Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Refinery

Batangas City has nightlife... who knew?

Last weekend Barney, a friend of ours that works with Lee, took us to a place called The Refinery. We had so much fun.

The Band... K 24/7 was awesome.

Oh and by the way Mr. Johnson... The keyboard player is what you would look like if you were Filipino. Lee and I think you look just alike, you have the same mannerisms too... very strange.

Best part of the night....

Me: What? (Lee is making the strangest face across the table from me.)
Lee: Nothing...
Me: Why are you making that weird face?
Lee: That girl behind you... I think she wants my body
Me: Haha... which one?

10 seconds later... Barney leans over to me..

Barney: You see that girl over there?
Me: Yeah...
Barney: That's a guy.
Me: Hahahahaha... well that's the same "girl" that wants Lee's body.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The King of Pop in the Philippines

I have nothing to say about this... because it totally rocks!!

The moon walk... I like it.

If you can't see this video embedded in the entry... CLICK HERE


If you can't see this video embedded in the entry... CLICK HERE

Bona-fide Certified Scuba Divers

Last Saturday, we went for our final dives and we took our written test, so we are certified. The dives we went on were really good this time, and got to see a bunch of new things.

On our first dive we went to a place called Cathedral. Cathedral is about 40 feet under the surface, and it consists of two huge rocks on either side of a statue of a cross. Its a really beautiful place, with a bunch of different fish. The fish are used to being fed by the divers, so they come right up to you expecting food. Lito, the dive master, brought with him a sack of bread for the fish. These fish must know Lito well, because at one point we couldn't even see him he was covered with so many fish.

We stopped at the cross, and Lito handed me a fist full of bread. I was immediately swarmed with fish. Normally, this might completely freak me out, but surprisingly I was fine with it. The fish were fairly small, and they were all pretty colors so it wasn't bad. Although, once the bread started to disappear, and my hand started getting eaten by fish I had had enough. I tried to throw the bread... which was stupid, because it doesn't go very far in water... so I was attacked by fish a while longer until all the bread was gone.

Seeing that many fish all around was amazing.

However, I've decided that one of the things I don't like about scuba diving is the lack of communication you have when you are underwater.

Exhibit A -

As we are swimming around the rocks at Cathedral, Lito stops, turns around and begins pointing at a fish.

(Keep in mind, I talk to myself the entire time I'm diving. I get bored if I don't keep myself entertained, and when I get bored I think about being under the water at 60 feet in the middle of the ocean with sea snakes and sharks... then I start to wig out. It's to the point where I might be slightly schizophrenic... I have full blown conversations with myself underwater.)

Me: "Hmm... why is he pointing at that fish? It sure is pretty. Looks like Nemo, but different colors. I bet he is Nemo's cousin. Why is Lito doing that? Is he trying to touch it? Should I touch it? Hmmm... I don't think so... Wait... what? Why is Lito pinching himself? Ooohh... bite. That fish doesn't look like it would bite? OMG! That little shit just bit him. Swim away!

Exhibit B -

Me- "Swim...Swim... What is Lito pointing at? Ok... I'm coming. I'm swimming as fast as I can... What is he writing? Hmmm...S...C..O...R...P..I..O..N...

Scorpion?! Those little suckers live underwater too! Ugh.. I hate scorpions. Where is it? If that things stings me, I'm never diving again. Oh great.. now Lito can't find it either. He is looking everywhere... no scorpion... It's probably right behind me waiting to sting me at any moment." (At this point I'm turning in circles hoping it's not taking a side attack.)

Exhibit C -

Me: "Hmmm.. that looks like a jelly fish. A small jelly fish, but a jelly fish. (I think everything translucent is a jelly fish... so who knows...) Oooo... He's right by Lee. Lee.... Lee! He's going to sting you... PAY ATTENTION TO ME! You are supposed to be watching me to make sure creatures don't attack me, and you aren't! Hellooo...

Fine. I hope you get stung."

Exhibit D -

"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!!! Something spikey and scary just latched on to that other diver with us. OMG! He removing it... from his crotch!! Is anybody else seeing this? I would die. What is that?!!!!?!"

Exhibit E -

"Ugh! I hate it when Lito points at things... most of the time they are not good things. Oh great... he is doing that biting motion again. At least it's just with his hand though... Hopefully if it was a shark he would use his whole arms. The worst part is, I don't even see anything... I'm going to get bit by something I just know it."

See.. I talk to myself a lot. And these are just the things I remember....

I decided I need a whistle and one of those writing boards so I can ask questions, and talk to other people besides myself underwater. I think I would have way more fun that way. Lee didn't seem thrilled with the idea.

I wonder why?...

Oh well.

Our final certification dive was a success, but it did not go with out injury. Lee smacked his hand on some coral and got a pretty bad cut, and I got stung or something. At one point my arm started hurting pretty bad, then it just became this dull stinging feeling. It still kind of stings 2 days later... which sounds pretty serious if you ask me.

I told Lee I think it could be some kind of flesh eating bacteria... He just rolled his eyes. Which is fine... but when my left arm falls off after a week... he's in big trouble!

We both did really well on our tests too. I was a little worried about it though. Lee didn't seem to be, "Most of it will probably be about pressure and buoyancy... easy stuff."


I'm sure he learned about that stuff in all his "cool kid" college classes... but my classes consisted of creative advertising strategies, and media theories.

I don't get excited about Boyle or his law... Sorry.

