Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Shuo Zhongwen"

"Speak Chinese" Or at least that is the general gist of communicating over the next two years or so. We've arrived in Shanghai none the worse for wear. Despite a couple of days of jet-lag, we are doing pretty well. I would have posted something sooner except (large air quotes) technical difficulties (large air quotes) have kept me from doing so. That minor problem aside, I shall continue to update our travelogue as often as I can make myself do so.

Our flight in was pretty uneventful. That is always a blessing with International travel as far as I am concerned. We had a brief stop over in San Francisco which was beautiful. I had never been there before so it was great to see it if only for a day. I made the unfortunate mistake of walking up Knob Hill (sp?) . Only to find out on a cab ride over to Haight-Ashbury that there is a convenient tunnel that travels right under it. Yay for excercise!

Right now as I look out my window, snow is falling n Shanghai. Wow. I need to look up the last time it snowed here. Nothing is sticking, but the sight is fairly impressive by itself. The weather has been a mix of bright sunshine with cold, mixed in with a couple of days of heavy cloud cover/fog/crap-in-the-air and slightly warmer temperatures. I'm looking forward to the Spring even though I know that means a humidity that makes you look like you've just come through a car wash with the windows down.

I've muddled my way through a couple of conversations using whatever Mandarin my panicked mind could recall. I always walk away knowing what I should have said and what mistakes I made. That is the key though. Open your mouth, let sound come out, and try and do better the next time. Part of my problem is I need to make a list of all the things I need to learn for my own special vocabulary. I don't know if nerd-swag is easily translated here...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Well, here we are... Meg and I are merely days away from making our trek to Shanghai. Needless to say we are both pretty excited about the move and are combing over all the remaining bits necessary to pull up stakes and say goodbye to steaks. Not really, but you get my meaning. We had a nice dinner tonight with some other people going to China. As we said our goodbyes, everyone kept saying "have a great trip". What? Trip? We aren't going anywhere...are we? Honey, are we... Ooooooooh riiiiiiiiight. Thaaaaat trip. I've got three more days of language and then I get tossed into the deep end. Personally I'm looking forward to my first chance to ask for the bathroom as I can't wait to see the expression on someone's face as I mangle their language. Mwahh Ha ha haaaaa.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Welcome to Chinatown! Otherwise known as our apartment.

Noooo we aren't in china just yet, but that doesn't stop every day from being chock full of Chinese goodness. Meg is just a short time away from completing language training. I, however, am smack-dab in the middle of the most grueling segment of language training where I get a grand total of two free hours a night to waste as I see fit. It is all worth it though. We will be winging our way to China before long and all of that training will come pouring out in a waterfall of ums and ahs as I struggle to find the word for coffee...(it's kafei).

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Where do I start...

...It has been awhile since I updated because I tend not to be very good about sharing information unless it is of critical importance or unless I am motivated. Bad news for a blog dedicated to our status and experiences.

Anyway, we are six days away from the start of the 2009 Major League Baseball season and Ryan's annual experiment in perpetual agony that comes from being a fan of the Chicago Cubs. Not to say there isn't great joy in this practice, but I am still learning to adopt a world view that can surmount the heart wrenching dissapointment that follows a Cubs playoff exit. I'm getting much better at it!

We are a week and a half from finding out our posting. Needless to say we are all done waiting. At this point they should just throw us in a cannon and point it in the direction of a diplomatically starved country. I think this is how they crush anticipation and raise resignation to an uncontrollable fate.

I'm not going to talk about preferences because it is just out of our hands at this point. Needless to say, anyone reading this has a vague idea of the type of places we want to go.

Spring time= Barbecue!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Week One

It has been a busy hectic week.

Just as we rolled into D.C. A snow storm hit coating everything in a few inches of snow and bringing most of the area to a screeching halt. All the big stuff didn't really start to fall until Monday morning AFTER all the school and office closings were announced. Meg's first day did not go as planned to say the least!

I have been a lot busier than expected with spouse orientation and sorting out stuff for the new place. I thought my first couple of weeks would be like vacation with plenty of visits to museums. Well, that gets tabled until after this coming week when we finalize our bid list for our first posting. Basically we have to go through a huge list of possible posts and prioritize every single one of them based on whatever criteria we set for ourselves.

Let's go outer Mongolia!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

'Welcome to the Matrix' part four- Upload complete

Home... kind of. Sort of.

More like "Home?". Or I'm Ron Burgundy?

We are wiped out after 15 days on the road and very little to call our own except the car and all the clothes we jammed in it. When you find out your life is about to become that of a suburban nomad, you re-evaluate your collection of household possessions fairly quickly. The scenic route through the Blue Ridge was scuttled due to bad weather concerns. We ended up hitting the beltway much earlier than expected. No problems checking in early though so we didn't have to sit outside the building for three hours and stare at our future residence.

