Growing up is a bitch.
written: 12:26 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 26, 2009

I was going to wait until I'm less tired and more awake to write about this, but since it's the first day of Chinese New Year already, and since I'm still awake, I might as well do it now.

I have been a vocal fan of Chinese New Year since I knew how to be vocal. I loved Chinese New Year - loved the new clothes, absolutely loved the money, even quite liked the gatherings; but above all else, I loved Chinese New Year because it was a holiday that was distinctively Chinese.

There was a time when that - Chineseness - meant something to me. I was fiercely proud of my ethnicity, and as a logical consequence, I felt as if I had something in common with a Chinese person no matter his nationality. I used to support athletes at the Olympic Games because they were from China (see: Liu Xiang), and way back in 2004, I couldn't wait for China to rise as an economic power just because of that ethnic link.

See, it wasn't so much a link as it was fluffy sentimentality. Even if it was a link, it was flimsy at best, banally weepy at worst. I can't remember anymore how my pro-Taiwan stance co-existed with my apparently pro-China inclinations, because as it stands, I can't imagine ever being on China's side as long as Taiwan remains a de facto, and not de jure, independent country.

As a consequence, perhaps, I have placed less emphasis on my ethnicity when I probably shouldn't, and have cared less about things that make me Chinese, when I probably shouldn't. My hang-ups over my race seem silly to me now, and utterly inconsequential. Sure, I'm still proud of my race, but even as I type this, I wonder what that even means. How can I be proud of something over which I had zero control? What am I proud of, exactly? Race is so intangible a thing that I honestly don't know anymore. Am I proud of the fact that Chinese civilisation has endured thousands of years? If so, I sure as hell am not proud of the current civilisation - or lack thereof - that presently exists in China. Am I proud of the Chinese language? What is it about being Chinese that made me - still makes me? - so damn proud?

It was easy back then to make these grand statements without thinking about what it was that I was banging on about. Increasingly I'm beginning to realise that race doesn't really play that big a role in my life, in today's world, whatever, anymore. Australians support Jelena Dokic as their own even though she was born in Croatia and is ethnically a Croat (I think). The Australians that cheer for her sure as hell don't care that her family immigrated to Australia to escape the war.

Why should anyone? Nationality trumps race, right? I don't know that for sure, but it seems to be the case now more than ever. And I don't know why.

The unfortunate casualty in my change in worldview is this "Chineseness" that I was so desperate to hang on to as recent as a year ago. I'm not saying I'd turn my back on my roots (whatever that means) and neglect Chinese and all the traditions that give Chinese its Chineseness; all I'm saying is, I'm not excited about Chinese New Year anymore, and I'm not sure I can say with confidence that I love it.

It's the same old routine, and I just saw my relatives yesterday so I'm not in any huge hurry to see them again tomorrow. Not to mention - shopping for clothes this year was the opposite of enjoyable. I didn't care after a while, and I gave up looking for a nice dress to wear on Day One after I couldn't find anything and had no time to keep searching - and I don't even care. I don't care about the money, too. I am a bit excited about wearing my new shoes that I bought from Taipei (omg damn prettyyyy), but that's about it.

I feel rather sad about how uninterested I am in this Chinese New Year. Above all else, it's truly a sign that I'm really getting old. I used to get excited about all these fluffy, superficial Chinese New Year traditions, but not anymore. I wouldn't even care if I stayed home on the first day, if I didn't do any visiting.

On second thought, maybe this is the problem: I can't remember the last time I spent Chinese New Year in Taipei. And I really want to. But once again, it's not to be. I talked to my Taiwanese grandmother for a bit on the phone yesterday and I asked her where she and Granddad were gonna be on Day One. She told me that all the uncles are going up to Taipei and they have booked a table at a restaurant, and I wasn't lying at all when I told her that it was a pity we couldn't be a part of it.

Okay, forget it. I can sense that this entry involves many issues at once and I'm too tired to deal with it. Forget it. I'll just say this: Growing up is a bitch.

before sunrise // before sunset

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