The Hanged Man

This is it. The final installment of Diary of a Diva.

  • Image by Vera Petruck/iStock/Thinkstock

Throughout history, the number 12 has held divine significance across all cultures and religions. Jesus had 12 apostles, Muhammad had 12 imams, Confucius had 12 disciples, and Jacob, aka Israel, had 12 sons. The 12 stars on the European Union flag reflect not a number of countries but the numeral’s symbolism for unity. Twelve months make a year, hence 12 signs of the zodiac. We measure time in twelves — half for a.m., the other for p.m. Eggs and donuts come by the dozen, and there are 12 inches in a foot. There are 12 days of Christmas, and 12 members of the jury. On a much smaller scale than all of that, the number 12 now holds a special kind of significance for me. It is the number of years it took for this column to run its course. What I’m trying to say, Dear Reader, is that this is the last installment of Diary of a Diva.

I’m not going drag out that tired old trope, where I summarize 12 years’ worth of milestones and life events: if you’re interested in all the ups and downs, the massive and minuscule, the ire-inducing and heart-warming, I encourage you to check out my book, Diary of a Diva: Behind the Lipstick, which was cowritten by the love of my life, my favorite thing in this universe, and my partner-in-everything, David.

I’ll continue to write feature, event, and food stories for the Reader, this entity that has fostered my creative exploits for the bulk of my career. Forgive the cliché, but in this moment of schmaltzy reflection, I can’t think of a better way to say it: writing for this publication was a dream come true. I have always written, and I always will. But being given space on these pages — a guarantee that my voice would be heard by many — is a gift I have never once taken for granted.

This column has been like an appendage, an extension of myself, part of my identity. As a result of striving for honesty regardless of the ramifications, I’ve lost some friends and gained many more. My words have, at times, caused tension in my family relationships, and at others, helped those closest to me understand me in ways that spoken words never could. Readers who have reached out to let me know how much they related to my words have helped me feel connected. I have kept every message I’ve ever received, the most poignant and rewarding being the responses to my stories about my struggles with anxiety and depression.

Writing has defined me since my earliest memories. Journaling, blogging, documenting: I have always put my thoughts into words, attempting to parse the world one contemplation at a time. The end of this column does not mean the end of sharing my personal musings. For that, I will be returning to the wilder, freer style of my original blog.

I started my blog in the year 2000, back when the concept of blogging was so new that every mention of the word included the explanatory parenthetical “web log.” It was that blog — unfiltered, unfettered — that first drew the attention of Judith Moore, may she rest in peace. Judith was the author and editor who, after reading my blog, encouraged Jim, my publisher, to allow me entrance into his publication and inject it with the fresh perspective of an irreverent young woman.

My father says that the only meaning anything has is the meaning you give it. I don’t believe in much. I’m more a person of careful skepticism than one of trust and faith. But at times such as these, pivotal moments in life, I find myself searching for significance in trivial things, such as a number.

It turns out that in tarot, 12 is the number of the Hanged Man. When right side up, this card represents self-sacrifice and meditation. Flipped around, it represents selfishness. I once had friends who took tarot seriously. They thought they had the “gift” to engage supernatural wisdom. They did have gifts, but they were not superhuman. Their talents were insight and the ability to guide someone toward an epiphany, as any good psychologist is trained to do. Every once in a while, I’d allow a friend to “read” me. I didn’t believe the cards had any divine powers, but I have always recognized the power in analyzation, and what are tarot cards but a series of prompts?

Take the Hanged Man, and all the many ways it could be interpreted. One is that it could indicate the need to suspend action — “pausing to reflect, taking time to just be, living in the moment.” Sounds like procrastination to me, and that fits like a leather glove. But another interpretation of number 12 in this stack of mystical playing cards is that if a person draws the Hanged Man, then for that person it’s time to let go of something. “Accept and surrender to your present circumstances, become more vulnerable and open to different experiences.” The mystics also report that letting go will “help end the struggle and give up the need for control.” Well, that’s never going to happen. The illusion of control is the bread and water on which my starving soul survives.

The number 12, like anything with a name, is a construct of humanity — one of millions in our puny attempt to understand that which we cannot comprehend, one small part in a series of endeavors — spanning many thousands of years — to assign order to chaos. It would be lovely to believe that the number of years I’ve been penning this column is somehow related to that celestial symbol. But I know better. It’s just a number.

If you are interested in following along with whatever adventures are yet to come for David and me, from our travels to our filmmaking, I invite you to visit my hub, DivaBarbarella.com, where you’ll find my blog and more.

Last, I want to say thank you. Whether you’ve read one story or all of them, whether I have met you or not, when I think, Dear Diary, I think, Dear Reader. Dear YOU. You have been my confidante, my therapist, my friend. Thank you. For everything.

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We will miss you in these pages, Barbarella!

Thanks for all the chuckles and thoughts, Barb.

It mustn't have been easy, putting yourself out there week in, week out, for a dozen years. Columnists of your ilk are a dying breed and you'll be hard (perhaps impossible) to replace.

I'll certainly be watching your site and hoping for more, Barb, but the weekly prompt to check into your thoughts (and the way they sometimes eerily mirror mine) will be sorely missed. All the best with all you do to you and your David!

Thank you, Dave! I'll see you on Twitter. ;)

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