Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Getting back in the groove

I used to think that jet lag was bullshit. I always believe din getting on a plane, setting my watch to the time in the destination city and that was that. I had no patience for people (my mom, Becky…) saying, “It’s midnight in New Jersey!” But that was before I was up at 3:30 am sipping coffee and trying to put together a million piece Play Mobile castle with three kids crawling all over me. Brutal, man. Just brutal.

Jacob woke up at 12:30 this morning -- as in a half hour after midnight -- and never really went back to sleep. He has been at school since 8:30 and I am picking him up in 45 minutes. It will be interesting to see what kind of shape he is in. I am trying to figure out how to keep him up until at least 7 pm.

He came into our bed at 12:30 and flip flopped around for about an hour until I threw in the towel and realized he wasn’t going back to sleep. I set him up on a computer, then put a Dvd in. Eventually I heard Eli out in the hall talking to him. I stayed in bed, half asleep for a while longer, then I eventually heard Anna out there aa well. I dragged myself out and Jacob was alone. I asked him where Anna was.

“Upstairs, “ he said, not taking his eyes off the computer screen, where he was slaying aliens. “eli’s taking care of her.”

I nodded and got back in bed. Then I realized how insane that was and dragged myself upstairs. They were playing happily. Eli was pleased to see me and asked me to start putting together the castle, which we bought at Randall’s in Pittsburgh. For some reason, I started to do so, before realizing that it was not yet 4 in the damn morning and if I was up, I better get some coffee STAT. Thank God for those six pounds of Peets I brought back. I brewed up a pot of Guatemala and dug in for the duration. I let Becky sleep through all of this because I figured that I could always nap mid-afternoon (though I didn’t) while she would have to slog right into the muck (which she did).

No problem getting everyon e off to school, though Eli did make some half-hearted “I don’t want to go” fussing. But we all got out to our bikes – which were covered after three inactive weeks in a disgusting film of grime, despite being undercover in a carport and made our way off to school.

I’ll be honest. The flight was, at times, brutal. There is no other way to describe the feeling of having anna and eli awake whil emost of the plane snoozes and out of sound options to entertain them, only to realize that you are seven hours in, with almost as much time left until touchdown. At one point, I felt like I might unscrew eli’s head from his body. Not a good feeling. Somehow or another, he finally fell asleep for most of the last four hours. Anna miraculously, unbelievably, only slept an hour at the very beginning and then was up, like a bright-eyed bushy tailed Energizer bunny. She finally started playing with Lemuel, a three-year-old chinese boy on his way with his mother and baby sister from Raleigh, NC to Szechuan for Chinese New year’s. They occupied each other for a couple of hours, with my assistance. I walked them all over the plane and played some games with them. His mother was eternally grateful.

We made it here finally and breezed through customs, then gathered up our prodigious luggage collection. Each of our bags had a baby on our trip. We left with four or five bags and returned with nine. We probably had more possessions on that flight than an average Chinese family owns. A lot of Chanukah presents, as well as various and sundrie purchases, from a coffee maker to a new comforter for Jacob. We won’t be back for six or seven months so it seemed prudent to stock up.

Mr. Dou was there, and he took Becky, Eli and Anna and maybe a third of our bags, while Jacob and I took the rest and got a cab. We got a tough-as-nails looking female cabbie who looked over our overflowing cart and demanded 200 quai. (Meter would be about 40-50). I negotiated her down to 100, we filled the trunk and back seat, with Jacob squeezing in there, aside the leaning tower of luggage. I got in the front seat, figuring this was all a good reintroduction to life in China. She drove like a bat out of hell, passing on the right shoulder on the expressway, bobbing and weaving.

Everything looked grayer and dustier, but pretty good. I have to say it felt pretty good to be on that crazy assed Jing Shun Lu road that runs outside our compound. Everyone was happy to be back home, and no one complained or cried, or spoke about anyone or anything or anyplace they had visited in a longing way, despite having had a great time. That’s all good.

Now we just have to get through these next few days, stay up to a relatively reasonable hour, get some sleep and get back on our feet. I got through today pretty well with the help of Peets coffee and some Allman Brothers Fillmore East and Albert King Fillmore West cranking through my headphones. Sometimes I forget the power of music. Then I remember…