I am beginning to feel like the boy who cried wolf when I say that I’ve had a busy week. Haven’t we all? For me it’s a bad sign when I’m too busy to read. Several things have conspired against me this week, cutting into my reading. First there was Thanksgiving and all of the fun hub-bub surrounding it. But in light of other things going on, I really can’t blame my lack of reading on a holiday. I’ve requested a lot of books at the public library and many came in this week; while this is overall a good thing, I now have so many books to choose from it’s a bit paralyzing! Where to start? I’ve started four books and not gotten that far in any of them! Again, is this the books fault? No, so it doesn’t seem right to point to a stack of books and say, “you’re the reason I’m not making progress!” Instead, the most likely reason for my lack of reading is that my week has been sprinkled with pressing matters the way Thanksgiving green beans are sprinkled with crunchy onions on the top. No matter where you scoop, you’re going to get an onion.
When people first move to China we go over an affective cycle that includes common highs and lows for their first year. Not that they WILL experience these things, but we want to let them know that if they do, they are perfectly normal. We call November “First blood” because the honeymoon phase is now over and the likeliness of having some problems with fellow workers if fairly high. This past week was one which could be used as a case study for the name except for the fact that it’s not just those new to China experiencing this phenomena! I found myself spending about six hours on the phone Thanksgiving day dealing with the metaphorical blood being drawn. So, my lack of reading isn’t due to a holiday or being frozen by too many choices. Instead people who are dear to me had pressing needs.
That being said, I have started a book that I am very much looking forward to reading. Being 29 pages into it, I can tell I’m hooked. The Foremost Good Fortune by Susan Conley chronicles the two years she and her family spent in China. During that time she was diagnosed with cancer — placing her in two foreign lands at once: one geographical and one her own body. If you’ve lived in China, or even just visited, I think you’ll resonate with the following line:
People say Beijing is an unlikely place for a capital city; the land is dry and flat and abuts the desert. The trees out here [she is outside of the city for the day] seem to have been felled in the previous century and then replanted last week in a massive reforestation project after the sandstorms had already scoured the soil.
Oh dear Susan, most springs China looks replanted! And for good reasons … it is. I’m finding myself drawn to this book as a form of “comfort food for the soul.” She’s in my city (though her apartment is FANCY with a capital F and that part is a not my experience) and describing my world. Having lived in China so long, I’m enjoying seeing it through the eyes of someone who notices things like the trees — they’ve become so common to me I barely register them. I’ll let you know how it goes!