Countdown once again – 4 Days

It’s that time of year again, or rather that time of the year and a half. We are counting down the days until we leave. I guess we hadn’t formally announced any such things yet, and though the rest of the inter-webs know already, the blog is sadly still officially ignorant of certain important matters. And since it’s the middle of the night and my sleep has been disrupted by the processing of these said important matters and their relevant logistical nightmares, perhaps it’s appropriate to now, reveal them appropriately.

First, we’re moving back to the States! NYC to be specific. That’s what the countdown is for. We leave early morning Christmas Eve for our new but temporary home in the Upper East Side at 75th and 3rd. We have many exciting and grand plans regarding getting jobs that actually pay when and what they say they will yet aren’t that overbearing on the rest of our lives so that we’d have time to maintain an active non-work life in the evenings and on weekends and take vacations throughout the year. I have grand plans for a balcony where we can grow fancy vegetables and set up a fire pit on which I intend to cook hearty soups with my cast iron pot, skewer vegetables and meats, grill different kinds of fish in one of those neat looking fish-grilling-baskets, and roast marshmallows, all under the glow of any and all seasonally appropriate skies. I’m going to be more revealing here than anywhere else public on the inter-webs, but you know, I’m feeling excited about these new prospects so any unforeseen consequences of my openness be damned. We’re also going to be stopping off first at Maria’s parents place in Ohio, and though it’s seeing her side of the family again in a relatively short amount of time, we feel its appropriate as it’s quite close to NYC and we intend to take possession of her parents old minivan. Yes, I will be driving a minivan, feel free to start the ribbing on that one. But I’d just like to point out the obvious benefits of one:

  1. we can carry STUFF! (Costco, free stuff from Craigslist, people, moving)
  2. we can go on ROAD TRIPS (which I love, and if necessary even sleep in the van)
  3. it’s obviously free (they have more cars than drivers right now)
  4. it’ll be reminiscent and nostalgic of those days when I owned a pickup truck, but minus the tiny little seats in the cab that faced each other whenever I tried to haul more than 2 people

We’re in the gigantically messy process of packing up our entire lives, once again, like we did a year and a half ago for our move to China. Feels kind of full circle in a way. We were lucky, having never settled that well, which was actually a problem in and of itself but at least it’s come to benefit us now in that though we’ve acquired some more things than before, we still don’t have that much stuff. We used to fit in 8 suit cases, we now fit in 10, and we still don’t have furniture. That means our temporary apartment in NYC is actually furnished (thanks to you know who!), and we’ve tentatively given ourselves 2 months to figure it all out, permanent jobs, permanent apartments, permanent routines, etc. This does also mean that we may have to remove our blog from the expat blog listings, but I’ll comfort myself by creating new NYC centric categories and tags. I will most likely still be working within the web programming field, and Maria’s thinking of re-entering law or perhaps finance. We will both of course still work with our fancy little Enterprise Consulting company in whatever fashion that “work with” may mean.

The explanation for the lateness of this entry is that we’ve been kind of sub-consciously messing up our sleeping schedules, I think so that we’ll have an easier time when we get to the States adjusting to US time again (civilized time?), but it’s not been easy these past 3 weeks actually, ever since we got back the last time to China after Thanksgiving. Immediately after landing we found ourselves smack in the middle of final negotiations to close our JV VC deal, a process that involved many Chinese lawyers and lots of legalese and staying up to the middle of the night every night hammering through all the details involved and trying to explain it all to our partners who aren’t native English speakers and were giving themselves headaches just trying to parse the individual sentences. I discovered I have quite a knack for this stuff actually, an innate ability to understand those massively long and complex legal sentences, and if nothing else I provided good translation services because wouldn’t you know it, though the JV is international and the governing documents are in English (and even governed by NY law), Maria and I were the only people with any thorough command of the English language and the negotiations even happened in Chinese, something brand new I’ve never experienced before in my life. Lots of fun, though insanely tiring, and happening all at the same time as my IFC concert. When it rains and all that. We did close, on time even, or basically, terms and conditions met and documents signed and all, and I had my concert, which I mentioned in an earlier post was a success, then I had another concert in Shanghai of all places which I also mentioned, and we go to see our new Enterprise Consulting company’s facilities at that incubator (which I also mentioned?), and well, the sum of it all was that in the span of 3 weeks, we’ve managed to:

