Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow White

My arrival was sweet and made me feel loved and welcomed.  My mom met me at the airport armed with a down jacket and cashmere scarf for me.  I don't know which I was happier to see, my mom or the warm goods, as I was freezing before even walking outside!  We went immediately to Starbucks where my dad, fresh from a root canal, met us for coffee.  After catching up and laughing for an hour, we decided to go pick up some DVDs from the library in preparation for the imminent snowstorm and then go see a matinee.  "Avatar" was the choice, surprisingly, since my parents are usually into more high-brow films.  In fact, I'm not sure if they (ok, just my mom--she's the naysayer) have ever seen a movie that's received a lot of press mostly because of its special effects.  Though it was a bit on the long side, we all loved it and my folks especially got a kick out of the fact that it was 3D.  And the special effect were amazing.

I arrived hours before the storm hit and, this morning, awoke to a winter wonderland.

I am relieved to not be too jet-lagged.  I managed to sleep all night and only woke up at 8:30 when I heard my dad walking around outside my room.  The morning was ideal with a run on the treadmill, looking out onto the snowy backyard, and coffee, matzos brie, and light conversation while reading the Sunday Times.  Sunday mornings are what I miss most living so far away.

Later, we all met my sister, J, at King Sauna where we proceeded to have a delightfully lazy and relaxing afternoon, walking around naked with other women in the "wet room" (sounds gross, I know) where there were showers, hot tubs of various temperature, a steam room, and a few beds for getting scrubs and massages.
J and I got scrubs.  Whoa!  These beefy, bathing suit clad Korean ladies scoured every last inch of our bodies until little gray pearls of dead skin were covering us and the plastic-sheeted bed.  Then, the ladies dumped bucks of hot water on us, spun us around and shampooed our hair.  And I thought Thailand was good!

The next few hours, the four of us met up and ducked into various saunas (amethyst, carbon, ice, etc.) promising everything from healing toothaches, to stopping skin from itching, to curing depression.  We worked up quite a hunger with all of the temperature changes and sweating, so we headed to the cafe and shared bibimbop and dumplings.

It was an excellent way to spend the afternoon.

The day was topped off with traditional Sunday night aperatifs (aka "Drinky-Winky Time").  Vodka martinis or "brown stuff" (whiskey or scotch) with a plate of cheese and crackers and pate, olives and nuts.  I was in heaven.
The offerings at Drinky-Winky Time are usually so good that I often ruin my appetite for dinner.  And so was the case tonight.  Too bad since my mom had made a delicious vegetable soup (as usual on Sunday nights) and J made some cornbread.
A perfect day

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Abscess Makes the Fart Go Honda

6.5 hours down, 15+ to go.  I am sitting in the ANA lounge in Tokyo awaiting boarding of the next and final leg of my trip back to the U.S.  I am beyond tired.  That kind of fatigue reminiscent of college all-nighters.  Slow-sticky thought processes, dry mouth, strange combo of nausea and hunger, etc.  

The past few days have been chock full of activity and preparations.  T's birthday as on Thursday, so to celebrate his final hours of 31-hood, I took him out for dinner at Water Library.  The place is an interesting concept with a two- page menu of imported waters and a swanky feel with dark lighting, white linens, and big windows.  The centtral feature of the place was the floor-to-ceiling tower of water bottles.

Though the atmosphere was date-y, sexy, romantic (even though the picture windows looked out on the highway and the restaurant is housed in a mall), the chef tried far too hard to be creative with the food.  The dishes ended up being too busy, visually and for my palate. 

    Pork loin with various accoutrement, including cabbage-beet slaw, baby 
peas, apples and apple sauce, and something they claimed was sweet
potato gnocchi, but really just tasted like little balls of Parmesan. 

Mixed berries that ended up being served like this. Looks like a mess!  
White balsamic reduction, merlot sorbet, and raspberry gel along with
a few other additions.  Far less appealing that T's molten chocolate cake.

 Nevertheless, we had a nice evening without distraction.

In love.
On T's actually birthday, there was a Mexican lunch with his co-workers to which he asked me to come and then dinner with his parents at the JW Marriott's New York Steakhouse.  Mmmmmmmmeat!  It was good.