Studying for scuba felt like school all over again. And just like when I was in college I started out with the best intentions about preparing for the test. After all, I should probably understand the material since my life might be on the line....

But just like every other test I've ever taken, I waited until the morning I was supposed to take the test to start studying. And just like any other study session, I didn't actually read the book... I just spent about an hour finding and highlighting the answers to the review. Color coded of course. And just like every other test I've ever taken I got an A.

Ok... that's a lie.

I mean, I got an A... but I didn't always get A's on tests. But hey, I graduated with honors... so I must have done something right.

Some of the things in the book though have to be a joke. For instance, "You can carry a dive knife.... Besides the obvious - cutting - you can measure, pry, saw and pound, always being mindful not to harm aquatic life. Your dive knife is not a weapon."


Yeah right! If I feel the least bit threatened I will not hesitate to slash snake head or to stab a shark in the eye.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Celebrity Gossip

The other night Lee and I were in bed on our computers. We do this a lot. You know how in TV shows they show the married couple both reading in bed...

That's not us.

We each have a lap top instead.

Me: Jon and Kate are getting a divorce.... huh. I'm not surprised, I always thought Jon was an ass.
Lee: Who's Jon... ( He doesn't look up. I can tell he isn't really interested by his monotone automatic response.)
Me: Jon and Kate plus eight.
Lee: Huh? Never-mind, I don't care. (I kind of figured...)


Lee: So... Jon and who?
Me: Jon and Kate plus 8, it's a show on TLC.... and..
Lee: Stop. TLC? I was right before. I don't care.

Frankly, I don't really care either. I think I've only watched the show twice. But over here in the Philippines we lack the day to day drama of reality TV. (Although, I did talk to a girl who asked me about "Octo-mom." Great... I'm glad that's what Filipinos remember about the United States. ) So... I keep myself updated on celebrity scandals by checking E! online every now and then.

But Jon and Kate have been all over CNN. There is a new story or video about them everyday. They are like a bad car wreck... you don't want to watch because they are real people with real lives and real children; and you don't want be in the same class as those gossip hungry rubber-neckers, but at the same time you just can't help it. Plus, they subjected themselves to this celebrity by raising their eight children on TV.

I realize this is completely not filipino related, but Mr. Bigg doesn't care about Jon and Kate either... and it's 4 in the morning state side... so I can't call anyone else about it.

So one more thing before I abandon semi-celebrity gossip...

Let's take a look at the before and after.

He went from Jon: married, plus 8... comb over and a sweater...

To Jon: minus 9, who discovered spray tan and hair gel. Is this guy totally Hollywood now or what? And has he always had his ears pierced?!

He can't be serious...
I told you this guy was an ass.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's Official: Rainy Season

In the Philippines there are two seasons: dry season & rainy season. Dry season is from November to May and rainy season is from June to October. The last couple days it has been easy to tell that it's rainy season!

Hail? In the Philippines? Crazy huh?

Lee said that the locals at work were freaking out. Some of them would go outside and bring in chunks of ice in amazement.

This is what a small part of what the storm looked like at our house.

This is what the storm looked like from in our house...

Yes. That is the bar.
Yes. The entire roof is leaking.
Yes. There is about 3 inches of water covering the floor.
And yes. That is every pot/bucket/cooler we own.

It was lovely.

To make things even more fantastic water also leaked into two of the upstairs bedrooms. (Well to be honest, it only actually "leaked" in one. I always leave the windows open upstairs because it gets so hot and sticky, well I forgot...)

Chat came downstairs looking wind blown and wet.

Me: Chat... what happened?
Chat: Umm.. mam... windows... upstairs... open.
Me: Oops....

I went upstairs to find water all over the floor and the bed soaking wet.

Needless to say, Chat and I spent the rest of the day mopping up water.

To make things even more fan-freakin-tastic... the electricity was off from 3 p.m. until about 9:30 that night. Which conveniently was the night of Lee's birthday.

Baking a cake in the dark? Now that's talent!

The next day, the storm was supposed to be even worse. There was talk of schools closing and the Lee possibly coming home from work early. I was told that the power may be off for several days, and the water supply would be shut down as well. I should be prepared with at least seven days of food and water.


The water man had come the day before so I was covered there. Whew!

So then, I went to the pantry.

Peanut Butter.

Everything else required electricity, or at least my newly mastered talent of cooking in the dark.

So it would either be crackers with tuna and peanut butter or this would be the start of that whole eating better thing... Well, I guess in this case, the not eating at all thing I've been meaning to start for sometime now. Then maybe someone can actually tell I have been doing P90X for 53 days!

To make things even worse, I have definitely proven that I am in no way prepared for rainy season. I think I need one of those, "How to Survive a Natural Disaster," books... or at the very least, "How to Survive without Modern Day Conveniences, like Electricity, You Snobby American Brat."

I have no umbrella, no candles, and the only flash light we have is the kind you turn the handle to charge it, and then it lights up. You know, the kind where you don't need batteries. Well it's a great idea in theory but it only lasts about 30 seconds before going dark. So you have wind that damn thing constantly.

I don't know which is worse, the dark or the sound of the flashlight.

I filled the bathtub with water so we would at least have water to flush the toilets, when the water supply shut down. I left the tub to fill and went around the house trying to do everything I needed to do while I still had electricity and water. When I got back to the tub I found new creatures....


There were tadpoles in my bathtub!


I realize I was only planning on using the water to flush toilets... so it's not that big of a deal. But what if I was planning on taking a bath? Or any number of other things... Not only do I bathe in that water, but

I clean with that water....
Rinse vegetables and fruit in that water...
I brush my teeth with that water....
For all I know I have tadpole juice all over my teeth!

