on Friday, November 25, 2011

This was our thanksgiving dinner this year! Pathetic looking right?

The holiday just flew right over our heads this year. The past 3 weeks in KL have been so chaotic, and since we just got back to Penang 2 days ago, we weren't able to connect with any friends to celebrate with. So we went back to our (temporary) place, make some chicken, stuffing (the instant stuff my mom sent us) and whipped up the turkey gravy mix. Not bad, considering!

The best part of it was that I was able to video Skype with everyone on Friday morning. It was so encouraging to see all the kids and family, way better than the food!

On the hunt

It’s a bizarre feeling being back in Penang. Perhaps in part due to the queasiness that lingers in my belly, partly because I’m back at my old place, and lastly because of the fact that EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED. I’ve gotten married. I went to grad school. So much of my perspective on life has changed, I’ve grown and been stretched, and hopefully for the wiser.

We’re deep into the throes of apartment hunting, a venture for me that is completely foreign. I’ve never had to secure my old living arrangements before, oddly enough. And now I know how lucky I was. It’s stressful! We want to get into our own place asap. AS SOON as possible! We desperately need a rest and need a place to settle down in and feel comfortable. And maybe, if we’re lucky, after 6 long months, we can unpack our suitcases!

Pudu Market

on Wednesday, November 16, 2011
A trip to Pudu Market, the oldest market in KL, is like jumping off a diving board. Hold your nose, don't look down, be prepared to get wet, and don't forget to hold your breath. Because there WILL be chicken guts down there, and you WILL feel raw meat juices spray on you as the butchers chop away while you walk along. ::shudder::

Even Reuben's mom, a life-time shopper at this market, commented as we left, "I don't want to come back here ever again."

Pros and cons

on Sunday, November 13, 2011
Living in Malaysia has its pros and cons. Living in Seattle, Reuben and I had more than the occasional craving for a good bowl of noodles. Luckily, Chinatown was not far and the food was fairly decent. Now, we're back to noodle heaven. Definitely a hit.

What do I miss? Well, in theory I shouldn't miss anything, because, frankly, I've only been gone a week and haven't had time to really go without anything. But it is my firm belief that just BEING in another place, where you're just not able to go to the store and find, say molasses, makes you crave it.

I miss hot chocolate. Starbucks has satisfied this craving this afternoon. I miss Oprah. The OWN network was my dream come true. On the flip side, I still can enjoy TLC on Reuben's mom's TV. I can still get my dose of Cake Boss and Nigella. Then again, we don't have Fox, so we cannot get our fix of Glee. I sort of miss using the internet, although ever since school ended I've been kind of tired of it. I do, however, miss looking up recipes online, and following my favorite blogs, Ohsheglows and Dailygarnish. And on the subject of food, I do sorely miss cooking. I had such a heyday cooking back in Yakima and I came here and it all came to a halt. No oven. How am I going to make my Christmas cookies? That thought makes me a little sad. Speaking of Christmas, THAT thought makes me sick. How am I going to survive this year? I only brought a handful of Christmas decorations. The fake bubble-snow that the malls do here will only be fun for awhile. What about my mom's baklava? Alas, I will have to continue coming to starbucks to get my red cup fix. A little hot chocolate and a few mini candy canes (which I wisely packed in my suitcase) will go a long way.

Sigh. I should probably stop now. There's a lot of things I will miss, and a lot of things I already miss, but the fact of the matter is, there's a lot of things I am excited about! The warm weather, the funny looking Santas at the malls, and there's nothing better than hearing Chinese people sing Christmas carols. It's just something about their accents!

Ok, better get pinning on Pinterest now. Pinning Christmas things, of course.

In the end, red cups are here.

on Wednesday, November 9, 2011
One week in Malaysia. I knew what I was getting into and what I should have expected it to be, but I’m coming to Malaysia this time around (trip #4 for me) feeling like a very different person. I’m married now; my expectations are naturally different. Over the past 2 years that I’ve been back in the States since the last time I left Malaysia, I’ve grown into patterns and habits that. Surprisingly, I’ve grown to love. I’ve gotten comfortable.

Years ago, when I first started traveling, I could handle anything. More than once, I woke up in Addis Ababa to find cockroaches on my toothbrush. In Kenya, my roommate told me stories of how she saw mice scurrying across my pillow. I also remember one memorable incident where our cook accidentally cooked a loaf of bread with a lizard in it.