T is a such a gentleman.  He always accompanies me to the airport and hangs out with me until I have to go through immigration.  He carries (or rather, pulls) my bag.  He presses me to buy snacks for the plane even though I know I won't want anything extra.  He sweetly asks the employee at the check-in counter whether I can get upgraded.  And he sneaks kisses on the escalator.  This man is gold.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I am Your Domestic Goddess. Say It.

That's what I said to T when he came home from work last night before we headed out for dinner to an Italian place around the corner.  I was (and still am) so proud of the jars of granola.  Plus, in preparation for a possible post-dinner tea party with a visiting friend, I made dough for the best chocolate chip cookies.  Really.  These are tried and tested and certainly better than Toll House.  The secret is in the sea salt.  The New York Times printed the recipe here last year.  Now, mind you, my prep was last minute and I found myself without cake flour and a bit short on brown sugar, so I simply substituted regular flour and supplemented with white sugar.  And, as far as I could tell, it didn't make much of a difference.  After dinner, I took the dough out of the fridge to bake, though the recipe calls for 24-36 hours in the fridge.  Again, no difference was noticed by T nor the throngs of kvelling co-workers who ate them for breakfast this morning and cursed me for ruining their diets.

One thing I love about living in Thailand is that Thais don't know from baked goods.  Their chocolate desserts are just brown and flavorless.  Their cookies are crunchy and all sugar.  The typical apartment doesn't even have a functioning oven.  So, I feel like a superstar when I bring cookies or cakes or scones or any homemade treat into the office.  People are just FLOORED that something so delicious can be made by a regular person.

My boss had nothing for me to do today, so I left early and am determined to get some packing done before I head out for a run with my friend E and then a pre-birthday (T's) dinner date.  Gogogo!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ho Ho Homemade Granola!

With recipe in hand, this morning, I went scouting for the wholesome goodness that is needed to make my mom's granola.  Success! I found everything except soy nuts, so was pretty happy.  I even managed to find the jars I had my heart set on (and they were only B89)!

   Jane's Granola
  • 6-8 c rolled oats
  • 1 c each: unsalted sunflower seed, soy nuts, sesame seeds, wheat germ, unsweetened coconut, nuts
  • 1 c honey
  • 1 c vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c raisins or other dried fruit
  1. Toast oats for 10 minutes at 350 degrees
  2. Mix with dry ingredients
  3. Add honey, oil, and vanilla and mix thoroughly with hands
  4. Roast for 20-25 minutes at 350 in two batches, stir ocassionally 
  5. Remove from oven and add raisins
  6. Spoon into jars and cool with lids off
 I added one cup of chopped dates in addition to the raisins.
The recipe made less than I had hoped, filling only four jars.
Handmade gift cards. B10 each at a street fair.  
Ta da!
On another note, T and I had a talk last night.  He is going to keep his smoking to a bare minimum and try to wear the patch when I'm around.  I felt hopeful when he said he was thinking that when he's ready to quit, he's considering using prescription drugs to help him along.  This is a huge turn around from his previous position of only subscribing to the use of Allen Carr's book on the road to quitting.  (I HATE Allen Carr.)  I know that success is much more likely when medication is used in conjunction with counseling, so this change thrills me.

Whoo.  I'm done with my rant.  I hope Santa brings me a cigarette-free T for Christmas this year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Red in the Face

Wow.  I feel like I can breath for the first time in weeks.  It's been non-stop action between work, parties, and traveling.  T and I got in a doozy of a fight last night.  There were cold, measured monologues that apparently sounded like college theses (me) and blank stares and fake falling asleep (T).  I was so peeved that I attempted to use a tactic I employed when I was sent to my room as a kid: I stood alone in front of a mirror and quietly tensed every muscle in my body until my face began to turn from beet red to a deep purple.

This is how I felt on the inside
Then I let go.  Fully.  Took a deep breath.  Felt more relaxed.  But this time, I was punished with a painful muscle spasm in my back when I awoke this morning.

And then there were tears.  Alone in the dark.  Sitting on the couch and watching the blinking lights of the highrises across the way.  Breath in two three.  Breath out two three.

I am a hollow reed...

