Tuesday, July 31, 2007

We've Finally Caved

We've decided to buy a car.

We live in the middle of the city, about four blocks from work, so up until now we've figured we could get by without a car. Not having a car has saved money, but I think having a car will save my sanity some days, so the the whole sane thing? Yeah, it wins out.

So far, we've been relying on taxis, the occasional monorail ride and lots of miles in my pink Keens to get us from point A to point B. But I've realized that most of my pissiness usually stems from the inconvenience of not being able to get to various parts of town on a whim, without getting soaked or being interviewed by a taxi driver. Yes, walking is convenient sometimes, especially when traffic is snarled to a halt. But the rain often puts a damper on things. Get it? Damper. Ba duh bum. Plus, walking can get us to the grocery store, but not the grocery store that carries artichokes, which is a serious problem. It also doesn't get us to any malls that we like. Also a problem for me.

So another option is the monorail/subway (or whatever it's called in KL). Again, that gets us around the center of town, but it's not really convenient for most places we like to go. Plus, there is still walking involved from the station to our destination. So there's the rain factor there as well. Did I mention the rain here bounces off the sidewalk and back up on you? An umbrella is useless against a KL midafternoon downpour. Plus, all that humidity is bad for my hair, should we feel like getting gussied up for a nice dinner. And all the walking means that my sassy black heels don't get nearly enough wearing time.

Enter option #3. Taxis. I don't even need to explain why this is no longer an acceptable option.

So while C was here, we had a hair appointment out in Bangsar. Just as we were leaving the apartment to get a cab, it started to rain. So getting a cab wasn't going to happen. If you are running to the store, that's one thing, but when you have something that is timebound, it plain sucks. So I just hit my limit. I called M, and said "That's it, we are getting a car."

Okay, that comment was also partially driven by PMS, but it turns out that M was starting to think the same thing, so we are starting to browse around for cars. Neither one of us wants to spend a lot, nor are we particularly picky. It needs to be automatic, have seat belts, preferably airbags, a decent service record and can get us from point A to point B. So we are looking at little Kia hatchbacks and things like that. They are so tiny and cute, you can almost fit one in your purse.

It's a convenience thing, and I'm sure a control thing as well. I really think that this will really help me enjoy the city more. I may sit in traffic just as much as I would in a cab, but I'll be in my car, and it will have seatbelts and some excellent tuneage to distract me from the traffic and torrential rainstorms that we will inevitably encounter. I'm so excited!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

There's No Way This Just Happened

Last night, I went out for dinner with my colleagues. I changed clothes beforehand, and wore was I affectionately call my "pregnant dress". I explained to them how I have to concentrate on sucking in when I wear it, lest the other restaurant patrons give me dirty looks for being knocked up and sucking on a Bud Light. We had a good chuckle, and that was that.

This morning, the same group of people and I were waiting in the hotel lobby to leave for the office. One on my colleagues looked at me and said "Are you sure you're not pregnant?" My brain short circuits a bit as I begin to try to determine why she might think that's the case. The self consciousness takes root in the second or two before the next thing happens. She then reached over and patted my stomach fat and said, "It looks like you have a little pregnant pooch!" WHAT. THE. FUCK. Whatthefuckwhatthefuckwhatthefuck. That so did not just happen.

Now, I'll freely admit that I have been enjoying my fair share of our restaurant dinners on this trip. I'll give you the fact that I've gained a bit of weight since we moved. I've even go so far as to say that my bad posture and genetic predisposition to gaining weight in my stomach might have something to do with it. (THANKS MOM. I could have gained weight in my boobs and butt instead, and then would have been able to tell the colleague that I don't think she's ready for this jelly, but instead I inherited the stomach pooch and the digestive issues. Score!)