And through it all, I still brushed my teeth without changing my toothbrush. I still snuggled into pillow at night, and I still ate the lizard bread, although the cook did cut out the reptile.

I’m not so hardcore anymore. I keep my toothbrush in my room, because I kind of have a thing about toothbrushes now. I use one of Reuben’s t-shirts as my pillowcase. I don’t know of any dead animals (besides the mutton curry I ate last night) in my food, but I know there’s plenty of cat hair in it.

I struggle with being here because I’ve yearned for a place of our own for so long, somewhere where we can actually unpack our bags and feel comfortable. This is not that place. I feel totally dependent on Reuben for everything, because I feel incompetent in everything. My mom never taught me to mop a floor, we have nothing but pots (try scrambling an egg in a round-bottom pot sometime), and I can’t even go outside by on my own. Not just because I don’t have a set of keys, but also because there’s dogs waiting to pounce on me and I have nowhere to go, anyway. I can’t even eat the local food like I used to. My stomach has been acting all crazy since we left home, and even this morning I still feel the curry burning in my stomach from last night. Alas, I’m not as young as I used to be.

But as hard as it was for me, my experience in Colorado taught me something. It taught me to choose joy in all circumstances. I learned that I was the creator of much of my unhappiness, and I was creating havoc not just in my life, but in the life of others. Life improves a lot if you just change your outlook on it.

Right now is a good chance to test out this mentality. I could complain, pity myself, or be bitter for having to be here right now. I could demand my old life, routines and habits back. Or I could make the most of it, while I’m here, no matter how much energy that takes. Living with joy seems to me the hardest and the easiest thing to do at the same time.

Right now I'm sitting at Starbucks, the epitome of Western-ness, except everyone around me is watching pirated movies on their computers and everyone is speaking Chinese. But the red cups are here! That, for me, is redemption.

Luxury items

on Friday, November 4, 2011


Hard Work

Is over!

We made it to the airport!

When I got around to seriously packing our luggage 2 days ago, I thought it was going to be a breeze. This morning, however, all we could do was stuff things in wherever they would fit - ok, so I admit that, in the end, the packing wasn't quite as simple as I would have preferred. Perhaps this is due to the fact that (since I was feeling great about how the packing was going and all) I tucked a few "extras" into my bags. "Luxury items", if you will. My favorite coffee mugs. Placemats. A Costco-size container of almond butter. All's well that ends well, right?


on Wednesday, November 2, 2011
In the words of Max in Where the Wild Things Are, "Let the wild rumpus begin!" Packing, that is. Today we finally figured out what each of our pieces of luggage would be: we've decided on 2 suitcases, one plastic tote, a bike box, and our carry-on luggage of a computer bag, one rolling suitcase and 2 backpacks. I think we'll have plenty of space, but it's weight that's going to be the issue. So I've begun to distribute the many piles that we've made into the luggage so that they'll not go over 50 pounds each. Ugh.

So what are we bringing? We've been fairly strategic this time around. We have a pretty good idea of what we can and cannot get over there, and what is super expensive over there and cheap here. Take energy bars, for example. Reuben says that Powerbars go for $4 a piece in Malaysia, whereas they're about $1 here. Reuben says that he "plans to run several marathons" when he's over there, so we're bringing over several boxes of bars, protein powder and gatorade. That'll keep him happy for awhile. While I'm on the subject, I think that everyone should stop eating icky power bars and start eating Lara Bars. They are delicious, raw, and have 3 ingredients: peanuts, dates, salt. Yum.

What else are we bringing?

Spices. Italian seasoning, creole, oregano, pumpkin pie seasoning (which I'm putting in everything these days!)

Smoothie supplies. Because I can't get enough green monsters. I use mostly fresh ingredients, but I'm bringing with me wheatgrass powder, chia seeds, and stevia.

Jillian Michaels. I kind of love her dvds now.

A giant bottle of Dr. Bronner's soap. It's a wacko company, but their soap truly is magical. My friend travelled with me to Taiwan with this stuff and used it to wash her clothes, hair, dishes, and bathroom. And it's all natural. What's more to love?

We're using epic amounts of ziplock bags. I try so hard to not use them and to re-use them when I have to. But anything we're packing that is a liquid, gel, powder, or just potentially messy, is going in plastic. Double plastic in many cases. I do NOT want almond extract to get all over my yoga mat.