An exclusive interview with the new year

In a surprise move, Year School allowed one writer to interview 2014, who will make his debut as the new year in festivities around the world happening in a few hours. That writer they chose happen to be a lowly blogger from the Philippines: me.

Good morning, 2014.

Good morning to you too, Niko.

You're less than twenty-four hours away from coming out to the world. Are you ready?

I think I am. But honestly, I'm afraid. Every new year is trained for their first day: twenty-four straight hours of midnights, fireworks, partying. Now, that's what I'm afraid of. I mean, look at 2013! He's stepping down a very sick man. Look, he clearly has emphysema. I bet he got all that from all the partying on his first day. I think that's ridiculous.

At least you're not 2000. Now that was one hell of a party.

When his time ended he came up to me - I was the newest guy in Year School then; we're trained fourteen whole years - anyway, he came up to me and said, "I'm fucking tired from all the partying." Didn't help that there was this Y2K bug or something. People were very apprehensive when he came forward, he said. It was a very weird time. Frankly, I think that's why 2001 was pretty messy. He just wanted to relax, and look what happened in New York.

So what will your approach be when you do settle in?

I'll just build from what 2013 has done. Let things be. I don't want to be very active in making sure that things go very well for everyone. I don't understand why they leave all of that to me. We're all trained to make sure everything remains in order, but that does not include making sure that everybody gets good luck. That does not include making sure that everybody gets their wishes, that everybody gets to have fun. Not everybody gets that.

I'm sorry for saying this, but I think you're being a bit of a prick, 2014.

Oh, no, no, don't apologize, Niko. I am also a little bit antsy. I've been talking to 2013 a lot this past few weeks. He's been telling me about what's happened under his watch. I should prepare myself for this, I should prepare myself for that.

Stuff like what?

He specifically told me that people nowadays are delusional.


He called me a month ago. He was very apologetic. He was, like, "I'm sorry, 2014, but you'll be in charge of people who are convinced that they deserve all the good things in life, and are convinced that they already have it, even though they're far from it."

I can see where he's coming from, though. There's this unwavering bias towards the positive. Sure, there really is nothing wrong with looking at the bright side of things, but often it's at the expense of being realistic. Like, our leaders say they're winning the fight against corruption, when really, they're far from starting it.

I really don't care about the politics, Niko. We're all told that politics is the one thing we cannot do anything about.

Well, so much for trying to change the world, eh?

One of our first lessons in Year School is this: you can never change people. It's out of your hands. All you're ought to do is make sure they're doing what they're doing. Nothing more, nothing less.

And yet they ask you to make things better for them.

I hate it when they all go online to ask me to be good to them. "2014, please be good to me." It's everywhere. I'd like to take the opportunity to say that, no, no, I will not be good to you. That is not my job. No amount of begging will make me be good to you, because that is really just not my thing. And no number of beautiful pictures of you will do the same thing, too.

You mentioned a few times that you're only here to keep things in order. Care to elaborate?

All I really do is sit here in a corner and make sure that the sun rises, and the sun sets, and the moon comes out at night. I make sure Fridays are festive and Sundays are the opposite. I make Mondays gloomy. I make summers hot. I make sure the storms get here on time.

So, in a way, you do have a hand in making things go well for all of us?

Oh, no.

But the storms thing. I mean, if I understand you correctly, 2013 let Yolanda in, and that was terrible for everyone.

We just let the storms in. We can't control what they are and what they do when they get here. Sure, we have some sort of quality control, but we're not officially supposed to do that. We have our preferences but it can't define us. Whatever comes in must come in. Us years, all we are is a structure to live with. Everything that happens under my tenure will not be up to me. It will be up to you folks.

So no fresh starts?

No fresh starts. We're not here to wipe everything clean either. Frankly though, it's impossible to start fresh. You say you're starting fresh, when actually you're approaching things with everything that you've learned, everything that came before.

Well, you can't blame them. New years like you, you enter, everybody makes a fuss. It's such a hyped-up event.

I really think we should stop all that hype around my first day. Maybe it's because I've been preparing for this for fourteen years. I don't see the fuss. You guys see me as a new start, when actually, I'm close to the end.

What exactly happens to years after they end their time? I mean, like, what will 2013 do when he finally leaves?

There are benefits. Lots of it. Us years, we don't just go to school and then say hello to you humans when it's our time. It's a very stringent process. Then the training, the long training, then the actual work, and then we retire. We each get a pad, I think. A generous pension. I'm not sure. 2013 isn't sure himself. He'll only know after tonight. That's the weird thing. We train for fourteen years and we're not told what our retirement benefits are.

But he'll be sick by then. Emphysema, you said.

Yeah, exactly. He'll be coughing in his posh pad. I know you get to choose what it looks like and where it will be. He's become a bit of a hipster because that's what he's been exposed to, so I think he'll want to live in Tokyo.

I heard the Japanese diet is a very healthy thing. At least he's got that going for him. He might get better.

The fresh air, too. Well, as long as he doesn't go to Fukushima.

How about you?

I think I'm more of the cool kind. I don't want to be a show-off.

Music tastes?

I'm okay with anything.


I can't do hobbies. People think 2013 was a big shopper, but that's just the people he looked over. He didn't buy all those houses. He didn't throw all those parties. These things are a distraction.

So you're like Buddhist monks? Living in some sort of isolation?

You can say that, yes. You're lucky, Niko. You're lucky they allowed you to interview me. And I think you're the first one they gave this opportunity to?

I'm not aware of that.

Well, there you go. I think Year School decided to promote themselves a little bit more, clear up some misconceptions, maybe hope that nobody loses their fingers to fireworks.

But you did say you can't change people, so...

You're right, this charm offensive is futile.

Well, good luck, 2014. I hope you do well, and I hope nobody thinks you messed up their lives for doing what you were ought to do.

Thank you, Niko, even if in the end we all just wasted our time with this interview.

Well, no. I have something to blog, and you're just beginning.

I'm ending, Niko. Ending. Then I retire.

And your responses...

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