So, a little about me...
I grew up in Arizona. I've been shy all my life, and perhaps even antisocial. I love being social, actually, but only with people that I really connect with. Small talk drives me nuts. I became passionate early on with both reading and music, but when I was 8 I discovered soccer and was completely in love. I was better at it than at anything else that mattered to me at the time. My brothers convinced me to join a baseball league one year, where as the starting pitcher I won every game and we won the championship, but it just wasn't my thing. I loved soccer and did very well at it. At the age of 16 a scout tried to convince my mom to let me sign for a pro team in Mexico City, but she wouldn't allow it.
Since there was no soccer in college at the time I finished high school, I suddenly had nothing to do. So, I started up three new hobbies -- guitar, basketball, and chess. I still love all of them, but when I shattered my left hand playing football in Beijing I could no longer fret properly, so guitar is pretty much out now. Chess became the thing I was best at, and it changed my life. I had been studying computer engineering in college, but since all the best chess grandmasters were from the Soviet Union, I switched my major (after 3.5 years!) to Russian Studies. Talk about changing one's life!
This led to me taking a job with the US State Department after graduation and going to work at the embassy in Moscow. This still ranks as my favorite time in life. I arrived in October, 1993, just as the coup attempt failed, with the tanks blasting away the Russian Parliament (which is right across the street from the embassy). Russia was a mess, but it was exciting there. I met so many fantastic people, including the two who remain my best friends to this day. I got to play chess against some great players, such as world champions Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, Vladimir Kramnik, and British champ Nigel Short.
|Me against Garry Kasparov|
I thought I would get to play chess again here in Baku, since three of the top 15 players in the world are from here, as well as this being the birthplace of Garry Kasparov, but I haven't been able to play at all here. The highlight so far was a vacation to London to see Green Day and Pearl Jam in concert. I've started my second book, but it is slow going as I keep procrastinating too much. The best news, though, is that we are heading for the gorgeous city of Budapest next summer for a three year tour. I already know the chess is great there, since I played in a tournament there in 2003, and the beauty of the city should be conducive to writing.
Have I bored you all enough? Did anyone actually get this far? Any questions?