We’re well into 2013 at this point, but I have to admit that I’m still a little on edge about the Apocalypse. It’s not just that we finally rolled into 2013 and we might be living on borrowed time (something that occurred to sometime between the Super Bowl blackout and the Papal resignation). It goes further back from 2012, back to the last century and Y2K mania. Living in the NYC area I’ll admit I’ve been running on some level of fear-based adrenaline since 1999. I held my breath watching the ball drop into 2000, and I’m not sure I’d been able to breathe easily since.
But even with that, and all the Rapture dates in-between, the height of apocalyptic doom was spread out and capitalized on for 366 days last year. You couldn’t escape the end of the world in 2012, and even though I never seriously believed the Mayan Calendar was predictable doctrine, I really wasn’t sure. Who could be? And who would we blame?
I was really looking forward to the end of the year, even if it meant the end of the world. 2012 wasn’t a good year for me personally, in part because years ending in 2 suck for me – in 1992 I almost flunked out my freshman year of college and had to move back home, and in 2002 my mom died. (I was an awkward kid, so I’m sure 1982 wasn’t that hot either). I figured if we made it through the clock striking midnight on the 31st of December, then, not only would it be a good new year, but it could be viewed as a reset, a nice way to start over.
I also wasn’t preparing myself fully for “the end”. I didn’t stockpile on water or canned goods, and didn’t want to think that ice cream would all melt away. I didn’t take it too seriously, which leads me to think that The Universe decided to mess with me. Up until December 2012 I’d been living on the Passaic River and endured the flooding during Hurricane Irene and Sandy in back to back years.
For a duration of over a week each time I had to live without heat, hot water, get creative with cleaning myself and was grateful for that extra cell phone battery I had to keep me connected with the outside world. I didn’t love it, but I learned to live with it. At one point I wondered if there was a plan to that, a reason for me to be OK with those living conditions, just in case. I decided if the Apocalypse did come, then I was at least better prepared than some, in terms of endurance, and comedic timing:
I also developed what I considered the “real” reason people thought the world would end in 2012: the superstition of the number 13.* I think there were people that, just like in an elevator, somehow wanted to just skip 13 entirely and jump into 14. But we all know that doesn’t realistically happen, no matter how bad at math you are. I’ve never put the weight of superstition on a number (I prefer avoiding cracks in the sidewalk, but that might be an OCD thing). I’m actually looking forward to the first Friday the 13th in 2013, even if I have to wait til September for it.
Regardless of the reasons for those who believed, we survived, and free to bask in more post-apocalyptic entertainment being served up this year, whether seriously or for laughs I’m a fan of the…would it be a genre? I gear up for The Walking Dead every Sunday and prefer zombies to vampires most days (And I think that vampires would be just as screwed in an end of world situation). I like to think being a sci fi nerd makes me better prepared for the “what next? “possible scenarios (as evidenced by my tweet of 12/20/12):
And yet, believing I might be “better prepared” doesn’t make it so. We don’t know how the end will hit us, on a personal scale or a grand one. Back in 1999 when Prince’s ubiquitous anthem played on heavy rotation we were so sure that song would not be outdated, because it would play out to the crashing of the technology that had become up until that point, because when it came out in 1982 it WAS a long time away, and now 14 years past that partying deadline, I play that Prince song now almost forlornly, not sure what I’m wishing for.
Gilda Radner mused in her autobiography that life is about “delicious ambiguity”. I realized that is what my apocalyptic anticipation should be about: not about waiting for the end of the world, but understanding that ,whatever happens, the uncertainty can be gratifying in and of itself. Until then, I will appreciate and indulge warm showers , ice cream, and my new place on top of a hill.
*I even made up a work for it: eikositriskaidekaphobia. Because I had to look up the Greek word for twenty and tack it on. Because I have an inquisitive nature. Because I Am Nerd.