Saturday, December 9, 2006


I just chanced to glance at myself in a mirror. What I saw wasn't spectacular or exciting. It was sad.

My eyes were puffy and watery. My dishevelled hair stuck to my face and scalp. My skin was blotchy and my cheeks were flushed. I had to turn away from my reflection before I got queasy.

I slept for 14 hours last night and woke up exhausted. I am cold and shaky, my swollen tonsils are pushing on the back of my tongue and urging me to gag, and I suspect a high fever although I have no thermometer to be sure.

Good friends, I am ill.

I write this with great gravity coming from my double bed in my new apartment. I will explain everything.

In my last entry I casually mentioned in passing that the electricity in our apartment went out. Once... or twice. I can't be sure what the count at that time was. Point is, by Wednesday's time the fuse had blown not 7 or 9 times but 8. 8 times we were stranded without light, heat, entertainment or showers for a minimum of 6 hours at a time. Needless to say I blew a fuse of my own and talked very harshly to my employer.

If you thought for one moment I was a nice person, I would invite you to time-travel back to Wednesday afternoon and view the drama that ensued. I was so cruel it worked. Not only did they replace our entire fuse board, we were prepped to move come Thursday.

To the New Apartment. The One with Three Bedrooms. And Reliable Electricity. The One we begged for for 2 months. It was going to be great.

But no move can be complete without back breaking hard labour for 2 days straight, regardless that the two apartments are only a courtyard apart. Down five flights, up three. Down 5 up 3. Over and over and over again with every item the two of us own plus our furniture and appliances. I was sweaty and sleep deprived for two days because of the move and unfortunately that was the second cause of my illness, cause one being the cold shock I got from being without heat on and off for 6 days.

I wish I could say the stress and pain was worth it, but when I stepped back to survey the New Place, I realized it was mostly in vain.

The Third Bedroom. Cassandra relayed to me this quote from our employer a few months back: "Two people cannot live in a small apartment with only two bedrooms; you must have three. The New Place will have three."

But apparently the concept of a Third Bedroom is an abstract one. Just the thought of it being there should make us feel better; forget the fact that it's locked and we can't get in! Even worse is the reason this potentially useful room remains uninhabited: There will be yet another English Teacher living there soon! I know, ridiculous! Three people and a dog to one small apartment... it sounds like hell. Sounds like fun!

The wonderful wonderful problematic bathroom we have been blessed with. Oh joy. Where do I start... oh how about the fact that I haven't taken a shower in two days because our water heater is yet to be installed? Add that to the fact that I feel like a 95 year old on her deathbed and I hope you understand how miserable I am. And let's not forget the umbrella hanging on the bathroom wall. Pour quoi, you ask in your terrible French accent? Let's just say it comes in handy when the above-neighbours' piss comes dripping down into our washroom anytime they flush the toilet. The ceiling and pipes leak. Delightful.

I'll admit that my list is concise, but they are two major problems that still need to be dealt with. It's a big deal to me.

So because of all this crap that I have been struggling with, mixed in with the responsibility of teaching 400+ Chinese Teenagers, I find myself laying here, helpless and weak under the covers shivering with only enough strength left to complain with as much sarcasm possible. What a marvellous way to spend a weekend while there are 400 other things I'd rather be doing.

I was invited to a wedding tonight (attending a Chinese wedding is a privilege, not an obligation) but couldn't go in my current condition. I would most likely vomit on one of the bride's many dresses. I can hear the celebration fireworks going off and I just let out a big dramatic sigh for my loss.

Cassandra and Andrea are at some big dinner (which I was also invited to) with the headmaster of Andrea's school. Who is Andrea? I almost forgot! She is this wonderful sweet 23 year old Mormon girl from Montreal with Central American heritage who came here on Thursday to teach and live at another school in Dongyang. She and Cassandra have been taking care of me today in the form of bringing me soup and keeping me company. I am forever grateful.

I have a mountain of other things to get off my chest but I feel I must sleep now. More later, when I don't feel like dying.


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