  1. negotiate and close a JV VC deal
  2. sing Handel’s Messiah twice in Beijing with the IFC
  3. sing Handel’s Messiah twice in Shanghai with the IFC
  4. inspect our company’s holdings in Shanghai (at least some)
  5. end Maria’s MBA program (I won’t say more than just this stated fact, though there’s obviously SO much more details that can be had here, but suffice it to say we’re obviously not continuing with the program if we’re leaving the country)
  6. pack and finalize moving details
  7. sing at the British Ambassador’s residence (did I mention that? We sang carols. It was good)
  8. move all the furniture in the apartment back the way it was (we had optimized it, but now we need to un-optimize it since we’ve not going to be using it)
  9. have a tiny little family oriented engagement party (yes, that’s the other thing, we got engaged! I don’t want to dwell too much on this point either as I’m kind of running out of blogging steam, but it’s self explanatory isn’t it? We’ve been together for almost 3 years now! This upcoming February! And we look forward to the infinitely better water pressure and hot water temperature that the States has to offer)
  10. have a massive Beijing friends oriented engagement/going away party in which we either drank through or gave away all of our remaining booze, of which there were, and somehow still are, lots
  11. actually get my work visa and residence permit (yes, I realize the irony involved in 3 days before leaving a country finally getting the necessary paperwork and documents in place to stay in said country easily and indefinitely really. Let’s chalk it up to “well now I can come and go as I please”)

What else happened? I think that about sums it all up. The plan for these remaining days is to finish our packing, close some necessary accounts (telephone, internet, cell phone), actually ship everything we want, then do some last minute tourist stuff like see the Great Wall and the 798 Arts District. It takes something like moving out of the country to really motivate you to do those little touristy stuff that you never had a chance or the motivation to, though that’s mostly me. Maria’s been wanting to do these things for ages, but I guess we had planned to be here for a lot longer so there was almost always more time. Ah well, we’ll take care of it. I also plan to, once we’ve finished getting everything shipped, have a proper blog entry on the details regarding said process as at the moment the inter-web’s information regarding how best to cheaply but slowly ship your material from this country to the States is limited. I will rectify this missing bit of much needed information. Oh, and in the process of packing, I managed to kill one of my computer’s hard drives, but it’s ok, it was the system drive which for some stupid (but in the end alright) reason also housed the backup of the system drive. Chalk it up to me forgetting which partition sat on which physical disk, but it means I actually didn’t lose any DATA, of which I had a lot, and would have been very sad were I to have lost it. My RAID drives are fine, my one off data drive is fine, I only lost my system and the backup of said system. I couldn’t have actually planned it any better if I were trying, otherwise I could have lost my one off data partition…I hate data loss, and considering I was very careful with the drive even and can’t imagine why or how I managed to mess it up so much, it really just points out and highlights once again the necessity to own a massively large NAS. I’m shooting for the 8-bay QNAP NAS with 2TB drives. Haven’t decided what RAID level I want though, maybe just Mirroring, maybe 5 + hot spare, maybe 6 + hot spare. At minimum, with Mirroring, I’ll still have 8TB of storage versus my piddling little 1.5TB now, and it will be wonderful. Today was the first time I realized but Maria pointed out how there’s a sort of religious aspect to technology. It’s “thank God” I didn’t lose my data, and the appropriate feeling of “relief” and “fulfillment” from having a really good plan and system to handle it all. It’s like “fate” or “destiny” that I messed up where my system backups were stored, otherwise I would have lost data. So once again I thank whatever technology God(s) there may be.

Oh, and I fully intend to keep up my QQ accounts. Gotta grow and steal those vegetables, those “farm” animals, and now maintain my little vegetarian restaurant.

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