Note to new readers: Our family took in two foreign exchange students last August for the entire school year. Denmark is a 17 yr old girl. China is a 16 yr old boy. The U.S. is our 15 yr old son (Little Man). Israel, when home, is our 22 yr old daughter (Principessa), and Canada our 19 yr old son (Middle Man). I am The Secretary General. Smart Guy is Dad. Together, we are the U.N.: a home where laughs come daily, chaos reigns and borders fall easily, as we live like a real family. Know that no foreigners were hurt in the making of this blog post or in the incidents cited. All parties were aware that their comments were being noted, and pictures were used with permission, and assistance in editing for privacy. That said…
As much as I’d like to put my head in the sand and pretend that Friday isn’t two days away, I can’t. In barely 48 hours Denmark will be on her way back to… well Denmark. Twelve hours after that goodbye, at 3:45 AM on Saturday, China will be departing for China. Try as I might to imagine that we will still carry on, it has become pretty obvious that the U.N. cannot handle two resignations and function with same frivolity and nutty humor. True, both Canada and Israel are here for the summer session, but it seems likely that they will go back to being Principessa and Middle Man, and I will be stepping down from my post as Secretary General. As much fun as we’ve had, new delegates are not currently up for consideration. And so, the packing, planning, and goodbyes have begun.
Denmark has resolved all issues regarding items no longer wanted and put together a large pile of donations, even as more things are acquired. Top of that list is the shiny new year book that China, Denmark and the U.S. are all carrying around these days. Signatures must be gotten, friendships immortalized, and tears shed. If tears were Euros, Greece would be financially solid. Denmark is a goldmine in that department. Water-proof mascara would have been a good investment, but alas. As Secretary General, I’ve tried to remain balanced and neutral, but who’s kidding anyone? Not me. I can barely look either country in the eye without watering up. When Denmark presented us all with incredibly thoughtful gifts (all sent from Denmark, planned and ordered ages ago), and then the most amazing thank you/goodbye letter, that was just one giant cue to lose it. Lose. It. And lose it, I did.
Tuesday night, China hosted a farewell party, and in keeping with U.N. protocol of incorporating as many nations as possible, festivities were at a local Thai restaurant. Denmark and the U.S. both attended. All are on good terms with each other as negotiations come to a close. While the past month has been a wee bit rocky, with nations venting against nations, Secretary General having to assert a bit more pressure on all sides, and hostilities sometimes flaring, things are winding down and all concerned know that closure of all national activities is very near. China posted a heart felt thank you to Secretary General in the comments section of the last post: A Bunch of Kids Made Me Cry. In keeping with that post, Secretary General began to cry all over again, and China asked for a hug. Of note, this is a very different China than the one who initially sat at the table and rarely smiled.
Last weekend, Secretary General and Smart Guy co-hosted with another family a farewell party for both China and Denmark, and another exchange student from China. This was an opportunity to say thank you to several families who have been important parts of this ten month effort. Families who welcomed the entire U.N. to their homes, helped Denmark or either China when they needed extra support, attended holiday dinners and ski vacations, or provided familiar, smiling faces all year. I cooked several pigs’ worth of ribs, made loads of sangria, and my wonderful co-host made several amazing side dishes and an incredible dessert. We got the fire going later on, and China and Denmark got to try S’mores and roasted marshmallows… something neither China had ever done. It does indeed take a village and I for one could not have done this entire enterprise without the love, support and good humor of many friends, who have stepped forward and helped us keep the U.N. afloat. Merci! Tak! Thanks! 謝謝 !
Four days after we see our National Assembly off, and dissolve back into the chaos that is our nuclear family (Hello? Nuclear is just about right), we depart for three weeks away. One week with family on the East coast and then two weeks in Peru. We’ll be spending three full days hiking the Incan Trail, and if we survive that, travel on to the Amazon. Personally, I believe there are reasons you don’t hike for 3 days in the Andes. Rumor has it that it’s grueling, 19,000 feet worth of altitude issues and spicy food that may make weight loss the big bonus of this trip. The Incas are extinct… Need I say more? All will be fine in the Amazon as long as snakes keep a wide birth and nothing bites me. If I sound whiny, it’s because I’m tired and whiny. To manage our dietary issues (gluten free, kosher, fussy) we have hired a tour company that has a division called Peru for Jews (I kid you not), who will assure that Principessa has all kosher meals throughout our trip, and a place to stay on Shabbat. Personally, I just want a sturdy horse to carry me. This will be a trip of a lifetime and I know it. However, given the general level of argumentative snarkiness that our family is prone to, there may be some sacrifices made at Machu Pichu. Or, I may end up on a locked ward come mid-July. Either of those things should guarantee me a Freshly Pressed. I know they love photos and travel stuff, but who can compete with human sacrifice and break downs? Anything for the writing…
Of note: I am probably not going to bring my lap top to S. America, and thus will not post for at least two weeks, possibly the full three weeks of vacation. In general, when I travel abroad I try to unplug. That said, this blog has become my outlet on so many levels… it would be admittedly tough to go cold turkey. Final vote is not cast yet. For now, I am typing away and making dozens of lists on the handy pink scrap paper that my aunt gave me. Pink slips are everywhere these days, and without them my life would undoubtedly crumble. Or, maybe the pink slips are the source of all anxiety?
A major writing update: As of last week my manuscript is in the very competent hands of an Editor in Chicago. I have a lot of faith in her work and think it will be great working with her. If nothing else, I’ll come home to some solid feedback regarding content and all things grammar. Though I’ve had my writing group and one other Editor read the book, it’s a scary thing to send your baby out into the world and this was a big step for me. From there, it will be published in collaboration with a talented magazine publisher in CA who I know, and who wants to work with it. He has read the blog for a while and contacted me. I sent the manuscript to him, and he feels confident that it could do well published. So, while I struggled with the idea of self-publishing and what was the right route for this story, I’m jumping in and hope to see it in print by early fall. There I said it. It’s a whole other thing to know that people will actually read it, but it’s all very exciting as well. Thanks to many of you who provided advice, clarity and hand holding as I worked through this decision.
For now, I feel distinctly like I’m on a roller coaster (I can barely watch this!)… Those crazy moments when the cart is clicking slowly up the track and you realize you don’t really like roller coasters. But, it’s too late. The big drop is inevitable and I just hope it’s fun and I end up wanting more. I’m trying very hard to keep my eyes open, despite the tears, and my head clear to take on a few more adventure. Given my crazy departure last summer, anything is possible! One thing’s for sure: it will not be boring.