I do everything but drink the water, and I don't think it is in anyone's best interest to share it with tadpoles!!

It wasn't worth removing them... they are still there, swimming happily around the tub.

In the end... the storm wasn't that bad. We only lost power for about an hour during the day.

No need for the tuna fish and peanut butter crackers or a tadpole filled bathtub.

But next time.. I'll be more prepared!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Lee's Birthday in Manila

We went to a restaurant called Harbor View which overlooks the Manila Bay. We sat out on the pier and ate crab and lobster. It was pretty amazing. They even had Coors Light!


Then we went to the Hobbit House. The Hobbit House was started by an avid Lord of the Rings fan, and all of the waiters are "little people." Normally, I would be very apprehensive about going in a place like this due to my tendency to be neurotic and have irrational fears.

Frankly, I blame the Wizard of Oz for this one... but that's another story.

But the bar was fun, and our waitress was great. She is the one in the dark blue shirt on the left. I kept going up to the bar to ask questions, and she would make me go back to my seat to sit down so she could talk to me.


Isn't this picture great? I love how they almost chop Lee's head off because he is so tall!

The next day we went to this place called Greenhills mall. It is a knock-off mall where they sell imitation designer bags, watches, clothes...etc. Some of them aren't a complete disgrace to Chanel and Louis Vuitton, but most are very poor in quality and lack the aesthetics of most designer bags.

The place is like a giant flea market inside a mall, and most of the vendors carry exactly the same products. For this reason, you are hounded as you walk down the aisles.

Buy from me mam! You like Louis Vuitton mam? You shop here mam, I'll give you discount...

It's all you hear... all day long. It gets old.


Lee and I were walking through the aisles when I saw a young guy watching Lee. He was a skinny guy, probably early twenties, and his face lit up as soon as we started walking his direction.

We were about to his booth... when he dramatically throws his head back, flips around... stick his butt straight up in the air, in a very feminine voice says...

"hellllooo sir... You want wallet.... Louis Vuitton..."


I was trying not to laugh as we walked past him, and the look on Lee's face was priceless!

Me: Wow. He sure did like you!
Lee: I'm so glad nobody saw that!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Are you trying to be sexy?

Yesterday, while I was in Manila, I went to the bookstore. I was scanning books in the foreign language section, because I am determined to learn some Tagalog while I'm here, when I heard a small voice.

Little Girl: Uh ooo uh...

A pudgy Japanese girl, with short jet black hair, probably about six or seven was on her tip toes trying to grab a book which was way out of her reach. I had seen this little girl earlier in the cooking section, she was singing loudly while taking books off the shelves and throwing them on the floor.


Since I have zero patients for other people's obnoxious children I quickly decided I would look through Rachel Ray another day, and I moved towards the opposite side of the store. After all, I kill chickens and pepper spray cats, it's possible I would hang that little girl from a bookshelf by her hair.

Now, I was in the foreign language section and apparently she had followed me.

Me: Do you want me to help you?
Girl: Yes. That one.
Me: Ok, here you go. (It was a wedding planning book. Which I'm sure she had little use for... I guess she just liked the lime green cover.)

Girl: Are you english?
Me: American. I'm from the United States.
Girl: I thought you were english. I thought you were english because you have yellow hair.
Me: Hmmm... nope. (And my hair is not yellow. Highlights yes... yellow no. I already don't like her. )

All of a sudden she opens her eyes super wide and drops her mouth open.

Girl: Your dress is short!
Me: What?!
Girl: I can see your legs!

First of all... it wasn't that short. It was past my finger tips... that was school dress code right?And she is being super loud... it is a book store, people are reading... well they were until they all looked at me to see my yellow hair and hooker outfit. This child is on my last nerve. Where are her parents?

Me: haha...ok.
Girl: Are you trying to be sexy? ( I am not amused.)
Me: No. It's not that short. (Why I feel I have to defend my fashion choices to a six-year-old... I don't know...)
Girl: Are you a model?
Me: hahahaha... no.
Girl: Then why are you trying to be sexy?
Me: hahaha... you ask a lot of questions.
Girl: Why are you laughing?
Me: Because you're funny.

I go back to looking at the books, trying to ignore her....

Girl: What are you looking for?
Me: An english-tagalog dictionary... (My patients are growing thinner by the second...)
Girl: Why do you want a dictionary?

I'm trying to completely ignore her at this point....

Girl: Is this a dictionary?
Me: No
Girl: Is this a dictionary?
Me: No
Girl: Is this a dictionary?
Me: No

Uggghhhh! Seriously?

At this point I turned around and left the store.

I swear... Do I just attract these horrible things...

creepy crawly creatures....
feral cats...
obnoxious children...

what's next?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Yesterday I came stumbling down the stairs dripping with sweat, and sucking air....

Day 44 of P90X.

Well, to be honest... I have missed four days of P90X. But to be fair, all four days have great excuses.

The first day I missed was a couple weeks ago. We got these new giant puzzle piece tiles for the floor. They are made of a squishy-sports floor material, so now I no longer have to use a rug for a yoga mat. Well, I was in a most excellent down-ward dog pose when the floor started to slide out from under me. Before I knew what was happening the pieces came apart and I face planted on the floor. First my nose, followed by forehead, and then my knees. Where my damn hands were.... I'll never know. I laid in a crumpled heap moaning on the floor for a while, before realizing nobody was going to come upstairs and pick me up. Needless to say, that was the end of my work out. Yoga won that day. I fell off the yoga horse, and I was not about to get back on. Luckily, my nose was not broken, but my knees were purple for a whole week. Truly..."Death by Downward Dog."

