Happy Thanksgiving

on Thursday, November 27, 2008
Thanksgiving. It is during days like this that it really hits me that I am most definitely not in America. Nonetheless, it has still proven to be the most delicious day of the year. The extent of my autumn-ish decorations was this glorious fold-out turkey that my mom mailed me. It sat happily on my bookshelf, next to my twinkle lights. This year, there are no leaves changing color (although my fern is dying so it's turning brown), and no Turkey Trots races to run (although I ran for an hour in the morning).

This year was different. I celebrated Thanksgiving dinner with Americans, Malaysians, Koreans, and Brazilians. Diversity makes for an even more delicious holiday, when everybody contributes something to eat. For example, this was the first year that I have eaten kimchi for Thanksgiving.

But here's what would happen if I were at home for Thanksgiving. this is me reminiscing, again.
Because my family rarely has any family or visitors from out of town, this holiday mostly all about the food. We start the day early with the traditional Treece holiday breakfast, served for Easter, Christmas, birthdays, and any other special occasion: butter marshmallow things (there is no technical name for them, but if you have ever eaten them you know they are DELICIOUS) and something else a little more obscure: vienna sausages. Although they are nothing more than SPAM rolled up like little Smokies, my family grew up loving these. They were a special treat for us, only served at breakfast on special occasions. I only found out recently (like, this year) that most people regard these as "camping food" or perhaps better known as, "survival food". But I don't care what other people think; camping food or not, they are a Treece family tradition and I love them. Anyway, back to thanksgiving. After breakfast, we sit around, watch , probably golf (also a holiday Treece tradition, thanks to my dad) and wait for the appetizers to arrive. We even have a typical order that our food comes in: first the Ranch dip with the potato chips. Then, the artichoke dip. Yumm...my brother and I will sit on the couch and gobble it up until it's gone in like half-an-hour; in the meanwhile my mom tries to convince us to use napkins and not spill on the coffee table. Every once in awhile we have the occasional cheese-ball, but they're the store-bought kind and NOT delicious like the Ranch dip or the artichoke dip. Sigh. After appetizers are over I usually try to to help my mom in the kitchen, but I just end up stirring something and munching on everything. The turkey's already in the oven. The table must be set with mom's bird-china and have the cornucopia and thanksgiving Precious Moments statue in the center. This is mandatory, routine: every year, same table decorations, without fail. We usually can't wait very long so we eat at 4 or 5pm. Sometimes we have real wine, but I much prefer Martinelli's sparkling apple cider: another Treece holiday tradition. We give thanks, then we eat. The stuffing that was cooked inside the turkey always goes first - of course, because it's the most delicious. Oh, I forgot one more thing! The cranberry sauce. The kind from the can. None of this 'chunky-real-cranberry-stuff' but the gelatinous kind that just plops right out of the can and into the bowl. That way you can just slice it off onto your plate...brilliant. Another Treece tradition. I'm not really sure what we usually do after dinner, I'm usually in a food coma so it's all a blur. But we end the night with pumpkin pie (although I've finally discovered, after all these years, that I don't really like pumpkin pie).

After all that is said, however, I called my parents and learned that they ate Thanksgiving dinner out this year. This is breaking Treece-family tradition, but I guess it's a bit different when you only have to cook for 2.

