A terrible, dark cloud hanging over this year's Lunar New Year. Late last night as I was about to go to sleep, I saw that something had happened in Monterey Park; Jeong Park's brief but important context on what Monterey Park means to Asians in LA; trying to litigate my rage, confusion, grief.
Monterey Park. I grew up in West LA, so this meant spending every available weekend in Monterey Park. West LA has far less Asian culture (save for the several-block stretch of Sawtelle Blvd. between Olympic and Santa Monica Blvds.), whereas everything about Monterey Park is Chinese—street and business signs have Chinese characters, boba shops are far more common than coffee shops, the vast, vast majority of people and the languages they speak. This is where we went for weekly groceries, takeout for the next couple of meals, the dentist, the haircutter, Chinese pastries, seeing family and friends. It felt like I was living two lives, almost like we spent all week getting slowly depleted of our culture, only to refill each weekend. And, naively/stupidly, I think Monterey Park had remained in my memory an innocent, untouchable place, perhaps because of the way I experienced it almost as a cultural transaction. I am extremely shocked at the violence that happened there last night and have had waves of loss come over me all day as I recall my memories of the place.
This year, I had decided really intentionally to celebrate Lunar New Year and make it my own by honoring the new year with whatever pieces of culture I wanted and meant something to me. Juxtaposing my excitement and joy at the occasion with the community's loss has meant despairing and weeping randomly, but then also trying to go about my day and not let the violence and loss take anything further away.
This morning, I had plans to spend the day in Chinatown with my friend Jasmine, who is also Chinese, and I called her and asked if she was scared. Not much had come out yet about what exactly happened, and I wasn't sure if violence might spring up in NYC's Chinatown as well. We went back and forth on what to do, and ultimately decided we wanted to go. I was very glad to visit the area, and that I could see joy and hope triumph.
While I missed the majority of the firecrackers with my fretting, a few were still going off by the time I got to Chinatown. I thought the sound of firecrackers would feel terrifying in light of the mass shooting, but it instead felt defiant.
Then, later in the evening, I hosted a little noodle night that I had been planning for a couple weeks. My friends came together, pitched in, and created a sanctuary of good food, love, and laughter.
Noodles, Friends, Convo set to Chinoiseries, Chinoiseries Pt. 2, Chinoiseries Pt. 3
rabbit coaster for year of the rabbit; 出入平安(chu ru ping an) = travel safely; white rabbits and fortune cookies
new year's pasties
my fortune for the year 🧧🐇