Wednesday, July 31, 2013


10:55 a.m.: take off from Dalian
1:10 p.m.: land in Seoul
4:30 p.m.: take off from Seoul
11:15 a.m.: land in San Francisco

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


A little bit short of five years. I have no words of wisdom or lists of bests and worsts, though all were solicited from me today. I'm putting my daughter to bed. I'm kissing my wife. I won't see them for a couple months after tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow's going to be one of those weird twofers: two mornings, two sunsets.

"Tim, can you come here, tell me a story?"—Eileen.

So I'm going.

Monday, July 29, 2013


Yesterday we taught our last class. No more ESL. Everything's packed and ready to go.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


We ordered the tickets today: Hanna and Eileen will arrive on October 12!

Thursday, July 25, 2013


We think Hanna and Eileen will arrive in the States on October 12.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

One Week Left

It seems impossible. Hanna and Eileen have their visas and can go shortly after I do. The immigration process seemed really difficult before we actually got into it, but it was more time consuming than difficult. Hanna had to go to her hometown a couple times and then to Beijing to drop off documents, Shanghai for the physical, and Guangzhou for the interview.

Everybody always throws themselves a party on the way out, obligating a celebration, and though we've tried to avoid any noise of our own, several people talk about parties and all the stuff we should do before we go. A couple people have even told Hanna how she ought to feel at this moment, right before she goes to a totally different way of doing things. Their expressions suggest that anything but excitement is a bad emotion, one that she shouldn't feel. The question is never "Are you ever going to come back?" but only "When are you coming back?" I don't know how to answer. They point out how easy life is for foreigners over here—financially, they always mean, as though that ended it.

I'm reading Tristram Shandy for the fourth time (since 2007, I've read it every odd-numbered year). I just finished book 6, and I'm thinking about all the digressions I still need to get into, all the things I didn't write, especially since the beginning of last year. What function will this online space serve?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Two Weeks Left

Hanna's and Eileen's visas arrived today! They can leave China anytime before December.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Three Weeks Left

Hanna and Eileen had their visa interview in Guangzhou today. They passed and will be able to move to the US in the fall! The whole application process for their visa went faster than we expected. I expected a year maybe or at least six months. We dropped the first documents off in April (though we had to do a lot of preparing before that—getting birth certificates etc.). Our conversations and days have been so filled with thinking about immigration. Perhaps we can rest now that it's all over, at least on this side of the world.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Two Months Left

I've already bought my plane ticket back. July 31. Whether Hanna and Eileen will be right behind me, we don't know yet, but processes that we expected to take a long time are going rather quickly, surprisingly. One hundred twenty-nine classes left (unless something unexpected happens, which would surprise no one).

The whole process of getting green cards is a lot easier than we initially thought. We know a couple who used a lawyer and waited a very long time, but we haven't found any use for one. Nothing's that difficult; there are just a lot of forms and information to gather. Hopefully, we'll all be together on the other side soon.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Last Little Bit

I still get the feeling that I'm not in China. Even after almost four years, even with a Chinese wife and daughter, with Chinese being the main language of the apartment, even with dealing with others in their language outside, when I really think about where I am, I'm surprised I'm still here. Perhaps because this place has become so normal to me, it doesn't feel like I'm in a different country. The only hope is that America seems totally bizarre when I go back (though I expect it won't except for perhaps in the area if technology).

As Hanna and I think more and more about what we're going to do in Kansas, upcoming events seem impossible. She never thought she'd marry a foreigner and move to the States. I never really thought about anything other than going back to school when I returned, but I didn't think I'd be gone so long, much less come back plus two. We've dropped off petitions for Hanna and Eileen, and now we're just waiting, trying to get everything ready. I'll probably have to leave first, alone, while all the paperwork is sorted out and Hanna and Eileen go to Guangzhou for an interview.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Dry Daughter

Hanna's been gone the last week to get Eileen her passport. Since their hukou's in Shuangyashan, the registering for their passports has to be done up there. Per Chinese law, Eileen's biological father has to grant permission. We expected trouble from him, like he would be unwilling or would demand lots of money, but all he asked in exchange was that we send him a picture of Eileen a couple times a year. Hanna keeps saying that everything's going easily.

Tomorrow Hanna and Eileen both should arrive home. To follow what the three of us have to go through to get to the US, I'm starting something new tomorrow, here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Almost Finished

Woke up on a train again this morning. Back in Dalian after two weeks off for Spring Festival. While Hanna and I were gone, we learned that I'd been accepted to the University of Kansas as a PhD candidate in creative writing, which means this already rather lengthly stay in China is soon coming to an end—only like five months or so left. Tonight we're beginning the process of getting green cards for our little family.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


It seems that my website,, has been blocked by the Chinese government. I cannot imagine the reason. I mean, I have a link to a poem titled "Cock Raffle," but.


Almost the entirety of January was spent translating. At the request of a student's father, Hanna accepted the job, and before I looked at any of it, I said, "That's great. We'll work a couple days and get paid some major cash." Shortly into the work, though, we realized we'd have to throw more than a couple days into the project. From the beginning of the month up till a couple days ago, we ended up working seventeen hours a day, translating anywhere from four hours to twelve hours a day in addition to writing lesson plans and teaching thirteen classes a week. At the beginning, I tried to take notes on what I was learning about Chinese grammar along the way, but just finishing the beast of a project became the main focus.

Several things I noticed along the way:
1. I still don't understand the use of commas in Chinese. They seemed to be used more like periods, periods seemed to be used more like paragraph markers, and I don't know how paragraph breaks work. The punctuation got translated right along with the words.

2. Google ain't too bad, but even it has times when it is like, Fuck, dude, I don't know.

3. I surprised myself at how much I knew. Er, sometimes. More often I didn't know much. Or anything.

4. When translating technical documents, I relied more on what I knew of physics and chemistry than on what I knew of Chinese.

5. I never want to use the words implement, quality control, scope, or pipe again.

6. Hanna accused me many times of caring too much about the project.

7. Once I viewed the translations as counting toward my writing, though very reluctantly at first, I stopped being pissed off that my time for writing was being eaten up.