A few days before Earth completes its final orbit around the sun, we asked a group of essayists, novelists, and journalists to record how they will close 2022 and start 2023. and special moments from around the world: beer pong game in Toronto; a culinary misfortune in Los Angeles; the crowd of samba dancers in Brasília; fireworks over rainy Liverpool; an intimate celebration with a stove in Tokyo; An evening of karaoke in rural New York; and a quiet wedding in a Manhattan apartment.
TORONTO – I never liked New Year’s Eve. I don’t drink, and I really don’t like being forced to think, and I especially don’t like being pressured to improve (especially if that personal growth is increasingly focused on getting me to or from the gym). green powder purchase). Christmas is like a regular date or your first month in college: It feels like you’re having the best time of your life, but it also feels like everyone else is having a better time than you in some way.
This year, however, I had returned to my hometown after a nationwide relocation and was looking for any reason to avoid spending the night watching a movie at my parents’ house. My friends insisted that I never honestly give New Year’s Eve a chance. So I woke up with this challenge and decided to give it my all.
A few friends – one from Montreal, one from Scotland – came to town to celebrate with me. I hadn’t lived in Toronto since I was a teenager, so it felt like divine intervention when one of the bands I saw on the house show was doing a New Year’s Eve set. We went to an indie rock show that turned into a punk show and gathered new people along the way. Then we went to a friend’s friend’s mystery house party (after waiting for the host to be loud enough to let eight strangers into his crowded apartment).
We played beer pong until midnight. I won, but maybe because I’m the only one who doesn’t smoke. Gwen Stefani played as the countdown began and when the clock struck 12 I kissed my boyfriend.
After midnight, I interrogated everyone for their 2023 forecast (inside: cell phones, intimacy, digging a hole in your backyard; out: polygamy, being mean, performative Catholicism). We took the first cigarette break of the new year (cigarette inside; outside: electronic cigarette), barefoot and shivering in the cold.
The tone changed as we walked home – we talked about the past year and the year ahead. We felt sad, gloomy and awkward when faced with the passage of time during one of the most unstable periods we have possibly ever experienced. Back in my apartment, we placed makeshift beds in my living room for those who missed the last train home, and I watched them fall asleep on the floor, still can’t believe it was mine. Everything felt new.
— Rayne Fisher-Quann
LOS ANGELES – What could be more fun than spending New Year’s Eve being cursed by a frozen duck?
My family’s duck lived peacefully in our freezer until the middle of Christmas Eve dinner, after calmly contemplating how delicious it would be the next night, we had a peculiar collective heart attack when we realized that tomorrow’s main course was still closed. on ice. But since year-end holidays come one after another, any frozen duck originally intended for one celebration can be used to celebrate something else. So our Christmas duck quickly turned into a New Year’s Eve duck that didn’t mind listening to my son dully listen to this year’s explanation of Kwanzaa. All we had to do was get it out of the freezer in time to marinate with salt, herbs, and orange zest before popping it in the oven.
This time I took the duck out of the freezer two days before. While I was resting in our fridge, I spent a quiet 10 minutes searching for Christmas beans that I bought 364 days in advance after shopping too late a year ago. And then I spent frantically 10 minutes wondering where a sack of beans would die and at the same time being questioned about where our Chewbacca Christmas tree ornament was.
My son, who has had a Star Wars year, spends most of his free time in Jedi robes with a lightsaber heroically fighting the dust bunnies of our apartment. So of course we decided the best thing we could do for Christmas was to get a Chewbacca on our tree. Unfortunately, our frozen duck had absorbed all the energy we would have spent on Chewbacca and black-eyed peas. I finally bought a new batch of black-eyed peas and tracked Chewbacca’s location to a warehouse in Ohio, where it was still waiting for the effects of a blizzard.
I took the duck out of the fridge on New Year’s Eve, but discovered it was still frozen, looking like a big hockey puck with legs, and refused to be served at dinner. So we hurriedly had a cheese platter put together and declared the duck our Christmas dinner—if he can’t find a way to sit outside on that holiday, too, then we’re going to throw the duck back in the freezer so we can eat it. an extremely festive Martin Luther King Day.
— Kashana Cauley
A New Day in Brazil
BRAZIL – On New Year’s Eve, I found myself in the tent of a 60-year-old mechanic camped outside the Brazilian Army headquarters. He was showing me where he pooped: a bucket full of sawdust.
He emptied it every three days, he said. “It doesn’t smell bad,” he assured me.
The people in this camp were serious – but they were wrong. They had been here for two months, convinced that the October election in Brazil was rigged and demanded that the military intervene before the new president took office. (The election was not rigged and the military said it would not intervene.)
I am the Brazilian correspondent for The Times and have been following the news for months. One day before the opening, I wanted to hear what these Brazilians were thinking.
“The army will step in. It’s already doing that,” said Magno Rodrigues, 60, a leather jacket repairman. He had been in the camp for 62 days, sharing the tent and the narrow bed with his wife.
I toured the grounds and heard the voices of the protesters. In the end, some got upset – according to them the press had been lying about the situation all along – and I left.
That night, I met some French TV reporters and another friend from where I live in Rio de Janeiro for a free samba concert by the river. The mood was very different. People from all over Brazil filled the capital to celebrate the transition to a new government. This meant the return of 77-year-old left-wing ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the expulsion of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, who had led four years of turmoil.
I’ve been to many New Year’s Eve parties, but there has never been someone so purely joyous. It spilled from the crowded tented area onto the grassy riverbank below, and the street vendors were running out of beer. We admired the fireworks at midnight, but the real attraction had yet to come.
I got up early to write and Mr. Lula’s name is already starting to cheer in the streets. I was finishing my story about the swearing-in ceremony, which focused in part on Mr. Bolsonaro. He was supposed to be a key figure at Sunday’s ceremonies, handing over the presidential belt to his successor, but he left for Florida two days ago in hopes that the distance would help cool the investigations he faced. His absence now created a strange moment: Who would give the new president a generation?
That afternoon, I reported from the presidential office that Mr. Lula was going to go up a ramp and install the window. I went as high as I could for a perspective. From above, I watched a small group of Mr. Lula and his wife Janja gather and pause at the bottom of the ramp: an Indigenous man, a Black woman, a disabled man, a 10-year-old boy – collectively a representation of Brazilian diversity. They clasped their arms together and walked together, crowds of cheers and chants, a pulsating red sea behind them.
As they reached the top, a voice announced that Mr. Lula would accept the generation of the “Brazilian people”. A 33-year-old female garbage collector played the role of Mr. Bolsonaro and put the sash on the new president. I looked around and most of the crowd was crying.
— Jack Nicos
Shirley MacLaine, Where are you?
LIVERPOOL, UK – I hate New Year’s Eve. My usual coping mechanism is as follows: If I start watching Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment” (1960) at 9:58 PM and 50 seconds at exactly midnight, I’m sure to ring the new year in a bar with Shirley MacLaine. ; A few minutes later, the acquaintance quickly forgot, I’m going to bed. This year, working away from home, I chose to stand in the freezing rain at Albert Dock in Liverpool and foolishly wait for the fireworks to go off and take pity on myself.
It’s five minutes to midnight and my bed is 300 miles away. Shirley MacLaine is nowhere to be seen.
Several thousand strangers and I gathered at the foot of the historic Royal Liver Building and I saw two statues of the Liver Birds perched atop the iconic one I have to describe myself as. We are a short walk from The Beatles Story, a museum devoted to a local band that was once popular in the 20th century but is now almost completely forgotten. And there, right on the banks of the River Mersey, stands the M&S Bank Arena, which will host the Eurovision Song Contest on 13 May 2023. Britain, who finished second in 2022, is holding the event to replace last year’s winner Ukraine, who now has a lot ahead of them. There will also be fireworks that night.
About me at Pier Head, there are families and groups of friends from all over the world, residents partying in their hometowns, or passing tourists like me. Liverpool is twinned with the Ukrainian port of Odesa, and this, along with its Beatles connection, may be why the city triumphed in its bid to host the iconic – sorry – tournament. It promises to be the funniest, most emotional Eurovision final ever; Let’s hope it is. But let’s also hope that this is a one-off, and that soon Kiev itself will resonate with the sound of pop music, no matter how trivial or divine, across the continent, perhaps including Russia.