She knows I'm not pregnant, so I have no idea what would give her the idea to make this comment. My wheels started spinning as soon as I heard the words (and felt the pat). I've been drinking all week, so what do you think? Oh God, I really need to improve my posture. Shit, I need to work out. And so on. I wouldn't say I was mad, because I know this woman, and she is always polite and personable, so this comment was kind of out of left field. I'm more bewildered by it. I'm always of the mindset that unless either the woman has shared with you that she is pregnant, or you see a baby actually emerging from her at that moment, then you keep it zipped on any pregnancy comments. Oh yeah, and unless you are a blood relative, or my husband, you do not get to touch the fat. No touching of the fat.

So, my reaction wasn't anger, but more so that I was torn between laughing at the sheer audacity of it and crying about it. I can't believe that a small part of me is weepy over it, but someone telling you that you look pregnant when you're not is a little damaging to your self esteem.

At least she didn't jiggle the fat. Then I would have had to open up a can on her.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fuel for Shopping

One of life's little pleasures: Pulling out last summer's shorts on the first warm day of spring, putting them on, reaching into the pocket, and pulling out a $20 bill! Okay, well, the first little pleasure is discovering that the shorts still fit; the second one is finding the money. I remember this happening a couple of times in college, and it made me so happy I almost cried. $20 bought a lot of beer back then.

Before I left for my business trip back to the US, I remembered that I wanted to bring a couple of gift cards that we received as wedding gifts. They were from Bed Bath and Beyond and Williams-Sonoma. Since those aren't in KL, I set aside the cards and figured I'd use them the next time I was back in Houston. I went to the kitchen drawer where I had put them, and only found the BBB card. Where the hell did I put the other card? By some miracle, I didn't have to tear apart the house to find it. I thought I'd check the keepsake box that I put our wedding cards in.

I opened up the box, and there was the Williams-Sonoma card...and four other gift cards....and two checks!

Neurotic aside: I hope no one thinks "Oh, how ungrateful. You forgot about the gifts that people so thoughtfully gave you!" Just to clarify, everyone did get a thank you note, so we definitely are appreciative. (Except that we have yet to figure out who gave us a lovely serving platter and the pasta bowl set that we really wanted. The fact that, since I don't know who gave them to us so I can't thank them, continues to haunt me. People can think a lot of things about me, but it makes me insane to think that any of our friends think that I am rude. While we are on that topic, I've always been of the mindset that thank you notes serve a couple of purposes: 1) to thank the person for the gift and for their thoughtfulness, and 2) to acknowledge that you did, in fact, receive the gift. I've always read that if you don't receive a thank you note for a gift you've sent, that you should inquire to make sure that the recipient received the gift. No one has asked us, and since we didn't really expect gifts, I have been really hesitant to ask anyone about it. While we appreciate the gifts that we did receive, we didn't necessarily expect gifts, so asking about the dishes is like asking "Did you get us a gift?". Horribly uncomfortable for me, so I've been hoping that someone will approach us about it.)

The reason we set aside the gift cards is that we wanted to use them to buy housewares and such, rather than use them for groceries or something like that. We wanted to be able to buy something for the both of us and be able to enjoy it for years to come. Since it took us a while to settle in and figure out where we might go in KL to buy things like that, I put them in a special place that I figured I would remember, so that when we were ready to use them to purchase some things for our home, we would take them out and buy some lovely wall hangings or something like that. Then I completely spaced out.

So...I brought them all with me to the US! Now that we are settled, we have some good ideas about some things that we can use and things that we would like, so I'm off to shop for wedding gifts this weekend!

I guess being more excited about a Williams-Sonoma pepper grinder rather than beer money is more proof that I'm becoming a grown up against my will. And if anyone has any suggestions about what do to about the dishes, let me know.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Clear as Mud

I didn't really like some of the questions on this, but it's probably pretty close.

table width=350 align=center border=0 cellspacing=0 cellpadding=2>Your Political Profile:

Overall: 55% Conservative, 45% Liberal

Social Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Random Updates

Well, I'm back in the good ole' US of A. Again. For the second time in three weeks. Normally, not a big issue, expect that it takes about 30 some odd hours of travel time just to make the trip. Strangely, though, I've not been too jetlagged from my KL-Singapore-Taipei-LA-Houston-Florida 36 hour trip.

