THANKS FOR STOPPING BY

My name is Jerry and I write this blog.  I am a husband, a father, a trainer, a traveler, a culture vulture and an avid people watcher who loves to write about all of those things.  My beautiful blended family and I are globe trekkers who have expatted, repatted and then expatted again.  We are slowly discovering that wherever we are — we are home . . .  and missing it at the same time.      

 

 

 

 

Dear Expat Parent

Dear Expat Parent, You’re not alone. Quick disclaimer:  If you’re the parent who feels like you’re doing this raising kids abroad thing exactly right then yeah, actually, you may be alone. No one likes you. The rest of you . . . are not.` You’re not the only expat parent who is haunted with a nagging sense that […]

Erasing Expat Ignorance: part 3 of 3

Ignorance is not just for expats.  Oh no, no — it’s universal — but we do it so very well don’t we? We typically get the chance to practice and showcase our ignorance more often than others.  Like daily — maybe hourly — more for some.  The goofy little language gaffes and the awkward culture blunders make for great […]

Embracing Expat Ignorance: part 2 of 3

Warning:  The following is a true story . . . and the ending is very sad. We were down by two with 1 second left to play in the championship game.  I stood at the free throw line and the entire game rested on my shoulders.  It was intense. I swear this is how I remember it. […]

Facing Expat Ignorance: part 1 of 3

Expats struggle.  We strain.  We may even fail and do significant damage NOT because we don’t understand something but because we INSIST on proceeding as if we do.   This might sting a little.  “You are ignorant.”   I mean that in the nicest possible way (as if that helps).  There’s no real nice way to say it is there? It’s not the same as […]

“Crawl in a hole” and other great advice for new expats

You finally made it.  You’re a foreigner . . . in a foreign land.  So now what? There is nothing quite like your first days abroad.  It’s magical.  All of the anticipation and excitement with none of the baggage (unless you count the actual baggage that you’re living out of).  You haven’t yet tripped or bumbled […]

Why Expats Hate June: Retropost

In honor of June . . . (excuse me, I just threw up a little in my mouth) . . . here is a repost of one of my favorites.  Enjoy.     Life as an expatriate is tainted by a single word. “Goodbye.” By nature, the move TO a foreign country is launched with a […]

Yeah . . . We Blend

    My family’s not normal but let’s be honest . . . neither is yours.   I swear this happened one time — in America to boot. I was at my hometown mall watching my daughter (a toddler at the time) trip around the foam rubber, indoor playground just outside of the Panda Express.  I hadn’t […]

The Seven Lies of Repatriation

Ahhh “Repatriation” It’s one of those words that you don’t even look up in the dictionary until you start going through it yourself.  For those less traveled it may not even make sense that we would coin a special word for returning to your country after a time away.  It’s confusing for family and friends who just call it “coming home.” […]

“Hello Again” — The Unanticipated Bright Side of Perpetual Goodbyes

We are expats.  We say goodbye.  A lot. I could end this post right there and know that I have struck a chord.  But I won’t. If you’re living far from home (or you instinctively use finger quotes when you even say the word “home”) you’ve noticed it.  You started this whole thing with a massive […]

The Five (Ironic) Enemies of Living Cross-Culturally

Ironically, this post is based entirely on an outright assumption.  My assumption is this.  If crossing cultures is a part of your life then you probably have some comprehension of the things that prevent you from doing that well.  You don’t need a blog to tell you that mockery (for example) is going to slow you down […]

Going Nowhere: Ten tips for expat Stayers who want to stay well

In the expatosphere we tend to focus on the bookends of our cross-cultural experience.  Starting well.  Ending well.  Moving on.   Between Stayers, Goers and Newbies the Stayers tend to get the least attention.  But the space between the bookends are where the books are. The time between landing and leaving is where the real story is.  The adventure.  The […]

Dear Expat . . . You Are Normal

  Dear Expat,   Let’s be honest.  You are weird.  No offense. It’s not a bad thing.  You’re just — what’s that word? — odd.  No matter where in the world you go, you don’t quite fit.  You’re a foreigner where you live and a visitor where you’re from. You’re weird.  Just own it. HOWEVER. […]

Why Transition is Like Puberty

  I was teenager once.  It was awkward.   I was pretty run of the mill.  Unfortunately the mill that year was cranking out knobby kneed, gangly armed, pimply faced manboys who, despite devoting every waking moment to the art of faking cool, squawked like a chicken every time we laughed.  I was (like all of my counterparts of the same […]

When Transition Gets The Best of You

  Ahh transition.  I teach this stuff.  I do seminars.  I write a blog for crying out loud.  So I hate it when it actually applies to me.   Some of the best advice I ever got about transition (from a friend who also teaches this stuff) is that we are all like a cup […]

Transition and Stuff

  Two years ago exactly we were in the process of repatriating (moving “home” to the U.S. after 7 years in China).  Our lives became consumed with the quest to reduce all of our belongings into 8 suit cases.  We failed but just barely.   Part of my transition back to the States was discovering something […]

Repatriating Normally: 10 Things That Make Coming Home Feel Weird

  Repatriating is weird. It shouldn’t be but it is. It should be awesome — and easy — and the complete redemption of every challenge, every irritation and every bumbling misadventure you have trudged through in your life as a foreigner.  You are being unshackled from the chains of expat awkwardness and outsider fatigue. Language barriers — gone. […]

Introverts on an Expat Team

  Introverts are finally getting a LOT of attention. That’s pretty ironic. So many writers are addressing the challenges that introverts face in a world built for extraverts.  There is a trend . . .  a wave . . . some would even call it a revolution of information that is calling our attention to the fact […]

