Eye of the Chicken
A journal of Harbin, China

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Hello, again.

It's been an interesting couple of weeks, Kind Reader. First Christmas happened, with its usual hullabaloo. On Christmas Eve Emil, Em and I had dinner, opened presents, and talked to Charlie (who stayed in AZ this year with his sweetie). On Boxing Day, we went to visit the in-laws at their new vacation digs in Houghton Lake, which was very pleasant. (I especially liked seeing my nephews, who are always up to something fun to hear about.) Then we celebrated with Louise, which was also very pleasant. I've mailed a bunch of packages with one yet to go. (Hey, it's not Twelfth Night. They're not late. Technically. Maybe.)

So the Christmas season has (almost) passed in a very relaxed and amiable way. I tend to fret a lot over gifts and things, but this year, I just didn't. Mostly because I didn't have to: Emil (aka "Mr. Mellow", now that he's, erm, left his position) took care of most of it.

Which brings me to my main topic. I wasn't particularly easy to convince on this job-quitting thing, and I have to say that on the scale from "giving in" to "completely on board" I was probably a little more to the left than is becoming . . . and leave it at that. But now that the holidays have passed and we're settling in to some kind of pattern, I'm feeling really happy about this change for a variety of reasons.

First, I'm really proud of him for making this move. He could have followed a safer course, but he was miserable. Making this work financially so that we would both feel comfortable about it made him jump outside the box. I know I would not have had the calm or the courage to do it.

And it's made our day-to-day life a lot more pleasant. It's fun to be living back here where we started, adopting more or less the same rhythms as we did when we first met - no particular schedule on most days, running errands together, doing our own thing and then not. It's a pleasant lifestyle. What's not to like? I liked it all through graduate school; no reason to think I wouldn't enjoy it again.

It won't last, of course, because I'm leaving in a few short weeks. And then when I come back, I'll be working again. (How different my sabbatical looks to me now than when I planned it . . Staying home was a lot less interesting when Emil went off to work every morning. But my time in Harbin will be interesting, too, and it will be interesting to hear how his ventures are going [without being close enough to panic over the details]. But this trip's a one-off. I may never get another chance like this.)

When I come home we're certainly not going to be living luxuriously, but on the plus side, forever after we'll have lazy Christmases and fun summer adventures and relaxing spring breaks. Not bad. Not bad at all. Presuming we aren't choosing between Super Supper and Fancy Feast for dinner, this just might work out. Stay tuned.

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