I'm in my new place! This is the nicest place I've ever lived (parents' house excluded). I live on this leafy, little two-lane street and my compound is neighbors with the Russian Embassy. My room faces an interior courtyard, so get this: when I wake up in the morning ... all I can hear is birds. I've never lived anywhere in China without street noise. This is truly incredible.
The architects are great. Both the two I'm living with and also their group of friends that just moved across the courtyard. I'm a little bit in awe of them. We're all about the same age, we're all working really hard and for not that much money, but they're working on these landmark projects that will one day define the places where they'll be built.
I also like listening to them at dinner because they're always talking about space in terms of how people use it, which reminds me of my mom (also an architect). She sometimes talks like that.
I unpacked the last of my bags last night. I packed quinoa in the same box as my sheets, a bunch of pans and a load of other stuff. The quinoa burst so I had to pour delicious whole grains out of several pair of shoes and scrape it out of the pages of my Madame Chiang Kai-shek biography. I brought way too many books to Beijing. But I always bring too many books everywhere. I brought a lot of random things that probably aren't necessary, but it was nice to uncover a photo cube with pictures of my brothers (I was going to leave it in Shanghai - too heavy - but Jess convinced me to take it). I also found a couple of drawings from my English students in Taiwan - they'd been forgotten in a side pocket of my big backpack. So now I have a bit of art for my room.
A week from today I fly to Taipei! I bought my ticket yesterday. I'll be there one week. It was almost four years ago that I moved there and it's been almost three years since I left. I can't wait.