The trial of being both “not Chinese enough” to celebrate Chinese New Year, and “not Australian enough” to celebrate Australia day.
I have been told recently that there is not enough ranting on my blog that appeals to a greater audience and that my blog is basically made for women of a certain calibre of capitalistic fervour. This is not entirely wrong. I do believe in my many years, I have gone from a high volume of rant-related posts to “OH HEY GAIZ, I BOUGHT THESE!” related posts. This post is part of my plan to amend this state of affairs, and soon there will be far more ranting, combined with the joy of “OH HEY GAIZ, I BOUGHT THESE!” posts so that this little website may appeal to the greater masses.
I’ve been told many times that “You’re so Asian” by my Australian co-workers, combined with the “You’re so Australian” by my Asian counterparts – and the sordid truth is, I have no bloody idea what I now am. Being born in Australia and brought up with strangely traditional (and admittedly, highly neurotic) parents, I’ve been flushed down the cultural toilet with both Asian and Australian values – a laid-back “she’ll be right” mentality combined with the uptight “fight to the tooth and nail to pay for dinner, but buy toilet rolls in bulk” mantras that are pushed by my parents.
Many a time, I’ve found myself utterly confused with the machinations of my Asian parentage – it’s okay to eat rice that is several days old – as long as it doesn’t smell. It’s not okay to have a door directly facing a stair well. Wear a safety pin upon your clothing whilst attending a funeral. Try to never kill a money tree as this probably means that you will die horribly poor and possibly with warts. The number four means death – label all apartments as 3A, 3B and then move on to 5. Individuals with unattached earlobes will live a life of prosperity (think Bhudda and his extremely lobulous ear flaps) – people with attached ear lobes are stingy bastards and should be avoided at all costs. Moles near the mouth mean that you will ear well, but will probably dies of diabetes or some sort of horrible food-related illness…like rampaging cholera.
On the other-hand there are many Asiatic beliefs that I like to to celebrate – eating piles of delicious food when any random relative pops around during the 15-day Chinese New Year celebrations, for example. Red packets filled with money from your elders, is also a great morale lifter. Also, firecrackers, lion dances and the pounding cacophony of the drums – all sounds that I love. Unfortunately, as I get older, I’m finding myself submerged in the confounding rules and regulations of my race rather than the more fun, loud and altogether jolly aspects of being from the far east. Far less red packets (none this year), far less lion dances (none this year) and not even a single firecracker in the area (as you can probably tell, none this year either). And I miss it sorely. But is my progressing lurch in Australianism encroaching on my Asiatic upbringing?
In the same way that I love the finer things of the orient (or the louder things, as the case may be), I find myself entranced by the relaxed attitude of the general Australian public – a fair go, a beer and someone at the BBQ passing out sausages and charred steaks with a sweaty grin. On the other hand is the constant fear that I’m “Not Australian Enough” – genetically blessed with clearly Asiatic features – there’s no mistaking my visage as the result of having two immigrant parents – and this has proven time and time again to be a slight bane of my existence.
But who knows, one day I’ll be able to find the right balance between spring rolls and flip-flops; red packets and endless Summer barbecues; worrying about being a disappointment and following my dreams. And, when that day finally arrives, I’m sure it’ll happen in a big cloud of verve, courage and a large dose of humour. It will probably include falling over, at some integral and entirely embarrassing, point. In any case:
HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY / HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR