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It was my birthday!  And dad’s!  happy birthday dad!  It took me a while to eat cake after my birthday day, but did have some birthday watermelon!

And Harbin’s 119th birthday!  Actually that June 9th date’s a bit controversial, I recently read a paper about organizing a centennial conference in 1998, and a lot of conservative Chinese don’t like that, as it marks the construction of the railroad that made Harbin the city it is today.  They view it as yet more colonial infringement.  So some prefer setting Harbin’s birthday in September, 1905 when the Qing government set up administration for it.

I had a lovely birthday filled with hiking, sweets and relaxation, followed by some changes to my Fulbright mindset.  I mentioned the side project my mother inspired in me (a novel about the Harbin Jews) to my adoptive older sister, who proceeded me as a Fulbrighter at HLJU three years ago and is now a badass freelance journalist.

Her advice at the mention was “drop everything, screw your research paper, write that book.”  So with that vote of confidence I’m focusing more on that project.  I’m not abandoning my core research, nonono, I still hope to publish.  However, Lydia made the good point that everyone can write a research paper, while a historical fiction about the Harbin Jews is something unique (at least as far as I can tell) and equally worthy of the Fulbright name.

So hoping to crank up my work output and do both.  The historical fiction is gonna need a lot of research, I’m still in the brainstorming phases, but my little pitch sentence is, “Several stories take us through the lives of Harbin’s Jews to explore the city’s enchanting history.”  I want to do short stories/vignettes to explore Harbin as a setting in the beginning of the 20th century, with characters and plot secondary.  That frees me from the confines of an overarching plot and lets me assemble it piece-meal, keep my research into manageable chunks, as there are a lot of issues I’m going to have to cover.  I’d like to have a finished draft of the whole product by the time I get back to the States.  Doable, hopefully, but a lot of work, and a lot of pretention.  I’ll keep you updated if you’re interested!

I really don’t have much more to add, sorry. :/

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