Not the beginning

Location: Seattle, Washington, USA.

I'm starting this blog to chronicle my adventures in China. I don't have the exact date when I'll be going, but even if it's not till October, it will be upon me in a flash. To set the stage, I'll back up a bit. Please excuse the ridiculous detail. I'm just amazed by the whole thing still, so feel the urge to document it.

A few weeks ago, I heard a rumor that my former boss, JW, would be relocating to Beijing as the #2 man in Ticketmaster's new office for the Olympics in 2008. It had been officially announced that his former boss, CL, was going to be in charge of the operation. A few days after that, JW sent me an email asking me if I had a job description for my position. I didn't (since things keep getting reorganized around me), but referred him to someone who might, and asked him why he wanted it. He replied that CL was going to be hiring a programmer for China.

A day or two later, JW sent me the document that describes my current job and asked what I thought would need to change for China. I offered a few suggestions.

A few days after that, CL sent out the official announcement of the Beijing team as it was shaping up, including JW. At the bottom was the notification that they would be hiring a programmer. It's probably no surprise that I was already thinking about the possibility by this point, but just didn't know how it could work out given my obligations and life here in Seattle.

I showed the announcement to my wife (D), and to my surprise she said I should go for it. It's an opportunity that's too exciting to pass up, and whatever difficulty came up, we would figure something out. I was amazed. It's just so wonderful that she would feel that way.

I told JW I was interested and that D had given her blessing, and he suggested I email CL about this. CL replied a few hours later that he would like to talk to me and set up an appointment for the following Monday.

He called about 15 minutes late and appologized - he had been busy packing up all the accumulated stuff in his office in Phoenix. He described in general terms what the compensation package would be like. It sounded good. I jotted down notes and told him it sounded reasonable. He said he would have HR draw up a draft contract for me to look over.

The contract arrived on Friday, and I printed it out to take home for the weekend and examine. There were a couple of things I had misinterpreted from the description on the phone, but nothing major. D and I crunched some numbers and figured out that it worked out to our financial advantage. We had a long heart-to-heart about what being apart would mean, and how we could handle the situation. It's a three-year commitment, up to the Olympics in 2008 and into the spring of 2009 for the wrap-up. There are provisions for travel back and forth between China and the US, and we should be able to work out meeting several times a year.

I talked to CL and got clarification about my questions in the contract. I told him I was ready to sign. He told me he would be leaving for China on Thursday (that's today as I write), and the person who would finalize the contract was out of the office until Thursday. He sent an email to JW, the contract person, a few others and me saying that I would be taking the position, and they should start the process of getting my contract ready and all the other paperwork.

Last night was the going-away party for JW here in Seattle. Up until this point, we had kept my situation under wraps since nothing was signed, but he asked if I was agreeable to an anouncement, and I said yes. So he told everyone that I was going too. It was kind of nice to take care of all the explanations right at once with so many old friends and coworkers together in one place.

Anyway, now I begin the process of preparing in earnest, and this blog is part of that. There's so much to get ready, and I'm sure I'll forget things, but it's not like I'm moving to the wilderness. Beijing is one of the largest cities in the world, far larger than Seattle, and Americans and Europeans have been living there in increasing numbers over the last couple decades. I'm sure roughing it is not in the cards.

I'm very excited about the chance to travel in Asia, learn a new language, and immerse myself in a new culture. I'll post more about what that means to me, and I'll make notes about preparations. I don't kid myself that my ramblings are any sort of art, or that they'll be of interest to anyone but family and friends. But this is the internet, and for all I know it will show up in Google searches.

Welcome, gentle reader. That's the traditional greeting. And while I'm looking forward to challenging my traditions, and learning about other traditions, I'm trying to stay aware of them. It's a big world, and the more we see of it, the more we have to choose from. In the end, we are free to make our own traditions.

Music: George Harrison - All Things Must Pass

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