september 2004

SEP 30 :: [sneaking in] ... one last post for the month of September. Can you believe it's gonna be October tomorrow?! I've been working my tail off the past few days and tonight is the final night (hopefully). I haven't done much besides driving back and forth to work so I guess my September ended on a quiet note. I missed a party last night hosted by Rick *pout*. Anywho, here's hoping October is gonna be better!

SEP 28 :: [too busy] ... to write coz I'm too busy writing elsewhere. The documentation phase of this project sucks ass. Hurricane Jeanne is pouring on DC. More later... (oh yea, weekend was pretty fetch).

SEP 24 :: [sanity] Yes, it's back :) I'm glad my kickoff meeting on Sunday has been postponed to 9am Monday. A little early but I can make that no problem. Calmer heads have prevailed (who on earth works two Sundays in a row?!).

And the weekend is FINALLY here. Yay! I have no plans other than to veg out, party hard, and maybe get a little shopping done (I love shopping). I've also gotta get my suits altered in time for the big event on Oct 8th. I reckon two weeks is more than enough for that Korean sweatshop lady down the street to fix it. Although frankly, I'm kinda nervous at the thought that the suits might be unalterable i.e. I've shrunk so much (no, really) that I might be better off buying a brand new outfit. But I really like my Versace Nehru-collared suit though. Sigh. What a nice dilemma to have.

Yes, I have shrunk. I am consistently tipping the scales at 152 pounds which is more than 15 pounds less than when my doctor put me on a "diet" (in a very loose sense of that word) a couple of months ago. I'm not gonna starve myself to lose more weight but if it happens, it happens.

October is shaping up to be a very busy month indeed work-wise and events-wise. I need all the sanity I can get now before autumn and the run-up to the Christmas holidays kick into high gear. And what is up with the hurricane season? Another one (Jeanne) aiming for Florida?! Pure insanity.

[christian wrong] I found this little gem on Andrew Sullivan's website (yup, he's blogging again; some days more refreshing than others) and I just had to share this with all of you:

"...It seems to me that a central tenet of Jesus' message was that it is precisely the outcasts of society who are worth treasuring and loving. Yet it is a central tenet of the Christian right that the marginalized be marginalized and discriminated against still further. That is one of the many reasons they are neither Christian nor right."

SEP 23 :: [hallelujah] Thank God it's over! These past two weeks have been taxing on me. Yesterday was the climax - woke up at 4:30am, presentation from 5am - noon. And then we were free!! What a relief.

Much to my horror, I find out today that the cycle may have to be repeated from this Sunday onwards for the next two weeks. The schedule is marginally lighter (7:30am - 10pm) but having the kickoff on a Sunday is cruel and unusual punishment. Not to mention a 7:30am start time everyday is a crime against humanity. 7:30 only happens once a day for me and it's not the a.m. one :D

But I shall presevere. Still, woe is me.

[teddy] Anyways, I've been enjoying my days of liberation before being holed up again in the equivalent of a workplace concentration camp. Last night was SO fetch! We attended (at Rick's generous invitation - I wasn't gonna pony up $600/pp!) the 4th Annual Oates-Shrum Leadership Award at the Washington Court Hotel and it was quite the party. First of all, the hotel is like politics central - the roster of events was chocked full with so-and-so-for-Congress in such-and-such ballroom. The air of politics was so thick it was intoxicating. But the air got suffocating at Grand Ballroom where the Oates-Shrum thing was held. Not in a bad way, of course.

There were power gays everywhere! So many of them in such positions of power it was quite surreal to have them all in one room. And they were all here to present the award to Senator Ted Kennedy. Yes! He was there and he gave a rousing and fiery speech; the best part was when he aptly assigned a one-word adjective to describe the House Republican leadership - neanderthals. That was priceless. The food was awesome, the ballroom was a tad small for the large crowd and the crowd was beautiful if not a tad too conservatively dressed. Gray, black and blue suits as far as the eye can see. Yawn, how boring especially for a gay function. I was bucking the trend as usual (albeit by accident) by wearing a shimmery black shirt with patterns made out of tiny silver studs all over. Quite fetch, if I can say so myself.