I'm in Florida for some work training, and since talking about that is about as exciting as watching paint dry (or, my recent postings about my computer fiascos), I'll move on.

So, here are some random observations from the trip:

Does anyone in the US really give a rat’s ass about how Victoria Beckham is adapting to life in the US? Didn't think so. One word comes to mind - “overexposure”. No one cares. Let's move on.

Ditto for Katie Holmes. Sure, she's a cutie patoodie. We'd all look like cutie patoodies with a great stylist on speed dial. Again, why is her new outfit/hair/vacation newsworthy? Oh yeah, because people like me buy People magazine.

Seems that the movie Hairspray is getting a lot of press, more overseas than in the US from what I've seen. I am having an unnaturally negative reaction to John Travolta in drag. I don't know, maybe it's just me. It just skeeves me out, almost as much as Madeline Khan does in just about anything she’s ever been in. (Don’t ask me why Madeline Khan gives me the heebie jeebies – she just does. Always has.)

I am a Target junkie. It's strange the things that you miss when you move overseas. This morning, my second CHI flat iron died. CHI lovers will relate. The CHI is the best flat iron ever created, but the damn things have a way of petering out on you. So, since the CHI doesn't work overseas on an adapter, I fought the urge to buy a new one, and just went to Target for a less expensive flat iron that would get me by. The plus, other than getting to browse Target (which I can't believe I'm so excited about, but like I said, it's odd the things that you miss), was that I got to introduce a work colleague from Argentina to the wonders of Target. I felt better that I wasn't the only one enjoying Target a little bit too much.

Now, once I make it to Sephora, then you will really know that I need to get a life.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

New Computer!

I have a computer. Didn't get the call until 4:45 (from M, who they called instead of me), but I have it. They basically replaced the whole thing, so I now have a new keyboard to destroy. Kind of messing with the OCD, virtually unmedicated Sarah, but still. They came through. Good on them.

Update: Tried again to go to Eye on Malaysia. Was, again, rained out. I should take this as a sign. We went to KL Tower for dinner beforehand. After they bent us over the table with the bill, we took in the sights, and the view is actually pretty spectacular. I recommend going to the observation deck rather than going for dinner. That way, you can still see the view and be able to walk to catch a cab to take you to a nice dinner somewhere else...I'm just saying.

I should up the meds again, huh? I'm kind of bitchy these days.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Computer Update

It's 3:40pm. No computer yet. I have to have a computer to travel to the US with, so fingers crossed. We have found out that they have no back up plan in case it doesn't get repaired. I am a big fan of back up plans, but that's just me...`

At 2pm, the IT guy told M that they were waiting on the Dell guy to come after 2. M asked "2pm Malaysian time?" to which the IT guy chuckled. He understands why we are worried. It's Friday afternoon after prayers. Traffic is snarled and not a lot gets done on Friday afternoons.

M and I have been total thorns in their side, calling or dropping by every hour or so. We've learned the hard way that this is the best way to try to get things taken care of here. Just ride herd on it.

I just called, and the Dell guy was there. Hallelujah! We are over hurdle #1. Now, as long as the problem really IS the motherboard, and the Dell guy actually BROUGHT the part with him, we should be in business. Fingers crossed...

Pervy Nature Photos

...because I'm just that kind of a person.

"Pecker Rock", Black Hills, South Dakota, USA
Heh heh.

"Grandfather Rock", Koh Samui, Thailand

Hee hee.

Who knew? I figured the US had the market cornered on large, phallic shaped pieces of granite. The SD one is obscene.

While we are at it, here's Grandmother Rock in Koh Samui.

