Ellen Jo Roberts
Remember the Y2K Bug, the boogeyman of the new millennium? Because early computers were programmed with a two digit code for year rather than four digit, the change from 1999 to year 2000 was a cause for concern. Everything coordinated via computers would go haywire. You’d better get your survival skills in order, and stock up on drinking water, gasoline and toilet paper. Electrical grids will shut down. Planes will fall from the sky! You’d better take all of your money out of the bank and stuff it in your mattress, because all records of your savings will vaporize! People will be rioting in the streets! As we know now, none of that happened. What a ho-hum the Y2K Bug turned out to be. In 2012 the world is predicted to come to an end. On December 21st, 2012, the Mayan Calendar screeches to a halt. Is this just another failed Rapture? Another Y2K-style Boogeyman that ends up a non-event? Or is 2012 truly The End of Times? Like, This time we really mean it-End of Times? We are so not joking-End-of-Times?
The Mayans actually operated off of three different calendars, all of them cyclical. December 21st, 2012 is considered the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Meso-American Long Count Calendar. Many New Agers interpret the calendar’s finale as a dawning of a new era of positive transformation. Gloom and doomers (and Hollywood film producers) imagine a catastrophic end to planet earth, as it enters a black hole or collides with a global-killing asteroid. Scholars of Mayan culture refute predictions of catastrophe, as such events are not evident in any studies of the culture. The mere notion that the Long Count Calendar can end is contrary to Mayan history and culture. Astronomy scientists also refute the proposed cataclysmic end of earth, negated by simple facts and observations of the cosmos.
I cannot deny I feel big shifts in our world in a way I did not in the 20th Century. More uncertainty. More wild weather. More tragedy. These things all happened in the 20th Century too, but we were younger and more foolish. and we didn’t pay so much attention. We got our information more slowly so there was less to be worried about.
In addition to potential apocalypse, 2012 is also an election year. Election season generates its own special kind of stress, and the hoopla leading up to it is well underway. Rather than concern ourselves so much with the surly mix of ancient glyphs and alarmist instant news, we at the Noise interviewed locals about their hopes, dreams and fears for this new year: a Mogollon spin on the Mayan Calendar.
Alex Rovang is Director of Education and Community Outreach at Sedona Recycles. “As a resident of the fine city of Sedona, I have noticed an emphatic attention to some arbitrary Gregorian calendar dates including the most recent ‘11/11/11’ gathering,” observes Mr. Rovang, “While much can be debated about the accuracy of calendars and how this one lines up with that one, I think that the logical fallacy behind these announced alignments is that it gives people the impression that something tangible will happen on these dates. That's why I find it silly. I like some things about it too, though. I feel that there is a universal consciousness, and that no matter what the date is, if people are meditating on a particular concept or idea at the same time great things can be achieved. Maybe even ascension.” Mr. Rovang feels that a group effort of positive thought, focused on a single idea or even a single word, can bring about positive change in the world. The power of positive thought has been proven at mass transcendental meditation events around the world. “So, the date need not be significant just the intention. I feel that ascension for our collective consciousness--plants and animals too!-- is possible, whether through a soft peaceful revolution or a violent cataclysm. The trick will be to work together. Meditate together. And we don't have to wait till some arbitrary date, we can practice meditation everyday starting right now.”
A recurring thought sprung from 2011 is the need for unity as a nation, and the power of positive thought. Jason Benatz is an artist and owner of Ace’s Clarkdale Tattoo. His family has a long and illustrious history in the Verde Valley. Grandmother Dorothy Fain Benatz was Mayor of Clarkdale in the 1980s.
“With all the changes in our country and economy I hope we can all reevaluate how we live and spend, and what we value as people, as families and as a nation,” says Mr. Benatz, "I hope we can learn from the Occupy protests that this is not a bi-partisan issue, it is a national issue. 99 % of our nation is controlled by big business and is not dependent on our political views or party lines. Consumers have the power in 2012 to remind big business they work for us. 2012 is a great time for artists and craftspeople to strike out on their own and live their dreams. With the recession, I hope the value in the arts is revitalized from school age child to retired adult. I hope 2012 brings a renewed sense of human value, and solidarity.”