What can I say about Teddy that hasn't already been said. He is older than dirt, that's for sure. He seemed to have difficulty with stairs and he walks lumberingly. That does not distract from what a nice man he is though (he asked to pose for photographs with the volunteers which I thought was a really sweet thing to do). The other favorite quote of mine from him last night was when he quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. in an effort to promote his speech's theme of "Social Justice". MLK Jr. said "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" and Sen. Kennedy proceeded to hammer home the message to a friendly GLBT crowd that the FMA died in the Senate where he has a larger than life presence. I liked the theme of "Social Justice" very much. It's really hard to imagine why the Republican Party wants to pick apart our national unity and chooses the politics of divide and conquer. Social injustice is a bigger threat to the United States of America than terrorism ever will be, IMHO.

Oooh, speaking of Republicans, I mustn't forget to mention that David Catania was also in the crowd. I eyed him all night to see his reaction to Ted's anti-Republican speech which was quite the crowd pleaser. I would imagine that the crowd last night was very friendly to LGBT-issues dear to David's heart but certainly not political issues (by a long shot). But he seemed to be politely applauding to very Democratic parts of Teddy's speech up to and including affirmative action and (shock and horror) the unnecessary war on Iraq. I guess he must be only a fiscal conservative.

But the party really started when all the big-donors adjourned to an after-party at our realtor's home in Kalorama. And what a home it is! Beautiful (big) house with an L-shaped garden surrounding the house on two sides. The garden is delightfully paved over with flagstones leading up to an elevated area where the humongous pool sits. Absolutely gorgeous. The catered desserts was extremely delicious paired with champagne, of course. And we finally met Michael's boyfriend, Marco. Really nice guy. And much to our shock, Greg (the guy who sold us our house) was also there! Small world.

And still the party went on. We hooked up with some lobbyists, lawyers and board members from several big foundations (god, that sounds so cheesy) who are big supporters of the Victory Fund where Rick works and had the post-after-party at Duplex and then at Halo. What a great evening it was. You'd think that Rick would behave himself in front of his big donors but let's just say he was quite tipsy and took donor appreciation to a whole new level. I'm not telling ;) But who am I to talk, I was totally passed-out drunk at the end of it as well. It was brilliant! I couldn't think of a better way to destress and decompress from a high-pressure two weeks of work.

[you call this service?] I had the gross misfortune of having to renew my DC car inspection yesterday. The presentation ended at noon and we had the day off so I took the opportunity to lunch with Tony at Majestic Cafe (being served by a creepy waitress who kept looking at my lap - service issue #1 of the day) and then do a bunch of car stuff like adding engine oil (well, I refused to touch the nasty part of my car under the hood so Tony did it). You probably remember me mentioning shattering my windshield a month ago or so (or was it just a few weeks ago? I'm getting senile at my old age). And guess what's attached to the windshield? The car inspection sticker. And DC's inspection sticker is funky: as soon as you remove it, it bleaches out and says "VOID" all across the sticker so obviously that you can spot it from a mile away. Not wanting to get a ticket, I decided to renew my car inspection since it was gonna be due in Dec anyway.

So off I go merrily (and sleepily; I woke up at 4:30am yesterday - the horrors!!) to the DC inspection center in SW. The line of cars is out of control. I pull up to the two long lines and gazed over to see a shorter line right next to me. I ask the dude working the line to see if I could get into that line and he mentions that it's for taxis and senior citizens only. He also told me not to worry and that our lines are moving quickly. Well, it doesn't. And cars were backed up onto the main streets so dude opens up the short line to everybody. That pissed me off coz I had been waiting in the longer lines.

FOURTY minutes later (in my convertible, top down coz it was a nice day, breathing fumes from everybody's vehicle), I get to the front of the line. And the inspectors could not have gone any slower and d'oh that's the reason why the lines are so long and moving so slowly. One HOUR later, I get my new sticker and I'm on my way home.