The Seven Lies of Living Cross Culturally

  People who live cross-culturally, for any significant portion of their lives, are often duped. When we first choose to live as foreigners we are prime for the suckering.  We are wide eyed and overflowing with enthusiasm.  We soak up everything that Lonely Planet, Rosetta Stone and Wikipedia have to offer about our soon to be new home. […]

Why We are Moving to China . . . Again

  This post is especially for those of our friends and family who are curious to know details about our upcoming transition that would just be boring overkill on facebook.  Don’t feel bad if that’s not you but if it is . . . thanks for wanting to know more (we like you more than all of […]

Moving Well: Ten Tips for Highly Transient People

  There have always been nomads but there are more now than ever. Maybe you are one — those people who are going to live their entire lives 3-5 years at a time (give or take).  By choice, calling or mandate you will encounter multiple, major transitions in your life.  Military families, missionaries, international business people, career students, […]

Twenty Four Reasons I Love the Fact That My Kids are TCK’s

  The original title of this post was “Ten Reasons I Love the Fact that My Kids are TCK’s.” I couldn’t stop. My kids are TCK’s and I love it. I was re-reminded of this simple fact as we traveled back to China together last month.  By definition they qualify for full membership as Third Culture Kids even […]

On Election Day and Flatulence: 500 Words | Day 6

Welcome to Day 6 of a 31 day challenge to write 500 words or more.  For more on that click here:  goinswriter.com   IT’S ELECTION DAY!! That’s pretty much all I have to say about that. I would like to discuss a serious issue however that I have yet to hear addressed from any of the candidates […]

On Doing Away With Time Zones: 500 Words | Day 5

Welcome to Day 5 of a 31 day challenge to write 500 words or more.  For more on that click here:  goinswriter.com   I’m really not good at math so Daylight Savings is messing me up both professionally and personally.  Let me explain. Not only did I get jilted out of my golden hour of […]

On Daylight Savings Time: 500 Words | Day 4

Welcome to Day 4 of a 31 day challenge to write 500 words or more.  For more on that click here:  goinswriter.com   I am not a huge fan of Daylight Savings Time.  It’s ok if you are.  My reasons are entirely selfish. For starters everybody gets all excited about one extra golden hour of sleep.  […]

On Korean Donuts and TCK’s: 500 Words | Day 3

Welcome to Day 3 of a 31 day challenge to write 500 words or more.  For more on that click here:  goinswriter.com     “I hope we go through Korea.” “That’s what my 10 year old daughter said when we first started talking about the whole family going back to China for a visit. “Why?” […]

On Going Back to China: 500 Words | Day 2

Welcome to Day 2 of a 31 day challenge to write 500 words or more.  For more on that click here:  goinswriter.com (For the record – the above sentence is not counted in my 500 words) (Neither is that one) (This could go on for a while) Beginning now. _________________________ So I just returned from […]

My 500 Words: Day 1

I am a writer. I know because Jeff Goins of goinswriter.com told me so. Ok, he didn’t exactly call me out by name per se but I know he was thinking specifically of me when he designed the 500 words challenge.  That was nice of him. This is how it works. Jeff figures there are […]

Grandparenting Little Expats: Part 2 – Tips and Tools for Long Distance Grandmas and Grandpas

That said, there is something special about your grandkids who are growing up in a different country. They are Third Culture Kids (that will make more sense later). There is a unique set of challenges that comes with the experience that can, at times, be quite confusing. On the flip side, their experience is rich and shaping them to be the global thinkers and leaders that our world needs desperately for the coming decades.

Grandparenting Little Expats: Part 1 — Tips and Tools for Long Distance Grandmas and Grandpas

It’s not your fault. You tried to raise them right.

And then those ornery kids of yours grew up, had little ones of their own and moved away. What are they thinking?! This was supposed to be your time. You put in years of hard labor, thinking all along that some day, some glorious day you would enjoy all of the joys of frolicking, adorable children with none of the responsibility. Sugar em’ up and send em’ home. It was a flawless plan.

The Best Definition of Culture I’ve Ever Heard

    I’m a culture vulture unless you go by definitions. I suppose that’s the point of this post . . . sometimes definitions are stupid. cul•ture  vul•ture a person with an excessive or pretentious interest in the arts. -The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary   Yeah that’s not so much me.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do have an excessive interest in the arts unless you go […]

Better Than Chocolate: One of the Sweetest Perks of Having Lived Abroad

I asked my son an unfair question that could have gone horribly in the wrong direction.   It was one of those questions that, as it came out of my mouth, I thought, “nope . . . I should not be asking a four year old this”.  I braced for an awkward moment and had […]

Receiving Well: Eleven Tips for Helping Expats Come Home

Ok this is awkward. There’s a solid chance that the demographic which might best benefit from this post (and the brilliance in the comments that follow {hint}) will never see it. If you are welcoming a beloved friend or family member back into your life, after an extended amount of time in a faraway land, I […]

Staying Well: 10 Tips for Expats Who are Left Behind

Leaving is hard.  Being left is harder.   Transition is a huge part of life for an expat.  That’s understood.  By the time you sign on you’ve wrapped your head around the fact that you’re about to trade normal for unknown.  Returning home is the same story with a twist.  There are seminars for all of […]

Landing Well: 10 More Tips for Repatriating with Dignity

  “The process of coming home after living abroad is simple and stress free.”   This is a quote from  NO ONE . . . EVER.   At least no one who has ever actually attempted the fine, fine art of repatriation.  As a follow up to “Leaving Well: 10 Tips” I wanted to add some thoughts […]

