

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3) Rainbow Kitten Surprise’ How To: Friend, Love, Freefall is not quite my favorite RKS album, but I’m still in awe of their blended style of folky and punk rock. It takes me back somehow to early 2000s high school jams, but is more intelligent and modern. Take a listen to Matchbox, Fever Pitch, and It’s Called: Freefall.

2) Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer, accompanying music videos, and her performance at the Hulu Theater at MSG this year were life-giving and sexy as hell. I have a tremendous respect for her, what she has done this year for the LGBTQ community and for black women, and for her lyrical genius. I can’t turn off I Like That, Make Me Feel (one of Obama’s favorites?!?!), or Pynk. (I didn’t take any photos at all which I guess just means I was really loving the performance.)

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1) No surprise here, my number one album of 2018 is Florence & The Machine’s High As Hope. I got to hear her perform much of it twice, and it’s even better than the album recording, which is already stunning. Florence continues to kill it and I won’t hear otherwise. I love Florence so much that my mom tried to get her to sing at my wedding because she was performing relatively close by the same week. On top of already fantastic, personal, musing, stream of consciousness lyrics, Florence has released Useless Magic, her lyrics, poetry and drawings. I feel like a bad fan for not having picked this up yet. Her shows are always inspiring, full of love, and endless hope and I am grateful for artists like her (though she knows no equal).

Top 10 Songs of the Year: Some of these didn’t come out this year, but had some meaning to me or I discovered them this year.

10) Wish I Knew You by The Revivalists

9) Good Nights by Whethan & Mascolo

8) First Try by Johnnyswim

7) A Good Night by John Legend

6) Stars by Future Generations

5) Signal by Sylvan Esso

4) It’s Called: Freefall by RKS. It’s quintessential RKS style and every time I listen to it I fall in love with them again.

3) Pynk, by Janelle Monae. ‘Cause boy it’s cool if you got blue, we got the pink. I needed a lady anthem this year and Janelle provided.

2) Big God, Florence & The Machine. It’s moody, it’s moving, it’s guttural, it’s hopeful, it’s everything Florence is and I love it.

1) You and Me by Dave Matthews. No it’s not new and I don’t care. It’s my wedding song and I’ll get to think of that day and my husband every time I hear it for the rest of my life.

Other memorable songs/albums and honorable mentions, in no particular order:

Kate Nash’s album Yesterday Was Forever - I JUST realized this came out and I somehow missed it. This probably would be in my top 10 if I had gotten my sh*t together earlier. I’ve done a quick listen and need to do a few repeats before I fully appreciate it. But I already dig Life In Pink.

Crash Into Me by Dave Matthews - the song I walked down the aisle to

The entire Hamilton soundtrack - listened to in full for the first time in the car on our roadtrip from Zion to Moab in Utah)

HandClap by Fitz & the Tantrums - another Utah favorite

Be Mine by Ofenbach - this was maybe one of my most played songs of the year while running or walking around the city

Closingtime by Semisonic - we ended our wedding in a big circle singing this song and I’ll never forget it

Don’t Change Me by Kid Runner - catch AF


Top 3 Concerts of the Year:

3) RKS at Brooklyn Steel, seen with my friend Jenna. I love Brooklyn Steel, but I wish it wasn’t so annoying to get to.

2) Florence & The Machine at Barclays, seen also with my friend Jenna. This was the closest thing to church for me next to my visit to the Vatican in September.

1) Florence & The Machine at BAM, seen with my husband Brian (this one wins only because of it’s more intimate setting and the fact that it was my last concert I saw before I moved from Brooklyn to the ‘burbs and I could walk home from the venue).

Most Anticipated Album of 2019:

Tie. Maggie Rogers & King Princess. I saw Maggie perform with Mumford and she was a dancing queen putting on a fun opening act and I can’t wait ‘til she headlines at MSG herself. King Princess I just discovered and love following her on instagram for a daily dose of some queer weirdness.


Though 2018 produced some wonderful music, memories, and experiences, it was not without it’s hardships and loss. From this, I learned some hard and beautiful lessons. But ultimately, I was extremely blessed and well-rewarded for my hard work and dedication. I’ve certainly been battling the inevitable self-doubt and impostor syndrome, and it has taken me quite some time to feel proud of myself, but I do. And I will revel in this. But as I look forward to the next year, I have a lot of goals and “resolutions” for 2019. I am writing them here to help hold myself accountable - so hold me to them!

  • Shoot. Every. Day. Even if it’s just on my iPhone and just of my dog.

  • Read one book per month. More if I can.

  • Begin to learn the violin. Buy a used one off craigslist or something and try to teach myself.

  • Participate actively in Project 52 on Filckr. I joined this group recently and I can’t wait to post my first assignment!

  • Publish a blog post every month. Be it personal travel, an essay, or a photo session recap.

  • Exercise 3x per week. Just do it.

  • Learn to compost. Just do it.

  • Spend one day per month without screens/internet. This is a part of my new self-enforced vacation policy.

Got some thoughts? Feedback? 2018 musings or goals of your own to share? Let me know in the comments or email me at alenapweekes@gmail.com.