Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Red glass, green glass

Life is full of choices. Red pill, green pill. When we say no or yes. When we choose to accept the world or seek to change the world. When we break from our habits and compulsions or break from them. When we say what we feel or know that it's not the right time. And what to drink?

There have been plenty of choices, recently. One case was the successor who didn't succeed. He was weak when he arrived. I knew it. I tried to make it clear that it wasn't enough. Probation time came. Both my manager and I made the call to pass him based on hope and the stated desire to improve. Without me there I'd hoped he'd find the space and the need to step up. Without me, two weeks later he was fired. 

In another completely different encounter, I chatted quite deeply with someone like me who was leaving the company apparently on his own terms, but as the tone of the conversation immediately implied, he felt forced to leave. The policies were unreasonable and prevented him doing what he wanted to do and stay with the company. There was heat; there was wine. I felt some affinity but I'm glad I don't feel oppressed by the world like that any more.

New Zealand will bring me a new tone of life. I would like to be a pragmatic vegetarian and cut back significantly on drinking alcohol and coffee. The latter two are kinds of perversions: compulsions. I feel defiled when I think of anything aside from basic bodily reactions as compulsions (i.e. besides sleep, hunger and thirst etc.). Choices and optionality are the way.

Another case of choice was that of my wife biting her lip, rather than speak. Did I tell you I have a friend who owns a baijiu factory? (Baijiu 白酒 a grain alcohol spirit). I'd met him on a language exchange app. I was helping him with English at first (he gave up soon after) and I made some crucial breakthroughs with my Cantonese while I was laid out with my broken knee. Then he mentioned his family's baijiu factory and I mentioned my love of baijiu. It was agreed: a year and a half ago that I'd be going to his factory; and only in the last week did we actually get around to it. The factory was started by his father on his own initiative. You could tell he adored his father, describing him as a very cultured man, who is a gourmet, calligrapher, master chef, entrepreneur and founder of a baijiu factory. I'd looked forward to meeting him and then it came. He made civet and snake hotpot (good!) and poured snake blood into wine and snake gall into another. (Ironically some vegetarian friends of ours had been interested in coming originally but I'm glad that they didn't.) But his conversation was mostly over my head. His humour was too abstract and ironic for me. Unfortunately it wasn't that way for my wife who stayed slightly aloof, but not because the rest of us had snake blood breath. It took the trip back to realise why:
"I wonder what his mother's like. He must take after her more." 
"His father said some really crass things."
From demeaning all people from Qingyuan (which I thought was jokey and I'd defended by saying Qingyuan Cantonese was more pure than Guangzhou Cantonese), to him asking which one of us had the "problem" for us not having a baby, to using a slightly derogative term for a half-Chinese/half-European baby (半唐番) and many other points, too. Apparently the comments were before the wine started flowing, from a cultured man, not that that means much between hobbies and proclivities. Perhaps it was probably good for me not to have understood quite at the time.
Great meal, though, and I was pleasantly drunk by the end.

Anyway, back to choices: Red glass or green glass?

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