Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year in Review!

So we have successfully reached the end of another year. It seems like so long ago since the end of last year, and yet, the time also seemed to fly by. This year I have lived in three different countries, China, the US and Azerbaijan. Each country very different from the others. We have been caught in the middle of diplomatic wrangling and thus had to be reassigned at the last minute... twice. In the end, I'm glad we ended up in Baku, the post seems friendly, the people are also very friendly, and it is a very unique change of pace from China. I think Manilla might have been nice, but I don't think our experience would have been significantly different from our experience in China.
We celebrated our fourth year of marriage this year, and I look forward to many more years. I can honestly say that marriage is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I'm not saying it's not tough, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be.
I lived at home for four months.... enough said.
My brother went to war....
My sister decided she was going to be a doctor...
I went to Turkey for Thanksgiving....
We also expanded our family this year. I now have a sweet loveable Honey sitting at my feet keeping me company during the day. After all my years of hoping and wishing, I finally have a dog, and although I sometimes get really annoyed (like after she peed on the carpet for no reason at all) I really do enjoy having her with me. I don't know what I would do without her.
Speaking of expanding families 2006 was also a staging year. My brother got engaged to a very nice young woman, and we are all looking forward to their wedding next year. I got knocked up and EVERYONE is looking forward to the arrival of our first child (my parents are beside themselves with glee).
All in all 2006 has been a good year, and I can't wait to see what's in store for 2007!

The Nutcracker

Finally! After 3 days being cooped up in the house, not being able to go anywhere we finally got out! Or rather I finally got out. My hubby had to go out despite the unsafe conditions to attend to some urgent work business, while I was still sequestered at home. Snow and ice are not friends of Baku or pregnant women.
So for our journey out, we attended the Baku performance of the Nutcracker. Now, I freely admit, I don't know very much at all about ballet. I appreciate the art, it's a beautiful thing, I just don't know enough to appreciate fine ballet, from average ballet. However, tonight's performance was not very nice at all, except that I got out of the house. At first, I thought I was just being nitpicky. I have a pet peeve against professional artists who can't get their stuff together to dance in sync. I mean if a high school band can all march in step to music they play themselves, artist, who get paid to dance together, should be able to dance together in sync. But as the performance went on I noticed that the choreography was not that sophisticated, and anything that was difficult was sloppily done. And it's bad if I noticed that it was sloppy. All the male dancers would stumble after executing any kind of jumping spin and the big move for couples dancing together was for the man to hold the woman up while she performed waist high split kicks.
But even though I'm complaining, I was happy to get out, and it was nice to see a ballet again. And I have to say the man who played Santa Clause had a very nice muscular butt, and his blue tights emphasized his cheeks nicely. he he

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Snow day!

Today is a Baku snow day! It started snowing yesterday, it snowed all night, and still really hasn't stopped snowing. The thing of it is, that there really isn't that much snow on the ground. It's almost like Texas where people freak out if they see a snow flake. It's actually been pretty amusing to sit at the window and watch the craziness as people slide down the hill on our street. Even as I sit here typing I can here the spinning of wheels and gunning of engines as drivers try in vain to coax their cars up the little hill. I think a big part of the problem is that no one has plowed the street. So the snow has compacted into ice, and with people's bald tires, and old crappy cars the hill is proving to be too much of a challenge. And as usual, with traffic in Baku, there is the yelling and the horn honking accompanying the sliding cars. I don't really know what they expect to accomplish, if your car is sliding backwards, obviously there is really nothing you can do to improve the situation, other than get out and push. But who knows? Maybe the honking will somehow magically give the car traction and the driver will then be able to progress up the hill.

Fire Temple

Last week I went to the Baku Fire Temple with some friends. Supposedly ancient Bakuvians built a temple on this site because of the fire that naturally sprouted from the ground. People came from as far away as India to worship at the alter of the firegods.

Friday, December 08, 2006

December blues

WHEW! November just seemed to drag/fly by. I started taking Russian language classes, 5 days a week thank you very much, started to get out a little more. I went to several International Women's Club events, and a couple BP social club things, I even started doing some baby group events, our final shipment of crap finally arrived, and we went to Turkey for Thanksgiving. In between all that the baby got bigger and it's finally no longer possible for people not to know I'm pregnant. It's really quite obvious. I wish you could backdate posts on blogger, I'd like to cheat and write a few posts as if I was in Turkey, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet. But I will update in the next day or so and write out a post on Turkey. It was loads of fun, and we took a lot of great pictures.
I'm looking forward to all the adventures to have in December!

