I'm here. I don't quite remember how I got here, and the jetlag has already taken years off of my life, but I'm here. And there are a few random things I think you should know about my trip.
1.) They may send your dog through the x-ray machine in Beijing. You can protest vigorously that he is a living being, not a piece of luggage, but the Chinese officials will disagree. Rules are rules, and if the boss says the luggage goes through the x-ray machine, it goes. Whether or not it is barking.
2.) If you pay United several hundreds of dollars to upgrade you to Economy Plus, weeks in advance of your flight, they'll take your money and upgrade you. What they'll forget to mention is that they'll stick you in the bulkhead seats so you can't recline. Also, they'll put a guy in the middle of your group, dividing your family, and not only will he refuse to switch seats, but he will then pull out his little video player and watch all manner of totally inappropriate movies involving people having their heads chopped open and kids being run over by drug lords. Right next to your children, who will coincidentally refuse to sleep during the flight. Thanks, United! And thanks, obnoxious seatmate! What a terrific way to spend 12 hours!
3.) In San Francisco, the only way to get anyone to help you move your dog's crate from the baggage carousels to the next flight is to throw up your arms in dismay at their refusal to assist you, and reluctantly let the dog out of his kennel. They will run to help you if you do this. (But you will also be selected for a secondary baggage search at customs, because you are clearly insane, and not just irritated.)
4.) You will probably be embarrassed when you repeatedly yell at your kids to "hurry! hurry! or we'll miss our connecting flight! oh for the love of gawd please hurry UP," only to have the airline employee tell you that it is 9:15 a.m., not 10:15 a.m., and you are in no danger of missing your flight as long as you remain upright.
5.) You may or may not have met your sister's handsome new boyfriend at the airport. But if you did (and it's hard to remember for sure), you probably inpressed him by looking right past him and repeatedly counting to four to make sure you had enough children, rather than shaking his hand, or saying "nice to meet you," or anything civilized like that.
6.) Target. Could you possibly have spent over $300 dollars? In your very first visit?
7.) What, are you an idiot? Why would you take a 10-year-old boy with you on your first visit to the grocery store? Don't do it, or you'll end up spending $50 on drinkable yogurts and blackberries and bakery cookies and... Hopefully you'll have the wherewithal to say no to the Spiderman fruit roll-ups and the 45 different kinds of sugar cereals and the gumball machine.
8.) On the subject of 10-year-old boys, if you happen to have one, and you're staying close to a video game store, he will undoubtedly beg to go. And go back. And go back again. The name of the video store will be engrained upon your brain forever, along with the words "please mom? Just for ten minutes? Puh-leeeeease? I know exactly what I want, please, can we go? Can we?"
9.) You will quickly fall in love with Starbucks drive-thrus, and you will make it your life's goal to drive through them all. Alas, you will discover that even a venti mocha cannot cure your jetlag. (Though Amy, you were right when you suggested that the bright lights of Target might provide some relief from the dreaded condition.)
10.) Ahh, jetlag. Do you know, having jetlag feels just the same as those first heady days with a newborn, minus the stitches and flabby belly, of course. You're just exhausted all the way into your bones. You fall asleep mid-conversation. At times, you're overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude as you look up and see a much-missed loved one walk through the door, venti mocha in hand just for you. My jetlag is the equivalent of having 4 newborns, all of whom wake up at different times during the night to eat. And none of whom will take a bottle and fall back asleep.
But we're here. We made it. More from me later - for now, I have to shower up and get ready to go through the drive-thru on my way to the video game store.