Absolutely pathetic. Inspection should only take 5 minutes tops. They didn't even check my emissions coz the car is still relatively new. Thank God I only have to do this every other year. Otherwise, I'd go crazy. These people do not know the meaning of service.

The other service faux pas is the Malaysian Embassy in Washington, DC. Long story short, my passport expires in 12 months. Malaysian passports are weird: Every 5 years, you have to get a new one regardless. No extensions, and no ifs, ands or buts. Since I travel more than a nomad, I decided to explore the intricacies of renewing my passport here (the procedures have changed since my last renewal 5 years ago) before I hit the 6-month-to-expiration mark.

I call the Malaysian Embassy, explain that I need my passport renewed, get transferred to the Consular Service area at which point the phone just rings... and rings... and rings. Finally, after what must be an eternity (yes, I love to exaggerate), the phone goes to voicemail. Except that it's not. A lady with horrifyingly broken recorded English explains that all lines are busy and that I should call back later. ??? Why can't I be placed in a hold queue? Why can't I leave a voicemail?? This is the Malaysian Embassy in Washington, DC for crying out loud. What is wrong with the mentality of these people? It never ceases to amaze me how painfully Third World Malaysia is when it comes to providing service even as it leaps ahead in terms of infrastructure. Building new roads, airports and cities are easy, changing the prevailing "tidak apa" (roughly translated to "don't really care") mindset is much harder. That's why Singapore is always ahead of Malaysia.

SEP 21 :: [choice] John Kerry's Speech at New York University, 9/20/04:

"This election is about choices. The most important choices a President makes are about protecting America at home and around the world. A presidents first obligation is to make America safer, stronger and truer to our ideals."

"National security is a central issue in this campaign. We owe it to the American people to have a real debate about the choices President Bush has made and the choices I would make to fight and win the war on terror."

"That means we must have a great honest national debate on Iraq. The President claims it is the centerpiece of his war on terror. In fact, Iraq was a profound diversion from that war and the battle against our greatest enemy, Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. Invading Iraq has created a crisis of historic proportions and, if we do not change course, there is the prospect of a war with no end in sight."

"The President has said that he miscalculated in Iraq and that it was a catastrophic success. In fact, the President has made a series of catastrophic decisions from the beginning in Iraq. At every fork in the road, he has taken the wrong turn and led us in the wrong direction."

"The first and most fundamental mistake was the Presidents failure to tell the truth to the American people. He failed to tell the truth about the rationale for going to war. And he failed to tell the truth about the burden this war would impose on our soldiers and our citizens."

"His two main rationales weapons of mass destruction and the Al Qaeda/September 11 connection have been proved false by the Presidents own weapons inspectors and by the 9/11 Commission. Just last week, Secretary of State Powell acknowledged the facts. Only Vice President Cheney still insists that the earth is flat."

Absolutely brilliant. And here comes the money quote:

"The administration told us we'd be greeted as liberators. They were wrong."

"They told us not to worry about looting or the sorry state of Iraqs infrastructure. They were wrong."

"They told us we had enough troops to provide security and stability, defeat the insurgents, guard the borders and secure the arms depots. They were wrong."

"They told us we could rely on exiles like Ahmed Chalabi to build political legitimacy. They were wrong."

"They told us we would quickly restore an Iraqi civil service to run the country and a police force and army to secure it. They were wrong."

"In Iraq, this administration has consistently over-promised and under-performed. This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an absence of candor, arrogance and outright incompetence. And the President has held no one accountable, including himself."

"In fact, the only officials who lost their jobs over Iraq were the ones who told the truth."

And finally, the icing on the cake:

"Yet today, President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way. How can he possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded Iraq? My answer is no - because a Commander-in-Chiefs first responsibility is to make a wise and responsible decision to keep America safe."

"The Presidents insistence that he would do the same thing all over again in Iraq is a clear warning for the future. And it makes the choice in this election clear: more of the same with President Bush or a new direction that makes our troops and America safer. It is time, at long last, to ask the questions and insist on the answers from the Commander-in-Chief about his serious misjudgments and what they tell us about his administration and the President himself. If George W. Bush is re-elected, he will cling to the same failed policies in Iraq -- and he will repeat, somewhere else, the same reckless mistakes that have made America less secure than we can or should be."

