Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween everyone!

Believe it or not the pictures posted here are not from this Halloween or any Halloween for that matter, just a normal Saturday night in Brooklyn…Good Times! I especially love JM’s face in the second picture. I keep looking at it and am literally laughing out loud.

That night ended with the four of us thinking it was a great idea to take ourselves to the corner bodega to buy beer in those get-ups.
Again I have to ask myself just where my pride as gone?????

Anyway, I will not be dressing up this year as it is not such a big deal here and I am slightly under the weather so I would love to hear your plans and what you plan to be. Rudi if you are reading this..please comment as you always have some great costumes. I have to share the link to Jdizzles blog so you can take a peek at her awesome costume as a member of the Muppet Show band.

Trick or Treat!

Vacation from Vacation

Well I did it. I am an official PADI certified scuba diver. Based upon my previous scuba experience (once in Australia) I thought it was going to be a piece of cake….boy did I think wrong! The actual course is hard in and of itself but the fact that Phuket which is supposed to be a lovely, tropical place this time of year, was a rainy mess.

We arrived at the scuba place on the first day to be greated by out instructor…..Andre!! Dutch, 43, bald, built beautiful man! Whoo-hoo! Andre was just for us for the next 4 days…good times. The first day consisted of videos and quizzes which was fine since it was rainy and we thought the next day would be different.

Day 2: We arrive for our first in the water session only to be told that we had to be in the pool rather than the ocean since the water was so choppy. Nothing too exciting to report other than I was able to get into the wetsuit no problem and was actually complimented by Andre once suited up. The day went extremely well and we were excited by how well we did. We ended with many drinks on our terrace, then drinks at a little local bar where due to the weather all the lights went out in Kata beach for an hour so we sat, drank and learned Thai by candlelight. Once the lights came back on we headed out for dinner, drank another bottle of wine then headed to a massage place for some drunken spa at 10pm. We had a hour foot massage followed by an hour Thai massage and by the time it was over I was hung over!!!! All this for a mere $25USD

Day 3: We were booked on a boat out to an island about 1.5 hours off of Phuket where the water was clear and the sun shinning so we packed up all the equipment and boarded the boat…yeah it may have been pleasant there but the 1.5 hours of travel time was anything but. The weather was horrible. I seriously thought I was an extra in The Perfect Storm. Kids..this is not an exaggeration. There were about 15 other people on the boat and about 5 of them were just puking off the side the entire time. It was pretty gross. So we finally reach calmer waters and start suiting up for our first open water dive. I was really nervous but with Andre by our side things didn’t seem quite as scary.

We make our descent and it was really beautiful. There were all sorts of fish everywhere and the swim was pretty calming. We went about 12 meters for about 40 minutes but I was so nervous that I was doing everything right I never really enjoyed the scenery. About 15 minutes in I was thinking all these freakin fish look alike…ready to go back up. We again did really well so was feeling pretty confident about our scuba skills. We made our ascent and headed back to the boat for some lunch. Little did I know that my day was about to change….for the worse.

After lunch the beautiful weather of Phuket (NOT) made its way to our little sunny place and it started to rain. We got back into the water and were preparing to do some skill tests on the bottom. The test was to take out regulators (thing that allows you to breath underwater) out of our mouths, throw them behind our backs, find it then put it back in and start breathing again. No sweat did it in the pool….no problem. Not sure whether it was over confidence or I just was not thinking but I started the exercise, took the regulator out of my mouth, threw it behind and realized I have not taken a big enough breath…I got the thing back in my hand and just as I was about to get it back in my reflexes took over and I tried to take a breath…not tooo smart as I ended up with a mouth full of water and could not clear my regulator. I started to signal ASCENT! ASCENT! the thing would not clear and I was basically drowning (again no exaggeration here) so Andre started to bring me up and about ½ way up it cleared and I could taste the sweet taste of oxygen… Andre would not take his eyes off mine which was so calming…can you tell I fell in love with him heheh! We get to the surface and I was totally freaked!! I relaxed for a bit but had no desire to go back down. I knew if I did not I would never dive again so I asked for a minute and Andre said we would go for a swim underwater to calm me down and that I could hold his hand. Helen made me laugh after as she said she felt like a third wheel as we swam hand and hand. After a brief swim it was time to do it again and if I could not do this I would not pass. So, I peed my wetsuit and got into position and did the drill…Success! I did it!!! I was really freaking out.

