I wake and for a few seconds savor the uncharacteristic stillness of my neighborhood and the chirping of birds, agog: “I got the best crusts of panettone for christmas!” “The people in #3L gave me brioche crumbs!” Then I turn on all the holiday lights and put on my favorite holiday albums–Stevie, Jackson 5, Vince Guaraldi, Otis, the Supremes, Smokey, Mariah (yes), Prince (double yes). I’ve decorated my whole front room in a mermaid pagan Jewish Middle Church menagerie of gold and blue lights, green and red candles, birds and giraffes and cats, pine cones and pine branches (rescued from deli trash, for reals), and blessed blessed menorahs and Mother Marys. This is how I pierce the darkness of ambiguity and abnegation–with my own admixture of faiths, inherited and inspired. First and foremost: what pleases my inner 8-year-old, forever tapping her foot and mending her heart. Sparkling and soaring, that’s what she likes. So I decorate what I can, breathing in the joy of time with my loved ones in days before and to come (gosh, I’m the luckiest lady), and allow the loveliest permakitten to arrange herself decorously on my lap. From here I can dream up anything.
I wake to find the world wildly simplified. Snow has blanketed every surface; the heavens are grey and emptying. My permakitten raises her head and drapes a paw over my shoulder. “You’re not going out there,” she’s saying, but I am realizing there is no coffee in the house. The world is thus more simplified: Must fetch coffee. In a stupor, I don layers of warm not itchy, curse myself for failing to pull parka from storage, add to daunting to-do list. I do not forget gloves. I do not forget scarf. I forget socks. The only open cafe is a half mile away. I begin my trek. The sidewalks are not plowed. The streets are. I walk in the middle of streets, ignoring cars honking as they inch by. Simple. Must fetch coffee. At the coffee shop I order, sip, look at raw, cold ankles. “Oh my god,” says the barrista, looking too. I blink twice. Back I go, coffee in paw, croissant in pocket. Simple. Through the elements, wet cold dark. On my block, I fumble for key, force open door, try not to wake sleeping neighbors. My apartment is strewn with work and unhappiness but it is shelter and it is mine. Out of cold wet I strip; into bed I climb with coffee croissant cat. There is nowhere I must be and I am warm and safe. I am lucky and I know it.
I accept that my problems are not anyone else’s problems. I also accept that, when my going gets tough, I have zero bandwidth for your business-as-usual–your requests for my (free) psychic take on your love life or astrology or spirit guides; your mass-printed cards featuring kid pictures I already dutifully liked on social media; your relationships that would’ve ended years ago if you didn’t fear being alone or broke; your family dramas that don’t come close to a good year in my storyline; your preaching-to-the-choir posts in lieu of real political action; your housecleaner-stole-my ring “holiday stresses” while the world is hand-basketing to hell. Maybe next year I’ll summon a fuck, but not now, not while you don’t notice the person you’re petitioning also is tackling heavy shit even if she’s keeping it together. For the rest of this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad 2016, I’ll be watching Deneuve not give a fuck in “A Christmas Tale,” the best anti-holiday film ever made. You’re on your own, kid.