I had no idea how much I would be influenced by Chinese traditions when I first arrived in Asia. But now, eighteen months into my repatriation, I have to say, I’ve not left it all behind. In fact, I have kept a fair amount of it in daily practice.
- I don’t wear shoes in my house, and I would really rather you didn’t either.
- I love chopsticks.
- I say “Aiyahhh” all the time, and Chinglish is never really that far a way.
- I love Chinese astrology, and yes, I believe.
- I adore the ideology that surrounds the lunar new year in terms of preparedness, ensuring good fortune, and appreciation for new beginnings while venerating the past.
The Chinese are true champions of the practice of ignoring mutual exclusivity (among other things) and in many ways they truly embody the belief of hedging all one’s bets for acquiring a better future. Paying big dollars for license plates with fortuitous numbers (6, 8, and 9 in particular), submitting college applications on auspicious dates, appeasing the ghosts, beginning each year with a completely clean slate.
Aha. Now you see why I like it: clean slates are nothing short of divine.
So, I did all my cleaning. I gutted the closets and got rid of a ton of shit. I cleaned base-boards and I dusted. I also realized how much I absolutely loathe dusting. I got the laundry all done, I flipped the mattress and made the bed, I washed windows and cleaned the refrigerator. I organized my sock drawer and dusted all my books. I remembered again how much I freaking hate dusting. I cleaned the cat box and washed dishes. I tossed old magazines and filed all my paid bills. I balanced my check book and took care of my banking for the month. I vacuumed and then I vacuumed some more. I backed up the computer and zip-tied loose cords. When it was all said and done I saw I had to dust one more time. Aiyah.
And then I sat down and looked around. I missed Cita, who used to do all this for me in Hong Kong, but felt pretty good about getting it done here. It did feel like I could get everything done now that the foundations were in order. And all before the New Year so as not to sweep out any of the good luck. Nope, I do not want to do that.
This year is supposed to be challenging for me, a Dog, because “clamorous Dragon years frazzle [my] fragile nerves. As if the noise and brouhaha weren’t enough, Dragons steal the spotlight… These are the years in which [Dogs] feel that, no matter how hard you try, you cannot make progress on your own terms.”
Dogs, in the good times, are described as attentive, well-meaning, helpful, warm-hearted, altruistic, modest, devoted, philosophical, dutiful, discreet, intelligent and enthusiastic. But when the shit hits the fan they can be nasty, mean-spirited, disagreeable, bad-tempered, self-righteous, judgemental, quarrelsome, accusing, nervous, anxious and impossible to live with. (White, 1993.)
Girl Dogs are described as workaholics. Characterized by stamina, endurance, grit and determination, all to make the world a better place in which to live. A Girl Dog has a sharp tongue and a marshmallow heart, as a friend, the Dog woman is forever. Professionally, she is a human dynamo, providing she finds the right ambience to work in where she feels unencumbered by arrogant superiors, can set the parameters herself… Her physical endurance is admirable… the control she has over her mind, the disciplined way she can continually kick herself to get going and stay going, her determination and grit are superhuman… Dog women are not only thin-skinned but they are painfully sensitive to what others think of them… Dryness, a hint of reserve, strict personal discipline, X-ray powers of observation and crackling commentary are native to all sensitive Dog women. (Ibid.)
Metal Dogs are described thusly: This is the Dog that wants to change the world. He’s strong-minded, as well as generous and self-sacrificing. He’s a brave, gallant person whose sole reason for being on this earth is to stalk he holy grail of perfection… They are logical, zealous, methodical and rigorous. They do not believe in violence or upheaval, feeling that gentler, more civilized methods can and do work. They strive for an ideal with a determination that boggles the minds of less eager, less determined folk. Curiously, although they sometimes seem unapproachable, Metal Dogs long more than anything else to be understood, loved and revered by their peers. (Ibid.)
Ahhh… and now you all have seen through my harsh facade to what lies within that seemingly cold, dark heart.
Well, then. Regarding this year, I am told, “Don’t creep away, grumble or pout. Listen. Heed the Dragon’s wisdom. For all his showing off the Dragon is a soothsayer, a sage and a mastermind reader of the political scene. When the party is over and the fireworks die to an ember, you will remember and act on his words.” [That just made me think of Guy Fawkes, for some reason, though he was a Horse, not a Dragon.]
And to that end, I shall listen.
Maybe even to a Horse.