How It’s Done Blog

So. Tired.

The real trouble with the whole quarantine thing is that it sucked a lot of the adventure right out of us. We’re tired. We’ve eaten a lot of things we might not otherwise have eaten. We’ve hung out together. We’ve talked to people. We’ve been stared at. And now we are ready to resume our normally scheduled programming, but we still have a week of travel to go. Rory is adjusting well. She kind of collapsed today and took an […]

A Day in Fuzhou

So we’ve agreed: Fuzhou, not set up for tourists. On the other hand, we are seeing a real China city, and not just one like Beijing that’s sort of set up to show itself off in the same way that Manhattan is–there are clearly tons of Chinese tourists–although once we let the guide start taking us places, we saw Western tourists too. I can tell you that Fuzhou-ers, rightly, do NOT go out between noon and three. I don’t know […]

Shamian Island: The Home Stretch

Shamian Island is best described as the place the British took over, back when tea and opium were in constant traffic across the sea, and although I am sure there was razing and looting involved in its creation, the result is extraordinarily pleasant. Shady verandas. Palm trees. Wide park-like walkways. Few cars. We are staying at the White Swan. It used to be right next to the consulate, so everyone stayed here. Now it’s right next to an entire cottage […]

The Red Couch

What is wrong with that child, you ask? What are you people doing to her? Well, it’s like this. If Rory has one single, stand-out, non-endearing trait, it is (and this is SO PETTY) that she pretty much has to go potty every single solitary second of every day. Is she nervous? Unable to complete, shall we say, with relative strangers? Does she have a UTI? Dunno. Doesn’t, in the context of getting out of China, matter. But there it […]

Re-entry: Not Pretty

Some of my publishable thoughts on arriving home: Whoa. We got in at 11:00 night before last and the kids were up until 3. We hauled them through yesterday, even taking Sam and Lily to a tennis lesson and getting the boys a haircut–and put them to bed at a relatively normal time (when Rob and I were nearly asleep standing) but at 1:30 the first of them–Rory–appeared. And this is where the fact that they all sleep in the […]

Best Pool in Beijing

We’re here, at the Grand Hyatt in Beijing. The pool, I’m told, looks “just like Ariel’s castle” and was a huge hit. We only managed a few hours of sleep on the plane, and tried to do a little too much when we got here (even though it wasn’t much at all). We thought a swim would tire them out, and it did–so much so that they all fell asleep at dinner, which we tried to do right around the […]

Mob Scene in the Forbidden City

Here’s a phrase you may want to learn if you’re going to bring a lot of small, blonde children to China: Ta-men pu yao. That’s “They don’t want it.” Ta pu yao is “He doesn’t want it.” The smog today was palpable, settling down in the Forbidden City to the point where you felt like you needed to clean your glasses, even though you weren’t wearing any. It was muggy, cloudy and oppressive. While we walked to the Forbidden City […]

Quarantine Fun, Day One, and a Panic

Duplicates, I know–I had some trouble uploading. Ok, if all those swabs come back negative, I’ll be the best quarantine mother ever. I will make paper dolls, I will build card houses, I will teach sam to play chess. I will be 100% present, I swear. We will know in an hour. If anyone is positive, it’s more quarantine for everyone, and the hospital for the positive person. The embassy has said they will intervene to make sure an adult […]

Things Get Much Better

Today, we got an upgrade. No more tiny room. No more holey sheets. No more stained wallpaper. I could go on, but I won’t. We’re movin’ on up, and now we have a sitting room, a fridge, a balcony and all the amenities. We also have a date of release: Saturday, at 5:30 am. Why 5:30? Not gonna ask. Just gonna be there. So we’re bouncing along. At dinner, they had eggplant with pork–my favorite Chinese dish. And as we […]

How it all works

I’ve realized that it’s not really all that clear to everyone exactly how we got here, so I’ll try to explain. The people seated behind Rob and the boys on the plane did NOT have a fever when we got off the flight. But once they felt sick, they called the authorities (and we don’t know how sick they are, so we will forgive them for that), and two of them tested positive for H1n1. So they came for us, […]

Cicadas, lessons, card-playing

We woke up frustrated today. as a group. Last night was hot, hot, hot–it’s cooled off every other night, but not last night. There was tossing, there was turning, and two of the three of us in my room fell out of bed at least once. We woke up itchy and ready to crawl out of our skins, and with no appetite for another huge Guo-men breakfast. The troops were rebelling. And, of course, there was nothing my mom and […]

The Pringle Fairy

If asked, I can state with confidence that the maximum number of days one family should spend pretty much cooped up a room together is…6. Not seven. Seven seems to be just that much too much. But we are getting there. They just took our temperature for the last time. We just had our temperatures taken for the last time. We ate our last lunch. We filled out a form that even had a box for “comments about our stay”. […]

A Quarantine Gallery

We did, indeed, get out of quarantine today. Fancy certificates, flowers and everything. TIme has nearly healed the wounds already (that and a couple of really, really good meals). Looking these over, it’s clear that once we were out of the hospital and that first awful couple of rooms, China did well by us. Considering. And the people we talked to in Q seemed to feel that the government was “doing the responsible thing” and that cooperating was a civic […]