Saturday, January 3, 2009

This Will Be Our Year (The Zombies)

What the h*ll - how about one more New Year post... before we move on to the business of living it (instead of writing about it... :-)


Thoughts, recollections and a satirical cocktail recipe on the year’s most alcohol-laden day, kindly offered by various Op-Extra contributors:

Suzanne Vega, Measure for Measure:

New Year’s Eve and drinking. Sometimes they go together, but not always. I have spent many austere New Years Eves alone re-reading old diaries, making resolutions and not drinking, but I will admit those are not the most fun.

The most fun was in 1989 at a party given by the band They Might be Giants in Brooklyn. Still the best New Year’s Eve party ever. Given in an apartment over a funeral parlor. I went with my sister and my then-boyfriend. We drank and danced. My boyfriend got mad and went home early. I stayed. I danced with my sister, and we stepped on the plug to the jukebox plunging the whole room into darkness and silence for a minute. What fun! Then she went home, then John Flansburg who was throwing the party went home. Then everybody else went home, and I was the last guest to leave. The sun came up gently as a car came to get me at 7 in the morning, and I said goodbye to John Linnell’s sleepy, smiling face. What a nice memory. A lovely ride home over the Brooklyn Bridge.

The second most fun was New Year’s Eve 1999. Remember Y2K? What a scam. I bought a black silk ball gown for the occasion in case the world fell apart that night. Seemed like the right thing to do. My sister and I went to my ex-boyfriend’s house (the same man that had been my boyfriend 10 years before!) and we drank a lot and danced and had a lot of fun, until I sent her flying into the radiator under the window across the room. I let go of her hand by mistake. She hasn’t danced with me since. She says it’s because I always do the Hustle and date myself. Whatever. I still remember the snowflakes softly coming down at 5 am as I caught a cab home in my ball gown.

Well, none of us drink the way we used to since we lost our brother Tim to alcoholism at the age of 36. Lately when I go out with my husband on New Year’s Eve, some of the nightlife looks scary. I watched someone who was so drunk she lay down in the crosswalk on Houston Street while her friends tried to get her on her feet before the traffic started up. I didn’t watch to see what finally happened. I suppose moderation will be the key for me for this New Year’s Eve, and that is O.K. with me.

* * *

Glenn Eichler,

Recipe: “The Blurry Zeitgeist”
3 parts Champagne
1 part vodka
1 part strawberry brandy
1 part smugness over past year’s accomplishments
1 part regret over realizing past year’s accomplishments were actually failures
1 part momentary burst of resolve followed immediately by 1 part deflating inertia
1 part nagging fear over possibility of … what was it again?
1 part self-congratulation over successfully keeping pre-New Year’s resolution to avoid marketing exec neighbor at current party
1 part cautious optimism over Obama cabinet picks
1 part bitter disappointment over Obama cabinet picks
1 part utter disbelief at Caroline Kennedy
1 part inexplicable anxiety over not remembering what earlier nagging fear was about
1 part dawning awareness that marketing exec neighbor is approaching
1 part fleeting concern over possibly forgetting to TiVo “The Biggest Loser”
1 part sinking realization that earlier nagging fear was about odds of contracting early-onset Alzheimer’s
1 part self-pity over getting stuck conversing with marketing exec neighbor
1 part self-congratulation at not being marketing exec neighbor
1 part euphoric recollection of definitely remembering to TiVo “The Biggest Loser,” thus reducing likelihood of early-onset Alzheimer’s
1 part self-loathing over TiVo full of “The Biggest Loser”
Shake well and serve with metaphysical hangover.
Happy New Year!

* * *

Jim Atkinson,

This New Year’s Eve will be the fifteenth that I will pass completely sober. I celebrate the New Year booze-free because I’ve long since quit drinking at all. But might I suggest to the majority of Americans who still do tipple — especially on New Year’s Eve — that they consider passing the last holiday of the year stone cold sober as well? After all, this is nothing if not a time for considering new paradigms, and 24 hours spent in sober reflection on — instead of Bacchanalian escape from — what we should have learned in the previous year might be just the right way to bring in the new one. Especially this year, when we need desperately to remember that while we ignored history and allowed it to repeat itself, even amidst the rubble left by the Second Coming of the Great Depression, we somehow managed to make history too, by electing an African-American president. Both are matters of sufficient import to be recalled and appreciated in the absence of stupor.

