Monday, September 1, 2008

Writing in Paradise

School started today. Which meant tears of sorrow (kids mourning the end of summer) and tears of joy (mothers celebrating Freedom! Freedom!! Freedom!!!). Both tears appeared this morning at our home.

So to celebrate (I mean, mourn) the last day of summer, my dear friend and superwoman Shelli cooked us curry chicken for lunch. And then drove us to my hubby's work to collect his sick computer.

Did you read that correctly? Shelli drove. As in she got her driver's license and actually took the wheel, braving the lawless Shanghai traffic. This is a miracle you will never see repeated in the Headley household. See, if I'm hazardous in the U.S. where painted lines delineate lanes, there is no way I will ever drive here where the number of lanes depends solely on the number of cars physically able to squeeze onto a street.

Here is the view from my husband's office in the JinMao Tower. Nice, huh?
At the same time, as I entered my husband's office, I thought about all the expat women who follow their husbands around the world, supporting their careers. So much of our identity--rightly or wrongly--is associated with what we do. You go to a party and almost the first question people ask is, So what do you do? I remember when I quit Microsoft after my first child and people started treating me as though I lost 50 IQ points. Their eyes would wander in the middle of our conversation, scanning the room for more important people to chat up. So my heart goes out to the women (and men) who are looking for their way in a country that's not their own and trying to find meaning in their new lives.
I feel lucky that I have my writing, a life that's outside my husband and family. Something of my own. Something that I can do virtually anywhere in the world and still support my husband's dreams and our values (one of which is to raise kids who are true global citizens).

But back to my hubby, Robert. His name is a little tough for some of his colleagues here to pronounce. Hence, his new nickname: turnip, or lo bak.

Somehow, I don't think me calling him turniphead will constitute a sweet nothing.
Then we scooted up ten floors to see Shelli's husband's office. Behind us is the World Financial Center that opened up yesterday. It's impossible to imagine that Shelli had two babies, isn't it? All my gorgeous, ageless friends!

One of the best parts of back-to-school for me has always been buying new pens, pencils, and notebooks. A close second? New shoes! Here are my daughter's rocking new sneakers.

According to my grand plan, immediately after the kids went off to school, I was supposed to head to work. But...I just couldn't do it. Instead...I got on the school bus with the kids. I know, I know. SAD. I admit it: I am a helicopter mom. Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! (That would be the sound effects of my hovering.) was their first day of school! In a new country! I had to helicopter. I really did. Luckily for my son, I refrained from kissing him in public.

To rescue my kids from having me attend all their classes, my new friend and Shanghai's Go To Girl, Yucca, took me shopping. Yucca knows everything. And I mean, EVERYTHING. Ask her a question, any question, and she knows the answer. Even the locals look to her for advice: where to go, what to see, what to do. So you bet I am going to feature her as one of my Shanghai Cool interviews.

(I know, dearest editor and agent. I should have been at my computer writing. However, my daughter announced that our house looked...sad. As in it is so empty that it's truly pathetic. And a downer to enter. Besides, the Shanghai shopping experience is fodder for my future stories, yes?)
Anyway, I was blown away by the flower market.
Enquiring minds demand to know: what exactly is the mark-up on plants and planters in the U.S. anyway? I swear, I found three huge indoor plants plus gorgeous planters for the cost of a single tulip bulb in Seattle. Slight exaggeration, but only slight. And I was completely aided by Yucca's negotiating talent.
And then, finally, at last, I spent 4 glorious hours reading my manuscript that I haven't touched since May. It was wonderful to reacquaint myself with my characters. Being away from them for months was a blessing. I was able to see all the flaws in the manuscript exceptionally clearly. And now I have the energy to fix and finish.
Love to all!

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE those shoes! Super-cute!

    And I'm loving this peek into your life in China...keep it up! :)