Among my people, one of the popular traditions associated with the New Year is the mass consumption of black-eyed peas (the food, not the band) and collard greens. This is done to assure prosperity in the new year with the peas representing coins and the greens representing - well, greens (as in folding money). I've never much cared for either food, so I spent the cusp of the year exploring other options. As for the prosperity - I have publication news, which is enough for me. Honestly, the thrill of seeing "add to wish list" near the title - well, I've had romances that weren't that exciting. (Then again, I've had a few that were, so that's something.)
It was a truly amazing end/start of the year. Work was tucked away for a while and I had time to spend with family and far-flung friends and had some fantastic experiences. For now, I'll limit myself to three things to share since last we spoke:
1. I have now hand fed hippos. Not only do they not wear cute little tutus, like in Disney's Fantasia, they're actually pretty threatening. I mean, their maws are HUGE! And they have teeth to match. You pretty much just toss entire heads of lettuce into their gullets and marvel out loud, while saying to yourself, "Sweet heaven, let me get out of here with the same number of hands as I walked in with!" (Yes, that sentence wasn't grammatical, but I was distracted by the enormous teeth and quarts of hippo slobber.) Also in the animal feeding category, I fed a giraffe through something that looked like a giant Habitrail. In all honesty, it was incredibly cool to be so close to such animals and I felt privileged to be there.
2. I was serenaded by a crowd of people singing "Happy Birthday" to me at Disneyland. Sure, it was a month early, but if age isn't anything but a number, surely the same goes for dates, right? Fireworks and artificial snow followed and it felt as if it was all for me.
3. I also re-discovered that far too many poor souls go through life convinced that having fun is somehow not quite right. I mean, shouldn't being in the Godiva store and hand-picking your very own collection of freshly-made truffles naturally make you break into spontaneous joyous song? Sheesh - the looks I got from joyless passers-by.
On the other hand, someone who understands that joy is as necessary to life as air was an education officer at the L.A. Zoo I met during my visit. I approached him and explained (very sincerely) that I was in desperate need of educational information and please, could he tell me what the capital of North Dakota is? Far from saying, "Get away from me, kid, I'm here to talk about gorillas and nobody likes a smart aleck" he smiled and radioed the main office to get the correct answer. (It's Bismarck, by the way.)
You know, in a few religions there's a belief that once we reach the afterlife, we'll be called to account for every joy that we scorned while on this earth; every opportunity we had to enjoy this wonderful gift of life we've been given that we spurned. That'll keep you up at night. But just consider it - while it may be true that hard work never killed anybody (and I'm all in favor of hard work and do a fair amount of it myself most days), I'm pretty sure that celebrating being alive never did anyone in, either.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm keeping a truffle waiting.