Now, you're probably wondering what was the catalyst that made our sugary love turn sour, our smooth sailing turn rocky?  It was, sadly, predictable, as the crux of the fight was the same as it's always been: T's cigarette smoking.  I don't want to be with a smoker for so many reasons: I don't want to raise children who become smokers; I subscribe to the belief that your body is a temple and have a hard time understanding why someone would willingly put their health in danger and shorten their time with the people they love; and of course, it smells bad.  I think there's another part, too: I see the addiction as a weakness, a crutch, and I find that so unsexy.

There seems to be no real middle ground with this if we are to continue on our path together.  Either I accept that T is a smoker and just deal with it.  Or he quits.  We've tried both and have failed, so now we find ourselves (again) at an impasse.

It makes me very




And in pain.  My back hurts.

We eventually fell asleep, curled up together even thought we were still both angry and had come to no resolution.  (T is the master at this kind of avoidance/packaging problems up and putting them away.  It can be mind-numbingly infuriating for me.)  There will be further discussion tonight.
oh the joy

Friday, December 11, 2009

Playing Santa

I've been thinking about what to give everyone for Xmas.  I usually very good at getting everything in order before it gets to be last minute, but I realized that I am leaving in less than a week and don't have much time left!  I had planned on making a variety of cookies and giving boxfuls of them to T's folks, work colleagues, and Bangkok friends, but with time ticking, I think I may opt for something a bit less time-consuming: homemade granola.  I figure it's kind of perfect since granola my favorite thing in the whole world to eat.  I am awaiting email receipt of my mom's recipe and can then shop for the rare items, prepare the treat in bulk, and give it away in air tight glass jars like this one:

I'm considering sending copies of this book to my niece (I think my bro and his wife will appreciate it, too) and T's niece and nephews:

You can read the whole book here.  Added value: For every book bought on the Awesome World Foundation website, one copy is donated to a school, library, hospital, etc.  in the U.S. and abroad.

I'm still trying to come up with a good idea for T.  I'm planning to find something in NYC for him, but I don't know what I'm looking for.  He's the kind of guy who has very particular (and expensive) taste and usually buys the things he want when he wants them.  I often have to get creative.  In the past, I have given him a gift certificate for studio time at a ceramics place so that he could revisit a past passion; developed an elaborate treasure hunts around Bangkok; taken him for nice dinners to new restaurants; and bought him an elegant pair of cufflinks.  So, even though I struggle with an idea for a somewhat significant gift, there is one certainty: when I return at the end of the month, T will be enjoying some cinnamon rolls and other items from one of his favorite bakeries:

Monday, December 7, 2009


I have a seriously impairing fear of sharks that usually manages to keep me on the shore and out of dark swimming pools.  I have tried scuba diving and mind-over-matter and have even considered hypnosis, but I think this may be the answer to conquering my phobia:

Sharks with People Teeth

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Easy As Pie?

Two months ago, T and I threw a birthday party for a new friend.  I made an elaborate chocolate berry layer cake that received rave reviews from the guests, many of whom thought we had purchased it from a local bakery.  I was so proud. 

At the party, one of T’s good friends told me that, as a kid, he never liked cake and always requested apple pie on his birthday.  Knowing he had a milestone birthday approaching, I planned to attempt an apple pie.  After much online research and countless recipe reviews that warned of the difficulties of getting pie crust just right, I was scared off, but I still wanted to give our friend a pie, so I did something I am somewhat embarrassed to admit: I bought frozen crust.   
Oh, the shame!  

Coming from a family that honors homemade goodness above store bought foods, buying something mediocre and pre-made was a difficult thing to do.  

T helped with the peeling and slicing of the apples (he loves to be my sous-chef).  I used the recipe from Smitten Kitchen and was a bit disappointed by the lack of cohesion of the filling when the pie was cut.  Perhaps I should have added more flour or some cornstarch since the apples were particularly juicy. It was kind of a mess.  The other problem that pained me was that it was an especially ugly, lumpy excuse for a pie.  

Nevertheless, served with a scoop ice cream, everyone with their champagne-dulled taste buds ate it up.  Most importantly though, the birthday boy was very touched by the effort.  And he had seconds.

In conversation last night, I learned that in the mid-1800’s, during the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln received a telegram from the Thai king, Mongkut, offering to deliver working elephants to the U.S.  Lincoln politely declined.  The question that arose over the apple pie was "why?".  As bizarre an offer as it was, wouldn’t acceptance have be a diplomatic gesture?

