This is us.  The one showing lots of shoulder (in her Chengdu, China Marine Ball ball gown!) is the EFM who writes this blog. The one wearing a tux (James) is the employee who moves her (and their two sons) around all over the world. The red link, below, is how you can get in touch with me...

The time in Chengdu, China

Chengdu: city of fabulous food and beautiful Buddhist monasteries!
Yes, Beijing's Forbidden City (pictured, above) is really pretty and all, but I like Chengdu much better than Beijing!

In Our Same Boat (with State)

  • Beyond the Cornfields
    Brand-new State Department family in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Love their two little girls (she just recently had a baby while being posted in Dhaka), horticulture, traveling and adventure!
  • Email From The Embassy
    State Department family formerly in Beijing, China, and recently posted to Amman, Jordan. A trailing spouse, she's also a writer, and frequently publishes articles with major news sources. A very experienced State family, this new post is something like overseas post number six or seven for them.
  • Just US
    A beautiful family of seven - they have arrived at their new post: Jerusalem! They just finished off an unaccompanied tour to Iraq and are very much looking forward to sightseeing around the middle east.
  • Our Life
    State Department family on their second post...Tijuana, Mexico. It's their first overseas assignment and they have two little boys. They love Tijuana so far and post pictures frequently! They also get to enjoy the best of both worlds for they can sneak over the border into San Diego when they want to!
  • The Dinoia Family
    State Department family formerly in California, now in DC for a DC tour. Next, the husband will do a one year unaccompanied tour. A very experienced State family (formerly in Iceland and Caracas) with a blog that has been around quite a while and has great archives. Jen has a sweet heart and a lot to give!
  • The Perlman Update
    State Department family formerly in Chennai, India, who then did a year-long unaccompanied tour in Iraq. They are now on a DC tour and after that will do another unaccompanied tour (Afghanistan). She totally tells it like it is and doesn't sugar-coat what life is really like. Witty, snarky, funny and down-to-earth. Look elsewhere if you want fake. Read if you want REAL.
  • Where in the World Am I?
    State Department family formerly in Bujumbura, Burundi and now in Hyderabad, India. They just had their first baby this summer - a beautiful little girl- (there's a separate blog about this) and she also eats gluten-free (with a separate blog, also).
One of the most intriguing things about Chengdu is that it is a seamless blend of ancient and modern... all together, side by side.

Can't Live Without (non-State)

  • Crass-Pollination: An ER blog
    The best ER nurse blog EVER!
  • Doctor Grumpy in the House
    The best doctor blog EVER!
  • In Which...
    My IRL friend, a stay-at-home, homeschooling Mama of seven. Her darling daughters are, goshdarnit, probably too young to be hoped for as my future daughters-in-law.
  • The Crib Chick
    My IRL friend, a stay-at-home, homeschooling Mama of five. Hopefully two (Any two! I'm not picky!) of which are my future daughters-in-law.
  • the underwear drawer
    An anesthesiologist who is possibly the most talented & entertaining writer ever. I've read her blog ever since she started medical school. No, don't know her in real life. Wish I did.
  • The Bloggess
    This blog is both hysterically funny and hilariously irreverent. I actually let my 17 year old son read it (who loves it as much as I do!), but wouldn't even CONSIDER letting my 12 year old son read it. Which is about all the description it needs!
The grounds of Chengdu monasteries can be very, very peaceful...even though they are smack dab in the heart of a city of millions of people.


Yes, there are Starbucks in Chengdu! All over the place, in fact. So much so, Starbucks even crafted mugs for Chengdu stores!
Texan bluebonnets. Because I learned during our very first posting (Houston) that there's nothing prettier in the spring than the meadows of Texas.
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And it should make you feel good! That is so different from my experiences overseas , since not only do I not get language neither does Dave except at a tiny handful of posts. Apparently computers speak computer therefore there is no need to waste time and money providing any IMSer language training, never mind that our quality of life at post would be hugely improved by at least one of us have even a little bit of language.

