|I know, I know...
I haven't written or called for so long. I've deserted you all. I apologize.
It's not I don't want to write...it's just that I wasn't ready to leave my home when I left, and writing was just too unbearable, too hard. Now, I've adjusted finally, rest at ease, however, my life is full of work, work, work. And every chance I get to write, instead becomes a perfect opportunity to sleep.
I live in Beijing now. I'm working at a UNDP (United Nations Development Program) Organization called the "Tumen Secretariat". It sounds more Hollywood than it actually is...In fact, we are a bunch of loosely unified people, with little credible progress, and little direction. It's a difficult place to work, mainly because we deal with member governments that include China, Russia, Korea, Mongolia, and the DPRK. They don't necessarily like to cooperate, nor do they feel compelled to develop unless there is large incentive for profit. Eg. Why should they care if a river is cleared of harmful toxins? As long as the few in charge get a cut of the factory profits, everyone else and the environment can suffer.
We are a small office of 10 people; just a few Chinese people, a Russian, two South Koreans, a Mongolian, and me. It's amazing how such a diverse group of people work together in a normal office as any other office would in the U.S. Of course, there are specific problems unique to an international setting, such as my day-dreaming Korean boss whose English is barely passable, but again, what normal worker doesn't have trouble communicating with their boss? What boss doesn't have to repeat him or herself three or four times until finally being understood?
So, as much as I would like to brag about the amazing career opportunity I have found here in China, in reality it is much like any other job. And Beijing you might wonder? How's the capital?
I can tell you, Beijing is large. Beyond comprehension. All the buildings are generally big and ugly, and the sky is generally foggy and polluted. Every morning I take a crowded subway to work, and every morning I leave the underground subway, and climbing up the stairs I breath in, not fresh morning mist, but the fumes of the millions of cars that roam the streets of Beijing. As I walk the exhaust filled street to my job, I walk past groups of migrant workers, just arrived from the bus station. They are usually small compact men and women, whose heads reach my shoulders, and on their shoulders they carry feed bags, packed full with their bedding and most of their belongings. This wouldn't be so startling, except that right next to these people walk tall men and women in high heels, wearing too much perfume, on their way to the corporate offices that crowd the street just a few blocks away.
Yes, Beijing is indeed quite a perplexing place...one moment I feel as though I'm in the center of the newest world power, and the next, I'm giving my bread away to a hungry kid.
Well, as I mentioned before about the sleeping instead of writing, I need to catch some sleep. I just wanted to let you know I am fine and well. Enjoying myself and staying optimistic, although missing home all the while. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Eat a piece of turkey for me and some pie, and please be thankful you live in a place where every house comes intact with an oven. (Did you ever notice how many Thanksgiving dishes need an oven?)
Thinking of two Thanksgiving memories in a row that I have missed, makes me cry. Enjoy the Minnesota cold, the brown of the trees, and the openness of the sleeping fields. Watch out for the deer, and don't forget to be glad you live in a place which still has wildlife. Don't forget to thank that Indian tribe long ago for their kindness, a day that makes me recollect our country's legacies of both generosity and violence. Miss you!
See you in Minnesota at Christmas!
All my love!