T and me elephant riding in Chiang Rai, July 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hiding Under the Covers

I have been on a reading kick the past few months.  I attribute it to the acquisition of a bedside table and lamp that now allow me to comfortably read in bed while T watches stupid movies.  Last night, I finished The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.  It was recommended by so many people and yet I struggled to get through it.  I didn't find the story engaging, as Adiga was transparent in his use of it as a vehicle for a social commentary on modern India.  Further, the characters lacked development and were mere sketches of stereotypical servants and masters.  Though it did convey a picture (though, rather simplified) of class warfare and social hierarchy in India, I'm surprised it won the Man Booker Prize.

I was relieved when I got to the last page, since that meant I could start something new.  I immediately began Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson.  This is far from the kind of book I would choose to read, but a friend lent it to me and assured me that it doesn't read like a history textbook, but rather like a white-knuckle mystery (also, not my favorite genre) that I wouldn't be able to put down.  Who doesn't love reading a book they can't put down?

On another note, I have two more weeks before I am suppose to be on a plane to the US for Xmas with the fam, which I'm excited about.  But, I have yet to get my tickets.  I hate travel planning.  Especially when it's peak season and not easy to do.  I am in avoidance mode.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Blogger Naivete

I realize my posts have been long, rambling, and boring.  From here on out, I vow to stop using this space as a mental-diarrhea depositing spot.

Carrying on...

I hate cigarette smoke.  It makes my hair and clothes smell.  It makes T's breath smell.  It eventually causes long, agonizing deaths.  (OK, I admit it.  I may have succumbed to the indoctrination of the DARE program in 5th grade.)  This anti-smoking campaign ad cracked me up.  LOVE.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

And the Pendulum Swings

I am feeling so cranky today.  I have been happy going along, living in the present, which is a feat for me.  But, last night, T brought up a couple of things that have been on his mind and I was suddenly catapulted back into my old ways of life-impairing forward thinking.  He wants to discuss his smoking (I despise the smell of cigarettes and the idea that someone would willfully shorten their life) in relation to our upcoming post-New Years trip to the beach with T's visiting childhood friend and his wife.

That issue is less nerve-wracking than the weightier one T brought up at the same time: my plans for med school and what that means for "us".  I feel like, eventually, I will have to decide whether to choose to pursue a fulfilling career or opt for love (and the possibility of a dead-end professional life).  It just doesn't seem fair.  If T told me he wanted to go to school far far away to further his career, I would be thrilled and supportive and go along with the whole adventure.  That, to me, is true love and true commitment.  But maybe I am being a bit too hard-nosed about this.  Pursuing my dreams would mean a strain on our relationship since med school and residency would be powerful black holes that would eat up eight, long, fertile years of my life.  Plus, T would have to start over somewhere new.  I happen to think such a push would be good for him, since, if he stays here in Bangkok, he will live a status quo life, falling into routine and ultimately not feeling great about his career/life.  A move would require he address the career/work self-evaluation that he is so adept at avoiding.

It all seems to boil down to who is going to either throw in the towel or end up compromising much more.  And, here, I thought things were going so well...

La Victoire by Rene Magritte

Friday, November 27, 2009

Burmese Border

When we got back to Bangkok from Hong Kong last Sunday, I went for a run and then spent far too much time unpacking and repacking.  On Monday morning at 5 am, I left for a work trip up to Mae Sot, which is a town on the Thai-Burma border.  The beginning of the trip was a bit dull, but later on, I had the opportunity to visit the Mae La camp for Burmese refugees, most of whom are from the Karen ethic minority.  It was amazing.  There’s some really incredible doctoring done with limited resources at the malaria and antenatal clinics there.

In between playing with some cute kids and observing the doctor, I spent some time in the SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit), where there were teeny tiny babies, some of whom were born at 28 weeks and weighed around 1.2 kilos.  In the West, they would be kept in incubators until they were large and strong enough to be exposed to the elements of the real world.  In the camp, however, they are surrounded by hot water bottles and covered with layers of thick wool blankets as they sleep beside their mother on woven mats in a wall-less building.

My mom is going to start knitting sweaters, hats, and socks for the little ones who need the extra warmth.

The kids at the camp loved hamming it up for the camera (and then eager scrambling to see the results) and didn't really understand that closer is not necessarily better...

