Saturday, February 16, 2008

We Don't All Live on Wisteria Lane

M is in the US on business and serious baby shopping duty, so I've had an eventful Saturday of reading, watching TV and emotional eating. My current Emmy worthy viewing selection is a US show, something along the lines of "Extreme Car Chases Gone Bad", or something to that effect.

That got me thinking: I wonder what in the world your average Malaysian, or anyone else outside the US for that matter, thinks of the US when they watch a show like this? I kind of wonder about what impression that leaves, although it has to be better than the impression they get from watching an Akon video. Anything is. Seriously though, I've become much more aware of people's impressions of America, both positive and (more typically) negative, since living abroad. So, many times, I'll view American TV shows and movies through a non-American's eyes, just to better understand how impressions, generalizations and opinions are formed, because for a lot of people here, that's really the only exposure they have with the "American way of life" - the entertainment industry. (You know, because that's so representative.) Oh yeah, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Seriously. They love their chicken here. They need a 12 step program for it. But I digress.

The creme de la creme is when they show "COPS". I cringe when they show "COPS". Fifteen year old episodes of "COPS", complete with a shirtless, shoeless BillyBobRayDon sitting on the curb with a cigarette dangling out of his toothless mouth, trying to explain to JoeBobJunior of the Fort Worth, Texas police department that he didn't KNOW she was a prostitute, he was just giving her a ride home and no, sir, I have no idea where that crack pipe came from. (I'll admit it. The Fort Worth episodes are my favorite, if only to see a glimpse of home and occasionally tell M "Hey, I've been to that bar!".) Or when a suspect tries to resist arrest and the cop, relying on slight, ahem, use of force, body slams them to the ground, I tend to think that this is not painting the US in a favorable light.

So, yeah, it's a little disconcerting that the primary examples of American life that people are exposed to here are COPS, American Idol and Desperate Housewives, served with a greasy bucket of fried chicken. I'm just thankful they haven't added Jerry Springer to the line up. Then we're all screwed.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Spoke Too Soon...

Well, we got two days of a fully functioning condo before something else konked out. Our bedroom air conditioner has decided to die...for the THIRD time. If it was any other unit, it wouldn't be a big deal, but I can't stand to be hot when I sleep, and having to sleep with a full body pillow doesn't exactly keep one cool and refreshed, does it? With Chinese New Year, it will be at least next week before we can get the contractors over here again to play the "Let's guess at what the problem might be" game.

Now, the good news is that our owner is actually pretty great. She is very responsive and will usually intervene to help expedite things if necessary. So we are lucky to have her as an advocate, but still, we are looking at at least several more muggy, stuffy nights. We are hoping we can just get the unit replaced. It's too small for the room and so it always works at maximum capacity and just peters out. We need to step up to the next size compressor, or else we will just continue to play this game until we leave KL.

Moving on...on the positive front, Paula Abdul appears to be spiking her Coca Cola cup on American Idol again this season, which is FABULOUS. The hiccup last week was truly awesome. It's the little things that keep me entertained.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


So at 11am this morning I am waiting. Waiting for phone contractor that was already an hour late, and who I imagined wouldn't bother to show up at all.

Dealing with these daily frustrations is like someone lightly scratching the same place on your arm over and over again. Someone scratches you once, no big deal. Even a few times...not a problem. But when they scratch the same spot over and over again, eventually it irritates you to the point of wanting to bitch slap someone. It's times like this that M sometimes has to step in so that I don't completely freak out on someone and embarrass myself.

So when M came home to pack for his trip to Bangkok, he went down to the management office to find out why the contractor hadn't shown up. Truth be told, it's completely normal here for contractors to be completely unreliable. But we were tired of dealing with it, so M proceeded to go to the manager's office and he gave her a thorough ass chewing. Her attitude was that it was completely out of her control, which is a lame excuse and one that we were tired of hearing. No, it's not completely out of your control. You can control this. Be accountable. It's called "customer service."

Now, normally when we get angry or confrontational here, it results in absolutely nothing other than raising our own blood pressure. It's actually kind of a helpless feeling. So, I have no idea how the conversation went down in that office, but...

Within one hour not only had the contractor shown up, but so had the other contractor that we have been asking about for a month to fix the bathroom door. This is unprecedented for us in Malaysialand. Bitching = RESULTS. Ah....just like home. I was giddy. I actually think endorphins were involved, I was so damn happy. I could have skipped. I would have jumped up and down and clapped with glee if it wouldn't have made me pee myself. I have no idea why complaining actually worked this time, and I don't care. It worked.

Now, as soon as we can get the freezer door fixed, I can (hopefullyhopefullyhopefully) take a much needed break from dealing with maintenance frustrations and get back to the business at hand - nursery preparations and the pursuit of my daily donut fix.

Monday, February 4, 2008

And We Don't Even Own the Place

Holy fucking shit.

Have you ever had one of those days where it is absolutely imperative that you curl up in the fetal position and have a good cry? Things have gotten a tad overwhelming and so it's good that "my face scrunches in a cute way" when I cry, according to M, because he sees that look more often than I'd like these days.

We got back from our baby shopping weekend in Singapore last night to the oh so pleasant odor of all the food in our refrigerator having spoiled. Our latest maintenance woe is the refrigerator. That mother fucking refrigerator. The seal on the freezer sucks major ass, and so it becomes unsealed regularly. Well, it became unsealed while we were gone over the weekend, causing the fridge to essentially crap out, and everything thawed and spoiled in both the fridge and freezer. We went to the grocery store on the way home, so not only was all of the food in the fridge spoiled, but most of the food that we came home with ended up having to be tossed out as well. M finally got it back working later last night, but not before I calmly walked in the bedroom, laid down, and cried. It was just the straw that broke the camel's back. Everything seems to be such a pain in the ass these days. Nothing is going smoothly. And so it goes on and on like this, until I have to release some of that stress. Some people throw things, some people yell. I cry.

Then, this morning, our power converter imploded as M was making pancakes for our Superbowl breakfast. (Quick aside: What is wrong with that statement?? Superbowl = beer and queso. Not pancakes and juice. It also means Superbowl commercials, which we don't get here. That's just fucked up not to get the commercials. I mean, why even watch the game?) The whole apartment filled with smoke. It still smells.

Then, to continue my lucky streak with maintenance issues, we had the telephone guy come over today to do some work. Here's the deal: We have like, six phone jacks in this place. But, we can only have two of them work at a time. (No, I don't know why. Because it's Malaysia.) So, we want to turn off the jack in the bedroom and turn on the jack in the gym, because we will be moving our computer in there to turn the office into the nursery. So we explain all this to M's administrative assistant. She calls the phone company. The guy comes over, and then proceeds to explain that he can't do anything because it's not a cable issue, and it's inside the apartment. Apparently, the admin told him incorrectly. Whatever. So he has to get management's approval to do anything in the condo. Fine. So we went down to the management's office, and, my good luck for the day, she was actually in the office. I spent the next 45 minutes listening to the phone guy and the manager argue over whose job it was to change the damn jack, and the phone guy explain to the condo's contractor over and over again what we needed done. I kept thinking to myself, "It shouldn't be this hard. It's essentially unplugging a plug from socket A and plugging it into socket B." I mean, if I get it and the contractor doesn't, then it doesn't bode well for us to have a working jack anytime before Chinese New Year. Then a few internal screams later, the contractor told me he would come tomorrow, then started raising hell with the manager again. Okay, so the contractor is supposed to come tomorrow. It remains to be seen, however, if he a) shows up, b) knows what the hell to do once he gets here and c) brings the proper tools.