Sorry For The Delay, But…

I know everyone expected lots of updates about my adventures in China by now.  The thing is Chinas firewall has kept me from logging into WordPress until just now.  Temporarily I have moved the blog back to the blogger blog at the midnitcafe.

I really do plan to get my own webspace soon and that should get rid of all this nonsense.  I know I’ve been saying that for ages now, but I would say within 6 weeks it will be a reality.  Our first pay check comes tomorrow but it will be very small.  The next pay check will be at the end of September and hopefully by then we will have all our reimbursements too which means mad cash.  I swear I’ll invest in real space then, OK?

Until then check out the blogger blog.  Or maybe if this sucker keeps letting me in I may go back here.

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The Shanghai Cafe

I have created the new China blog, The Shanghai Cafe. (Yes I know that’s a dumb name, but it declares where I am, and ties it to the Midnight Cafe.)  This blog will be for daily posting of my everyday life.  From time to time I will post longer, more interesting pieces and for those I will co post them here, as well as Blogcritics.  Actually I’m hoping to do a weekly post for them.

At the moment I do not have an internet connection (I’m using my sisters right now) so posts are very sporadic.  But by the end of next week we should be in our apartment and have internet so things should jump up then.

Also, China randomly blocks a lot of websites and for now both blogger and wordpress are two of them.  I can still post, but I cannot actually see the page nor can I make comments.  I have found a way to anonymously view the pages, but still cannot figure out the commenting.  So, if you talk to me and I do not respond just blame China and not me.

Obviously, it will still be a bit before Brewster’s Millions is really gaining new posts too.

All My Bags Are Packed, I’m Ready To Go

We leave Monday. As in a little more than a day from right now. As in really, really soon.

We’ve packed, unpacked, and packed our bags again and again. They are weighed and measured and we think everything is exactly right. Yet we are still taking some back up bags in case our carry-ons are too big, or we need to drop some stuff onto our parents.

Though I’ve been really nervous all week, I’ve been very calm today. I think I’m just ready to get it all over with. I’m sure butterflies will come tomorrow, but for now I’m good.

We will have internet access in China, but it will be spotty for a little while. We’ll be in a motel for a few days when we arrive, and my sister is connnected, so I know I’ll be e-mailing, and I’ll probably slip in a blog somewhere, but it may take a couple of weeks to get settled and have internet in our apartment. Thus Brewster’s Millions will not be updated a lot.

I still don’t have a name for my China blog, so suggestions are still welcome. My wife suggested taking the name from those crazy signs they have in China where they have completely butchered the English language translation. I like the idea, but have yet to see one that was short enough for a URL, funny after a couple of listens, and made some sense as an ex-pat in China blog.

See you in a few days.

Moving Out

My apartment is now empty save for some suitcases, various amounts of food, and cleaning products (both for the body and house.) 

And cats.  We still have the cats. 

My parents and aunt and uncle came up this weekend and cleaned me out. 

The plan was both sets of people (as they were driving separately) would arrive sometimes Friday afternoon and we would begin the process of moving our stuff out. 

Actually, let me back up a minute.  The original plan was to rent the biggest truck we could find and move all of our stuff back to Oklahoma where my dad is building a big storage building. 

That was the plan until we actually tried to rent a truck. 

Finding an available truck was no problem, but when we reserved a U-Haul, they told us it would be over $900! 

That’s the price of using the truck only – not having someone pack up boxes, or load the truck, or drive the truck, or even fill it with gas.  No it was $900 just to rent the darn truck. 

We called dozens of other places and if we would drive an hour to the south we could find one for about $500.  Seriously, when did the trucking industry become run by mobsters and gangsters? 

So, dad drove up in his truck and trailer and my uncle brought his little truck.  As I was saying they were to arrive the afternoon of Friday when we would load part of the house, and finish up on Saturday. 

Well, the parents arrived at about ten in the AM on Friday and my father being my father immediately started loading up the larger furniture items.  My aunt and uncle arrived about an hour later and they two got quickly to work. 

We had the place cleaned out at about six in the PM.  We got most of it loaded into the truck and trailer and we then rented a small storage facility for the rest of it.  These things will be moved out in a couple of months by my father-in-law. 

My parents being my parents decided to head for home after this.  It is approximately a nine hour drive from my home to theirs, and most assuredly more with a large trailer dragging behind.  So that is approximately 20 hours on the road, and they stayed for maybe 6 hours of hard, sweaty work. 

That’s my parents. 

My aunt and uncle, however, decided to make a weekend of it.  I like this particular set of aunt/uncle very much and it was a pleasure to spend a couple of days with them visiting. 

Most of my mother’s family lives in the same little town in Oklahoma where I grew up.  So I spent my formative years having them very near.  I miss that.  I miss having Christmas and Thanksgiving and cook-outs with all of them.  Unfortunately, when I do get a chance to visit it is for such a short time that I rarely get to really sit and visit. 

This weekend was a good reminder of the importance of a good family.  It is also why I didn’t do much writing.

Goodbye Passport

In order to avoid the long drive to Chicago, as we did for our French Visas, we have decided to go with one of those companies that does all the footwork for you. After talking to several local travel agents (OK, so the wife actually did the talking and investigating, while I stayed home and cleaned the toilet) we decided to go with Travisa.

They have a whole online registration thing, but in the end you have to send some paperwork to them via the snail system.

Yesterday we went after new passport photos (which weren’t really for passports, as we have those, but for Visa applications.)  We first went to Wal-Mart, and yes I know they are evil, but they are also really close, and cheap, and (usually) hassle free.  Oh how I wish we had gone somewhere else.  When we first arrived they were out to lunch, I guess, as they had a sign signifying they would be back in a bit.

We decided we were hungry so we stopped by the sandwich shop for a bite.  The lady behind the counter apparently wasn’t really the lady behind the counter, as she said she was only filling in for the real lady, who had to potty.  She begged us not to make our order complicated, so we decided to spend our time deciding on what to order.

Real lady came and we ordered.  Then the carbonated beverage dispenser was out of carbonated beverage and we should have been wise to the ominous signals.

I’ve gotten this out of order.  Before lunch we roamed the store a bit and came back to the photo counter, where we were told to come back in half an hour as their was a baby appointment for photo taking.  Then we ate.

Post eating we returned to the photo shop where we waited some more as the baby wasn’t yet done.

Baby finished and we took photos.  Then we said we needed more photos as there were lots of applications to attach photos to.  More photos were taken, but alas they didn’t turn out for reasons that will remain nameless.  The photo lady recommended CVS and sent us away.

Two hours down, no photographs.

CVS took our photos, but the lady noticed my hair was sticking straight up.  She started to take more, but the battery went dead.  She promised to crop out my bad hair.  She forgot during the crop shopping.

We got photos thought, even with bad hair.

Today we got it all together and sent it on its merry way.  You have to include your passports with those things.  That’s scary.  Very scary.  If this fouls up we are without passports and we’re short of time getting new ones.

Arriving home from sending our lives away I realized we used my mother’s PO Box as the address to have these things returned.  PO Boxes don’t take next-day delivery and we ordered next-day delivery.

Crap.

Amy made a phone call and things were set straight.

Yahoo!

Ok, so this is actually a fairly boring story.  But see we’re about to go to China and all my family will want to read about our travails.  Thus lots of boring information.  Get used to it, and go buy the new White Stripes album.  I haven’t yet because I bought a new iPod, and the wife says that’s all I get.

The Brewsters Are Going To China

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We got the offer to go to China today. We will accept tomorrow. We have to be there early August.

Let me back up. My sister and her husband have been teaching at various schools in China for the last four years or so. They have always said we should go and we have always said we’d like to.

After I lost my job last August, and have had much difficulty finding a replacement, and Amy is out of school and without work, we started to seriously consider it. Finally a month or so ago, I sent resumes to the sister just to see what would happen. I was tired of talking about it like a dream and wanted to see if it was even possible.

Amy then got a call which was followed by multiple interviews and now, an offer.

Holy Crap!

We have talked about this for so long now it is unbelievable that it is actually happening now. It feels a little like we’re being whisked along without much control. Like I wanted to just see what would happen, but now I don’t know what else to do but go along with it.

I’m really excited, and incredibly nervous.

There is so much to do, too. We have to get work Visas. Amy has to have her dissertation proposal approved. I plan to sell most of our furniture and haven’t the slightest idea how much to ask for anything, or how to even go about it. My dad says he can store anything else. We have a car to sell, insurance to obtain, packing to do….and more things I can even imagine at the moment.

China. Unbelievable.