They were so fun to hang out with even though we didn't have languages in common.  After a tentative initial interaction, one very sweet, shy little girl warmed to me and became my shadow for the next few hours.  Her 2-year-old sister has been an in-patient at the clinic since infancy because she was born with situs inversus, which means that her heart and intestines are in the wrong place.  I met the family during the doctor's rounds and was amazed at how small the toddler was for a 2 year old and, yet, how alert and interactive and seemingly normal she was despite her fairly significant congenital abnormality.  I can only imagine how the middle sister, my shadow, must feel, spending all day everyday at the clinic and maybe not getting the attention she might have if her little sister were healthy.

I realize it is a bit strange for me to go from one post about shopping and living it up in Hong Kong to another about spending time in a refugee camp.  I feel guilty about traveling and buying frivolous things when girls like this are spending their entire lives fenced in with limited resources, no legal identification, and a future that is so unknown.

The visit reminded me how much I want to practice medicine, especially in a setting like Mae La.  What an impact the single doctor working at the clinic was making.  Though she was trained as a pediatrician, she was also attending to adult patients with typhus and malaria, and serving as an ER doc, as well.  I think I would love the variety, the interesting diseases, and that do-gooder glow that comes from working selflessly to help others.


So much to catch up on.  Hong Kong was great.  I hit the ground running (or maybe skipping and jumping up and clicking my heels together a la Charlie Chaplin is more accurate) and was so giddy that T asked what I had done with his girlfriend.  We filled the weekend with dinners at old school swanky Cipriani’s and Classified@the Press Room, a cute Italian deli.  We had drinks in the Long Kwai Fong area, at Hong Kong Brew House which had Oregon beer (T was ecstatic) and the freezing vodka room at Balalaika for a shot of Grazovka, at a tiny pub on Staunton Street, and at Club 71, a cool, low-key bar named after a huge protest march held on July 1, 2003.  It's filled with lefty memorabilia and propaganda and I later learned that Lonely Planet describes it as a "counter-culture nerve centre".

The words written on the heads: Here Is Hope
At Club 71, we were joined by some friends, one of whom displayed his enormous tattoo-in-progress:


We had meals at the Flying Pan and Taco Loco--both considered mandatory by T.  And we did loads of shopping. I scored big!  A pair of tall black riding boots (finally!), some of my favorite and simply sexy underwear, black flats, a pretty dress, and a new pair of glasses.  Oh, and my first red lipstick!

Mac Lipstick in Dubbonet

Consumerism at its finest!  T is usually a bigger purchaser than I when we shop, but this time, he only bought a t-shirt at Lane Crawford and a Bottega Veneta wallet that he’s had his eye on for years.  We both left happy.

I packed everything I needed and was happy with my choices.  The only things that could have been improved, I think, are the Nine West pointy-toed black heels I wore with my LBD to Cipriani’s.  I've had them for years and they feel a bit too officey for date nights, plus the heels have been repaired so many times that they've started to make a weird clacking noise when I walk.  It kind of detracts from the quietly sophisticated look I'm going for...

(Note to self: Buy some hot new black heels!)

And just for laughs, here is one of the better finds in my international search for funny/bizarre English-language t-shirts:


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Field Day for Freud

Last night I dreamed that T and I had decided to get married.  (We've had the talk before, so it's not so far from reality.)  I wanted something lowkey and simple and kind of divorced myself from the planning process since I didn't think much planning needed to be done.  The day came and when I arrived at the site, I found that T's mom had gone over the top in preparations.  Not only was everything decorated and froofy, but there were throngs and throngs of T's relatives wandering about--many of whom he didn't know.  I was tormented, torn between just wanting to get married that day and not offending T's mom by postponing the whole thing since no one from my family had been invited.  T told me it was OK if we put the whole thing off, that his mom would deal.  The rest of the dream I spent wandering through old hotels and rolling hills, mostly alone, but sometimes I would run into old friends and have a beer and chat for a bit.

And then I woke up.                                                        

 (Taken on our trip to Italy last spring)

 Analysis: Clearly I have some issues with T's mom wanting to be all up in our biznazz.  I'm not ready for marriage yet.  I miss my family and feel guilty that they aren't more involved in my life since we live so far apart.  And taking long solo walks in pastoral landscapes is cathartic.