As we swam back to the shore do you know what I was thinking…….I almost died… I am eating pasta tonight…seriously that is what I was thinking!! Who thinks that?????

Day 4: Back to the boat and I was not really into the whole thing as a result of day 3s experience but the weather was actually sunny which made it a bit easier to get out of bed. By this time both Helen and I were so beat up that we literally dragged ourselves to the shop.

Back to the boat and a much calmer trip to the reef. I assured Andre yesterday’s experience had not gotten me down too much and I was feeling confident I could complete the course. The next two dives were uneventful (thank god) and really beautiful AND to 18 meters/60 feet!!! The max an diver at our level could do! As we made our final ascent, Andre gave us a big group hug and oddly enough his *** was at eye level for me the whole time which Helen realized and made us both laugh so hard I almost lost the regulator once again.

Headed back and only the final written exam to go. As you already know, we passed the final exam and we were able to put our pictures on the wall of fame!

We celebrated with some beers and music with Andre…he was really proud!

Here I sit back in Singapore and my body has had enough even our last day which we filled with spa could make us feel any better.

So…need another vacation.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Just Like Jacques...

Well not really but! In 3 hours (and counting) I will be boarding a plane to Thailand for a five day scuba course and at the end yours truly will be a certified scuba diver!! Well that’s IF I can get that damn wetsuit on!! Who would have thunk it???

Keep your fingers, toes and everything else crossed that I make it back ok and without any run-ins with Jaws.

In addition to the scuba course HF and I plan to eat, drink (moderately...just getting over Sunday's drinkfest!!!) and spa our way through Kata Beach so expecting a good time all around. Both digital and underwater cameras are packed so expect to be bored upon my return…actually have packed my computer so who knows maybe some surprise vacation blogging.

Humm…perhaps I need to invest in one of those little red hats JC is rocking to really get in the spirit!!


Jenni”hope I don’t get the bends”B

Mandarin for Dummies (round 2)

My all time favorite (so far) local lunch is Yong Tau Foo. There is a yong tau foo stall in pretty much every hawker center. It is basically a small salad-like bar where you can choose from a selection of tofu (fried and plain), all types of fresh greens, fish balls, all sorts of fried stuff and fresh vegetables. You fill your bowl with all your favorite choices and once at the front of the line you hand it over they steam and make a soup right in front of you. YUM! One other thing you can add to your soup is one of 3 types of noodles (really thin, thin and thick). Now I have relaxed by eating habits quite a bit since being here but I am not really a fan of the noodle so here in lies the problem since generally the hawker workers speak very little English. I have come to know all the workers in the yong tau foo booth near work so they pretty much have my order down, this was after the first day I looked at the noodles, shook my head “no” violently and almost jumped over the counter to knock the noodles out of her hand but what if I were to visit another stall where they didn’t know me quite so well??

This potential dilemma brings me to today’s lesson:

No Noodles = Bu Yao Mian 面条不喜欢

Add this to our earlier lesson and you get = Bu Yao Mian, XieXie (no noodles thank you)

Look at that we are practically fluent after only 2 lessons.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Run Hard...Play Hard

I am going to start this post by saying there may be more spelling/grammatical errors than usual as a result of the worst hang over I have ever experienced in my whole life….this is not exaggeration as I am pretty certain that I just stopped being drunk about an hour ago (its 4pm).
I am very happy to report that the 10K was a success. I crossed the finish line at 64 minutes but given the start delay I am guessing my official time is around 60 minutes. I keep checking the event site for my time to be posted….will let you know as soon as I do. I must say I am pretty proud of myself especially given the fact that Saturday night was the rugby world cup and everyone was going to get together for the 3am start. I managed to have dinner with the crew and take myself home at 10:30pm to get ready for the race….I know I shocked myself!

It was a really great day with a little over 8,000 participants, all women. What I loved most about it was seeing all the different types of women doing the race: old, young, big, small, Chinese, white, Muslim….and trying to figure out what their motivation was for getting up so early on a Sunday, in the heat to run 10K. I have to give the most respect to the Muslim woman who have no choice but to run in their head scarf, pants and long sleeves. I was sweating like an animal in my little tee shirt and shorts! I look forward to doing another but not for a while…it was tough!