I heart Seattle

on Sunday, November 23, 2008
I have a love/hate relationship with Seattle. Because I feel so strongly about this issue, let's talk about the things that I hate first.
Winter. The rain. Not that Seattle even comes close to the total average rain of other US cities (it's not even one of the top 10 rainiest cities in the US). This just means that it is more spread out and we have more yucky days of pseudo-rain: drizzle. Did you know that seattle has an average of 226 cloudy days a year. That only leaves 139 days of sunshine. Granted, those days of sunshine are glorious, but still doesn't make up for the other crappy 226 days. I lived in Seattle for three years in college. But unfortunately, I was never in Seattle for a summer, or any other time when the weather was actually nice. Let me do some math: If I had a 3 month summer break during school, that was about 90 days of sunshine in Seattle that I missed. Subtract that from the 139 days of sunshine per year that Seattle averages, and that only leaves me with 49 days of sunshine a year. 49 days of sunshine per year X 3 years = 147 days of sunshine in Seattle during my whole college life.
Can you feel the bitterness. Seattle is a great city, but the weather doesn't contribute anything to that. Perhaps this is why I love the tropical climate so much. Winter quarter during school was the worst. Winter quarter spans from January to March - this is the time when it's dark by Oprah time (4pm - my life revolved around this time for several years of college). I hated going to class in the dark. I hated waking up in the dark. But I especially hated waking up knowing that it was going to be another one of those cold, cloudy days...and knowing that I had 200 more of them to go that year. Again, maybe that's why I love living near the equator....the sun always rises and sets at almost the same time, the whole year. None of this dark by 4pm crap.
So I'm thinking about moving back to seattle. But after having lived in the tropical climate for this long, I don't know how I would take it. It all comes down to this: I hate being cold. I can't keep myself warm, and that oh so constant drizzle and mist that the entire city of Seattle is enveloped in for 226 days a year doesn't help the situation. I have a t-shirt that says I 'heart' Seattle except the 'heart' is replaced with a rain cloud. This embodies my feelings about this. This is the only picture that I could find of it...me in CO springs.
Seattle has it's own unique charm, excitement, and activities that makes it appealing to live there. Seattlites have found their own way to cope: they just hunker down in in the nearest Starbucks and cozy up in their North Face fleece jackets with their egg-nog latte. Or perhaps at the nearest REI. Seattle at its best.
However, I have absolutely no reason to complain. I'm not even in Seattle, and I haven't even been there in a year or so. There's no drizzle/mist rain here, it's all torrential downpours. I very much prefer this. The rain comes, and then it goes. It doesn't wait around. So I have nothing to complain about, really. All is well with me in the weather world....for now.


on Thursday, November 20, 2008
It's not even thanksgiving yet, and Christmas is already looming over me. Ugh. The Holidays are the most depressing time of year for me when I am away from home, but when I AM home they're the best. I grew up celebrating every holiday. EVERY holiday.

Every easter we dyed eggs and I received a ginormous easter basket at breakfast. And every year, I would swap some of my lesser-candy with my brother in exchange for something infinitely more delicious: peeps. Going along with tradition, I got a package of peeps from my mom this easter (picture on right is yellow peep on my balcony). I am happy to report that they arrived safetly, unlike last year's tragedy in Kenya...the ants got to the peeps and cadbury eggs before I did (see pink peeps on right with missing faces)

St. Patrick's Day was celebrated by wearing green (of course), eating corned beef (but only sometimes- my mom knew that no one else liked it except my dad), and making sugar cookies cut out like four-leaved clovers with green frosting. Delicious. Who else celebrates St. Patricks Day? No one else I know. But my name means "Ireland Forever" -supposedly- so I feel a special bond with this green celebration. Plus, I really like the color green.

Valentines Day was also celebrated by making sugar cookies - this time they were heart-shaped and the frosting was dyed pink. My mom would make me a batch and express mail them to me when I was in college....but they usually didn't even last a day. Come to think about it, we made some type of sugar cookie for almost every occasion. When you're a kid, of course you do all the class parties and hand out valentines. The first valentine I got (that I remember) was from a kid named Mark in 2nd grade. I had a crush on him and we would play footsie under the table. He gave me a valentine with the picture of Michael Jordan on it...these were back in the days when he was still cool and still in the NBA, of course. I'm ashamed to say that I still have this valentine, tucked somewhere away at home to remind me of those younger Tacoma days. Anyway, I still make valentines. Well, not this year (my valentines day was rather uneventful), but all throughout college I made valentine cards for my friends. How crafty am I.

For my mom, Fourth of July meant pulling out the stars-and-stripes sweater- even though it was July and 100 degrees out. I think that lately she purchased something slightly cooler yet no less patriotic. Since fireworks were illegal, we would always get those black growing-worm things and sparklers. My brother and I would write our names in the sparklers and blacken the back patio in black-charcol-worm-dust that my mom would complain about. Sometimes we played croquet in the backyard, or maybe badminton. Whatever it was, I always lost to my brother. Every year we have hamburgers, iced tea, and potato salad, all eaten on the back patio. One of my favorite meals, ever. Then my friends and I would usually go watch fireworks. This year I spent fourth of July in Borneo. There was no such celebration, and I think that everyone forgot about it and it wasn't even mentioned...how sad. I'm so disappointed in myself for missing a holiday. I'm such an awful American.

