September 8, 2008


My cousin Mike is filming a documentary about Richard Garriott, the bazillionaire creator of Ultima and other PC / video games, who lives in Austin and is going to be the next private citizen launched into space. So it was with great interest that I read a feature story in the latest issue of Wired that followed Garriott around the training facilities in Russia. Particularly of interest was this bit from the author:
[N]o amount of camaraderie and training can prepare [Nik] Halik and Garriott for the worst part of the journey, worse than the grueling training, worse than the punishing gs of takeoff, worse than the indignities of space bathrooms. "The hardest part of the trip was coming back," [Anousheh] Ansari says. "You realize that you may never experience this again." It's difficult to readjust to life on Earth, to go from being a temporary cosmonaut to being a normal civilian. [Gregory] Olsen is known to wear his old Star City jumpsuit to schools and youth groups, happy for the opportunity to recount the story of the greatest moments of his life.
Yeah, it should be obvious why I posted this. I'm not in space, but to the Ryan of a year ago, Shanghai might as well be. During my two weeks in the US, I could feel myself wanting to talk about China and Shanghai, to speak Chinese, and to express a disquieted sense of how familiar everything was there, to kind of somehow let people know that I'd spent half a year living this insanely different experience. 

When I was in the US, it was great, but it was just really freaking weird that nothing was freaking weird. And I kept wanting to tell people that. Does that make sense? It wasn't bad. It was just ... well, yeah. Weird.

I wonder how it'll be when I go back for good in January.

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