12 October, 2012

PCV Cribs

In an attempt to return to my social-outcast, over-achieving roots, I am going to go above and beyond the BlogThings prompt. I’m not going to take a picture of something I see on a regular basis; I am going to take nine pictures of something I see on a regular basis! (That’s not entirely true; really, my desire to take more photos is an attempt to usurp the topic and post a blog I mentioned wanting to write a year ago.)

I see many things on a regular basis, but the most common—besides the trash heap outside my building—is my flat itself. If you followed the link to my post from a year ago (nearly to the day, believe it or not), I mentioned wanting to create a post about my humble abode. 我的家.

From what I’ve been told, I am the fifth or sixth volunteer to live in my apartment. The flat was pretty cozy, homey and lived-in right from the get-go. I feel very fortunate in that regard. Many other volunteers moved into empty flats with little more than the bare minimum. In contrast, I had posters on the wall and a bookshelf full of books on my balcony.

I love my flat. Even though its square-footage is not great, it is more than enough room for me to figuratively (and literally) stretch my legs—the best part: only one of the doorways are low enough that I have to duck (that was a serious fear I had before pre-departure).

When you first enter my flat, you see my foyer/dining room/dongxi room. Dongxi (西) is the Chinese word for “stuff”, and as you can see, I have an entire table that I use as just a shelf for stuff. When I moved in, I considered moving the table, so I could have dinner around it. I tried to move it, and two of the legs fell off. Yes, that is something I should get fixed; instead, I decided to keep my PC-issued water distiller on it (as well as a slew of other things).

I am also really glad to have a coatrack and large refrigerator (especially the second one). Although, sometimes I feel guilty, because it is very rarely stocked. I try my hardest to not live like a bachelor. Sometimes I’m more successful than others…
Sorry this is a terrible photo.

If you turn right from my entryway, you’re immediately faced with my bathroom and kitchen. As is common in China, the bathroom is just a room with a toilet and showerhead. The debate about whether or not to pee in the shower has been solved! The shower curtain you see is to prevent students from watching me shower (there’s a student dorm across the way).

My whiz palace is a little different because it does not have a sink in the same room. I have a sink just outside the door (I like to refer to that as my bathroom’s antechamber). There’s a cosy doormat there for when I get out of the shower. That is where I spent a lot of time lamenting how China is deteriorating my once-perfect physique.

Also, just like back home, I
have a bag of bags.
Longtime readers will remember my kitchen from my adventures in cooking (I like to think there is a following of readers that grows each week; let me keep pretending). My kitchen is the smallest room in my flat (yes, even smaller than my bathroom), but I try to make the most of the space. As you can see, my washing machine, when not in use, works as a water-storage device and drying rack.

If I have a complaint about my kitchen, it’s only that my counters and sink (which, as you can see, is a nice industrial sink) are at an appropriately Chinese height. I imagine I’m going to slouch away from China with scoliosis. Hopefully my cabinets look less bachelor-like than my fridge. You'll notice my comfort food hiding up there. 

My living room/den/sitting room/great room/family room/lounge (I don’t know what to call it), as you can see, is typically a little cluttered. I am not okay when things are dirty, but I apparently do not mind a little bit of dishevelment. (This is probably the most bachelor aspect of my living arrangement.) I regularly leave books and papers in stacks and piles all over my coffee table until I need them next. So far, it’s proven to be an organizational tactic that works for me, despite is aesthetic failings. (Fun fact, the Chinese name for a coffee table is literally “tea table”: chaji or 茶几.)

Off of the room is an enclosed balcony. Out there is the aforementioned bookshelf, as well as the place where I hang my laundry to dry. Also, as you can see, my computer and television are located in there. I spend far more time than I would like to admit in that chair. The television’s picture is pretty crummy, so I have even taken to watching movies on my computer screen. On my desk there, notice the day-by-day calendar. My brother sent it to me. It is full of interesting facts about being left-handed and bios about famous lefties. I have actually been taping my favourite entries on the wall to the left of my desk. For example: did you know even though 10% of the population is left-handed, men are 50% more likely to be left-handed? Did you know children do not stabilise handedness until age four? I also learned that one of my favourite people was left handed.

Celebrities on MTV Cribs always said, "and this is
where the magic happens". I'd say that, but I don't
read a lot of fantasy novels before I go to sleep.
Final room on this grand tour is my bedroom. As you can see, my bed is unnecessarily large, but I don’t mind. It means that I can sleep at an angle, and my feet do not hang off the end. (It’s a life of luxury I lead… I know.) Speaking of luxury, I did splurge on a nice mattress pad when I moved in to soften the bamboo planks. I also really appreciate having a lamp on my nightstand (it’s a first for me) and an extra heater for those cold winter nights. In the foreground, my PC-issued air purifier. Lanzhou is a pretty polluted city. ha! Last winter, the Chinese environmental reports said it was the worst in China. The PCMO wants us to at least have eight hours of clean air while we sleep.

Also in my bedroom, my iron and ironing board. I never knew that would be the luxury item I missed most, but I was so thrilled when I moved in and there was one already here. Peace Corps China is a post that insists on professionalism, and it was really hard for me to go through all of training, pretending to be a professional, without being able to iron my trousers.

Speaking of my trousers, there’s a small wardrobe for my wardrobe. I will acknowledge I brought more clothes with me than the average Peace Corps volunteer. Im sorry if you think that to be inappropriate  However, I did it because I am not China-sized. Many other volunteers can replace their worn out clothing in-country. I cannot. I needed enough clothes to last two years. 

Also, do you see that red chair? I have a story about that chair…

If you don’t know, I spent most of my summer away from Lanzhou. I was injured in Chengdu for quite a while, and then I spent some time travelling. My departure to Chengdu was abrupt, and I left many things awry in my flat. Upon arriving home, I walked from room to room, looking at everything. Everything was exactly how I left it. I did this walk in the same order I gave this tour. So finally, when I got to my bedroom and turned the light on—it was nighttime—I was alarmed and startled to discover this red chair. There it sat, angled strangely in the middle of my floor. I called my friends, who had an extra key, to inquire if this was some sort of hilarious joke. Nope. The next day, I contacted the foreign affairs office to see if they entered my flat over the summer for any reason. Nope. I have no idea where this chair came from. I assume it’s a portal to another dimension.

So you’ve see the bathroom, kitchen, where I watch movies and where I sleep. I will leave you with my 西 room from the other side. You can sort of see my bathroom antechamber on the left. There hangs my Halloween costume from last year, as well as my marathon number. MTV Cribs always ended with the celebrity saying get out. So scram; go; get; skeddadle; 慢走. Leave already! Make like a banana and split; make like Tom and cruise; make like a fetus and head out; make like a tree and leaf; make like a drummer and beat it; make like diarrhea and run (seriously, that’s all I got).

But come back next week, because the BlogThings prompt is to pick a song and write a short piece of fiction inspired by it.

1 comment:

  1. Your living room is a mess...clean up the clutter! Guess who?