Leaving Well: 10 Tips for Repatriating with Dignity

It’s that time of year again.  Leaving time.   This is the time when thousands of individuals and families who have spent time living in a foreign country, will pack it up and call it a day.  If you’ve never been that person you may be surprised that there is a specific high season for […]

Rock Paper Scissors -or- Helping Kids Thrive in Transition (Part Three: Scissors)

Welcome to part 3 of a 3 parter.  Congratulations, you are almost finished.   Let’s review. There are three keys to helping your kids thrive through transition.  They are Rock, Paper and Scissors. 1.  Rock = Stability:  (click here) “There can be tremendous stability in a home that is in consistent transition when kids know […]

Rock Paper Scissors -or- Helping Kids Thrive in Transition (Part Two: Paper)

First things first – If you haven’t read part one of of “Rock, Paper, Scissors”  you can click here to catch up   This blog post is built entirely on the foundation of two painful realities.  The first is universally understood and the second should make sense soon.   1.  Kids grow up too fast 2.  Transition […]

Rock Paper Scissors -or- Helping Kids Thrive in Transition (Part One: Rock)

I could easily be convinced that making all decisions, major and minor, foreign and domestic by means of Rock Paper Scissors is the purest and most diplomatic form of government . . . but that’s a different blog.   This one is about kids .  Kids like mine.  Kids who have been through or are […]

You Want “Birds” With That? Repost

Reposted from October 2011:  This is one of my favorite Culture Blend memories of faking Chinese in China. I got blasted with a dose of my own indignance this week.   Chinese is tonal.  If you haven’t tried to learn it then that means nothing to you.  It’s pointless trivia, like “celery has negative calories” or “bats […]

Eight Things I Want My Kids to Know About Kids Who Weren’t Adopted

Sometimes I forget.  Most of the time I forget.  As an adoptive parent I am thankful to be living in a time and a place where adoption has been embraced.  It’s certainly not a new or American concept.  Moses was adopted 1600 years before Caesar Augustus who was adopted 2000 years before either of my […]

Beautiful Community Part 1: The Sweetness of Bumbling and Incompetent People

Ask anyone who has spent some time as a foreigner and returned to their home country what they miss and virtually zero of them will say “stinky toilets.”  That made my list but only the ironic one (The 8 Most Ironic Things I Miss About China). I’m the exception.  It’s not the first time. What […]

The Eight Most Ironic Things I Miss About China

Uh.  The people.  Duh. That’s the only respectable answer to the question most often asked of people who have recently moved across the planet . . . “What do you miss the most?”  It has now been five months since my family and I relocated our lives from China back to the U.S. and just […]

Roller Coasters and Getting Shot: The Best and Worst Things About America

You’re moving to China??!!  They run over their people with tanks!! That’s what the guy who weighed our bags at the airport said seven years ago.  It made me question whether or not airlines had ever considered any form of “Things Not to Say” training for their employees.  It’s funny (not “funny ha ha” or […]

The Five Contradictions I Want to Teach My Kids

I’m a pretty decent guy but there are things in me that I don’t want to pass on to my kids.  I’m not alone here right? There is some foundational flint in the core of every mother and every father that sparks a longing to see “better things” for their children.  It’s fueled, in part, […]

What Did You People Do to Hannah Montana?!!

I learned about twerking today . . . or was it twinking?  One of those. I’ve been in China for seven years.  That’s really not very long.  It’s only one dog year.  Wait.  That’s backwards right?  Either way.  It’s not very long. Now I have returned only to discover that this is exactly how long it […]

Blogdentity Crisis

They say that blogs resemble their owners. They don’t actually say that.  They do say that about dogs.  They should say it about blogs too. Blogging for me has been a thoroughly enjoyable stress release in the chaos of my daily bumblings as a foreigner in China.  It has forced me to process, more completely, […]

The Funniest Thing I’ve Seen in a Chinese Toilet All Week

There was a sticker in my urinal yesterday.   I’m not entirely surprised to see random things in a urinal.  In fact I usually don’t give it much thought.  Cigarette butts are almost a given.  Those little pink moth ball smelling discs wrapped in a plastic . . . sure.  I’ve even recently seen toilets filled […]

How to Install a Kitchen Faucet in China

I’m a do it yourself kind of guy.  Call me crazy but I see absolutely no value in paying a trained professional my hard earned money to invade my home for up to an hour while he completes a simple task that I could clearly do myself in seven to ten hours for twice as […]

Bootylicious: Language Faking Gone Horribly Wrong

  I am a fully confessed language faker.  I’ve owned it.  Embraced it.  Even written about it in front of the whole internet and everybody. Rarely does a day go by that I don’t find myself in a Chinese taxi or convenience store nodding like I understood what I just heard or taking a 50-50 stab in […]

The Blog Post I Didn’t Write

I nearly wrote a blog post this week but I didn’t.  It would have been a good one too.  Funny.  Witty.  The “makes you think while you’re laughing” kind.  Too bad you’ll never get to read it . . . because I didn’t write it. I started to.  I’ve even got the notes I made […]

More Happiness More Drunk — Cultural Perspectives on Alcohol

Let’s play “Guess What They’re Selling.” This was an advertisement near our home:  “More Happiness, More Drunk.”   What’s the product? Easy right? Gotta’ be beer . . . maybe champagne . . . wait, this is China . . . could be Bai jiu (Chinese white lightning strategically distilled to taste like kerosene and […]

