Sunday, February 28, 2010

Manuel just left for China and thing 1 and 2 have been up since 6 giving him helpful travel advice including trying to get him to bring chopsticks just in case. This is a reconnaissance mission for our sabbatical next year. I have to admit that when I told him that since he’d been to Rome with me three times he could pick where we went that I was assuming he would return to some of his more recent haunts like Argentina, Brazil, or Costa Rica. A part of China I’ve never heard of on the border of Vietnam and Laos where you have to bring your own coffee did not cross my mind. But this is a man who spent a year in the jungle of Borneo in the 80’s and considers anything with electricity to be urban so this should not be a surprise. The kids sent him with a list of questions including things like how many vehicles does it take to get there, how will we speak to people who speak Chinese, where will we go to school? (the local language is actually Dai) Rebecca’s first question was “Is there a job for a music professor there” The music professor will hopefully have already finished her book by the time we go and will be gleefully editing while watching elephants and other wild life.. His suitcase contains peanut butter, annie's mac and cheese, and brownie mix for the Americans there.

Meanwhile we are in heavy Purim prep here. I tried to get Rebecca to be Vashti instead of Esther. The fact that Vashti has long been a favorite of Jewish feminists because she refused a royal decree from her husband to dance naked in front of his friends and make herself a sex object did not impress Rebecca who sees nothing wrong with dancing naked anywhere. So Queen Esther it is. Jonathan has laid out an elaborate Richard the first costume which I assume connects because of the whole military prowess thing but I’m not sure. Eli wants to be a "piwate" we're actually not totally sure if this is the kind of piwate that flies planes or that rides boats and is a bad guy. Lately most of his get ups involve cowboy boots and pharaoh hats so we'll see. He informed us the other day that on purim we celebrate cookies so clearly the nuances of the occasion didn’t quite come through for him.


  1. At a Purim when we were young, my cousins and I convinced Manuel to be "Vashti's puppy." I was Vashti that year if it counts for anything with Rebecca.

  2. I'm really looking forward to reading about the preparations for and your trip abroad. I did my final master's work on expats and common threads I found in their first person accounts. There is a Wall Street Journal reporter named Alan Paul who lived in a more urban area of China for a year with his young family and chronicled it for the paper. You might find some of his accounts interesting and they are available online.