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st - starTHE PHONES STILL WORKED and the power didn't crash and missiles and planes didn't come raining down from the sky. Since our provisions in case of disaster consisted of little more than some homemade apple sauce, a few bags of frozen pesto and two bottles of Evian water, it's probably a good thing for us nothing happened; obviously, at some point in the last year we'd quietly decided that there was nothing to worry about. Either that, or we signed on to some kind of vast, shared zeitgeist that wanted to see how far we could push our luck.

Big stinking bloody howling happy new year. As we were working away in the kitchen, we listened to the CBC coverage of New Year's ceremonies around the world, and the half-giddy, half-disgusted tone of various hosts and reporters noting the rolling wave of business as usual enveloping the globe, once-in-a-lifetime fireworks, walls of fire across the Thames or state-of-the-art countdown spheres over Times Square notwithstanding. By the time Greg and Vicki arrived to take over the kitchen and get our team dinner rolling, we'd come to share at least a bit of this haughty relief. 


 
"As we advance in life, we acquire a keener sense of the value of time. Nothing else, indeed, seems of any consequence; and we become misers in this respect."
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William Hazlitt
- The Feeling of Immortality in Youth

 
The new year hits with a soft thud, and a bit of a delayed reaction. My own Y2K problems seem to be entirely mental.

TWO BOTTLES EACH OF RED WINE and champagne later -- not including martinis -- we woke up and greeted 2000 A.D. a bit wobbly on our pegs, but happy. Once the dishes were done, it really started to look like a bright new year. Looking out the window, the landscape distinctly lacked hovercars or geodesic domes, but there was a brief flash of sun and the cold, crisp air at least made things seem clean.

Later, while walking around the neighbourhood, I felt the first sharp pang of time shifting forward, when I found myself talking about "the last century" while trying to make some vague historical/sociological point. The last century, I was suddenly aware, was the 20th -- I was referring to the Nineteenth. This was, clearly, going to take some getting used to. For thirty-five years, I'd felt like I had a stake in a time that included the Somme, Lindbergh, bread lines, Hiroshima, Elvis, Woodstock, herpes, wine bars and chat rooms, even if I only had tactile experience with the last three or so. 

Now, suddenly, Herbert Hoover and Benito Mussolini and Marilyn Monroe had slipped into the same grainy, sepia past as Gladstone and Louis Napoleon and Sarah Bernhardt. I was sure of only two things -- that Kubrick probably died to spare himself the humiliation of having 2001: A Space Odyssey archly ridiculed as "optimistic", and that antique dealers were going to make more off the millenium in the long run than Y2K consultants. The future sure didn't look like we thought it would, but the past had suddenly leapfrogged a few more decades closer, and there were an awful lot more antiques out there today than yesterday.

No -- there are no jet packs or moon spas or robot kitchens, but we have left one arbitrary hundred year set behind for another, and it's going to take some time before I have the knack of remembering that it's now a neat century since Queen Victoria and the Boer War and the Boxer Rebellion. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was living in the future, and it was fucking with my head.

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writing ©2000
Rick McGinnis
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