Skip to main content

My name in Mandarin?

Once upon a time in college, a friend of mine (not Chinese, just learning the language) told me my name in Mandarin could be roughly translated to mean, “Shouting to Quiet the Thunder.” I found that delightful, though dubious. Regardless, I liked the phrase and it stuck as my blog title.

For several years I maintained this blog, which I can no longer relate to (except for this one post I wrote about kale), so I deleted all the posts and I will now chronicle my life and adventures in China with my family of 5. My hope is to document this exciting time, post pictures, and provide all my friends on Facebook a respite from any inappropriately longform, too-frequent posting, which I fear would only increase as I start traveling and I don't want to be That Annoying Person (it's too late some of you are thinking). I might start a separate Facebook page just to upload the photos I take, though. We shall see.

This week I am filled with butterflies of excitement and anxiety because we leave Saturday to find our home in China. Like starting a new semester at school, or a new job, or having a new baby, it has not dawned on me - like...deep in my bones - that I’m moving to China. Just as when I’m pregnant, I don’t believe I’m having a baby until I’m actually in labor; I am fairly certain I won’t believe I’m living in China until I’m on the plane there. It’s not exactly denial so much as it is massive incredulity that my head will not wrap itself around.

So I bake. And I eat. I think I’ve gained 10 pounds in the last 4 months…okay, so it is denial. But my point is…this is a big, scary thing. Yes, it’s wonderful and I can list all the exciting things about life in China for which I will be grateful. However, I have 3 kids. And moving anywhere, besides inside the pleasant bubble of a suburban life in Southeastern Michigan (where I've lived my entire life) to which I’m accustomed, will be scary. This is not to say I prefer bubbles. I really don’t. I have lived abroad very briefly a few times and I've loved and cherished those times. I’m just exhausted in general and I like Costco. Happily, that’s about the extent of my objections. I cannot wait to eat Chinese food, learn Mandarin, experience a rich culture, and all that a new world can offer…after a nice, long nap. But, alas, there are no naps for a mother of 3 - except maybe on the 18 hour journey I take next weekend!

This morning I awoke because my husband’s leg touched my toe and I shot out of bed at 4:45. I grabbed Fuschia Dunlop’s memoir, Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A sweet-sour memoir of eating in China, with the intention of reading it, but I need caffeine to work my eyes so that idea was out. I turned on the coffee to brew 1 minute before it was scheduled to do so itself (5:00am). I don’t remember the next 5 minutes. Then coffee. Then I finished an episode of the new Netflix documentary series Chef’s Table, which I started last night (watch it!) and was inspired to document my own adventures and remembered this defunct old URL, languishing on the Interwebs with its weird kale chip recipe.

I will call this Day One.

What I’m Doing

  • Not packing (except when a dear, generous friend of mine comes over to listen to me fret and she so helpfully and patiently makes suggestions about what to pack because my brain cannot think of anything besides these cookies)
  • Fretting
  • Blogging (because that's also super helpful)
  • Learning a bit of Mandarin (ni hao, zai jian, wo jiao Milena, wo shi Meiguoren, xie xie)
  • Asking my Chinese teacher to give me a Chinese name (yay!)
  • Repeatedly heading to Costco and Target striking up touching conversations with the checkout people. (I mean, I buy stuff I need too.) I have to stop myself short of saying how much I will miss them, even though I really, really will, because that's just weird.
What I'm Excited about
  • Starting this blog - I think it will help me bridge this journey. I love to write and have not done much meaningful writing since my kids were born.
  • Finding some new artistic endeavors (I'm just feeling this huge creative urge lately).
  • Taking pictures of EVERYTHING and making my family pose for them - at least in a new country I have a really good excuse.
  • The food of course. Also a little scared. The travel doctor mentioned "don't eat the salads." That's not going to go over well for 3 years. I love salad as much as I love cookies. 
  • The music! Not only do I have a fellow classmate from UM performing in China (who is also recording a CD of Chinese and American art songs which sounds absolutely fabulous) around the same time I move there - I am already in love with a band that Mike saw in an abandoned factory in Beijing, and oddly enough will start their first North American tour around the time we head to China. Go see them if you can!
  • The community. There is already an incredible community of expats who have opened their arms to me long-distance, virtually, via Facebook. I swear I would not be able to deal without knowing that there is a large group of people who lean on each other and can give me information and incredible support any time I've asked any kind of dumb newbie question. I hope that I can give back to them (perhaps in the form of baked goods) as well as be there to answer questions for the next people who come along once I'm no longer so green. 
I will try to post regularly. Zai jian!


Comments

  1. Wow! I can't wait to read about all your new adventure! CHINA!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

I'm curious to see what you are thinking...

Popular posts from this blog

Home

I never imagined when I landed in China one year ago I would feel like this knowing I cannot go back, at least not any time soon.
For a variety of reasons – we will not be completing our 3 years in China and are moving back…well, now. I’m devastated to be perfectly honest. But the last two months have been…beyond what words can really describe. Intensely scary and unnerving, testing the limits of my sanity and self-worth. It’s important that we come back.

I think some people would be overjoyed to come back because of top-notch medical care and Costco. I don’t really understand why I’m not, despite the fact I know it’s the right thing to do. I don’t think it’s just the exhaustion having sucked my ability to feel.
We made a home and a life in China. I was starting a new career. I was love-hating every single crazy minute there. I was making good friends. I was just learning enough Mandarin to surprise people. And for better or worse, I was reminded often of how incredible it was to be…

Goodbye My Friend and Inspiration

Today I discovered someone who has influenced my life immensely has died. We don't have close mutual friends so I can see how no one would have known to inform me. But that doesn't mean he wasn't important to me and that he didn't impact my life dramatically. It mostly means he was so humble and so special to so many people it would probably have been impossible to inform all the people whose lives he touched. It happened earlier this year while we were in China, in April, about a month before my own life began to melt down.

I am really devastated that I didn't know and had to find out through a Google search. I had just written to him a few days ago inviting him to the Pergolesi Magnificat in which I'll be singing in a couple weeks. I was so excited to tell him we were back in Michigan and we could resume our (too infrequent in recent years) visits consisting of hours sitting, chatting, drinking, and eating.

It was unusual for him to not respond to an invita…

My First Mother’s Day in China

I know a lot of people are celebrating Mother’s Day milestones – and I’ll hop on the bandwagon and highlight the fact I am celebrating my first Mother’s Day in China. Solo-mothering, in fact. Mike has a number of very important work and family obligations in the US and I appreciate his being the family ambassador.

Being a mother of three in China, as a foreigner (I don’t really identify with the word expat, more on that some other time, perhaps) is no small task. I’m not even gonna humblebrag about it. It’s just really, really difficult and I’m making it work as best as I can. 
So. I’m going to celebrate some pretty great Mothering in China milestones, and pat myself on the back. And while I know I cannot attribute my kids' success 100% to my and Mike's parenting, (sometimes I think they are great in spite of it!) because I know they are innately wonderful, capable people who are doing so much of this hard work on their own...I feel proud and my efforts have been well worth …