Posts Tagged ‘apartment’

Disco Shower

So the light in our bathroom has been broken for about a week now. What had at first been merely replacing a burned out light bulb, I then proceeded to complicate by trying to screw in a new bulb with the switch accidentally in the “on” position. Ka-pow! Nothing like a little “home-improvement” gone astray at 7am to wake you up. So now the wiring is seriously screwed, and Tina gets to have the “electrician adventure” tomorrow.

However the point of this story is that for now, we have resorted to using a flashlight in the bathroom; the novelty of which, has quickly worn off. Everytime I have to go in there, in the dark, I get latrine flashbacks from girl scout camping trips…late at night, shining the flashlights in the corners for monsters or scary spiders. Eeeee.

Tonight, I had to take a shower in the dark, since my body refused to let me take a sensible, daytime one early this morning, and instead told me I should definitely spend my morning time, snuggling further under the covers. So with one flashlight and the fuzzy glow of streetlamps through the window: I took a disco shower. All I needed was a mini-disco ball to make it perfect. Low light and steam clouds.

(ps. shaving your legs in the pitch dark is particularly scary).

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Sedate saturdays

Woke up, decided to walk to Starbucks for some quiet reading time ( I miss Coco’s). There was some sort of autograph signing going on outside of a building next to Starbucks. Hundreds of teenagers lined up in the hot sun. A table with two people and the banner, Super Star underneath them. Too bad I had no idea who it was.

The first Starbucks I’ve been to where the cashier didn’t know enough english to know what I was saying, dammit I thought Starbucks was safe. Pointing alot eventually got me my cranberry scone, and iced coffee. I do not know the word for cranberry scone, sorry. All I could muster was, “kafei?” No shit coffee…its Starbucks.

Read, did my chinese writing. Woot I know the words for sun, moon, bright, wood, girl, boy, children, small, good, big.

Came back, (ps. the scone was gross, kinda tasted like eggs – why why can’t things taste like I expect).

Swiffered the apartment, wet mopped the apartment, neurotically lined things up at straight lines and edges, washed dishes, took a shower, made my bed, made an entire excel sheet for “coupons” for my second graders. They get them for doing homework/being good/spelling test grades etc. The tally system I had going was not working at alll.

I made a grilled cheese, and watched Witches on Cinemax. I used to watch it on tv all the time when I was little, and it scared the crap out of me. In case you don’t know Witches is based on the Roald Dahl book by the same name about a Witches who are bald and have no toes and turn children into mice, and have a convention at this hotel etc etc etc. Sadly, not as good as I remembered but still pretty awesome, Anjelica Houston was intense as the head witch.

Since the apartment was all clean, why not take some pictures. So here we go, the much await pictures. This is what you get for 18,000 NT (600) a month, in a pretty desirable area.

The living room. Those are the funky vinyl couch and loveseat that came with the place. Sometime in the distant future I hope to find a fabric store and make some slip covers, since the slip covers at Carrefour were uuuuugly. and expensive.

From the kitchen side of the room.

The kitchen. The worlds tiniest fridge, the world’s tiniest oven, and a pretty nice gas stove. Though I hit my head on that pointy hood like twice a week.

Tina’s room is on the left, mine is right next to the front door, a raised room. The door at the end is the bathroom.

The bathroom. Pretty typical. I am too tall for the showerhead, so I have to slouch a bit, later I am going to rig me a doohickey that holds the shower head higher, so I don’t feel like a giant freak in the shower anymore.

My room. I have the small room, but I don’t mind. Tina’s room has a dresser and hanging closets and a double bed. My bed is like 1.5 twins anyways. The window into the room behind is our laundry room which has a big window to hang things outside.

My wardrobe/closet, has only shelves, oneside I’ve stuck a giant fan since my room doesn’t have ac, it doesn’t get that hot though. The fan mostly just has good white noise, and dries out my eyes while I’m sleeping. My room has all sliding doors like I have at home.

The gorgeous view from the window, of the people across the way. I think I can see the sky up there somewhere

We also have a built in shoe closet next to the front door, which is pretty nice, but my chucks stink it up big time.

I think that’s it.

Come visit.

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Vacation Trip

Jennifer is Sick

Hides inside

Drinks some wine

First day of school…

I thought I was done with this crap?