It's a clear and obvious choice. Bush continues to defend the indefensible; yesterday in a rebuttal and today in front of the United Nations and the world. He is wrong. He is manipulating the truth. And he should be fired.

John Kerry for the President of the United States.

SEP 20 :: [top up already?] This morning was the first morning in a long time (since end-April?) that I actually considered putting my top up for reasons other than rain. It was freezing!! Low 50s is NOT convertible weather. It was better on the way home but it was still chilly (high-60s). I can't believe summer is coming to an end already. I really hate it when the days get short again and darkness seems to go on forever. So sad.

Another sign summer is coming to an end: I put on a long-sleeve shirt and a pair of shoes to go to work today. Again, it's been awhile since I've done this. I usually do short-sleeves and open-toes. On the bright side, fall is quite exciting for my wardrobe. I get to buy new shirts, coats (I've got my eye on a Kenneth Cole 3/4-length coat), sweaters, shoes, etc. Yay! I love shopping.

For once I'm actually glad my weekend (of work) was over. It wasn't much fun. All work and no play :( Today was a light day but tomorrow and Wed are gonna be killer. They're proposing that we pull an all-nighter Tues through Wed (uhh, I don't think so). I can't wait for Wed to come and go. I can't wait for my life to return to normal again (y'know, normal work day, nice dinners, watch some TV, yoga, parties, drinking with friends, planning my next vacation, etc.).

And here I thought normal was boring. I like normal.

SEP 19 :: [brrrr] It's freezing today; 51 degrees outside. It hasn't been this cold since early-May. The day is gonna warm up to a nice 70 degrees but ugh, summer is definitely over :( But officially, summer ends (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) on Sept 22 (Wed). That's the date of the autumnal equinox. Fun facts: The sun's rays will be directly over the equator that day and will not return to this point until the vernal equinox on Mar 21st, 2005. The sun will set at the North Pole and rise at the South Pole the next day. And this is cool: every location on the planet will receive 12 hours of daylight on the day of the autumnal equinox. Giggle.

I got up this a.m. (Sunday!!) for yet another 8am con-call only to find out it has been postponed by an hour. Sigh. I could've slept an extra hour. Now that I'm awake, it'll be impossible for me to fall back asleep.

So, I guess it's official: My elder bro is now single again. Bummer (or yay?). In a winner-takes-all divorce settlement, I fear the ex-wife made out like a bandit. In a land where divorces are still quite uncommon, who knows if there's such a thing as a no-fault divorce. But I guess this one has been faulty from the get-go.

It may be easier to see this from an outsider's point of view but my take on divorce is simple: it's the end of a marriage contract. There's no love involved in a divorce settlement. It's purely business. It's a contract and it's all about money. It stopped being about love the moment the other party starts fighting for more than you have already generously conceded (in a no-fault case). And you've gotta fight for everything. Never yield, never give an inch. If you do yield out of love or guilt, you will live to regret it down the road when you have picked up the pieces and started a new life. Moving on then will be hard coz you will always look back in anger at how this terrible person raped you for everything you've got.

Yea, I'm cold and heartless. But so is divorce.

But even more shocking is my parents' decision to let my elder bro stay with them indefinitely. Quelle horreur! I can understand letting him stay a few months, but letting him move in?! Oh dear. I don't understand how they can let him turn back the clock and go back to where he was in high school simply because he's now single. Where is the pride in independent living? How is he ever going to detach himself from my parents when the time comes for him to remarry? He is no longer a child. The relationship of respect between a child and an adult is different from a relationship of respect between two adults. And he's an adult and adults very rarely get along living under the same roof unless they are spouses or one adult is a caregiver. And my parents certainly don't need to be looked after at their tender age. So what's the beef? My parents are setting a terrible precedent for him and for all of us, IMHO. He's still your child but he's no longer *a* child. The relationship of respect between two non-spousal adults calls for separate living arrangements. Am I being too harsh?

