Tuesday, January 27, 2009


That would be gong hay fat choy up there, or, as the Mando people say it, gong xi fa cai.

Happy Lunar New Year! I know this post is a little bit late, seeing as the majority of initial celebration happens of the eve of this day, and it's rather late now anyway. But did you know that, traditionally, the Lunar New Year is celebrated for fifteen straight days? (In China, anyway. I can't testify for other countries.) It's my favorite holiday, a definite time for family, red envelopes, sugary snacks, tea, firecrackers, and incense. And you know what? This is the first year of my life where I will get none of that, being alone in wholly non-Lunar-New-Year-celebrating community. Not only am I not with my family, but I can't even enjoy festivals on my own.

It is pretty disappointing, to say the least.

However, I will try to remember our (our: my family, not our: larger Chinese community since ancient times) traditions, and I will remember the story I read in Fruits Basket about how the rat hitched a ride on the ox's back while traveling to the zodiac banquet.

Yeah Year of the Ox!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It's not over 'til it's over

I have never had a gaming console in my home until my older cousin unloaded his PlayStation 1 at our house around when PlayStation 3 first came out, so I never really got into gaming. What I want to say is (and nothing else), I don't have the habit or the muscle memory of button combinations--and only until recently did not associate A with go and B with cancel.

What I really mean to say is--my confidence in my gaming skills is not nonexistent, but just barely so. So I like to get ahead of the game and inform others before I even touch the controller that I suck, I don't know what I'm doing, please don't be too surprised when I die within a minute/the first level.

Nine years ago (has it been that long?) my family went to Canada for the holidays, where we stayed with an old friend of my father. He had a son, one year older than me, who was of course incredibly well-traveled in the world of console gaming. Us kids were instructed to play together, which basically meant that he played while my brother and I watched. Eventually he managed to convince me to play a solo game of Super Smash Bros. Melee. It didn't look too hard. So I managed to Princess Peach my way (on what I'm sure was the easiest difficulty) to Final Destination, and then I completely wussed out. There was no way I was going to try and lose, and I knew I was going to lose, so I wasn't going to try. I walked off the stage, determined to make this humiliating experience end as soon as possible and move on with my non-gaming life.

"What are you doing?" he asked me incredulously as he watched Princess Peach commit suicide a second time.

"I'm walking off the stage," I said, embarrassed. "This is too hard. I'm going to lose anyway."

"Why would you do that? You're not even going to try?"

"I'm going to lose! If you want, you can fight him," I said, holding out the controller.

"No, that's stupid. You're playing. Just... just fight him! He's not that hard."

"Fine," I say angrily. "But I'm going to lose. I mean, I already lost two lives anyway."

I won.

I had nothing, absolutely nothing, to say as whatever winning animation was supposed to play played on the screen. I didn't know whether to be embarrassed that I revealed myself to be so low on confidence, embarrassed because I was wrong and he was right, happy because I won, or angry that I could have had a more complete victory had I not dropped two lives down the drain.

It would be cliché of me to say that the lesson I learned was to not give up prematurely (or ever), to try, to believe in yourself, but that is exactly what I learn that day, when Super Smash Bros. slapped me in the face and proved me wrong. There is no after story to this. I didn't become some sort of gaming master or anything. I don't even remember who the boss was (I just looked it up on Wikipedia--Master Hand?).

It's just that, sometimes, when I think I will fail, when I am so sure I am going to lose, I remember this scene in my head, and know that sometimes I can win anyway, even if I have already lost two lives. And then, sometimes, I win.