by Angeliska on December 31, 2011
So. 2012 is upon us, the juggernaut peeping out coyly from behind the broom-closet door.
I barely have time to glance at it, really – my hair still wet from the deluge of 2011, my arms
full of projects, my feet always moving inexorably forward. No time to look back in reflection,
lately. The air is thick with resolutions and goals for the future though, but they hang like a thick
miasma, amorphous and vague until I can actually hew them out of my intention and make them real.
I want to make a lot of stuff happen this year, for myself. Just for today, though – let’s simplify.
I’ve been into that lately, which is odd, because I’m an avid sybarite, a collector, an embellisher.
I’ll never be spartan, perhaps – but lately, I crave a bit of simplicity, at least in my outlook.
Here’s something that made me re-think my approach to this year’s resolutions (especially the ones
I wince at, realizing that they have been carried over, unfulfilled, from years previous – hello: driving,
exercise, new website et cetera.) Well, whatever! This will be the year, damn it! But listen to this:
“You can’t punish yourself into change.
You can’t whip yourself into shape.
But you can love yourself into well-being.”
– Susan Skye
That’s via my friend Olivia Pepper, who is lovely. It also applies to other people. I’m working on that
whole not being able to change other people concept. It ain’t easy, but life gets easier if you can remember.
But back to “you can love yourself into well-being” – I think that’s pretty huge, and is such a deeper incentive
than the slog of obligation and guilt that I feel when I contemplate (shudder) getting a gym membership.
Here’s the other thing, the main thing that I’ve been grappling with this year – my big lesson,
the karmic doozie that’s been whipping me upside the head non-stop for nearly every damn bit
of 2011: YOU MUST RELINQUISH YOUR ATTACHMENT TO THE OUTCOME.
In other words: Be here now.
In other, other words: You can’t always get what you want.
(But if you try sometimes, you just might find…)
Paraphrased into my motto for 2012? FUCK THE PLAN.
Yep, that’s right – fuck the fucking plan. It’s inelegant, but it works for me, you see – because
I am a first-rate blue-ribbon planner. I love to plan. I love to dream and plot and make lists and
research and figure how exactly how it’s all going to be, how it’s all going to go down, right up
to the tiniest detail. I’m not anal retentive exactly, just thorough – and I think it’s part of what makes
a lot of what I do work so well. Then again, I think it can lead to hardcore procrastination and wool
gathering, but that’s another story. The deal here is that when my best-laid plans go astray for whatever
reason, life intervenes, shit happens – well, it’s really hard for me. I hate it. A lot. I get so attached to “the PLAN” and “the way things were supposed to be” that it’s hard for me to adjust to the new plan,even if it’s actually better than what I had all worked out. This rigidity, this inability to let go, and just “go with the flow” has made a lot of unpleasant situations way more horrid than they really needed to be. I see that now.
It’s one of those things where, even though you’ve heard it countless times from your hippie parents, or read it in the books about zen you pilfered (okay, yes – it was me) off their shelves, until you have a big moment where it hits you, it’s hard to really get. I got lucky, sort of. Or maybe I pursued it, but between last year’s winter solstice and summer solstice, the wheels started to turn. When the message finally arrived, I was up on a high hill, at the beginning of a medicine ceremony. A storm was coming. Everyone was buzzing about, debating whether or not we ought to move our gathering to safer ground. Normally, I am overly concerned with my environment – I’m a nazi about ambiance, lighting, smells, and especially where I’m sitting. I’m also kind of a stickler for safety. Crazy, I know. So, do we stay or go? Tough call, as it was so ideal where we were, and we had everything set up beautifully: the circle, an altar, our bedding. But the storm was coming. I could feel it in my bones. I wanted everyone to be safe. I didn’t want to be soaking wet and cold and miserable. Yet, for some reason, I hung back. I sat quietly while arguments for and against leaving the hill circulated. Smartphone weather-stations were consulted, trees meditated with, mothers called – and any other time, I would be right in the thick of all that decision making, planning for the group. I have another role, one that goes with being a planner: Cruise Ship Tour Director. Cat Herder Extraordinaire. These can be thankless roles, as cruise tours never go as planned, and cats are hard to herd. So I sat quietly, until a decision was made for us by the first fat drops, preceded by a huge black cloud covering the sky, and a sharp temperature drop. I’ve never seen so many people move camp so efficiently and quickly.Down the hill in the rain to a big open barn, where I could lay down and watch the most intense lightning show I’ve ever seen arc and ripple dazzlingly across the night sky. At one point the horses got spooked and ran out from the barn into the field before
us. Seeing them illuminated in flashes as bright as day remains one of the most stunning sights I have ever seen. That night, nothing went according to plan, and yet – before those first drops fell, I’d said to myself, “Whatever happens, whatever decision is made, I’m okay with it. I’m here for the ride, for the adventure.” I knew that the lesson would stay with me, but I had no idea then how it would play out, or how hard it would be. Over and over, during the past months, I’ve had this lesson presented to me, and the challenge to accept my ruined plans with grace and serenity has been beyond trying at times. It’s been devastating, honestly. But I’m still here.
A trip to New Orleans that I’d been preparing for for weeks was cancelled when my ride flaked at 3:00am – an hour before we were supposed to hit the road. Money I’d expected fell through. People bailed on things they’d promised to do. My computer’s hard drive failed and hundreds of hours worth of writing disappeared with a whimper. So many posts slated to go up here – it will take some time to recover from that one, and things may be a bit sparse here for a while. Oh and, the big one – our wedding? Postponed. That one was the hardest. You can plan and plan, but life will often find a way to intervene, to get into the cracks of your tightly sealed vessel and bust it wide open. If you can somehow find a way to ride that river, to (oh yes) go with the flow, man – well, I’m telling you – life will get easier. Just keep rollin’ with the punches.