Friday, November 03, 2006


I have finally reached the pregnancy midpoint! YEAH! Hopefully the second half of this pregnancy will be easier than the first. I'm tired of being sick, and I want to move on to the I'm happy and feeling fine phase. I'm still itty bitty and people are still shocked when I tell them that I am almost 5 months pregnant. I think if I was to keep pretending that I wasn't pregnant people might just think I'd gotten a little fat. Weirdly enough, despite the fact that I'm gaining belly a little everyday my body image is better than it's been in a long time. I think it's because I'm loosing weight everywhere else except my stomach (and well my chest, they're HUGE!). That and maybe all the attention of the crazy women loving Azeri men. Or maybe I'm just happy that I don't already look like I'm nine months pregnant. Even if I were to suddenly blow up tomorrow and gain ten pounds in the next week and everyweek thereafter I'd still be happy because I made it this far so small.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Rain Rain Go Away...

So the last week, I'm sitting at the kitchen table finishing up my first breakfast of the day, getting ready to put on my shoes and take the dog out for her morning constitutional when I see these huge splats begin to hit the window. Uh oh.... In about 30 more seconds the splats turn into a deluge and it's raining harder than I've seen it rain anywhere in a long time. I apologize to the dog, but tell her I'm not going out in this, and neither is she, and put her back in her crate. I thought it would rain hard and then lighten up a bit, but no. It rained hard for an hour or so. The street flooded, our lobby flooded, it was crazy. As I watched the street turned into a little river, and cars were driving by in water up to the middle of their wheels. But then it was weird, it finally stopped raining, and out came the sun and it was a gorgeous day. Except for the small creeks, and rivers everywhere you'd never know that it had been raining. Crazy!

uh... Honey we're not going out right now
the street in front of our apartment
driving in the river
more water
the pool inside our lobby

Friday, October 27, 2006

Flirting with kids

I was out walking with Honey today, when I was ambushed by a group of highschool boys who started off slyly asking about Honey. Started off innocently enough, although I should have known better most people here are terrified of dogs. They petted her, once I assured them she wouldn't bite, talked about how good she was, and even asked how old she was (although in retrospect they might have been asking my age). I talked politely with them, answering what I could with my limited knowledge of Russian, and their limited usable English, and then continued on with Honey to finish her potty break, which is why we were out there to begin with. As Honey finished up, two of them circled in again to make their move.... Apparently there needed to be courage worked up or something. The two of them approached as I was trying to get Honey to poop and started to compliment me. I didn't understand at first, but soon caught on, and tried to figure out a way to turn down these young'uns without being too mean, and in a way that they would definitely understand me. I tried to tell them in English that they were too young, they didn't get it, so then I moved on to hinting around the topic by asking them how old they were, and then implying that I was old... which when you're talking to 18 year olds a 30 year old is OLD. I was pleased though.... it's not everyday you get hit on by 18 year olds, while you are carrying your husband's child no less. Score one for the pregnant girls!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Mommy's first maternity outfit

So I thought we were going out Saturday so I got all dressed up and I thought I would celebrate by putting on a maternity outfit for once. I didn't think I actually needed one, so far I have been getting by with slightly baggier shirts and loose fitting pants, but when I put on the outfit I was surprised to see that I actually DO look pregnant. I suppose it's about time, I am nearly halfway through. But still, it's shocking to suddenly look in the mirror and see a pregnant woman. Anyway, I just thought I'd share the new look.

