Dog years and China years

Thirty years ago I was working on the Carter presidential campaign. That meant going to bed about 2am, getting up about 4:30 am, and cranking out speeches in all the hours in between, via typewriters (yes) while on buses and airplanes. This was the time when I learned that coffee and Coke were the two staple foods. At a campaign stop in Los Angeles after several months of this existence, I ran into Anthony Lewis, reporting on the campaign in his role as columnist for the New York Times. I had met him a few years earlier. "You look terrible!" he said. I was then in my mid-20s, but I told him that I realized I was getting one year older each day on the campaign.

Some similar time-warp is underway here in China. Every day is interesting. But I feel as if, dog-year style, every day is adding about a year to my chronological (and physiogonomical) age. Today my wife and I met a stylish and attractive American woman in her 30s who had come to Shanghai about the same time we did. Immediately on arrival she got very sick, as we had too. She said that when she dragged herself from bed one day and looked at the unfamiliar face in the mirror, her first thought was: China is killing me!

Intellectually, it's reviving and rejuvenating to be in the midst of everything that is going on in China. Physically... well, it's like those old days of the campaign. But maybe that's only because this is the Year of the Dog. God knows what will happen when we welcome the Year of the Pig.