That was day one... I missed day two, three and four because of scuba. Scuba is a good enough work out if you ask me. Between the weight belts, gear, and swimming around all day; P90X was out of the question.

So, back to yesterday.... me sucking air...

Chat: Oh mam, you look tired
Me: Yeah, it gets hot up there
Chat: You exercise so much, I can tell a difference
Me: Ha. Thanks Chat.
Chat: Before you were so slim, and you look so young... now you are getting muscles, you look so sexy. So beautiful.

Does this woman know how to get a raise or what? Even if she is a liar, she can definitely expect an increase in pay!

Are You For Scuba Ruben?

The Philippines is supposed to have some of the best dive sites in the world. And just about everyone we know insists we would be fools for living over here and never diving.

Naturally, I would be perfectly content being a fool. At least I would be a fool sitting on dry land, with no risk of gasping for air at 60 feet below the surface. And naturally, as with almost everything else, Lee has the opposite opinion.

Top 5 Reasons Why I Don't Want to Scuba

1. As I mentioned before, the idea of running out of oxygen at the bottom of the ocean is horrifying. I can't stand the idea of not being able to breathe, just writing about it is making me take deep breaths. And if you do run out of air, you can't just shoot back up to the surface... your lungs will explode... or something like that.

2. Sharks... need I say more? Not to mention all the other creepy crawly creatures. There are a variety of poisonous man eating sea creatures and I don't plan on being breakfast for any of them.

3. Not only do I not like scary sea creatures, but the not so scary ones don't really appeal to me either. I sometimes get freaked out when snorkeling. If I see too many fish sometimes I just lift my head out of the water so I can't see them anymore. Because if I can't see them, then maybe they will just disappear.

4. Which brings me to not being able to see things.... Those goofy looking goggles fog up constantly, and provide little peripheral vision. Something could be attacking me from the side and I would have no idea until I was sitting in its belly!

5. And last, but certainly not least, I'm slightly claustrophobic. I know the ocean is huge, but with little visibility it will seem like a small confined space... I don't do small spaces.

Of course, Lee thinks I'm neurotic and finds all of this to be irrational. He has been wanting to get certified to dive ever since we got here. I told him I would at least give it a try and get certified. But if I freak out and hate it he can't bother me about doing it anymore, because at least I tried it. Then I can happily enjoy sipping cocktails on the beach while he heads off on his death defying dive adventures.

So I agreed to try it, but I have been dragging my feet....

Me: Do you think it's a good idea to get certified here?
Lee: Yeah. Why not?
Me: Well... for starters, most of the appliances in our house have problems or don't work. And nobody thinks this is a problem. What if the scuba gear doesn't work properly? Does anyone here think that is a problem? Because I think it is a big problem! And there doesn't seem to be any professionals of any kind... just handy men. Is this guy actually a dive master, or has he just done it before?
Lee: That's actually kind of a good point.
Me: I'd rather get certified in Mexico.
Lee: That's scary.

Well, I was not as persuasive as I thought. Two weeks ago he brought home the dive books and said we had our first session that Saturday. Grrr...

Saturday came and it poured rain all day, and it got canceled! Which I totally saw as a sign....

But it got pushed to the next Friday. I knew I wouldn't get lucky two weekends in a row, Mother Nature is not that good... so I had a knot in my stomach all week. I couldn't even read the dive book, because all the nonsense about regulators and valves made me more nervous.

We spent the first day in the salt water pool getting used to the equipment. Our instructor, Lito, was phenomenal. I take back everything I said about unprofessionalism, I couldn't have asked for a better instructor.

I freaked out a little bit every now and then, but nothing I couldn't handle by talking to my crazy self. It helped that there were other people in the class. I am competitive to a fault, so wanting to be the best scuba student helped me get past my neurosis.

When we showed up for day two I figured we would do some more pool drills.... nope. First ocean water dive... 40 feet. Teeerrrific. I was all fine and dandy at the bottom of the nine foot pool, I could come up at any time. This was completely different. We had to walk in to the ocean with all our gear, waves crashing around us... while trying to get masks tight and fins in place. Lee and I were tossed around, and I definitely inhaled some salt water. Luckily, that was the hardest part. We went down to what Lito calls his, "underwater classroom," which is at about 20 feet. After our drills we headed down deeper to about 40 feet. I was so excited that I was actually diving that I kind of forgot about the scary creature part, and mainly concentrated on breathing.

I only had one minor freak out, which involved me not being able to see Lee. He likes to swim behind me so he can keep an eye on me... I'm sure because he knows he'll never hear the end of it if I get lost at the bottom of the ocean. Well, I looked to the left... he wasn't there. I looked to the right, not there. Full circle, still can't see him. It wasn't until I almost got kicked in the face that I realized he was right above me.

By day three we were the only two left in the class, and we did two more dives. The first dive was to 40 feet and the second one was 60 feet. On the second dive we saw a huge sea turtle! The dive master's dive buddy grabbed it and brought it close to us so I could touch it. That is one sea creature that I actually like. We were swarmed by a group of bright blue fish, which was pretty cool and I even saw two clown fish in an anemone. It was just like, "Finding Nemo," which I made Lee watch as soon as we got home.

