Monday, December 24, 2007

'Tis the Night Before Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! It's almost 7:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve. I spent my afternoon making a huge pot of minestrone soup, which I'll freeze in batches to provide quick and healthy meals for myself in January (that's when I am determined to get back on the diet wagon, which I fell off of last month). I think I'm going to kick back and watch my favorite Christmas movie, "A Christmas Story" later on. I've seen it a million times, but it's always so much fun.

DZ and I have settled in nicely to our new home. She's still opening drawers, sometimes pulling all my socks out in the middle of the night. Don't know why, she never did that before. I now close my bedroom door when I leave in the mornings so she can't get in. And one night I heard her chewing on the tape that holds the plastic piece that closes off the open side of the end table where I keep my autographed Wu Bai stuff. She knows that's a huge no-no. I ran out of the bedroom yelling at her. She knew if I caught her she was in for a spanking, so she ran into the kitchen.
She jumped up on the stove, then up on the chrome rack, then on top of the bookcase - then she jumped up into the recessed lighting area! She started running around the whole room like she was on was a race track, meowing loudly. I swear, it was so damned funny, and I tried so hard not to laugh, because I was pissed at her! Oh jeez, I wish I'd been able to get video of it. I finally had to climb on the sofa and grab her when she went by to get her down. And yeah, she got her spanking. My Wu Bai stuff is sacred, thou shalt not touch it!

I have class tomorrow as usual, no Christmas holiday here. I'll go have lunch with Nat and Charlene after school, then I'll just come home and hang out with DZ. Wednesday a bunch of us are going to the all-you-can-eat pizza buffet for lunch, and that will be my Christmas celebration.

Next weekend I have four days off, but I'll need to spend a lot of that time preparing for my semester final, a written exam on Wednesday and an oral exam on Thursday. This happened last semester, had time off for Mid-Autumn Festival and spent the whole time studying! Grrr. And no week off after the semester ends on January 4, either. Because we get two weeks in February, we have to make up one of the weeks now, so it's back to class on Monday the 7th.

It's looking like Carol will definitely be coming for a visit in March! We'll meet up in Hong Kong for Wu Bai & China Blue's two concerts then she'll come back with me, maybe for a week (or longer?). I thought I'd be off that week, but I was wrong, the semester ends March 28, so I'll still have to go to school in the mornings and play in the afternoons.

I went to the final round of concerts for Taiwan (making my total five this year, yeah!) on December 15, sat in the front row, really close to the stage. It was the same basic show as the other three I attended, so I didn't see the need to write much about it. The special thing about this time was that friends came from all over - David, Lee Ying, and Lee Yang from Singapore; Ah Wing from Hong Kong; Elsa from Macau; Yasuyo from Japan; Johnny from Malaysia. It was great to see them all, and of course there was a lot of good food involved. After the show, Charlene, Ah Wing, Yasuyo, and I went out for dim sum, and we called Nat to come join us. She is truly a great friend - she gave me a ride home afterwards so I didn't have to pay for a cab! That was a very unexpected and pleasant surprise.

Well, OK, now it's 7:30, and if I want to get that movie watched, I'd better go. Happy holidays to everyone!

Sunday, December 02, 2007


My blog entry title is from a Wu Bai & China Blue song, and it means A Place of Silence. I'm still incredibly amazed at the peace and quiet I've found at my place in Danshui, and I do feel at times that I'm living in a place of silence. It's so quiet that I can now hear the weird noises the refrigerator makes, and I never could before! Once in awhile I hear the people upstairs, but it's rare and never late, late at night. Since my apartment isn't on the street side, there's very little outside noise that filters in. I finally got photos posted today, so please drop in and take a look at my home sweet home. Another thing that worked out absolutely perfectly was that the gas tank at the old place was just about empty, so I was going to have to buy more, but I made it without having to, and the tank at the new place is a full one, so I'm set for another three months.

DZ has been a bad girl lately. I don't know how she manages it, but she gets the dresser drawer opened - it's full of heavy stuff! Determined little bugger, that cat. She also jumped up on the Wu Bai showcase by getting on the small dresser, and then onto the wardrobe, knocked one of the stuffed sharks to the floor, and chewed up the tag. She jumped on top of the entertainment center by first jumping onto the chrome rack in the kitchen, and knocked over the Kirin beer stein Kayun gave me. I know she walked around up there, because I saw her footprints on the center shelves. She might find herself locked up in the spare bedroom during the day when I'm at school if she keeps this up! I'm being very careful where I put posters this time, hoping they are all out of her reach.