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Friday, October 20, 2006


I was in the park with Honey this morning doing a little long neglected brushing when I noticed that there was an awful lot of commotion going on at the local school. I ignored it thinking that it was just regular noise, but then I noticed that the loud boys were herding two sheep into the schoolyard. Honey and I went closer to investigate, but could learn nothing, except that the I think kids were being let out of school early. Mothers and littler kids were fleeing the schoolgrounds in force, while the older kids were gathering in groups to gossip and exchange plans for the upcoming holiday (I assume. The govt. declared Mon & Tues to be national holidays in respect of Ramadan). Some kids and parents were milling about in the schoolyard. The kids running wild, as kids will do, and the parents watching with one eye and talking to teachers and other parents out of the other. The two sheep were alternately ignored and chased around by groups of boys, while the sheep handler tried in vain to keep the sheep contained and keep the boys away from them.
My best guest is that these sheep will be sacrificed. From what I have gathered from Wikipedia, at the end of Ramadan there is a feast of Eid and it is possibly a tradition to sacrifice a sheep in a symbolic nod to Abraham's gift of sheep from God when he was supposed to sacrifice his son. I also think, and I don't know where I'm getting this from that part of the sheep is eaten by the family, while the rest is given to the poor. I was curious to see if this is what was going on so I waited around for a good half an hour to see what they were up to, but nothing was happening so I went back home. Some pics...

mad handler trying to calm sheep
run sheep run
kids in school yard

Thursday, October 19, 2006


We are overseas, and no surprise, one of the first things we did was hire a maid. It is actually beneficial to our marriage that we have a maid, because I don't like to clean... at all, and neither does Vlad, but both of us hate messy dusty apartments. In the states, we couldn't afford to have someone come clean once a week, so we had to do it ourselves. Which is fine, everyone does it, but in the spirit of women's lib and all, I will not be the only one to clean anything. I hate it! And in the spirit of men's lib and fairness neither will Vlad. So it's generally a constant battle between what we would like to see done, what we are willing to do, and what we can negotiate the other person into doing. BUT! Overseas we can afford to have someone come in twice a week and make our apartment sparkle. No more whose going to clean the toilet fights. No more I'm not mopping the floor this week fights. None of that. Just come home, house is clean. Beautiful.
But now I have guilt. In China, there was no guilt. Our maid was from a village somewhere and what we were paying her was far and above better, and the work was safer, than anything she could have gotten on the local economy. We were paying her something crazily small like a dollar and a half an hour, but if she was working in the city as a laborer in some factory she'd be making less and have the added benefit of risking her life every day when she went to work (take for instance the guys who washed the apartment windows. They went to work suspended from the top of a tall building on a length of rope no bigger than my arm. No saftey harness, no platform, just the rope. I guarantee that our maid was making WAY more than those guys).
But Baku. With communism just ending and the private sector taking some time to work out the corruption, well it's just sad. True, no one is starving. In general I don't feel bad about the population. Everyone looks healthy, suitably dressed, and housed. In China this was often not the case. Almost everyday I saw people, even kids, where I thought to myself there's no way that guy's eaten today, and he HAS a job. So I don't feel overly privileged just because I eat everyday. However, I was talking to our maid today, and I was asking how she learned English. Well, she taught herself while she was in school. And she was in school a long time because she's an economist. She used to work as a manager (I'm not sure if I understood her right) or maybe the head of a department in a company, until she got laid off due to the corruption (maybe she didn't take bribes, or didn't take bribes from the right people I don't know). Before that she worked for an insurance company, and before that she was a government official in a communist organization. HOW CRAZY IS THAT??? She says that she doesn't have any bitterness about this work, but still I feel bad. Would I be able to go from running a section having important things to do, to sweeping someone's floor? And do it cheerfully to? I don't know. I'm barely handling going from the THOUGHT of a legal career to housewife. I don't know if I had actually done stuff. Which is once again why I'm grateful that God has allowed me to be where I am and who I am. I could have easily been born in America with no prospects, or in China with even less prospects.....

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

In Country at Last

We've finally made it to Azerbaijan. Not until the very end of our journey did I actually think we would make it here. I thought, surely, they are going to call us up and say, "I'm sorry, did you think you were going to Azerbaijan, well in reality, Vlad is going to Iraq and you are going to stay in the states for a year." Which would have been fine... um not really, except that it interferes with the other news that's going on with us.... We're going to have a baby. I know, I know, I talked a lot of talk about not being mommy material, and children being difficult and sticky. And well, I still think that, but hopefully our infant will change my mind. Vlad is tickled pink and can hardly contain himself with excitement. I can hardly contain myself too, but it's not excitement that threatens to leak out.... I don't know why, but my morning sickness still continues to linger on. It's not the overwhelming all encompassing nausea that it was, but now a more subtle, have to eat or else I get headachy and subject to bouts of vomiting kind of thing.
I am pleased though, because I did not explode right away into a three hundred pound pregnant woman. I'm still manageably small, and if I dress appropriately I can hide the fact that I'm pregnant, even at 19 weeks. I might still explode, but I was not huge at 10 weeks. So maybe I'll have a reasonable sized baby afterall.
Anyway, I am in the process of collecting pictures of Baku to share, and I've got some anecdotes and whatever. I'll try to blog better in the future.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wow 1 month and no change yet