So we have one more dive and our written test before we are certified. And I think I might actually like this diving business. I guess I can overcome being crazy after all. :)

Life's a Dream...

The other day at breakfast....

Lee: Hey did you read that email from my mom?
Me: Which email?
Lee: The last one.
Me: I don't know... I don't really remember. I think so, but it kind of feels like a dream...
Lee: Yeah... everyday feels like a dream...
Me: (My what the hell are you talking about look...)
Lee: ... when you're married to me.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Beauty is Pain

I have yet to get over how cheap things are here, especially when it comes to beauty services.

For example:

Haircut/Shampoo/Blow-dry - P150 ~ $3.00
Manicure - P90 ~ $1.85
Pedicure - P100 ~ $2.00
Eyebrow Wax - P180 ~ $3.50

Getting all of those services for around $10.00. Amazing.
Getting material for my blog.... priceless.

Pretty cheap huh? And this is one of the nice salons in the mall. Not the place across the street from our neighborhood which offers men's haircuts for P40; less than $1.00. Lee swears he is going to go there someday, just to see what an $.84 haircut looks like. But it probably doesn't look any different than the $1.20 haircut he gets right now.

Last week, I decided to take advantage of some of these cheap services. First... an eyebrow wax. I hadn't had that done since our wedding, and I was starting to look a bit like a Sesame Street character.

Second, a bikini wax. (Lee suggested that this was borderline when it comes to too much information for the blog, but "frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.")

When I got to the salon I started reading over the list of waxing services...

-Half Legs
-Lower & Upper Lip

So... no bikini wax?

I asked.

Me - Do you do bikini waxes here?
Girl - (She raises her eyebrows) Yes mam.
Me - (Hmm... eyebrow raise huh? Not sure that's a good sign.) Well, how much are they??

She reaches behind the counter and pulls out a huge book to find the price. I find this to be strange. Shouldn't you advertise all the services you provide? Hmmm.

She tells me it will be P480, a price I'm pretty sure she made up off the top of her head, and says my room will be ready in a minute.

The operative word here being, "room." Apparently, they use this word loosely. From across the salon I see what I assume to be the waxing area... And the only thing that separates the waxing "room" from the rest of the people getting their nails and hair done... is a white sheet, hanging from the ceiling.... Oh hellllll no...

Privacy is obviously not a priority....

And what if I scream?

I head to the back to meet the wax lady, I'll call her Rose. Apparently, I had come on a very special day... a day when grandma was unable to watch Rose's 2-year-old daughter...

Well, I was in for a treat!

I didn't have to worry about my screams disturbing the other salon patrons.

Between the flamboyant male stylists singing Celine Dion and Mariah Carey tracks at the top of their lungs, and the shrill squeals of the terrible 2-year-old; no sound I could make would compare to the racket they created. There were moments when I thought my ears might start bleeding.

The beastly baby would run around the salon screaming, before returning and ripping open my precious partition. She didn't mind that I was exposed from the waist down. Her mother was of course mortified, and she tried to keep the,"little $%^& "contained as best she could, while trying to maintain a level of professionalism. Even if it was a very low level.

My major concern had little to do with my goods being flashed to the salon customers and more to do with the fact that she was currently working on my eyebrows and I would have preferred to have her complete and total attention. Having an entire eyebrow removed was not on my list of things to do that day. Thankfully, both of them remained intact.

As the appointment progressed I began to ask Rose some questions... This usually takes my mind off the pain which means I'm less likely to scream, and call her mean names.

Me- How long have you been doing waxes, Rose?
Rose- 2 years
Me- Do you mostly do waxes? Or do you do nails too?
Rose- I do both. But mostly nails.
Me- Do filipinos not do a lot of waxing?
Rose- No. (She laughs.)
Me- Why not?
Rose- I don't know. Mostly eyebrows.
Me- Mostly eyebrows? So, no bikini waxes?
Rose- Oh... noo.. hehe.
Me- Yeah, I noticed it wasn't on the service list.
Rose- Yes. How did you know we do it?
Me- I asked.
Rose- Yes. Filipino people not much bikini wax, mostly foreigners.

Hmmm... I guess Filipino women are too modest for bikini waxes? I'm not sure. But this does explain the eyebrow raise....
I guess I'll just be the scandalous American woman that gets bikini waxes... aren't you glad I'm giving all of us such a great reputation?

Gamblin' Man

The weekend before last we were invited to go up to Tagaytay. Tagaytay is about an hour away, and it is the town which over looks the Taal Volcano. The Taal Volcano is the smallest active volcano in the world.

We ate at a place called Josephine's, which is a restaurant on a cliff, overlooking the volcano. It was some of the best food we have had since we've been here!

Next, we went to the casino. The big game here in the Philippines is Baccarat. A game which I knew nothing about. So needless to say, I lost. So I tried the Roulette table... because I rocked it when I was in Vegas. But... I lost there too. There are some definite differences between here and Vegas casinos. While in Vegas, I frequently got in trouble for handing money directly to the dealer instead of laying it on the table, and I was threatened several times when I tried to take my chips from the Roulette table before the marker was removed. That stupid dealer had the nerve to tell me he would take away my chips! Jerk. I was just excited to win... gosh.

So I decided I would be extra good at the Filipino casino since there was the added obstacle of the communication barrier. I didn't want to get yelled at in Tagalog. Well, this time I just got yelled at for not taking my money. Obviously the same rules don't apply here. I got that, "You're a stupid American, " look. I hate that.

