01 January 2012

2012 is now in the building

Sunrise over Badlands

Last year at this time, a whole 13 hours into my temporary gig as acting director of the museum, I received an emergency call from the facilities crew to tell me that the building was flooded. The new building. On my watch. (Single-digit outside temperature + uninsulated vestibule = freeze and burst in the sprinkler system.) It was something of a harbinger for 2011, which brought us a new disaster, loss or illness Every. Single. Month. It's hard to find anyone in my circle of friends and family who was not hurt, often devastatingly, by the Year 2011 Effect.

I can now step forward and take responsibility for some of this. Maybe all of it, worldwide. Like so many people with Southern grandmothers, I make sure that black-eyed peas, cornbread and some kind of leafy green something are on the table for New Year's Day dinner. It's not a law--laws can be repealed. It is much more demanding than some mere law. It's more like a universal constant.

So, last year at this time, 2 hours before the flood in the building, we found that the black-eyed peas had....failed. In spite of soaking and cooking, and even last-minute nuking, for 48 hours, the little monsters never softened up. They were crunchy and tasteless. This is not a good thing for black-eyed peas. For whatever reason, somehow, somewhere, these peas dried for good in the bag, and nothing I could do brought them to life. And I had no backup.

So we had maybe 4 or 5 BEP each. Two hours later, the building flood call came, and, after that, it was a year full of natural disasters, personal losses, and other Bad News.

I apologize to everyone on the planet.


It was also a year of unexpected joys, sweet reunions, new directions, new friends, and constant little reminders of our infinite capacity as humans for resilience, delight and love. Even with the flood, we had 20+ wonderful people there within an hour--on New Year's Day--pitching in to help in all directions. I'm crediting that to the BEP we were able to choke down.

This year, today, the Hoppin' John and cornbread are ready to go. The peas are perfect. We have blue skies and--so far--no panicked phone calls. I'm willing to give 2012 a chance.

I did have 2 cans of pre-cooked black-eyed peas as a backup--it's that important--but I did not need them.

Here's wishing you all a year of hope, joy, love and new directions.

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