So we are in mid July, getting closer to our Sept. departure date and still no change in assignments. YEAH! If things continue to go well I might start looking up things on Azerbaijan next month. It could be very exciting. But I'm not going to get my hopes up. I'm still just trying to enjoy staying with my parents. I think it's an unexpected gift. How often as adults do we get to reenter the protective cocoon of our parent's homes? I'm learning so much about them.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Well, it has happened. We have been assigned to Manila. I'm not sure whether or not to be happy. I still don't believe it. We're going to Tashkent! We're going to Tashkent. We're going to Tashkent? We're going to...? We're going to Manila? When did that happen?

Friday, June 16, 2006

I, standing straight and tall!

There is still no word. And there probably will not be any word until after the weekend. I'm tired of waiting, not knowing, not doing. I know I should look up Manilla and start to get an idea of what it might be like to live there, but I really can't. I don't want to get excited about yet another post, only to find out that it won't be happening either. I've also sort of stopped writing emails because I keep saying the same thing over and over again, and although the people I'm writing to don't know it, I feel like I've started to repeat myself. They, of course, are hearing it for the first time, but I am repeating it again and again. It's hard to still sound upbeat about a situation after the 4th time you've written about it. I'm trying to make the most of my holding pattern, but it's just so hard.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Should I stay or should I go?

So we are trying to decide the least disturbing of three, well two options. AND it's not even clear that we will be able to choose all of them. We have been offered Dushanbe, which is a small little place even further from the middle of nowhere than Tashkent, Manilla, which could be fine, but probably similar in many ways to Beijing, and then to stay in DC which would be great, except we really aren't ready to do a year in DC. My resume's in shambles, our wardrobe is scattered across the globe, and we're carrying too much weight. Realisticly we will probably end up in Manilla simply because it is the least evil of all the choices. And we can definitely go there. The other places are all sketchy. And as with all state department stuff who knows what rules you can follow and which ones you can't.
Oh, funny side note. It turns out that HR will be upgrading it's systems during the month of July so no new transfer orders will be processed during that time. When I heard this, I thought it was just too funny. After all, June, July and August are only the BIGGEST transfer months of the entire state department. So let's shut down our systems for an upgrade during that time. Not in February or October when people are rarely moving, but in July when hundreds of people all over the world are moving hither and yon. It makes me wonder. If the US is some of the best, what do other people have to put up with?

Monday, June 12, 2006

...And still floating

Almost two weeks of waiting now, and still no word. We are now free agents and do not have to go to Uzbekistan, but the alternatives are worse. All of the choices we were given were the ones we looked at and decided against before we chose Uzbekistan. It's a little frustrating, but I have come to terms with my current fate. Either way it goes, I'm ready to leave, the only thing I will need to take care of is to pack my bags, and get Honey's health certificates. It's nice to be this portable. I'm currently reading a Dean Koontz book, it's not too bad, but it feels a little like those Steven King books from the middle of his career where it's a big book, but nothing really happens. It's a good thing that I also read for the lyricism of the language, so a poorly plotted book will still be a worth while read if I can enjoy the imagery... Maybe I should have been an English major. But then, I hate these books as well, because the characters are good, the mental pictures are there, but where's the story, I end up at the end of the book thinking, but why? I think that's what I'm most afraid of in terms of writing my own books, I'm afraid that I'll get to the end of the long book writing process and my reader will think, but why? Why indeed.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Still waiting

Sometimes the waiting is unbearable. I keep looking toward the future, but then I stop, realizing that it is a large blank void, completely unwritten. It's hard to plan, when you don't even know what city you are going to be in. It's kinda like graduating from school, except that instead of knowing what city you want to go to and not having a job, you've (well, my husband) got a job, but no city.... But even then I guess we don't know what kind of job it's going to be either. I guess what it boils down to is we don't know.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Friends and babies

A couple of days ago, I called a friend of mine from high school who has a pretty new baby. And I've gotta say it's an odd experience to think back on our previous adventures and connect them to this woman who was talking to me about rashes, mortgage vs. rent, and maternity leave. I hear her voice and I think about our conversations about first love, first times, parties, or just random craziness and then in the background I hear a fussy baby. It's weird I tell you. And I never know with mothers. Sometimes I'm reluctant to call because the baby could be sleeping, or they could be busy doing something with the baby, but after talking to her I realize that I should just call. I also forget that moms are intellectual people as well and sometimes they need a break from the cooing, pooping, and cleaning. It's just hard for me since I'm not a conversationalist (I actually really suck at it) and I feel bad talking about what's going on with me because it's so mind numbingly boring to me. I feel like the person on the other end of the phone must be ready to poke their eyes out with pencils from boredom.