Or anyway, that’s what I was trying to remind myself yesterday, stranded in a suburb of Dallas with a broken down car and a head full of broken glass and snot. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes it’s as if the universe is just messing with you, daring you to forget what you know. This wasn’t how I thought my day was going to go. This isn’t the way things were supposed to be. But that happens, and it’s better if you can at least not totally wig out about it. I only kinda-sorta succeeding in that. Mostly I sulked and brooded and read a book. Then I blew up at my sweetheart and stomped off yelling “FUCK”, much to the horror (or delight?) of the neighborhood kids on their razor scooters. Yeah. No points for me that day. Deep breaths. We had the car towed, got a rental car, and made it home after days and days of cross-country travel around midnight. Hollering and moaning about it didn’t get us there any faster.
So. It’s New Year’s Eve – my mama’s birthday. She would be what, 65 years old today, if she had lived.
Since 1999, I’ve devoted myself to the tradition of going out to the country to ring in the New Year under the stars and moon, on my ancestral land, surrounded by friends and family. This year, however – something had to shift. When I thought about trying to get everything together to make a camping trip happen right after the epic journey we just returned from, my soul just sort of crumpled. After postponing the wedding, the idea of going all out to make parties (aside from the two monthly events I already do) happen just seemed insurmountable exhausting. That, and our favorite neighborhood brasserie, Justine’s 1937, is doing a Dr. Zhivago inspired Russian fete for the ages tonight, and they’ve asked me to be their Snow Queen. Wolves, caviar, champagne towers – plus they’re bringing in 20,000 pounds of snow and 200 pine trees! How could I refuse? It would break my heart to miss a party so tailor-made to my favorite things – it’s like the theme of my annual Eastern European Feast birthday party and our Russian Folktale wedding combined! On that same tip, I’m not doing my giant insane potluck birthday this year, either. Breaking traditions right and left, this year. I need a break from constant hostessing. I need to catch my breath. That being said, I have no idea what I’m going to do on my actual birthday. Zero plan. It’s liberating and terrifying for someone who usually starts planning this stuff months in advance. I’ve tried to make a few plans, but they’ve all been nixed due to scheduling conflicts and money constraints, and I’m just…done with trying to figure it out. Hopefully something magical will happen. I have eleven days to ponder it.
As for tonight, I’ll be festooned in frosty sparkle, pouring the champagne tower and counting down the New Year in Russian. I can’t wait to get lost in an opulent ice-glazed world of broken mirrors, paperwhite-hung chandeliers, and stark black branches all designed by one of my favorite geniuses, Mr. Douglas Little, modern alchemist and purveyor of curiosities at DL & Company. It will be beautiful, and I will make wishes. If you’re in Austin, please come: VOLK.
So much happened in 2011. It will take me awhile to gather it all up, but I do want to write about it, to share it here.
In the meantime, I have work to do. It’s beautiful work, and I love it. So I’m excited, whatever the future may hold.
Here’s hoping your 2012 is bright and full of promise, and that we can all keep rolling with whatever fortune tosses our way.
For those that need more to go on, here are some Russian divination techniques shared with me by Nica Davidov:
“To be performed on New Year’s night/morning:
take a glass of water, pour candle wax onto the surface, let it harden, take it out, flip it over, look for meanings in the shapes formed on the bottom side of the wax, the images are supposed to represent significant events or important numbers for the new year. if you see a horseshoe, it’s for luck, a star means you will get long-awaited news. there is also a version of this with egg yolk, although I prefer wax.
this next one only works if it is cold enough for water to freeze (so probably not in Texas but maybe you could improvize with a freezer!)–you take a bowl, fill it halfway with water, put it outside at night, and look at it in the morning. If the ice is kind of rising, it will be a calm year, if it has frozen in waves, there will be lots of ups and downs, if it’s concave, an inauspicious year
for love: on onion bulbs write the names of all the various romantic possibilities/contenders. whichever onion bulb flowers first, that’s the one that is meant to be
then there is one with thirteen needles, you take thirteen needles, bend 3 or them, the 10 straight ones assign names of people close/important to you, one of the needles is your name, don’t name the bent ones. spill out all the needles onto a white sheet of paper. look where the needle with your name fell, if it’s in the middle of the paper, you will have a stable year, at the top of the paper, expect changes soon, the bottom part of the paper means unpleasant changes you can’t control are coming. the paper is divided into “zones” with each zone signifying something–upper right corner is spiritual growth, lower right corner is bad luck but with a maintained dignity and integrity, upper left corner–success in all beginnings, lower left corner is bad luck combined with strong internal turmoil. for your needle with your name, the eye determines what you will be striving towards in the new year, and the sharp end–what you will be avoiding. if the needle is lying in the same direction as the long side of he paper, there will be big changes in the new year, if it lies across, the changes won’t happen in the immediate future. as for the other “named” needles, the ones pointing towards you with their eyes will be your allies, and with their sharp edges will be adversaries, or at least people who will produce tensions and challenges. needles that cross your needle will be very close to you. for the bent needles: if the eye of your needle points at a bent needle, it means your own actions can bring you trouble, if a pointy end of a bent needle is pointing directly at your needle, it means problems and trouble await you, and are out of your control.”
More reading material from New Year’s Eves of yore: