Right, there is a lot in that last sentence. Let me unpack (no pun intended) it a little. Now that I am aware of how many things I have to do, and ought to do, before 7 September, and now that I am aware of how much effort it is to move three years' worth of stuff from one city to another, my Nice trip is very ill-timed. Nonetheless, I love that place, I want to swim, I want to stuff my face with French pastries, especially le eclair au chocolat, and so I will go and relax and work on the journal articles at the same time, but probably not the research proposal for the Oxford fellowship. I really don't know what I'm interested in; at least, nothing concrete enough to make a decent, let alone amazing, research proposal. So why waste my time? But we will see. Maybe inspiration will miraculously strike when I'm swimming in the Med, looking out to the endless sea, contemplating life and the meaning of existence. That said, to be honest, I'm more interested in doing some proper writing...
As for the second part of the sentence: when I first entered the room, I was massively disappointed. I had the impression from the agent that all the furniture in the room belonged to the agency except the bookshelf. From what I remembered, the room had at least two wardrobes and they looked fairly decent; more importantly, the bed was very nicely decorated with two bedside tables and looked really cosy. When I entered the room, it looked nothing like what I saw. The bed was shoved into the corner when it was below the window when I viewed the room. There was only one old wardrobe and chest of drawers--not nearly enough storage space for my wide collection of clothes. There was no bookshelf, which I'd already expected, so no complaints there. The dining table suddenly looked ridiculous, for who ever wants a dining table in her room? The TV stand, a midnight black that swallowed all the colour from the room, looked like an eyesore. The only thing that I liked was the sofa.
So I tried to rearrange the furniture before unloading the van and I just couldn't think of how to make it work. I hated the bed in the corner, hated the wardrobe and drawers planted in the middle of the room. Thankfully, inspiration struck over dinner at a Lebanese restaurant nearby, and when we came back, I pushed the wardrobe and drawers to the side of the room and placed the bed in the middle of the room. I was thinking maybe I wanted the bed below the window like how the previous tenants arranged it, but Etienne convinced me not to because the light will stream directly into my face in the morning through the blinds and it would be difficult to sleep. So now I have the sofa against the wall beneath the window, which will make a great reading spot; the bed in the middle on one side of the room, and the dining table and TV stand on the opposite side.
Etienne suggested getting the agency to take away the TV stand. Apart from the cost of removal (I think it's 50 pounds) which I don't want to pay, I've devised a pretty good use for it: it has some shelves of sort, which I am temporarily using to store my books until I get a bookshelf, and which will make good storage spaces for my PhD files. What I'd wanted removed was the dining table but I've changed my mind. It'd be nice to eat on a proper dining table after three years of eating on a study desk.
The lack of a study desk isn't great but I will make do. I may also buy a wardrobe...ah, this place is costing so much money.
What I really do not like about the room, though, is that the smell of cooking from the neighbours drifts into my room whenever they cook. I hate the smell of food in my room, especially when I'm in bed like I am right now. I don't even know why people are cooking at midnight. I also very much doubt that shutting my window would make a difference, given that I only have it opened very slightly because the food smell was really strong yesterday and it was really dry and cold at night. This reminds me of my college room in my first year: the kitchen's extractor fan thing literally ventilated the kitchen right into my en-suite, which was right next to my bed. There was a housemate that loved cooking at 3am. Great stuff.
All that aside, I must record something amazing that I did today. I bought a bedside table from Argos, a cheap one (19 pounds), that requires self-assembly. I bought it despite not having either the tools or the experience with assembling furniture, thinking perhaps I could pay someone to do it for me, having in mind the hardware store around the corner that Etienne and I came across yesterday. I went there with the instructions manual in hand, and my first question to the owner was, 'Do you provide assembly services?'
He said no. Then I showed him the manual and he picked out the tools, assured me that the assembly was easy-peasy despite my repeated proclamations that I don't know anything about these things, that I would realise how easy it is after I have done it. 'You'll come back next week with a picture of it and say that you did it,' he said.
So I bought a hammer, a screwdriver with numerous different screws and a measuring tape. After a gruelling 1.5 hours during which I sat on my wooden floor and pushed and hammered and got a step wrong but managed to fix it after successfully yanking out a stuck wooden peg thing which elicited a 'COME ON!' from me, I assembled the bloody bedside table.
As is apparent from the photo, my fitting was neither precise nor proportionate. and the drawer doesn't slide very smoothly. But you know what? I don't even care. The sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when I put the pieces together and it works was the definite highlight of my day. The hardware store owner said, 'Don't underestimate yourself.' And so I thought, Yes, I will do this; I will do this despite never having done design & technology in secondary school and pretty much having never used a hammer or screwdriver, and do it I did, and this cheap-ass Argos bedside table will remain with me until my dying day.
...okay, no, I'm not going to ship a crappy 19 pounds back to Singapore, but the dramatic effect was nice, no?
What was also nice was this old man saying to me, 'You're looking good!' as I passed him on the street; getting checked out while walking along Kilburn High Road (such a boring high street! My area is boring! Typical Zone 2 London...zzz); and while he certainly wasn't flirting, the hardware store owner was quite hot. He wasn't even physically my type or particularly good-looking; he was bald (I don't like bald men), rather on the large side (I don't like fat men), and had a ring (I don't do married men). But it was the way he carried himself: helpful, friendly, but on a proper professional level.
I don't think that made sense. Why am I even trying to justify my finding a stranger hot? Actually, I know why: because it happens so infrequently! The last time I saw man and thought 'omg he's hot' was in May when I had dinner at the Rainbow with Raffie in Cambridge. This man had a biker sort of vibe...
Okay, this entry has gone to the dogs. I'm going to stop writing now and watch Jane the Virgin (Rafael is so hot, by the way; but I'm Team Michael forever. That said, I want a Rafael in my life who encourages me to write the way he encourages Jane to write!).