Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues, and Becoming a Star in Beijing

Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues, and Becoming a Star in Beijing

Alan Paul

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0061993158

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"What a romp….Alan Paul walked the walk, preaching the blues in China. Anyone who doubts that music is bigger than words needs to read this great tale." Gregg Allman
"An absolute love story. In his embrace of family, friends, music and the new culture he's discovering, Alan Paul leaves us contemplating the love in our own lives, and rethinking the concept of home." Jeffrey Zaslow, coauthor, with Randy Pausch, of The Last Lecture
Alan Paul, award–winning author of the Wall Street Journal’s online column “The Expat Life,” gives his engaging, inspiring, and unforgettable memoir of blues and new beginnings in Beijing. Paul’s three-and-a-half-year journey reinventing himself as an American expat—while raising a family and starting the revolutionary blues band Woodie Alan, voted Beijing Band of the Year in the 2008—is a must-read adventure for anyone who has lived abroad, and for everyone who dreams of rewriting the story of their own future.

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made it all more difficult by spending two weeks driving around the country on a farewell tour of family and friends. Bending under the stress, I gained ten pounds and resorted to sleeping pills for the first time in my life. By the day before we left, we were all coming undone. We had moved in across the street with my remarkably accommodating aunt Joan and uncle Ben, dragging everything we were taking to China in a half-dozen “body bag” duffels I bought at an army/navy store. When Ben

time Jacob had had to say good-bye to someone, he gave them a big weepy hug and said, “See you in a year.” He was literally pained every time he bid farewell to a beloved cousin, developing a toothache whenever such a parting loomed. His mental state continued to affect his senses upon our return. We were groggily waiting in the passport line in Beijing when Jacob started complaining about extreme thirst. He walked to the water cooler, only to return spitting and gasping. “The water in China

base. It was a humble place, serving a small variety of fresh, delicious noodles for less than two dollars a bowl. We supplemented the main dish with a variety of cold, marinated sides selected from a cart. The guys all grabbed little plates of cilantro-laden, pickled root vegetables, tripe, pigs’ feet, and other things that tasted so good that I didn’t want to know what they were. It was 2:30 a.m. and a car was picking me up to take me to the airport in five hours. I would be back in time to

time and had never seriously considered doing anything else. Yet leaving felt like a form of surrender. We had been to so many farewell parties for others, had so many emotional good-byes, and one of the many mixed emotions these events elicited was a sense of superiority. The unspoken moral was: “They’re abandoning the ship but we are still here, because we’re tough. We’re real. And now we will bond even more closely with the other robust souls who remain.” We are put-down-roots people,

squeezed hard. I was very happy that we weren’t heading directly back to New Jersey. Figuring that we would need time to acclimate and knowing that our belongings wouldn’t arrive for two months anyhow, we scheduled a week in Hawaii and a few days visiting the Camerons, who had relocated to San Diego. This wasn’t as grandiose of a vacation as it sounds—more like time in a decompression chamber. When it was finally time for the final leg of our trip, we were ready to head back and start

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