Sunday, September 23, 2007

Anyone Need a Ride?....Seriously, Anyone?

Because we finally have a car! We have now joined the rest of these guys in KL:

One of our biggest frustrations in KL has been transportation. Not having a car means that you are at the mercy of the weather, the taxi drivers, and hoofing it to the subway station every time you want to go somewhere. It's a control issue with me, and a couple of months ago, I hit my limit.

So we bought a car. FREEEEEEDOMMMMM!!!!!

We picked it up last week, and I have to say, it's some of the best damn money we have ever spent. We love our little Perodua. We've named her Lucy.

Lucy is small, but that's exactly what we need in the city. The lanes are narrow, the traffic is (sometimes) harrowing, and the parking garages have tiny ramps and parking spaces. I have no idea how people even maneuver a Camry into some of these parking garages.

We love Lucy. Seriously, every couple of hours or so, M and I will turn to each other and say "Why didn't we get a car sooner?" It's our very favoritist toy ever these days! After we picked it up last week, we drove out to dinner every night. On the weekend we drove all around town, even through Chinatown on a Saturday afternoon, which is taking your life into your own hands. A true madhouse. So our off time consists of thinking up different reasons to drive the car. Do we need to go to the grocery store? Let's go by towels! Let's go to dinner! Do we want to go to the mall?

M seems to have gotten pretty comfortable with the driving style here. Lanes are mere suggestions. Sometimes they abruptly end because people are double parked. They merge on a whim. People like to straddle them for kilometers on end. Blinkers are never used. Scooters rule the road and weave in and out of traffic. We are learning all about the "traffic circle" and how to read the signs in general. The signs will tell you what part of town you are going to, but generally, they don't tell you what road you are on. So with M at the wheel, and me attempting to read the map, it's like the blind leading the blind. I guess that's the best way to learn, I suppose. It would help if half the streets weren't named Damansara something.

In general, while the traffic can be bad in some places, we find that most drivers all work together, far more so than in the US. If you need to change lanes, they will let you in. If they are in your blind spot, they will give you a friendly honk to let you know, rather than hang out of their window screaming obscenities at you. In Houston, using your blinker is like waving a big sign saying "Cut me off! Please race ahead so that I don't dare move in front of you! Where you are going is far more important, and I understand that if you are one car in front of me, that means that you will get to your destination a full two seconds before I will. So please, go right ahead!" (Yeah, it's a long sign). Here, when you use your blinker (and I think we're the only ones that do)...they let you in. Brilliant.

We love Lucy. Lucy takes us where we want to go, rain or shine. Lucy smells like new car, not like a cab or stinky subway. Lucy plays great music. Lucy has working seat belts, airbags and air conditioning. Lucy doesn't overcharge us. Lucy will take us to Melacca, or Penang, or Cameron Highlands, or Singapore. Lucy's meter always works, and Lucy gets her gasoline at a full-serve station (I didn't even know those still existed).

We love our new addition to our family.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Musical Meme Update

In the spirit of musical fun, I've added a couple of lines to the songs that haven't been guessed yet in the Musical Meme below.

Go on, you know you wanna play....

If You Get the Feeling Someone's Crazy, They Are

This afternoon, I went over to KLCC and had a lovely lunch with Reese. Afterwards, I headed back home via the KLCC park.

The park at KLCC is really nice. Lots of trees and grass, a well maintained children's play area and a big wading pool for them to play in. I was meandering along on the path when I noticed footsteps behind me. Usually, footsteps behind me kind of bother me, since I am naturally completely paranoid of being snuck up or surprised in any way. Seriously, M can't even surprise me in the shower. He knows that it will scare me so bad that it usually will bring on tears. He's also likely to get hit with a bottle of shampoo, so he's learned. I have a bit of an anxiety issue, in case you can't tell. However, here in KL, I've gotten a little more used to it. There are so many people in general, definitely in the park, and given the "smaller personal space" issue as well as the shuffling noise that many people make when they walk here (seriously, people, pick up your feet), that I'm used to hearing people walk behind me.

