Three days ’til China: Packing anxiety, and a life-changing reminder

How am I supposed to pack for this?
How am I supposed to pack for this?

I was at the North Face store in University Village today, buying a deeply discounted two-in-one coat for China. I have so many coats and jackets, I could start my own store. But I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about what to pack. Like, hours. Steve will find me cruising Zappos, desperately searching for THE RIGHT SHOES that will look OK with leggings and a casual dress, a pair of shorts, skinnies AND boot cut jeans and that I can run in. Of course they don’t exist.

Why do I care what I look like in China? I just do. It’s how I’m made. I can’t be remade. So every time I have to pack, I get anxious.

While packing for Paris, I did so many trips to and from my closet that I logged 5,500 steps on my Fitbit. I am a collector of clothes.  And that means way too many choices when it comes to packing. I’ve been going over combinations constantly in my head: leggings + Athleta dress = flats. If freezing, flats = boots. It’s crazy-making.

My packing anxiety isn’t helped by the different climates we’ll encounter during our visit. Beijing is cold in the winter, as is Xi’an, and Guangzhou is subtropical. Let me also point out that we’re going to be there for two-and-a-half weeks. Looking at a forecast doesn’t help. The weather can change quickly here, in little ol’ Seattle, so trying to predict the weather for three separate cities is impossible. Also, I’m not a meteorologist.

So, how do I pack for this situation? (The next person who says “layers” gets punched in the throat.) I’ve been to Asia before, and know how hot and oppressively muggy it can get. But I also hate being cold. I tackled one problem today by purchasing a highly unflattering coat with a zip-out liner.

“You lucked out getting this coat,” said the cashier at North Face. “It’s the end of the season. And this is a rad coat.”

“Yeah, I love that I can zip out the liner,” I said. “I’m going to China on Wednesday, and I have to be ready for anything, weather-wise.”

We chatted for a few minutes about the different climates there, and the pollution. Then he asked if I was going for work, or vacation.

“No, we’re adopting a child,” I replied, while swiping my much-swiped card.

“Whoa. That’s … that’s huge,” he said. I looked up to find him staring at me in amazement. “You’re leaving in, like, a few days to adopt a kid?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Things are a little crazy.”

He shook his head. “That’s so awesome. Life changing.”

Of course I know this whole adventure is life changing. But for some reason, being reminded by the wiry, 20-something cashier at North Face knocked me back. I felt s tiny, icy ball of unease start below my sternum, and roll down to my gut. I felt a little dizzy, so I put my hand on the counter. Life changing. Oh my God. He’s right.

“Well, I hope it’s amazing. I mean, I’m sure it’ll be amazing,” he handed me my bag of coat. “Safe travels, OK?”


Things you find when you move: Pens

I found a pen on the mantel in the family room. I have no idea why it was there, or how long it had been there. Also, it didn’t work.

If you’re my Facebook friend, you already know this: I’m moving. It’s all I talk about. If you’re not one of my Facebook friends, count yourself lucky, and then, here’s the news: I’m moving. On Friday.

As my very wise friend Kelly said (via Facebook): Moving pushes all of your buttons — logistics, routine, money and relationships. Dude. So true. Plus, as it turns out, I don’t actually like change. So this whole process has been hard for me. I don’t like mess, I don’t like disorder, so I’m in hell. Hence, I’m drinking more wine than I used to and looking for humor where I can find it.

This is one of about 40 pens we found in the laundry room, along with a corkscrew and an Ergo infant insert that I'd meant to give to a friend, like, four years ago.
This is one of about 40 pens we found in the laundry room, along with a corkscrew and an Ergo infant insert that I’d meant to give to a friend, like, four years ago.

I found it very funny, for instance, that in every room we packed, we found pens. One expects to find pens in, say, the office, or the kitchen. But we found pens everywhere: on top of the mantel in the family room, in the laundry room, in the coat closet, in the garage. What would one need to write in the coat closet, I wonder?

Anyway, we now have more pens than an office supply store — a ragtag collection of writing instruments that will, inevitably, be strewn around our new house in short order.