Right now neither of us is able to reasonably evaluate our feelings because we are just too tired. Tomorrow should open up some more chances for exploration. I'm really looking forward to that. We also have a party to go to with members of Meg's training class. I am really curious to meet this group as this is going to be our social group for the rest of training and until we get posted.

Right now I'm hanging out watching the Kanye West Storytellers on VH1. It is a great show. I have always been a borderline Kanye fan. I always enjoyed a song here and there. I finally broke down and bought 808's and Heartbreak after his SNL performance. It was an amazing live set and he showcased a master touch. He is one of the few performers who pushes past the boundaries of his genre to break new ground and really innovate.

He is a mercurial guy. I love him for his spectacular work and then I vilify him for his childish arrogance and outbursts. It is interesting because he apologized for all the tantrums at award shows and the self-perceived lack of respect. He still seems as narcissistic as ever, but he also seems far more mature and self aware. I think he gets the joke that is the life that accompanies celebrity. He is an iconoclast to be sure and I do enjoy having him around to push those boundaries and test everyone's perception of hip-hop and life in general.

Friday, February 27, 2009

'Welcome to the Matrix' part three

Welcome to Virginia!

The numbers on the map didn't quite match the actual drive and the distance from Louisville to our stop in Virginia vanished in a flash. West Virginia was gorgeous despite grey skies. Lot's of Hollers and Cricks, but no 'Mountain Mommas' as John Denver spoke of.

We are hitting a scenic drive for the last leg before the beltway. I am really looking forward to this last leg as I am ready to be off the road. 15 days or so since we left our apartment has started to wear on us. I'm ready to make my own food and and put some stuff away.

I think my brain will begin to melt on Monday, but I have the rest of the weekend to enjoy any existing mental stability before we go into full transition mode.

One week to Watchmen!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

" Welcome to the Matrix" part two

As I am incapable of blogging on a daily basis, I will just start labeling cohesively themed posts in parts.

Not much to report today. Oklahoma was a great visit and I ingested far too much Chocolate sheet cake. Go back, reread that again. You did not read what you think you read. My nephew is getting bigger every time I go back. He has quite a personality too. Like his uncle and his father, he has too much energy and a complete lack of attention. Thumbs up!

Tomorrow we hit the road for the rest of our journey Eastward. We plan on reaching Louisville where mint juleps better be waiting for us in the hotel or I'm knocking them a star in any review I give them. We are taking the southern route on I-64 so we can drive the Blue Ridge mountains on the last day. It should be beautiful. First time I hear a banjo though I am laying on the gas until I see big marble columns.

Special note for Dustin: Bobby Jindal sounds exactly like Kenneth from 30 Rock. I am very, very sorry.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

'Welcome to the Matrix' day one

Technically this is the fourth day of travel but the first of the this refurbished blog.

Welcome to our world. My name is Ryan, my wife's name is Meg. She is a diplomat, I am her husband. Now when people ask what I do I think I will have to refer to myself as Professional Luggage until I come up with something better. She recently accepted a post as a Foreign Service Officer for the State Department and after all the background checks and physicals, we are now on our way to Washington D.C. so she can commence training.

I had been the administrator for a comic store/website in Anaheim, CA up until two weeks ago. My life was filled with a lovely haze of toys and customer service issues. I am going to miss that place very much and will make occasional shout outs to the gang there. Much of these will consist of how I need to 'punch someone in their face', or how something is 'Navy Seals!' these are jesting references that you may pay little heed to.

Previously this blog consisted of ramblings about toys and other pop culture. Now we have added a travel element as I blog about the life we have undertaken and the strange adventures I shall undergo to keep myself employed and entertained in various capacities. Beware: I shall still rant about toys and pop culture. My inner nerd knows no rest. Frankly my inner nerd is an outer nerd, so I don't know why I bother concealing it.

We have been on the road for four days as we make the long journey from California to D.C. We stopped off at the Grand Canyon for our first two days and soaked up the sites at the National Park at what can only be considered a down time before Spring school trips start arriving en masse. I had never been to the Grand Canyon so this was a real treat. Sunset at the Canyon is hard to beat and we are taking away a lot of video and photos of a large hole in the ground. It was far more moving and romantic than I just made it sound.

Day two was a heavy driving day as we plowed through the remainder of Arizona and the whole of New Mexico to end up in Amarillo for the night. Not much to report from day two other than a man who thought Meg might be available and then scrambled to cover his pick-up attempt when I walked up to her at a rest stop. He then proceeded to encourage us to gamble at one of the many fine Indian Casinos in the area just outside Albuquerque.

Day four sees us relaxing in Oklahoma City for a couple of days visiting my family before we journey off to Kansas City to see hers. I'll take the downtime I can get because even though I am unemployed for now, I have a feeling their will be no lack of things to keep me busy as we set up our new life as public servants. Well, one public servant and her professional luggage.