So I lost money... but Lee won. Which is also opposite of what happened in Vegas.... :)
We had a good time though, and I'm sure we'll go back!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Declaration of War

This is it. I have had enough. There is now an official war raging in Nueva Villa.

Me vs. the cats.

Granted, I have never been a cat person. In fact, I really don't like them. I have never understood why someone would have a cat, when a dog is the obvious choice. Dogs are friendly, loving, loyal companions..."man's best friend"... hello. You can't play fetch with a cat. A cat won't be waiting at the door for you, wagging it's tail, when you come home. Cats poop in a box... then walk around in it before prancing around on your kitchen counters... Cat's have their own agendas and can't be bothered by you. Cats are for people who are too lazy to own dogs.

(Dear Cat People,
I'm sure you have a response to this which includes a story about your great cat. Every cat person has a story about some incredible cat they used to have... It always ends with, "It was just like a dog." Which further proves my point. If it was just like a dog, and you thought it was so great... then next time... Get a dog! You can't change my mind, so keep your comments to yourself, unless you have something appreciatively clever to say.
I'll step down off my soap box now.)

I think cats can sense this about me, because they don't like me either. Courtney, my roommate in college had a cat, Bentley. Bentley knew I didn't like her, so she would hide under my bed just to spite me. She tore up my box spring, my curtains and one of my dresses. She would let me pet her for just a minute so I would be with in striking distance, and then she would bite me.

(The only thing she didn't do was pee in my laundry basket, she saved that for the other room mates.)

So naturally, to pay her back I turned the water on high whenever I found her in the shower, verbally abused her by telling her how fat she was everyday, and I chased her around the house with a golf club. (I never hit her Courtney... it was just a scare tactic.... promise.) :)

Well, there is a whole group of stray cats that live in our neighborhood. These cats are worse than any other cats I've seen. They are mean looking, and their fur is all knotted and matted. They dig through the garbage, lounge around my yard and surely spread disease. I hate these cats.

My problems with these cats started a few weeks ago when they started getting in to my garbage. I would put the trash out at night in the big garbage bin in the garage. In the mornings I would find the garbage can tipped over and the trash spread throughout the yard. I started keeping score...

Cats - 1
Me - 0

So, now I put a heavy potted plant on top of bin and they can no longer tip it over.

Genius. I know.

Cats - 1
Me - 1

Well, every Monday and Friday I put out the trash. I was told to hang the trash bags from the fence so the cats can't get in to them.... yeah right. All they do is walk underneath it and make a huge slit in the bottom of the bag. All the trash falls out the bottom and they have a feast. The trash men decided not to come on Monday... (no idea why. They came on Tuesday.... when I demanded answers as to why they didn't come Monday, they just smiled and winked at me. Whatever.) So my trash was out there all day on Monday. Which just happened to be the same day I cleaned out the refrigerator. My trash was full of food. I had to pick up left overs out of the street twice that day.

Cats - 2
Me - 1

The water hose is my weapon of choice. Some days I stand at the living room window waiting for them to come on my yard. (I have lots to do during the day... can you tell?) Then I run to the side door where my water hose awaits. I turn it on full blast and chase the cats out of the yard. Some times this is effective... but most the time they hear me coming and are out of reach before I get out there. But I'll give myself a point anyway.

Cats - 2
Me - 2

Chihuahua is what I use for backup. Mr. Bigg hates the cats just as much as I do. He goes crazy when he finds them in the yard. He "ferociously" barks and chases them off.

Cats - 2
Me - 3

Downside... the cats are bigger than he is, and I'm sure it won't take long before they come to this realization and turn around and scratch his eyes out. They have already picked up on the fact that he can't get out of the yard, so they stand on the other side of the fence and taunt him. Smug little jerks.

Cats - 3
Me - 3

One of the other wives here told me she knew how to run off the cats. She was told to chase after the cats with a broom and scream at them. This supposedly scares them, and after a while they don't come back. I'm not sure if she knows I'll try anything, and she just wanted to see how ridiculous I am willing to make myself look in the name of cat removal or if this is really effective.

Of course I have no qualms about looking silly, I do it everyday.

The next time I saw a cat in the yard I ran after it with my broom held high in the air, yelling at the top of my lungs. The cat just jumped through the fence, and stared at me from the other side. They're not afraid of me. I'll give that point to the cats... I embarrassed myself in front of the neighbors and the cats weren't bothered at all.

Cats -4
Me - 3

Last weekend, Lee and I were going to go for a swim at the pool. I took one step out of the gate when Lee said, "Oh gross! I guess you didn't see that there?"

I looked down to see I had stepped in a slimy, yellowish-greenish cat turd. Barf!! These cats eat everything under the sun, which can't be good on the digestive system. This was proved by the mess that was all over my flip flop and toes. I walked barefoot, gagging all the way down the street.

Cats - 5
Me - 3

The final straw was this morning. I opened the front door to find cat puke on my front porch. Which was now covered in ants... I know they are conspiring together against me.

Cats - 6
Me - 3

I need a plan. I went to Google. I searched, "how to humanely get rid of stray cats." Although at this point I'd settle for anything. The only answers they could give me were...

1. coffee grounds... which I know don't work because they were in the trash that they destroyed already.
2. get a dog... which I have. Not effective.
3. pepper spray... they want me to boil my own peppers, pour the liquid in to a spray bottle and spray it all over the yard. Which I can't do because of my dog.

Any other ideas? I need reinforcements. I'm about to resort to violence. I am already a chicken killer, I don't want cats on my resume too.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Feeling sluggish...

