15 September, 2016

Into the Abyss...

I just realized I know *nothing* about my life after September 27th. 

That is the day we arrive in Beijing. Apparently someone is going to put us up in a hotel...for that night at least.

At some point we will sign paperwork (I assume) with the schools who have promised to hire us.

At some point - hopefully the first day - we will look at apartments that have been selected as good options for us.

No idea how we will eat, what we will eat, where we will live, where we will work, or how we will get around.

We do not speak the language. 
We cannot read the language.

Imagine seeing the entrance to a very dark cave that you cannot see into at all. You step into the entrance and cannot even see your hands in front of your face. All you can hear is a friendly voice saying, "Come on in! It's awesome! You'll love it!"

You answer, "I can't see anything - give me some directions!"

They shout back...from way in the depths of the cave, "Don't worry about it - just keep walking!"
And then, "Oh! But try not to fall into the giant potholes!"

"...WHAT potholes? I can't see anything!" you say.

And the greatest reassurance you get it, "Meh. You'll be fine." 

That is the best description I can give for what this is like.

14 September, 2016

Moving On...

Yep. It's here.
This is an insane week. It all happened very suddenly.

The first flight on the trek to Beijing is on the 19th.

On Sunday, I made my final donation to the women's shelter, and today Brett made his final run to Goodwill. Any small stuff remaining will just get tossed.
Nice ladies' clothes, a few blankets and a pillow, for the shelter.

Packing has begun: 

Books will line the bottom of each suitcase. We're not taking many, but as soon-to-be-teachers, we each have some books that will prove useful. Also, not knowing how long until we will have a TV hooked up, and not knowing our way around, reading material may be vital entertainment! (Yes, we each have e-readers, too.)

Last night I packed the first suitcase, with winter clothes and a few other things. I think we were getting stumped by trying to decide on what to keep, and then getting discouraged at not making enough progress (at least, I was a bit discouraged). So I put in a few books, two pairs of my winter boots (stuffed with winter socks, to save space), and piled in a bunch of winter clothes that I knew we wanted. One suitcase sealed is a helpful turning point.
At 44 lbs., that sucker is full!

If I do a suitcase each night, we'll be okay. Brett is off all week, so he's doing a lot of throwing things away and running things into storage. Today I went home at lunch to clear out my desk. Goodwill is coming tomorrow to collect all the remaining furniture. THEN the apartment will feel empty.

We are trying to eat only food we already have on hand, or just run to the store for perishables - I need my apples, and prefer a salad at lunch. Today I threw away the container I brought my lunch in (which would have come home to be washed).

09 September, 2016

PSA: Get a Mammogram!

Good morning all!

I thought I'd throw this out there because I was prepared to skip it this year. 

I've been getting mammograms for about 10 years now, because my sister got breast cancer in her 30s. I've never had a sign of cancer, and never felt a lump. So this year, with everything going on, and my PTO running out at work - so not wanting to take all the time to drive across town - I thought, "Meh. It'll be clear anyway. I'll save the time and skip it."

When my friend visited a few weeks ago, she asked if we were getting all our medical check-ups prior to moving, and specifically about the mammogram. After I explained my view, she suggested finding a place with extended hours, or going somewhere that wasn't across town, since a lab is a lab, and my doctors are part of a network in my city.

Long story short, if she hadn't had that conversation with me, I would have gone without my annual mammogram. So now I'm having that conversation with you! I finally had mine this morning. It will probably be clear, but better to get it now, while I have insurance and know about the quality of care I'm getting, right?

If you haven't had one, or are scared, just know:
  • It's uncomfortable, but only for a few seconds
  • Nothing is poked or prodded - no needles, no scalpels - just squishing
  • The techs (I've only ever had female radiology techs) understand that you are exposing yourself, and do their best to make you comfortable. Emotionally, at least.
  • They've seen every type of breast before. 
  • It's quick! I was at my office a half-hour after my appointment.
 What's stopping you?

