For someone who has an incorrigible habit of packing up and moving every year or so (and sometimes even more often), I also have some terrible lingering pack-rat habits that have followed me from my much younger, more geographically stable days (like, pre-1993).
I buy stuff.
I buy really stupid, pointless stuff that I never use. Or use a few times (with great enthusiasm) then forget about.
I buy stuff that I end up leaving behind in flats in London, in Galway, in Cape Town, in Istanbul and Shanghai. There are probably still South Park figurines stashed somewhere in a cold-water shack in rural Ghana and watercolour paint brushes in a closet in Shepherd’s Bush in West London. I know for a fact that I left twice my body weight in stuff behind in Turkey when I left two years ago.
I’m busy here in Shanghai accumulating more potential detritus that I know for certain won’t fit in the overhead luggage compartment: stuffed elephant and hippo from Ikea, a stuffed panda from Chengdu (all proceeds went to panda charities!), a yoga mat I haven’t unfurled in about 6 months, hand weights I haven’t lifted since august (I lift chalk! A lot- and when you write above shoulder height for five minutes on the blackboard it hurts! It’s a workout!), a ton of bootlegged books-by-the-gram, art supplies I picked up on Fuzhou Lu over a year ago in a fit of creative inspiration that petered out embarrassingly quickly, a half dozen very large and awesome marionnettes from Myanmar, several very heavy (but pretty) not-really-antique metal statues from the not-really-antiques market on Dongtai lu, a slow cooker, a rice cooker, a marvellously heavy wok (well seasoned and pretty much the only thing we really use in the kitchen these days, aside from occasional slow cooker stews), a dozen pairs of shoes that almost fit me but not really, and, um, yeah, other stuff.
I haven’t exactly sold all my belongings to start my life of minimalist freedom on the road.
In fact, I’m making it worse. Or rather, Mrs Mu in my office at work is making it worse: she only comes in once a week (she’s a part time lecturer at my university) but her influence is far greater than the time I’ve spent with her ought to be.
I buy stuff from her. Or rather, I buy stuff through her. She has an incorrigible TaoBao addiction, with TaoBao being the Chinese version of eBay. Every Friday, she comes into the office, grinning from ear to ear, showing me her latest toys. She buys awesome toys. Let me show you what she brought in last week, which I then begged her to get me.
The Health Hammer ™ as modeled by Kevin The Panda (pardon the blurry photo):
This is a handy dandy 3-function qi aligner, with a bonus back scratcher attachment that doubles as a hand-qi-rake.
The pointy hairbrush bit on one side of the mallet end is for strategic pounding of your arms and legs and feet, like the old men and women do with just their fists as they take their exercise down our street at 6am, smacking themselves as they walk.
There is a knobbly hard plastic dome on the other side of the hairbrushy bit that is for the second stage of pounding your extremities. It feels pretty good after a long day of writing at above shoulder level on a chalkboard.
I bought two.
She’s also notorious for regular visits to the tea and medicinal herbs (and bark and twig and dried animal) market near the university. I have already written a post about my attempt to go there to buy something magical that would give me energy, vitality and perhaps a hint of immortality. A lot of those bags of bark and twig are still in the kitchen drawer because they taste so vile when brewed that I approach them only every few months.
However, I don’t need to actually go there myself to buy things using my handwritten herbal glossary and Lonely Planet useless phrasebook and my embarrassingly mispronounced skills in mandarin. She goes there weekly and asks me ever so casually yet enticingly if I’d like her to pick anything up for me. I would! Of course I would!
So now I have these (and more) in my desk drawer at work:
And I actually do drink these. For now.