Continuing on the theme of creativity, Mr. Benatz’s lady love and lingerie model, the very clever Miranda Gunnell chimed in with her “Classy Lady” fashion-forward (and amusingly tongue in cheek) predictions for the new year. For 2012 she predicts stiletto shoes for cats, designer duct-tape, and “Bedazzling” to the max. “If you don't have a lot of money, the trick to looking wealthy is to make your MONEY look expensive,” suggests Ms. Gunnell, “The rich have been doing this for years with their ‘platinum card’ this and ‘Black Am Ex’ that. You can do the same by bedazzling those one dollar bills and putting glitter in your coin pouch so that a spray of sparkles explode each time you open your wallet!,” says Ms. Gunnell, “Everyone will be so blinded by your bling money (and maybe the glitter in their eyes) that when you leave the Dollar Store they will be talking for days about the Classy Lady with the expensive pennies.” A floral designer and the chief proprietress of Peacock Flower Company in Clarkdale, Ms, Gunnell predicts 2012 will be a great year for mash-ups, celebrating interesting combinations of juxtaposed elements, “Beach weddings with an Old Hollywood Glamour theme. Backyard BBQ weddings with a Sexy Moroccan theme. Elegant weddings on industrial rooftops. Elements that traditionally would not be paired are being beautifully infused to create endless possibilities for unique weddings in 2012.”
Regarding wedded bliss, many feel that 2012 should bring equal rights for same-sex couples to legally marry nationwide. Penny Smith is a USPS Mail Carrier in Cottonwood, Arizona. “As a lesbian, I am hoping that 2012 will be the year of equal rights for all of us. The right to love and marry the one you love is such a simple thing, yet it seems so difficult for so many people to understand. I'm hopeful that the ‘live and let live’ ideal will become stronger in the upcoming year. Equal rights, not special rights, is not much to ask for. I am hopeful that people in power will do the right thing as afforded by the Constitution.” As a cancer survivor, continuously grateful for her clean bill of health, Ms. Smith is immune to the Mayan Calendar scare as she has spent every day of the last 12 years savoring each day as if it were her last. “I am hoping for good health for all my family and vast network of wonderful friends. I am hoping that healthcare reform becomes a reality and people are given or able to afford basic healthcare. I have been a lifelong Democrat and stand behind President Obama 100%. I feel he has made great strides with the mess he was given when he took office in 2008. I am scared for our country if the conservative, religious right are allowed in such a position of power. I am hoping that I do not have to watch another person lose their home or job in the upcoming year. I am hoping the ‘working poor’ will be able to stay afloat and prosper once again.”
The past several years have been very challenging financially, for both employees and business owners. Many have weathered storms in economies past, and use their skills, creativity and positive thinking to maintain strength in the current recession. Kelley Foy and Leta Hollon live in Jerome, and are the owners of Crema and Maison du Provenance in Cottonwood. They are active in the local arts scene, and avid supporters of area artists. "Optimistic about the coming year and thrilled to see the people of Old Town coming together, "said Ms. Foy, "I'm looking forward to more local collaborations."
Adds Ms. Hollon,"Accepting 2012 will bring changes here and afar, reminding myself to lend a hand in the direction I hope to see. This year, my focus will be staying open to whatever happens so we can adapt. Unless it's the end of the world, which doesn't require much adaptation."
Nancy and Tracy Weisel live in Jerome, where they are long time owners of the Raku Gallery. “We wish for the continued success of our little town,” said Mrs. Weisel, “We're thankful for how well things have gone during 2011 and hope for the same or better in 2012. People enjoy the ease of our town. There’s an appreciation for the wonderful, positive local energy. We would love to see a community garden area for people who do not have access to gardens at their living space.”
2012 may become the pinnacle of the Do-It-Yourself Revival. Knitting, home farming, bee keeping, pickle canning. It’s all quite chic and economical. Dani Vorves, of Old Town Cottonwood, is an analog photographer and the “resident hippie” at Jerome’s Caduceus Cellars. A Capricorn born in 1982, Ms. Vorves looks forward to joining the “Dirty 30 Club” when she celebrates her birthday this month. Her hopes for the new year are bountiful, upbeat and lyrical. “I look forward to enjoying my man and all the love we share. I'm hoping to further my knowledge on wine-making, nap-taking, smoke-breaking, leaf-raking and some foreign lands,” she says, “I am not afraid of much, so this year I have no fear, only dreams of wine and sweet little songs. Oh and maybe to own a Vespa. Love love love you all!”
