Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Incident...

"Well... there's been an incident..."

These were the exact words Lee said to me when he called me at five o'clock in the morning while I was back in the states.

I sat down on the floor and prepared myself for a blow.

He was on the phone... so obviously, he was fine.

So the next thing I thought of was Mr. Bigg, my dog.

Expecting the worst, I sat there holding my breath and waiting for him to say it...

"Someone broke into our house... "

"Ok, so..."

"When I wasn't there..."

Ok... get there faster Lee!

***

He should never be allowed to deliver bad news. There is format people! Reassurance first... bad news follows.

Example...

"I'm not hurt, so don't freak out but I got in car wreck."

You don't say...

"I've been a horrible accident... oh, and by the way I'm alright."

No. No. No.
***
So, I'll tell the story... like it should be told.

While Lee was at work, and Mr. Bigg was at a friend's house, somebody broke into our house. They got into our safe but only stole a little bit of cash and Lee's watch; (Lee's fake watch... Ha.) even though our passports, credit cards and a laptop were also in the safe.

Nobody was hurt and there wasn't any damage except for the broken lock on the door.

We were very lucky.

Apparently, there was an investigation... which I'm very sorry I missed out on, I can only imagine what that entailed... but it was decided that whoever did it, broke in during the day when they figured no one was home, only took things they could fit in their pockets, and they wouldn't come back again.

This made me feel better... until I got back home.

Now, I'm pretty paranoid to begin with...

I do a thorough inspection of the area around ATM's before getting out of my car... I wait until all shady individuals wearing hoodies have left convenient stores before I drive away... just incase they shoot the store clerk and I have to call 911, (I don't trust people who wear hoods...) I always lock my doors immediately when I get in my car at night, and I check the back seat to make sure no one is lying back there ready to put a gun to my head.

Do I watch too many crimes shows and bad movies?

Probably.

Do I read too many chain emails about personal safety? Or what to do if you get kidnapped?

Definitely.

(Note: If you ever do get kidnapped and they put you in the trunk... you should kick out the tail lights and wave to traffic... just so you know.)

So needless to say, a home invasion has not been good for my blood pressure.

Being from Texas, my first thought was to get a gun.

But... I don't know the gun laws here in the Philippines, and a Filipino prison sounds like a fate worse than death.

Plus, Lee told me they don't allow paranoid people to carry guns... so it looks like a kitchen knife is all I've got.

To make things worse Mr. Bigg is just as paranoid as I am. He has started to bark at everything he hears. In the past, I would just tell him to be quiet but now every time he makes a noise I'm looking out the window or checking the doors.

The other day Mr. Bigg started a bark which was so intense all four feet were coming off the ground. I walked out of my bedroom fully prepared to see someone standing on the stair case. When no one was there, I grabbed the dog and went outside. On the fence sat one of the many diseased felines that roam our neighborhood. Mr. Bigg had seen him through the window, and obviously he was pissed. But I had been never been so happy to see one of those cats. It was then I realized how scared I had been because my legs were trembling and I burst into tears.

There have been a few more neighborhood break-ins, so our home owners association has pitched in for two roaming guards. They drive around on a motorcycle 24 hours a day, and that has given me some piece of mind.

Then the other day Lee saw these guys driving through the neighborhood....



Task Force?

How official...

And they carry a baseball bat?

Now, if that doesn't make you feel safe... nothing will. :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

You Can't Handle The Truth

I've noticed something about the Filipino culture.

They are honest... which is a very admirable quality.

But then there is too honest... or simply saying too much.

Take Chat for instance...

We were over at a friends house for dinner when Lee asked...

Lee: Hey Chat, what did you think about the Spaghetti? Pretty good, huh?

Chat: Oh, yes sir! The sauce was very good. But the noodles... the noodles much over cooked.

And she made a disgusted face to emphasize her point.

This exchange was followed by some uncomfortable looks as we sat there awkwardly next to our dinner host, and also the cook for the evening.

***

As Americans, we've mastered the little white lies of social niceties.

The food is always excellent... even if it was inedible and you spit every other bite ever so discreetly into your napkin.

Your coworker's new hair cut looks better than ever... as you try not to stare at that prominent bald spot you've never noticed before.

And your best friend never looks fat in that outfit.

We often don't ask the question to hear the truth... we ask the question to hear what we want to hear. It's like some big secret everyone is in on, and therefore, everyone knows what to say. This must be a western culture thing, or maybe the Filipinos just missed the memo.

If you ask a question... you better be ready to handle the truth.

***

Last Thursday, after being sick and wearing nothing but pajamas for week, I finally felt good enough to put on some normal clothes.

Me: Good morning, Chat.

Chat: Oh! Good morning Ma'am! You feel better this morning?

Me: Yes, I actually put on regular clothes today.

Chat: Yes Ma'am.

Me: And look... I think I may have even lost weight, I guess there is one good thing about being sick.

Chat: Oh yes Ma'am, I think you look very trim.

Me: Thanks Chat.

Chat: Yes Ma'am, you used to have much fat.

As she grabs her sides and lower back...

Great... so I used to have "much" back fat.

I guess you can't fault her for being honest.

I could only muster a half-hearted laugh before I promptly went back to my room, changed back into my pajamas and got back in bed.

Obviously, I can't handle the truth.



Sunday, March 28, 2010

Welcome to Starducks?

No... not Starbucks...






But Starduck...

I've passed this place a million times and always thought it was very strange. But then I found out they are a wholesaler of Balut.

And now it's just hilarious.

Balut, a national delicacy, is a duck egg with a nearly developed embryo inside.


Yum...

