Thursday, March 13, 2014

Buon Giorno from a Cafe In Rome, Italy. LAST DAY IN EUROPE BEFORE CHINA!

And so my European travels come to an end. I'm back in Rome, living again with Roberto and Helen, 
and next stop is Shanghai on Friday, tomorrow. Today is Thursday. I pick up my visa tomorrow morning at the Visa Processing Center: there are so many people traveling from Rome to Shanghai that they opened a separate visa processing center in another part of town.  So no Visas are processed at the embassy anymore.  Just at this dedicated service center.  Interesting. 
But first a recap of the last week: I had a very nice time in Vienna with my friend M. I didn't remember 
one thing from my visit last time, which was odd. Just Schonbrun. The castle. (I guess that is one thing). We stayed in a hostel on the outskirts of the city on a vista overlooking the city. It was a very nice wake up.  We walked around on Saturday, we visited the Sigmund Freud museum, ate Spetzl!!, and then went to a very nice Mozart and Strauss concert. Overall a very nice time. The concert was amazing. Turkish march. Radetsky. Eine Kleine and more. On the blue Danube.  With singers. And ballet. Really quite nice.  I visited Berlin briefly again, and was going to go to Stockholm too, but just didn't have time (or money) to go back there again.
Anyway, I have one more free day here in Rome tomorrow.  Tomorrow night I fly to Shanghai.  Last night I was thinking to myself: What the heck am I doing?  I'm not even working as hard as I once did to make my showbiz dreams come true.  I'm heading to Chinese to learn Chinese for a year.  Teaching English.  All to what end?  I wasn't sure I had a clear idea...  And I was feeling a little down on myself.

But last night, a new friend wrote something very nice to me.  “Let me tell you something more please.  Okay…  I had absolutely no idea you were a lawyer and all the other things when I met you on the train.  Maybe you told me but I didn’t pay much attention to it.  Either I wasn’t interested at all if you were rich or poor.  You could have been a super successful, super rich, and super cool man… but if I hadn’t a topic to speak to you about, nothing in common with you, wouldn’t have felt that good with you let alone to let you kiss me.  See… it’s not about being successful.  It’s just about who you are.  About what you REALLY are.  And you are a worthy person.  You reflect your thoughts, your behavior searching for your way.  You doubt about yourself.   It’s not generally bad.  Without doubting one can make no progress.  Moreover to be a teacher of ANYTHING is a meritorious job.  If you do it well.  A good and wise teacher can give you more than knowledge.”

How incredibly nice, right?  Gosh it really touched me.  Made me feel really great about myself.  And helped me to realize that self-esteem should not be measured in accomplishments or lack of accomplishments.  Not measured in money.  Not measured in anything but character.  And it helped me to remember why I am going to China: to live in Asia; to travel Asia; TO LEARN CHINESE!  Why?  Why do I need a reason?  It's cool!  It's fun!  It's something I have always wanted to do!  IT IS SO AWESOME!  And teaching English is going to be great.  It's not my dream job ever, but neither is it a job that I am taking out of necessity: it is something I am choosing to do because it is making other dreams possible, and that in itself makes it worthy.  I'm gonna even write a novel called Shanghai'd using the city as my inspiration!  And she's right: I'm a great teacher, and I am going to touch a lot of people by doing this.  And help a lot of people.  And make some amazing friends and connections in China, and who knows where it all can lead.  How can this be a BAD decision?  It's going to be an amazing one year experience.  And the truth is: everyone is excited for me, and living vicariously through me.  I have heard more than once, "I envy you; I wish I had the guts to do something like that."  So if nothing else, maybe I am doing this so others can experience China... through me!  haha. 
In the end, I realized I'm just scared about what lies ahead.  And why shouldn't I be?  It's scary!  Traveling in Europe for three months is one thing, but moving to China for an entire year?  That's a different story entirely.  But I am almost certain that after I get there and get settled, I will be fine.  And to say a year from now, "I worked for a year in China."  Well, that's just pretty awesome!  And to be able to say, "Oh yeah, I also speak Chinese."  Well, like MasterCard, that is just priceless.  And at the very least, it will open up many legal opportunities in New York City.  To be a NY attorney who speaks Chinese who also has an MBA in Finance will be rather bankable I imagine... 
I’m at a cafĂ© here in Rome now.  Where?  Not really sure but it's near Via Graziano.  Gonna meet Roberto in about 3 hours to go on a scooter tour of the city.  Meeting him at Piazza del Popello.  Spelling? 