Dang! Last night's post didn't make it on the appropriate day! Oh well. Anyway, we are still waiting for some word, any word, on what might happen to us. At this point I don't really care. We've packed, we've shopped, we've prepared and planned, really all we have to do at this point is pack our suitcases, get a health certificate for our pooch and be pointed in the direction of our new country. It seems like such a waste though, a year of getting ready to go to this place, and then, oh yeah, you were supposed to go to Tashkent, yeah, see what had happened was.... and now we are definitely, probably, not going, maybe. Gotta love the govt.

Friday, June 02, 2006


I've been feeling awfully nostalgic lately. I don't know what it is, maybe it's the realization that I'm 30, or maybe it's just I've been at home for a long time, and I'm seeing people I don't normally see so I'm remembered of times 10-20 years ago when I was just a wee lass. It's crazy to think that all those periods of my life are in the past now. Not that I'm complaining. I would not go back to being a teenager ever again. I might live in my 20's for awhile, but even then, you'd have to pick and chose carefully. I can't imagine life staying stagnant though. I claim not to like change, but in reality I really do like it. Why else would I have encouraged my future hubby to take the foreign service exam? Why else would I move to New York and long to return there? I don't want to just stay at home and live in my routine, I want to break free, see and do. I just can't figure out what I'm meant to do....

Thursday, June 01, 2006


While we are waiting.... This past weekend was the 31st annual Vernon family reunion. It is great to see everyone and watch and listen as the family shares their experiences, talents, and love with each other. Whenever I go to these events I always feel bad that I don't know more of the family. But when I was growing up we always lived to far to go, and now that I'm grown, I'm out of the country too often to attend. But one thing that my parents always stressed was the importance of family. I will definately try, if I have kids of my own, to bring them out to the family reunions so they can see where they came from, because it's hard to know where you're going if you don't know where you've been.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


We have finally reached the day before our departure to Uzbekistan, and well, we are still waiting. Our visas (entry permits) still have not come through. SO after almost a year of preparation it looks like we are not going tomorrow after all. It's a little anticlimatic after all we've been planning to go planning to go, and it was always a little ways away, just a little more time, a little more planning. Now we're done planning, we've got all our stuff, but we still aren't going. And it's entirely possible that we will not be going at all. We have even started thinking about alternatives to our friendly post of Uzbekistan. Jamaica anyone?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Power outage

Last night there was a big storm here at my parent's house. My dad and I were playing Halo when the power went out. Surprisingly, the actual storm only lasted maybe a half an hour, maybe an hour. But it was quite a display for that time, there were winds, and buckets of rain, and lots of thunder and lightning. After being in California, then in China for so long I had almost forgotten what a summer thunderstorm really looks like. The lights were out for three or four hours. My parents and I played scrabble--good old fashioned fun, with our vintage 1970's board, my dad won, of course. Then I took Honey for a walk. It was a little creepy walking through the powerless neighborhood right before dark. Some neighbors were out in their front yard talking to each other. Some people had windows open. I ran into a couple of dogs who were very interested in Honey, but she had no chance to socialize because their owners called them away. As I walked through the neighborhood, there was something amiss, but I couldn't put my finger on it, then I realized, there were no lights. Of course I knew that there wouldn't be lights, but I didn't really know it until I saw it. There was also very little sound. Despite what everyone says about the suburbs, you know quiet, sleepy, etc. There is actually a hum to a suburban neighborhood. Little background noises that seep out of houses to fill the nights with noise. TV, radio, lights, kitchen appliances, etc. All that makes noise. To have it cut out, well, it was quiet. Which got me thinking. What all are we missing, with our TV's, iPods, Play Stations, etc that people a century ago took for granted. I'm sure it wasn't silent, nature is not silent, stupid birds and crickets add plenty of background noise. But what about other human interaction. Last night was the first time I'd played scrabble in years. When I was a kid my mom used to have TV blackout days. At the time I hated them, no TV for a week! She was killing us. But now perhaps I understand the wisdom in her method. We could all probably use a few Power out days!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Count down to thirty (10days left)

