Thursday, February 10, 2005

Happy Lunar New Year - baaaaa!

says the sheep! yep, I'm a sheep. Or a goat sometimes. The few people who manage to piss me off to the point where I'll fight would probably say goat. Always wanted to be a Horse instead, just 'cause I like Horses & the real sheep I've met haven't exactly struck me as being an animal I want to be like. Oh, whatevahs. Happy Year of the Rooster! On to the Really Long (but Fun to Write)Post!

It’s Wednesday night, which is usually teaching followed by rolling practice night at the pool. Unfortunately, this week is my division’s monthly Hell Week – every month there is a review of the numbers & we create the package for our division. It’s time-consuming & has to be done absolutely perfectly each & every time. No pressure.

I had known right from the day I agreed to assist with these Wednesday night paddling classes that I wouldn’t be able to make it tonight – I actually probably could have made the second half, the rolling practice, but the sessions are at Sarah Lawrence College & it just seemed to make more sense to just let it go this week, stay at work, and get some decent progress made on the package (the alternative being being prepared to stay until 10 tomorrow if things didn’t go right – and there’s a lot that’s outside of my control – reporting systems running slow, spreadsheets crashing, ad hoc report requests, whatever). Had the class been the later half of the pool time, I might have tried to go – I’m really enjoying teaching these young women. I can feel the rust working loose on my instructor skills at a rate that makes me very happy. I can’t wait to get going on assisting at those rolling classes in CT – as I think I mentioned in another posting, I am not as confident in my ability to teach rolling (originally I thought I'd write about that tonight but then I went for this great post-work meander & decided rolling reflections would keep for another day) & this should be a real chance for growth in that area.

What I’m supposed to do with all that growth, I’m not quite sure – but when I was teaching & guiding a lot, I always just loved the synergy between teaching others and learning myself – learning skills is exciting, and I love the fact that in paddling, there always seems to be more to learn, one thing leading to another and another and another – but to learn a skill and then understand it well enough to turn around and give it to another person? That’s even better. That, like, totally rocks, dude (although it does make this closer-to-40-than-30 finance-team member wanna talk like a surfer and I’m not sure that’s so good!). So even if I go back into my early “retirement” from instruction (partially self-imposed, little pity required, will post on that sometime when nothing else seems interesting) this will have been a TOTALLY awesome and most radical winter. Dude. Oh, there I go again. Stop that.

So anyways, since I did give that up the pool time tonight, and probably won’t have much of a chance to hit the gym this week, I decided to walk to the next subway station down the line instead of the one closest to my office. It was a warm night for February in NY, close to 50 degrees, practically like early Spring (that lovely warm weather we had for our paddle to the Statue of Liberty is sticking around and I’m so happy – I heard somebody mention that four letter word that starts with “s” and whose second letter is NOT “h”, more like 6 letters down the alphabet from there today, but it sure wasn’t tonight). Tonight was a particularly good night to go for a long walk, not only because I did get to a good stopping place at the semidecent hour of 7:30 and because it was warm, but because I work in Soho, and the next subway station is in the middle of Chinatown, and today was the kickoff of Lunar New Year festivities!

I always enjoy walking through Chinatown anyways. Soho offers some fine, fine peoplewatching, especially in the summertime when people can truly cut loose sartorially (and oh my have I seen some “interesting” outfits out there) – but as far as atmosphere? Well, it’s pretty much one big mall that just happens to be housed in some nice old New York architecture. Ann Taylor, H&M, Banana Republic, Duane Reade, Express, Pottery Barn, Bloomingdale’s, Eddie Bauer…ho hum. There are definitely some interesting smaller shops on the side streets – oh yeah, and then there’s Prada which is rather fascinatingly bizarre even to a acquireophobic like myself – but on the whole it’s pretty chain-store dominated. Nice stuff, but...

Chinatown has a much more unique character. The fishmarkets, the greengrocers (where I buy vegetables whose names I don’t even know), the restaurants with the tanks of fish, lobsters and crabs (including these giant spidery-looking ones that look like they could give the cook one hell of a fight – I can’t quite imagine how they cook these monsters), the signs in Chinese characters, the jewelry shops with the jade & gold & little gold Chinese zodiac animals & good-luck symbols, and the souvenir stores with the sidewalk displays of bright-colored, sparkly toys, trinkets and tchochkes – I love walking around and looking at it all. Makes me glad to live in a city big enough to have these ethnic neighborhoods – it’s got it’s problems & it’s not the easiest place to live but hell, anybody that lives here & is bored has only themselves to blame!

Anyways, they had firecracker displays and music and dance performances today, and tonight Mott Street was full of leftover confetti (the sanitation squads had started but had barely made a dent). The restaurants were full of people. The sidewalks were full of people, some waiting to get into the restaurants, more just walking around taking it all in like me. Lots of families – kids popping snappers on the sidewalks, bugging parents to buy them stuff, or both at the same time. Everyone was having fun – oh except one little boy I saw, dressed like a little prince in blue brocade and a satin & velvet cap, sounded like he’d had about enough of a day, his mom caught my eye & gave me that wry smile & headshake that loving parents do so well when their kids are getting cranky just says so clearly “too much excitement for one day!”. And all the souvenir stands were extra-rich-looking with all the New Year stuff - red & shiny gold scrolls, lanterns & neon-colored lion heads (some that played a folk tune and snapped their jaws and blinked their flashing l.e.d. eyes – I almost had to get one!). I know it’s all just gaudy plastic and paper and tinsel – but it’s so much fun to look at!

One of these years I really should take the day off & go see the festivities. Actually the parade itself, with the lion dancers, is on Sunday – I’d be tempted except that I have the rolling class that day and I will be carrying a big bag o’ paddle gear and a 7-foot long Greenland paddle & it won’t work well in crowds. Anyways, I think I will restrict my cultural activities for the weekend to going to see "The Gates" on Saturday – I’m no big connoisseur of modern art or anything (January blizzard-in-Beacon blitherings notwithstanding) but that just sounds so cool, all that saffron blowing in among all those winter-bare trees - I can’t wait to see it but I think that’ll be enough culture for my poor little brain to deal with in one weekend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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