25 February 2007

Gung Hay Fat Choi all the way home

January 1 is a ridiculous time to start the new year. It’s cold, dark, and filled with post-holiday depression. Lunar New Year comes flashing in red and gold when the trees are starting to flower (in California anyway). All the decorations in Chinatown remind me that this is my year: I am a pig (I am a boar? It doesn’t sound any better that way), which will presumably stand me in good stead when I get around to looking for a job.

I have a mug printed all over with helpful Pig information. According to this cup, we Pig people are “a likeable character with a cheerful and helpful disposition – always ready to help others. They love harmony and rarely become angry except when others take advantage of their good nature. Pig people crave for luxuries and just love the life of ease and self-indulgence.” It’s like looking in a mirror. It was printed in Scotland, so I know it’s all true. My Chinese name is Zhu, the sign of honesty, which is nice but not as good as my pirate name, which is Diego the Bitter. Suggested careers for me are vet, dentist, caterer, artist, florist, window-dresser, designer (hey . . . what are you trying to say?), and student. And with thoroughness my mug notes that dark blue is my color and lapis-lazuli, coral, and beryl are my stones.

All very nice. Of course, if someone analyzed my character based on my astrological sign (Libra, in case you’re curious) I would politely edge away. Such is the beauty of a cultural system one is not raised with. You’re free to pick and choose all the fun colorful parts and ignore all the underlying unpleasant assumptions. Unmooring the holidays is the first step toward turning the culture into something else.

Whatever the something else turns out to be, here’s hoping it involves good health, prosperity, and most of all peace.

5 comments:

Vicki said...

I had to smile at your entry because I have been to countless teacher seminars where diversity is brought up and someone in the room always rolls her eyes and says, "Learning about other cultures is NOT holidays and foods." I have listened to this for years, trying to make it true in my own head, but the truth is that holidays and food are the first things that most people want to share with you. And what I find more frustrating is that no one stops to recognize that careful attention to said food and holidays teaches one a lot about religion, beliefs, and even values.
By the way, our seasons are all wrong. We celebrate the start of winter on the shortest, darkest day of the year. That should be the middle of winter. The start of spring is on the equinox. That should be the middle of Spring. Spring should start about now, which would explain why I have planting fever.
Happy New Year.

M. C- said...

a fellow pig! oink oink, my brother.

pjwv said...

Vick, thanks for reminding me that unemployment means dodging the looming diversity seminars. The cup is half full!

M. C-, I shall take the half full cup and toast you, my fellow pig! I don't suppose you're going to be at the ballet on Tuesday, Christine Brewer on Thursday, A Flowering Tree on Friday, or Jonathan Biss on Saturday?

sfmike said...

Dear Pig: I'm thinking of the ballet on Tuesday, standing room at the back of the orchestra. Look for the bearded, bald dude running around with a camera trying to look inconspicuous and introduce yourself.

As for "diversity," if I hear that word again in relation to non-white people, I'm going to puke. It was even brandished around at the Academy Awards last night, which was truly stupid. The most absurd corporate use I've seen was at a Wells Fargo conference where the all-white top management was telling the 90% "diverse" branch managers that they all had to focus on "diversity."

pjwv said...

I think I'm in the second row orchestra on Tuesday. I'll look for the bearded baldheaded guy in the back. I'm a bearded guy with dark hair. I'll probably be wearing my glasses instead of contact lenses because the air in the opera house makes them burn holes in my retinas.

I've always loved the assumption by managers that if "diversity" or "treating people with courtesy" is news to them, then it obviously must be to the minions down below. But there's just too much irony in diversity to unpack in one comment, so I'll stop.