Supposedly, the legend is that two star crossed lovers who, rather than live without each other, jumped into the ocean to their deaths. So it's no secret that the rocks totally look like genitalia. The legend completely supports that fact. I wonder, though, why did the symbol of their love have to be a rock that looked like a hooha, rather than a nice tree or flower or something?

Random Updates

We are nearing the end of C's visit to KL. She leaves next Tuesday to head back to the US; I have to leave on Saturday to go back to the US as well. KL-Singapore-LA-Houston-Florida-Houston-Austin-Houston-LA-Singapore-KL. Ack. Tonight we have dinner planned at KL Tower, the revolving restaurant that most big cities seem to have nowadays. We've heard the food is nothing to write home about, but that the view is pretty good.

After that, we will attempt, once again, to go to Eye on Malaysia. Attempt #1: Wednesday (since the laser light show is on Wednesdays), but an early evening rainstorm derailed us. I know, rain in Malaysia...shocking. But between the rush hour traffic and the rain, we knew that any attempts to get a taxi would merely result in raising my blood pressure, so we opted out. Attempt #2: Last night. We actually made it to the Eye on Malaysia location. We got out of the taxi, and after looking at the ominous black clouds rolling in and lightening in the distance, we decided not to get on the 60 meter high metal object. Call us crazy. After waiting out the worst of the rain, we decided to head home. So we'll try again tonight. Maybe the third time's the charm, and we will actually get so far as to ride the damn thing.

Today, I have to finish packing for the US, and then at lunch C and I are going to get pedicures. Hopefully after that, I will be able to go pick up my work laptop from the IT department at work. Yesterday, my laptop chose (two days before I leave for the US and need my laptop while I'm there), to die. I was in the middle of working, and all of a sudden, it just turned off. Black screen. Nothing.

Normally, this would have been followed by a colorful, creative string of vulgarity, but I think all I said was, "Well, shit", since C was sitting right next to me. See? Having a kid around is improving my disposition! Either that, or it's forcing me to repress my rage, one or the other. But regardless, C didn't learn any fun new phrases from me, so score one in the stepmom department. So I called the IT department. They said that I had to bring it in right away so that Dell could come look at it, and no, they didn't have any loaners that they could switch the hard drives with for my trip. For fuck's sake. No loaners? Should have figured. This is the same department that has no extra network cables either, so I should have figured the chances of them having an actual entire spare computer were slim to none. So I knew I was shit out of luck unless I got my computer there pronto. A day and a half to troubleshoot and fix the computer is not a lot of wiggle room.

I got a call from them yesterday afternoon.Turns out, the motherboard needs to be replaced, which is a relief. I had figured that all the food crumbs and cigarette ashes in the keyboard somehow wriggled their way into some sort of nook and cranny and raised all kinds of hell with my computer. (See kids? Not only will smoking pollute your lungs and make your hair smell like an ashtray, it will BREAK YOUR COMPUTER. NO MORE MYSPACE. NO FACEBOOK EITHER. Holy shit, I think I've just hit upon the best anti-smoking campaign for kids ever.)

I even tried to blow dry out the assorted crumblies before I took the computer in. (Now I don't think that those little keyboard vacuums are so stupid. One sure would have come in handy yesterday). I could just imagine the IT guy opening up my computer and seeing all the ashes, dried cereal, Twistie crumbs and the occasional smear of Nutella inside my computer. I would hang my head in shame as he says, "Well, of course you broke your computer. The remnants of your pantry are stuck here inside your keyboard."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New Hair!

I have always had a hate/hate relationship with my hair. Growing up, it was always stick straight and lifeless. My mom used to put it up in Princess Leia buns on either side of my head. I still haven't gotten over the endless teasing.

Enter the dreaded spiral perm in junior high. Spiral perm with the bangs that you teasesprayteasesprayteasespray and blow dry them until they stick straight up. Then came several different kinds of perms, all equally hideous.

