I marched over to the neighboring terminal and was happy to have electronic tickets for the next leg of my trip. If I hadn't, I would have stayed in LA a bit longer than planned. The line for normal tickets was at least an hour long according to the helpful guy that was stationed at the end of it. So, after getting my tickets and navigating the ultra-paranoid please-don't-blow-up-your-fellow-passengers-with-that-bottle-of-sprite TSA dehumanization-station (I didn't have much trouble with the SFF computer that was in my carry-on), I boarded my last flight home. Then, after 30 exhausting hours of travel, it was all over.
I spent the first couple weeks in a haze. The jet lag was much worse than I remembered. People around me were polite. Nobody was staring at me anymore. I took the train into Dallas and understood every word of the stupendously inane conversation carried on between my fellow passengers. I was home again.
Now that I've been home for a while, I know what I miss and what I don't miss.
- I miss Very
- I miss cheap food
- I miss being able to take a taxi anywhere at any hour for cheap
- I miss good Chinese food
- I miss cheap high-quality hair cuts
- I miss my bare-bones Nokia phone
- I don't miss shopping in China
- I don't miss Chinese beer
- I don't miss the pollution
- I don't miss the communication barrier
- I don't miss Chinese manners
- I don't miss Chinese provincialism
So I left China and essentially broke it off with Very. We'd said for a long time that this was how it would end but it's been tough for both of us because we didn't break up because we were sick of each other. We still talk a bit via Skype and IM.
I can safely say that my experience in China would be unrecognizable if Very wasn't in the picture. Without her I never would have met 催国华 and I never would have lived in the countryside. My Chinese skills would be pitiful and I would feel like a total failure for wasting a year of my life learning nothing in China. I wouldn't have met Spy and probably would have never had a weird conversation in English while in China (that might not sound like much, but I thrive on weird). I never would have biked around Beijing with a girl sitting on the rear rack. I (and possibly by extension, Slozo) would have never camped on the Great Wall. In fact, I might have only seen one section of the Great Wall (the Badaling tourist trap).
In short, I would have had a much shallower experience in China. For all this, I am grateful. Very, I love you and I hope you know that.
So I've experienced China. I've supped on a sampling of the wonders that this ancient country (as writing systems go, hah!) has to offer. I assume that my contact with the country is not complete. I still have yet to see Hong Kong, Tibet, Yunnan, Guilin and Sichuan. Essentially, all the stuff worth seeing in the south. I still plan to study Chinese. I don't know if it will ever be useful, but I'm stubborn enough to keep studying a language that is so incomprehensible to the Western world.
I've been home for seven weeks now and I've been looking for a job for most of that time. I thought it would be easy, but it's going kinda slow. Things finally kicked into gear at the start of the fiscal year. Hopefully by the end of this month, I will be gainfully employed and living in Austin again.
In the meantime, I've been writing software again. I'm working on a video mixer / video jockey tool. I actually wrote this program six years ago for Be OS but it was a bit limited. This time around I'm trying to do away with some of those limitations while also leveraging the awesome power of modern GPUs. It should be interesting. I just hope I get enough code written so that it can transition into a nice side project that doesn't consume too much of my life outside of work. We'll see...
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