Look what I found in my room!!

That is a slug! Not only a slug, but the biggest slug I have ever seen. He is as long and as fat as 2 of my fingers. And he moves soooo slow, and judging from the nasty goo trail he left all over my bedroom floor he has been in my room a while. I might have never found him if Mr. Bigg wasn't trying to play with him. But I promptly removed him with a ball point pen and and paper bag... the only logical tools of use within arms reach. I flung him out the sliding glass door and across the garden. Sick.

So there's another barf worthy creature I can add to the list.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I am an accessory to murder...

This post is Rated R due to extreme chicken violence... viewer discretion is advised.

(Especially if you are a vegetarian... Ava.)

(Or if you are extremely sensitive about animals... Courtney. Do not watch the first couple videos if you think you might drown your key board, or splatter your monitor with your spit tears.)

Video #1.... The Killing of the Chicken

Pretty gross huh.

I might need to invest in some sharper knives if I plan on murdering any more poultry.
You know that expression, "Running around like a chicken with it's head cut off." That kept running through my head the entire time. I was just waiting for Chat to lose her grip on the chicken and it go running around the kitchen with its head flopping around. That would have made for a crazy video!

Video #2 - Losing the Feathers...

Weren't you kind of surprised she left the head on for as long as she did? I swear that chicken had one eye open staring at me the whole time. I was thinking more along the lines of take the head off first... then the feathers.

And that chicken smelled horrible. She had told me earlier that the blood of the chicken is what smells so bad, but Filipino people do not like to waste anything, so they eat the blood too. They cook it until it becomes hard, then they cut it in to squares and put it on a stick. So I guess that makes them, Blood Kabobs? Barf.

Video #3 - The insides

Don't you like how she reminds me about the trash? And I remembered. And I'm glad I did, because when I opened the trash can to hang the bags on the fence they were covered in maggots. Yes. Maggots! It had only been one night! And one of those nasty maggots got on me... which led to me shrieking and jumping around like a crazy person in my bathrobe in the driveway. This was quite entertaining to the kids that live across the street, but I didn't find it to be quite as funny. Yuck! Those things give me the heebie jeebies! Lee is now responsible for all trash responsibilities... I have gladly relinquished control.

And isn't it funny how she is worried about the cholesterol in chicken skin? No wonder these people are so skinny. I don't even think about cholesterol in chicken unless it's fried chicken...

No.. scratch that.

I really don't think about it because I don't care.... I miss Babe's chicken... yummmm.

But aren't you impressed with my vast knowledge of chicken anatomy? Or how about my Tagalog to English translations.... genius :)

That whole stomach thing grosses me out. Did you notice I asked her for the Tagalog name like 4 times? I wanted to make sure I knew what it was so when I saw it on a restaurant menu I knew to stay far, far away from it. Who wants to eat digested chicken food? Not me.

Video #4 - Cutting into pieces

How did you like that bone cracking sound? Yuck.... right?

And... over my dead body will somebody kill a piglet in front of me! A nasty bird is one thing... but once you start getting into pigs then I'm out. I refuse to be a part of killing a little "radiant, humble, terrific," Wilber. Yeah... I'm a dork. But I loved the book Charlotte's Web so much that when my dog had puppies I named all the puppies after the characters. There was a Fern, a Homer, and a Templeton and of course Charlotte and Wilber.

I'm getting off track... but pig killing is out of the question.

Yes. I finally touched the chicken. After it was headless and featherless of course.
And yes. I did wash my hands immediately. Haha. It was warm. And not a "just out of the oven" warm, but like a body temperature warm... and that grossed me out.

Video #5 - Finishing Up

Don't you love Chat? I just want to shrink her down and carry her in my pocket all day. She said she had considered getting dressed up because she knew my family would be watching the video, but in the end she didn't. Love her!

So, this was the final product... Chicken Soup with Rice.

And it actually was pretty good. Chat put in ginger, onions, filipino potato, a green chili and chili leaves. The broth was really good. I wasn't a huge fan of the chicken, but mostly because the bones were still in it so I had to pull them out of my mouth every 5 seconds. But other than that I liked it.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner...

Last week I asked Chat if she would teach me how to make an authentic Filipino dinner.

Me: Chat, will you teach me how to make a filipino dish?
Chat: Yes...hehe. (She laughs after almost everything I say.)
Me: Ok, what do you want to make?
Chat: Well, I make chicken soup for ex-pats I worked for. Him like very much. Would Sir Lee like chicken soup?
Me: Sure.
Chat: Does Sir Lee like chili leaves or basil leaves?
Me: Hmmm... he'll eat whatever.

She wasn't really thrilled with this answer... and the truth is, I have no idea if he likes either of them, and he probably doesn't know either.

I think Chat is worried about my "wifely skills." She asks me everyday what I'm making for "Sir Lee" tonight for dinner, and when I shrug and say I haven't thought about it yet she seems very concerned.

The filipino culture is very service oriented and everyone I meet goes out of their way to make sure you are not only taken care of, but that you are completely satisfied. (I just don't have the heart to tell them that I am not satisfied... for instance, I am not satisfied that I still don't have hot water!)

Chat also comes from a different generation. A generation of filipino women who subserviently care for the house and their family; bending over backwards to ensure that their husbands every need is met.

I on the other hand am an American and from a completely different generation; and naturally I have a very different philosophy...

Lee was self sufficient before we married, and I don't think when he said, "I do," he meant, "I do... not know how to do anything for myself all of a sudden. Now I need you to do everything for me or I won't be able to survive."

