Friday, July 30, 2010

"China Day"

Today, one of the hottest days of the summer, I found myself without electricity. For the entire day. My complex is switching how they electrify each apartment and needed all day to rewire. As of today, I am on pay-as-you-go-power. We have a card that we recharge when it runs out. I have this little slot on the breaker box thingy, I just slide my card in there and it refills my power-holder with units (are you impressed with my technical terms?). A little less convenient but probably cheaper. This way, I can look at any time to see how much electricity I'm using and how much I have left, which is AWESOME. You know I'll be checking every day to see where I'm at. In fact, I can't wait until tomorrow just to see how many units I've used.

Anyway, back to the heat. It's been in the upper 90s this week with really high humidity. In fact, tomorrow with the humidity index, it's supposed to be 115 degrees. Barf. I HATE humidity. I don't even think "hate" is a strong enough word. Even in 70 degree weather humidity kills me. But with this crazy heat, I'm literally a slurpy mess all the time unless I've been inside for awhile and dried off. I've totally stopped doing my hair and makeup which means I'm looking like a 12 year old.

It's midnight in China right now and there are fireworks going off. Arg, drives me crazy.

Anyway...back to my more thing to whine about...

The apartment I moved into is fantastic. Slap some paint on the walls and just about any place looks nice. But with any apartment in China comes some "must fix" stuff. My kitchen and bathroom need some serious work. When we signed the lease, it was under the condition that we would build more cabinet space in the kitchen. I met with a cabinet guy the first week I moved in here. He only spoke Chinese and at that point I knew about 200 less words. Not that any of my new words have anything to do with "shelves, cupboards, width" and such. So, I spent my time motioning and grunting. I thought I communicated what I wanted. When the workers showed up today to install them, well, they're not what I was expecting. My entire kitchen is white. White walls, white counters, white cabinets. Not my favorite but not as bad as it could be (think smurf blue and sunshine yellow metal). So, following the theme, I asked the guy to make the cabinets white. Apparently, they don't have white (which I was never told) so he brought another color. Now, sometimes in China, one has to just suck it up and deal with things. This would usually be one of them, but I just can't bring myself to have one type of cabinets installed in the top part of my kitchen and another type in the bottom. So, now I have about 6 wall units all over the dining room floor. I'm so thankful that I get new storage in my kitchen. Talk to anyone here and it's a pretty special thing. But if we're going to do it, it should be done the right way. If possible. And if it can't be fixed, I'll deal with it...until I can paint them :).

Between the heat, non-electricity and cabinet mess, it was what we foreigners refer to as a "China Day". The kind of day where things happen that probably wouldn't happen in your home country and definitely not all in one day. Like..."it's the dead of summer and we're going turn your electricity off" or "we're out of that color so we're going to give you something different without consulting you" or "you don't have an elevator to get to the 5th floor so you get to melt from the heat on the way up". These days rarely ever occur, mostly because things don't often get to me here. I just kind of expect life to be a little harder than it should be. But I think the heat is making me grumpy these days.

There were some good things that happened today. I was able to go back to sleep after the workers left this morning. I went all the way into town, ate lunch, got a frappachino, and went back out to my apartment all for 6 kuai (about $1). I spent some time with friends and met a new co-worker. And my apartment is a cool 72 degrees and electrified as I type this.

I have high hopes for tomorrow...


Scatter said...

Jen, post up a picture of this card-box slot thingy that you speak of. That is a very very very interesting way of keeping your electricity running. Are all apartment units like this?

Jen said...

Will do. And no, this is the first complex I know of here in Qingdao. But that doesn't mean anything. It's not like I'm connected to a bazillion complexes. But out of the 10 or so that I do know, we are the only ones that are on this new pay-as-you-go. I know it's used in other parts of the world. My friend from South Africa has family that does their electricity this way.

Anonymous said...

One good thing about humdity, it is good for your skin. You know how dry your skin can be in Colorado.

It is my thinking that England used pay as you go many years ago.

You live on the 5th floor, how many trips a day do you make? Also how tall is this apartment building?

Momstheword said...

I wonder what the thinking is about having no cabinets in kitchens? Is that typical or just for you (:

jen said...

Hm, I think I'd rather have dry skin...:) And depending on the day, anywhere from 1 to 4 trips a day up and down the stairs. The problem is, almost all my friends at the complex live on the 4th floor so even if it's not my 5 flights, it's probably someone else's.

Moms, it's typical. The Chinese do a lot of cooking but they only use a couple types of pans and very small dishes...little bowls, cups and chopsticks. They don't bake and they don't store a lot of stuff. They buy for the day. They don't need a lot of storage.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Jen. Very interesting to see other aspects of how you live. I don't think I could live there, as least not at this age and weight. Glad the Father has you where you can adapt. Mom