Each week, Lizzy Goodman guides you through the dirty streets of rock and roll.
There is something inherently god-awful about New Year’s Eve. It’s the communism of holidays, a great idea in theory but a disaster in practice. The ideal is a refined evening during which you wistfully reflect on the previous year and imagine what awesomeness the following one will bring. A pleasant kind of nostalgia for the past merged with inspiration for the future is supposed to take over as you clink glasses at midnight with elegantly turned out friends who all have Gwyneth Paltrow-like resolutions for the next year. (Finally build that second wood burning pizza oven in the back yard).
Here’s what really happens. You set out to dinner feeling optimistic even though your feet already hurt and five hours later you’re at some dive bar in your cocktail dress making out with a stranger who, you’re too drunk to notice, has puke on his lapel. (For example). All the pageantry of New Year’s is actually good for is ensuring you begin each year with shame, self-loathing, and a wretched hangover.
So, a few years ago I opted out of the whole thing. I go home for Christmas and then I just stay. When there are boyfriends, I make them come with me. When there aren’t, I date my parents for the night. We cook a nice meal while wearing sweat pants and shearling slippers and celebrate the holiday by opening a slightly nicer bottle of wine than usual and going to bed at ten. It’s awesome.
But this year I had visitors, two friends from New York who were after the authentic Southwestern holiday experience. So, while Gaga was attaching that glittery crown thing to her head and guys like this were doing stuff like this on the subway I was tucked into the bucket seats in the back of my friends Carrie and Ezra’s rented Mustang, Candlebox and Natalie Merchant blaring on the always-reliably-stuck-in-the-90s easy listening radio, heading up to 10,000 Waves, a traditional Japanese Spa in the Santa Fe mountains.
Spa experiences are like sex, it’s just gauche to talk about it in detail in public. But suffice it to say that a women I’d never met but am now in love with rubbed me down with piñon scented oil and hot obsidian stones and told me that every night the stones are “soaked in a restorative salt water bath” because “they pick up a lot of toxicity” during their working hours. It was the ultimate decadent, new age-y experience; as the clock struck midnight, we were pointing out crystal clear constellations to each other while soaking in a tub filled with natural spring water surrounded by snow and pine trees.
A day or two later, stuck in a seat by the bathrooms on a flight that landed two hours late, the pilot gave me a reality check. “Welcome to Newark New Jersey,” he said. “The time is one sixteen a.m. and the temperature is twelve degrees Fahrenheit.” I’ve since recovered and am looking forward to a January filled with good rock shows and the beginning of another manic year of measuring new bands and new albums against each other. But during this vacation’s-really-over mourning period I reserve the right to close my eyes and pretend a woman who’s name I don’t know is rolling a hot rock down the notches of my spine, which come to think of it, could be a lyric from that Neutral Milk Hotel song. It all comes back to the indie rock.