I'm off to Hong Kong tomorrow.  I can't wait!  Last night before bed, I spent an hour or so trying on clothes and deciding what to pack.  It will be about 20 degrees cooler there than here during the day and even chillier at night, so I'm already bracing myself and bringing a lot of layers!  (Scarves!  Boots!  How I've missed you!)

I spoke to T last night before I went to sleep and he was under the covers in his hotel bed wearing his work shirt and a very thick hooded sweatshirt.  And he was still freezing.  Wish I could have been there to warm him up!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fly to Me!

 Since living abroad, I have made do with whatever clothing I can get here and whatever I can stock up on during my twice-a-year trips back to the US.  Now, after reading endless blogs, I am inspired to dip my toe into the world of online shopping.  This Vera Wang necklace from Kohl's is the first siren I noticed seductively calling my name:

I think I could wear all black and get a bit of that elusive rockstar look.  Baby steps.

Wish List and Happiness

Though these Bensimon sneaks were showcased more than a year ago at Refinery 29 and again last spring on fashion blogs, I want them now.  Oh, so Parisian chic.  I'm going to look for some in Hong Kong this weekend.  Otherwise, I'll wait until I'm in New York next month.

I love the fruit vendors of Bangkok.  All pieces are cut perfectly and presented in a bag with a long toothpick.  Happiness.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Me, Myself, and I

This weekend, I was unusually OK with being left to fend for myself.  Most times when T says he needs to work on Saturday and spends ALL day Sunday golfing, I feel abandoned and neglected and bored and grumpy.  I think, perhaps, now that we're on an even keel, it feels more comfortable to be apart and miss each other a bit.  Even a bit nice.

On Saturday, after sleeping in and going for brunch at Crepes&Co, I met up with E to see "The September Issue" and then do 30 minutes of (unsuccessful) power-shopping afterward.  I was surprised that the editors highlighted in the movie were not as glamorous and "edgy" as the models they styled.  The clothes worn by the staff at American Vogue were fairly ordinary; their hair was largely unkempt; and nearly all who were interviewed had some serious smoking wrinkles around their mouths.  There was no plastic surgery to be seen.  It was shocking, but very refreshing and hopeful to see that these queens of fashion have opted to age gracefully.

Shopping options in Bangkok are slim.  There is a plethora of shops stocking overly-embellished, too short dresses that have weird mixes of fabrics and far too many ruffles for any woman not wanting to look like she's about to attend her 5-year-old friend's birthday party.  There are few places to get basics and none offer pieces that are of truly good quality.  There's Zara and Mango and Promod and Forever XXI for simple tanks and other less over-the-top pieces, but their cotton stretches after a single wash and the seams aren't sewn with durability in mind.  I have heard that Gap will open at the beginning of next year and I am psyched for that, even though it will mean crazy marked-up t-shirts due to the fact that it will be considered an imported brand (but many of their pieces are made in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia!  Oh, the injustice!).

T and E have tried to get me to dress "outside the box".  That means they think I should wear more Thai designers and styles, like Fly Now, one of E's favorites.  Whenever I try their suggestions, though, I feel like I'm playing dress-up and could never imagine wearing the wildly patterned or oddly cut pieces in real life, let alone step outside of the safety of a dressing room.  While no one would look at me in my current wardrobe and say, "Damn, she's really edgy!", they would say that I am classy and understated, which, to me, is sometimes preferable.  However, there are some days when I really wish I had the clothes and courage to dress like a rockstar.  This is a problem since there's no distinction in my closet between play clothes and work clothes.  Everything has that professional, tucked-in look.  Ugh.  I need a personal shopper.

And a personal packer.  My current preoccupation: What to pack for Hong Kong this weekend.  Our days will be spent shopping (T loves looking at and sometimes buying designer goods), while our nights will be spent at hip or schnazzy restaurants and bars.  We're going to Cipriani's for dinner on Friday night and somewhere new on Saturday night.  We'll also probably meet up with some of T's old friends for drinks.  But my packing/"wears" phenomenon lingers and haunts me.  I utz every time I have to pack for a trip to any fashionable city.  I want to look hip.  I want to feel confident.  I want to be comfortable.  I just don't have the right tools to make it all happen together.  Maybe I'll find some good pieces on this trip.  (Hope springs eternal...)