Halloween! I think that this year was the first year that I haven't carved a pumpkin.. alas there are no pumpkins (at least the orange, round kind) to be found here. I should have found something else to carve. Anyway, I have carved pumpkins for as long as I can remember (although I don't remember handling sharp knives when I was little) , roasted pumpkin seeds, and gone trick-or-treating. Because my mom usually sewed our costumes when I was little, we were very creative, especially my sister Kerry. One year she dressed up in a burlap sack and went as a 'tea bag', and another year she went as a garlic clove.
I thought that the latter was such a great idea, so my mom re-created this costume last year for halloween.... Madie and I really stood out at the party. She dressed up as a black lady (not very PC). My costume was accented with a garlic necklace. One year, just a few years ago actually, Madie, Laura and I decided to invent our own costumes: Madie was "leftovers", wrapped in foil, silverware, and old food, Laura was a newspaper (easy costume), and I decided to go as a Q-tip. It was hard to trick-or-treat with my hands and head wrapped in toilet paper, but at least I was warm! Nobody understood my costume.
The first Halloween I can remember, I was dressed up in my footie-pajamas, wore some ears, and I was called a 'bunny'. One year I was a princess, one year Jasmine from Aladdin (very COLD costume!). So boring and unoriginal. I'm surprised that I never insisted on going as Ariel from the little mermaid. In college, I found an old pair of lab overalls, slapped on some goggles and grabbed an erlenmeyer flask or two, and I was a scientist. I always instisted that one is never too old to trick-or-treat, but I think that I am changing my mind. When my own friends are starting to have children that they themselves can take trick-or-treating - that means I'm too old. As much as I would like the free candy, I'll just have to find some other way to get it.

Penang Bridge Run.

on Monday, November 17, 2008

I did it! After 3 months of torturous training, I finally finished what I set out to do....The Penang Bridge Half Marathon. Actually, they lied when they said it was a half marathon. In reality, the race was 15.5 miles, 2.4 miles longer than a true half. Or, 2.4 miles of pure torture.

After a week of 'tapering' (my favorite part of training) and carbo-loading (also a running perk) my body was so ready to run...even at this ungodly hour (I woke up at 2:30am). I made a new playlist on my ipod for this race and this, I decided, was going to make all the difference. And it did! I decided to usher in the holiday season by starting off with Celine Dion's Christmas album (my favorite). It was just right for my pre-morning, reflective mood. I love the peace of the early morning. No traffic, no motorbikes, no noise...just the pattering of footsteps and my breath. I wish I had the discipline to get up early enough do my runs while it's still dark, but my late-night routine doesn't pair well with that.

