About the Muser

About the muser update IV:

This one is long overdue. Since update #3, I moved to Caracas, which was an amazingly beautiful city to live in, was sent packing by the corrupt government there, and spend six months in temporary housing in Washington D.C. I am now settled (for a few years!) in Arlington, VA, with views of the Pentagon and Air Force Memorial from my balcony.

About the muser update III:

My bags are once again unpacked, this time in Washington, D.C. I’ll be in our nation’s capital until summer 2018, at which time it’s off to Caracas, Venezuela.

For now, I’ve spent a lot of time revamping In Search of the End of the Sidewalk to focus more on book reviews, as the only thing I love as much as traveling is recommending the perfect book to someone! To this end, I scoured eBay and bought a beautiful blue typewriter, which I love and I am sure my apartment-dwelling neighbors hate. At least twice a week (Mondays and Fridays, with an occasional bonus Saturday when I get behind), I’ll be posting Card Catalog Reviews. These are mini-reviews typed up on actual library card catalog cards and then posted to the site. I try to include a book cover for reference (I’m very much a visual learner, so I’d go looking for a specific cover in the bookstore, even if I couldn’t remember the author or title), the review itself, and then a link to where you can purchase it (usually Amazon, because it is easy and I love my Prime.)

I am hoping to team up with some libraries to expand the Card Catalog Reviews in creative ways- displays on their end, recommendations/discussions on mine. If you are a librarian, I’d love to hear from you!

Wednesday are still Wordless Wednesday- just a photograph of something going on in my life.

While I am Stateside, traveling is tamed down a bit, but when I do have a great travelogue to post, those will go up on Saturday/Sundays. As always, adventure calls!

And, once again, just a brief reminder that this blog is mine and mine alone. It does not reflect State Department opinions or policies.


About the muser update II:

Once again, we are in a new land, exploring new sidewalks. (Although just as often non-existent, these tend to be broken and bumpy, in stark contrast with the brightly lit skyscrapers and endless array of restaurants.)  I will call Kuala Lumpur home for the next two years. Currently, I am still unemployed (never given an interview for one job, passed over for another and waiting to hear about an active application), but looking on the bright side, that means I have more time for meandering and musing.

Again, just a brief reminder that this blog is mine and mine alone. It does not reflect State Department opinions or policies


About the user update:

We are now settled and working in Chengdu, China. As this sidewalk we trek turns in a new direction, I will continue to write about the adventures this nomadic lifestyle brings.

Also, just a brief reminder that this blog is mine and mine alone. It does not reflect State Department opinions or policies.


In Search of Where the Sidewalk Ends is my attempt to record both the extraordinary and mundane events of life as the spouse of a Foreign Service officer.

Before becoming an “EFM” (Foreign Service code for spouse/children), I worked in Marsing, Idaho as an 8th grade English and reading teacher.  I taught there starting in 2000, right after graduating from BYU with a major in English teaching and a minor in Spanish teaching.  I took a two-year leave of absence from 2006-2008 so that Thad and I could join the Peace Corps.  We served as PCVs in Gansu, China during that time, after which I returned to Marsing for several more years until resigning in the spring of 2011.

The most common question that I have been asked as we prepared for the move from Idaho to Washington DC is “What are you going to do?” Thad’s career is pretty laid out, but mine is in a much more unknown state at this point.  Until we know where Thad’s first tour is going to be, my answer to that question is, “Take my well-earned summer vacation!”  Once we have a bit more detail about where we are headed and when, I can start to make plans for my own career.

For now, I am blogging, enjoying a bedroom view of the Washington Monument and wandering Crystal City, finding those wonderful sidewalk endings!

23 thoughts on “About the Muser

  1. Dear Michelle Ross,

    I see from your website that you have extensive experience in China. GoAbroad.com is currently seeking Teach/Study/Intern/Volunteer Abroad Expert interviews for our site. I would love to interview you to enhance the information available to our users and feature your expert knowledge.

    The interview would be via email so you can take as long as you need to answer the questions and reply. Please let me know if you would be open to answering some questions for me and I will forward an interview about your travel experiences in China within a week. The interview will include a link to your blog or organisation.  GoAbroad.com averages approximately one million visitors per month.

    Thanks for your time, we look forward to hearing from you.


    Kristine Ibanez
    Content Team
    GoAbroad — The Resource for Meaningful Travel


  2. Hi Michelle,
    I’m doing some research into life for expats in Chengdu and came across your fantastic blog – I’ve really enjoyed reading it. I see that you’ll be moving on fairly soon, but I wondered if I might be able to draw on your expertise to ask you a few questions about your experience of living in Chengdu? I promise that it will be nothing too challenging or time-consuming and I would be very grateful for any help you might be able to give.
    If you’d be willing to help then please send me an email – I hope to hear from you soon.
    Thanks very much and best wishes,


    • Hi Elanor

      I live part time in ChengDu and would love to see the research you have done on expats living in ChengDu. Is this work available yet?