I’m still trying to find an apartment in Shanghai.  All the apartment shares on Craigslist get posted and then swapped up in no more than two days.  I think I may have to wait until I get there on Saturday and go from there.  I’m also debating whether I should rent my own apartment, or room share.  I totally hated living by myself at my apartment in NY.  But maybe it will be different this time.  I don’t know. 
I also did a lot of work on my Phd these last few days, on the IRB application (Institutional Review Board) for my research proposal.  What an ordeal this whole dissertation process is for a scientific research project.  Phew!  I haven't even begun the research portion of the project yet!  Ha!

I wish I sent out more e-newsletters to my email list. Maybe I will have more time in China.  I’m sure I will—I will be stationary.  That will be a relief after almost two months of constant travel.
I’m excited to have a new legal client too.  I am doing some contract work for him.  He is a songwriter and a company wants to buy his songs, so I am helping to ensure he doesn’t give away too much and is compensated properly.  Sometimes I forget that I am still a lawyer in New York and New Jersey and that I can still do legal work from afar.  It was so nice to get this unsolicited email from someone I worked with in the past who needed some additional work.  It's a nice feeling to be working as an attorney again.  I didn't think I would miss it, but I sort of do apparently.  Also, every bit of additional money helps!

HA: I just realized that I should send out a damn email to my email list TODAY!  No excuses Monroe!  GET OFF YOUR ASS!  I need to DO IT NOW.  Because WINNERS DO IT NOW!
Oh, I received this great opportunity!  From my friend and music manager Michael Gewirtzman.  I am going to record 2 four-minute motivational speeches and he is going to edit them and package them and they will be sent out to over 200,000 college students around the country.  Coolio!  With links to my books and all that.  This could be an amazing marketing and publicity coup for me.  I'm super curious to see how it all pans out.  Fantastico!

I just love the Italian language.  I am going to miss it in China.  Going from one of the most beautiful languages in the world to one of the harshest (and yet most important).  What a shock it’s gonna be going to this new culture.  My oh my oh my!
Okay, well, I have my accounting to finish up today, and need to do that legal work, and some other stuff too.  And at the airport, or tonight, I am going to write another 1000 words in my novel.  I must I must. 

Arrivederci!  The next post on this blog will in all likelihood be... from... China!  Assuming my VPN (Virtual Proxy Network) works.  From what I understand, blogger is banned there.  I guess I will find out soon enough.

Oh, one last thing: I have to fill out this medical form for the Chinese government for my medical exam in Shanghai on Monday.  I have to be deemed 'fit' in order to receive my residence permit.  I laughed when I read it with Roberto.  It says, "Please check which of these you have had."  And then a list.  Are you ready to laugh?  Here we go: 1. Plague; 2. Leprosy.  Ha!  Oh yes, I had plague when I was 15 but it passed.  Most of my family died, but I survived.  As for leprosy, I did suffer for many years, but then Jesus touched my face and I was healed.  At the bottom of the list: cold.  I get it: If you've had plague or leprosy, they don't want you in the country, so let's get it out of the way up front.  But seriously: when was the last time you met someone who had plague or leprosy?  Mon dieu!

Honestly, that is hilarious!  There are quite a few other funny choices, but I can't remember them offhand.  Hilarious!  If this is an indication of the fun I am going to have in China... BRING IT ON!  Can't wait! :)

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