So I'm walking along, and hear these footshuffles behind me. This continues for a bit, until I hear,

"Excuse me, miss?"

I pretend to have not heard.

Again, "Excuse me, miss?"

So I turn my head and keep walking forward a bit. A local guy approaches me. Please don't try to sell me a Rolex, I think. (I'm not generalizing here. We get approached to buy Rolexes in front of KLCC on a semi-regular basis. M usually just speaks Spanish to them, they get frustrated, and end up leaving us alone.)

"Where are you from?" he asks.

"I live in KL," I reply. As I've said before, I typically won't offer the information that I'm from the US. I wasn't in the mood for a lecture.

"You...are so beautiful," he says.

"Um, thanks," I reply. K...that's a bit random. Where was this guy going with this? I have a healthy distrust of random compliments. Especially considering that I was wearing a ratty tank top and carrying a sassy nylon sling bag. Oh, and sweating profusely. Yeah, looking great right now.I figured he was going to try to sell me some face cream, or maybe a timeshare. I continue walking.

"Where do you live?"

What, are you crazy? Do you really think I'm going to tell you where I live? This guy was starting to weird me out.

"I live in KL," I reply. I start walking again.

"Excuse me, miss?" So I turn around again. He jogs up next to me. "I wanted to ask you a question."

I wait.

"Would you like to have...a dinner sometime?" he stammers. Okay, now I'm a teeny bit flattered, as he's obviously nervous, and that's kind of sweet in a stalkerish sort of way.

"I'm married," I tell him, thinking that will finally end the conversation. I don't really do "conversation" with strangers in general, and in particular random guys who approach me in a park.

"That's okay, it's just dinner," he said. Ohhhh, okay, just dinner. Well, sure, why not? I'm sure M would understand. Definitely.

I shook my head and repeated, "I'm married."

"Oh, okay," he said and I went on my merry way.

A little weird, but nothing major.

Except that then, from behind me, he starts yelling "You are so beautiful! You are so beautiful!" Okay, now this guy has crossed the line from a stammering, harmless enough fellow, to a loony stalker type.

Maybe he was with some friends who put him up to it. Otherwise, he lacks what I would call "the social skills".

Now, if he shows up underneath my window tonight holding a boombox blasting Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes", then I might be in trouble.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Musical Meme

Saw this on Donna's blog and thought it looked really fun! Here’s how it goes:

1. Put your mp3 player or music player on your computer on random.
2. Post the first four lines from the first 20 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song (Skip repeat artists).
3. Post and let everyone you know guess what song and artist the lines come from.

Leave your guesses in the comments. No Googling for answers!

1. I’m trying to tell you
Something ‘bout my life
Maybe give me insight
Between black and white
Guessed by Triad #1

2. Well when you’re down on your luck
And you ain’t got a buck
In London
You’re a goner
Even London Bridge
Has fallen down
And moved to Arizona

3. There is nothing that competes with habit
And I know it’s neither deep nor tragic
It's simply that you
Have to have it
So you could make a killing

4. This old man
I’ve talked about
Broke his own heart
Poured it in the ground
Big red tree grew up and out
Throws up its leaves
Spins round and round

5. Well I know it’s kinda late
I hope I didn’t wake you
But what I’ve gotta say can’t wait
I know you’d understand
Guessed by Triad #1

6. Mother mother ocean
I have heard you call
Wanted to sail upon your waters
Since I was three feet tall
Guessed by Triad #1 (close enough)

7. Well my baby threw me out
Because I drank too much
She offered me her car
So I could move my stuff
I'm gonna sell the bitch's car
I'm gonna sell the bitch's car

8. Twenty twenty twenty four hours to go
I wanna be sedated
Nothin to do nowhere to go
I wanna be sedated
Guessed by Donna

9. I know a girl who
Thinks of ghosts
She’ll make you breakfast
She’ll make you toast
But she don't use butter
And she don't use cheese

