Monday, January 09, 2006

Moving Up... or at least sideways

Phil and I decided a month or two ago that we needed a bigger place, as although this tiny one bedroom flat is enough room for one person, it is not comfortably enough room for two people, and a rabbit. It is especially uncomfortable when one of those people is a photographer with copious ammounts of photographic equipment, and the other is an artist with just as much art supplies cluttering up the place. The bedroom here is so small that one side (my side) of the bed is jammed up against the wall, and there is only a foot clearance on the other side. On top of that there are now four 1-2 metre canvases propped against the wall for want of anywhere better to store them. The 4x5m livingroom is also Phil's study, and my studio, and we have to move either the couch or my easel each time we want to open the balcony door. We are starting to feel like Alice in wonderland when she gets stuck inside the shrunken house. More so for Phil who is 6'2".
I have been teaching full-time since I came to Shanghai 5 months ago, however a bar near here has agreed to exhibit 6 of my paintings. It is time to quit teaching full-time (I'll still be going part-time) and get serious on the painting. Yet aside from having no room to paint, this apartment is sucking the creative juices right out of both of us.
So, last Sunday my fabulous friend M and I went apartment shopping. M has studied Chinese for years and astounds me with her knowledge of the language. Without her I would have been completely up the apartment-shopping creek without a paddle.
The temperature on Sunday was -3--4 degrees celcius. For future reference this is not a good day to be traipsing on foot around the city searching for a new home. ANY appartment looks good when it is -4 outside. Even the apartment that was stuffed so full of boxes we couldnt see the windows properly, and had two cats trapped in the wardrobe. Yes any apartment looks good compared to that temperature.
But the fourth place we saw was the winner. I expected to be hunting weekly for months before finding somewhere appropriate. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this place. It was nothing fantastic, but it was suitable, cosy and not too costly. There are two bedrooms, the smaller one will be my studio, and one of the two living areas (really one long one separated by the dining table) and will be Phil's work area. The bed can be accessed from BOTH SIDES. At long last I will be able to get out of bed like a grown up, instead of scooting down to the end like a kid in her parents bed. The apartment has BATH! A Chinese-sized bath, but that is long enough for a shrimp like me. Phil still dreams of a bath that he can fit into, but for a giant like him, that's never going to happen in Asia. And like being in a hotel, there is a phone next to the toilet! I can see it's practical usage, but I just don't know how comfortable I am to talk on the phone to my grandmother while sitting on the toilet. The pis de resistance was when we walked into the kitchen and saw a tiny little dishwasher. I actually gasped and clapped my hand to my mouth. It is barely big enough to fit a dining plate into it, but it is there. Our current tiny little dishwasher (the new, and lovely maid) is going to love it.
In the mean time we have to pack up this place before Sunday, and again I ask the same question I ask myself every time I move:

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Born to Ride

As of last Monday I am now the proud owner of a shiny electric scooter, just like this one:

Only mine is red... because that makes it go faster, you know (I'll post real photos soon).
While it looks pretty, it is actually made with more plastic than Dolly Parton and R2D2 combined. Yeah! Plastic Fantastic!
The manufacturers warranty is for 5 years, but at the rate of bicycle theft in this city, I'll be lucky if it lasts 5 weeks, even with a bloody great big lock strapped around the back wheel.
And as I rode down the streets of Shanghai at a dizzy 20km/hour, with the wind in my hair (well, just managing to lift a few strands) I felt like I had truly become a part of this mad city.

Oh, and it has a kick-arse horn.
(PS: Love and kisses to Phil/Santa for making my electric scooter dream a reality)