Thursday, October 28, 2010

Would you have stayed or left?

Last week Buddy and I went to lunch together, which is something I would never have done back in my days of full-time employment but now that I'm free as a bird I can meet my husband for lunch and watch movies in the afternoon and go for jogs whenever I want.

Employment is so seriously over-rated.

Except when the time comes to pay the bills, then it seems like a pretty good idea.

This is me right now, at 10:40 on a Thursday morning in Starbucks.

Anyway at lunch two interesting things happened.

1. A mouse scampered across the dining room floor. We debated for a few seconds about whether we should leave or not but I had ordered this Cajun shrimp wrap and I really wanted to eat it so we stayed. Which just goes to show that although I got married and changed my last name, deep down I am still a Parsons.

The wrap wasn't actually that great.

2. Just outside the window there was this 2-story building with something like a 2,000 square foot footprint. There was a bulldozer next to it. As we ate lunch the bulldozer started to tear down the building. By the time I finished my Cajun shrimp wrap the building was gone. GONE. In the time it took us to order, debate the wisdom of eating in a restaurant that clearly had a rodent problem, and eat our lunch - that building just disappeared.

Things can change so fast. Yes in China, to be sure, change comes quickly. But lately I've been noticing changes in general and appreciating them. I don't know if it's the fall and the turn of the seasons, or the fact that I'm transitioning between careers now. But for some reason I'm in awe right now of how dramatically things can change.

And how quickly.

And how nice the new can be.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Beijing Marathon!

We finished the "mini-marathon" (迷你马拉松) 4.2k in 30 minutes and 8 seconds. Buddy and I crossed the finish line together, hand in hand. Isn't that sweet?

Just so you know, that means Buddy waited for me just in front of the finish line for something like 10 minutes. That act, and the "all we have to do is run" quote sums him up pretty well.

You might remember I was stressing about finishing within 25 minutes because I thought all runners were going to get picked up by the van after that but somehow that rule was not enforced. However the pick-up van did drive right alongside me for much of the route. Taunting me.

This race was my first and I had so much fun. I felt GREAT the whole time. Everyone was in a good mood, the runners smiled and waved and high-fived each other along the route. It was raining and we got soaked but that helped keep us cool while we were running.

Once we stopped running and our bodies cooled off, that soaking wet clothing was awful. And we had to take the subway back home so we shivered for a good hour.

Buddy thinks he's getting sick.

Here are a few observations from the race.
- The AQI was over 300 today, which is "hazardous". And yet there was no discussion of canceling the race.

- Is it strange that there was not even an attempt to record our time? I'm not sure the race officials even know I ran.

- All of the foreigners I saw were listening to music and almost none of the Chinese were.

- Did you know it's possible to run while holding an umbrella? Possible, yet oh so inadvisable.

- Getting up at 4:45am, getting the kids to Xin's sister by 5:45, and getting to the race venue by 7:00am was a mini-marathon of its own.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"All we have to do is run"

It all started one sunny day last month when Buddy called me and said that we should run the 5K leg of the Beijing Marathon. His company would pay for our registration, all we have to do is run.

All we have to do is run.

That statement right there sums my husband up so well.

If I had to choose between registering for an event and running 5K, I would easily choose the former. But not Buddy Gao. He has the energy of 12 cheetas pent up in one human body.

"Sure, let's do the marathon," I said.


"We will never run in that marathon," I thought as I hung up the phone.

Something always comes up when Buddy and I attempt things like this. I can see it now - sick kid, flat tire, sprained ankle, broken garbage disposal. Something will happen that prevents us from running in the marathon.

I checked the website to get some details on the event, because Mr. "All We Have To Do Is Run" couldn't even tell me the date. The website says our event is actually 4.2K and there's a time limit, a fairly aggressive one if you ask me - 25 minutes. After 25 minutes all 4.2K runners will be asked to get in the pick-up van.

How humiliating would that be? To cross the finish line on my first race in the back of the pick-up van?

So basically I'm fixated on one goal, which is to finish the race before that damn van. And I think this is a smart move on the part of the Marathon organizers. If it weren't for this time constraint I would probably be stressing over whether I can complete the race at all. Now I've moved my anxiety to a whole new level.

So I'm running laps around my complex this week like crazy, trying to get my time down.

And as a back up plan I am grinding corn cobs down my garbage disposal.

I love your comments. I shout out there into the internet and you all shout back. It warms my heart so comment, please. Even if you don't think you have anything important to say. Come on, it's a diner.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Clearing up some rumors about me

Number one I'm thrilled - THRILLED - that there are rumors about me. I mean, this means someone is talking about me and that there is presumably something interesting to say. This is big for me, really big.

I'm considering putting a small dog in my purse and seeing if the papparazzi will follow me around.

If that happens I'll learn how to spell "papparazzi".

So by all means please continue talking about me, I'm flattered beyond belief.

(For the record, I know no one is talking about me anymore but humor me.)

Now let me clear up these rumors.

Rumor #1: Melanie is going back to the U.S.
Nope, we're staying in China at least until Grant finishes 6th grade and he's in 2nd grade now. Most likely we'll stay until both kids finish high school.

Rumor #2: Melanie is going to Africa.
I'm not sure where this one came from. I think I said once that I want to go to Africa and I do but I meant to visit.

Rumor #3: Melanie is going to work for Adobe.
Although scores of Sun employees, especially those from the G11n department, have gone to Adobe I don't plan to.

Rumor #4: Melanie is dating George Clooney.
Not true, but you can see where the confusion is coming from.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Turn the Page

You can probably tell from the nostalgic nature of my recent posts but I'll go ahead and make it official -

After 11 years with Sun, my last day with the company was August 31, 2010.

It feels weird, really weird. I adored my job. I loved the company. I had the best manager a person could ever hope for. I worked on a wildly successful product. My co-workers were like family. My whole management chain, all the way to Larry Ellison, was rock solid. Sun trained me to be a corporate trainer for the company and they let me deliver classes once or twice a quarter.

I had it all. Truly.

But I wanted more.

I want to be a free-lance corporate trainer. I want to do what I love all the time. I want to make a difference in people's lives, a real difference. I want to be able to say I don't work in the summers when my kids are on vacation. I want to take them to the US so they can fish and swim and eat grits and sing along with Miley Cyrus and shop at Target and drive-thru at McDonald's.

I could go on and on. But suffice it to say that corporate training, and especially being a free-lance trainer, is the right thing for me right now. I know it. I just know it.

And just in case I was considering not heeding His calling, God made Sun give me this amazing severance package which gives me some padding in case I need some time to build up my business. That pretty much sealed the deal for me.

And by the way things are looking good. I've already got 2 jobs lined up for November. Maybe I won't have to touch that package.

On a parting note I give you a picture of Melanie Gao in November 1999 on her first day at Sun Microsystems. Wasn't she cute?