Sunday, December 18, 2005

Winding Down...

I’m leaving tomorrow afternoon with Jacob and Eli. Looking forward to getting home and seeing many of you, my faithful readers. Not looking forward to leaving behind Anna and Becky. I don’t like the thought of our family being separated by half the world. I guess I prefer to traveling solo with all three of them and nursing them through jet lag, though.

I feel pretty set to go, and the flight is not until 5 so I have a good chunk of the day to finish up tomorrow. Maybe I’ll even have time to run out for a $12 massage.

It looks like everything is moving forward with the column and hopefully it will debut while I’m gone. Now I just have to start thinking of things to actually write about every two weeks. Getting my driver's license has got to be good for two columns.

After all this fun and discussion, it looks like the column is going to be called… The Expat Life. It seems kind of lame, but the editor of wsj. Com thought and Becky agreed, that the title should be very direct. In looking through all the columns, there are plenty of foreign-themed ones and we want anyone to be able to understand this is about expat life, not foreign politics or business or whatever.

I will say that in my opinion my brother David was both funniest and most prolific. Uncle Benny came up with the one that will stick the longest – Fu Man Jew – and Art Rummler had the most and best actually usable ideas. I think I also neglected to post another one of his winners – Making the World Safe for Capitalism. Believe m, it’s safe over here. Think late 19th Century America. Anyhow, thanks to all of you who sent in ideas. That was fun.

Last night we attended our first large, all chinese party. The annual Dow Jones Christmas bash for employees and their spouses. We were about the only non chinese out of probably 200 people. Our kids were a little awed and then quite into it. It’s good for them to be in a social situation as minorities since we do, after all, live in China.

It was held at Palm springs, this big new club and apartment complex on the edge of downtown. Think Cesear’s palace, only a little less tasteful. Lots of karaoke and loud music, drawing numbers for prizes, silly games an toasts, none of which we could understand. After we got there, they told becky she was supposed to give a speech , along with all other department heads. (there is a businessoffice, a translation service and the news wires, in addition to the Journal). They also told us that her predecessor came every year dressed s Santa claus and handed out toys to all the kids. Oops.

She gave a nice, concise speech, heaping praise on the way the chinese employees have helped her transition be smooth, then she fell back on a dirty old trick, using the kids. She said, “I am studying chinese and hope to give this speech in mandarin next year, but since my children learn so much faster, they want to sing a song for you.” And Anna and Eli came up, took t he microphones and belted out “Ha Pengyou,” this Chinese nursery rhyme which everyone in China seems to Know and take great joy in hearing our kids sing.

I thought it was a risky move, the chance of refusal high, but eli loved it and belted to a rousing ovation.

They had deep fried riblets on the buffet and eli ate about 25 of them. He kept saying, “Can I have more of those delicious ribs please?” Jacob alternately was break dancing in the corner and complaining that the music was too loud (which it was). Parents kept forcing their 5 and 6 year old kids to come up to us and practice their English. “Hello, what is your name?” they would say. “I am 6 years old.”

Tonight, we went to a Christmas party at our friend Lisa and Michael’s. They are both musicians (she, piano, he, guitar) and their kids all sing like angels. They had a talent show and eli sang “Ha Pengoy7” again. Jacob got up and told the trusty old “A boy named shut Up and his sister Trouble” joke, because he really wanted something out of the treat basket every performer got to pick from. I played “You’re gonna Make Me Lonseome When You go” dedicated to tom, whom I will always miss as long as I am in Beijing.

There was a Dylan fanatic there (who works for the IMF and has Pittsburgh roots) and he asked me later if I knew “Tangled Up In blue.” So I Played that and that led to a sing-along with me playing a bunch of stuff then handing the guitar over to our host Michael, who played more. It was a nice time, and a nice note to leave here on. There is a really a very solid, interesting, caring and friendly group of folks here, and we are all at more or less the same stage of life.

Signing off for now.. next post will be from Short Hills.