So after a morning of doing really great things for my mind and body what do I do but flush it all down the toilet but drinking WAY TOO MUCH! It all started innocently enough with a champagne brunch at Noon. These are really popular in Singapore. It is basically any type of food you can image with free flow champagne for 3-4 hours and you stay the entire 3-4 hours!! There were about 20 of us celebrating our friend Duncan’s birthday. It was great fun but by the end I was so tired and drunk all I wanted to do was go home..no such luck! The group was heading to another bar to continue the celebration and after a little arm twisting and being reminded that it was only 3pm I agreed to go along but only for one. BIG MISTAKE!! Irish Bar + feather boas+ live band+wigs+devil horns+a totally dehydrated from the run JenniB = TROUBLE
Me & Helen:

Me and Phil

Shortly after this last one was taken, I for some reason was put in charge of cutting the birthday cake, broke the knife and some cake flipped up and landed on my face. Would not have been bad had I actually realized this happened rather than sitting there for a good few minutes with chocolate cake on my forehead…Classy!

At about oh god who am I kidding I have no idea what time it was..the crew decided to move the party to a bar right near my apartment. I was like ok I ‘ll have one drink then head home..perfect..not so perfect. Had many more drinks there and made it home at midnight (I think). So as a recap I was up at 6am, ran for an hour in the heat, and drank from 12:00pm – 12:00am!

I had posed a question to you all back in the Phuket post about me having a problem and the answer is YES…Hello my name is JenniB and I am an alcoholic!

Oh but I do have to tell you about a laugh I had on my way to work this morning. They play Chinese soap operas (in English) on the bus in the morning and I usually have my ipod on so don’t really pay attention, put this morning my head hurt too much to have music playing in my ears so I was watching. Didn’t quite get what was going on but there was a guy in a wheelchair, I think he may have been retarded and he was a painter. He said something that actually made me laugh out loud which I don’t think was a good thing considering he is in a wheelchair and possible retarded ….”Just because I am disabled doesn’t mean I am unable” say that with a Chinese accent…pure comedy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tea & Toast

I love going out to lunch with my Singaporean co-workers. They always open my eyes and palate to new local dishes that I end up loving and adding to the lunch rotation. South Beach diet?? What South Beach diet? Anyway today was a co-worker lunch day and although I love it was a little disappointed to hear that we were going for sushi. We go to this really great place near work but I always order the same sashimi dish which is quite unadventurous. So heading back to the office, Rachael was like I want to get a coffee before heading back…hey Jenn have you ever had local coffee?? I had yet to taste it but my curiosity was not getting the best of me for this one. We headed to a tea & toast joint, now my interest was piqued. These little “cafes” are all over the city and most simply called tea and toast. How can an establishment survive simply serving tea & toast?? Interestingly enough they are always packed at all hours. Given the name, breakfast I could understand but tea and toast all day??

Rachel went ahead and ordered coffee for me and I sensed something else (she was ordering in Mandarin and unless she uttered XieXie I was not getting any of it). Coffee arrives and so does a grease soaked bag which she shoved in my hand and was like “you have to taste this.” “Sure I am up for anything on co-worker lunch day.” First the coffee… it is made with condensed milk and it so sweet it was out of control…not a fan! Now to the bag filled with kaya toast. Ok I’ll break it down…two slices of toasted white bread (yes,…unhealthy, no nutritional value white bread) made into two sandwiches. Spread in the middle was kaya (short for serikaya a coconut jam) and a big slab of butter. I have to admit although I am up for anything on these days this stuff is really bad for you! So I took a bite and thankfully I did not love it. Again, just like the coffee the jam is so sweet I felt like I was chewing on sugarcane. I did manage to eat one sandwich and finish my coffee since I did not want to be rude but I am sorry to say that this was not a successful co-worker lunch day.

One positive has come out of the experience though….I now know why the tea & toast places are always packed….everyone is so hopped up on sugar that they can just sit and talk for hours!!

3 days ‘til 10K and counting…..

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Word of the Week

I should be ashamed of myself! I have been living here for almost four months now and only know how to say one thing in Mandarin. Know wonder I took French I like four times. So right here right now I vow to learn one new word or phrase each week and I am forcing you to learn too.

So the first installment is the only phrase that I have managed to learn and that is:

Thank you! = XieXie 謝謝 (pronounced shea, shea).

Let the learning begin!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wetsuits are Dangerous!