08 September, 2016

The Labors of Labor Day

This App - to learn a language
A language partner of mine in China seemed befuddled that we celebrated Labor Day this past weekend. "We celebrate Labor Day in the spring. And that's International Labor Day, so why the US does it now?"

I had no response, but I like the idea that the US just does things differently. 

I also had to define "cookout" as compared to what he basically was describing as a picnic.
"We actually cook the meat - outside!" ...I never did send a picture of the grill. Mind you, our downstairs neighbors are Chinese, and they cookout a lot. Maybe it was just a new idea for this particular dude.

Our weekend was delightful. Everyone got along, everyone had fun, the only screaming was of the occasional "don't touch that - it's hot!" variety.

Siblings and their offspring/spouses arrived between Friday evening and Saturday night, and departures began that Saturday night, but there was a reasonable overlap. It was just fun. On Saturday, some adults went out to a local winery, did some tastings, bought some wine, listened to music. That evening we cooked out, and the cousins played basketball, soccer, and made up games (courtesy of the 6yo). 
It was so retro, I used a retro filter. This was my generation of cousins, decades back.

On Sunday, church, then pizza, some general chillaxing, and then after a few group pictures, most of us parted our separate ways. It was a good weekend, and the missing brother was hardly noticed. Or at least, I'm sure we each noticed but there was no cloud hanging over the day because he was gone.

On Monday, we got rid of a bunch of stuff - small things had been distributed earlier in the weekend - Monday was larger furniture - bookcase, desk, etc. which my eldest sister took with her.

I really thought the apartment would look more empty. I guess all the furniture that's left will either be sold, donated, or stored, but only the fewest, most important items will be stored.

01 September, 2016

Just to Keep me Grounded

We take a break from the regular bulletins on how the move to China is going, to tell you about my douche-twat little brother.

I am once again borrowing portions of this prompt from Paula Kaye at Smidgens, Snippets and Bits for some thought-starters. I decided it would be better than the rant I started. It’s just a concise way for me to NOT rant. I hope.

I’m overwhelmed with thoughts about family dynamics, as we prepare for the whole family to get together this holiday weekend. I’m the 4th of 5 children, and for the first time in over 10 years, we are all on the same continent. For a while.

My baby brother has opted to take his two sweet fairy princesses to visit their maternal great-grandmother, which would be understandable if this cookout weekend hadn’t been planned for months, and if said Great-grandmother had made any contact in the past four years while my parents took care of the littles! (The mother barely makes contact near-ish to Christmas and the birthdays.)

My mother’s facebook message to myself and my other siblings this morning. This will be the first – and possibly last – opportunity to get pictures of the full family, since I’m moving to China soon.

I see red. That is all.

Well, I tell you what WON’T be on it – pictures of the whole family! That’s what! Typical.

There isn’t enough alcohol in the world to drown my annoyance at this situation. HOWEVER, I found some DogfishHead Punkin Ale at Target on my lunch, so I intend to avail myself of that when I get home.

We are trying to get rid of food we have on hand. My grocery lists are almost entirely perishables. I cook rice on the regular.

I'm so glad we were able to elevate my mom's mood:
 Also on a positive note, I was not able to get a professional photographer for this weekend. So - Money Saved!

This weekend may not be what we expected, but my other brother and I responded quickly to Mom’s annoyed message, and seem to have her back in good spirits. I would hate for one person’s absence (well, 3, counting his kids) to deflate the day for the rest of us.
We will take many pictures, play some pinochle, cookout, drink some, and some of the teens are staying with Brett and myself. So that will be fun and full of video games and pizza.
I’m talking with the eldest of us later today, and want to suggest we all bring flowers or something for Mom, who really is upset by this.

NOTE: I do realize that perhaps this great-grandma is in ill health and it may be a last chance, but if she hasn't even inquired about the girls in FOUR YEARS... Why should she get preferential treatment?