04 May 2015

MAY: Week One

At the beginning of the week, I moved out of my little room by school. My three month lease was up so it was back to the motherhouse, literally. My rent for this room, which was barely bigger than my queen sized bed, was NT$15,000, or about US$500. That’s considered pretty expensive here and I definitely paid a premium for having such a short lease. Of course, five hundred dollars for your own room is a steal practically anywhere in the U.S., so I didn’t mind.

“套房,” one of our first vocabulary words last semester, means “suite, apartment, flat” and it’s what a lot of young people start off living in here. Basically a 套房 is a larger space gets cut up into separate rooms and each portion is rented out separately. Oftentimes you share amenities, like showers or whatever, and the walls are thin and you're very close to your neighbors so being quiet is a big deal. Just like cheapo housing Manhattan actually!

My number one qualification for my own place was to have in-unit laundry. You wouldn’t believe how much laundry I do here. Between the smoke in bars/clubs, the sticky heat, and my limited wardrobe, I am constantly washing things. And you gotta have fresh towels and stuff right? Sidenote: I would pay a princely sum for Febreze here, as all the fabric deodorizer alternatives I’ve tried are ineffective.

While the laundry machine didn’t turn out to be in my rented room, the communal one was located right outside the front door so it was close enough. Also, dryers are not a thing here so everyone hangs stuff. That’s not so bad in general but when the apartment below me churned out greasy food three times a day, the smell pummeled my clothing and made my fresh shit smell like oily Chinese food. Problem! Thank goodness my mom purchased a dryer for her apartment recently, so that’s like a major life upgrade when I move back in.

So yeah, my three months of living like a college kid are over, and now I can say I lived like a semi-local. Of course, in such a confined space, I didn’t spend that much time in the room, much less sit down at the tiny desk to crank out writing. Or much studying for that matter. Whoops.

As for this week’s happenings, there was a lot but I’ll summarize since I spent so much time rhapsodizing over noodles and soup. The only thing I’ve got scheduled nowadays — aside from school — is my friend’s hip hop class on Wednesdays. After dance class this week, I jumped over to a semi-new friend’s house near Taipei Main MRT and we had wine and cookies and talked about like, life and stuff. It’s been awhile, I guess, talking about that sorta thing. Ensconced in school, it’s easy to just talk about the present — what classes are like, what’s due tomorrow, etc. — but when you’re around thirty-somethings, and people who are working, you get to talk about life over red wine and Hello Kitty chocolates.

There was a lot of “stuff” talk this week actually. My friend, the one who took me out for octopus noodles, also invited me to a business-y seminar she was involved in. Our conversation involved a lot of sharing about life goals and desired achievements. I’ll spare you my non-answers but it was a good reminder that school’s almost over and it’s probably time to start looking at what’s next.

Other things this week included a quick run-through the MOCA (unaffiliated with the one in L.A.) for a straw and feathers exhibit, and then another gay club on Friday. This one totally sucked though, with music that was not nearly as fun as last week, with way too small of a dance floor. Oh well, the search continues… The weekend wrapped with a hookah lounge — first one in Taiwan — and then a long night of karaoke.

Anyone know if the "secret KTV" with a large English language selection is now closed down or what? I didn't even get to go!

Oh, also saw a trio of movies this week. First up was a double-feature of Park Chan-Wook's Sympathy for Lady Vengeance and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. My friend hadn’t seen any of Park’s films so that was a doozy. Of the two, I think I liked Lady Vengeance better (almost solely based on the strength of the long coda), but Mr. Vengeance was more interesting plot-wise. Both are must-sees, of course, and maybe if you’re feeling lots of “WTF am I watching!?” then toss in Old Boy too for a night of light entertainment.

Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young was a total disappointment. Like I was I was stunned that this was a Baumbach feature. After Frances Ha I thought Baumbach would give us a great take on getting older, but it seemed like he aimed squarely for mass appeal and the potshots he took at Millenials seemed so broad and cliched. The result was funny but not in any sort of Baumbach-ian way. I was hoping to gain some insight into what it's like being child-less in your mid-thirties while hangout out with people in their twenties but Noah was no help this time around. I guess I'll just have to look inward.