Ryan Matson is Vice President of the architectural art installation Eliphante Village in Cornville. “Living at Eliphante on Oak Creek means January is cccccolddddd, so thanks, 2012, for starting off so harsh. Lighten up!” laughs Mr. Matson who quickly turns philosophical, “Perhaps 2012 is ushering in a collective vision of the horizon during a celestial dawn, welcoming a ‘great day’ of about 13,000 years in duration. In light of such, everyone just get over fear already and stop this war on emotions!” On a more personal note, Mr. Matson looks forward to kicking ass, being alive and “lightening [his] footprint while bringing more art into the world for anyone to enjoy!”
Those who cultivate a healthy enthusiasm for creativity may be best able to adapt to strange new situations. Simplicity and "back to basics" values also seem a recurring theme. Debbie Leavitt is a professional photographer who lives in Flagstaff. "My mantra is 'keep it simple and have fun with it. And my resolution for the new year is, as the world seems more and more extreme, to be calmer than ever. Maybe I should start doing yoga." Expressing concern for Arizona, and its future, Ms Leavitt adds, "My hope for 2012 is that we the people decide to Occupy Democracy. 'It’s not a spectator sport', as Howard Zinn said." Ms. Leavitt also hopes 2012 is the year a cure for cancer is discovered."Please could it be early in the year to save those loved ones who are fighting it right now?"
For many, the dawn of 2012 is of no significance, just another year, and a time to, as Wooderson says “just keep livin’”. Greg Sawyer is a Clarkdale resident who works at Jerome’s Mile High Grill. On the myth of 2012, Mr. Sawyer says, “I personally think it is overhyped. If something actually does happen on the projected date no one is going to have any idea until it takes place. Concerning the upcoming year, I mostly just take things one day at a time and see how things unfold.”
David Lindmark is a restaurant server in Sedona, and an occasional Bono impersonator residing in Verde Santa Fe, just outside of Cottonwood. “To be honest, I don't really think that much of the coming year,” confides Mr. Lindmark, “New Years has never held any rebirth or anticipated excitement for me.” Generally happy with what life provides, he hopes the restaurant stays open, his health insurance remains affordable and that his daughter continues to be successful, happy and healthy. “I just want a good night’s sleep. Friends tell me they admire how I live in the moment, and seem to enjoy the simplest to complex conversations with friends and strangers. And I do. I hope they're right and I'm not floating by naively.”
Big events and holidays are important but it's the little moments, the day to day joys, that comprise most of our time on planet earth.
Amber Godina is a part-time hair stylist, living in Clarkdale. “As a busy mom and wife, it is very hard to see more than a few moments ahead,” says Mrs. Godina, mother to two youngsters, “I would love to promise the new year a work-out everyday, to eat right and do more sewing and crafting, teach my children to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, and get them to mean it. I’d love to learn a new language. Ah, Mandarin sounds good. I would also like to put my cooking emphasis on Country French this year, learn to throat sing, learn to belly dance, and hoop. To throw random tea parties. And of course see the world become a better place. But in all reality I will be happy to just keep my house somewhat clean, to keep my kids somewhat clean, to keep my hubby pretty happy, and to just be able to keep my part time job.”
Every generation has had its panics, ranging from war, to disease epidemics, to great financial depressions. Contrary to what renaissance faires would have you believe, I bet the Middle Ages were a rough time to grow up. Back then you were lucky to keep any of your teeth, or make it to your 30th birthday. When I was a kid everyone was afraid of imminent nuclear war. A popular TV movie from the Reagan era, "The Day After" was a visit to a post-apocylyptic America, life in a nuclear winter. The free-wheeling hippies before us were naked any chance they could get, but a hit song of my teen years was Germaine Stewart's "You Don't Have to Take Your Clothes Off (To Have a Good Time"). My generation got gypped! We didn't get to have any of the same fun the Baby Boomers did! We grew up under the specter of AIDs and the Cold War. I wonder what it must be like for young folks coming of age in turbulence of the 21st Century.
Gabe Greenfield, 17, has lived in Sedona his entire life. "In the coming year I hope that I am able to get good grades, have fun with my friends, play sports and be healthy, " says the Red Rock High School senior, "Also, I have heard that the Mayan Calender ends towards the end of 2012 and the world is supposed to end. But for me, my life is just beginning," he says somewhat poignantly. With a hopeful expression he adds, "I will be graduating high school and moving on to college. 2012 will be a good year for me."
Make the most of your time here, be it long or short. No sense in squandering any of it.
Ellen Jo Roberts shares a historic brick bungalow with Bike Daddy Chad, Floyd, Ivan and Ned.
As a founding member of the "1972 Club" she is a little anxious about turning 40 in 2012.
Read all about it at ellenjo.com