Maybe that doesn’t rhyme, but then again poetry was never my thing, my thing was Victorian Literature, and all things written  by dead old white men. As Pat knows about my diatribes against Prof. Jarman, poetry and I have been battling for a long long time. So sorry for that bit of poetic sludge. Its the cold medicine I promise.

In other news:

Greetings from the new apartment. It is pretty snazzy here and only 4 blocks from the old digs. (Yes I used the word digs, yes I may be living in 1962).

This weekend, after a tiring three days of teaching a class for the one other english teacher (Keith) who is on vacation, Tina and I were whisked away for an impromptu weekend vacation…and by whisked away I mean taken begrudingly at 7am to a mountain cabin with 30 other people that Aunt and Uncle work with.

It was nice though, there was a pool where I swam around in a t-shirt because my bikini is apparently to hot to handle here, but then was later goaded into wearing just the bikini and fulfilling my Americaness. Then there was barbeque chicken and corn and Taiwan Beer…and then there was a sore throat and a raging migrane and then fever and dizziness and laying in bed wishing to be anywhere but here. There was drinking of mystery medicine and more laying around and then finally some fitful sleeping since Asians don’t beleive in soft mattresses but prefer to sleep on just the box springs/floor/bamboo pad. The next day, mildly better. Sitting around, playing cards, watching tv, coming home. The vacation was in the mountains south of Taipei in Wulai. There were apparently hot springs but the only thing I saw was a rock pool full of bathtub temp. water. The cabins were lovely and huge and there was a waterfall right right behind our porch. It was very much like going to the Smoky Mountains when I was little and staying at Cobbly Knob.

The waterfall behind the cabin.

Me, retrieving a giiiiant snake skin from the wall behind the cabin to the screams of Lulu, Tina, and Aunt. They were grossed out, I was fascinated…really, its just skin. I would be more scared that I climbed over the railing onto a giant wall overlooking rushing water.

Said snake skin. Isn’t it cool.

So this boy, whom I refer to as “Puffy hair boy” proclaimed his love for me last week at the office, while everyone laughed at him. “You are very beautiful. I can be your friend?” Since then, I’ve stayed distanced a bit and everyone has tormented him unmercifully. For a photo op I hopped on his scooter, and he completely freaked out that I was so close, hence the bashful smile from Puffy-haired boy. I think I might have made his day

Sadly there are no wedding bells in the future, as puffy-haired boy is 15, and well….has puffy hair. An unfortunate fashion trend for teenagers, where they get their hair all crimped so it stands out like a big fluffy poof. I think that they think its bad ass….

On a final note. Or two final notes.

Cheers to the new apartment. I will post indepth pictures as soon as we have curtains, couch slip covers, prints on the walls, I own a bed, and we have a tv.

I give it a week before we can amass all of these things. Right now its nice, but a bit spartan.

Also. Tomorrow is the first official day of school. Though I’ve been teaching preschoolers for the past 3 days, tomorrow I have my own classes, a kindergarten one and a second grade one.

I am terrified. But only because I know two hours is alot longer than I think it is. And because the lesson plan book is full of stupid shit that no real 5 year old would sit through. Where are you Ms. Harper when I need you. It’ll be fine, I have enough inane songs and vague questions to last me to infinity.

Lesson plan books, fie. Vinyl retro couch,fie.

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Been a bit MIA.

A lot has been happening since Thursday.

Friday I went to work and watched Keith the other English teacher all morning. Apparently the class I watched is the pre-K that I will have as kindergartners in a week. I am prospectively teaching one kindergarten class and two 2nd grade classes. The kindergarten class is more fun but also mind-numbing it seems – this is M, what begins with M, can you say M….ad infinitum. 2nd grade its getting them to write sentences and learn more vocab which I don’t really know what to expect in that aspect, we’ll see. I have a giiiiant teachers guide and tons of books, workbooks, etc that we’re supposed to work from. So I think its just a matter of organizing it and presenting it. Let me channel Ms. Forehand and Ms. Harper, my own kindergarten and second grade teachers. Thinking back I learned to tie my shoes in Ms Forehands class, and about green eggs and ham and Christopher Columbus. In Ms. Harper’s class all I remember is that she had painted the entire room peach, which clashed with her red hair, and that she used to exclaim at Stephanie Jones when she was being bad (which was always) that “Stephanie, you’d drive a dead man to drink”.  Good or bad I don’t know about that.

