Making a list and checking it twice

I wonder whether I’m avoiding work by making a list or avoiding a list by doing things. I have a lot left to do before I leave for China tomorrow. One of the things I need to do is to make a list for my husband…so he doesn’t forget the things he needs to do while I’m gone. Like mulch the flower beds. And feed the fish. The flower beds will survive but it won’t be good for the fish if he neglects them for 2 weeks. The man will clearly benefit from a list, don’t you think?

Meanwhile my to do list for today is only a few entries long. “Pack for China” was one of the big items. Below that was “refill shampoo, conditioner and face wash bottles”. I’m reminded of a great tip I learned from a friend, but forgot to follow today: Break down the projects into each task to avoid getting lost in the details.
“Pack for China” is too big of a task. I’m still working on that task. I should have made a complete list of everything that needs to go in the suitcase. Then I would know what was lacking as of this moment. Instead, I can tell you that my bedroom looks like the suitcase exploded – clothes and toiletries are strewn across the bed and floor.
I never finished making the list because I started tackling the project. I know better, yet I fell into this common trap. As I began to build the list I began to get anxious about how much I needed to do. Jumping into action helped relieve the anxiety – but that relief was superficial.
Sitting down and writing this post has reminded me that it’s better to take the time to plan. If I have time to write a post, I surely have time to finish writing the list of things to pack!
So, I’m going to revise my list to reflect everything that needs to go into the suitcase. Below that I’ll highlight things I need to do in order to pack (like restock the travel kit). Below that I’ll list the loose ends that need to be tied up before I leave my day-to-day world for 2 weeks (like some e-mails that need to be sent). Finally, I’ll start a list of things I need to purchase before I go (Pringles – a must, Pepto, …) And then I’ll get busy packing.
Are you a list-maker? No? What works for you?

Ready? Set….

How many people woke up today thinking about preparations for Halloween? I woke up thinking about preparations for NaNoWriMo. I’m again reminded more of pregnancy and labor/delivery than anything else. My thoughts have been all about the coming date: November 1st. The start of labor. The beginning of a month-long delivery. By November 30th I’ll have birthed a novel. Excited & scared? Yes! Ready? Who knows?

Today I’ll be prepping the house, just like a did in the days before delivering babies. I feel like I’m nesting. My home office, my bedroom, my bathroom, my closet, etc. I want all of it to be clean, somewhat organized, “ready” for a distraction-free period. I will not have time to sort clothes (Fall/Winter finally arriving in Central Texas – it’s time to put away T-shirts and dig out sweaters!) or let myself get sucked into petty distractions. I’m clearing all of the clutter as I prepare for this adventure.
I’ve been trying to prepare the family as well, but I’m not sure if they get it. I’m not sure if I get it so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised or disappointed. I need them in my cheering section, not contributing to the distractions. Life is busy enough.
This morning I listened to the 4 tips for week 1 and I can’t help but worry that I’m only good for the last item. Item 3 will take great effort.
1) Go to “Write-In” (group noveling sessions)
2) Go big early: Write 2-5k words on November 1st
3) Do not revise: “Revision is for December”
4) It’s okay to not know where the story is going: that’ll come in week 3 or 4
Tomorrow, Day 1: Church and children will consume most of the 1st half of the day. Then I’m going to the Kairos closing at Barlett jail. The local Write-In conflicts with the Bartlett closing.
I’m looking forward to seeing how many words I can write as I work my way around all of the planned activities. Although the average daily word count is 1,667 I’m targeting 2k/day because I know there will be days when I may not get much written. This week I will not have conference calls because key members from the Taiwan team will be in Austin. There may be dinners scheduled. Courtesy dictates attendance (but not necessarily lingering so I’ll eat ‘n run). Next week and after – I’ve told my boss I may need some time off.
I’ve been marking the calendar with all of my November commitments. Fortunately it looks like my business trip to China may squeeze into December so that’s a relief. Meanwhile, everything else? Weighed against progress on my word count. Which is why I need to front-end load the daily writing. Some of the commitments and conflicts of time/interest (like the photo-shoot for Guideposts – my story will be in the March issue) can’t be avoided.
Meanwhile, I had to explain to my husband (again) that I won’t be available to join him for TV-watching. I know he supports me but the reality hasn’t really set in for him yet. He needs to understand that the word flow will be like the dwarf bamboo that wants to take over our back yard. The words, sentences, paragraphs, pages will grow & multiply filling all available space during the month of November. I like that image. Let the words flow and grow. Pruning and weeding will come in December.
I do feel God is pleased with the basic premise & characters He’s brought to mind. I pray that I can do justice to these ideas and bring the story to life. May God be with us!