I discovered early on that my hair Does. Not. Grow. So I've always been pretty limited with experimenting with different cuts. Lots and lots of baby fine hair that splits if you look at it wrong, won't hold a curl, and flips all the wrong ways doesn't really lend itself to many different cuts. No big Texas hot roller hair. No Rachel shag for me (although I did have a poor man's version in college that still took massive amounts of hair spray and two different curling irons to achieve). I'm also one of those people who really shouldn't have long hair. It's a bitch to maintain for me, and it always splits. I haven't given up that dream yet, though.

Then, when I was 15 or so, I discovered color. Beautiful, acid red color. Although, coupled with the perm I had at the time, it's still a look that I would rather not revisit. But that experience did teach me that color is a great way to experiment with my hair without having to endure years of growing it out between new looks. My hair has been every shade of red, auburn, brown and black. All fun. It was even blond at one point in college. That was Not Good.

Today, C and I went to ISH to get our hair done, and I got some fun new streaks!

I've always wanted to try something really fun, like blue or pink, but I like my paycheck more, so I've opted out so far. I already have a hard enough time being taken seriously at work since I look twelve years old; sadly, I doubt my hair being a color called Cotton Candy on Acid would really help my case.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My Husband is Curled Up in the Fetal Position

Just now, M and I walked by C sitting at the computer, updating her MySpace page. On it was a picture of her sucking her boyfriend's tongue. GAWD.

My sixteen year old stepdaugher sucking some guy's tongue = An image I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing.

Excuse me, I have to go console my husband now.

Reason #492 To Come Visit Us

Places like this are an hour plane ride away.

M and I took C to Redang this past weekend. We had never been to Redang before, and I'm always game for a weekend of sun, sand and being a slug, so I was ready.

Redang is a tiny island off the east coast of Malaysia. The water is crystal clear, the beaches are powdery white, and it's a haven for scuba divers, snorkelers and anyone else wanting to "get away from it all". The first day, we lounged on the beach and went on a four stop snorkeling tour around the island. The snorkeling was great, and some people in our group even saw a black fin shark. Luckily, we didn't hear about it until we were on our way back to the resort, or else we wouldn't have gotten C back in the water!

On our way back to the resort, we saw a great little deserted beach just one cove over from our resort, so on the second day we rented a four person paddle boat and (slooowly) made our way over to the other beach. A private beach, all to ourselves! We had C with us, so there was no hanky panky, but this kind of beach would have been perfect for it (if you are keen on getting sand where no sand should be). Then, since we had promised C, we went on a banana boat ride. Banana boats are the long, well, banana looking things that are pulled behind a speed boat. M and I thought that it would be a little boring, because from the beach, it didn't look like it went very fast and the driver didn't seem to get very western with it. We were wrong. The banana boat rocks. Highly recommended (with goggles).

The resort we stayed at (Berjaya Beach Resort)....eh. Five star view, 3.5 star facilities, 2 star service. Slow is one thing - I mean, you're on a beach resort - but they just really didn't have their stuff together. I'll spare you the many, many examples. Plus, they didn't walk around the beach and bring us drinks with umbrellas in them. This is an extremely important part of my beach resort experience. Thumbs down on the whole "no bringing of the umbrella drinks to my beach lounger" thing. Suffice it to say, I'm sure we will go back to Redang, because I think that most of our problems with this trip can be resolved next time by staying at a different resort.

Friday, July 13, 2007

She Didn't Even Buy Me Dinner

The other day, my stepdaughter and I went to the spa and got massages. Before getting started, my therapist asked about the stomach and breast massage part of things. Typically, they will rub/massage your stomach and the top part of your chest. Getting my stomach flab rubbed around doesn't really do it for me, but I don't necessarily mind it. During the breast massage part, in my experience what they'll do is massage the top part of your chest, and they ask because either they will completely undrape you from the waist up, or they will undrape you and put a little strip of a towel over your nipples. So, in the past, I've found that they ask about this more for modesty reasons rather than for permission to feel you up.