In talking with Keith, I learned he’s from Saginaw, MI (wooo relatives). And that he’s been here 8 years. That, on top of the Australian yard-sale girls who have been here 4, the German guy who lives in the building who has been here 18, and Tina’s teacher who has been here 8, I have to wonder why does everyone stay so long? Do you really settle in like that? I can’t really picture more than a year here, but everyone seems to assume we’ll change our minds. It kind of freaks me out when people keep telling us how long they’ve been here.

Friday night Tina and Lulu went to go see The Coffin, a scary Thai movie. Since #1. I thought it’d be in Chinese and #2. I really can’t handle scary movies, what with the overactive imagination, instead me and Amber went to go see Mamma Mia. We were worried that Amber, who is 9, wouldn’t be able to sit through the whole thing, especially since it’s in English. However, she loved it. She kept exclaiming to me during the movie, “That’s so crazy”. The singing and dancing and the three daddies apparently really tickled her. I’m glad.

Also I’d heard that Pierce Brosnans singing was hoooorrible. But. I think it was more the faces he made while singing. He looked constipated or overly intense which made the sub-par singing ridiculously comical. After that, a night market for some browsing and a late dinner. As we arrived the stink of, well – stinky tofu was pretty horrific to me, and pretty much everywhere but I got used to it after a while. Stinky tofu is basically rotten tofu that people like to eat here, I don’t know why, and no I’m not planning on trying that. I did however eat this bread ball thing with veggies and soy sauce inside that was amaaaaazing, as well as applejuice – everything is blended right there in front of you, and icecream between two cake things.

Saturday we signed the contract on our apartment. Woohoo. Or rather, Tina and her Aunt and Uncle signed the contract since I’m not really a legit citizen. We actually took the first apartment we looked at since finding furnished, 2 bedroom apartments between Neihu, and Da-an, near the subway, with AC, a kitchen, a washer, AND under 20K was proving pretty difficult. This one is on Civic Blvd. Across from this neat old Railway Workshop place that I’m dying to get into an take pictures, I think its abandoned and from the 1960s. It’s only down the block from the Death Star Mall, (in reality the Living Mall) and maybe 5 blocks from Tina’s Aunt and Uncles, which is nice. Some distance but not too much. We only need to buy one more bed for my room, which is the smaller one, and a tv. Other than that, some intense cleaning, some curtains, maybe a lamp or two and voila. New home. We’re going to move in Wednesday after they install internet and fix a leaky hot water heater. For a better summation -see Tina’s blog.  Pictures will follow I promise.
After that, we went to stay for the evening with Tina’s mom’s side of the family. The family tree I’ve been mapping in my head is ridiculous with everyone having so many brothers and sisters etc but I guess you have to do the rounds of meet and greet. When we arrived, Tina headed straight for the bathroom, which left me with various relatives and a four year old that gave me one look, got giiiant eyes and hid behind his mom. Apparently I was the first white person he’d ever seen and this was a bit scary. After a lot of coaxing he eventually warmed up to me later and was adorable, we played with a bowling set and they tried to get him to speak English. Every single parent tries to get their kid to say hello in English to me, and 97% of the time they clam up, and won’t perform on the spot. I don’t blame them. Later, he was counting to 10 and chattering about how he loves Diego from Dora the Explorer. Spent the night, watched Superman, slept like crap. Had lunch, Wii tennis and bowling, afternoon nap, watched this one part of Van Helsing that I’ve seen 15 times but never seen any of the rest of the movie. Blahblah, daily things. Errands, old-house, cards, mushrooms and rice and turnip soup for lunch, shopping for the apartment, shower. The end.

Also – pictures, rather late of things that have been happening.

Uncle Ming’s birthday – 46.

Uncle and Aunt being silly. Post cake.

Delicious cake. Cherries and Chocolate

Mr. Traffic conductor guy. At rushhour he stands there in addition to the traffic lights because everyone inches into the intersection during reds, getting ready to cut people off. See the scooters right where the cars are turning, yeah. Lets not even talk about pedestrian crossing problems.

This is a typical number of scooters at the light during rushhour. Picture this on all four sides. Intense

Last but not least, Tina and her pudding. It has a layer of coffee flavoured stuff at the bottom, pretty tasty.