Wow! Today is April 5, only 10 days away from my 30th Birthday. I am excited about it. 30 is a big milestone. It's weird though, I finally understand what everyone talks about when they say they don't feel old. I don't. I don't feel 30. But then, what does 30 feel like? I'm kinda sad that I never set any goals that I should reach before I hit 30. But I guess that's good because now I don't have to rush about and try to cross off some stupid goal that I set when I was 20 that doesn't really apply to my life now. At 20 I never would have set the goal to learn Chinese, and live and work in China for two years. Nor would I have thought to want to live in Uzbekistan, learn Russian, possibly Uzbek, and make a plan to write a novel. I have done so much, a lot of it off the general outline of what I had wanted to do (ok, maybe I would have wanted to learn Chinese and Russian, they were on my list of lifetime languages to learn) but still so interesting, and fulfilling, that I'm not really missing out.... Ok, I am missing my own career, but I plan to fix that very soon.... I have seen so much, and done so much that I really can't complain... Ok, I can, but I really shouldn't. It's weird though, last night when I thought about it, I think I have been floating by to much in life. I have allowed a lot of my life to happen to me instead of making life happen for me. I still feel like I'm waiting for my chance, when I am letting my chance slip by. If I don't reach out for life, it will just slip through my fingers while I'm not looking. Does anyone ever really plan to one day wake up old?

Friday, March 31, 2006

Fast paced

Well we have been back in the US now for 4+ weeks. Time is just flying by. I never realized how much work having an indoor puppy is. Honey is a great dog, but she is still a puppy and thus requires lots of work. Add to that the crazy pace that we are keeping looking for an apartment, getting together a consumables shipment and other things that need to be added to our household effects, then try to get all the paperwork together to get out of here, and visit all the family and friends we want to see, and there's not a moment of down time. Tonight is the first night I've had to just sit in awhile. I think I'll go take a bath.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Well, two years has been very swift. The movers came, and packed up all our stuff, and we have packed our bags. Tonight is our very last night in our adopted hometown of Beijing. I am still in denial about the fact that tomorrow we will be leaving our house, and not ever coming back. It hardly feels real. It seems like we were just starting to put our roots down, and figure out this mess and now it's done. But I must say that I have enjoyed our two years here and we have lots of great memories and pictures to share for years to come.
I know China has been in the news a lot as the next new power, the great threat, or the next big market, and I must say after living here I would have to agree. Change is moving so fast that it's hard to keep up. Just looking outside our door at the small piece of Beijing that surrounds us you can see the change that has happened in the two years we've been here. When we arrived in China, there was a corner store in a little squat building surrounded by some other decrepit little shops and standard crappy housing on top. We went away on vacation one weekend and when we came back the store, the shops, the building even, were all gone, except a big pile of rubble. Now there is a nice new modern building that looks like it's on the verge of opening up any day now. Everything changes so amazingly fast here that you really can say that Beijing is different from day to day.
I remember being impressed upon arriving in Beijing by the press of humanity, as well as the seemingly unfettered chaos that abounds in the streets. Two years is just enough time so that the crowds start to feel less crowded, and you can see the patterns in the chaos. At the beginning, the traffic especially, seemed deadly every time I went anywhere, buses would pass within inches, cars would whiz by and I would think to myself, "I almost died!" Now I don't even blink. If a car, bus, bike, or person, passes me by with more than 2 inces to spare I don't even notice it. I am still resistant to the idea of the chaotic mass, instead of a line to check out at a grocery store, or buy subway tickets, but I can if the situation calls for it, elbow my way to the front of a crowded subway, or turn my body into an impassable object to prevent others from forming a chaotic mass in front of me.
Living the foreign service life, I did not experience "the real China," but for that I am glad. I would probably hate China, if I had to spend a workday traveling to four different government offices to pay my phone bill, or live in an unheated hutong (Chinese courtyard house) with neighbors who think that crowded and loud are good times. (Chinese people like to go on vacation when everyone else goes, and like to go to the destinations that everyone else goes to. During any given Chinese holiday you can go through a tourist site without walking if you merely stick out your elbows and pick up your feet) But I now have a feel for China that I never had before. I can't say that I "know" China or the Chinese, but I can relate a little better than before, and for the next two weeks, while my China knowledge is still current, I will be able to say I understand a little of what is going on.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Whither China!

