November 13, 2001
Letter To Mom

Dear Mom:

Welcome home! How was China?

Did you eat with chopsticks? Did you ride in a rickshaw? Did you stand on top of The Great Wall and spit over the edge? Is there a Starbucks in The Forbidden City?

[More importantly: did you bring us back a real fortune cookie??]

your postcard landed today

I'm pleased [and relieved] to report that things here have been mostly OK while you've been away.

We're still sober. We're still married. We're still employed. We tried not to blow up the country while you were gone. As far as I know, you're not going to become a grandmother again. [Neither am *I*, for that matter.] Mostly, it's just been life per normal around Castle Ю僱rvء for the past couple of weeks.

Even so ... I have to tell you that was really spooky, knowing that you were on the other side of the planet for the past couple of weeks. I feel a whole lot better knowing that you're home in TicTac, safe and sound ... and as soon as your jet lag wears off, I hope you'll tell us all about your trip.

In the meantime ... a *molecule* or two of news, such as it is.

The new job is going well. Tomorrow will be three weeks [two weeks longer than I stayed at Betty Barfy's real estate office, you may recall] ... and some of that icky uncomfortable "New Girl" feeling is finally starting to wear off. I'm beginning to remember who everybody is, and what their extension numbers are, and where their cubicles/their *In* boxes/their dirty coffee mugs are located: I don't have to walk around the office with a map and a compass in my hand anymore. At the same time, I'm learning who my *groovy* co-workers are [anyone willing to listen for the phones while I make a potty run] and who the *not-so-groovy* co-workers are [the 'fetch me a cup of coffee' people]. Now I have to figure out how to cultivate the latter while kissing up to the former.

[Or maybe it should be the other way around ... ?]

David is fine. He has a new guitar, which he plays incessantly. Right now he's trying to teach himself how to play "Boom Boom" by John Lee Hooker. He's also become a CD-burning maniac ... cranking out gift CDs for friends and families and total strangers alike. [How do you feel about Tom Petty bootlegs, by the way?] We've had to shelve bike-riding for the season -- it's dark when we leave the apartment in the mornings, it's dark when we get home to the apartment in the evenings, and in-between there's all this annoying JOB stuff we've got to deal with -- but we're sticking to the diet [mostly] and staying out of trouble [mostly] and getting along as well as we always do [mostly]. He writes on his Super Fun Time forum, and I squeeze out a spotty sub-par *FootNotes* entry every couple of days or so, whenever I have the time/the energy/the creative oomph, and we're both basically pretty happy at the moment [mostly].

In other words: life per normal.

The BIG news around here, of course, is that Jaymi will be arriving day after tomorrow for her annual Christmas-shopping pilgrimage to the Bay Area. [This is the second year in a row that she's done this -- she likes to shop for Joel without JOEL here, looking over her shoulder -- so I believe we can legitimately start referring to it as a *tradition.*] Last weekend we cleaned up the apartment a little bit ... fixed the broken toilet and the flaming garbage disposal ... washed all of the towels ... did an ant spot-check ... all of the usual getting-ready-for-Jaymi stuff. Tomorrow night after work we'll grocery-shop for her Amaretto coffee cream and her Asiago cheese. She has requested that we make bruschetta one night while she's here, but we've decided instead to teach her how to make it. That way she can go home and make it for Joel. [Besides. It's like the old saying: Give a Tot some bruschetta, and you've fed her for an afternoon; teach her how to MAKE bruschetta, and you'll get out of tomato-chopping duty forever.]

Amazingly -- in light of everything that has happened in the world since the last time she flew down here for a visit -- she doesn't seem at all nervous about getting onto an airplane.

[That's OK. I'm nervous enough for both of us.]

Anyway, I just wanted to touch base with you and let you know that you were missed ... and that you and Vince were thought of often, while you were gone ... and that we're looking forward to hearing all the details of your trip. [David is particularly interested in hearing about The Happy Houses. He wants to know: do they serve sushi there? Or is it strictly a piano bar?] As for me, I want to hear about everything. I'm still sort of in awe that you simply packed up and went to CHINA, forcryingoutloud. But then again I'm sort of in awe of a lot of stuff you do.

We love you! Talk to you very soon.

Your loving daughter,

P.S. You didn't happen to take any pictures while you were in China, did you?

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