8 Questions to Help You Find Your Expat Thang

As a follow up to my last post . . . Being Married to the Expat Cake Lady –or- Finding Your Thang: For Expat Wives . . .    Here are 8 questions to help you find your THANG.   1.  Are you an inny or an outy? Too personal?  Sorry – this has nothing […]

Being Married to The Expat Cake Lady -or- Finding Your Thang: for Expat Wives

My wife makes cakes and she is amazing.  No kidding, she makes Betty Crocker look like a rookie donut maker.  She has this nuclear grade creativity packed into her brain which explodes every time she gets near flour and eggs into some unbelievable work of sweetness infused art.  She has even started a small business […]

Five Reasons I Love Raising My Kids in China

It’s pretty common for expat parents to worry that their decision to live cross-culturally is going to turn their child into some kind of freak.  There’s a fear (sometimes faint and sometimes paralyzing) that they’ll miss out on the social experiences during their formative years that make other kids . . . well . . […]

How to Get Your Driver’s License (back) in China — Step 4, Section 2

Wait — Click here if you haven’t read part one (of step 4) yet.   I had two hours and thirteen minutes to study 1500 possible questions that I hadn’t seen in 4 years for a 100 question test that I must answer 9 out of 10 correctly or I would completely waste 3500 RMB […]

How to Get Your Driver’s License in China – Step 3: The Driving Test

There are few moments more petrifying in a teenage boys life than those spent attempting to pass the driving test.  Not the written one.  Those moments are painful as well but they are nothing compared to the heart thumping horror of buckling up (or heaven forbid . . . forgetting to) next to the the […]

How to Break a Blog

  Bloggers are weird.  I feel like I can say that objectively because I’m not a very good one.  I’m not yet one of the full-fledged, card carrying, hard core weirdos (like the ones with the successful blogs) who live to blog and never run out of material.  Instead I sit wide-eyed (tongue hanging out) on […]

How to Get Your Driver’s License in China Step 2: Hoop Jumping Made Easy

Theoretically speaking, getting a driver’s license in China is simple.  Like falling off a log, taking candy from a baby or shooting fish in a barrel.  It’s a hypothetically stress-free, three step process: 1.  Get your paperwork in order 2.  Pass the physical 3.  Pass the written test Piece of cake. However, like simplicity and […]

How to Get Your Driver’s License in China — Step 1: Insanity

There are two ways to get a driver’s license if you’re a foreigner living in China.  One involves a back alley and the understanding that you will pretend to be a 53 year old, overweight Chinese woman should you ever get pulled over.  The other involves three easy to follow steps, each involving 14 to […]

The Orphanage: Part 3 of Our Daugther’s Roots Tour

Orphan.Just not a pretty word.  Too much baggage.I blame Hollywood.  If there is a movie about orphans you can bet the bank that the storyline is one or the other: One . . . The poor orphan child confined to the basement of a rickety old orphanage with a black hearted, domineering  head master who […]

Redemption Park: Part 2 of Our Daughter’s Roots Tour

The last time my daughter went to Xijiao park she was one day old . . . and she was abandoned. “Abandoned” is a horrible, ugly word, tightly packed with presuppositions.  It’s one of those words that lights the fuse in my assumption cannon (corny metaphor alert – hang with me for a minute).  We […]

The Unnatural Beauty of Adoption: Part 1 of Our Daughter’s Roots Tour

We met our daughter eight years and 26 days ago but not in the natural way.To be fair I should mention that I’ve never actually met a baby in the natural way but I have seen it on TV.  From what I can tell the natural way involves a lot more screaming, divorce threats and […]

I Miss You America (Revisited)

So I’m back in America for a week and I’m itching to write about it but alas . . . jetlag.  So I’ll write later but here’s a repost from the same one week trip last year.  Makes me feel better to pretend like I have written something.  I’ll think about writing a follow up […]

Why Expats Hate June

Life as an expatriate is tainted by a single word. “Goodbye.” By nature, the move to a foreign country is launched with a massive, painful farewell that is partially numbed by anticipation, excitement, adrenaline and sheer exhaustion.  It’s an all out frenzy, as the days are counted down, to spend an appropriate amount of quality […]

Let’s Talk About the Dolphin in the Room

“I’m thinking about buying an elephant.”   That’s what I said to Flight (our Chinese assistant) just because I knew it would be a fun conversation. “Hmm.  Why do you want to buy an elephant?” sidenote – That response was a landmark moment in our relationship.  Her typical response to me is the now famous, […]

What Crocodile Dundee Taught Me About Culture Shock

Let me just make this clear.  I am secure enough in my masculinity to write a post about learning from Lorelai Gilmore.  So following it (almost immediately) with a post about what I learned from Crocodile Dundee is in no way an overcompensation for that.  The same goes for my next three posts, “What I […]

What Lorelai Gilmore Taught Me About Culture Shock

Culture shock is so cliche.  It’s a buzz word that is tossed around by all who travel but rarely understood. I know because I don’t understand it either. I’ve seen the charts and the diagrams with the highs and lows, the big dip around six months and the slow climb that levels out around 12 […]

On Rape and Racial Profiling in China

An expat in Beijing was beaten unconscious and left laying in the street last week after sexually assaulting a young Chinese woman. Warning – This post is not a funny one but stick with it to the end.  Sorry.  I’ll be extra funny later I promise.  Also, for those of you keeping track, if your kids read […]

The Potty Perspective

My American friend (who was living in China at the time) freaked out when she thought for a moment that her baby was missing.  She was only slightly less alarmed when she realized that she was mistaken.  Instead, an elderly Chinese woman had removed her 18 month olds diaper and was squatting her over a […]

Watermelon, Brad Pitt and Some of My Other Chinese Friends

This is not the real Spiderman from my daughter’sKindergarten class. This is just an imposter that I met near our home. My daughter went to Kindergarten with Spiderman.  He was shorter than he looks in the movies. Something interesting happens when our Chinese friends get an English name.  It’s pretty standard practice, considering most Chinese students start […]

Pip Pip Cheerio Y’all: What’s in an Accent?