SEP 18 :: [ivan the terrible] The winds are howling outside today; the remnants of Hurricane Ivan. And it's been raining so much I almost started building an ark. If Ivan's effects are this strong after it has crossed over a thousand miles of land, I shudder to think what the people on the Gulf Coast went through when it slammed ashore 2 days ago.

I am officially sick of working. In 6 days, I have logged 65 hours (!!!) and there is no end in sight. Well, actually there is. Wednesday is D-or-D-Day (Do-or-Die Day) for this project. Hopefully after that, I can resume my normal cycle of partying and drinking again. Giggle.

At least I get to work from home today. Yoga starts in 30 minutes so I should get my butt out the door. But before I do that, last night was a super-fetch night at Halo and Annie's to celebrate Mike's 36th (yikes!). Yea, I know, I'm surrounded by a bunch of old farts. Halo is awesome as usual (no Brad and no free drinks this time *pout*) and Annie's is always good. I had to make sure not to overdo it last night coz I had to get up early today. (Kiat's definition of early is pre-8am)

I know, wtf is up with all these 8am conference calls? They've been happening on a daily basis and I'm kinda over it. They've been threatening to fly me to London for this project and I was like, are you kidding me? Flying in coach, camping at the Holiday Inn, and commuting to Hatfield OUTSIDE the M25 everyday? I don't think so.

SEP 17 :: [obsess completely] Must-See TV on NBC is officially over. OC moved to Thursdays this year with a new theme: Obsess Completely. And ohhhh yea, I am totally obsessed. OC is so juicy and so dreamy, it's like totally awesome. So much drama packed in one hour, how appropriate for a drama queen like me :) I can't wait for the series to start next week. It's also such a totally guilty pleasure. I'm not ashamed that I'm watching the equivalent of a primetime soap opera, I'm more ashamed that it is on Fox and I'm tuning in religiously! Fox is like the evil empire, y'know? Oh well, I guess we all have to cross over to the dark side once in awhile :)

What can I say? Goodbye Joey, W&G and The Apprentice...

Yea, this is a short entry coz I'm still being worked to death like some slave in a Chinese sweatshop. Groan. It's raining outside like you would not believe and I shudder to think what my traffic this evening is going to be like. I need a drink. Stat.

SEP 15 :: [thirteen part deux] Another 13hr day! I don't even remember what day of the week it is much less what the date is. My eyes are hazy and my mind is a blur. I did top off my day yesterday with a trip to Rice with Rick and then off to see our favorite bartender, Brad, at Halo. Very fetch. I had two Cosmos and one Mojito to round off my evening. I definitely needed that stress-reliever. Brad is so nice, my second Cosmo was free. Giggle.

Which brings me to today: Terrible start to the day. Me yelling at co-workers (oh wait, did I mention I yelled at one of the managers yesterday? Luckily not mine but I apologized later on) and pulling my hair out in frustration. Conference calls with the UK ("Please enter your Passcode followed by the Hash key". WTF is a "Hash" key? The Queen's English is so silly) and trying to juggle everyone's egos and incompetence all at the same time. Work sucks. I'm gonna have to take a survey to see if this is what work is all about. Does everyone really work 12-13 hour stress-filled days? Ugh, hate it. Anything more than 8 hours is cruel and unusual punishment to me. Crimes against humanity, this is.

Well, in any case, y'all know where I've been hiding these past few days and for the next week or so until the demo concludes in a week's time. Till then, say a little prayer for me (and for the residents in the path of Ivan the Terrible!).

SEP 14 :: [thirteen] Yes, that was the number of hours I worked yesterday - 13 hours on Sep 13. Weird. I am up to my eyeballs in work crap and the shit's piling up and I can't breathe, much less shit, shower or shave in the morning! :) Humor aside, this is no fun. The pressure is too intense for my liking. I want to bail. But where to go?

