When we first moved into our pricey new Shanghai apartment building in 2006, we justified the expense by admiring how neat, clean, and functional everything was.

Then, like Cinderella's various vegetable accoutrements, everything began to vanish at the stroke of midnight, exactly eighteen months after we moved in.

In the last week, our electricity went out. Then our water went out, followed by the water heater. Our air conditioner began pouring water down the walls and onto the sofa. Our shower head fell off. Our water cooler flooded the cabinet on which it rests. The handle on our back door fell off. The pipes refused to drain. The washing machine began to leak, gushing suds all over the kitchen. A light fixture fell from the ceiling in the dining room, then another in the office. The guest bed buckled and collapsed. And then this morning we woke to find the shattered glass remains of a light bulb that exploded in the living room last night while we slept.