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the sound of a screaming desert
Forbidden City, New Year's Eve , 2008

I know the sound the desert makes in those slow motion films they show in high school. You know the ones, the movies where they show a desert finally getting some moisture after a long dry season, the rain falling and the ground sucking up the moisture like some ravenous steroid filled sponge.  Yes, that is the one that I am talking.

I know the sound the desert makes during this moment, and it is saying "OOOOOOOOUUUUUCCCCHHH!" Of course there are few expletives also thrown in there and I will let you use your imaginations which one they were.

I came to know this feeling because I , and a friend of mine ,spent New Year's Eve looking for fireworks to watch. I was quite sure that somewhere, at some time in my life had seen Beijing featured with fireworks being shot off for New Year's Eve. This was not, on the whole, a completely unreasonable thing to believe because the Chinese celebrate many things with fireworks, and I saw no reason they shouldn't celebrate also. So my friend and I trounced around Beijing in minus seven degree Celsius temperatures looking for a firework show that increasingly seemed to only exist in my mind.

Eventually we got to the Forbidden City. I saw that there was a small crowd there and became convinced that this was where there would be fireworks. Well I was part right, but mostly wrong. There are in fact fireworks during New Year. However they are done during Chinese New Year.  And then what should have been a moment of disappointment turned into a moment of silliness as we recalled the whole evening. I could have sat there and been disappointed that the waning hours of 2009 were spent underneath the streets of Beijing. I could have dwelled on the imperfections and wrinkles and torn edges in what should have been a picture perfect hallmark moment. But I made the choice to enjoy the moment for the goodness in it.

On the way back to the hotel, my friend and I laughed as we recalled the evening. We got back to the hotel with about four minutes left in the old year. My friend excused herself and used the washroom and while she was there the old year quietly became the new year and the new year became the present and not the future.  When my friend got out of the washroom I hollered "I haven't seen you since last decade , you haven't changed a bit." And she laughed as she realized that she had missed the passing of the year.

Not perfect by any means. And the hollering coming out of my room before dinner New Year's Day as I applied moisturizer to my dried skin was the only part of it I would change. Despite all the drama , miscues , and loss of confidence in my memory it was a wonderful way to start a new year. There was a lesson in all of this. If I may be humble enough to add, this lesson was the most profound thing I had ever written. However I am too busy enjoying this moment  with my imperfect wrinkled dog eared photo in my mind and I want to spend as much time with it as possible.


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I entered your blog site into my Google reading list. It's completely out of the season, but I really enjoyed reading this blog. Your sense of humor and sensitivity touched my heart. I think this type of reading blogs is odd but quite appropriate because blogs are like haiku which is naturally close to a season. Reading a new-year blog in mid summer or reading July-4th blog in January is something, I'm sure, many haiku lovers would do.