I few minutes ago I was procrastinating and wandering from the living area into the kitchen searching for food, living up to my reputation as a "snacker."  It was dark, only the kitchen lights were lit, lighting up the living area from far away, and I couldn't help but notice that my wife was re-watching some old TV show that had been saved on her laptop way back when we lived in America.  Due to being daily immersed in a foreign language and culture and due to slow and restricted Trans-Pacific Internet connections: recorded American TV shows are extra valuable to us "Expats" here in China.  Like cigarettes in prison.  But what struck me about this TV show, at that moment standing in a dimly lit room eating my second tiny bag of some sort of vanilla cookies that had a suspicious faint moldy taste when I got to the bottom of the bag: was the floor plan.  The floor plan of the set of the TV show.

If I'm honest I'd have to say that what "struck me" was something self-absorbed, just about myself, I realized that I had a subconscious obsession with floor plans.  Becky had her earphones plugged in so all I could see was actors silently moving their lips as they walked through a spacious apartment from room to hallway to room.  I was feeling a little sense of frustration at the size and layout of the apartment, how many rooms did it have?  Was there a hallway running along the side of the apartment or down the center with rooms on either side? I had seen this show many times and many scenes had taken place it that same apartment.  I just couldn't picture the layout properly in my head.

I also realized that I had the blueprints for the Starship Enterprise NCC-1701-D, all 42 decks, in a box somewhere in my parents garage.  I couldn't bear to throw the away.  I might have them send it to me.  There's a pattern here.  At one point, when I was probably about 20, I pulled out all of the (D-Sized) blue prints and taped them to the walls of my bedroom.  It took up more than one wall, kind of like a crazy person's padded cell.  Only I didn't have them up for very long, eventually I got bored with them and took them down, that's why I call it a "subsconcious obsession" instead of just a plain old "obsession."   I think I worried about them getting damaged, walls are dangerous places.

Also I usually I don't remember my dreams, but occasionally I'll remember them, and most of time all I remember are buildings and rooms.  In other words, layouts and floor plans.

But before you go thinking that I should have been an architect, I must tell you that I don't think I'm any good at it, at understanding and visualizing floor spaces.  Like for example, here in China we live on the fourth floor of a fifteen story building.  The bottom two floors are retail space.  There is a dumpling restaurant basically right underneath us, on the first floor, or partly underneath us, it's complicated.  I can't go into that restaurant without thinking about it, wondering if I'm standing three stories under my bed or under the living room, and I'm pretty sure part of the restaurant extends under our neighbors apartment.

I know what you're thinking: He lives over a dumpling restaurant?  How convenient!

Yes, don't be jealous, the dumpling restaurant is about 15 feet from the "lobby" door on our first floor.  We go down the elevator, out the door, turn right, walk 15 feet on the sidewalk, and into XiJiaDe (喜家德).  XiJiaDe is a chain with hundreds of dumpling restaurants, it takes great pride in it's dumpling quality and the cleanliness of it's restaurants.  And I can tell you that I can't think of any restaurants in the States, especially chains, that are cleaner than XiJiaDe.  I have seen them more than once tip their dining tables onto their sides so that they can mop the bottoms of the steel pedestals of their tables.  Their dumpling assemblers stand in a glass windowed assembly area and wear plastic face masks for cleanliness.

Why don't I just give you a link to their website: http://xijiade.com.cn  (I should sell ad space eh?)  You can even watch one of the videos that I've seen a hundred times playing on their dining room TVs on an endless loop.

I can also tell you that Becky and I have dined there scores of times.  It's fairly cheap, the food is pretty good, it's open past nine, the wait staff is very friendly, and, one of my favorite features in restaurants here, is that they have pictures on the menu so I know exactly what I'm ordering without a dictionary!   It's our comfort place.

If you come and visit us here in China we will take you there.  So far I think everyone who has visited us has gone there.  Whether they liked it or not.  And if you follow my infrequent blog entries and you know about my subconscious obsession you can help me figure out what part of our apartment the table we sit at is directly underneath.