A Christmas Caroline

This Christmas, I had hoped to fly back to London, gorge myself on Mum's turkey and sip sherry with my long lost Brit posse. But Fate, it turned out, had other plans in store...

24 hours before my Christmas Eve flight was due to depart, I wandered in to a psychic's den on Hollywood Boulevard in Little Armenia (323 464 7478). I gave her $45 and she looked deep into my eyes, examined my crinkly writer's palms and proceeded to tell me many interesting things...

Firstly, my love life is likely to be fucked for, like, ever, unless I make some major changes. "Fair enough," I thought. "I didn't need a psychic to tell me that". Then she laid out the tarot cards. Death - upside down. The Tower - upside down. The Hanged Man - upside down. I'm no Nostradamus, but even without my trusty tea leaves I know that any of these cards, even on their own, are bad news. Let alone all together.

"There is a man...and he is burning dark candles against you, using urine and hair in his rituals," she told me. Grrreat. "I see alot of sadness at night." Awesome. "And you should under NO circumstances travel during the next six weeks."

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What?! I hadn't uttered a word about my impending travel plans to her. Suddenly images of planes crashing, terrorist attacks and me getting flattened by a double decker bus flashed into my mind. As soon as I got home I called my mum in north London. "I'm sorry, I can't come home," I told her. "The psychic told me not to."

My family, predictably, thought I had lost my marbles. "Ever since you moved to LA you've been behaving strangely," sighed my dad. "You've got loads of presents under the tree," said my brother, trying to entice me, but even that didn't work. I was terrified and decided to cancel my flight. I was staying put.

As I dialed British Airways I contemplated yet another lonely Christmas in LA, with no idea what to do, or where to go. I recalled a passage in James Frey's My Friend Leonard where he points out how LA always seems to be full of sad young people staring out of diner windows, eating alone. "That'll be me on Christmas Day," I thought forlornly.

I comforted myself by thinking about last Christmas, which was spent sleeping on a friend's floor after my boyfriend kicked me out of our apartment. "At least it can't get any worse than that," I thought. WRONG! A few hours later my current lover and I had an enormous barney, and we broke up. "Jingle bells my arse" I thought, picturing a pube-covered candle with my name on it, burning in a rancid puddle of piss.

Luckily, my good friends Roger Gastman and Sonja Teri were on hand to pull me out of my bitter holiday wretchedness. Roger is the editor of Swindle magazine, a publication he founded with the OBEY GIANT artist Shepard Fairey. Sonja is Roger's girlfriend, and advertising director of the magazine.

A Christmas Caroline

They took pity on my poor cursed soul and invited me to share matzo ball soup and latkas at their house in Los Feliz on Christmas Day. They presented me with several pairs of socks ("We noticed you only ever seem to wear one sock," Sonja said.) and let me take photos of Harley, their adorable golden labrador whose sorrowful face would give Tiny Tim's a run for his money.

A Christmas Caroline

Even though my blood family was about 8,000 miles away and the love of my life had just dumped me, Roger and Sonja's warmth and good cheer was starting to restore my faith in Christmas. After Sonja's 15-year-old cousins sang a wonderful rendition of Dreidel Dreidel, my inner Ebenezer Scrooge had almost entirely melted away.

Even so, I couldn't quite relax. Disturbing thoughts of Dark Candle Man still lingered in my head and I was unable to make them go away. Then just before midnight, as I was on my way home, my estranged lover's name popped up on my cell phone...

Turned out to be a Happy Christmas after all... :)

Posted by Caroline Ryder

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