My wife and I watched “The Man in the Iron Mask” this week and I ruined it for both of us.  I’m about to ruin it for you too. Have you seen this movie? It came out in 1998 (just one year after Titanic).  It’s a gripping story that places the characters from the Three […]

A Valenwhat? Explaining Valentine’s Day to a Chinese Friend (repost)

I’m starting a petition to ban Valentine’s Day in China.  Judah and I had to wait 6 hours (gross exaggeration) to buy two red roses for our girls yesterday.  It was much better when us foreigners were the only ones who felt the pressure of blowing it and all of the Chinese people stood back, […]

“Hey Fatty” and other Chinese Greetings

After five weeks in America it was good to see our friends in China.  Until they called me fat. Last week I was walking home and ran into Lotus.  She’s our friend who runs the vegetable shop in our apartment complex.  She’s also the one who said my son (who is half African-American) looks better […]

I Think I Might Be Amish

I could totally pull off the Amish look, don’t you think? I felt strangely amish today . . . in a bizarre, science fiction, alternate universe, I live in China where there are no Amish people kind of way.  From now on I will be blogging by candlelight. I grew up in a part of […]

What if China met Texas?

I got a steak the size of my own torso for Christmas.  At least it was the size of my torso before I ate it.  Now my torso has grown considerably and the steak is . . . well . . . gone.  This incredible piece of beef alone was worth the trip back to […]

One Man’s Trash is a Little Girl’s Playground

Grandpa has a junk pile that puts Disney World to shame. For at least two months we have been gearing up for this trip to the States and the most anticipated spot in the country for my daughter has been the hill behind her Grandpa’s shed where old machinery goes to die.  Ironically this is the […]

International Travel Tip #13: When Flying – Embrace Bad Parenting

My wife and I have decided that we become freakishly horrible parents when we are traveling.  And we’re ok with that. I noticed it first on the 13 hour 39 minute and 24 second plane ride from Hong Kong to Chicago.  This is the flight that I have been dreading for months.  The mere thought […]

English Overload

I really miss speaking Chinese.  As much as I routinely butcher it, I miss it.   We’ve been visiting friends and family in the States for three weeks now and my senses are still being blasted.  It happens every time we come back.  It’s like a switch gets flipped and all of the sudden I […]

You May Not Actually Be Cool: Please Read This Before You Get a Chinese Tattoo

This poor guy thought he was getting a very cool “OUTLAW” tattoo but instead came away with “HIDING CRIMINAL” which basically carries the meaning “RAT FINK”. Not as cool. I have never been cool.  I’ve spent nearly 4 decades just behind the trend curve and the closest I have come was that mullet just four […]

The Day Grandma Got Us Kicked Out of Mexico

My dear Grandma (who is presently enjoying heaven) was once described by my mother (her own daughter) as being (and I quote) “about as cheerful as diarrhea“.  She rarely spoke (and she was rarely not speaking) without mentioning someone who had recently passed on or someone who was about to pass on or how she […]

Zai Jian Jezza

Jezza eating scorpion in his first week in China.  That’s when I knew I was going to like him. I love the sweet simplicity of “goodbye” in Chinese.   “Zai Jian” Go ahead . . . You try it.  I’ll wait . . . Nope, you said it wrong.  The “Z” actually has kind of […]

The Day Doritos Came to China

There was much rejoicing and jubilation the day Doritos came to China.  I remember it vividly because my fingertips were stained orange for weeks.  I was deep in the trenches of my first battle with culture shock and longing, begging, aching for something . . . anything, remotely American.  Seeing those crispy, cheesy ultra-hydrogenated triangles […]

Thank You Adoptive Mothers for Getting Rid of Osama Bin Laden . . . Again

This just in . . . A courageous band of mothers who have adopted from China have taken down Osama Bin Laden.I still consider myself a rookie when it comes to this blogging thing but I’m having a boatload of fun with it.  I think the truest quote I have heard so far is “Blogging — Never […]

You Want Birds With That? Humbling Moments for a Language Faker

I got blasted with a dose of my own indignance this week.   Chinese is tonal.  If you haven’t tried to learn it then that means nothing to you.  It’s pointless trivia, like “celery has negative calories” or “bats always turn left when they exit a cave”.  All true (verified via the internet) but knowing […]

Lost and Found in Translation: Baby on Road

Go ahead . . . date yourself.  Do you remember when “Baby on Board” signs first started popping up on rear windows?  Remember that one summer when they were on every other car and everyone drove just a wee bit safer.  It was like a traffic trump card that gave the bearer total immunity.  The […]

My Second and Last Blog About Diarrhea: The Movie

Yeah so the very least of my writing aspirations is to become known as “the diarrhea blogger” “Hey do you know Jerry Jones?”      “The owner of the Dallas Cowboys? Yeah sure.” “No, not the real Jerry Jones, the other one.”      “There’s another one?” “Yeah the guy who writes the blog about […]

The Diarrhea Clinic and Why I Think It’s Funny

This clinic is a short walk from our home.  I laugh a little every time I walk by (don’t judge me).  I find it ironic that “diarrhea” is spelled correctly in a country where the rest of English is not.  I only know because I have spell check. Know how to say “diarrhea” in Chinese? […]

