Someday when I am old, I will look back on these days of new mommahood, when at least four times during the workday I find myself in a windowless 3’x5′ room, on the other side of the wall from our national security correspondents, attached reluctantly to an electric breast pump while overhearing conversations about the ramifications of unilateral disarmament.
To be clear, I think nursing is awesome. I truly enjoy providing both physical and emotional sustenance for Baby E in one loving act. It’s really no sweat, either, since Eva is my only baby. My Chinese great-grandmother nursed seven (7) babies in total, earning her the respect of many generations and lasting evidence of her hard work — mom tells me my great-grannie could actually fling her drooping boobs over her shoulders. Impressive on many levels, that lady.
But the difference between nursing a baby and pumping milk for a baby is like the difference between visiting Venice and going to the Olive Garden. Pumping is tedious and soulless and in my case, always really awkward when I emerge from the lactation station and make eye contact with the national security guys who surely overheard my pump as they were discussing war and Syria and what not.
I am glad I had a daughter, because maybe one day she will have a baby of her own, and she, too, can experience the wonder and the weirdness that is motherhood.
We lost constant internet connectedness for the last week as we traveled Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary by cruising down the Danube River. While we managed to check our emails once a day, not being tethered to the iPhone and other communications devices was a welcome break. I instead relished human connectedness – the kind with my family, the kind all too rare now that my mom, dad and brother are spread out across the globe.
The flights proved exhausting and frustrating as usual (but at least I didn’t have to spend the night in a baggage claim like that one night on the way back from China in 2007). Loved the Hungarians. One of our guides explained that being on the losing side of every war since the 17th century makes the people quite authentic and realistic — something that made us want to go back to Budapest, or as the locals say, Budapescht, quite soon.
Wachau Valley, Austria (includes cities of Melk and Dunstein)
Sturovo, Slovak Republic (just across the border from Esztergom)
Bratislava, Slovak Republic
We’re near Washington, DC, for a massive family reunion. My maternal grandma flew all the way in from Taiwan to take part, so our one layover in Houston really doesn’t count as much travel. Grandma has five brothers and sisters and she’s the oldest surviving one. The fact there are six siblings in that generation mean that by the time you get to my generation, there are about 68 cousins and second cousins and cousins-in-law-once-removed. Or something. I still don’t know them all.
We’ve shared some moving moments – like the survival stories grandma told about triumphing over war (WWII), revolution (the Cultural one) and separation (time and distance).
But mostly this gathering has been about the lighter moments — eating way too much food in order to please our elders (a Chinese thing that feels like being slowly fed to death), joking about perhaps incorporating our family into some sort of LLC, and cousins connecting over which ‘realm’ or ‘guild’ they are in in the addictive computer game, World of Warcraft.
Which reminds me: Cousins Calvin and Cary, both grown-ups with families of their own, decided a few years ago to go out into the woods and fully embrace who they are as men. They choreographed an extensive Star Wars-themed kung fu light saber battle that my other cousin, Clarence, caught on tape. See below.