And of course here no one gets language training because officially the language is English but in practice no one actually speaks much of it, everywhere you go you hear Chichewa, even my gardeners don't speak enough English to communicate effectively. It is always a gamble when I need to give them instructions. "Please weed the garden but leave the asparagus." Apparently meant leave all the weeds but dig up the asparagus breaking all the yummy tips just coming up and toss it on the compost heap. GAH!


I love this story. Compounded by two things:

1) a really depressing story from a colleague about how he went on a TDY at my future post and told me "I don't why you're bother with two years of language training. Everybody speaks English! You can totally get by without it!" depressing both because I'm in the middle of the language doldrums right now, and also because he hadn't grasped that "getting by" was not exactly my goal.

2) a much happier story about a colleague who used to work at my future post who just won a fellowship to go study the language to the *native speaker* level. Cool be ause it's proof that with will and practice, you can definitely make all the language training worthwhile.


Awesome post K! Glad you are finally blogging a little more...I have missed you!

And Kate, I am in one of those countries where "you can totally get by without it" (the language) and "everyone speaks English." Usually I hear those things from people who smuggly feel that I wasn't smart enough to avoid studying the language for a year.

You know what though? They don't "all" speak English. There have been plenty of times when I have had to call the cable company or the guards or someplace else and they didn't speak English. And you know what else? I look at the relationships my colleagues who avoided studying the language have with their contacts, and they are very different than the relationships I have with my contacts. There is a different level of respect and trust. I am a better officer for knowing the language, even if they all speak English better than I will ever master their language.

There is a story of the Israeli president meeting with the American Ambassador when the Israeli Prime Minister burst into the room screaming. In Hebrew. Which the Ambassador didn't speak because they all speak English. The PM apologized (in English) and continued what he was saying to the President (in Hebrew) but much more calmly.

He was telling the President they had gone to war.

The Ambassador didn't know that. But if one of us who "wasted our time" learning the language had been, I wonder how different that meeting would have been.


I like that too. The blood, sweat and tears of language training are paying off. Isn't that nice? It's hard to keep that in perspective when you are in the lowest point of language training but the payoff does ultimately come. I too am enjoying whatever Hindi I got in the 7 or so months that I studied it. It's nice to listen to people talk about you when they think you don't understand and chuckle...


Having lived in a foreign country for the last 8 years I am still finding it difficult to understand the language. I can speak quite a bit but the dialect is so strong that I find it so difficult to understand.
So glad you are finding this easier than me.


So, your post reminded me of this moment I had when I first lived in Japan...

I was getting a shiatsu massage (which my insurance covered, except for the whopping $2.50 copay) and all the ladies were discussing me. I could understand enough to know what they were saying, but not enough to really speak back.

They talked about how fat and ugly I was. How stupid I seemed that I didn't speak Japanese after 2 whole months in the country.

I put my face in my arms (I was lying on my stomach) and cried quietly through the entire thing.

The upside is that my shiatsu masseuse became one of my best friends (he did not reveal my sobbing).

And yes, that was not the first time, nor the last, where my body type (her breasts are so large!), my hair color, the hair on my arms, all were discussed openly, in public, and at length. And it was rarely complimentary.

And yes, my male colleagues were treated TOTALLY DIFFERENTLY. They were ADMIRED. They were LOVED. They were assigned people to do their laundry and cook dinner for them every night.

Don't get me wrong -- I love Japan, I made some amazing friends and I learned to speak up for myself (and also to ignore comments about my body and point out that at least I didn't have short legs). But Asia can be a tough crowd when you're a woman.

And if I were you, I wouldn't be quite so quick to reveal that your son is available, gross-out factors notwithstanding. Just sayin'.

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James loves me. And our sons. And his job. But not having his picture taken. In 2011 he finished up over a year and half of training, and in the fall of 2011 we got to our first overseas post - Chengdu, China!
Mao says hi! Because Chengdu is one of the only cities in China with a Mao statue.
Flowers are like friends. Each one is unique. Each one is beautiful. They brighten up everything around them. And you can never have too many. 

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2012 is the Year of the Dragon, y'all! Talk about the ultimate in good luck! This kinda party only comes around once every twelve years!
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Colorful! (Inside a Chengdu ancient Buddhist monastery.)
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