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Today I had my first….oh shit, I can’t read experience.

I mean I haven’t been able to read characters in the past either however I’ve always had Tina to offer suggestions of what’s on the menu, what that sign says etc, but the past 3 days I’ve been adventuring out by myself, since Tina has teacher training from 1:30 till 4:30 every day. My own errands have been at my school, which is in the opposite direction from her work. Not a big deal, I can handle the subway, I can read the street signs since they have pinyin as well. I have mastered clumsily ordering coffee at Starbucks and buying super-glue at the bookstore. But today…I had to ride the bus.

While I knew what bus to get on, and in what direction, and how to pay etc. I had not accounted for the digital sign that flashes the pinyin for the next stop to be out of order, or the fact that only half the bus stop signs have pinyin, or that the bus driver would mumble the stop in an incomprehensible manner to my ears. So I’m riding, I’m staring out the window…I know where we are, I know where we are, I know where we are….we turn….oh crap. Was that my street? Should I keep riding getting further away, or get off in case I’m not there yet? Crap, crap, I can’t read any of the stop names.

So I get off. Better in the middle of the city than in the middle of nowhere. Inspect the map at the bus stop…nope still can’t read, haven’t magically learned to do it under stress, apparently. Lots of characters, which mean nothing. The only ones I know being women, trash, up and down.

Left the pinyin map at home. Great.
Decide, this is the street I need, since its called Ren Ai Rd, I’ll walk this way and hope I come upon Ren Ai hospital since that’s where I’m headed to pick up my health form. Logical? Walking, walking, great neighborhood, trees, nice boutiques, its quiet, starting to get a blister, walking more, walking, painful walking, realizing I am probably walking the wrong way on this road and have been. Blister is screaming at me now. Stop in front of a giant bank, while my feet are telling me I’m stupid for wearing new shoes. My mango juice isn’t so cool and tasty now, more like melted and warm.

Cabs. My saviors. Get in cab, realize cab driver doesn’t know English and my attempt at saying Ren-Ai in Chinese is really not enough info, since this road is apparently really long. Crap. Cab driver calls person who does know English. Woooooooo. Information relayed. We go to the hospital, its not that that far away by car, and I was only 5 minutes from it when I started walking in the wrong direction. Damn. Cab ride total – 95NT – 3$ US well spent. After getting my paperwork, I walk to the next intersection – debating buses again, then I realize there is a metro stop one block up since I can see the Sogo Mall towering above everything.

Wait, you mean I could have taken the subway? It wasn’t really far away, as I had been led to believe.  Dammit.
Take subway, limp .7 miles home, rip of shoes.

Spent the rest of the day trying to call the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get my visa extended, get a busy voicemail – 8 times.

That said, we went to go look at an apartment. It looks pretty nice, if they come down on the price a teeny bit then we may just take it. It’ll be a relief to get to unpack my suitcase. We can also then go scavenge the tons of people selling their belongings at yard sale prices since they are trying to move back to the states and come back with all sorts of furniture treasures.

Also things that have happened:
Uncle’s birthday. Delicious chocolate and cherry cake. Red wine with ice. Why for the love of God ice in the red wine. Its reverse Europe, they put ice in everything, even beer. I kinda like the ice in beer but in wine. No. Plus I was served at the other uncle’s – karaoke-Uncle we’ll call him, “Taiwan wine”…which is like grape juice with a bit of a winey-tang. Pat- think of “The Show” wine we had last summer and you’ll get a good approximation. They all asked what I thought, so a thumbs-up meant, drinking 2 more bottles of it. At least it wasn’t very alcoholic.

Maggie, an aunt on the mom’s side, took us to see Millet exhibit at the Museum, however when we got there, there was a line down the block, literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people all waiting patiently for tickets to get in. HUNDREDS. On a Wednesday night. 3 weeks after the show opened. Amazing

Do they know something about Millet I don’t. They’re just paintings of peasants people. Needless to say we did not wait in the line, I can’t imagine what the inside of the museum looked like.

Instead, we went to a night market. Wandered around, did some shopping, ate some cold, sweet tofu soupy thing.

I have a theory that if I was ever to become toothless someday, I could easily live here without dentures. Noodles, tofu, steamed veggies, jelly things. No teeth required, slurp and munch to your hearts content!

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