Anywho, I have like two seconds to write this so here goes: Party on Sunday was awesome. Cleaning up after was a bitch! We had like 50+ people show up... some RSVPed and didn't show (see if I'll invite your sorry asses again *EVIL GRIN*) and some who didn't RSVPed and showed up (at least you showed up). But all in all it was a good party. Until we ran out of food. And mojitos. Which is kinda bad since it was a "mojito party", d'oh. We always run out of mojitos. And the food? Well, I seriously underestimated as usual. Nonetheless, the weather was beautiful and the crowd was even more so. No complains. Happy Birthday, Tony!

SEP 11 :: [preparation] So here I am sitting in my living room, in a state of somewhat disbelief that I'm actually home on a Saturday night. Like, I totally don't remember the last time I didn't go out on a Saturday night. Feels weird. Anyway, I'm surfing the web on my wireless-G network, taking a breather from preparations for tomorrow's big BBQ bash to celebrate Tony's 41st (yea, he's old, hehe). Tony is doing most of the cooking. We have lots of food and alcohol (of course), not to mention two lovely cakes from Cakelove, yum. It looks like it'll be a beautiful sunny 80-degree day tomorrow which is a good omen! The only dilemma is whether or not to put the gazebo up (for shade) which is a nice problem to have for an outdoor party :)

What is up with the hurricanes? It seems like half the Caribbean and most of Florida is preparing for yet another hurricane strike. Hot on the heels of Charley and Frances comes Ivan packing Category 5 winds. Eek. I find it weird that most of the hurricanes this year have hit somewhere in the United States and then made its way up to the DC area pissing inches of rain all over us. I don't really remember but we've had Alex, Bonnie, Charley, Frances, Gaston, and Ivan is apparently headed up our way too. Aside from Danielle and Earl, all of the above including Hermine has hit the United States somewhere. Quite bizarre.

I'm totally exhausted today. Last night sapped all the energy out of me. After a crazy work week, we started off the evening with Chris/Dave at JR's followed by dinner at Rice (yummy) and then pounding mojitos at Halo. Halo is quite a fetch little bar. Awesome drinks and great crowd. Drinks are pricey but Brad is so nice to me and gives me free drinks *giggle*. So I am seriously toasted at this point and somehow, we meandered back to JR's to meet Rob/Mikko and Alan after which I kinda don't remember what happened. I remember walking into JR's, don't know if I had anything to drink, don't remember walking home, the next thing I remember was waking up this morning! Giggle.

I was SO hungover today. Lisa, my yoga guru, insisted that yoga would cure my hangover. Well, let's just say yoga kicked my hungover ass. After two weeks, I felt like an inflexible reptile doing the poses. After yoga, Rick and I went shopping for booze and groceries for the party while Tony got a haircut and shopped at Costco (what's up with the 6pm closing time on Saturday?!). I only spent $200+ on alcohol which is half what we spent for my party 4 months ago. We had too much last time, hopefully we won't run out this time. You just never know. Party planning is so not an exact science.

Backing up. Thursday night was a fun night at Skewers where Gary presented his book for yet another Merrill function. We topped off the evening with dinner at Straits of Malaya which was so-so. Rob was there too and he left for Geneva today. Going forward. Next week is going to be an even crazier week at work coz of deadlines. The infrastructure needs to be built out before 9/21 so the next five workdays will be quite hectic! Sigh.

Anyway, I am way sleepy and I need to rest before tomorrow's party. So far, we have 50+ people coming and you'll hear all about it on Monday!

Oh wait, I almost forgot. Today is the third anniversary of the September 11th attacks. What's left to say? It seems so long ago, doesn't it? The commemorations today hardly resonate with most of the populace. The unity that was born out of 9/11 has since been shattered into pieces. Global solidarity has disappeared and we are even more defenseless today than we were three years ago as our soldiers are mired in an unnecessary war against a country that did not attack us. And I put the blame squarely and entirely on George Bush.

OK, now I can go to bed :)

SEP 10 :: [beautiful st john] Have I already mentioned that St John was awesome? And there is a startling number of good restaurants on this tiny little island of 5,000. Our dinners at Zozo's, Asolare and Paradiso were all very, very good. Zozo's at Gallows Point served great Italian food and was definitely the highlight. The views from Asolare matched the very delicious Asian-fusion dishes. The food at Paradiso was good but after amazing service-levels at both Zozo's and Asolare, Paradiso was a let-down in the service area. We also visited Balcony and Rhumb Lines for lunch and they were also very tasty. I have no idea how an island this small can support so many good eateries.

