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It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

Patricia B McConnell: For The Love Of A Dog.

Pema Chodron: The Places That Scare You

Daniel Wallace: Mr Sebastian & the Negro Magician

All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

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Location: Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

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Sunday, April 29, 2001

LA Unconfidential #14

LA Unconfidential: Change-hai

It was a little over 13 months ago that I dropped a note, from my comfortable Sydney digs, to you lot saying that I’d be upping sticks and popping off to Los Angeles for the foreseeable future.

Since then, the sun has shone, the beach volleyball players have bounced, the burritos have presented themselves in gaseous plenty, and the fortunes of Natural HealthLink have lifted ever higher on their strength.

The more things change, as they say, the more they stay the same. This note is almost identical in its purpose to that from little more than a year ago. From a contented and serene place, I am abruptly upsetting my apple cart, moving internationally, again across the pacific, and, again, taking on a job I’ve never done before. It is a choice for more consistent electric power; I’m moving to China.

Those close to me know that LA was always a strange choice, so my leaving it prematurely is likely no shock. The choice of Shanghai, however, continues to perplex even me, yet I’m moving my life there in a few weeks.

The job is Director of Communications, Asia-Pacific, for Alcatel, the French Telecoms giant. Their Asia-Pacific region is comprised of 16 countries, none of which talk with each other as fluidly as they might. That’s mine to fix. Given that a part of the difficulty lies in the twelve different languages spoken across the region—only one of which I speak—there are likely to be a few, uh, challenges.

For those wondering if I’m running, or even walking briskly, away from Natural HealthLink, the answer is an unequivocal “no”. As much of a pounding as the e-healthcare industry has taken in the last eight months—we used to have over 50 competitors; we now have one—Natural HealthLink’s future has never seemed more assured than it does now. It’s still an amazing place to work, my job has rarely been more fun, and the people just get better and dearer to me as the weeks pass. I am leaving true friends.

The gauntlet Alcatel threw down was simply too tempting to walk blithely by. The sixteen-country region is, largely, the developing world, which is using telecoms infrastructure to attempt a daring leapfrog of the West. And as my new boss put it: “No one has ever done what we’re asking you to do very well. Wanna take a shot at it?” I still don’t know how I’m going to tackle the challenges of the role, and I’m preparing to be a very humble (and, no doubt, often humbled) westerner as I go about learning how to do this job well. I’m excited, nervous, engaged, gob-smacked, a little scared, and giddy with an overdose of the unknown.

As for life in Shanghai, I know that I know nothing about what it will be like. I’ve spent enough time there only to know that it’s habitable, engaging, challenging, vibrant, and growing at an almost indescribably pace. Stay tuned for the “Oh my God!” e-mail dispatches. Even though the LA Unconfidentials have gotten sparse, in the last few months, I fully intend to be more consistent in Shanghai. (Read “fewer sunny days”.)

Indeed, if you’ve got a good name for the Shanghai version of the LA Unconfidential, lemme know. My creativity is temporarily focused on packing.

Until the end of May, I’ll have either phone or voicemail on 1-310-374-8265.

When I know my new address and phone number in Shanghai, I’ll send an update. Until then, and beyond, you can contact me at ...

As a friend of mine signs all her e-mails: Sink your teeth into the ass of life, and drag it to you.

Cheers. --Houston