And here in the middle of the night, standing alone in the excited crowd, I think: Come on, it’s not that bad. No matter what stupid fireworks go off this New Year’s Eve over Kherson, Kharkiv or Mariupol, they are not stupid and they are not fireworks. People in those cities will die tonight, people just like these. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and embrace all that the new year brings; You can overcome a little homesickness. As Shirley MacLaine says at 12:04 almost every year: Shut up and deal with it.
— Andy Miller
hope and stove
TOKYO — Our New Year’s Eve culminates around 9:00 pm
Of course, we should have hop on the subway to Shibuya Pass, Tokyo’s pedestrian nerve center, where revelers gather for the midnight countdown. (No, it’s too crowded.) Or we could walk to Zozoji, a Buddhist temple dating back to the 16th century, to witness the annual bell-ringing ceremony and wipe out our worries and worldly desires. (Very cold andvery crowded.) Instead, my husband and I settled on the sofa.
At the annual New Year’s Eve music competition “Kōhaku Uta Gassen,” between gender-divided groups, I kept the television volume low. I usually find the show completely boring and turn it off after a kitschy show or two. But this year my hairdresser was doing the hair and makeup for one of the pop groups and I wanted to show my support.
While waiting for the band to arrive, I remembered my childhood in Japan, where I lived with my parents for two years in elementary school. I loved “Kōhaku” back then. I would desperately try to stay awake for this but I fell asleep in my father’s lap, shaking awake only for the final countdown.
My own children had nothing to do with it. Coming home after her first semester in college, my daughter went out to meet some high school friends. My son watched another program in his room.
The band I was waiting for came to the screen at around 21:00. Her hair was perfectly combed and dyed. For a moment something came back from my childhood excitement.
An hour before the end of the year, I cooked “toshikoshi soba”, buckwheat noodles traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve to ensure a long and happy life. My son left his room for the last meal of 2022 and joined us in the salty slurp. My husband and I watched several televised bell-ringing ceremonies from around the country. As the clock struck midnight, I texted my friends in the US to wish a happy new year ahead, one of my favorite rituals since we moved to Japan six years ago.
We walked to Atago Shrine with 86 steps on New Year’s Eve to pay our respects and express our gratitude this year. We bought wealth, “o-mikuji” printed on folded strips of paper.
“A strong storm is blowing outside but it’s warm as spring inside the house”, mine read. “Your Chances: Pretty Good.”
I’ll take it.
— Motoko Rich
Ah, What a Beautiful Karaoke Evening
OLIVEREA, NY – I continued to see the night as a scene in the ultimate autobiographical jukebox karaoke musical I dreamed of writing.
Setting: A New Year’s Eve dinner held in a 1930s Catskills cottage two hours north of New York for eight years, purchased in 2014 as a parishioner, whimsical family experiment.
Menu: charcuterie platter, porchetta, Ottolenghi’s Persian spaghetti, green beans and roasted almonds, winter salad, tahini chocolate chip cookies, and a gateau Basque. Drinks include Negroni Sbagliatos, gin martinis, champagne, Lambrusco and Prosecco, rye whisky.
Presenters: me, a novelist and essayist; my husband, Dustin Schell, who is a freelance editor; our friends and co-owners writer and editor Kera Bolonik; his wife, Meredith Clair, who is a real estate lawyer; and their son Theo.
Our guests: Harold Augenbraum, writer, editor and translator; and his wife, Carla Scheele, a musician and activist; Vickie Starr, a talent manager; his wife, Maria Gianas, a real estate broker; and their children (co-parent with Linda Villarosa and Jana Welch), artist and nonbinary model Nic Villarosa. The newest guest is Regan Wood, an architectural interior photographer from Brooklyn.
The scene answers a question Regan asks at cocktail hour: “How do you all know each other?” Beginning with Kera and I meeting at Sasha Hemon’s book party at editor Nan Talese’s house in 2000, I concoct a few descriptions that are all improbable in retrospect. She became the Fiction Center and met Vickie in 1991 through the queer weekly activist Outweek – she was an editor there and I wrote for the magazine. Maria was the attendant of my wedding to Dustin in this cabin on January 7, 2017, just before Trump took office.
