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The pre-trip is tomorrow
In (under) 24 hours I will leave for China for the first time! Let me start by saying, I'm incredibly grateful for this opportunity. Many people never get to visit China during their entire lifetime - and now I am embarking on a journey that will change my life and my children's lives forever. We are essentially going to become different people than we would have ever become without going to China. That is exciting and daunting. It is a deliberate choice to throw ourselves into a life that most other people do not choose.

I think of my father, who did the same thing coming to America from the former Yugoslavia. He had no idea what it would hold, and he just jumped in with both feet. (Oh there are stories!) I know he would have told me to go for it.

I have been told point blank by many people they would NEVER consider moving to China, much less with 3 kids. In my mind there was never a choice NOT to do this, barring something extreme. Yes, the pollution does concern me, that's not a small thing, but it seems manageable, and other than that I cannot think of any good reason NOT to live there, given this incredible opportunity.

The pre-trip is intended to show us our new life, and at the end we sign on the dotted line, with full knowledge of what we are getting ourselves into. It's not a like a vacation, as we have a 7 day itinerary fully planned with trips to choose our home, our new doctors, our new schools, our new grocery stores, church, bank, post office...etc. However the evenings we will have all to ourselves and I hope we can get some great pictures and eat great food and experience some of the city on our own.

Novelty fatigue
I mentioned in a previous post that I'm just exhausted. I don't mean to complain or just be negative, but I have some legitimate concerns about my mental exhaustion - it's the kind of exhausted which sleep cannot improve. Like end of semester exhaustion, or for those of you who perform on stage, end of a run exhaustion. Trying to give my kids' birth dates to the pharmacist today was an exercise in futility. I repeatedly gave her dates that were scientifically implausible. Like kids born within 3 months of each other. She just looked at me funny and I blurted out, "I'm sorry! I'm moving to China. I have no idea what I'm talking about!" I think she felt bad for me. In my ill-fitting harem pants, stained t-shirt, and wild hair falling out of its ponytail I was clearly a woman who couldn't even if she wanted to.

I think that I am suffering from something I will now coin: Novelty Fatigue. I think as mothers we have to constantly learn to do SO many new things as our kids grow. Each new stage results in new challenges and I feel like my brain is stretched to its maximum with information, concerns, strategies, and solutions. Now adding a move to China I feel like my brain and body are going to stage a revolt from all the newness. It's a precarious thing - this living with kids. It's not like when I was 21, stupidly intrepid, traipsing through Italy and Croatia (mostly) alone.

With kids you are constantly running a program in the back of your brain: What Does Everyone Else Need? As I type this, I also hold in my consciousness my sleeping children, the approximate time they might wake, what they'll need to do/ eat as soon as they get up, the fact I need to pack for China and plan a schedule of events for the rest of the day to keep them occupied. I keep jotting notes on a sticky pad as I move around the house when something pops into my brain because I won't remember it 30 seconds later.

So, adding "Moving to China" to that program makes me feel like the whole thing is going to shut down and I'll have a BSOD in my brain. Meh. Whatever, there is literally nothing I can do about any of it - so...onward!

What I'm excited about
I have an easy crochet project and a book chosen (the Fuchsia Dunlop book) to read on the plane and our 12+ hour layover. (Blech! I hope I can pawn my baby off to excited grandparents who miss their kids and will bounce him on their knees!)

I am excited to finally choose our new home! I have never really had the opportunity to live someplace of my own choosing with the exception of a very shoddy little apartment in Clawson full of pot and tobacco smokers (despite the landlord claiming it was smoke-free AND one of the potheads nearly blowing the place up - long story) during the time between moving back in with my parents after college and then moving into Mike's house when we got engaged. Makes me wonder about the smoking situation in China...

I cannot wait to eat real Chinese food. My Chinese teacher told me I will very likely be able to take some Chinese cooking classes, about which I'm super excited. She also sent me the video to the right which makes me even more super excited. So much delicious food! I was even invited to get some legit xiaolongbao by one of the most lovely expats who have been my cheerleaders from afar.

I am excited to meet my fellow expats. I have a feeling I will make some instant friends based on the fact we are all crazy enough to leave our homes for China. Many of them have lots of kids which is also exciting.

I get to tour a Chinese Montessori kindergarten (maybe two?)! My brain is asploding with excitement over that one! Will have to get lots of pictures.

I also get to tour the Nanjing University of the Arts! My hope is to find some teachers there perhaps to study with, some accompanists who might work with me and get my singing chops back in shape. I have no idea what kinds of musical opportunities there might be, but I will take any I can get.

I will get to visit our church which has a fascinating history. Maybe they will let me cantor there?

I will say this: I have had a lifetime of exposure to other cultures through music and food, for which I'm eternally grateful. When I listen to Chinese music and eat authentic Chinese food (or just dream about authentic Chinese food) I become so excited and feel totally at ease - unlike when I ruminate over things like, "But there's no Costco!" I feel like if I can "get" some elements of a culture like art, music, and food - I can acclimate to the rest of it, and it doesn't feel at all foreign. I can be right at home. And pretty soon, Nanjing, China will be my new home. My wish is to fully embrace all of it. (Yes, after a nap!)


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