A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.

Yesterday was the fifth annual Good Riddance Day, which I really wish I’d heard about sooner.

Despite the fact that it’s been going on all this time and I’ve never had the opportunity to participate due to shameful ignorance, I vow to observe this blessed holiday on my calendar going forward.

Here it is, as I understand it: the Times Square Alliance, whom you might remember from such hits as the concept of lounging in the middle of Times Square like it’s the Jardin du Luxembourg, brought in everything New Yorkers might need to give their terrible 2011 memories a proper, end-of-year sendoff. A mobile paper shredding unit, sledgehammers, and a dumpster were all provided and put to good use. They even set up stations where people can write down their worst memories in order to destroy them however they please.

Photos: 2011 ‘Good Riddance’ Day

The shredding I can understand very clearly. Obviously, many bad memories from this year are represented on paper and can easily be disposed of by shredding them into molecular bits of pulp. Doctors’ bills, financial statements, checkbook registers, loan payment reminders, termination packages and notices, letters of rejection. It seems most of our unpleasantness is still done in print, which is actually one unexpected point for the otherwise dying medium. Hey, I’ll take them wherever I can find ’em.

I think I can really get on board with the use of the sledgehammer (however nervous-making it is for the city to provide a public use sledgehammer). I mean shredding is nice and all, but the idea of taking a giant, heavy, blunt object and smashing the bejesus out of something that upsets me is just . . . sweet. It’s wonderful. The city has acknowledged that we’ve had a tough year, and what’s more, they’ve harnessed our naturally high rage levels to create a thoughtful event which puts our talents to good use. Hulk mad. Hulk smash! Phew.

The only piece that seems to have gone unaddressed is our bad electronic memories. I guess it wouldn’t be very useful to have people go and blow up their computers to smithereens, nor would it have been wise to bring in a giant electromagnet to erase hard drives. Besides, even if you delete that regrettable photo of you at Mardi Gras from your memory, it will live on the interwebs forever, in so many places and bits and pieces that it will never stop haunting you no matter how hard you try. Sorry. It is something to consider, though. For every piece of paper, unwanted gift or pair of jeggings we want to explode in order to forget, there are like eight billion emails and Facebook posts and PDFs and Flickr streams and such that remind us of exactly the same bad voodoo.

I applaud the Times Square Alliance for this unexpectedly terrific idea, and encourage them to come up with some sort of electronic solution for next year so that we may continue to purge our demons with efficacy and thoroughness.

That is, assuming the world hasn’t been reduced to smithereens by this time in 2012. If it has, consider the job done. Score one for the apocalypse.

What are you saying “Good Riddance!” to in the new year? Sound off below…


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

The Nina Archives:

A Trip To Gingerbread Village

Top 5 Internet Memes I Will Never Understand

Top 5 Public Acts Of Self-Destruction By Celebs & Politicians In 2011

Top 5 Animal Escapees Of 2011

NYC, Answer My Pages!

It’s A Scary World Out There

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