Yao Ming What?! Say it Isn’t So

Yao Ming has informed the NBA and the Houston Rockets that he will retire however he has evidently not informed China.  According to reports from Chinese news agencies the rumors of his retirement are not verified and not true.  In other words . . . It isn’t so. “We have not got any news about […]

First World Problems

I think my dad went to school with Bill Cosby’s dad.  He once showed me the road that he walked to school as a boy (after he milked the cows, slopped the hogs and butchered the chickens).  I can’t explain it but it really was uphill . . . wait for it . . . […]

Confessions of a Language Faker

“Hi my name is Jerry and I’m a Chinese faker.“ “Hi Jerry” There I said it.  I feel so free.  I pretend to speak Chinese.  Not like the typical American Chinese faker with the “ching chang willy willy bing bang bong” or the hilarious jokester who mistakes fake Chinese for fake Japanese (see “On Eating Dog […]

The Changing Face of Communism: Seeing My America through Their Chinese Eyes

Beijing: A worker cleans a portrait of Mao Zedong,  the founder of the People’s Republic of China, at Tiananmen Gate Photograph: Guang Niu/Reuters When I moved to China I had big dreams of being arrested by Communist soldiers just for being an American Christian.  They would tie me to a wooden chair in a gray, […]

Dear Unnamed American Airline

Dear Unnamed American Airline, (no relation to the real American Airlines™) I recently flew with you from Chicago to Beijing and have one small suggestion that might improve the quality of your service.  Please consider banning Chinese people (especially older ones) from boarding your planes. It quickly became obvious (and more painfully so over the […]

I Miss You America

Dear America, It was great to see you again and even though we didn’t have much time to catch up I realized how much I have missed you.  They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and frankly . . . I think that’s bunk. I am convinced though, now more than ever, that […]

Royal Schmoyal – Now THIS is a Wedding!

Did you watch the Royal wedding a few weeks ago?  BOOORINGGGG!!  No fireworks.  No marching band. No confetti cannons.  And in all of the pomp and circumstance, among all of the Dukes and Duchesses, Mickey and Minnie Mouse were noticeably absent.  The nerve. China knows how to celebrate a marriage.  Caught this one with my […]

On Smoking Dope in China

Betcha’ didn’t know.  Tommy Chong (of Cheech and Chong dope smoking fame) was born the son a a Chinese truck driver. Crack kills everywhere but especially in China.  Make a note — drug trafficking is on a list with 67 other offenses that are currently punishable by death in China  (you might also want to jot […]

Scotty and Lauren Got Nothing on These Guys

Just in case you need a quick break from Idol Mania, here’s a taste of what’s hot in the Middle Kingdom (that’s China).  Gong Li Na was a popular Chinese folk singer already but this song has gone uber-viral on the internet making her a household name.  The song is entitled “Tan Te” which means […]

Cause’ You Can’t Make One? What China Thinks About Adoption

My family is a walking confusion storm in China.  Big white guy with a gorgeous white wife holding hands with a seven year old Chinese girl speaking freakishly advanced English (10th Grade according to her 1st grade SAT scores) who frequently hugs and kisses a chunky, 20 month old, extremely well tanned, highly intense little […]

Would Someone Please Tell Us the Next Time the World is Going to End?

We just noticed yesterday morning that the world was going to end.  That would have been nice to know. Best part about living in China?  The “on/off” switch.  We can watch the news . . . when we want.  We can follow politics . . . when we want.  We can check in on Hollywood […]

Obama Learns to Hock a Lugey

You know that noise you make when you’re trying to transfer mucus from the back of your throat into your mouth so you can spit it out?  It’s the disgusting sound of forced air and snot violently vibrating your whippy snappy thing (see diagram below).  In medical terminology it is called “hocking a lugey” (from […]

On Getting Robbed in China

Shame can be a strong theft deterrent. I’ve never seen this in China but writing “Thief” on your chest and sticking you in a public place seems like it might be an effective rehabilitation for kleptos. One time in China . . . someone broke into my hotel room and stole a camera and some […]

Our Intern the Superstar

Hoods off to the best intern in the history of interning and the most famous expat in Qingdao this week. micMAC was proud to claim a grown man in green tights as one of our own last weekend.  Jeremy came to China in October to spend a year with us and recently landed the lead role […]

Turn Off the Light, Stupid: What China Thinks of Bin Laden

“We believe the death of Osama bin Laden is a milestone and a positive development for international anti-terrorism efforts,”  –Jiang Yu, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson for the People’s Republic of China “Americans are happy today.” -My barber “We don’t like Bin Laden, but he’s better than America.” -Some Guy Interviewed on Chinese News “Laden was the […]

Watching the World Change From the Other Side of the World

I was in Taipei, Taiwan when President Clinton gave the second most famous speech of his presidency:”Ok maybe I did have sexual relations with that woman” (second only to his previous “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”).  I remember that day vividly because it was the first time I really caught a […]

“That Stink is Awesome!” – Explaining Slang to My Chinese Friend

I stumbled across an application on the web today that blew me away.  As I watched the tutorial I got more and more excited and my Chinese assistant worked harder and harder not to laugh.   “Sweet . . . no way . . . aaaaahhh . . . stink!”  That was the one that […]

I Love This Gaem: NBA Jersyes on Sale Just in Time for Plyaoffs

This is probably one of my favorite snapshots of China.  Not because of anything it represents culturally or politically or socially.  It just cracks me up.  Every single NBA team is misspelled EXCEPT the Houston Rockets, home of China’s pride and joy, NBA superstar, Yao Ming.  You know you want one.  Especially you Laekrs fans.  