I probably owe it to the Philippines to try it once before I leave. But just the thought of it makes me gag.

Starducks...

Clever...? Yes.

Only in the Philippines...? Most definitely.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Tasty Treachery

The day after I got back to the Philippines Chat and one of her friends, Gloria, stopped by to see me.

I walked outside to open the gate when...

Chat & Gloria: Oooohhh Ma'am!

Chat: Ma'am you look so small.

Gloria: Your arms much small Ma'am.

Me: Well, thanks!

(Then I saw the looks on their faces... and I remembered the nail lady... the one that called me fat... Remember that? Well, I haven't forgotten... but apparently that was supposed to be a compliment... so I can only assume that calling me skinny is not...)

Chat: Ma'am you look like when I first saw you, like teenager.

Gloria: Yes, Yes.

Chat: I think maybe, while you're at home you work hard to help your family. And you lose weight.

Ha! Right...

I had no words...

I couldn't say, "Actually, my lazy ass sat on the couch for a month basking in the glory of American television, and stuffing my gluttonous face, before realizing that I was going back to the Philippines in a couple weeks to see my husband, and I was afraid he wouldn't recognize me when my new butter-ball figure rolled off the plane. So my mom and I went on an insanely strict dietary regimen for about ten days, which led to us being those annoying people in restaurants, the ones that say things like, "no oil, no butter, can I get those steamed? And that comes grilled right?" I'm positive the waitress thought we had an eating disorder, which was completely embarrassing. Especially when she said, "So... I'm assuming you don't want dessert... seeing as how you refused the bread..." To make things worse... the lack of all things delicious caused extreme grumpiness on my part, especially when my Dad would say things like, 'Wouldn't you just like a big, thick, juicy cheeseburger?' I threatened to hit him. Shameful, I know. But the good news is, that after ten days of treachery towards all things tasty, I lost 7 lbs, which didn't go unnoticed obviously... so I'm going to hug you now."

Instead, I just smiled.




Thursday, March 18, 2010

Babies are Contagious?

Whenever people found out my sister was having a baby, I would get a lot of... "oh... you're neeexxtt," or "Babies are contagious ya know." *wink* *wink*

No.

No. I did not know.

No one ever told me pregnancy was a communicable disease.

This is a horrifying concept for a number of reasons. The least of which being the fact that I live an hour and half (on a good day) from the nearest reputable hospital. And while having a baby on the side of an exhaust filled highway in the middle of the Philippines might make for an excellent blog entry, I'm not sure I would survive to tell the story.

So I'd been thinking about this "baby fever" that preys on innocent bystanders when I get this text from my sister...

"This bed is hard, I'm in a buttless gown, I'm in serious pain, I have to go to the bathroom in a portable [sink] thing that old ppl use and I'm hooked up to IVs... I haven't [eaten] in like 12 hours [and] I can't drink either, I didn't get any sleep last night and every four hours an old man comes in, sticks his hand up my vagina and tells me there's no progress."

And this is contagious?!

Fifteen months worth of birth control pills arrived in the mail for me that week.

***

After three days in the hospital my beautiful 8 lb. 7 oz. baby niece arrived.

And being aunt rocks!

It's the best job.

I get to hold her as much as I want... but as soon as she cries, spews milk, or blows a stink bomb in her diaper, I get to give her back.

(This picture was taken during one such stink bomb occasion...)

It is amazing how quickly you can fall in love with such a tiny person who does nothing but eat, sleep and poop.

I cried for half an hour when I had to say goodbye before coming back to the Philippines. But she promised me we would Skype, and video chatting with an infant should be nothing but entertaining.

It's been two and half weeks since I've been exposed to a baby, and I am happy to report that I am showing no symptoms of the "baby bug."

Stomach bug?

Yes.

I've had those symptoms for a week.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bowing to the Porcelain God

I'm sick.

Food poisoning? Most likely...

(Which by the way... I've been Web-Md-in-it all morning... did you know there are all types of food poisoning, and each one sounds scarier than the last. "Giardiasis"... "Shigellosis"... "Campylobacteriosis"... all of which sound like sudden death if you ask me.)

What's the worst thing about food poisoning?

Getting sick... Obviously.

As in tossing your cookies, calling "ralph" on the big white phone, or my personal favorite... bowing down to the porcelain God.

What's worse than that?

Knowing it's coming... while you're in public.

And the only thing worse than yacking in a public bathroom...?

Yacking in a public bathroom in the Philippines.

Midway through the movie Valentine's Day I started feeling really ill. At first, I thought it was the just bad acting... but it soon became apparent it was much more than that.

When it comes to throwing up... I'm a fighter. I hate it more than anything, and I will do anything I can to keep it from happening.

But when someone passed a bag of popcorn in front of my face... it was eminent. And I made a mad dash to the restroom.


I searched for the hair band, which is usually a permanent fixture on my wrist... damn. Not there. It would appear this adventure would be more difficult than expected.

With one hand I held back my hair, trying to balance while hunched over the toilet, and careful not to touch a thing; when out of the bathroom drain crawls a huge cockroach.

Barf.

Literally.

He runs right for me, like he knew this would be the best opportunity for an attack. Damn bugs. They always find me.

So, now I'm trying to crush a cockroach with one foot, while holding my hair, balancing on the other foot, not touching anything, all the while trying to maintain my perfect aim. Can I multi-task or what?

I am happy to report that I did in fact make it out of there with puke free hair, and no further illnesses... well, that I'm aware of anyway.

Yes, I made it out of there alive... the cockroach however, wasn't so lucky.

I have many more stories to share... most of which are not quite so graphic... I promise. I'll get back to writing when I start feeling a little better :)