And...it begins again.
So last night was New Year's Eve here in China, the one that really counts - Lunar New Year, or Chinese New Year to most of the world, even though, in fact, it is celebrated at about this time all over Asia and is known by a different name in pretty much each country (for instance, Seol-Nal in Korea, or Osho-gatsu in Japan). People have been intermittently shooting off fireworks essentially since I got here, but the frequency with which your ears are assaulted by their reports has steadily increased over the last few weeks to a fever pitch last night.
Damn, I feel sorry for kids who only get to blow things up once a year.
Being an open-minded sort of person, I decided I would join in the fun - I bought a pack of sparklers and the smallest amount of firecrackers I could (1000) at the stand I came across on Tuesday afternoon. There was one on my street corner, but I passed it by, and never came back to it. Oops. I burned all the sparklers standing on my balcony around 9 last night then went down to set off my 1000 firecrackers in the parking lot...see, I'm catsitting, and I didn't think Puddin would have been too happy with me if I set 1000 firecrackers off on the balcony. I figured it would take a while for them all to go off, and I didn't want her having a heart attack or, worse, diarrhea from the scare, but as it turns out, a thousand firecrackers only FEELS like it should take a long time exploding. In actual fact, that 4-foot string of firecrackers which feels like Rambo ought to be feeding it into his machine gun, when lit, is over in about 30 seconds. Not even a minute. Who knew?
I felt like I'd done my part to ring in the year of the rabbit. I got settled into my apartment and started watching Glee again, but just past 11 it became impossible to continue - there were just too many flashes of light distracting me. I went to my room and tried to read, but this was even more distracting, because I could see them out my window, in the distance. As midnight approached, it became RIDICULOUS how many bursts of light there were going off, some of them directly outside my window. Frickin cool is all I can say. Sometimes I'm thankful for China's lack of public safety laws.
Well, after opening the window long enough to realize how much sound two panes of glass actually DOES kill, get high on the smell of gunpowder, and get these pictures, I managed to fall asleep. I woke randomly four hours later to bug Socrates on Skype, and it was eerily quiet...for about five minutes, and then I heard the reassuring sound, in the distance, of small explosives going off. Yes, even at 4:30 in the morning, somebody in Shanghai was still lighting fireworks. Naively, I thought that perhaps it was going to quiet down after last night, while hoping otherwise, but no - it's 8:30 at night and already the artillery brigade is going. Most excellent! From the window last night I could see the parking lots accumulating a covering of shredded red paper, and although the groundskeepers of our complex had cleaned pretty much all of it up by this morning, it looked something like this:
It's a good thing the Chinese parents don't have the same kind of work ethic mine did growing up, because those kids would have been out there trying to clean up the mess all day.