China Bans Michael J. Fox

Marty McFly’s time warping DeLorean has been impounded by the Chinese government along with Bill and Ted’s phone booth and Dr. Who’s  . . . what was it that Dr. Who drove?  China recently banned time travel (not the real kind, that would be silly).  Movies and shows including “time travel, bizarre plots, absurd techniques, […]

My Mother the Felon or The Many Misspellings of Adidas™

My dear sweet mother never once in her entire life smoked a single cigarette or sipped a single drop of alcohol.  To my knowledge she never even said a cuss word except the one time she read a Van Halen t-shirt out loud which doesn’t count because she was asking me what it meant.  She […]

Foreign Devil, Foreign Monkey

Maybe you’ve heard the term “foreign devil”. The Chinese word “guilao” can be literally translated as “ghost man” and it dates back several thousand years to a time when European barbarians invaded China and made a really bad first impression.  The term has been carried down through generations as a candid description of unwelcome outsiders. […]

When Bad Things Happen to Good Hamsters

“Scramble Pentagon Jones”  Avid Runner, Beloved Rodent, Trusted Friend 2011-2011 Scramble and his (or her) brother (or sister) Scrabble came to live with us just two weeks ago and today he was laid to rest near our apartment in a medicated chest rub box.  It was a lovely ceremony and a sobering reminder of little […]

Mythbusters: All Chinese People Look the Same

Originally posted in the now retired “Keeping up With the Joneses” Be honest (no one will know) – have you ever said something like, “All Chinese people look alike”? Now be honest again.  How many Chinese friends do you have?  Wait – Don’t count them unless you know their name (without looking at their nametag) AND they […]

And I’m Both: On Being Chinese (but not really) in China

As we were leaving McDondald’s this week Rachel had her “I’m about to confess something” look (she’s recently decided to come clean on every single white lie, stolen cookie or minimally rebellious thought she has had since conception).  “Dad, that lady asked me if I was from America.”  She paused and switched to her “I’m a […]

Speak Chenglish or Get Out!

Something really interesting happens when speakers of one language try to learn another.  They make mistakes. There is a theory that says a person must make one million mistakes to speak a language fluently.  I proved that theory wrong last week when I hit one million and one. When I first arrived in China I tried […]

My Second Favorite Daddy and Daughter in China

Me:  Who’s the President of China? Rachel (my amazing 7 year old):  That’s right. Me:  What do you mean, “that’s right”?  I said who’s the President of China? Rachel:  Exactly. Me:  (frustrated) Exactly what?!! WHO IS THE PRESIDENT OF CHINA? Rachel: Yes!  Hu is the President of China! Me:  THAT’S WHAT I’M ASKING YOU!! Rachel:  No, […]

Communism & Capitalism: Does it Blend?

The most searched name in Chinese cyberspace this week is Yao Ja Xin.  Yao is a 21 year old college student who accidentally hit a woman with his car and then not so accidentally stabbed her eight times until she died.  His reasoning? He feared “the peasant woman would be hard to deal with.” Now […]

On Japan, China and Things That Matter Even More When Disaster Strikes

“We fully empathize with how the Japanese feel right now” Wen Jiabao, Chinese Premier Some people are laughing out loud at Japan right now.  No, not Gilbert Godfried, the long-time voice of the most annoying duck on the planet. He quit laughing last week when Aflac canned him for tweeting tasteless tsunami jokes (sidenote: Thank […]

The “F” Word: As Taught By an Insightful Seven Year Old

I’m beginning to miss three years old.  Three year olds have no framework for naughtiness outside of their own.  They’ve learned about “no no’s” and timeouts and consequences but it’s all about them.  It’s one layered.  Seven is different.  At seven they get crushed beneath an avalanche of the realization that other people can be […]

Is It Racist in Here?

Had an interesting discussion on the bus today.  Here are the questions in question:Part One: Are different races different beyond appearance? In other words, is there any evidence that one ethnic people group is genetically predisposed to a specific activity.  Are Asians better at math?  Can Kenyans run faster?  Can white men jump?  Or can […]

On Japan, China and Things That Don’t Matter When Disaster Strikes

 Like so much of the world our hearts are shattered for Japan this week.  Disaster has a way of breaking otherwise unbreakable barriers and exposing what we once thought was most significant as small, petty and irrelevant.  Wealth, prestige, political agendas, even deep seated, generations old prejudices are all smashed on a level playing field […]

Why My Son is Cute and Justin Bieber is Not

The Chinese word for cute is “ke ai” and Judah hears it a lot.  His curly locks (a rare commodity in China) and toothy grin more than make up for his confusing skin tone.  Nearly every person who walks past him glances, grins and mumbles “ke ai“.  The one exception, of course, being little old ladies who stare, […]

China’s Changing Healthcare (Warning: Graphic Images)

Four years ago I got a root canal . . . kind of.  Did you know that your tooth can have more than one canal and consequently more than one root and consequently still hurt like a booger even after a root canal?  Long story short my $36 root canal consisted of yanking a raw […]

“My $36 Root Canal” or “Who Needs Novocaine?” (Repost from March, 2007)

note: this blog was originally posted in March of 2007 following what turned out to be a 25% successful dental procedure.  It was also written before U.S. healthcare was declared a civil war.  I have reposted as a partner to my next post: China’s Changing Health Care. For years I have been frustrated and baffled […]

The Beggar Question: Give, Avoid or Buy a Cheeseburger?

