On Fireworks, Birthday Pizza, Arriving Early and Blooming Late (Yeah, I don’t know what this is about either.)
I’d like to say I brought in the New Year this week with a big bang, but that would have required my leaving the couch.
And, well, I think we all know where I’m going with this.
I did get to listen to a whole bunch of other people bringing in the New Year on Sunday night with a bang – lots of bangs, really. Like, so many bangs it’s possible I went a bit deaf in my left ear.
Pretty much everybody, except me, was letting off fireworks in my neighborhood.
Not that this is anything special.
You see, you don’t really need a good reason to let off fireworks in China – any reason will do.
It’s the opening of a new store?
Let’s celebrate with some fireworks!
It’s your birthday?
What better way to say “happy birthday” than with fireworks?
It’s Tuesday at five o’clock in the morning?
Time for fireworks!
But for the New Year, there were even more fireworks than on, say, your average Sunday night. From my vantage point on my couch, I could watch the fireworks through both my bathroom window in the front of my apartment and my balcony window in the back of my apartment. And I would have totally taken a picture of those fireworks to show you on this here blog but, again, that would have required my leaving the couch.
And, again, I think we all know where I’m going with this.I did manage to make it off the couch on Tuesday, as I was on a quest to find some noodles. Tuesday was my thirty-sixth birthday, and a Chinese friend had told me that it’s a Chinese tradition to eat noodles on your birthday as noodles represent longevity.
And, really, who am I to buck tradition?
Or resist a perfectly good opportunity to shovel carbs into my face?
Unfortunately, all the fine dining establishments in my neighborhood were closed as everyone was still celebrating the New Year.
Either that, or everyone was off planning a very elaborate surprise birthday party for me… so elaborate that they kind of forgot to invite me to it.
I ended up at the only restaurant in my area which happened to be open – the Pizza Hut at a local shopping center. Instead of a bowl of birthday noodles, I ate a birthday pizza with extra cheese.
Because, apparently, China doesn’t want me to live a long life.
It just wants me to live a life full of extra cheese.
I’m cool with that.So, yeah, other than the fireworks, it’s been a pretty quiet start to both the Chinese New Year and my thirty-sixth year this week.
But that’s okay.
Because I have a feeling things are really going to pick up. You see, I have a good feeling about this year. Like, it’s totally going to be my year.
I should probably mention here that I have this feeling pretty much every single year. I’d like to consider this as a sign that I’m a perpetually optimistic person. And not, say, a sign that I’m a really narcissistic person.
I do realize that not every year can be my year.
And, admittedly, I have been wrong on this before. I thought last year was totally going to be my year, too. But it really wasn’t. Not that it was a bad year. But I suffered a way too many bouts of the Black Lung to make it my year.This year, I’m telling you, is different. This year is my year.
Even Japan and China agree with me on this – and they generally don’t agree on much of anything.
They certainly don’t agree with me most of the time. For example, Japan and China have been insisting for years that I am a size XL or XXL or LL or some other size that I am truly not. I do not agree with them on this, but, yet, they refuse to see things my way.
We have agreed to disagree.
And I have agreed to cut all the tags out of my clothes.
But this time, Japan and China are totally on my side.You see, when I was in Japan the other week, I bought two omikuji or paper fortunes while visiting shrines, and they both told me I was going to have an awesome year.
(You know, as long as I stay away from illicit love. But, seeing as I’m in my mid-thirties and I still haven’t figured out how to talk to boys, I don’t think there’s much chance of that. So I’m good.)
And, lest you think those fortunes always tell you good things about yourself or your future, once I received a fortune that was so bad my Japanese friend didn’t even want to translate it for me. When she finally did, she informed me that it said I had a cold, unfeeling heart and would perish in a fire.
So, yeah, those paper fortunes aren’t always full of flowers and illicit love affairs. Sometimes they are full of your fiery death.
Also while in Japan, I read this book about Japanese beliefs that told me that anyone turning an age that is a multiple of 12 is destined to have a year of really good fortune.
(Or really bad fortune. But I chose to ignore that part. But, uh, just in case, I’ll make sure to stay away from fire.)
