Monday, February 18, 2008

The Year of the Rat

But is it a dog?

You can have your MTV or Food Channel or CSI or BMI or BMW or Calgon just leave me I figure, after a long day, it's healthier than smoking a pack of Marlboros or mixing several drinks. Just a good 30 minutes kicked back with petfinder and the world melts away.

We almost had passed through this chapter of dog dreaming but then we met a baby dachshund on our way to the Chinese New Year festival and off we went again, Bets and I.

Our life seems to come in themes and this week's theme was the dragon. Betsy has been taking Kempo Karate with her friend Zoe. They love the class almost as much as they love their outfits (Gi) and having to bow as they enter and exit the classroom (Dojo), which is a good start. On Friday their Karate teacher (Sensei) gave them each a small stuffed dragon for being so good (not killing each other) in class.

Betsy has maybe 7899756 stuffed animals but this dragon is in a class unlike any other. Whenever she holds it she gets this very serious look on her face and says, "It's good luck." In fact, it's not really a stuffed animal at all to her. It's a real dragon. Or better yet, it's a miniature of her Sensei. She puts it on her pillow when she goes to bed at night and on Julie Albright's pillow during the day (is there anyone left on earth who doesn't know who Julie Albright is?).

So what better way to ring in my daughter's brush with the martial arts than take her to Chinatown for the New Year celebration. I didn't mention the firecrackers to her. Bets had a bad run-in with the fourth of July last year and definitely wouldn't have wanted to go. Firecrackers are small, nothing like the big boomers of the 4th. So I figured no prob.

There were the most incredible dragons all over town, black and gold, silver and red, orange, green. Bets loved the dragons. And then there was the crack crack crack of the firecrackers. She was taken by surprise but okay with them - as long as I held her, which is getting ridiculous given that my 6-year old is now almost up to my chin. But hold her I did.

We ducked into a restaurant to grab something to eat and give ourselves a break from the crackers crack crack cracking. Yes, one firecracker is little but when you set off an entire pack at one time, it's more like machine gun city.

The restaurant is our favorite, but you have to climb a very steep and narrow flight of stairs to get to the hostess. Once a long time ago, in another lifetime, a friend and I carried my very ill mother up the stairs so she could have dinner out with us that New Year's Eve, Anglo New Years. She was such a good sport and cheered heartily when we made it to the top.

This time, we - Betsy, Lucy and Phoebe and me - were just about to the top when the dragon folks set off what must have been ten packs of firecrackers outside the door to the restaurant. The kids got all wide-eyed as did us adults.

Thank goodness we had ducked inside when we did.

Then someone opened the door. Smoke and the smell of gunpowder (it is gunpowder isn't it?) quickly filled the stairway. The 100 of us crammed inside started to cough and rub our eyes. I ushered the children up the stairs, altruistically elbowing anyone who wasn't moving fast enough. Lucy then ushered us even further inside, up two more narrow stairwells.

On the third floor there was clean air to breathe. There also wasn't an exit in sight. If the place went up in flames we would be sunk. I comforted myself knowing I would die with my child, which is purely neurotic. Better to imagine my child surviving to live a long life without me.

Needless to say the smoke dissipated and we survived. But not without rethinking the value of a dining experience that does not involve exits, not without quickly becoming a person who finds the exits before ever sitting herself down in a room.

Maybe the dragons really were good luck.

I told Bets she''ll have a great story to tell her Sensei next class.

"About the dog at the train station!"

That too.

Next time, I'll take my tea with a teacup chihuahua outdoors.


Ms. Moon said...

Lovely post. Amazing what becoming a mother does to your psyche, isn't it?
Happy Year of the Rat!

Are You My Mothers said...

Thanks! Happy Rat to you too.

Anonymous said...

Petfinder is awesome (all those puppies!)- it's how we connected with the rescue organization that brought us our pup.

Also really cool is the North Shore Animal Shelter. Though once you see those pups face to face, it is hard to not take one home. The volunteers are really incredible, they take good care of the dogs.

Happy Year of the Rat!

jlloyd said...

A very interesting post given the anniversary of the RI fires this past weekend!

Are You My Mothers said...

Yes, I've been thinking about the RI fire, especially in light of our brush with smoke. Very frightening and remarkable such disaster doesn't happen more often.

lucky number said...

On February 7, 2008 the Year of the Earth Rat begins as the year of the Fire Pig comes to an end. The Pig is the last sign in the Chinese Zodiac and the Rat is the first sign. Therefore we are now at the end of one 12 year Chinese Zodiac cycle and the beginning of another one. If you are looking for closure, now is the time in the last few days of the year of the Fire Pig. If you are looking for a new beginning, a fresh start approaches with the year of the Earth Rat.

After two Fire years in a row, life may seem calmer during this Earth year. That could be deceptive, however, as the Rat never stops moving, especially when it comes to mental activity.

According to the popular legend, the Rat was the first to arrive to a dinner hosted by Buddha (but only after hitching a ride on Ox’s back and then jumping over the finish line) so this is why the Rat is the first sign of the Chinese zodiac. It signifies new beginnings. 2008 is therefore an appropriate time to commence new ventures, including new ideas, directions, and ways of doing things. There will be ample time to see your projects through and opportunities for you to achieve success. However, keep in mind that your actions may have long terms effects, so be wise with your decisions.