So my new year begins with friends at midnight. But I call days by when I see the sun, so the real New Year began at 8am with me listening to The Pixie’s Doolittle and Queen’s A Night at the Opera. The last record I heard in 2007 was Deerhunter’s Microcastle. I can still map my life to records if I try hard enough, but I’m 38 and it’s a new year and perhaps the first which I’ve entered with neither anticipation nor dread; not Zen like either just calm. Or maybe it’s because I was just downstairs in my friend Alex’s apartment, talking about sexual misadventure (his not mine), smoking cloves and digging Pixie’s Bossanova; and I realized that I would much rather be here with someone I’m always happy to see, than in New York for another Jan 1, wondering if I’m so very entertaining why am I alone tonight? Sorry, it doesn’t take much for me to slip into the Smiths.
It’s barely 12 hours old, but I love 2009 already. That might be because I have a new book coming out in a month and a half. It not that I’ve piled on this year with expectation or that I expect some fulfillment of promise. It’s not even that I made a resolution. It’s just that after so much building, and changing and growing in 2008, I can enter this year saying whatever happens— lottery or car crash, it’s all good. Maybe I am Zen. I don’t pray much anymore. Okay I don’t pray at all, nor am I sure that I still believe in the or a God, but I do believe there is a fundamental rhythm to the universe. Rhythm that is, not order; the universe has to allow for out of sync shit, wonderful or horrendous to happen, with the only reassurance being that it absorbs both with equal nonchalance.
Several years ago I used to spend my New Year’s Eves in church. It’s not that I believed so much that I was desperate for something to believe in. Now I’d like to think that I’ve outgrown belief. That I’m perfectly fine with reason and do not need faith. Who needs the evidence of things unseen when what is plainly visible is enough to make you gasp in wonder sometimes? What will happen will happen, but we also make our own fates and play the key role in our redemption or destruction. I’d just rather have mine right now instead of in some afterlife. Something about the Christian definition of eternal life— the idea of eternity being nothing more than unending reward and punishment for how you spent your first 70 years—always seemed stupid or at the least not very eternal at all. I like the idea of eternity meaning not living forever but living beyond whatever forever means. Maybe I’m just realizing that I was born quite fine the first time, thank you very much.
In 2008 I killed myself six times. It just hit me one day, that there were so many versions of me around the place, a new one to suit the different kind of friends that I’ve always surrounded myself with. I used to think that this was to ensure that I’m always around different kinds of people, but see now that it was merely to make sure that I never got close to any of them, or rather that any of them got close to me. There is a version of me that still likes Graphic design, another that used to counsel Christian kids, and one that expected to get married one day. Then there’s another version that wrote things like these, fearing somebody would read them, but hoping just one person would. And hopefully that person would realize that I do not have my shit together and would just help me without me having to ask. I gave that version a titanic kick in the ass, but took a lot from him. The version I’m sticking with is everything in the last sentence, but is also the person who read Sula, and cried when the dying Sula, is response to Nel’s asking what did she have to show for herself, said, “Show? To who?”
It’s the last year of the first decade of the second millennium. I’m still waiting for the 21st century to start. For me that would begin with our ditching ridiculous attitudes from the 20th — hell, 18th century. I’m thinking about this because my good friends Chad and Jude have been married for four years and now have the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen and the friends of mine who have a problem with this sentence are exactly the friends that I probably wont be friends with anymore. I’m sorry if that means you, but it’s not that I’ve changed but that I realized that my eyes are in front of me and the only thing behind me is my ass, so I don’t even know anymore how to look backward, or carry on a backward attitude. Turns out George Clinton was right: free your mind first and your ass will follow. I think I’m going to put on Funkadelic's Maggot Brain right now, or maybe John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band; a new year’s kiss-off if there ever was one.
I leave you with this, a slightly changed Nirvana line: Forget your enemies, save your friends, find your place, speak the truth. And Oh yeah, buy my book.