One of the most talented (and well paid) beggars I have ever seen. Absolutely amazing. When Rachel was three years old she loved to give money to beggars.  In fact she once went through a brief phase of wanting to be “one of the people who asks for money” when she grows up.  I loved […]

Knock Em’ Dead, Break a Leg and Other Violent Ways to Encourage People

English is like a great joke.  It works so much better if you don’t have to explain it.   As I was leaving the office this week I said to our Chinese assistant (who was on her way to a teaching gig), “Knock Em’ Dead.”  Her eyes grew a bit and she gave her trademark, […]

The Onion Explodes the Mutton and Other Fine Chinese Dishes

The truth is a hard pill to swallow sometimes.  I was actually disappointed to discover that real Chinese restaurants (and by that I mean restaurants in China) don’t serve the entire menu on a heated buffet table complete with sneeze guards and a pizza or chicken nugget option.  They also don’t serve crab rangoon or […]

On Eating Dog in China

Do they really eat dog in China?  This is a question that we are seldom asked and yet is often alluded to when we are speaking with people from home.  The allusions most often come packaged in a valiant stab at cross-cultural humor such as, “Hey honey! Hide the dog, the Joneses are here (pause […]

A Valenwhat? Explaining Valentine’s Day to a Chinese Friend

Sweet Valentines made by my Valentine Sweety for her Sweet Valentine Sweety (that’s me) Like most other Western holidays, Valentine’s Day has landed in the Middle Kingdom and planted it’s flag of sticky sweet, chocolate covered commercialism.  I was excited this year, one because I didn’t forget it and two because my wife and I […]

Baby’s First Stitches

So who had 17 months in the “How Long til Judah Gets Stitches” pool? Congratulations.  You win. Another trip to Qingdao Municipal today for my son’s inevitable first stitches.  Two to be exact, after a headfirst dive into the corner of the coffee table.  It seems you don’t get to live in China long without […]

Welcome to the World Ridley Merritt

We are sometimes asked what the most difficult part of living in China is.  Is it the daily struggle of communicating in a second language?  The deep cultural contrasts? Being stared at everywhere we go?  The absence of thick, juicy ribeye steaks smothered in mushrooms and onions with a baked potato on the side soaked […]

The Paradox of Tightly Packed Gun Powder

I may quite possibly be the biggest fan of Chinese New Year in China.  Ironic, I know.  You would think the biggest fan would be an actual Chinese person but it’s not.  It’s me.  The fireworks display at midnight is completely unexplainable to those who have not experienced it.  Massive explosions literally shake the air […]

China’s Monster City

If you have never lived in China be honest.  Ever heard of Shenzhen? Tianjin? Guangzhou? (please don’t attempt pronunciation without help).  How about New York?  London? Tokyo? There are around 400 cities in the world with a population of more than one million and 160 of them are in China. Compare that to America’s 9. […]

Chinese Taxi Drivers and Fat Foreign Girls

It’s common knowledge that the most frustrating experience in the world is trying to find a taxi anywhere in China at 5pm.  It’s a dual force at work.  A billion people are getting off of work and need a taxi and the other 350 million (or as we call them here, taxi drivers) are right […]

On Being Black in China: Part 2

Lotus, the lady who runs the veggie shop at the front gate of our apartment complex, told me today that Judah looks more and more like me everyday.  That’s exactly what every dad wants to hear even if their children are adopted.  And a different race. She could have stopped there but she felt compelled […]

Loffing at the Chinese

When I first came to China I loffed and loffed (that’s a laugh with a scoff) when I found out that some phone numbers cost more than others.  My Chinese friend tried to explain that 8’s are auspicious (although I don’t think he used that word), as are 6’s but 4’s sound like death so […]

On Being Black in China

  So here’s the conversation we have about our son in China. Chinese friend:  Is he your son? Us:  Yes Friend:  Impossible.  He’s so black. Us:  Yes, he’s adopted. Friend:  He’s what? Us:  Adopted Friend: What? Us:  Adopted, like from an orphanage (even though he’s not) Friend:  Ohhhhh!  You have such good hearts. Us:  Thank […]

China’s Beautiful Countryside

micMAC was privileged to partner with Kellogg’s and International School of Qingdao (MTI) last week to share some fun-filled, goodie packed boxes of love with a group of amazing countryside school children. I am never not blown away by the “turn table” effect of events like this.  I get geared up to do something humble. […]

The Rules of Business in China: Rule #0

The Rule of Zero Hair You’ve read the articles, watched the news, done the research and made up your mind.  China is the golden opportunity of the century and it just makes good sense to do business there.  Let me be the first to congratulate you on what could quite possibly be a wise and […]

Will it blend?

I love that youtube viral, phenomenon series “Will it Blend?”  Have you seen this?  The virtually indestructible Blendtec Blender reduces anything and everything to powder.  Light bulbs?  Powder.  Glow sticks? Powder. iPad? Yep. Powder. It’s the pinnacle of internet brilliance. Feeding on our mindless hunger for anything destructive millions of viewers watch over and over […]

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About Me

First things first -- Apologies to those of you who came looking for the real Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys. That is not me. I live in China with my beautiful blended family. Together we are on an adventure that has taken us around the world and back . . . and then around again. Specifically 7 years on the East side of the planet (China) -- two years on the East side of the U.S. -- and now . . . back in China (on the East coast). We like East.

I am a cross-cultural trainer and coach which is the second best job in the world (1st being owner of the Dallas Cowboys). In short, I get to help foreigners. It's my thing. Having been one (both away and at home) for so long I love getting the chance to walk people through the joy and pain of crossing cultures. There is nothing like it and I am so blessed to work with people who have absolutely no clue what is happening around them.

I can relate.

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