After the deafening cheers in the stands during yesterday's kayaking races for the Olympics, I turned to the Chinese guy next to me and asked him what he was yelling: "Jai you!" He said, "It means, go!" Last night, I asked my friend, Alex, what it really meant, and he explained, "Literally, it translates to 'add oil.'" When you want to win or go faster, you need to add a little fuel. I love that.
So while my family slumbers on this morning, I thought it was about time that I committed my personal resolutions for the next year in China in blog. Here's how I want to add a little fuel for myself! Justina, jai you!
- Acquire some basic Mandarin language skills! While it's impractical to think that I'll be fluent in Mandarin after a year, I'd like to be proficient enough to have a real conversation. Not just a transaction of information: where is the bathroom? I would like two orders of these dumplings. You know what I mean. Exchange ideas. And really, it would be absolutely amazing to get fluent enough that I could speak with my mom. Have a true conversation with her.
Translation: hire a Mandarin tutor, make sure to get out of my expat compound and practice the language with real people!
- Write my next novels! So my agent kicked me in the rear end when I saw him in L.A. a few weeks ago, telling me it was time to Get Back to Work. The truth is, after my last book tour which lasted almost SIX months, I was burned out. Absolutely and completely burned out. I took the entire summer off of writing. That's one long dry spell, longer than any I've ever given myself. Even when I was launching readergirlz with Lorie Ann Grover, Janet Lee Carey, and Dia Calhoun, I was writing--and even finished North of Beautiful during our most intense time. As my writer-friends have assured me: I have just been filling my creative well. I think they're right. Now, I am yearning to get back to the empty page and spend hours writing. I have four (count them, four!) book ideas that I've been ruminating over the past year or two.
Translation: commit to writng 3 full days a week and 2 mornings a week.
- Throw myself into the China experience! My year in Australia with my husband flew. Absolutely flew (except for the first few months when I had to adjust to all the racism...). So I know my time in Shanghai will be fast. I want to get to know the city, the quirky neighborhoods, the secret places to eat and shop. I want to travel in Asia (and have already booked our trip to Bhutan!). And I want to meet the cool, creative people who are changing the face of China now: the architects and designers, the directors and producers and writers and artists, the entrepreneurs.
Translation: set aside a day a week to explore the city. Pick out the places we want to visit in China and Asia. And interview cool people. This is all about feeding my creative well.
- Take exquisite care of my family, friends, and self! And of paramount importance to me, I want to make sure my family is safe and happy. So I want to do what I can to help my kiddos acclimatize to their new home. (That might mean volunteering at their school as a writer-in-residence since my eldest still--so far!--doesn't have a problem with me being onsite with him. I realize this will change sooner than I like.) One of my very best friends from college lives 10 minutes away from me now in Shanghai! I definitely want to devote some great quality time with my girlfriend. And finally, the big 4-0 has proven to me once and for all that my metabolism is slooooowing down. Must work out. Every. Day. Or I will take on the shape of a round Shanghainese dumpling.
And take new exercise classes: try out tai chi! fencing! heck, racewalking!
Geocache with my family! And just have fun.