We stayed in two hotels over our 3-night stay in St John (yes, I have an itchy butt and I like moving around and sampling hotels :p) - the Westin and Caneel Bay. The former was about half the price of the latter. And it shows. The Westin is basically a family resort with screaming kids and a so-so beach. Imagine, they have swim-up trampolines and pyramidal climbing walls in the ocean. The pool was infested with more screaming kids and they were just screaming everywhere! Needless to say we left the resort in search of better places everyday. Our Heavenly Bed was the only highlight of our stay here. We took off for day-trips to Trunk/Hawksnest Bay, The Baths in Virgin Gorda, and snorkelling around Waterlemon Cay. Awesome. Hawksnest Bay and Waterlemon Cay had amazing snorkelling. Beautiful corals, millions of fishes and just an abundance of marine life about 20 feet below sea level through crystal clear blue waters. The water was amazing. So clean, so pristine, so untouched, so fabulous.

The British Virgin Islands were fun. I thought they'd be different but you can barely tell it apart from the US Virgin Islands. Same old indifferent, "island-time" service and inflated prices. Oh well. We joined a tour to get to BVI on a fun little boat of 8 that took about 2 hours to get to Virgin Gorda. Having my passport stamped was fun :) We went to The Baths which is like this huge and amazing rock formation that's partially submerged and you can swim in it, climb the rocks and basically just marvel at the funky way the rocks are piled on top of each other. We then had lunch on a private island before mooring off a cute little island that had AMAZING snorkelling. But because it was in rough seas, I had trouble trying to paddle around and so I had to use a floatie (shame). Anyways, I got a great tan from laying out on the boat's sundeck.

Caneel Bay was like so much better than the Westin it's not even funny. We got free rum and water with the room, the room was spitting distance from the beach, and the setting was just too beautiful to describe. Caneel Bay is actually *in* the Virgin Islands National Park and it's so well preserved and protected that it gives a new meaning to untouched. The seven fantastically powdery white-sand beaches in seven different bays, each one better than the next, is in my opinion the singular reason (or 7 reasons) to stay here. Scott Beach was where we saw a bunch of turtles and sting rays. It sounds so corny but seeing turtles in the wild was like totally groundbreaking for me. We got free champagne from the hotel (we lied and said it was Tony's birthday, giggle) and headed to Honeymoon Beach where we frolicked and laid out watching the sun set on yet another beautiful day in the Caribbean. Total and complete bliss.

All in all, I had such a great time I wanna go back. I'm just amazed at how much difference the protection of a National Park status makes. It's so easy to throw around words like pristine and unspoilt but St John's beaches and marine life were truly and stunningly well-preserved. All you had to do was go to St Thomas or the BVI and the difference is night and day. If I could only afford to live there. A well-protected island means housing is stratospherically expensive. Oh well, I'll just have to be content to visit instead!

SEP 9 :: [one year & one week later] It's amazing how I almost forgot but a week ago today marked one year since my first ever blog entry. In case you missed it, here's what I wrote 53 weeks ago:

"[weekdays suck] I feel like whining - Will it EVER stop raining?! and the new H&M in downtown DC sucks. The men's section is tiny. Why is there even a kids' section?? Their demographics are whacked."

Giggle! Looking back it just seems so silly. Yes, it's raining again. Hurricane Frances skirted around DC the past two days. One hurricane after another has dumped crazy amounts of rain on us over the past 6 weeks. The new H&M downtown still sucks. I find myself shopping at the H&M on Fifth Avenue. But I've mostly upgraded my wardrobe to something more Kenneth Cole-ish.

Weekdays still suck. Work is busier than ever. Deadlines are looming. My car is acting up again - a crack in the windshield. Ugh. Thank God insurance pays for it (who knew?). But this comes after I hit a license plate laying on the road and it cut my front grill into pieces. Double ugh. I wish I didn't have to drive to work... but that's unrealistic. I like driving my convertible though. So I shan't complain.