It was 30 minutes before I was even on the bridge, or at least over water...the on-ramp is long. The marathoners (who had started at 3) and the men's half-ers took all the water ahead of us (so selfish!) and there was nothing for the first 45 minutes. But luckily I carried my own gatorade with me, so water was never the issue. It was great to be on the bridge, for one thing, because this is the only time in the year that it closes, but also because you get great views of the water and of georgetown. The Penang bridge itself is 13.5km long (the 3rd longest in Asia), but that includes the on-ramps and everything....the distance over water isn't that long. The half-marathon is 25km, so obviously we didn't go the whole distance, but we the course turned around at the toll-booths, marking the half-way point.
Luckily, I was still feeling great! Maybe I got motivation from the people that were dropping like flies around me. Asians are overambitious exercisers. So many people who entered this race were way out of their league. Now, I think it's great that they're trying and all, and I don't expect people to be able to run the whole time, but I saw people start walking from minute 1. Seriously? I mean, if you can't even run 60 seconds what makes you think you can last 15 miles? People were running with full backpacks, with regular, definitely not for running or even walking, shoes. I even saw a guy wearing crocs. And in true Malaysian style, half of the young people were carrying their cell-phones and texting each other.
But I managed to not let it all get to me and I just zoned out in my new ipod playlist (after Celine, that is). One of my favorite things about a long run is that you get to EAT in the middle of it. Energy. My favorite is the Jelly Belly sport beans but you can't get them here, and all we could find are those icky Power gels. Actually, the tangerine is pretty tasty but I don't like the idea of having to suck down a gel. I consumed three during the course of this race. The strawberry banana flavor is NOT recommended.
The run would have been 100% glorious had it actually been a real half-marathon. Because I was feeling good for the first 13 miles or so, and then the pain started to hit my legs....at just about the time that the real half-marathon should have been over! Unfortunately, I had 2.5 miles left! I've always been an injury-free runner, but I've noticed as I've started running more distance that my legs start to break down after about 8 or 9 miles. I'm always training on the roads, and my knees which are absorbing all this pounding start to ache. For this race, the pain really started to hit at about mile 13. This is also the point that I met the sea of orange: the fun-runners. Ugh. So I spend the last 30 minutes of the race fighting not just my own aching body but also the hoards of walkers that were doing a 5 or 10-k or something...I don't really know. All I know is that they liked to stop right in front of you and also enjoyed walking in rows so that you couldn't get through them.
By this point of the race, my ipod playlist had ended and I needed some fast-paced more motivating music. Rhianna it is, then. It works like a charm, every time. Thanks, Rhianna... Please don't stop the music.
In the end it took me exactly 2 hours and 54 minutes to finish. And I didn't care what time I finished in as long as I gave it my best. This is the longest I have ever run and I'm proud of myself for it. I got a little teary eyed at the finish line, mostly because I was worried about collapsing and I felt a little bit lost and overwhelmed in the sea of salty and sweaty bodies.
It took about 2 liters of water to re-hydrate myself and I was faint from hunger. After wandering around the tents for a little bit and considering going shopping (hey, we were at the mall, afterall - a Treece never turns down shopping), Reuben and I left to eat some wantan mee for breakfast.
We must have timed it right, and luckily I got home just in time to watch Hannah Montana.

My farm

on Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I didn't expect to have so many pets when I moved to Malaysia. Most of them apparently came with the apartment, although there's no mention of them in the contract.
Let me introduce a few of my friends:

Mr. Gecko and family - Mr. Gecko and his cohorts prowl my walls and leave poop everywhere. Last night I was frightened by a large noise that came from the kitchen. I turned on the light to see what happened and I found Mr. Gecko in my sink, licking away at some tiny scraps of tuna leftover from last night's meal. He is large enough that he knocked over one of my dishes in the sink - hence the noisy commotion. He guiltily stared at me for a few seconds and then scampered away to seek refuge in the silverware holder. I wouldn't let him get away with that so I scared him out of the kitchen. Some nights I hear him rummaging through my cupboards.

I actually stepped on him once. It's a very strange sensation to feel something squish in between your bare feet and the tile. He survived unharmed. He also fell on my shoulder one time, too. I've gotten pretty accustomed to seeing them around my place, but I don't like to be surprised like that.

The second of my live-in roommates is Mr. Jumping Spider. Like his friend Mr. Gecko, he also has a camaraderie. He's pretty skittish and doesn't like to be near me. His brothers like to hide in my clothes and in my bed. I have no picture of Mr. Jumping Spider because he wouldn't let me get that close to him (he's quite small), and I wasn't about to google "spider".

The third and most recent addition to the family is Hammy, the abandoned hamster. I found him one morning in the trash. He was a sad sight so, out of the goodness of my heart, I took him upstairs to my place. At least he can die in peace, I thought. I decided that wasn't up to the hamster challenge (I have an inherent aversion to things that bite - and Hammy definitely had that tendency) so Reuben took him in and nursed him back to health. I am pleased to report and today he is happy and very healthy, thanks to Reuben and his special animal-attracting powers. He can turn any vicious creature into a tame and pleasant pet. This is Hammy. He loves eating peaches and shredding toilet paper. He also like to work out on his wheel-to-nowhere.