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.