For those of you who don’t know him, Julia and I have a brother, Gordon, who is really funny. He, his wife and their two kids went to China in May to visit her parents who have never met their grandchildren. This is Gordon’s first email updating us on China through his eyes.

Hey Mere,

Just hanging out in rice paddies with a million people. Riding rickshaws in metropolitan traffic. Kung-fuing with Jackie…Chan. Everything I have just written is an absolute lie. My time here has not been boring, even though I have yet to see a rice paddy, a rickshaw, or Jackie Chan (although I have seen countless people who look like him). We have spent the majority of our time eating with friends and family. The distinction between friend and family is not very clear here, but I am positive we have eaten with a bunch of family, and only semi-positive that some of them may not actually be related. This distinction is not important to Jackie so I have not asked any questions. We have seen the zoo, I fought a panda and won.

But while at home, I fought a door and lost.

Paige is enjoying the strange food here (that’s her nomming on a chicken foot) and I have yet to turn away anything without at least the first bite. Luke is slowly warming up to his grandparents and Jackie does not want to leave them for a second.

We found a great church and today I went looking for a great job. We are thinking that we may live in Guangzhou long-term, but only after I get that diploma that says I have seen the inside of a bunch of classrooms and read Shakespeare. I am having a blast traveling around on the subways. They have the nicest subway system here. 4 out of 10 times I get lost on the bus rides, but the subway is alllllllllll goooooooood. Only met three Americans so far.

My in-laws hated the clothes I brought with me. I figured this out when I found my undershirts being used as floor mats and my collared shirt used to dim a lamb. However, they bought me all new clothes and Jackie’s Dad gave me a bunch of his clothes. Surprisingly her dad’s clothes fit. I am now a Mac man. [Edit: What?]

Jackie has been right at home here. I attribute this to the fact that it is her home. Profound, huh? She has been shopping and force feeding Luke. She got a haircut and, as always, looks ravishing. She is wearing all new clothes too, but she had an easier time finding clothes that fit. When she came to America she immediately became undersized for adult clothes and reversed in age about ten years.

When I came to China I immediately became oversized for any clothing line, especially shoes, and miraculously became distractingly handsome. I have seen girls stop in their tracks to stare me down. For some reason that has stopped lately (it could have something to do with the wicked stitcihes I was sporting on my face). Now only the guys stare me down. Jackie does not mind this as much. I think they are sizing me up to see if they could take me in a fight. Not a chance. We had a laugh the first time a girl approached me to tell me I was handsome. I told her that my wife thinks so too.

We miss you and we hope to see you during thanksgiving or Christmas. Love to you.


M. Gordon Byrd


p.s. For the record, pandas only look cute and cuddly. Punch one in the mouth and you have a battle on your hands, trust me. Luke’s alligators are a delicacy and very expensive.