Not this time. When she said breast massage, she meant breast massage. She pushed them in. She pushed them out. She pushed the top and bottom together to make a horizontal boob. She pushed them up to my chin. Okay, okay, those of you who know me are thinking "Sarah, quit kidding yourself. They won't reach your chin" but she was sure giving it one hell of a try. I had to bite my tongue and think DONTLAUGHDONTLAUGHDONTLAUGH to keep from busting out laughing. I really thought I was going to lose it at one point.

Since I'm such a spa whore, I'm sure I'll get another massage in Redang this weekend. This time, I think I'll opt out of the breast massage. I really don't want to go to second base with another massage therapist. Plus, I really don't want to have to explain it in painstaking detail to M afterwards.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Stepmomming It

We met M's daughter in LA, and she flew back with us to KL for a couple of weeks. Last time, she and her brother came to KL, it was over the Christmas holidays, and M and I had time off from work. This time, we aren't able to take off the whole time she's here, so of course I'm concerned that she is bored. We looked into several options for her to do volunteer work while she's here, and we came up with some volunteer work at the SPCA for her during some of her afternoons.

She went yesterday, and part of her job was to pull chicken meat off of cooked chicken necks to feed the dogs. I know that volunteer work isn't glamorous or anything, but she's sixteen, and we envisioned her being able to play with puppies and kitties all day, maybe scoop the occasional poop and what not. But I don't think chicken necks were part of C's plan, so she wasn't too keen on going back today. Oh well, we tried.

Since I work from home, I've felt pretty torn this week. I mean, I need to be working while I'm at home, but it's tough because I don't want her to be bored. But we are taking her to do some fun things in the evenings, and we are going to Redang this weekend, so hopefully we've struck some sort of balance between our work obligations and making sure she has a good time.

I'm also kind of worried because we would love for her to come and live here, so we are trying to expose her to all the fun and interesting things to do here. But she's experiencing some of the same frustrations that we did when we first got here. They are really not frustrations, simply differences that she encounters, but to a sixteen year old, every difference IS a frustration. Small things like the milk tastes different here, or salespeople follow her around the stores in the mall, or it takes longer than normal to get our restaurant bill. We try to explain that things are simply different here, but I'm not sure she's having a good time. And I'm feeling some major stepmom guilt about that.

What really sucked though is that on Tuesday, she went to the mall by herself. When she was walking home from the mall, she passed by a street where a lot of delivery trucks were parked. A couple of the drivers got out of the trucks and made kissy noises at her and asked her to marry them. That kind of freaked her out. So I got pissed because, they can do that to me if they want, whatever, but leave my stepkid alone. Ah, the protective parenting thing is in full gear. I'm sure The Triad is teary eyed and proud.

Once she got home, she went downstairs to swim. Of course, since we have lots of construction around us, that means that there are a lot of construction workers around. There's one building in particular, where M and I have watched them stop working and leer down to the pool and stare at whichever women are using the pool at that time. Well, that happened to her as well, which made her uncomfortable. I really can't blame her; it makes me uncomfortable too, which is why I don't use the pool very often. I don't need an audience, and she doesn't either.

So hopefully, this weekend will be really nice. Then, next week, we are planning to take her to Eye on Malaysia and some other cool stuff, then she and M will spend a day in Singapore before she flies home.

So, between the chicken necks, the leering men and the strange food, she doesn't seem to be enjoying herself as much as she did last time. I feel GUILTGUILTGUILTGUILT. Any ideas on some fun stuff for her to do during the day in KL?

Vacation Part II: South Dakota

After spending a few days in California, we headed to South Dakota, which is also where M is from and where all of his family still lives.