  3. Dear Mrs. Ross,

    I am currently an English teacher soon to be teaching in Suining, near Chengdu. Though I enjoy my current profession, I aspire to one day join the Foreign Service. While in China, I hope to obtain my masters degree. I will also be attending a language program in Chengdu during the month of July. Is there any possibility of meeting someone from the consulate that you may know while I am in town? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Timothy R. King Jr.


    • Hi there! Thanks for checking out my blog.

      I am actually no longer in Chengdu, as our tour there ended last month. I’m headed to our next post, which is in Malaysia, but am happy to answer any questions you have, although sadly, it won’t be in person.

      Good luck with pursuing the Foreign Service. It is definitely a great life style!


  4. Hello,

    My name is Amanda Roberts and I am the author of the blog Two Americans in China. I found your blog and contact information through Expats Blog. I am the author of Crazy Dumplings, a fun food fusion cookbook that was funded through Kickstarter. My dream, though, is to write a cookbook written specifically for expats about how to cook foods and dishes from their home country in their new adopted country using ingredients that can be found locally. However, I know my experience in China isn’t the same as everyone else’s, so I thought it would be a good idea to reach out to other China expat bloggers and ask about their experiences. I would love to hear about your experiences cooking abroad. Please click the following link to take my survey. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3DKT52R (Works best if using Google Chrome.) I will include a link to the blog of everyone who responds and helps me out in the book.

    Thank you so much for your assistance, and I look forward to hearing from you!


  5. Dear Michelle,

    My name is Joyce and I work for ExpatFinder.com.
    ExpatFinder.com is a free one stop website for people preparing to move or working and living overseas. We provide a myriad of services for expatriates and we have over 2,000 articles to help and support the people moving around the world and we are now creating an interview section to help the expats with real life experiences!
    We quite enjoy your blog about living in Chengdu, it is very interesting and informative. Would it be possible to interview you to further share some of your tips and feature some of your first hand experience as an Expat and your interview will be published on our Expat Interview section as a guide for our expat readers. The questions are mainly about the day to day lifestyle of an expat. If it would be possible, could you also send some photographs that we can use?
    Of course, if you accept, we can add a link to your blog or some of your website.
    The questions are enclosed, feel free to respond freely. You can return the doc with your answers if you accept this invitation.
    Thanks in advance and do let me know if you prefer other means to conduct this interview and we would be happy to accommodate your terms.

    Best regards,


  6. Hi my husband is an IMS in training and we will be going to Chengdu soon for our first FS overseas assignment. I was searching online about Chengdu and found your blog and was wondering if you wouldn’t mind if I asked a few questions.

    1. Which apartments did you stay in, and how were they?
    2. Since we like to travel and plan to travel outside the city, do you recommend we bring a car to Chengdu or rent one when we need it?
    3. Should we buy a cellphone in the US or China? And is there a data plan we can buy for the phone?



    • Linda,

      I sent you a ton of information to the email address linked to this comment. Other readers, if you are interested in similar info, just send me a note with your email address as well. It is too much to really post here, but after being CLO there for two years, I do have a lot I can tell you if you’re thinking about bidding on Chengdu!


  7. Hello, Michelle, I am Chen Ximeng, Global Times reporter. I am doing a cover story about foreigners in Chengdu. Was wondering whether you are willing to take the interview. Thanks.


  8. Michelle, I have been reading your blogs since I met you at the Boise Library in 2012 or 2013. I am planning to a take a tour to Indonesia and Bali next July and am trying to figure out where I can go for about a week on my own somewhere in that region of the world. Since you spent time in KL and traveled some I thought maybe you might be able to give me some suggestions. I am much older than you (mid 70’s), in good health, can walk without problems but can’t do any hiking. I love animals, museums, culture, watching people, etc. Do you have any suggestions. I’d appreciate any advice or thoughts, Thanks Dorothy Snowball, Boise


    • Dorothy,

      First of all, thank you for being a loyal reader! That’s awesome.

      Unfortunately, I’ve spent very little time in Indonesia. Back when we were in Peace Corps, we went there for a short vacation, but I ended up with food poisoning and spent almost the entire time in my hotel room, listening to the waves from my bed. Not fun at all.

      If you plan to hit up Malaysia or Thailand or Singapore, I’ve got lots of ideas of those countries.

      And, no matter where you end up, please don’t forget to enroll in the State Department’s program for travelers. STEP will allow you to get updates and notices about the countries where you will be traveling and help State help you in case of an emergency. You can enroll at https://step.state.gov/ This is a fantastic service provided by the U.S. Department of State.

      Good luck with your travels! We are Stateside until next summer, but I’m ready to go now. 🙂


      • I would love some suggestions about Malaysia. I’ve already been to Thailand and Singapore. Thanks for the heads up about STEP, I will definitely enroll. Thanks


  9. You don’t write book reviews in order to please the author, but the author can nonetheless be grateful for a good review. Thank you for the kind words for “Countdown to Pearl Harbor,” which you reviewed in 2016 but which I only discovered today. I love the “card catalog” format and, well, the entire idea of the blog.


    • Wow! I’m thrilled to hear from you. I loved “Countdown to Pearl Harbor,” and bought it for several friends/family members for Christmas in 2016. Any chance you’ve got something new in the works for publication? I’ll be first in line!


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