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Right, that’s me heading off to Beijing tomorrow. I’m nervous, of course, given the anxiety over my health lately, but my doctor gave me the green light. I have another test to do when I return, but other than that, I’ve got a clean bill of health. He actually said my heart’s great (according to an 85% accurate test involving an EKG and a treadmill), my cholesterol and other bloodwork looks wonderful, my blood pressure isn’t significantly high, and that I’m going to live a long life if I cut back on the stress and get more exercise. (He also gave me a new prescription to deal with a different issue I’ve had on the go, because he suspects it may have been misdiagnosed — understandably, as it’s a borderline case — by the urologist I’ve been seeing.)

And what’s my biggest health issue? Stress and anxiety. It can mess with your autonomic nervous system. Give you weird sensations. Make things tingle or hurt. Give you pains in your naughty bits. Stress can really mess you up. So it’s important to deal with it. Me, I think having a break from Korea will help more than sitting here and wondering whether there’s more to it than just stress. So while I’m just a little nervous, I’m going just the same. After all, it’s only an hour away by plane. If I start feeling weird, or worse, I can always come back, and be home within a few hours. So while I have one more test to go, which I’ll be doing when I get home, I’m not so worried now. I’m actually mostly relieved and excited.

I’ve wanted to see China for years now, and I’m finally getting the chance… tomorrow! How many people get to make that decision and land in Beijing the very next day? So even while this visit will be all too short, and I’ll only be seeing bits of China — and not even the warmest bits! — I’m still happy. I could have gone to Thailand or Vietnam and sat on a beach for a week, but… this means more to me. Anyway, I’ll be semi-incommunicado for the next couple of weeks, as you might have guessed. I’ll be checking email, maybe posting occasionally, but mostly wandering around away from a computer.

And probably that, above all, will do me the most good. And what reading have I chosen to bring along? The choice was driving me crazy — I’m about halfway through Nalo Hopkinson’s The Midnight Robber but won’t be able to finish it before I go, and don’t wish to bring it half-read, just to finish it on the plane so it can sit in my backpack for two weeks getting messed up, bent, and destroyed, no this autographed copy! So I thought about all kinds of books about China, including Marco Polo’s records of his journey, and Jonathan Spence’s In Search of Modern China, and Spence’s book on the Taipings, and the Mao bio I recently bought — but all of those books are freaking heavy, and I’m trying to minimize the weight of what I put on my back… so I finally decided to bring something completely unrelated to China: the collection fiction of Jorge Luis Borges.

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