Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sorry for the Long Absence

Well, I've made the trip to Hong Kong and started a new 60-day tourist visa. Hopefully there won't be any problems extending that in June, because the expiration date falls right around the time that Wu Bai & China Blue are having their concerts! Yup, got the news from Charlene last night, June 23 and 24 here in Taipei (well, OK, Xin Zhuang, but it's still considered part of the greater Taipei area). Charlene and I are agreed that we don't want to spend days in line this time (it's gonna be hot, hot, hot), but we don't know yet if we'll be buying seated tickets or ones for the standing area. I'd opt for seats, because I'm quite sure someone taller than me would end up in front in the standing area, and I'd be pissed off. If I end up having to leave the country and apply for a new visa, I'll just be sure to leave early enough so that I don't miss the shows.

On Wednesday we had a karaoke competition at school, and my teacher twisted my arm until I agreed to compete. So I went and made a fool of myself singing "Norwegian Forest" and, of course, didn't win anything. I guess it was kinda fun, though. Not in any hurry for a repeat performance, though.

I had a good time visiting Terry and Cheryl, even though we didn't do anything special, just wandered around close to their place in Tai Po. Had some scrumptious dim sum and some tasty pizza, watched a good movie, drank some beer, got to see some little village areas, bought some hot dog buns (can't find 'em here at all), and came back to find that DZ had actually behaved herself and didn't destroy a single thing. I hated leaving her alone, but none of my friends seem willing to come all this way to check on her, and I figured for two nights she'd be fine with a huge pan of food and a huge pan of water.

May 12 is another ABS show at The Wall, looking forward to that. This time their friend Marc should be there performing with them. Guy has a fantastic voice.

These days I feel as if my body is slowly giving up. In addition to the knee problems, I now have a serious problem in my right heel that makes every step I take complete agony. Care to read more? Here's the exact problem: Plantar Fasciitis This happened to me a few years ago in the US, and the podiatrist gave me a cotton pad to put under my arch and some Vioxx for the pain. Worked like a charm, but stupid here threw away the cotton pad when I was better. It's like a catch-22 - if I lost some weight, I wouldn't have the problems in knees and heel. However, because I have the problems, I can't do the walking I should be doing to get exercise. So, my weight is increasing, which only makes the problems worse! Aiya!

I got the new computer, after grudingly forking over the equivalent of US$821 (hey, that's a round-trip ticket to the States!). No choice, really, as a computer is essestial for school and work. I got a PC with a humongous hard drive and a nice 19" flat panel monitor for my poor old eyes. It has a few bugs, which hopefully I can have my friend help me to fix, but I can't bother the poor guy now, because his 22-year-old married sister just hanged herself last week.

I feel so bad for him, and how sad is it that a girl that young would be so depressed that she'd choose to die? Another friend said that the girl had suffered from depression since high school. Those of you who can read Chinese can visit Sheng Ying's blog, if you wish. 中和44區 I haven't been able to read it yet, because just looking at the photos and listening to the music makes me start to cry.

Other friends in the US, a married couple, are dealing with their own difficult situation. The husband suddenly discovered that he has a terminal lung disease, and that maybe a lung transplant would be the answer. However, lung transplants aren't all that sure, and he doesn't even know if he'll be accepted. I keep up on their respective blogs, but that's also heartbreaking to read. I don't know what to say to either of them, and I can't even begin to comprehend how both of them must feel. I wish I believed in miracles, but I'm too much of a skeptic for that. And I wish I could give my friend a good, firm hug in person, but I can't do that either. Cyberhugs just don't seem to cut it in these situations....

My trifling little problems are so insignificant next to the issues my friends are facing. It does put life into perspective and make me less inclined to whine. I think I have a fairly selfish nature, and I tend to focus on me, me, me most of the time. The reality is that my life is pretty damned good right now and looks to continue on in that fashion for awhile.

Friday, April 20, 2007

But there is no joy in Mudville -- mighty Casey has struck out.

And in this instance, Casey is me. I applied for my Alien Residency Certificate yesterday and was told that basically there was a snowball's chance in hell of being approved, so I shouldn't bother paying the fee of NT$4,400 (US$135) as it was non-refundable. The Taiwan government is under the mistaken impression that studying Chinese for two years is plenty, and since I've logged in 19 months, they think that's close enough.

The good news is that my multiple-entry visa allows me to make the hop to Hong Kong and come right back, and as soon as I get back, the 60-day visitor visa starts up again, and that I can get extended twice while I continue to study. Until yesterday I did not know this! Pretty cool deal, that. So, I'm off today for a couple nights with Terry and Cheryl, once again imposing on their hospitality. The plane ticket cost me around US$55 more than the application for the ARC, so that's not too bad. And I won't have to leave again for another six months, at which point I'll once again bother my good friends (hopefully with a bit more advance notice than they received this time).

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

By Special Request

Scenic requested a picture of Little Miss Jealous, DZ, so here's one of her along with the object of her jealousy (and one of the few posters that she hasn't been able to mangle). More photos can be found at my pbase site: DZ Da Krazy Kat

She loves getting up on the back of the office chair. However, since her spaying she's getting a little fat, and one of these days when she jumps up there, she's going to go ass over teakettle along with the chair!

Disheartening news: my nextdoor neighbor may be right. Last night there was definitely at least one of the kids home and making noise until after midnight. Granted, it was much quieter than usual, but they were there. Was it all just a cruel April Fools Day joke? Could that little girl from the third floor actually be so dense that she thought I was talking about a family that has already been gone for a long time? Why must I suffer so????

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Oh Happy Day!!!!!!!!

This has been the most peaceful weekend I've experienced at home since I moved to Taiwan. No annoying children sounds from upstairs. They woke me up at 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning, and from then on it was quiet, figured they went away for the weekend. Could hear some little bit of normal noise from up there, doors closing, slight bumps, but really minor.

So this evening I went out to buy some fruit, and on the way back I ran into the little girl from downstairs, walking home. It's her mother who has also complained to the parents of the monsters. We started chatting, and I mentioned how lovely and quiet it was this weekend with them gone, and she said, "Oh, they moved! Everyone kept telling them they were too noisy, so they moved." I damn near danced all the way home.

When I got back, a lot of fireworks began going off outside, something to do with this week being the week to honor ancestors, burn ghost money, and clean tombs. But I felt like it was to help me celebrate finally getting rid of the one thing I hated about living here.

Now, let's hope that whoever moves in upstairs isn't one of those sort who love to sing karaoke at full volume all night long.

Edit Monday evening, 6:21 p.m.
I saw my next door neighbor when I got home, told her the kid downstairs said the 5th floor monsters moved. She said she didn't think so, saw them today, said the other family up there had moved a long time ago, and that they were also noisy. Now I'm hearing the brats running back and forth again, but I'm still holding onto a hope that they're just there cleaning up stuff and really have moved. But I have a bad feeling about this.....