I like to cook and I do cook dinner most of the time. But I do not plan it days in advance and I don't stay up at night wondering if Lee will like what I cook. If he likes it great, and if not... he is very capable of making himself something he does like.

Chat is not impressed.

Anyway, we decided on chicken soup.

Chat: You want me to use native chicken?
Me: Sure. I want you to do it the way the average filipino would make it.
Chat: That means I need to....(She starts to make a slicing motion across her neck with her finger, then she laughs.)
Me: That means you have to??? What?
Chat: Hehe... kill chicken
Me: Ooohhh. Well... I want to see it the way you would do it, so I guess if it's for educational purposes it's ok.
Chat: It's ok? Me kill chicken? Hehe
Me: Yep.

She should be impressed now. This is a huge step for me. I don't even like to stick my hand up the butt of the Thanksgiving turkey to pull the stuff out. And those insides come sealed in a nice little bag.

We planned to have our cooking lesson on Thursday. On Wednesday afternoon she came knocking at my door. I opened the door to find Chat standing there with a chicken.

Me: Is that it?!
Chat: Yes. Hehe
Me: Where are we going to put it?
Chat: I'll tie it up outside.

Oh... you aren't going to believe this...

Yes. That is my laundry basket.
Yes. That chicken is right outside our bedroom window.

Later that night I started having second thoughts.

Me: I'm having second thoughts about killing the chicken.
Lee: Is that why you're sitting on the bathroom floor?
Me: No... (maybe.) But I can't tell Chat. She went all the way to the market and got the chicken. Then she rode from the market to our house on a jeepney, with a chicken on her lap!
Lee: Well, if you send her back somebody else will just eat her. That's what she was raised for. Her life sucks anyway, she is a chicken... in the Philippines.

Well that's true. You can't really get any lower on the food chain here.

Lee closed the curtains before we went to bed so we wouldn't have to look at it.

It poured down rain that night, and I couldn't sleep. The power had gone out so it was getting really hot, the rain was so loud on the roof, and I couldn't help thinking that the chicken was probably drowning outside. I decided that if the rain washed her away then it was just a sign that I wasn't supposed to eat her.

She was still there in the morning.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Will we ever grow up?

Probably not.

We had a few people over at our house the other night for dinner. Some would think when you have your boss, his wife and fellow co-workers over for dinner it would be a dignified affair with good wine, good food and good conversation. Ha!

We taught everyone how to play beer pong.

Yes. That is our dining room table.
No. We did not care if we spilled all over the floor.
And Yes. We did bring ping pong balls from the states for this very reason.

This just proves that you can go off and get married, move to the other side of the world and still act like a college kid anytime you want.

And FYI, beer pong made a better impression than any fancy dinner could. We are now the fun house... everyone is coming over again this week and they want to learn some other fun games! I'm sure you are all very impressed :)

Golfing with the Guys

I went golfing for the first time on Saturday. Lee got to go golfing last week at a really nice course... but when it's my turn to come along we end up in some cow pasture. Well, not really... I guess I can't use that expression in the Philippines, because it was nothing like the "cow pasture" golf courses in Texas. It was pretty much the opposite of a cow pasture, it was like a jungle. This golf course looked like it hadn't seen a lawn mower in months. Except for maybe this kind....

Which ironically is a cow... ha! I took this picture out by our house a couple weeks ago. This is how they mow the empty lots on our street. Every couple weeks this man comes by with his cows and they mow the grass. Which is pretty genius if you ask me. The grass needs to be cut, and the cows need to eat... its a win win.

Anyway, the golf course was kind of a dump but it's hard to beat for the price. We had a rain delay so we could only squeeze in 9 holes, but the cost for 9 holes was p100. Which is a little more than $2.00, but then we had caddies, for p150 about $3.00. So for a grand total of $5.00 we got to play golf! It was pretty cool!

Well except for the fact that my caddie was an idiot. Of course they would give the girl of the group the stupidest caddie they've got. I'm hoping that it was his first day, because he was completely clueless. He knew nothing about the yardage, he didn't know where my tee boxes were, and the only thing he could say to me was, "Hush." Which luckily I found out was his name before I slapped him. How dare he tell me to be quiet!

But frankly I am glad he didn't do everything the other caddies did. Some of them teed up your ball on the tee box and marked your ball on the green which I found to be quite annoying. That's part of my routine... I don't want some guy messing with it. I like things a particular way... my tee at a certain height, and my marker facing a certain direction.

(Can you tell I'm a little anal retentive?)

And there were a few times when one of the guys would hit a ball in the creek or in a bunker, and the caddie would casually move their ball back in the fairway! I swear it was just like a scene from Caddyshack. (Of course my caddie didn't do that because I play by the rules... but he couldn't have figured it out anyway even if I wanted him to)

The only thing my caddie could do was find my ball in the jungle. Unfortunately, I found myself there quite a bit... not that it really mattered since the fairways weren't much different. There was one hole where I hit three different trees, on three different shots from the fairway. The trees hung over the fairway making it impossible to hit a decent shot. I would have been better off hitting worm burners all the way to the green.

Other than that I had a pretty good time. I beat all the guys which always makes my day much better, but I can't say for sure if my score was completely accurate. It is your caddie's responsibility to count your strokes and record your score and I'm pretty positive he couldn't count higher than 5, which turns out worked to my advantage. According to him I didn't have anything higher than a bogie all day. That works for me :)