New Year’s, Same Problems

Mattie is breaking up with New Year’s Eve.















With only residual hours left before 2012 becomes ’13 and all we’ve got are party hats, centenary sunglasses, and sweeping disappointment to show for the (illusive) milestone, enjoy a cogent portrayal of divorcement from New Year’s Eve as told by Mattie Kahn. Who knows–maybe you’ll resolve to stay in with us tonight.

Let me preface this by saying that I love a glittering sequined dress as much as the next girl, but I’ve made up my mind. After twenty long years, it’s really over. I’m breaking up with New Year’s Eve.

The origin of my disillusionment with everyone’s favorite occasion to dress like a disco ball is difficult to pinpoint. Did it begin when I was 15, and my heel broke in a gutter on Third Avenue? Or was it the time I watched 11:59pm turn to 12:00am via the flickering radio display screen of a stalled taxi? It could have been 2008, which I inaugurated alongside vomiting strangers at an acquaintance’s shadowy apartment. Or perhaps the eve of 2009, which I celebrated over freezer-burned ice cream in a diner on West 70th Street.

But no matter the primordial cause, of this I am certain: somewhere between the year I spent $75 dollars on a meal apportioned for an inmate and the many that found me scrambling at approximately 9:48pm on December 31st for something appropriately reflective to wear, the spark went out. Urban Outfitters, thanks for nothing.

To be fair, the relationship hasn’t always been so fraught. New Year’s circa 1998 marked the first excuse I had to stay up past midnight. I was six. In the waning hours of the twentieth century, my older brother slipped me my first—albeit thimble-sized—glass of champagne. When I recount this story at his eventual wedding, I will omit the fact that he did so only in exchange for the slice of cake I was in the process of devouring. I will also neglect to mention that I spit out said libation in disgust. “You drink this for fun?” I snarled. I rang in 2005 curled up next to a roaring fire with my parents and little sister and hot chocolate and terrible 80s music. It was perfect. And a few years ago, amidst a scene of minor decadence and teenage mediocrity, a great friend shrugged his shoulders as the clock struck twelve and said, “Happy New Year, babe,” before kissing me sweetly.

But the problem with New Year’s Eve—much like congressional bipartisanship and the Barneys Warehouse Sale—is that it cannot possibly live up to our collective cultural expectations. Some cocktail of romance, booze, irony, nostalgia, glitter, and resolution is quite a tall order for what amounts to a single instant. Not even the cosmetic touch of your favorite Instagram filter can circumvent this inevitability: the night is guaranteed to let you down. But because the prospect of overpriced appetizers or methodical intoxication or discounted Celine is too tantalizing to resist, you return to the eve each year with renewed purpose. And each year you’re sure: this time will be different. Really. Somewhere in mid-December you begin dropping hints to your best friends, your college acquaintances, your second cousin with the great apartment overlooking the Hudson. With evergreen hope comes the faux-casual query, “What are your plans for New Year’s?”

You’ve probably had one or two great ones as well—midnight celebrations turned magical because he leaned in or you did or you lived out the sitcom cliché du jour under twinkling lights. But unlike your preferred cabernet, New Year’s fails to mature. It doesn’t improve. It peaks.

Which is why last year, I mutinied. “I’m done,” I wanted to wail to the memory of Dick Clark and prix-fixe menus worldwide. I will not continue to commemorate this institutionalized disappointment. Hadn’t I had more than my fair share of failed adventures in a city that is usually so responsible about facilitating fantasy? I’ll stay in, I decided. “I did that one year,” my mother volunteered when I detailed my plan. “It’s one of the few New Year’s Eves I actually remember,” she added. How heartening.

My younger sister recently informed me that it would be best if I stay out late this year. She is throwing a New Year’s party at our apartment. I want to tell her what I know about anticlimactic countdowns and tequila sunrises and that grate on Third Avenue and East 85th, but I stayed silent. I’m embittered. I’m jaded. But she needn’t be. Not yet, anyway.

Besides, I intend to forever dine out on New Year’s Eve 2012—the platonic ideal. (And I do mean platonic.) Last year, after a concerned friend insisted I join her with the rest of humanity, I ventured down to a bar on the Bowery that wasn’t charging an entrance fee. “No party hats, Scrooge,” she promised. “We can drink whiskey neat and reminisce about the old country.”

Reluctantly, I acquiesced. And because of old-fashioneds and aperol spritzers and the kind of laughter that only a best friend can elicit, I had a begrudgingly grand time.

Just before midnight, the New Year firmly in sight, I noticed a neighboring table of six. Among them was a man wearing an impeccably cut grey suit. His hair was slicked back, and he was couldn’t-breathe gorgeous.

“That looks just like Ryan Gosling,” I said.