This maddening land so ample and vast,
Stretches from beach to mountains in snow,
Thousands of years did each dynasty last,
Until Mao declared, these excesses must go.

Enter the Chinese Century in two thousand and one,
Where China stands up and gives a great shout,
The world, unprepared wants the country undone,
And unsuccessful bullying leaves great powers to pout.

Her people have entered this great Chinese age,
From villages and farms to computers and phones,
The masses are hurled from the past by a mage,
If you slow down, the government will cover your bones.

The future for this land is murkey at best,
I hope we can ride this wave through it's crest.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Growing up

I have finally decided to take on some responsibilities in life. As we approach my 30th birthday, I can no longer deny the fact, that yes, I am old. Old enough to have kids, old enough to own my own home, old enough to have a real job with real responsibilities. So, as a precursor to old age we have decided to get a dog. My dad got him from one of his buddies at his club. I'm a little nervous about the whole idea of having a dog. I know it's going to be work, and this time there is no mom and dad to take on the task of making sure the dog gets fed, bathed and walked. It's just me, and my hubby. But I'm also very excited. I have had dogs around since I was 10 and I enjoy their companionship and their challenge. I think Honey (what we are calling our new dog) will be a fun companion and add a touch of craziness to our already crazy lives. Posted by Picasa

Monday, February 06, 2006

So today begins my first official week of no work! YAY! {I think any time I say no work (YAY!) it needs to be followed by YAY!} I was off last week too, but it doesn't count since it was a holiday and I would have had it off anyway. I think I'm going to try kicking off my new writing schedule with a morning blog session to get my creative brain stretched out. It's very hard to sit down and write for two hours. I keep wanting to get up or search something on the web, or do anything else. But I'm determined.
Today is a crazy freak snow storm. Ok, maybe not freak or storm, but it is crazy snowing and has been for the past two hours (keep in mind I'm from the south so crazy snow is any snow). I imagine that it's not snowing all that bad since there is maybe an inch of accumulation on the ground. But for Beijing, it's pretty crazy. It's normally so dry here that all moisture is sucked out of the air in a matter of minutes. (7% humidity, it's more humid on planes if you can imagine!) It's so dry here that any time you touch anything you get a tiny unpleasant shock. I touch a door-ZAP! touch a chair-ZAP! touch my husband-ZAP! touch the tv remote-ZAP! It's very annoying. So to have snow, well it's pretty crazy. I think I remember four instance of snow in my two years here.
Usually snow makes for some very pretty pictures. The softly falling snow, landing gently on a swiftly disappearing landscape. Snow on roofs and trees, snow blanketing a city in an all encompassing white.... well not in Beijing. The snow as its falling is an odd beige color. Looking outside the air is hazy brown with the snow and the regular pollution. And unfortunately as it hits the ground the snow is being churned into an unappetizing mud brown color. I'm very glad I don't have to go to work today. I did have plans to go look for some last minute purchases, but today appears to be a day to spend in front of the computer or in my chair reading a good book.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Chinese New Year

Happy New Year! Welcome to the Year of the Dog! As I sit here staring out my window I am reminded of the video feeds that they had of the gulf war. Or in fact any armed conflict. The view from my window is blocked by two very tall buildings, but in their windows, and through the cracks the sky is intermittently lit up by hundreds of fireworks from every direction. In the windows of the buildings you can even see the reflections of fireworks from places behind us. And it sounds just like small arms fire, and possibly heavy weapons too. It's almost non stop. Last night, the eve of the new year, was even crazier. I went to a friend's house to ring in the new year with a rousing hand of poker and we could see fireworks from every window in her house. One group of revelers outside must have had thousands of different fireworks! At midnight they left off a private show that must have continued on for a good 45 minutes of firework after firework. My friends are up on the 10th floor so we were almost level with the fireworks. I felt very rich, like I had rented a helicopter or plane to take me around to view all the festivities. I thought last year was crazy, but this year they lifted the ban on private fireworks so the city really went crazy!