Technically Chinese New Year fell on Friday, January 31st this year; and Los Angeles’ annual Golden Dragon Parade was held on Saturday; but… inadvertent contrarian that I am, I decided to check things out on Sunday. They were, however; still hosting various acrobatic performances on a portable stage, and little children were excitedly shooting confetti poppers in the streets… so there were definitely still things to see. And it was probably a lot less crowded.
But let’s back ourselves up a bit. I woke up Sunday morning not particularly feeling like going out. Already! On day two! Did I call it or what? It was overcast outside (and I usually LIKE overcast!), and it was kind of looking like it might rain. Inside my apartment it was a bit cold, too. Which to translate for the rest of the below-zero country, it was a warm and balmy 60F.
I also wasted my morning debating whether or not to drive or take the train, which would take an hour and require me to change lines three times along the way. And then once I decided that I was driving, “Where do I park? How do I get there? Should I take my big DSLR or just use my cell phone for photos? Google, why on earth did you remove ‘My Places’ from your mobile version? I was using that!” Really, the racket inside my head would begin to frustrate even Mr. Rogers.
Nonetheless, I pushed myself out the door at the proper time, and guess what? The sky was starting to clear up. A little bit of blue sky and sun was shining through the gray ceiling, yet it wasn’t quite the bright fireball of heat burning into my retinas like it usually is around here.
And then the Universe apparently had something else to say.
I get myself situated in my car, turn the ignition, and the radio station starts playing this:
You’re kidding me, right? Beethoven’s 6th? The Pastorale? Right when the sky is starting to clear up? Alrighty Universe; you fickle, imaginary thing; I’ll quit my bellyaching and excuse-making and just get on with my day. Now, can you also help me find a decent place to park when I get there? Because then I’d really know you meant to play that song just for me.
Well, once I arrived, it indeed took a few turn-arounds to figure the best place to park. I spotted the sign for a cheap lot after it was too late to turn into it. And by the time I got myself turned back around… they had actually upped the price! But… what does this mean! What does it all mean!
Oh, right. That there’s another parking lot just up the street. Cool.
As for Los Angeles’ Chinatown, it’s small but cute enough. It was crowded, but it was only bothersome when parents would literally walk in front of me, and then put their kids on their shoulders so that I could no longer see anything happening on the stage. So… I’m guessing common courtesy isn’t a popular New Year’s Resolution yet again. Welcome to the New Year. Same as the Old Year.
The more interesting stuff, though, was outside of the official par-tay area. I wandered into a labyrinthine mall of tiny shops that sold clothes and trinkets and shoes and housewares, and I have no idea what else. Even tinier hallways prevented anyone from going anywhere other than with the flow of oceanic traffic. I made several turns down several different pathways, and midway through was starting to wonder whether or not I’d (A) ever see daylight again, or (B) end up trapped inside of Narnia if I did.
It very much resembled a more confusing, more confined, indoor only, Chinese version of downtown LA’s Santee Alley. Which I admit, I rather like even though I can only take it in small doses, and rarely do I actually need anything that is being sold.
But since I’m here to tell the story, I did, in fact, make it out alive and un-subjected to any heavy-handed Christian references. I bought a few stalks of lucky bamboo, because I’m slowly killing what I’ve already got at home. Even though I’m pretty sure that’s the exact opposite of lucky, I keep buying them anyway.
I also bought a couple pastries from some place called Queen’s Bakery. One Taro Bun, and one unlabeled guessing-game filled with cream. I presume it was coconut. They were both delicious and eaten way too fast, and I’m already having nostalgic memories about eating them so many hours ago. <sigh> You had me at sugar.
Lesson of the day: Sometimes it’s necessary to make room on the sidewalk for an impromptu, roaming parade. You might as well enjoy the dancing and the drums while you’re waiting, because otherwise you’re just going to get run over.
Happy New Year!