Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Song is Over
Today was my final working day at the Shenzhen Daily and it was spent pretty much like most of the others. I "polished" some articles, chuckled to myself at some Chinglish ("Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Frosty"), made small talk with Chinese colleagues and Jeff and cleaned out my desk.
What do you do with 250 old business cards? Including 10 for one of my old rent-a-foreigner pseudonyms: "Michael Rymsha: general manager, Xingli Bamboo Products Company."
I'm going to miss the people here, and with nowhere nailed down yet in Hong Kong I'm also beset with some angst about that transition. Instead of beginning to pack or do anything else that resembled responsible behavior one night last week, I cracked a Tsingtao made a list of all the moves I've made in my life. Counting childhood relocations, army transfers and crashing for weeks on friends' couches during my first divorce this will be my 30th address in 51 years.
I was thinking of that again while in Hong Kong house hunting, also last week. I've heard horror stories of finding affordable, clean shelter in New York City and I can relate after seeing what HK has to offer so far on my still-limited budget.
"Furnished" is a very elastic term in the Hong Kong rental market. In many cases it means a folding chair, a listing card table and maybe a particle board book case with one bowed shelf. "Bed" has mostly meant something that resembles a padded shelf perfect for an 87 pound, 4'-8" Cantonese but not an 187 pound, 6' barbarian.
A refrigerator? Don't be silly? A working air conditioner? You're mad, man! Get a grip! But look! Here's a dusty Beta video machine hooked up to a filth-encrusted TV that seemingly hasn't received a signal since Bruce Lee was alive.
Meanwhile I thought: "What the hell am I doing? What went wrong? I've got friends about to retire with loving spouses in real homes with lawns and comfortable furniture and I'm halfway across the world with two blasted marriages, no home in my home state, wiping the sweat out of my eyes and squinting through tri-focals trying to decipher signs like "Luk Fuk Kok Lung #31" and hoping it'll have a sit-down toilet with a working flush."
So it goes...
I'm going to Hong Kong for two more days of apartment hunting and logging in some work time at The Standard before returning here to figure out how to pack and ship the contents of the Lucky Number over the border.
Stay tuned.

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