I am not only talking about the damage that can be done to your ego but physical damage as well! Last night’s experience really surpassed even my worst expectations.

Ok so..HF and I meet and head over to the scuba shop where we were meeting her BF for the big purchase. We were headed to a shop called Friendly Waters so the name alone had already put me at ease. I envisioned a bright and cheerful surf shop filled with flowered shorts, Rip Curl posters, beach boys playing on the radio…ok maybe I am exaggerating a bit but I was not expecting Friendly Waters.

We made our way to this nondescript building that looked like an abandoned office building. When we entered, it was basically a small shopping mall with really random stores: dancing shoe manufacture, non-surgical tummy tucks, a whisky store (Singapore is filled with these type of random shopping centers). After a “where the hell is this place” call to BF we find FW. The place was about the size of my kitchen in Brooklyn and crammed with scuba equipment…not a poster or surf video in sight!

I jump right over to the wetsuit rack and I notice a doorway to my right …what’s through the doorway???…a closet converted into a fully stocked bar with a bartender! Interesting! I start working my way through the wetsuit rack and happen upon a pink and black one..perfect I thought..nice and girly. I take it off the rack and proclaim “this to be my suit!” The wetsuit expert came over looks at the suit then looks at me..looks at the suit then looks at me and says TOO SMALL! You need a size XX I am not going to even write the size because it was about 4 sizes bigger than what I usually wear!! Shot to the ego #1. He managed to find my size in the Lane Bryant section of the store and I was ready to try on..ok so where are the fitting rooms?? Where else?? the bar of course! HF and I were lead into the bar, the bartender kicked out and we were instructed to “Keep the lights off or the whole street will see you naked” Great!

Those of you who have had the “pleasure” of pushing and pulling yourself into a wetsuit knows the drama of the next 15 minutes of my life but we managed to get in and both were immediately told..that the suits did not fit..try another. Ego hit #2. At this point we were both starting to sweat profusely. Suit #2…this was much harder to get on now that we were both sweating so much that it made the suits stick which made me sweat even more. This may be a good time to say that the bar, although fully stocked, had no air con.

As I slowly (very slowly) yank the suite up my body I realize that my fingers are killing me…I had managed to actually take the skin off of my two middle fingers on both hands trying to get this fing suit on my body!!!! I was like Helen can you believe this!! This suit better be the one! Out we both walk again hair a mess, faces red and wet with sweat. Helen’s inspection is first..she has a winner! Me..nope not the right fit. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE F’ING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW!!!! Ego hit # 3. I actually whimpered and stated I just could not get back in the sweatbox and attempt another suit. The expert searched through the racks for the right fit then mysteriously went into the bar and came back with #3. The hope of wearing a ladylike, hot little number was out the window this was black and blue and MANLY.

Helen, already stripped out of her suit, promised to help me try #3 since I could barely grip anything because I had blisters on my hands for this horrible experience. So there we are in the dark bar, H in just a skirt and bra, me in just my underwear and we start the process again this time I was so sweaty it was disgusting…we were both pushing and pulling, skin lumping in really unattractive ways and then IT happened….our friendship reached a whole new level…as she was “working” on the bottom of the right leg of my suit and me on the left (remember I am sweaty, and pratically naked) I take a big yank of the suit and my sweaty hip rubs right across her face!! We both started laughing so hard that I almost peed my wetsuit. After the fits of laughter, Helen being the good friend she is continued to be an active participant and finally I heard the sweet sound of ziiiiiiippppppp and as Barney would say I was suited up! I got myself together, took a deep breath and thought if this dosen’t work diving is just not for me. I’ll just sit on the beach in my easy to get on and off bathing suit!! Thankfully I got the thumbs up and am now the proud owner of a very expensive, very manly wetsuit. I freaking better like this sport!

As I sit here typing I have to laugh and I am constantly reminded of the evening as I look down and see my blistered knuckles which make me look like I am a contestant on my favorite show The Contender.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Mr. Sandman

Yay! Last night was the first night since I have been here that I had a good night's sleep without the help of Tylenol PM or exorbitant amounts of alcohol! That is good stuff perhaps I am finally settling into life here?? Scary thought.