“People don’t just look like Ryan Gosling,” she declared. “They either are Ryan Gosling or they’re not.”

“Gail,” I said, seconds before the unavoidable countdown began, “It’s Ryan Gosling.” Eyes widened and mouths agape, we toasted to 2012. He must have caught us staring, because—for the briefest moment—he raised his glass and tipped it towards us.

I know myself. Am I ever going to do better than ringing in the New Year with Noah and Dean and Jacob and Stephen and Luke? No.

So count me out for future festivities. New Year’s, we are never, ever, ever getting back together.

-Illustration by Charlotte Fassler

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  • Sophie Lewis

    I was going to make all these comments about how I didn’t know you had a younger sister, about why you would share your apartment with her when your married, etc, until I fnished reading and saw it was written by someone else! Give us some warning next time! Anyway this is really well written; happy new year! xx

    • duh

      there is a warning at the top!

  • Liz

    I am blowing up the air mattress in the living room, getting out the projector and having a Cosby marathon. With out a doubt I am guaranteed to have a terrible New Year’s Eve, so I figure if I set the bar low with expectations….well there is less room for disappointment

  • Too bad. Well…I’m all excited to look like a disco ball tonight! Finishing up my dress right now actually, can you guess the inspiration?

    • Leandra Medine

  • I think one of the signs of a ‘great’ (though who am I to even pretend I know what this word really entails) writer is that, after finishing his/her piece, you kind of want to be best friends.

    Mattie – you seem pretty supa fly.

    Your writing moves effortlessly, and in a day and age where I find it difficult to finish a half-paragraph magazine article, I have no problem flying through these posts. I don’t get hung up on turns of phrase or cultural references – and any that are used are done so only to propel the piece forward and not to highlight my own unintelligence.

    Great use of dialogue ,too. I don’t know much about writing, but I wish I did so that my praise held more standing than that of a random 20-some year old blog commenter up at 9:00am on New Years eve reading fashion blogs.

    happy new year. hope to see more of you here


  • Agreed! What is so fun about a countdown to nothing in a room full of people you hardly know? Or some guy taking that New Years peck as an invitation into my pants? No thanks, I’ll just drink the bottle of champagne by myself!

  • Anna-irena

    Oh and yet again I couldn’t agree more :)! I’m breaking up with new year’s eve as well!

  • Alba

    I aleays fall sleep right before it right after…. It never fails.

  • Alexandra

    I personally love the “People don’t just look like Ryan Gosling”, they either are Ryan Gosling or they’re not” comment.

    That’s the best!

  • Diana

    This year a friend and I are planning to have a delicous dinner and play a Moderrn Family drinking game. We don’t have any exspectations and we both just don’t want to spend this night all by our lonely selves.

    You met Ryan Gosling?!

  • Ahh New Years. So happy I don’t do the Times Square thing. Not me.

  • Happy new year from spain

  • Lídia Martiniano

    As you broke up with New Year’s Eve, can I wish you a great last day of 2012? 😉

  • tara

    I love how this went from an extremely well written perspective on all things new years eve to a celeb spotting that would make any girl jealous. oh Ryan…..

  • Elizabeth

    Very well put! I completely share your sentiments! Still looking forward to 2013 though. Happy new year from Ireland!

  • LOVE this post! I gave up ages ago – After years of failed celebrations and the one picture perfect it’ll-never-get-better-than-this NYE, it was time to hang up my stilettos. I mean, who wants to freeze their ass off wandering the streets looking for a taxi anyway?
    P.S. If I’d spent NYE with RG, I’d have given up even earlier. There’s no topping that!

  • Emma

    This post was makes me feel better about not really caring to do anything for New Years. I must say thought if I were to see Ryan Gosling on New Years I would never try to have another one because that one would have been good enough for eternity.

  • info

    Lucky you on the Ryan Gosling spotting! so jealous!

    Happy non-New Years


  • Addison

    Totally agree that NYE is overrated… amazing writing!!

  • Edgar Cecilia

    Glorious article, Mattie.

    NYE 2009 was most lame indeed, but it will be better than my NYE this year because I got to spend that one with you! Miss you, and see you in 2013.

    Your friend,

  • Lilia

    so so true.. i’ll be stuck at home finishing up college applications. f 2013

  • Wait… i’m dying that you saw Ryan Gosling. I would have sexually assaulted him if I had seen him. I always enjoy your posts. You have amazing writing and it always makes me LOL and smile. I love that you combine your personal experiences and high fashion- both that I love.

    Please check out my blog & follow me on Bloglovin’.

    Have a happy new years,

  • Sinead

    One of my favourite reads on NYE – and hits the nail. I’m looking forward to waking up and getting up, not slumbering on my couch for six hours before ordering pizza because I forgot to buy food on the champagne run. Here here for a disappointment-free new year!

