Construction is ruining my life. I’ve gotten a combined nine hours of sleep in two days. And the older I get, the more a sleepless night affects my mental state in the following days. Long gone are the university days of staying up for two – three days like it ain’t no thang.
Everything in Shanghai is about apartments (fangzi). All is connected to fangzi, including the sleep patterns and mental health of yrs truly in this case. Fangzi is the god particle. Apartments get bought and sold, and they get renovated by people who absolutely do not give a fuck.
The sound of renovation in China is like brostep with zero sub-bass. It’s like Skrillex has moved his studio to the apartment directly above mine and starts making tracks at 7AM. It is a close cousin of the sound of war.
I can usually sleep through anything. I’ve dreamed through Chinese New Year fireworks, typhoons, roommates having sex, TVs, CDs, and records, angry cats/cat sex outside my window, alarm clocks, bill collectors pounding at the door, big city traffic, and much more.
But this current round of construction is too much. It’s like harsh mid-range frequencies have been injected directly into the very frame of my apartment – the walls, the ceiling, the floor - and then mashed up like a novice DJ holding down the beat-repeat button while fucking with the volume fader.
I am beginning to understand what Guantanamo Bay may have been like for its prisoners. I’ve heard that American soldiers would put a suspected terrorist into a room filled with blindingly-bright lights and then play Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady” at dangerously high volumes over 300 times in an effort to extract information.
I tried to escape by going to the gym, only to find a loud trance mixtape from a Russian radio station blaring over the imitation Bose speakers. The radio host started to talk (in English), and the CD began to skip violently. The two lesbian trainers, Kevin and Alan, who refuse to smile at me but are otherwise cheerful, were oblivious to this. I finally complained to the manager (whose English name is Demon and he does in fact look rather demonic), who switched the CD to a Fatman Scoop mix from like 2002. Queen x 50-Cent mashups. Someone got offended when I asked “is this your towel?”
Actually I’ve belonged to this gym for at least two months now and they will not or can not give me a membership card. Demon has notified most of the staff of my circumstances, but occasionally someone “not in the know” will follow me all the way into the locker room and ask to see my nonexistent card, in which case I have to tell them “please go talk to Demon.”