Friday, December 15, 2006

FROM THE ARCHIVES Unicorn Bloodbath

is the official name of Stephanie Mitchell's debut novel. Of course this terrifying book has nothing to do with unicorns and is hardly related to a bloodbath, but until I get further suggestions this is how it will stay.

The concept of money has been pressing on my mind of late. Of course I am in no short supply of it considering the cost of living in China is something ridiculously like $200 a month (approx 1200RMB), but there are certain restrictions/limitations.

The biggest factor influencing my budget is my future. I sound very wise saying that I think - I might stick with the character of a sagely world traveler for a while. But about my future: University awaits me, and anyone who's been or has children who attend knows how dear it is. Dear meaning expensive. I can't just go around throwing money at crying babies anymore. I simply must change my ways. No more fake Burberry either.

And no more Thailand.


How much it pains me to admit this is myself and the world, but I cannot visit the Land of 1000 Smiles or whatever they're calling it these days. Siam, maybe.

When will I ever find myself in this area of the world again? When will it be a short 3.5 hour planeride away that only sets me back $400 dollars? When will I be provided with vacation pay that funds this exotic adventure to pure white sand beaches and Jello coloured water at another time in my life? Probably never. But I have to face reality and be an adult, which isn't much fun. I'd rather be about 7.

My previous plan was to hop on an Air India jet from Shanghai at the beginning of Chinese New Year and veg out on the beach getting a tan for two weeks. Maybe buy a snake and some scorpion stingers for cheap. Then I'd go from Thailand to Toronto and spend my remaining 3 weeks of vacation in Canada - although I might experience some sort of fatal shock from the switch from 30 degrees to -10 degrees. But that's hardly why I'm changing my plans. Death can't stop me, responsibility can. University is important and inevitable. I came here partly to save money for it and I'd be incredibly irresponsible if I just threw away a significant amount of my savings on a 2 week vacation. I feel a little ill about it though - I was really looking forward to visiting Siam.

Lastnight I realized how safe I feel in China. I've always been a worried paranoid person. Back at home I'd check the locks several times before I went to bed, and even then I'd stay awake for at least an hour listening for the sounds of Breaking and Entering. What would it sound like I had no clue. I also had a great fear that people were after me, especially guys . Maybe they were. I was the type of crazy chick who'd take long long detours if I suspected the guy in the purple hat or the man with the walking stick was onto me. Deep seeded emotional issues, I know. But I'll never have to see a psychiatrist about these paranoid tendancies in China: they've all but disappeared. The "strange" Christmas wreath on my apartment door tells any potential B&E joker, "Foreigners live here. Leave them alone or you will be punished with whips for the rest of your natural life". For real. Not one person would dare break into our apartment.

Also: I walked Andrea downtown to catch a cab at around 1am lastnight. After I'd given the driver directions and said goodnight, I walked back to my apartment. Alone. At 1am. Through empty streets and dark alleys. "What a compromising situation!" any reasonable Canadian would exclaim. Have no fear, loyal readers: I was safe. I was in China! There was even a large group of rowdy (and probably drunk) young guys walking behind me the whole way. It didn't concern me in the least. I knew they wouldn't try anything because they are so respectful. Even when drunk. What a concept!

This is something that Canada should strive for. I maintain that everyone should feel this safe in their hometown. It's a great feeling. Not an environment that inspires Crime Novel writers like I complained about earlier, but for sure a comforting thought before I drift off to sleep at night.

Once I got home from my beautiful night walk I encountered Cassandra on a mission. When this girl has something to accomplish, you do not get in her way; instead I held her tools. We were breaking into The Extra Room. The locked one reserved for a new English Teacher and a Third housemate. I will rant about how much this thought infuriates me some other day.

The first method of picking a lock is a complex one. Turns out it's not as simple as inserting a flathead screwdriver like I wrote about before when the locksmith broke into our old apartment. A crooked pin, a flathead screwdriver and a small blade are all neccessary. But this method only works 1/10 times and we were out of luck: The room remained uninpenitrable. So we tried the oldschool method of a Sprite Bottle cut into a rectangle of plastic. I donned leather gloves for friction and shoved the piece of plastic into the side of the door. I couldn't use a crdit card because there is a metal piece between the door and the doorway that the flexible plastic could bend around.

It worked. After only 30 seconds of straining, pushing, and jangling the door, the plastic finally pushed open the lock and the door was ajar. Cassandra and I celebrated in true 8 year old girl fashion by jumping on the bed inside. Of course the administrators at the school who were trying to keep us out of the room would be appauled by our collective B&E skills, but ask me if I care. I don't.

The three of us girls are making a day trip to Shanghai tomorrow. Cass and Andrea are there for banking purposes and I'm only tagging along to muck about. I have yet to explore the top two levels of the Shanghai museum so that's where you'll probably find me. We're also buying cheese. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but I'd invite you to picture your life without cheese for an extended period of time. Bleak, isn't it? Now imagine the joy you'd experience by travelling to a big city where this staple food is in no short supply. Heaven.

Today is Saturday so I'm planning my Christmas themed lessons for this week's classes. The dude beside me is playing Christmas themed DDR on his computer and I'm kind of getting into it. I could kick his ass.


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