Thursday, February 20, 2003

February is a short month; this is something I have repeated several times of late. Evidently I believed it. Yesterday I thought that today was the last Thursday of the month, and thus very, very nearly the end of the entire month. But it is not. February is in fact a little longer than I imagined. I am in no hurry. The length of February, short or long, is not nearly as astonishing as the fact that the year is 2003. Frankly I am still feeling somehow cheated by the whole Y2K letdown. Perhaps I should attempt to make contact with that family we knew, the ones who left for the mountains spouting doom and hoarding ammunition.

Isn't February the ideal month to point out that time and dates, years and calendars are in fact more arbitrary than not? Only 28 days in the month of February and then every four years we play catch up, because we have not been giving equal calendar time to all the hours of the year. It is a trip around the sun and like all good trips it comes in longer than expected; longer than can be calculated in whole numbers. People are in awe of whole numbers. Y2K was all about being awestruck by a great, big, large whole number and assigning it powers that have no relation or logical association with our trip around the sun.

Also, in February we have groundhog day. Now we can assign the passage of seasons and time to a ground dwelling mammal. This holiday completely got by me this year and I missed the whole scene. Did the little guy see his shadow? Are we facing six more weeks of winter? Isn't winter over once we recognize the spring equinox?

Half a world away, and at Panda Express, it is a new year. It is the year of the ram (or sheep, depending on who's take out menu you believe.) Ever since February 1st, I have had a longing to eat a very good Chinese meal, or to go to a Dim Sum restaurant and sample from hundreds of beautiful little delicacies. I'd like to have crisp egg rolls with a hint of ginger and a slightly spicy sweet and sour sauce to dip them in. I would like to be served sizzling rice soup, and stir fry with cashew or almonds. Hot tea, and soft lighting in a comfortable room with deep booths and pupu platters grilled right at the table. Ever since the first day of this supposedly short month I have waited to have such an experience, and as it occurs to me that the month is not nearly over I am relieved to realize that it may not be too late to fulfill this desire. Dates and details may be arbitrary, but good Chinese food definitely is not.

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