10. I look at you
You might your tongue
You don’t know why
Or where I’m coming from
But in my head I'm close to you
We're in the rain, still searching for the sun

11. So scream you
Out from behind the bitter ache
You’re hanging on the memory
You need most
You still want love
Love's ugly, smooth and delicate
But not without affection, but not alone

12. Oh l’amour
Broke my heart and now I’m aching for you
Oh l’amour
What's a boy in love supposed to do?
Guessed by Donna

13. Listen to the girl
As she takes on half the world
Moving up and so alive
In her honey dripping beehive
It's good, so good
It's so good

14. Oh we were walking
Just the other day
And it was so hot outside
You could fry an egg
Guessed by Reese

15. Sweat baby, sweat baby
Sex is a Texas drought
Me and you do the kind of stuff
That only Prince would sing about
So put your hand down my pants
Guessed by Triad #1

16. Well he was fueled by a lack
Drew inspiration from a need
So many problems to crack
And mouths to feed
Crooked was the path
And brazen was the walk

17. You saw me standing by the wall
Corner of a main street
And the lights are flashing
On your windowsill
Guessed by Donna

18. There’s something in the way she moves
Or looks my way
Or calls my name
That seems to leave this troubled world behind
Guessed by Triad #1

19. Coming out of my cage
And I’ve been doing just fine
Gotta gotta be down
Because I want it all
Guessed by Reese

20. Every time I see you
Something happens to me
Like a chain reaction
Between you and me
My heart starts missing a beat
My heart starts missing a beat
Every time

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Today marks the beginning of Ramadan (or Ramadhan, if you prefer). During the month of Ramadan, Muslims must fast from dawn until dusk. When I say fast, I mean not only from eating, but also from drinking (anything, even water), sex, sarcasm, gossiping, etc. Since I'm no expert on the subject, read this article from Wikipedia. It explains things much better than I could. If I tried to explain it to you, I would basically just recite the article, and plagiarism is bad, 'n kay?

All around town, people are gearing up for Ramadan. Advertisements are everywhere for Ramadan buffets. Breaking fast is an event, and hotels are game to cash in with lavish buffets. Rush hour starts earlier as well. Many offices shorten their hours during Ramadan - some only offer this to Muslims, and other offices offer it to all employees. For example, our office in Dubai will end the workday at 2pm. Again, I totally agree with this. Dubai traffic is horrendous anyway, but to adding a bunch of hungry, low blood sugar, not having eaten all day drivers to the mix just doesn't make a lot of sense from a safety standpoint. For those offices who offer it to only Muslims, I am wondering in the back of my mind - how come I didn't get to leave work early during Christmas in the US? I could have gotten a ton of Christmas shopping done! Then again, I hardly think that fasting all day is akin to needing to go to Toys R Us to pick up some last minute gifts. Although, going to Toys R Us at 6pm during the two weeks preceding Christmas does have its own kind of sacrifice - that being, my sanity. But I digress...

Companies will often hold events for breaking fast. Nice idea, really. I've heard though, that some companies make these events mandatory for everyone in the office, regardless of their religious beliefs.


This doesn't fly for me. "Participating in social events" isn't part of many job descriptions out there. Neither is "participating in religious events". And I think it would be a stretch to include it as part of the "other projects as assigned" on said descriptions. As an HR person, I'm surprised at this. I enjoy social gatherings as much as the next person, but I'd never force anyone to attend. To me, this is akin to requiring employees to attend a Christmas party (in the US, you can't even call it a Christmas party anymore - it's a Holiday party, for fear of offending any particular religion), or requiring them to dye Easter eggs for the local kids to hunt. A social event, yes, but one grounded in a particular religious belief. While Malaysia is predominantly Muslim, religious freedom is an important part of Malaysia as well.

So I'm left scratching my head on that one.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Did the Earth Move for You?

So M gets home from work tonight. We are sitting out on our balcony, which is what we normally do, discussing what we are going to have for dinner tonight. All of a sudden, M stops and looks at me.

"Do you feel that?" he says.

Well, I'll be damned, I most certainly did feel that. So I respond "Yeah, I feel it."

And we both watched his drink sway in his glass.

"Holy shit, that's an earthquake," he says.

"Oh. Cool," I respond.

So we go inside, and sure enough, the hanging lights in our kitchen are just kind of swaying back and forth. Not violently or anything, but just a gentle sort of rocking. We notice it in the living room too, and our kitchen door is kind of rocking back and forth, making a sqiuik-squick noise. It's not like you feel the ground is moving, you just feel this weird vertigo and you notice that shit is moving that should not be moving.


So M is all about getting the frick out of there and going to dinner, because he's not too keen on experiencing more of our first earthquake in KL from the 11th floor of our building. Having grown up in California, he's all too familiar with earthquakes. Me, I'm fascinated. This is totally gnarly.

See, I grew up in Tornado Alley (for those of you who aren't familiar with Tornado Alley, it's a swath of land, going from the Midwest - Kansas or southern Nebraska - on down through north central Texas, where most of the world's tornadoes occur). Growing up, I always had a strange fascination with tornadoes, and would plot them and track them as the weather bulletins would scroll across our TV screen. One time, I even saw the green clouds slowly swirling above us as we stood at our kitchen window, peering through the pea green blinds that were so circa 1982 it's not even funny.) So, given my penchant for weather and other things scientific, it's a wonder I ever got laid in high school. I'm fascinated with tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, all of that stuff.

I am mesmerized by nature's violent tendencies. Not to make light of it because I'm not, I've just always been in awe, and so interested in these sorts of things. If we felt it on the 11th floor of a building, I wonder what it felt like to people on the 88th floor of the Petronas Towers?

I never felt like we, in KL, were under any particular danger, since we are hardly ever (if ever at all) near the epicenter of earthquakes. The epicenters of the quakes we feel are typically in Indonesia. My fascination with them doesn't mean that I am naive to the damage they can do, so I don't mean to sound unsympathetic. It's just that for someone who has never experienced it, it's pretty wild. I always thought it would be a violent shaking. For us here, it was more of a rocking or swaying motion. It felt like when you are out on a boat all day, feeling the waves gently rock you, and then when you go to bed that night, it feels like you are still in the boat. Just a weird sort of vertigo.

So, there you have it - our first earthquake. So during dinner, M went on about his dissertation about structural natural frequencies and mass moments of inertia.

I love it when he gets all technical.

Monday, September 10, 2007


It's a bit of a snoozer around here these days...not a lot going on. So, just a few quick updates:


We finally got our possessed ceiling fan fixed. It took three (or four) appointments, but this time, the service guy finally showed. It was a bit touch and go for a while though, since this afternoon the service office called and said they needed to know where we lived. (Okay, I don't understand since they supposedly came by last week when we weren't here, but anyway.) So the service guy called, and he spoke mostly Malay. This is fine and all, since we are, after all, in Malaysia, but we were having a hard time of it - me understanding his questions, him understanding my directions. Luckily, M came home about then, so I was able to thrust the phone at him so that he could give the directions. He's just way better at being concise (big shocker there, I'm sure). So now we have a ceiling fan that not only turns on, but turns off as well. Handy.


The ants are back in our kitchen. How do ants get up to the 12th floor of a building? So I'm having to be extra clean and tidy in the kitchen so that they don't take over our pantry and march off with its contents, a la "ants at a picnic" that you see on cartoons. Being extra clean and tidy is tough for me. It goes against my very nature.


I was inspired by Donna, and I've started the Couch to 5K program. I was starting to work out a little anyway, and this program seemed like it would give me some structure and something to shoot for. I'm only on Day 3, so it remains to be seen if I stick with it or not. I still truly believe that endorphins are a myth created by Nike and Powerade.