Moving on...
On Saturday night, we went to my boss's place for a housewarming party.  I love the people I work with and I think T is starting to see why.  It's like being part of one, big, functional family.  I had my first taste of Pimm's Cup, which I loved.  Being an American, it was new to me.  It's a punch with a bit of Pimm's, lemon juice, simple syrup, and diced cucumber and mint.  Kind of like British sangria, I guess.  It was light and delicious!  With the encouragement of my boss, I joined some co-workers jumping on the trampoline, which I'd been eying all night.  Once on, that childhood fearlessness quickly melted away and I recalled all of the accounts I've ever heard about trampoline injuries.  I threw in the towel fairly quickly.

I was super lazy on Sunday, only leaving the apartment to get a Starbucks and go to the grocery store (twice--arg!) in preparation for dinner.  I made an excellent meal, redeeming myself after my mediocre couscous/veg/chicken salad last Sunday (which T still claims he liked, but I don't believe him).

Main: broiled chicken breasts that had been marinated in olive oil, honey, and cumin
Side: stuffing with sausage
Salad: spinach/mint salad with grated apple and slivered almonds 
Condiment: Ginger/Fig preserves

True to form, T made a sandwich out of all of it.  I would consider him a foodie in spite of the fact that he seems to think everything tastes better in sandwich form.  It's endearing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Run Like the Wind

On Wednesday, I met E for our usually scheduled run.  After my rant about finding girlfriends in Bangkok, hanging out with E reminded me that I do have friends --or at least one-- here, ones who are smart and interesting and non-judgmental.  We had planned to meet at our usual place in the park, but ended up missing each other.  We ran 7.5K on our own before we bumped into each other.  With conversation flowing easily, we kept up the pace and before we knew it, we'd completed 15K!  The first solo kilometers, I was listening to a hilarious Moth Podcast told by Joan Juliet Buck, the former editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue.  These podcasts are unscripted anecdotes told by random people in NYC and are a bit like an open-mic night.  Buck's story had me laughing aloud and running a bit faster.   It set the mood for the rest of the run. 

After the run and showers, we hit up Govinda, an Italian vegetarian restaurant where we have become regulars.  We don't even have to order; the waiters already know what we want.  We talked about why women are so competitive with each other.  E thinks it's professional ambition and territoriality that spills over into social contexts.  I'm not so sure I buy that since this competition seems to rear its ugly head early in development (hello, middle school queen bees!), before careers are even a glimmer in a girl's eye. 


Another day at home.  I emailed my boss to see if there is anything he needs me to do.  He emailed back almost immediately, thanking me for checking in and telling me that everything is under control.  I'm not yet sure how I'll spend the day.

No progress on the running mix yet.  T spent an hour last night going through his music, playing me snippets from albums, trying to get me hooked.  He would turn a song on and then, while sitting in a chair by the stereo, he'd mime a running, pumping his arms, wiping sweat from his brow, all to the beat of the song.  He'd then look to me, as I was sitting across the room cracking up, for song approval, nodding his head in encouragement.  It was very sweet and funny, but his music is more loungey and much better suited for background party tunes.  Nothing made me want to jump up and dance.  I think music that's more pop-py is the way to go for a running mix.  My current power songs --Beyonce ("Put a Ring on It") and Feist ("1234") and Ting Tings ("That's Not My Name")-- once did the trick beautifully, but after hundreds of listens, have lost their power.

I was suppose to go to a new friend's birthday party the other night, but got the date wrong, so I'm thinking of baking her some cookies I know she loves: my great Auntie Bess's mandelbrot.  I brought them to her place for Yom Kippur break fast and her kids actually fought over the last one.  I was proud.  I'm waiting for our lovely, twice/week maid to leave before I start making a mess.  The mandelbrot is pretty easy to make.  It's like biscotti, which is one of my mom's specialties, but with a 1/4 cup more oil and with chocolate chips.