OK, so in America when you moved out of an apartment, the landlord expects you to leave it spic and span, and if it's in less than perfect condition, you're going to lose a lot of your deposit, maybe even all of it. I moved out of my place where I'd been for eight years, and I'd even paid to have carpet installed and some other upgrades, and I didn't get a penny back! So, when I saw the horrible condition my apartment walls were in after I took down the posters (who knew that sticky stuff would be THAT strong?), I assumed I'd need to paint the place before getting my deposit back. I even asked a friend if he'd like a job doing just that and was prepared to pay him for his bus ticket here and the labor. It shocked the hell out of me when the landlady told me not to worry about it, she was going to have it painted anyway, and she didn't care about the walls. On top of that, I didn't even have to clean! I'd already swept the place, with help from Shannon last week, but I figured I'd have to mop thoroughly and clean up the kitchen a bit, so I went back yesterday. I had just started, and the landlady came by, told me she didn't want me to bother with it, that she thought it was already very clean and that after the painters left, she'd do it herself. Whoa. She handed me back 100% of my deposit, about $930US, so I felt as if I'd won the lottery. I'd already kissed that money goodbye!

My new landlords are so very nice. They have an air conditioner that they traded to me for two of my little window ones, and a friend has another one he said I could use for free. I'm not going to get them installed until March or April, though, don't need them right now. I was shocked that no one was willing to buy used air conditioners for the low price of only $46US. I paid almost $200 apiece for those things, dammit! So, I gave the old landlady one of them, couldn't bear to just throw it out.

I ended up paying $8000NT for moving (around $248US), and it was worth it. Funck and Carrie helped me one evening, and we moved quite a few large boxes and some small furniture, and it was a royal pain. From old apartment into elevator then into van (a close distance), then from van to new apartment (long distance). Poor Funck, he probably didn't know what he was in for when I asked him if he was free to help. It was great that Carrie had a big van from her work, because we were able to haul a lot. I'm sure if we hadn't gotten that load here, I'd have had to pay the movers about $3000NT more for one more truck. We had two trucks, one small and one large, and they were packed until you couldn't get one more thing in. We started at 2:00 p.m. and had it all into the new place and them gone by about 7:30 p.m. I immediately started unpacking, then Carrie dropped by a little after 8:00 and stayed until about 11:00 or so. After she left, I started again and stopped at 1:30 a.m. Then I got up at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday and worked basically non-stop until 6:00 p.m. Talk about exhausted! After an hour or so, I did a bit more, but then gave up. So, I've been doing it bit by bit this last week, and now it's all in order, at least as far as I can go without another cabinet. I hope whatever the landlord has to loan me will be able to fit, need to get him here to look and see my setup.

Charlene and Natari have been working their asses off lately, sometimes stuck at the office until midnight or later, because their boss has been opening a lot of new restaurants. I'm telling you, Taiwan people work harder than anyone else, and they don't get overtime pay for it, either. You just try to get Americans to work 80 hours per week for $800 to $1860 a month (that's the average salary, office worker to manager)! Ain't gonna happen. I sure hope both of them get a really nice, fat Chinese New Year bonus in February, because they deserve it. So far neither one has had any time to come see the new place, so hopefully next weekend they'll be able to.

Hopefully I'll be able to go to Hong Kong mid March for Wu Bai & China Blue's concert. Unfortunately, the shows are on a Thursday and Friday, and that Friday is the last day of the semester, which means the final exam will likely be on one of those days. I may not make it to the Thursday show, but maybe I can get to the Friday one, if I can find an afternoon flight. I'd need to go in April anyway in order to extend my multiple-entry six-month visa, so going a month early won't be too bad, and at least I'll have a purpose for going. Plus, I'm off that whole next week between semesters, and Carol just maybe will be able to come for the Hong Kong show and then here to hang out with me! Another nice things about living here is that the landlord's mom also lives in this complex, and she'll come feed DZ for me when I'm gone. I met her yesterday when she came by to show me how to turn on the gas stove (not the same at the other one, didn't know about the safety lighting feature that keeps kids from getting burned), and she's really sweet.

I've walked to the MRT station a couple of times in the mornings, takes about 30 minutes. I think I'll continue to do that when the weather is nice, get a bit of exercise. I've not been good with the diet lately, eating too much junk and not walking much, so I need to cut that out. I want to start using the exercise room here in the afternoons, too. No one else uses it, so I'll have it all to myself. It's very bad that right outside the front entrance of the building is a little stand that sells deep-fried chicken nuggets, extremely tasty. And the grocery store is right there as well, making it far too easy to buy beer and potato chips. Must not allow self to indulge too much! Must not, must not, must not. Concert coming up in two weeks, must try hard to shave off a couple more pounds before then.

Well, OK, I think that's enough for now, and I really need to get cracking on homework. Toodles!