Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Perils of Jetlag

Well we made it. The plane ride was aneyeball-shredding experience, but we had two things inour favor: we got a last minute upgrade to business class, which was nearly empty except for us, and thekids were spotlessly behaved. Truly, they couldn’thave been better. Aidan actually slept for 7 of the 14 hours; Kyra for about 6. Shay slept not more than 2hours, but he loved the flight. He had unlimited use of his Nintendo DS, along with a new game, and that alone would seem heavenly to a 7-year-old. And he loved business class. What’s not to love? They served him ginger ale and chocolate cheesecake – at the sametime even. He dug into the cheesecake, then leanedback in his seat and rolled his eyes about in hisskull like a cartoon character, sighing “I think I’m in love.”

Business class is far superior to cattle car class,it’s true. But it can’t disguise the fact that you’rein the plane for 14 long hours. Honestly, I don’t knowhow pilots and flight attendants do it every week –Randy, is there some secret potion that keeps your eyeballs from petrifying?

So we’re here. But the jetlag is killing us. Bart had to report for work at 7 a.m. the morning after wearrived, sleep or no, and he had a full day yesterday.The kids are sleeping all day and watching Scooby Doo all night – but that’s not the worst of it. They’re all adjusting on their own time, so for example, yesterday they all fell asleep between 2 and 3 in theafternoon. Kyra woke up a few hours later, but Aidan didn’t wake up until 9 p.m. I somehow got them both tosleep again at 11 p.m., then went to sleep myself. Shay stayed asleep until 1 a.m. Kyra woke again at 2 and Aidan at 3. At 6 this morning, Kyra fell asleep again.

Sigh. I have a feeling it’s going to be awhile beforeI get them all on some sane schedule. In the meantime, my comments about Beijing will be fairly shallow, as I’ll have to be awake and coherent in order to make any intelligent observations.

We live in a very large house in a very large complex. We’ll be quite spoiled by the end of our tour, I’m certain. The house is about 3200 sq. feet in two stories. Main floor has a mud room, entry, livingroom/dining room, kitchen, family room, sun room, office, guest room and restroom. Oh, and a two cargarage. Upstairs we have 4 bedrooms, two very full baths and a balcony. There’s a “clubhouse” about ten minutes down the road, with a gym, an indoor pool, anoutdoor pool, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, a little grocery store. Basically, I’d never have to go into China proper if I didn’t want to. That said, I did drag the kids past the gate yesterday morning, and after ten minutes of walking, we were rewarded for ourefforts by the sight of a Starbucks. I have to say, I’ve never in my life been happier to see a Starbucks– at that point I’d been decaffeinated for about 36hours . It’s right next door to a bigger grocery store, a Subway, a Baskin Robbins, a few restaurants... again, I suppose I could be happy right in this one square mile for quite some time.

We haven’t seen much of Beijing yet. We’ll try to fits ome sightseeing in this weekend, when Bart’s home. But it is definitely polluted. The sky is the color of chalk, and so dirty that we couldn’t see the groundwhen the plane landed. I’m told that they actually have days when they have to close the airport because the visibility is not good enough to land without some sophisticated gear, which is apparently lacking at Beijing Int’l Airport. I’m glad I wasn’t told that until after we landed.

Right now it is nasty-hot and humid. Both nights so far it has thundered and poured. Don’t know if this is typical weather or not.

I’ve already acquired a few more Chinese words. I can be relied upon to remember the following: hello, good morning, where?, I don’t understand, goodbye, thank you and I don’t know. It’s a start, but it wasn’t enough to help me buy chicken legs at the grocery store. I had to hop around, pointing alternately at the butcher case and then at my own legs. When they figured out what I wanted, they asked (I think) “how many?” And I can’t even say “two.” I’ve known for over a year that I’d be moving to China, and yet I can’t even count to two yet. Heck, I can’t even count to one. Aren’t I pathetic? Yesterday, as the kids and Iwalked to the store, every single police man and security guard greeted us. Each time, Shay and I would both respond “ni hao.” After about the 30th time (yes,there are a lot of guards), Shay sighed and said “I sure wish I could say more than just ‘ni hao’.” So I guess he’s feeling the same frustration as I.

The good news, from his perspective, is that we have discovered at least 2 other boys his age on our street alone. One lives right across the street. When I saw the bike helmets out front, I marched right over andrang the bell. The mom invited us for a play date and gave us a fresh batch of cookies and brownies. Unfortunately, Shay slept through the planned playdate yesterday, so he hasn’t met the boy yet. But we’ll try and get them together today at the pool.

Well, Scooby Doo has run its course, so I’m finished with this update for now. Now to see if I can log into my blogspot account from the clubhouse. Wish me luck – in that and more.

Zaijian,

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