Thank goodness that I was able to rest as I had to wake up pretty early to take a long run in preparation for the 10K which is only 2 weeks away. Oh god I hope I can finish! Not only was the thought of totally embarrassing myself during the race an inspiration to keep going but tonight after work I am going shopping for a wetsuit. Yes you read that right...a wetsuit! HF's boyfriend, who is a big diver, is coming along to help us with the purchase for our diving trip which is in 3 weeks! The thought of shoving my fat ass into a tight body suit under florescent lighting is not sitting too well with me (either are the 3 cookies I just ate...stress eating!). I am hoping that I can get a bright green suit so sharks will not mistake me for a plump seal...think it maybe too warm here for seals..so a plump something else that they eat and take a big bite out of me. This shopping experience should be pretty comical but don't expect pictures of the fiasco!

I do have another piece of good news, the cleaning lady does not have a black eye...thank god!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Not Easily Identifiable

Humm..things have not really changed too much!! I am referring to my post dated July 8 titled Scenes from the Pantry (sorry don’t know how to do that fancy link to the post thing). This incident took place very early on in my Singapore adventure and I am sorry to say…I still can not tell them apart. Wait,let me clarify something…I can tell actual people apart just not whether someone is Chinese, Japanese (dirty knees…I digress), Korean etc and in addition to Asian’s being a problem I have realized that I am actually just pitiful when it comes to telling where any person originates from.

There are certain accents that are pretty easy Australian for instance…got that one down! English accent is pretty straight forward for the most part except that two of my closest friends here are English and they have both mentioned to me that a third friend SC’s accent is pretty as they say “common” I think that translates to someone from the wrong side of the tracks. I have tried to identify the difference in her accent for myself and just can’t hear it. I am sure they would adamantly argue this point if they heard me say this.

Ok moving on…so I, once again, misidentified the origins of another. This time….PADDY. I have to say that I really don’t hold my ignorance 100% responsible for this one. Note #1 I was pretty loaded when we met (readers…are you surprised??), Note #2,3,4 his name is Patrick, we met in an Irish pub and then he signed an email Paddy…I basically thought I was heading for a date with a leprechaun! What would you think????

So I arrive to dinner, sit down and start my standard first date conversation. As soon as he spoke I was like "oh no got it wrong again!!" Totally not Irish. I detected what I thought was a French accept but nope wrong again…Swiss! but to my credit..french swiss! Ugg times like these make me long for the easily identifiable Brooklyn, Staten Island and North Jersey accents!

It will take me quite a bit longer to grasp all the different cultures and accents but its going fun trying!

On other note, while I am typing this, the office cleaning lady just came to wipe down my desk. Those who have worked with me knows the “organized chaos” that is my desk so I was trying to clear away some of the mess. I went to put my holepuncher thing into my overhead cabinet which I always forget opens out instead of sliding up and nailed her in the head…really hard!!!! I cold almost see the birdies circling her head!! I honestly think she almost cried! I feel so bad!! I seriously will not be surprised if she comes in with a black eye tomorrow. This is NOT good for business!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New Addition

There is a new addition to the Bod's family (my brothers Chris' family)..her name is Sophie and she is a 8 week old boxer puppy. Sorry my inbox was full and I had to delete the pictures I had of her.

The puppy was a surprise for the three kids and as expected Abby and Aidan are so excited and can not get enough of the new addition. Christian (the youngest and pictured) on the other hand has not quite gotten used to Sophie. Here is a excerpt from an email I received from my sister-in-law this morning.

Christian is a little jealous and afraid because every time Christian runs, Sophie thinks he is playing and Christian screams as if a wild animal is chasing him. Today, when I was dressing the boys for school, Christian took his diaper off with everything else and was naked with the diaper in his hand and Sophie tried to grab it and Christian screamed and ran around the house nudy betutti.

How cute is that...I could only imagine!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Back to Business


Can not believe I am sitting at the airport again..heading back to Singapore. It has been an amazing visit and I am taking bets with myself to see if I am actually going to board the plane.

Coming back and being able to pick up with friends right where we left off in June without skipping a beat really makes me realize how special and deep my friendships run. I am one lucky girl. That being said, a lot has changed in the last 3 months with is a bit scary (for me) but really good for those going through the changes Jack, Ri, Jeff I am talking about you! I am so proud of each of you and know that the things you are embarking on will make you so happy which is all I want for my friends!

I want to send a really special thank you along with a hung and kiss to Mel, Kitty and Gary. For hosting some great parties with great food. I thank you but my waistline certainly does not!

Ok I better board I love you all. My liver is about the only part of my excited to get back!