Okay, I have to summarize two weeks, so I'll try to keep it short of a novel. Let's see...spent lots of time with family. Drank far too much Bud Light. Smoked like it was my second full time job. Pined over expensive real estate in the Black Hills. Got way too excited about the plethora of deodorant choices in Walgreen's. Ditto for Target. Indulged in Taco Tuesday at Taco John's. Spent a few days in a cabin with the family, playing Phase 10 (I love that game!). Watched a bunch of lesbians sing karaoke. Put a life sized doll in M's teenage nephew's bed and took pictures to blackmail him with later. Almost wet self putting putting said doll in bed (it was at 2am after last call. Guess you had to be there). Fed baby bears. Climbed Little Devil's Tower with a minimum of cursing. Donated (read: lost) money to Deadwood. Set off and watched fireworks from the field of my sister in law's house. Saw more stars than I've seen since we were there last summer. Felt like we were home.

Okay, let's revisit. First, Little Devil's Tower. This is M's most favorite place in the whole world, although he bemoans the fact that there is actually a trail marker on it, like, for tourists and stuff. Although I'm not much into trudging up sides of mountains, I do it because I love him and it's nice to know that I can still climb it. Did I mention that I had a cold when I did it? Yes, I am a very good wife. However, I don't know how many more times I'll be able to climb it. Not because I am woefully out of shape, but I've found that the older I get, the more of an issue I have with heights. There's even some vertigo involved. So I can only spider crawl around the granite dome for so many years before I just hang it up. But we did see a real, live mountain goat while we were up there, so know I can at least say "Yeah, this one day, I was climbing a mountain, and I saw a mountain goat!".

Second, Deadwood. Deadwood has legalized gambling, and so each year M and I get a room, go tie one on and play blackjack until the wee hours of the morning. Las Vegas is too intimidating for me. Deadwood is just my speed. But what I found more than a little disturbing is that a few of the people that played at our table had no business gambling their money away. When we gamble, it's a very small amount that we are fully okay with losing. We think of it more like a fee for the time that we play. So the objective isn't winning a lot of money, it's longevity. That, and getting the free drinks. There was the 20 something guy who had gotten so wasted the night before that he had gotten fired that day...and it didn't seem to bother him one bit. Then there was the guy (nice guy, but still) that had a wife, a 3 year old and a two week old baby back in Sioux Falls who was betting $10 to $20 a hand. Dude, I have an idea...why don't you buy diapers with that money? If I was sitting at home with a two week old baby while my husband was out gambling, let's just say that his chances of fathering another child with me would be slim to none. I'm just saying.

It was really nice to be home. We had a wonderful time, and I'm so glad we got to see his family (which we usually only get to do once a year, even when we lived in Houston). But what was also nice about it is that it gave me some perspective. It's easy for us, sitting in KL, to imagine how perfect life would be if only we lived in the States. Yes, it would be nice to have Taco Bell, Target with it's rows and rows of choices, and clothing stores that sell my size. But you know what? There are dumbasses everywhere. There are people who get your food order wrong in the US. There are people in the US who take up the entire walkway in the mall, and then stop right in front of you. There are people in the US who drive 20mph on mountain roads, with a line of cars behind them, and don't pull over to let you pass. So it was actually really good for us to see that, so that we don't imagine how much better it would be, if only. Discourtesy and bad service are global. It was good for us to get that jolt of reality, to bring back some objectivity.

And now, fun photos.

Near pants wetting incident with doll in the nephew's bed:

Mountain goat on Little Devil's Tower:

Baby bears that we fed:

Groovy fireworks photo:

Monday, July 9, 2007

Vacation Part I: The Land of Fruits and Nuts

We are back from our vacation in the US, and now that I'm finally getting over some really fierce jetlag, here's a recap.

We spent the first few days of our vacation in California. I had never been to California except for flying through LAX, and M wanted to show me where he grew up.

Our flight landed on Thursday night. We checked into the hotel and went on a search for Bud Light and Other Things American. We had dinner at the Santa Monica Pier where we had Bud Light AND baseball on TV. We were giddy.