A Walk in the Park…in Kunshan, China

In front of the Swissotel there’s a guy sitting on a bench, playing the saxophone.

Beside the hotel is a nice promenade where children and adults occasionally played with the pebbles and the running water.(I missed catching them in the act, but you may notice the water around the base – there was a lot of traffic in the water.)

Behind the hotel there’s a small ensemble playing in the beer garden. I could almost hear the music.

In the park behind the hotel, there was an area for Tai Chi or other arts of the East.

The waterway was peaceful. The art, interesting. The air, fresh. A nice break from the smog.

I enjoyed my walk. I enjoyed the peace and the solitude. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon in the city of Kunshan.

China – more of the 1st week

Sunday evening I left Austin, arriving at the factory (almost straight from the airport) Tuesday afternoon. Every day was filled from with meetings, conference calls, and build activities. I ate dinner in my room Tues, Wed & Thursday. I had a “traditional Chinese massage” Tuesday night and a foot massage Wednesday night. Both were worthy investments.

Friday evening, after another long day, my Program Manager took me to a China Mobile store to buy a local sim card for an old phone I brought with me. I ended up buying a local phone because my old phone was “locked” (long story not worth going into here). Finally I had the ability to communicate with folks locally – very helpful given the size of the factory and the fact that the Taipei teams are in separate rooms on opposite sides of the factory.

After making the phone purchase Molder & I stopped in a DVD store. These are stores of some notoriety because they are filled with “knock-off” copies of DVD’s. I didn’t buy any movies, but it certainly is an impressive sight to see the “wall of videos” in no apparent order. Of note, there was a local woman there who wanted to purchase a copy of “Drag Me to Hell”. At least I assume that’s why she kept breaking out of her mandarin to say “Drag Me to Hell.”

Next we went to a restaurant and joined 2 reps from an antenna supplier. The dinner tales are best told in person. I’ll just say that my companions were drinking both beer and wine (they’d ordered beer but maybe felt obliged to help me with the wine). I really can’t do dinner justice here, but here are some photos which might give a sense of the food and the company.

After getting back to the hotel, I finally had the “oil massage” I was anticipating Thursday. It was not at all what I expected. The listing had said “90 minutes” so I assumed they meant “90 minutes” (the other massages lasted as long as the time listed on the “menu”). Instead it was 60 minutes. When I asked afterward they said “Oh, we allow 30 minutes for your shower”. What? When they took me back for the massage they told me the girl would be there in a few minutes. When she came in she asked something about a shower but when I asked for clarification she said effectively “nevermind.” After each massage I was served tea and hustled out of there so I’m not sure when I was supposed to take a 30 minute shower. The trouble with complaining is everyone’s English seemed to get worse when I tried to get clarification afterward.

As a side story about the tea served after the massage… After my traditional Chinese massage they served ginger tea. I fell in love with ginger tea last year – it’s very soothing for the stomach. After the oil massage I asked if the tea was ginger tea and she said “Oh, you want ginger tea?!?” and she ran off with the tea she’d brought me. She came back with ginger tea. Typically the tea has an hour to cool off (they bring the tea at the start of the massage) so the ginger tea was too hot to drink. When I mentioned that I was hustled out of there after the massage, what I’m referring to is to this: after a few minutes of waiting for the tea to cool off (and I will admit that the charming girl graciously continued to massage my shoulders during these few minutes) she asked if should could pour out the remainder of my water in the water bottle I’d brought with me. After I nodded my assent she poured out the water and poured the too-hot-to-drink tea into the water bottle. So I could leave. Right now, thank you. “Hustled out,” wouldn’t you say?

But if I overlook the feeling that I was ripped off because my 90 minute massage was a 60 minute massage, it was a nice treat. I did have to suspend modesty but I won’t bother you with the sordid details. It was an experience and that’s what I’m all about on these Asian adventures.