Today’s accomplishment was changing my blog title to three kids and a book in the jungle. For those family members and friends whom I sent email updates to when we were in Rome I'm going to use the blog this time. It's a little less cumbersome tan emails for me; especially when traveling.
We are now enmeshed enough in crazy trip prep that I’ve given up the idea of getting any writing done. Writing is replaced by an attempt to do one small book task every day. This on the advice of a friend who said she was mad at herself after a sabbatical about all the little bits of time she could have used. So for today I returned to Orlando Furiosso, an Italian epic poem I haven’t thought much about since graduate school. My interest this time around was not the feminist magical heroines but the acoustics—trumpets so loud they drown everything out, descriptions of what bloody battles sound like, etc… I got back to the epic via a one off from Galileo who claimed that reading Tasso after Ariosto was like eating cucumbers after melons. I have not idea what that is a metaphor for but it occurred to me that there were great descriptions of sound machines and voices in the poem and that I can get a nice 16th century version of it free on my ipad so it can come to the jungle.
I’m not going to admit publically how little of my day was actually spent on this fine scholarly pursuit. But suffice it to say that getting a family of five to rural china is not a trivial proposition. And perhaps someone can explain to me the natural tendency to do things you’ve meant to do for months before you leave and for weird stuff to just happen. The car for example needed to be fixed today. Various university projects for next year need to at least set in motion. The clothes need to be organized. The built in bookcases in the kids room need to in. The various plates we have had around for at least a year from barbecues need to go back to their rightful owners who are clearly miserable without them. And lucky for me the preschool is having music week in the Levana class and I need to go play for a bunch of 4-5 year olds tomorrow morning. The teacher informs me that they’d really prefer the electric viola since Eli has told them all about his mom’s “wock band” she suggested I play some of his favorites. I’m thinking she doesn’t actually want anything that will make him wing either “I dwopped acid on my tongue,”
And there is a good deal of consumer activity that is occurring each day, a shocking amount of money on jungle princess glasses and a summer’s worth of medications for all five of us. (I have the most expensive cocktail of all of us) New hiking boots for me for the Himalayas, the nice pair my parents got me for my 30 year old b-day have bit the dust and are too small for my post child bearing feet. And of course my MAC lipstick somehow got smashed in my purse the other day and there’s no way I’m leaving without that. It also occurs me that despite my proclaiming for months that I’m simply not learning Chinese it might be worth at least a Berlitz tape. The kids learned some words from watching kung fu panda and think they are all set.
The boys seem pretty obvious to the trip on an emotional level. Eli packs a suitcase almost every day and is pretty sure we’ll meet Anikan Skywalder while we are there and eat a lot of sushi. Jonathan every so often pipes up with a question. Rebecca is very worried and has an impressive list of questions and concerns. She’s mastering early the sulky teenager affect and has become extremely mommy focused. She doesn’t want me to go to yoga, even though it’s after she’s supposed to be in bed. The logic that we’d have 14 hours on a plane followed by three months in a botanical garden with no school or camp, only a few other kids to play with, and a father doing biological fieldwork did not work on her.