Auntie Bess's Mandelbrot
3 eggs
1c sugar
1 tsp baking power
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 c raisins
 1/2 c chopped nuts
1 c chocolate chips
3 c flour
1 c oil

Mix the eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt, and vanilla.  
Add the raisins, nuts, and chocolate chips.  
Add the flour, mix well.  
Add the oil.  
Make into a workable dough.  
On an ungreased cookie sheet, form into four logs.  
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  
Cool for 15 minutes. 
Transfer to a cutting board and, with a serrated knife, cut into bars.  
Arrange bars on the cookie sheet and return to oven for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Calling Cool Chicas

Today, is another lazy day.  I am willing myself not to eat chocolate while I bum around the apartment.  I've been off my usual running schedule for a couple of months and am trying to get back into shape.  Yesterday, I managed to do more than 10K without too much trouble, which was incredibly relieving.  I chalk it up to the fact that I had a running buddy to keep me company.  Runs seem to be so much easier when there's someone to talk with.  "This American Life" podcasts use to keep me entertained and distracted enough, but now, they barely get me through 5K.  I'm hoping that with a new running mix --I've been listening to the same one for more than a year and it just doesn't do the trick anymore-- I'll be back in the game.

Yesterday's run got me thinking about friendships between single and non-single ladies.  I'm beginning to realize that they can be fraught with difficulties that may not be immediately apparent.  There is the issue of division of time.  Single friends want girls' nights out, weekends away, etc., while non-single friends need to make time for their honeys.  Someone is bound to feel neglected and resentful.  And then there's is jealousy, which is poisonous and corrosive and ultimately makes me run for the hills.  Why is there so much subversive competition between women?

Finding lasting friends in Bangkok has been a huge feat that I have yet to accomplish.  I am a bit older than the transient newcomers who arrive with fresh excitement for life in a foreign city and a drive to instantaneously create a social life for themselves.  I played that role three-and-a-half years ago.  I was out most nights at networking events at the hippest new bars; I was dancing the night away at clubs; I was going on dates; and I was putting myself out there with fervor!  I eventually got burned out around the time I began dating T, a year after I arrived.  Never having been much of a drinker and with a propensity to being a morning person and a runner, I just wasn't cut-out for the party girl persona.  I ahve tried friendships with girls who have carried on the hard-drinking, hard-partying girls, but they're just not people I click with. 

I'm a bit younger than the trailing spouses, newlyweds, and mothers and, given where we are in our lives, I find it difficult to relate to them.  Let it be known that I have tried.  I've gone to their bookclubs and networking meetings, but so far, it's been a no-go, folks.  I yearn for my college or grad school girls who are smart, snarky, empowered, ambitious, healthy, down-to-earth, and would choose girls' nights of dinner and wine or an indie flick or even a game night over dancing to pounding nnnsss-nnnsss music at clubs where conversation is totally out of the question.  I realize I sound like an old fuddy-duddy.  And I'm embracing it.

Where are these women?  They must exist somewhere in Bangkok.

In the meantime, I will remind myself to enjoy life as it is now (easy since it happens to be quite good).  And remind myself that if I were in the US, I probably wouldn't live somewhere where I could see this almost every evening from my balcony:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hiding Under a Rock

I was in hibernation mode today.  In the not-so-distant past, before work became busy, I would spend many a day holed up in the apartment.  T would come home after work and ask if I'd been outside at all.  It sounds a bit pathetic, but most days I really enjoyed not having anything to do.

Last week, I tied up the projects I have been working on and while I wait for the next one to land on my desk, I'm hanging out at home.  I hate the idea of pretending to be busy at the office when there's nothing to do and I'm fortunate enough to work in an environment where the only expectation is that you get your work done --however and wherever you'd like.  It's an excellent gig.

Today was a lazy, self-indulgent day of reading blogs for inspiration; trying to get into a new book (The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga); having a saucy lunch at home with T; meeting my friend, L, for a run; and now making plans to bake before T gets home from a networking event that I was happy to miss.  I have a feeling that the next few days will have a similar rhythm, which is fine by me.  There may even be some sleeping in and massages.  Luxury.

First Day of the Rest of My Life

Growing up, on the first day of school every year, my dad use to say that to me as he walked me to the end of the driveway.  He'd usually quote some long-dead poet and then, with his hand on my shoulder, he'd say it and send me off.  While it was predictable and corny, it was comforting.  Fresh start.

I set up this blog about a year ago and have utzed about how to begin, which raised a lot of questions that have remained unanswered.  Mostly, I wonder for whom I am writing this.  For me?  For the anonymous web surfer who stumbles upon it?  For travelers looking for information on Bangkok?  Hopefully, as I grow into the blogger I aspire to be, I will fulfill the reading desires of any and all.  And, enjoy myself in the process.

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