The next couple of days we went to Universal Studios, spent time with M's cousins, and played a card game (Pegs and Jokers) that apparently is all the rage with the motorhome set. We love games (and dream of the time when we can truly be a part of the motorhome set), so we had a great time.

Random observations about California:

People in California probably do more blow than the other 49 states combined, so why can't you smoke ANYWHERE?

No shortage of silicone, however. There's no smoking, but apparently, multiple elective surgeries are no problem. I went from having some of the biggest boobs in KL to feeling woefully junior high-ish again.

We feel safer walking around at night in KL than we do in Santa Monica.

Ojai is the only place in the world where a topless chick can ride her bicycle around the main street of town for about two hours, and no one bats an eye. Wait. Not topless. With silver sparkly pasties. 'Cause that's way more normal.

There is a school of Theosophy in Ojai. That's right, Theosophy. As in, Theology + Philosophy. I love how people can just randomly combine two words and make a new religion. We learned about this when we stopped to buy a T-shirt and heard all about it from the shop owner, who also told us about her trip to India with her guru and the apparently orgasmic joy of the mango. Actually, she was very nice, and I admire people who have that much zest for life. It's just that she just got a little too excited about that mango.

My husband did some pretty crazy shit in his younger days in California.

And...drum roll please....we had to drive all over Ventura, and finally to Ojai to find it, but I finally got my Taco Bell. The angels sang. Here's a lovely photo of the best CrunchWrap Supreme I have ever eaten:

Our adorable hotel in Ojai, the Blue Iguana. Highly recommend it. So cute and amazingly well priced for California:

I may be poking a bit of fun at California, but actually I really enjoyed it and I'm sure we'll go back. Next time - RVing it up and down the coast!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Leaving LA

So, here we are, sitting in LAX waiting for our long flight back to Singapore. Although I typically loathe LAX, it's not so bad this time since we are in the airport lounge. Singapore's payback to M for traveling a kabillion miles this year is that he is Gold status (and I will be soon), and now can have all the free Sunchips and scotch he wants in their lounge.

I always feel like a fraud when I go in, like I really don't belong. All the grown ups watch me and wait for me to stuff my purse and all my pockets with all the bags of Corn Nuts. As if. I would totally go for the little mini boxes of sugary cereal instead. I LOVE THOSE.

I'll recap our vacation once we get back to KL.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A New Kind of Loyalty Program

Forgive my lack of updates...we've been on vacation for the past couple of weeks.

Last Thursday we flew from KL to LA to spend a few days in California before heading to South Dakota. We picked up our rental car on Friday morning, and after we drove it for a little while, we looked in the ashtray. I opened it, glanced in, and shut it.

Wait. I opened it again. Hm. Those sure don't look like cigarette ashes. And what's with the little stems in there?

Yep, there was pot in our rental car ashtray. Welcome to California.

I immediately looked in the glove box, expecting the motherload, but no such luck. Then of course we had to capture the moment on camera for our Flickr page. We weren't pissed about it or anything. It was a tiny amount and I doubt we would have gotten in any sort of trouble with the authorities had they stopped us (plus M would have gotten say hi to them anyway - being a teenager in California apparently means being on a first name basis with all the police in the Ojai area).

When we returned the car a few days later, we couldn't resist mentioning it - we figured they needed to know, plus we thought that maybe they'd give us a "Sorry for the Weed" discount. The guy at the counter was professional looking, about 35-40, clean cut, just the sort of guy we figured would at least be somewhat apologetic, or surprised, or maybe a bit embarrassed about the doobage in their rental car. Not so much.

M: "The car was great, but we did have one problem. There was pot in the ashtray."

We prepare for the apology and discount that we are sure are coming.

Avis guy: "You're kidding?" Laughs. "Well, at Avis, we try harder! Next time we'll leave you a six pack too!"

See? Avis really does try harder, God bless 'em.