Photos by Jie Jenny Zou
It doesn’t officially feel like the new year until the lunar new year rolls in about a month or so after the start to the gregorian calender.
I spent my gregorian new year at a southern drag show, complete with a sketchy open snack bar and an even sketchier locale–an unmarked double-wide trailer on a hilly, residential street in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Needless to say, I was forewarned by my friends to not use the bathroom as the trailer lacks a “real” plumbing connection.
I’m spending my lunar new year back in NYC with family and friends. Luckily for me, “Snowmageddon” 2014 didn’t throw off my flight travel. I can honestly say that “snow” in the south actually is truly scary because of the lack of rock salt and the use of salt brine, which caused roads to become thick sheets of ice.
The New Yorker inside me was laughing that my newsroom would have an “emergency” snow meeting with forecasts of 2 inches, but the new Southerner inside me was petrified when my car skidded off the ice.
This year is the year of the horse–one of 12 creatures in the cyclical Chinese zodiac and also the year in which I was born. I’m hoping that it means I get an extra kick-ass year filled with travel and new experiences, and perhaps, a little bit of extra cash.
Tradition dictates that you ring in the new year with close family and friends and displays of wealth and fortune in the form of money-stuffed red envelopes. The envelopes are really for young babies and children and they tend to dry up in the teen years–usually at the same time your cuteness factor begins to subside.
The idea is to spread the wealth. It’s not as materialistic as it sounds. Ultimately, your family ends up receiving the same amount it gives away. It’s more of a symbolic gesture of good faith, meant to spur the new year off in the right direction.
So far, I think I am off to a good start. I’m visiting Philly for the first time to catch up with a few friends before I head back to my work grind in SC. Then later this month, I’ll head to Baltimore, MD, for the awesome annual NICAR conference–also a first.
The conference is a four-day, data-crammed fantasy filled with your choice of programming language boot camps and number-crunching tutorials. I’m salivating already.