It just occurred to me today that when I'm in Texas at the end of October, I'll be able to go to a high school football game! Give me a good high school or college game over the NFL any day. Plus, I'll get to see my nephew cheer, which I've never been able to do! Their squad is supposed to be really good too, so that will be fun. I love the smell of autumn high school football games - clean air, cut grass, nachos and hot dogs. It's not fall without it.


Speaking of high school football - Friday Night Lights just started showing on Star World here. All I can say is, having grown up in a town like that, the creators and writers are spot on. Spot On. They really capture the authenticity of the whole thing. I'd love to know who they have consulting on that show, and how they are so accurate. It's like they hung out at the diner in my hometown.

Yep, exciting times around here...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Bless Her Heart

You know what? The 90 degree, 90% humidity of KL feels downright cool after being in Dubai's 115 degree heat for the past couple of weeks.

You know what else is cool? After a red eye flight in which I got maybe two hours of sleep, and no nap all day yesterday, I slept for 13 hours last night. M finally had to come and wake me up. Thirteen hours...I guess I'm officially rested up now.

And finally, something that's not so cool:

(From the Teen Miss USA pageant a couple of weeks ago)- (yeah, yeah, I wanted to post the video here, but I don't know how, so you get a link instead)

Bless her heart. I just want to tell her to stop talking. Please. You - have - derailed. Her logic seems to be "Well, if I just keep on talking, something halfway intelligent should come out at some point." Sigh. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

At least she got an appearance on "The Today Show" out of it. And the most shocking thing? She placed THIRD in the whole pageant.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

One Year Ago

One year ago today, M left for Malaysia.

I remember the day he told me he was approached about a possible job opportunity in KL. It was early May - we had just gotten engaged and were just beginning to plan our wedding. The timing wasn't right. I guess it never really is, you know? It's always one thing or another. For whatever reason (I think it was all the heavy drinking), we considered it. Planning a wedding and an international move in five months? Sounds like fun and ever so stress free! Sign me up! And while you're at it, can I have that Lexapro prescription now?

We spent endless nights talking about it, weighing the pros and cons. With my HR background, I found myself riding a fine line of supporting fiancée and HR advisor. I knew that this would be great for his career, but I didn't want to influence his decision. It was partly my decision too, I know. I just didn't want to push him into it, and I didn't want him to resent me if he ended up hating it. We ended up making the decision the way couples should - together. He took the job, and then the fun really began :)

With planning a wedding and planning a move, I was insanely busy, which I think sheltered me from the reality of the situation. It was all about checklists and organizing. I didn't have time to worry about anything other than what was next on my list. The wedding was the focal point for us; the move was secondary in our minds. We didn't want it to overshadow the wedding in any way. It almost felt like I had been swept up in a tidal wave and things were just kind of happening. Auto-pilot. I was just trying to keep up and keep my head above water.

One year ago today, M left for KL. It was strange to know that we were about to be married, yet here I was staying behind while he left, but it couldn't be helped. I had to finish planning our wedding, which was, at that point, six weeks away. I had to wrap up my current job, and was busily crossing my fingers that the job that my company had said they would work out for me in KL was miraculously going to materialize. I had a house to pack, a cat to find a home for, two cars to sell, finances to get in line, an air shipment to gather, designate items for storage, all while going to dress fittings and frantically finalizing wedding details. I know M felt guilty, but he shouldn't have. The situation just was what it was. He had plenty of things to deal with as well, with his new job and setting up our apartment in KL. So I, in turn, felt just as guilty. I was busy and all, but I had a support system, and I was in familiar territory. M was out in the wild, so I think it must have been harder for him than it was for me.

The next six weeks went by in a blur. I oversaw the house pack. I finalized all the little wedding details that you forget about until the last minute. I transitioned out of my job duties as work. I had picked up steam and I was on a mission! I had a list, and by God, those things were going to get checked off. Food poisoning tried to derail me a couple of weeks before the wedding (again, timing is one funny bitch), but after a quick stint in the ER, I was back on track. I was on a mission.