  • Jasmine Alvarez

    what! Awesome piece…I would love if you wrote a novel

  • allison b-t

    this year i bought a lovely vintage dress with a silver sequin peter pan collar to wear and lathered my nails with glitter to match. but instead of donning the dress for one of the many parties and events i was invited to, i am going to dress up to make nachos and pop a bottle of perrier jouet with my husband and dog here at home. and i couldn’t be more excited!

  • A.

    This is such a great post! I’m going to a friend’s party tonight(my first New Year’s Eve party) and I’ll have to see if it’s a tradition worth keeping… I’m in high school, so I guess I have a while to decide…

  • cassie dzienny

    New Years is overrated!!! My last blog of 2012:

  • drue

    this is the best. thank you.

  • Sara

    I couldn’t agree more! Excellent post.

  • Donna Cosky

    I have stayed single into my 40’s, so I’ve had a lot of “New Year’s Eve guilt”. I completely relate to this post! Feeling that you must go out and have a great time, every freakin’ year. I’ve done so many different things on the Eve, and one constant remains – you aren’t guaranteed a great time just because it’s New Year’s Eve. But you have plenty of other nights and days in your life to have fun, with no pressure. Thanks for writing this, Mattie!

  • Myra

    You’re 23???? You look more like 33. And you had a man chasing you for six years. How exactly is that a ‘man repeller’? Sounds more like a drama queen to me!

    • Leandra Medine

      I chased him, actually. There’s a fundamental pronoun difference there.

  • BeingRaquel

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!! ;D I have broken up w/ NYE last year… and that decision is still going strong 😉 (I’m 31 though… I may have made this decision 10 years too late!) 😉 CHEERS to another day just like yesterday!!! 😉 XX @BeingRaquel

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  • The Provoker

    LOL, you always make me LAUGH out LOUD Leandra. Anyways, just wanted to wish you all the happiness and success the new 2013 year can and WILL bring you. Looking forward to your new book too! Btw, I’ve just did a “tutorial” post on the three main ways to work the shoulder bag strap + outerwear style, tell what you think 😉

    xx The Provoker

  • Laura

    New Year’s Eve does let you down.

    It was my first NYE since I moved to Europe, Madrid specifically, and it all promised it’d be awesome. Everyone I know told me how great it was to receive the upcoming year at the city center, Puerta del Sol, some sort of Spanish-Time-Square-chaos. So I drag my guy and family (they were visiting actually) down to this chaotic nonsense and wait -full of silly joy- for the bell to rang the twelve seconds before midnight. Well it didn’t. And my family, latin people, that party, yell, sing and scream of joy at every possible occasion, stood there just waiting in disappointment for a NYE excitement that never came.

    Can you guess how embarrassed I was? I bet you don’t.

    We hugged and laugh at the unfortunate way Spaniards receive New Year’s Eve and walked home. They are all right, they are truly happy to be with me but I know, deeply in my soul, that they were crashed.

    Next year I’m flying to South America and just letting the New Year’s Eve responsibility on someone else. This year just took they joy from me.

    We’ve got to laugh at this shit, so Happy New Year to you all anyways! 🙂

  • Steph

    omg! so jealous! ryyyyyan 😉 haha

    simply loved reading this post leandra.

  • Annie

    I just love your posts! happy New Year!

  • Haley

    You were right! My New Year’s Eve did not live up to my expectations! At least in prepared for next year!

  • Starla

    She writes better than you!,

    • Leandra Medine

      She sure does, Starla.

  • Cynthia Brizuela

    Writers can’t be lukewarm, they have to feel with the strength enough needed to portray those feelings through a chain of letters. You certainly feel, and with a great amount of feeling comes a great amount of expectations and they are always holding hands with disappointment. I always expected so much from NYE because that is what I was told to do, and yes, you always wake up with that nostalgic, it could’ve been better feeling. So, in resume, my resolution is to stop trying to control things, to make visions in my head and just be amazed by the little things that come without being expected, not only in NYE but in life. Oh, happy 2013 by the way.

  • Jamie

    I fully support your break up. I’ve had my share of not so great NYE’s and a break seems like a brilliant idea 🙂

  • Nicole Linette

    As I was driving back to my house with my friend around noon today, still slightly hungover and feeling stale, we came to the same conclusion. It’s a great excuse for glitter and cocktails, but alas, it’s just another year. I appreciate this post a lot and wish you the best for 2013!

    xx nicole.

  • whereyatja

    And what about New Years Day? I spend the morning in 0 degrees hunting with my dog Hera for the car keys I lost late yesterday afternoon as the sun was setting on the hills in Idaho. Hera found the keys at what was the end of our walk and I figured nothing can top that as a crumby end of 2012 and a great start to 2013. Mattie, you are a rock star. But I don’t think people say that anymore.

  • Charbarbar, you have made all my 20 New Year’s (including last nights) to shame with your Ryan New Years… I would also break up with NYE.

  • . . .

    where can we get more of her wordsssss?

  • New Year’s Eve is amateur hour. NYC was filled with overly intoxicated girls who couldn’t walk in their heels before they drank, let alone after and guys (who were also overly intoxicated) that try to pretend like you’re not waiting on the same line to order a burger at 2am. There’s something so exciting about the midnight toast with friends and family but once that clocks strikes midnight, I’m out!

  • I felt the same way last night until it was 6am and realized I actually had a good time.

  • Rachel

    I really like how you’re branching out into other pieces. Still love the fashion posts, but I thoroughly enjoyed this type of writing, too. Keep it up!

  • Jen

    I fell asleep at 10:30…. oh well. No Ryan for me…. I dreamt my friend’s kid attacked me with permanent markers.

    This is my New Year post.


  • Jennifer

    I’ve never been much of a new years person either. I really enjoyed this post! And I am super jealous you had an encounter with Ryan Gosling!

    xo Jennifer

  • Yvolwee

    Haha. Oh well Happy New Year. Love how you quote Tay Tay at the end.

  • Holly-Bella

    You’re a great writer, that story is hilarious. I don’t think anyone could do any better than New Year’s with Ryan Gosling…that anecdote is the end of a conversation!! Love the blog x

  • Sharon

    People don’t read too well, do they? They also don’t bother to read the comments before commenting themselves. If they did, they’d know you didn’t write this. I loved it, but I also love your writing – you are wise beyond your years!

  • M

    yikes..starla and myra…don’t start 2013 being mean girls…!!

  • disqus_X5gCaSS2zi

    yikes…srarla and myra…don’t start 2013 being mean girls!!!!

  • Well, I am also not such much into New Years celebrations. It is too cold to look cool … either freezing when watching the fireworks or celebrating in a Norwegian pullover ….

  • Samantha

    Happy New year from

  • I venture out for NYE about every 3 years…and usually realize well before midnight that I’d rather be at home in PJs, on the couch with the dog, eating a giant plate of chicken fingers and drinking bubbly from the bottle. BLISS!


  • Emma

    I’m your age and, like you, already have had my fair share of disappointing New Year’s Eves-from that one inevitable too-sloppy year or the excessive groping of a New Year’s random at midnight, but the idea of New Year’s is too great to give up on just yet. I love the fantasy of it, and still think there is something in the hope that magic might happen. I think seeing Ryan Gosling proves that, lucky girl! Regardless, I loved your writing! Congrats on this article.

  • Mattie Kahn giving up on New Years at the tender age of 20 makes this 31 year old lady particularly vexed. BUT, Mattie Kahn in the presence of The Gosling makes this 31 year old lady insanely jealous! Cheers!

  • Lauren

    The most fulfilling new years eve I ever spent was at a candlelit midnight yoga class, alcohol-free, and with my friends and family. I have been thinking of doing this as a tradition because I remember feeling so happy, peaceful and relaxed! This truly was the perfect way to ease into the new year! If only more yoga studios would do this!!

    Cheers, Leandra! Wishing you a wonderful one!!!


    -Lauren at adorn la femme

  • Monika

    you were born in 1992? that can’t really be true, can it?

  • Sasha

    Make like the Roadrunner and leave the haters in your dust cloud, Leandra. I think you’re fantastic.

  • Okay fine you did it. There is a first for everything. This is a first. I never comment on blogs or anything on the internet. I am actually really good at being a hater and not caring about anything. I care enough to read the blog. I happen to have a love hate relationship with your blog (more on the love side). This was cute and by cute I mean wonderfully written. I think we are the same age and for you to just “get it” just “does it” for me.


  • *swoon* happy new year –

  • E.ring

    You are awesome. I have also broken up with New Years 🙂

  • Ashley Garner

    Looooooove this post, such a fantastic read.

  • I love your posts!!!!!

  • I so would have agreed with this until this new years eve! Normally its a total disapointment and your heel breaks and bla bla BLAH! But this year I find myself in a tiny village in Wales (Begelly, Pembrokeshire) all the way from little old New Zealand dancing my ass off, singing auld langs syne (we don’t do that in NZ :S ) with a wide range of ages and truely having a whale of a time.

    So I guess the moral of the story is to not have any expectations and just go where your ass takes you!!

  • Lydia Armstrong

    She’s twenty years old, and already breaking up with NYE????

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