Oh, and one of the temples I visited while in Nikko had this random Wheel of Dessert thing that you were supposed to spin to find out your fortune. I didn’t really understand what it was all about, but I spun it and it landed on cake.
Excuse me, if that’s not a good sign, I don’t know what is.
(Well, technically, according to the little sign above the Wheel of Dessert, cake is not a good thing. A friend translated it for me, and she told me that landing on the cake predicts bad things to come. But I think we can all agree that’s just crazy. Of course, landing on cake is a good thing. This is just one more thing Japan and I can agree to disagree on — just like what size pants I should be wearing.)And, as you probably already know, it’s the Chinese year of the dragon. So China totally thinks it’s going to be my year, too, because the year of the dragon is totally my year, people!
Or at least it should be my year.
You see, I was born in 1976, which is a dragon year. But, I was born right before the Chinese New Year, which means, technically, I’m a rabbit.
Let’s just say I was not too happy when I found that tidbit of information out.
Don’t get me wrong. Rabbits are cute and all, but they don’t breathe fire.
And, really, I was supposed to be born a dragon.
You see, I was supposed to be born three months later – in March.
But I arrived a bit early.
I also arrived with an entourage. I’m the second of triplets.
Nobody knew my mother was having triplets – not even my mom.
She thought she was having twin boys. When I arrived after my brother, Sam, my mother informed the doctor that he had made some kind of mistake. She was not supposed to have a girl; she was supposed to have two boys, she informed him. When my brother, Tom, showed up after me, her response was something along the lines of, “I told you so.”
(This story should have been proof to me from an early age that my mom is right about everything. So, yeah, why I even bother arguing with the lady, I don’t know.)I can honestly say that my early arrival into the world was the last time I did anything ahead of schedule.
It appears I got that stuff out of my system early.
(It also appears I got the whole business of living in close quarters with other people out of my system early, too. I always claim that the reason why I like living on my own so much nowadays is because I didn’t get my nine months of “me time” in the womb. My brothers, who are both married and have kids now, don’t seem to have this problem – you know the problem where you want to growl at someone if they so much as make eye contact with you before noon? Yeah, that problem.)
These days, I do everything at the last minute – or later.
I spent my four years of undergrad and two years of grad school banging out papers ten minutes before they were due and kicking myself the entire time for not starting them earlier. (And, inwardly, thanking my mother for forcing me to take typing classes in high school against my will. Seriously, why I ever argued with that woman, I’ll never know.)
Unless I’m getting a paycheck to show up on time, I always arrive late. Even when I leave the house on time and I manage to catch the right train, I still end up being late.
I even learn things really late.
I was shocked in kindergarten to find out that everyone in the class already knew the alphabet. I remember thinking, “Did we cover this in preschool? Where was I?” (Luckily, I was pretty good at faking it, so I managed to mumble my way from H to X for the better part of a year without anybody noticing.)
I had training wheels on my bike until I was, like, fourteen.
I couldn’t swim in deep water until I had outgrown every single pair of water-wings available on the market.I guess I am what you might call a late bloomer.
(Except I’m not entirely sure I’ve bloomed yet. I mean, if I’ve bloomed, shouldn’t I know what I’m doing with my life already? Or at least, know how to talk to boys?)
To be honest, I get frustrated with this part of myself a lot.
I wish I could start projects at least a couple days before they are due and not a couple hours before. I wish it didn’t take me forever to learn simple stuff like how to count in a foreign language or how to flirt without turning the color of stewed beets. I wish I were one of those people who had her life mapped out for her at twenty-six, and not the type of person who at thirty-six and still hasn’t figured out what she wants to be when she grows up.
I wish I were born a dragon — fearless and confident and full of fire.
But I guess we can’t all be dragons.
Some of us have to be rabbits. Which I guess is okay because according to my online Chinese horoscope, I’m going to have a lucky year full of cake.
Seriously, guys, how is that not a good sign?
Besides, it’s probably for the best that I can’t breathe fire.What about you? Are you an early arriver or a late bloomer?