China

In the Big “League” Now

At a slightly later age than the norm I have finally reached the Ivy League. Apartments, that is. This name seems appropriate in that my complex is directly across the street from Xi’an Jiaotong University, which is a Tier 1 Chinese university. Ivy League, indeed.

The apartment was passed down to me by my predecessor. Shortly after I was hired in May I received a flood of photos in my email inbox and several request for a decision about whether the lease should be renewed. On the basis of photos and verbal assurances alone, I accepted. By carrying over the lease I also had the side benefit of moving into an almost entirely furnished apartment. With the arrival of my boxes from Zhuhai I felt I managed to sidestep most of the fitting-out-of-the-apartment phase.

The thing that tickled me about the apartment initially wouldn’t even warrant a raised eyebrow from a local—it’s on the 30th floor. Oooooo. I think I would have to move to New York City for that to be even somewhat commonplace. However in Xi’an from my perch my view is littered with buildings of a similar height or even taller.

There are, of course, elevators in my building and the ride to my floor does not actually take very long. Though there are days when I must control my desire to pace around like some caged animal. Forgetting something upstairs has a heavier psychological burden than it does in real minutes wasted. And once I am upstairs going down seems like much more trouble than it really is. There’s been many a day when I’ve pondered whether I can survive without my next meal due to the perceived trial of going downstairs. Have there been studies about this condition? It is just me?

My apartment is really far larger than a single gal like me needs. Which means that my clothes and shoes and scarves and books have a huge space in which is disperse and seemingly multiply. The different areas of the apartment have garnered very specific functions in my mind. The “dining room” is my staging area, meaning it’s covered in various bottles, books, and bags. The covered balcony is the sun room and/or morning reading room. The large sectional sofa is the functional center of the apartment and has three zones. The left-hand side is the guitar zone, the corner is for semi-reclining reading, and the right side is for watching TV. The second bedroom is the “office,” which I forcibly put myself in when it is time for some dedicated working. (I spend far too much time enjoying the various sofa zones.) The bedroom I initially didn’t like very much. It was all sharp corners and tight walkways, but one evening spent dragging and pushing and pulling the furniture around got me an arrangement that I like.

Living on the 30th floor I have had few pest problems, unlike last year when I lived on the second floor and had a higher number of mouse and cockroach encounters than I was altogether comfortable with. On the downside windy days mean sleepless nights as all my doors and windows rattle horribly and the wind whistles through them. As far as general city living issues, there is also a lot of light and noise pollution, even at night. There are two buildings being constructed right across from me and work never seems to stop.

On the positive side, every evening is like a communal concert. If I leave the windows open I will enjoy a number of public “performances” from residents practicing their various musical instruments. There are at least two pianists, I think, as well as a saxophonist and some traditional flute-like instrument. I also get to listen to the “bells” of the senior high school below me and be amused by their morning exercises that are broadcast starting around 7 AM.

A final story of note in regards to living in a tall building: you may be at the mercy of mischievous youngsters. On several occasions I have gotten into the elevator only to see the work of a childish hand—every single floor button pushed on the panel, from 1 to 33. You see it in the movies and you laugh—but just wait until you experience it!

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**Note on the slideshow: I must admit that theses are actually the photos from my predecessor. Looks much the same, just minus some the framed paintings and rugs.

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