* * *

Peter Holsapple,
Measure for Measure:

By the time I had moved from Los Angeles to New Orleans in 1993, probably the drinkingest city in America, my own alcohol problem was enormous. But I just thought I was having a lot of fun. The band I moved there with was a fine excuse to get together with five close friends, a case of beer, a few bottles of champagne and tequila, and make some music: New Orleans was a perfect destination to continue the party, which we did. After the band broke up, I moved upstairs from a bar I played at so the commute home wouldn’t be quite so deadly.

My charmed life went on, immersed in boozing, unchecked by concerned friends or myself, escalating exponentially until I ended up charged with D.W.I. one night on the way home from a show where I had only drunk about three glasses of red wine. I spent a night in Orleans Parish lock-up in a room with 25 of my newest friends and a drain in the middle of the floor. The humiliation was more than I could stand. I drank cautiously a few more months, slowing to a crawl, until I decided that New Years’ Eve 2001 would be the end of it.

I moved after Katrina washed my home and a lot of my past away, and I now live with my family in North Carolina, where I grew up. New Years’ Eve now means breaking out a bottle of Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider and trying to stay up for the changing of the years, not always making it through, either.

Sometimes I think I miss the conviviality of hoisting a few with my fellows, but as I raise my glass nowadays, I toast the rebuilding of my shambolic life over seven years and look forward to the next 365 days, which will come at me one at a time. That, I can handle.

* * *

Darrell Brown,
Measure for Measure:

I am an adult child of an alcoholic. There are a lot of us out there. I was never a drinker. My job in life was the designated driver, the designated shoulder to lean on, the designated superhero to clean up the mess whenever it was needed. I do have a very strong and benevolent shoulder I inherited from my mom.

Finally, last year before New Year’s Eve, I made the long-delayed decision to let go of a few of my dearest addict friends. I was tired of feeling like the bad guy all the time. To paraphrase the song, I didn’t have time for the pain anymore. Not in 2008. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It hurt. But that’s what happens when you betray your own addictive behavior — it rebels and squirms. I thought my heart would die.

A year has passed since then. I survived. I’ve healed some, and my health and sanity has returned. With this distance in place, I now feel I can again love these people who were so dear to me. I can look back with fondness and smile at the memories of most of our time together.

To another year of health.


P.S. Thanks to Scott at Pretty Goes with Pretty (via SMM) for the heads-up on the song which prompted today's post!

Everyone has two birthdays
according to the English essayist Charles Lamb,
the day you were born and New Year's Day--

a droll observation to mull over
as I wait for the tea water to boil in a kitchen
that is being transformed by the morning light
into one of those brilliant rooms of Matisse.

"No one ever regarded the First of January
with indifference," writes Lamb,
for unlike Groundhog Day or the feast of the

this one marks nothing but the passage of time,
I realized, as I lowered a tin diving bell
of tea leaves into a little body of roiling water.

I admit to regarding my own birthday
as the joyous anniversary of my existence
probably because I was, and remain
to this day in late December, an only child.

And as an only child--
a tea-sipping, toast-nibbling only child
in a colorful room this morning--

I would welcome an extra birthday,
one more opportunity to stop what we are doing
for a moment and reflect on my being here on earth.

And one more might be a small consolation
to us all for having to face a death-day, too,

an X in a square
on some kitchen calendar of the future,
the day when each of us is thrown off the train of time

by a burly, heartless conductor
as it roars through the months and years,
party hats, candles, confetti, and horoscopes
billowing up in the turbulent storm of its wake.

QUOTE: "New Year's Day is every man's birthday." ~ Charles Lamb


  1. Ah, how delightful it is whenever I see a Billy Collins poem. The other insights were great, but I always pause and read every space between the letters of a Billy Collins poem. Yes, I do.

  2. Hey, Fred ~

    You are a dear to take the time to stop in and comment - thanks!

    I too adore Billy Collins in all his poetic and pedestrian glory - "read every space between the letters" is a lovely description... :-)