Friday, May 12, 2006

Absences Explained

Well, it has been a tumultuous couple of weeks so keeping a running commentary on my blog has been festering in the back like some of the vegtable matter routinely dumped outside of my former residence under the cover of darkness. So, to get you all up to date on the current state of the Isle Formosa, I try to pack as much as I can into a few short paragraphs.

To begin, this month has been a series of mitigated disasters from all across the board. Actually, the interesting news started on April 29th...

After foolhardedly signing up for the Yangmingshan half-marathon, I gave little thought to the notion that mountains are typically made up of a series of inclines that one must either go up or down. Willfully ignoring this reality, I headed to the race with Ariel, who had signed up to run a 10k, and began to realize the true nature of Yangming Mountain National Park's topographical realities. It was up, followed by up, then a few turns, and some more inclines. Needless to say, I felt like death and got to hear a wide variety of Mandarin and Taiwanese curses. Upon completing the course and catching a bus back to the Taipei main station [which itself was an adventure in that Ariel and I were were the only runners on the packed public bus that was bedecked with floral pattern seats and curtains.], we headed back to my apartment. Being a creature of habit, that at times may border on obsessive-compulsove behavior, I was dismayed and confused to find my door open. Entering the apartment, I was greeted by the better half of my landlord monstrosity who was sitting with a contractor and discussing plans for remodleing the place. It was at this moment, with the assistance of the physical reality of a contractor, that I had one month to move out of the apartment. Now, although I had decried many of the place's failings in public and private quarters on numerous occasions and had openly expressed my desire to find a more suitable place, inertia had gotten the best of me. So, despite the rewards that I could reap from this new change, I was taken aback by the suddeness of the situation. Before I really had a chance to come to terms with the reality, "Sunny", the better half, proceeded to inform me that in the coming days there would be a number of people coming around the apartment at unspecified times for uspecified lengths of time. While I could digress into a tangent about "Renter's Rights Facts and Fantasy," I will merely encourage those in the future to move into pre-existing housing with long-term leases or utilize agencies like Cuima. In the end, I only had myself to blame for the conumdrum, so po-tee-weet.
After going through number of positive leads and being rejected at the last minute by every one for a variey of legitimate or bizarre reasons, I finally secured a place in Yonghe, a delightful little suburb of Taibei. Before achieving this however, I was forced into several interactions with Taiwanese contractors who pleasently ashed their cigarettes on the floor and flicked their butts into the corner. Sadly, they were just mimicing the worse half of my landlord. But now I'm officially free....joy.
This whole saga has many other parts and interesting plot twists, but for the sake of my own sanity and time, I'll move on.

Roughly a month ago, in a fit of genius or idiacy, time will tell, I signed up to participate on the Mandarin Training Center's Dragon Boat Team(http://taiwan-link.com/mtc_dragon/2006/). So in a brief 6-8 weeks of training I have gone from having a runner's body, to having runner's body with very sore shoulders. Joking aside, the training has been an interesting process that has brought together an unlikely grouping of individuals. Despite the relative shortcomings in our coach's methods e.g. repeatedly shouting "No power!" in English and Chinese before breaking off onto a ten-minute tangent about the problems of having "no power," we are still coming together as a team. Although it is highly likely that the men's team who starts off the Taibei City Competition against one of the perennial competitors won't see too much action, it should be fun. Additionally, the training allows me to get a better idea of what Taibei is like on 5:20 on Tuesday mornings.....

Anyway, things on the whole are looking better for the coming weeks; my parents are coming out so perhaps I can finally convince them that cases of white slavery are few and far between. Also, Ariel's parents are coming in rapid succession so live so get more interesting every day. That coupled with the promise of new classes, strange Taiwanese wedding photos, and a visit to a Gamera-esque island are making this future look increasingly bright.