Moving has the fun quotient of trying to break a wood plank with your head when you haven’t practiced enough. It leaves you sitting on the floor, head cradled between your knees, thinking, “What kind of stupid idea was this?”

It’s past five in the afternoon on Sunday. A few of us are sitting in our old living room, resigned to the fact that the moving truck we were borrowing from one of Chocolate’s friends, which we thought would arrive at noon, wasn’t coming. We decide we should finish off a bottle of Jim Beam – you know, so we wouldn’t have to pack it. After all of us wince our way through a couple shots, the truck pulls up outside.

Soon we’re all shoving, lifting, and grunting our way up and down two flights of stairs with various pieces of furniture, negotiating the sharp switchbacks on the two landings with the grace of the bulls in Pamplona. Luckily, the walls in Taiwan’s buildings are cement, so every time the furniture decides to crowd surf and smash into the walls or ceiling, no damage is done to the house.

At one point Emma, who’s approximately 5’2″ and in flip flops, and I are lugging a chiffarobe down from the third floor. We’re on the last turn, with one landing and fewer than ten steps to go, and it jams into a lip on the ceiling. Cameron comes up behind me and makes a remark about not allowing the women to lift heavy things. With the weight of the chiffarobe pushing down on my shoulders, I begin arguing with Cam, ignoring the fact that if I stay in this position much longer, I’m going to drop it.

We shuffle the wooden atrocity a bit, Cam holding the bottom, me supporting the middle section, and Emma making sure the top doesn’t careen out of control. I bark at Cam, “Lower your end,” to which he responds, “Lower your voice!”

Sorry, Cam.

I’m certainly not as physically strong as many men, but I get huffy when people try to tell me I can’t do something. Yeah? Watch me.

The majority of our new living room, pre-move-in. That's why it's clean.

And it’s that attitude that finds me on the third floor of the new house, trying desperately to hoist a mattress up the last few stairs, when my arms give out. Poor Mike, visiting from Canada and holding up the other end of the mattress, is standing there with a queen-sized mattress violating his personal space, while my left arm decides to quit functioning and I’m stuck bouncing my end of the mattress up step by step.

Sorry, Mike.

The stairs leading up to the fourth floor, where we have our laundry area and roof access.


Bring it on, typhoon season.


This would be our roof.

A pint of vanilla ice cream has melted in the freezer, and now the entire fridge smells like sour milk. In fact, all our refrigerated items are disgusting. I’ve forgotten my towel, which I won’t realize until I have to dry off after my shower Monday morning with a t-shirt. And none of us have curtains yet, which means the neighbors have a front row seat to our shenanigans once the sun goes down.

My view. It's actually nice and wonderfully bright. That's why I like the third floor.

The landlord gave us three front door keys, one porch wall door key, and one remote for the porch gate, and there are five of us.

Taiwan's keys are so much cooler than ones in the US.

Over the next few days we’ll all end up either shouting at the house, hoping one of the roommates inside hears and comes down to unlock the door or raise the gate, or hoisting ourselves over the 6-foot high cement wall that encompases our front patio. I’m sure our neighbors are thrilled.

Looking down from the third floor balcony - that's our walled front porch. All we need now is a moat.

Once the majority of our possessions are in the new house, Mike, our friend Bryan, three of the roommates and I go to a late-night noodle shop. It’s midnight by the time we leave, and Emma and I still have to go back to the old house for a few necessities.

Pardon my mess. I did just move in.

I end up in bed at 2 or 3am, battling the noisiness of the new neighborhood to sleep for a few hours before work.

Our one-lane street late at night. It's a very compact neighborhood.

Monday morning, only slightly sore and poorly rested, I make my way through the short, bright foyer between my room and the bathroom.

The third floor foyer. Gloriously bright and breezy.

The shower is a warm, consistent temperature, and it melts the frustrations of the previous night away.

The bathroom. This place feels like a resort.

Of course, when I get out and have to dry off with a shirt, I remember all the things that still need to be done, but at least the hard part’s over.