Most of us have been singing karaoke together for over a decade, and so we pull out the microphones just before midnight, pausing for a toast before continuing. Maria sings “Look at Miss Ohio” by Gillian Welch in a singing voice I don’t know she has. Dustin sings “Telephone Line” by the Electric Light Orchestra and I record it, listening to it when I’m “traveling” for work, to his rendition of “Hot Child in the City”, and I miss it.
There’s a flashback to Vickie and Nic’s version of Pink’s “Just Give Me a Reason” when they sang together in the car when Nic was 10 years old. And there are flashback scenes from many times when Dustin and Meredith sang the song together, which must be the sublime version of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant’s duet “Gone Gone Gone.” Regan clears the room singing Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” together, and I continue with Carpenters’ “Superstar”.
Climax is just Harold’s first karaoke song, “Oklahoma!” Carla says slowly, hesitantly, as she watches, smiling, wearing a yellow wig from a nearby closet.
And the last? After everyone says goodbye, the narrator – me – tries to sleep, but instead remembers how he studied the songs in his car during quarantine chores, with a mask on the seat next to him, fearing that he would never do it again. The camera slides to his face as his eyes, happy to be wrong, close.
— Alexander Chee
New Year’s Wedding
NEW YORK – In the quantum world, the calendar is arbitrary and meaningless, or so my husband John likes to call me, but I like to squeeze meaning into even the most haphazardly boring days. So the New Year is a seductive opportunity to find prophecies in every puddle with a little flash of light. I don’t sabotage myself by making decisions. I just want to make lists, envision and reflect to balance forgetfulness, make course corrections, and increase gratitude.
When I was 19, my stepmother was sitting next to me eating caviar, and I wrinkled my nose and said, “Ewww.” He glanced at me out of the corner of his eye and calmly said, “You are such a woman, lovecaviar.” I really became such a woman love caviar but only thinks to eat it once a year. I endured Eataly’s experience of survival on the Flatiron on New Year’s Eve to get the same.
Then I went to Elizabeth Street to get a second piercing in my right earlobe. This idea had been on my mind for months, and it haunted me until it expired in 2022. I guess I just wanted a physical token of the year, a wrinkle-free souvenir to take to the next year.
At around 4 pm, John and I had new piercings, ate caviar on blinis while listening to Judy Clay and William Bell. Then we ordered a pizza from Tappo, played three games of gin rummy and watched four episodes of “Slow Horses”. At midnight, we heard shouts from Times Square 20 blocks north, we clinked glasses, and we went to bed around 1 am.
The next morning I was really tired. Turns out I’m not that kind of woman love Eating caviar if it requires staying up after midnight. I swept the living room, listened to “Irish Sundays” on WFUV, and stared at the Christmas tree for a while. As we prepared for the wedding of our close friend Marc Cohn, energy and anticipation began to build. With only her family and us in attendance, she was to marry Lisa Berg at their apartment on Riverside Drive at 4:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day 2016, the seventh anniversary of their first date.
John and I sang “Let It Be Me” to the bright couple as they stood under the huppah in the living room and the sun was setting over the Hudson River in the huge window behind them. In their oath they said that “the man with the glass half empty found the glass half full”, and in that I recognized myself and John. There is no judgment. My half-full needs his half-empty half as much as the reverse.
I love and miss situations that require absolute optimism—half full meets half empty. I love a ritual tied to memory and time. The calendar may be haphazard, but in a white dress and veil, a drowning groom, and the mighty Hudson shimmering with pink and gold on a New Year’s Day, in full glasses, there is a sparkly and sparkly meaning.
— Rosanne Cash
Kyle Berger is a photographer based in Toronto.
Rosanne Cash is a singer, songwriter and author. Her latest album is “She Remembers Everything”.
Kashana Cauley, former staff writer of “The Daily Show”, is the author of the novel “The Survivalists”.
Alexander Chee is the author of the novels “Edinburgh” and “Queen of the Night” and a collection of essays “How to Write an Autobiographical Novel.”
Rayne Fisher-Quann is the author of the Substack newsletter Internet Princess.
Andy Miller is the author of “The Year of Reading Dangerously” and co-host of the podcast “Backlisted”.
Jack Nicas is the Brazilian bureau chief of The New York Times, responsible for Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Motoko Rich is the Tokyo bureau chief of The Times, where she writes news and articles on Japanese politics, society, gender, and the arts, as well as the Korean Peninsula.