You Can Hang Your Hat

“Just someone to keep my house clean, make the meals, and go away.” — A Man Needs a Maid, Neil Young

Friday 10/8 7:00 2nd morning awaken in new apartment a little giggly: I’m mighty pleased with it. In the end I went for location over air quality, being a new single carless foreigner, and dumb (as far as the local language goes, anyway). Check the hot water in the bathroom: yesterday’s prompt repairs still in place; gone was yesterday morning’s concern, as I stood in the shower like a parched crash survivor in the desert, looking up at the descending droplet, wondering if it would still be warm when it reached me, and knowing it wouldn’t do the job regardless, and realizing that a hot bath wouldn’t be full, and certainly not hot, before my Christmas flight.

Fill the new kettle with water from the new cooler. The vine, the palm, the cocunut, and the “what the heck is THAT?” had all survived their 2nd night in my living room. Turned on the Cards/Dodgers game currently in the 3rd, and headed for the shower. DVD/radio installed with decent home theater speakers. Only essential missing item: good speakers for my 9100-song mp3 player…

Thought back on the truly pleasant 12 bucks I spent last night with my guide and savior Rio and his wife on a couple of beers and a plate of Malaysian noodle seafood at a jazz and blues club half a block down the old dusty road,

and how I’d even fallen in love for a few minutes (no, really!) with the singer in the seven piece band (with kick ass horn section) as she nailed “To Love Somebody”. Out of seven possible requests to choose from, and remembering the band on Gilligan’s (Sepa) Island, I think the Bee Gees (originally from nearby Oz, let’s not forget) were very big indeed in these here parts. At the club, loving the band with one eye, used the other to catch the repeat of the 12th inning of the classic Yanks/Mets matchup I’d had to abandon yesterday morning to chase down more credit for my hated but essential cell phone…

Speaking of “chase”, a word (or three) about sweat at this point. By the time I’d returned to my apartment with the re”charged” phone at half past ten, I’d thoroughly fragranced my shirt four times (and hair and pants, for that matter). There was the trip downstairs to the building management to explain the plumbing (1), back to apartment for laptop, six minutes to the market for sim (cell phone) card (2), cool down waiting for it, two blocks to ATM, roast in enclosed booth, half a block to Internet cafe where I discover local radius server down (3 with an exclamation point), cross street to Starbucks, order Latte and Internet card, cool down. Same radius server serves that insultingly-priced Seattle coffee place. Walk home (4). It’s only 10:30 AM. That’s the life.

Earl Grey in nearly large enough sunny new teacup while shaving. Reflecting on the laundry I’d done yesterday, laid out on the drying rack now standing in the 2nd bath, and hung on every available door knob and chair back (tons and eight, respectively), looking at all the creases, remembering how in Poland I’d loved that ritual, and the copious mellowing ironing that followed, usually while watching the latest compelling “X-Files”, and I sneak a little smile. The other teacher in our Institute, Keiyoung, (pic below) pulled up at 1:00 yesterday with a couple of boxes of kitchenware she didn’t need, and I noted the absence of the dishwasher… Glancing down, these floors look wonderful — two or three tones of ceramic tile throughout, shiny and glistening, but a minute barefoot and the soles of one’s feet are dark as coal. In 48 hours Murni (pic below, on the right here with her sister, who’s been here every day so far, and I can’t tell you why…)starts her four half-days a week, and she’ll take care of all that and try to make me fat, too. Located by the building management who have been wonderful to me, currently working for an Irishman nearby and previously for an American family in this complex, she nearly won (in a very big way) the bartering negotiation before I realized what was happening (maybe that’s why she arrived for introductions yesterday 45 minutes early, at 7:45…) Later in the day I tracked her down by phone and got the price down to something manageable. Phew… live and learn. So, no more laundry or ironing or mopping or cooking here. Is this the beginning of a marvelous relationship (Bogart and Claude Rains (?) after the plane takes Grace Kelly away from Casablanca). And no, you neo-cons, or old-fashioned cons, she won’t be living in!

Eating local corn flakes, which I think are put in the local box by the same folks that put ’em in the Kelloggs box, remembered looking out at this neighborhood from my balcony Wednesday night, the eve of my 2-week anniversary in this universe.

2 weeks! Is that all? Feels like sooooo much longer, in a good way. This place was weird weird weird (and maybe not in a good way) way back then, 2 Thursdays ago. But there on my balcony, with restaurants Italian, Indian, French, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, big English Language Bookstore (complete with Uncanny, but not Amazing (alas) XMen)and jazz club ALL within sight (and McDonald’s, KFC, Wendy’s, Starbucks and Pizza Hut blessedly just OUT of sight), and the traffic rampaging (well, motorcycles roaming at will while car drivers rampage on their horns, more later) it doesn’t smell as bad, feel as hot, sound as loud, and hey, whatchagonnadoabout the dirt and dust anyway? Tracing the “sidewalk” from up here, I’d love it if people’s footprints (car tire tracks, too) showed up under ultraviolet light; US cops would lock us up for strolling under the influence. Adaptation — we humans… can do … hey, we can be amazing x-people, too.

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