Year of the Dragon
Happy Lunar New Year, faithful blog followers! While celebrating the resetting of the Gregorian calendar on December 31st with shit loads of alcohol, whorish outfits, illegal fireworks, and making a host of resolutions to do things you will (a) never do, and (b) never realize you probably should have been doing all along is not so much my cup of tea, the Chinese/Vietnamese New Year most certainly is.
During the last semester of my Bachelors in Philosophy at Cal Lutheran, I did an independent study with my advisor and boss, Dr. Chen, on Eastern Philosophy. While the majority of the semester was spent going over good tofu recipes and trying them out, the culinary experiments were laced with perhaps the greatest journey in discussion and personal exploration I have ever had. Twice a week, Dr. Chen and I met and talked about Eastern philosophy, which uncovered ideas and beliefs that at the end I felt entirely changed me as an individual. And in fact, since then my most favorite place to go to is temple. Growing up Catholic, I never had some of the experiences I have had when going to the Buddhist temples – especially the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, CA and the Ventura Buddhist Center in Ventura, CA. Where I previously found rules, judgment, and dogmatism in my Catholic upbringing, I now find acceptance, intellectualism, and peace in this relatively new (to me) culture.
So the Lunar New Year is very special to me. It reminds me to visit Dr. Chen. It celebrates a culture that is still new and yet unbelievably beautiful to me. And it metaphorically guides me towards starting fresh for another year. So happy Lunar New Year; hopefully the Year of the Dragon brings us all peace and prosperity.
I don’t know about you guys, but things have been a little light on the family drama front as of late, and I was starting to wonder if this is just the calm before the storm. Hello Kitty Toaster hasn’t even taken it upon herself to act as the moral authority on my Facebook page in a while, and I fortunately have not run in to them anywhere around town.
Could this be a turn in the right direction? I thought to myself just yesterday as we were on our way to a family celebration of my grandparents’ 62nd wedding anniversary at IHOP.
Not so fast.
We should first disregard the immense drama that occurred when we showed up at the IHOP in Valencia, only for my mother to scream over the phone for the entire place to hear that she meant the one in Newhall Ranch. Let’s also (for a second) just disregard the fact that my mother and her family decided that the best place to celebrate a wedding anniversary is their local International House of Pancakes. And we’ll even ignore the fact that I had to order off the children’s menu because that was the only place I could find anything that had less than 900 calories. Ignoring all of those things, all of this could have been tolerable as a one-time event if only it weren’t for one thing: family children and cheap pricks.
Whenever we are around other children under the age of 10 or so in my mother’s family, it’s a stark reminder that mine ‘aint so bad. After these kids ate yesterday, they proceeded to run around and scream – I shit you not, faithful blog followers – for at least fifteen minutes before anyone told them to simmer down. For a moment, I thought this might have been why they selected a more “family friendly” (i.e. little, uncontrolled shits) restaurant, but then I remembered the time these children were allowed to act the same, exact way at a five star steak house. It’s no wonder some restaurants are choosing to go kid-free with little terrorists like that.
Then came the time to pay, which never ceases to be awkward. Rather than allowing the table of 16 people to break the bill up, IHOP insisted it be on one bill (understandably so). This turned into a complete debacle because – no matter how many times this happens – no one had cash. (Well, we had cash, but no one else did.) About twenty minutes after we got the bill and handed over our cash, one of my cousins who could best described as an “obese jerkface” started yelling at the waitress because they weren’t given the senior discount with my grandparents there. This, of course, was after the screaming children were allowed to run around like assholes – and another incident earlier in the meal when everyone was too “hot” sitting in the area they were sitting, so demanded the wait-staff move all sixteen of us to another area in the middle of appetizers. Apparently grammie and grampie ordering off the senior menu negated the possibility of the entire table getting a discount – too bad for them and we tipped a little extra on our portion for the massive amount of rudeness.
Always a good time with my mom’s family. It sort of reminds me why I don’t see them often.
A Startling Realization
At that very family luncheon for the celebration of my grandparent’s anniversary, we were positioned as follows:
All of the adults on one side of the table, with my mother at the head. All of the kids and my husband and myself at the other side of the table – so far away we really couldn’t converse with anyone about anything other than Barney and Dora.
As I sat there, trying to figure out a way to sneak to the corner store across the parking lot to buy a fifth of vodka to help me get through the three and a half hour IHOP lunch, I came to a startling realization as I stared down to the head of the table: my mother looks like a turkey.
I know that’s messed up to say, but I’ve said worse about her and to be honest it’s just the truth. She even has something like a gobbler, which flaps around when she gestures wildly (as she often does when she talks).
Is this my fate? Will I one day have to hide around Thanksgiving time for fear of being mistaken for one of the tasty fowl? I shudder at the thought.