Friday, December 31, 1999

Welcoming the new Millennium


It’s been so long since I’ve written, nearly 2 years since the accident. The above entry says it all, and here I am, suffering from a back spasm extraordinaire. It’s leveling me as I attempt to sit at the computer. Every stab of pain brings new curses to Verona who is probably out celebrating big-time, unaware of the massive havoc she has created in our lives. 

I’m watching the New Year’s Eve celebrations the world round. All the cities going crazy, the Kremlin, London, Paris, everything bathed under fireworks, and if I suddenly turn my head or move my leg, sharp spasms have me screaming in pain. 

It really isn’t the end of the millennium until next year, or six years ago, if Dionysius the monk was right. But as far as time reckoning goes, there was no year zero. Romans hadn’t yet gotten the concept from the Arabs. Will people go nuts next year, the true millennium? But it is the end of the century. 

I can’t believe I’m living through the turn-of-the-century and I am home alone. Neil‘s in Ontario LA with his Syddha group chanting into the millennium. Don’t get me wrong, I was invited, it just didn’t even remotely appeal to me, and now my back has made me a prisoner of the couch. I am in so much pain that I slept most of the day. Nothing really works. I’ve tried everything. I haven’t yet resorted to Vicodin, but whiskey wine and grass—thank you cousin Eddie— are each used in turn with ibuprofen. 

I was working at the Bancroft Hotel on the 28th when this malady struck, I was catering a pre-millennial party. It was pure torture. They had silly games and I was the tally person as well as the bartender. The most significant items of the millennium where the Gutenberg press the invention of penicillin, the cure for polio, the Magna Carta, and Einstein‘s theory of relativity—were voted in by some 200 customers. Susie Thompson, former kindergarten teacher recognized me from Roseland School in Santa Rosa. Small world. It’s amazing. 

It’s 20 seconds to midnight in Rio, first city with in the Western Hemisphere. Five seconds to 0. The year 2000 has arrived in the western hemisphere. They bring flowers down to the sea, sprinkle champagne onto the waves. Dancing in the sea, millions of Brazilians. Where is Zoravia Bettoil, I wonder. At another party I catered, a man I danced with at one of Zoravia’s parties, the Brazilian Consul, recognized me. LaManja, goddess of the sea. They bathe in the sea, bathe themselves with champagne, dressed in white. 

How many of us are linked by CNN? The Dalai Lama says we must enjoy the new day, the holy day in India. I have in my journal and uncashed check for $25,000. Having won the lawsuit at the end of the millennium, a birthday present of sorts. A rocky gift, a rocky holiday season. 

I can’t say I’ve had a good season. Neil‘s been all over the map with his incompletes. One minute, it’s running off to Mexico with friends for Thanksgiving, then at the last minute he cancels, saying he’ll work with me catering, then he runs off to Ontario to be obsessive-compulsive with his friends at the Sydda yoga retreat. Imagine hosting 5000 spiritual yuppies, or wanna be yuppies for Christmas, then flying back on the 25th, but he was all over the map, saying he wanted to spend it with me, but then he went off to Dennis and Donna Klein’s party and I was not invited. So, Christmas Eve I went off to mass and who pulled up, but Neil? Wanting to please too many people, including himself, thus losing me. 

As more capital cities fall beneath the artificial boundaries of time, at the Washington monument singers ask for Abraham, Martin, and John. And in Newfoundland, the oldest city in North America, some  supposedly settled 1000 years ago by Vikings, but they count in English. Midnight in the new world. Caracas, Venezuela, but in Chicago there’s a Noah’s Ark of people from every country, nation, and protectorate, some 3500 gather for midnight supper.

I eat leftover for food from the catering job, thankful for the food I eat that requires no preparation other than a microwave. I have 2 glasses of wine, but it has no effect on me, I am well beyond the effects of alcohol— from the pain.

Vatican skies, to see the world from a satellite, fireworks blanket the world over as the space station turns through space, with all those countries below, lit from within, while countless reruns from the first radio and TV programs broadcasting on the other side of the Andromeda galaxy. We galloped across 25 time zones with CNN, broadcasting across the galaxy, 38 years ago, John Glenn orbited in space.

What were the monks and the laity doing a thousand years ago? I watch reruns of man’s walk on the moon, our greatest technological achievement. A thousand years ago, they all huddled together to await the apocalypse. Billy Graham preaches about heaven and strife on earth. 

It’s four hours to midnight in California and LAX is all but closed. The busiest airport in the world is a ghost town.There was no YK2 virus, it was a mad hoax, no terrible crashes. No planes fell out of the sky. Going strictly by the Gregorian calendar, two lone travelers enroute to Sidney. It’s already New Year’s Day there, Malibu Linda wired me to say the celebrations were fantastic. Flights are empty, what flights are scheduled, that is. 

Could the monks have imagined us walking on the moon? The fireworks surely would’ve seemed like apocalyptic events. Overhead helicopters remind me that Oakland is a police state on par with that dystopian film, Blade Runner.

The big ball on Times Square is made of Waterford Crystal, 1070 pounds of Irish lead crystal. Times Square is closed for the mobs. Yeltsin stepped down today, I wonder about my Russian friends. I remember New Year’s Eve in the Ukraine, strangers in Father Christmas masks kissing me in Cherkassy Square. Oleg telling me it will bring you much good luck. The Thames fireworks, arevisible from space, the Eiffel tower is a touch of light. Egypt lights up at pyramids and 6000 years of civilization. 2000 doves take flight in Bethlehem, despite Ramadan. 

So many of us never imagined ourselves being here for the millennium. Pinsky said, here’s to memory. In New Orleans, a coffin for the millennium, the Big Easy. Some 2 million gather to watch the Times Square ball drop, a tradition started 91 years ago. And dancers at the temple of Sacsayhuaman in Cuzco, Peru, bring in the old ways. I get reports from ex-pats via Glasgow, someone said Dublin went mad. I wonder how things are doing in Dublin? Pyrotechnics visible from space. 

I light candles between spasms while holding a Vicodin raft into the next century. In Berlin twins born on either side of midnight, a millennium apart. Imagine that. A millennium and a day apart. Like in the fairytales. The final act, is dreams of the sun, ethereal music by Michael Jarre in Egypt, seven millenniums of civilization, the sun strikes the pyramids and Giza. What are mankind’s 12 attributes given by the sun? 

I drink scotch bottled nearly 20 years ago. The bottle of Lagavulain says it’s 16 years old, but we’ve had it for at least five years. Highland peat and smoky odor. I don’t like it but I hurt so much. PBS takes me to Greece, the Byzantine Empire, alive and well, a thousand years later. Kiev is celebrating a millennia of Christianity. I’ve stood in those churches, seen the Byzantine heart unfold amid the incense, and the food divided among the blessed. Holy monks reenacting the last supper in Leningrad. 

First light falls on the shores of Samoa, Will Durst brings in the Dawn. New millennium. No sunrise on the temple of Poseidon in Athens. Thalatta, thalatta, the sea, the sea. I feel an intense relief to see the celebration that’s not Christian. Doric columns risen before the Christ dominated the Western World, Europe, and Asia. Welcome 2000.