And you know the rest of the story. The wedding went off without a hitch, on a perfectly gorgeous October day, the day before the sky decided to dump 15 inches of rain on Houston (timing owed me one, I suppose). Here we are, one year later from the day M boarded a plane heading for Asia, immersed in this new chapter in our lives.

What a difference a year makes.

You've Got to be Kidding Me

You know our brand spanking new TV? The one that we finally got because our OTHER brand new TV was determined to malfunction?

Yep, it’s broken.

They delivered it last Monday. All was hunky dory. M flew home on Sunday - again, fine. But then when he got back from Brunei a couple of days later, the sonofabitch won’t turn on.


I guess to look at the bright side of things, M was able to resolve it with the store today, and they are going to come replace it on Friday. However...that model has now been discontinued, so we are getting a Samsung. And...the Samsung is more than the second TV. So this means that for our trouble, we have had to replace two TVs, and have paid more for each one than the last.

I blame Toshiba. Evil Toshiba.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


I just finished a lovely, chicken tikka filled pastry. That's one thing that I do love in Asia and the Middle East - so many stuffed breads and pastries. It's absolutely heavenly. Samosas, curry puffs, parantha with filling, puff pastries, it goes on and on. There's nothing much better than yummy filling ensconced in flaky carbohydrate goodness. That just covers the filled carbs. It doesn't even touch the carb/dip combo, which is a wonderful creation all it's own, and in full abundance in this part of the world.

They are usually pretty cheap too, which doesn't help things. When I go into the office, I like to hit the cafeteria around 9AM to pick up a few curry puffs. Spicy curry chicken, potatoes, in a puff pastry, then DEEP FRIED. They are almost better than a donut.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Stamps in my Passport Are Still Cool Though...

M and I finally sat down last night and planned our travel for the rest of the year. Traveling for work has picked up quite a bit for the both of us, so The Planner in me had to get things as settled as possible.

It was only after our conversation that we realized how bizarre it was. For example:

Me: "Well, I have to be in Singapore that week, and you'll be in China. Then you have to be in Bangkok the next Monday, so maybe I can meet you in Bangkok that Friday and we can spend the weekend there..."

Or this:

M: "You have to be in Houston for two weeks, so maybe I'll go ahead and try to go to Dubai and then hit Mumbai on my way back to KL..."

WTF? Is this really my life?

A part of me wants to pinch myself that I have these opportunities. There's a part of me that still feels fifteen years old, and when we have these kinds of conversations, I feel like a grown up, lucky and adventurous, like I have graduated into some semi-adult life or something.

A bigger part of me is getting so unbelievably tired of hotels. I used to like hotels. They felt very decadent, and raiding the mini bar for cashews was pure indulgence. These days, I just miss my pillow. I miss not living out of a suitcase. I miss being home. I miss our being home together for any major stretch of time. But aside from work travel, I also feel like I'm pressuring myself to see as much of Asia as I can while we are here. So while some of this stress is work related, I'm responsible for quite a little bit of it myself.

So some people might be envious, I guess. I mostly just feel frazzled and tired.

Our first anniversary is coming up, and it falls on a four day weekend. What a perfect opportunity to take a trip together! Or so we originally thought. But after thinking about it, the thought of dealing with luggage, airports and passport control is just completely unappealing to us right now. We decided, instead, to take a road trip (road trip!) in our new car somewhere. We don't know where yet, but not having to deal with the stress of air travel on our anniversary will be worth it, and we will still feel like we are celebrating.

I feel guilty, like I shouldn't be complaining. I always face this guilt, this "there are starving children in China so eat your vegetables" kind of guilt; I know this is a great opportunity, that there are people who would trade places with me in a heartbeat. I know this. But there are days, especially when things feel most crazy, when I yearn for our former life - our backyard, lazy Sunday evenings, spur of the moment barbecues, and a slower pace of life.

Oh yeah...and Target.