A decade ago, I was anointed Doomsday Diva.
It started when my ex-husband calmly explained the world was supposed to end on my 65th birthday. That’s precisely how he put it when we bumped into each other at a memorial service for a mutual friend.
I rolled my eyes, shrugged, and mumbled that my winter solstice birthday often was the focus of appropriations, mystical and otherwise. It’s the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere, after all.
Then I read about 2012, the flop of a film about the cataclysmic end of the world on December 21, 2012. I decided I’d better do an Internet search for 12-21-12. I found T-shirts, ball caps, coffee mugs and other paraphernalia to commemorate my 65th birthday, plus a veritable cult preparing for nothing short of the apocalypse. There was even a countdown clock that registered the seconds until I turned 65. It all creeped me out.
I collected more gloomy particulars on 12-21-12. It seems that date was a matter of galactic alignment that marks the end of the world as we know it on the Mayan calendar.
It was a topic of much debate, however. Some said there would be a spiritual transition—a shift in human consciousness—and perhaps materialism rather than the material world would disappear on my 65th birthday. What, no presents or cake?
The truth is, everybody gets so caught up in the last gasps before Christmas that a Dec. 21 birthday gets short shrift anyway. The only well-attended birthday party I had was for my half birthday on the summer solstice. And presents? I was numb from more than my share of two-fers—a single gift combining birthday and Christmas.
Enough pity party.
Let’s get back to those foresighted Mayans. As 12-21-12 edged closer, I checked in with Johanna (Corn) MacPherson, a longtime Seattle astrologer who sadly passed away since then. I asked MacPherson why the Mayans didn’t pick a date with a more rarefied ring, like 12-12-12.
“Numerology is all accident, not reason. It couldn’t be as deliberate as 12-12-12,” she said.
Everything I looked forward to at 65—Medicare eligibility, the possibility of retirement, senior discounts—might evaporate along with life as we knew it.
I kept hearing astrologer MacPherson’s confident voice offering a wee glimmer of hope.
“The whole world is going entrepreneurial and you are no exception,” she said.
“You’re making this up,” I protested.
“Nope,” she countered. “I’m not.”
She said it was more likely 12-21-12 would bring down commerce in some way and create a transformation of values in the years to come. I suspect MacPherson would have been amazed to watch the pandemic dry up central business districts everywhere and see workers abandon offices to hole up in their homes.
MacPherson’s uncanny prediction?
“It will be death for the commercial juggernaut,” she said. “But you, my girl, you will be the Doomsday Diva.”
In 2012 that moniker was a consolation prize, yet it helped overcome fear of an apocalypse. Then, when the pandemic began to grip the planet, MacPherson’s insightful prognostication made it a bit less terrifying to watch. And as I reach 75, I’m still alive.
Annie Culver developed a knack for unearthing oddball characters and improbable events as a staff writer for various newspapers. In the early 90s, she went to work for websites where she wrote sassy essays aimed at women. In recent years, she morphed into a writer for several universities in the Northwest. She retired in 2016, yet still enjoys freelancing.