the difference between here and there
off like a prom dress

China countdown

DreamingMoi Yesterday was the first day I didn't have somewhere to be to do something. Counting backwards: Jury duty and meet Marcia on Tuesday; jury duty and meet Helen and Maria on Monday; Sunday, take photo prints down to Helen; Saturday, have Helen over for PhotoShopping session; Friday the 3rd back to June the 26th, various stuff with Helen, the Consulate, Gruhn, Eva & Roz, Calla, out to CNR, performance for Bronx Voices. Back from the 26th to May 18th, rehearsals and errands for Bronx Voices. May 18th, final grades due. So from May 18th, I've basically not stopped.

I'm pooped.

And I'm going to China in—Eeep!—SIX DAYS! Holy shit!

Despite the looming deadline, I think I'm pretty well under control, though I still have to sit down and get my syllabus set. I've got an outline, and it's only 8 classes, so I'm not that worried about it. It's conversation mostly, for Pete's sake. And one thing I can do is talk. No wise remarks, please!

I still have to buy presents for my assistant (I'll have an assistant! Wow!), buy currency, do laundry, get my hair cut, tell the PO to hold my mail, and, of course, pack. That's the major anxiety right now: Can I get everything I want to take into two suitcases and my NYC-sized handbag? Or will I have to have a Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear suitcase and my purse? Ugh. I want to keep it to one big suitcase a smallish media carry-on, and my purse, but we'll see. I've bought a half-dozen books to use/donate to the writing center. I'm bringing a load of DVDs: CSI's first season, Babylon 5's first season, The Matrix, Minority Report, Powaqqatsi (to go with Marcy's Koyaanasqatsi), and Into the Wild. And I'm packing an extra empty cloth carry-on for on the way home.

I bought a phonetic Chinese phrase book, so maybe I'll have a chance to learn a little, though I'm sure most of the people I see will be eager to practice their English, and that's what I'm being hired for. And I've been cramming my head full of books on contemporary China. I'll post a bibliography later, when I get back, as some of them are banned in China and I don't want to alienate my hosts.

And I'm starting to really get freaked out now. I'm going halfway across the world, to a place where I'll be illiterate and won't even recognize the alphabet. I'll be with a group, so it won't be entirely isolating, which is good, even though I don't generally like traveling with groups. And yet, I feel a little like Blanche DuBois in that I have always relied on the kindness of strangers, and the universality of human nature, when I travel. Hell, I've relied on it in New York. And you know, if I hadn't lived here, I'm not sure I'd have had the courage to do this. After living in New York City for 23 years, There are few places that still seem daunting: Hong Kong, Beijing, Tokyo, Antarctica (no, seriously), parts of rural South and Central America, but nowhere in the States, nowhere in Europe. Possibly Moscow. Most of Asia still seems fairly daunting. But maybe it won't after this. I hope not. If that's all I get out of this trip, which seems unlikely, it will have been SO worth it.

Stay tuned.

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Rob

You nervous? Ha! Your instincts are dead on: you're with a group, people are kind (especially to obvious foreigners), and everybody will want to practice their English with you. This was my experience in Korea -- and I went alone, mind you, though I did have a friend who worked most days so I was on my own. It wasn't daunting in the least. It's dizzying and alien, and that's the fun. You will love it.

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