Sunday is Tony's birthday and we're having a BBQ at our house for 50+ people (so far). Saturday is the third anniversary of 9/11. Another busy weekend ahead. My vacation bliss has worn off already. Stress from work, stress from traffic, stress from not having enough time in the day to do everything I want to do. Sigh. Where do I find time to blog? I had no idea this would last a year. But now I can't stop ;)

SEP 8 :: [transcendent] The Magic of Napa With Urban Polish. Stunning meal, unforgettable tastes, fantastic service, gorgeous dining room, superlatives pile on top of each other to describe Per Se.

Money quote:

"To get a reservation may well require a degree of planning and effort that verge on masochistic, and a multicourse, mini-portion extravaganza may well require four hours, which is more time than many diners have or want to spend."

"But here is the thing: the return on that patience and that investment is more than a few mouthfuls of food that instantaneously bring a crazy smile to your face and lodge in your memory for days and even weeks to come."

I certainly have not forgotten :)

SEP 7 :: [relaxed] It's been a long time since I came back from a vacation feeling totally relaxed and in a happy bubble. And here I am, just back from my 5-day trip to the US Virgin Islands and nothing, not even a dreary and rainy Tuesday morning at work, can make this vacation high go away. Weee!

St John was stunningly beautiful. Period. Two thirds of St John is a US National Park and whoever thought of that was a genius! The island is untouched, unspoilt and just naturally beautiful beyond belief. From phenomenal beaches to world-class dining and amazing marine life to crystal blue waters, St John is *the* island to go to in the Virgin Islands. Oh what bliss.

I better stop now before my vacation high turns into vacation envy. More on our blissful trip to paradise later when I'm all stressed out! Recalling a perfect vacation is so therapeutic :)

SEP 3 :: [bliss] St John is stunningly beautiful! We just came back from a phenomenal meal at Zozo's and tomorrow we're headed to the British Virgin Islands. Everything's blissful in the US Virgin Islands. No Hurricane Frances here :) The weather is hot and humid with clear blue skies and beautiful crystal blue water everywhere. We arrived in St Thomas yesterday and headed to the Ritz which was a nice resort but not up there with the best (hello? no high-speed internet? how ghetto). We had a fabulous time in the pool and on the beach at the Ritz before dining at Craig & Sally's in Frenchtown which was awesome. Worked out this morning and jumped on the car barge to St John. What an experience! It's hard to describe except that our car (Toyota Echo) was sandwiched between a cement truck, a few 18-wheelers and some SUVs. It was unreal! After checking in to the Westin in St John (which is one step below the Ritz... hotels in the USVI are nothing to shout about), we headed off to Trunk Bay and Hawksnest Bay for some brilliant snorkelling. We saw millions of fishies and beautiful corals. It was great! Actually, the Westin is not too bad. We have an ocean view room and there is the Heavenly Bed and more importantly, high-speed internet for me to blog from the Virgin Islands! ;)

So, it's bliss here in the USVI. Tomorrow we head to BVI. More fun, more sun and more snorkelling! The Caribbean is fabulous :) Happy Labor Day everyone!

SEP 1 :: [flunking the test] Putting aside everything else (hard to do since Bush's policies on social issues like gay marriage and stem-cell research are so hard-conservative), the single most defining issue of the past four years encompassing the current Presidency is September 11th, 2001. America was attacked on that day and the entire country and almost the entire world rallied around the President of the United States and gave him a blank check to pursue the perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to justice.

Instead, Bush decided to invade Iraq. It is clear now beyond dispute that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. He misused the world's trust in American ideals against an enemy that wasn't. And today, Al-Qaeda - murderers of 3,000 American lives - still lurk in the darkest corners of the Earth and we have expended almost a thousand American soldiers' lives and countless more innocent Iraqi civilians for nothing.

In the most important yardstick of this presidency, Bush has flunked the test and does not deserve a second chance.

[farcical] I am wincing at the compassionate conservatism bullshit coming from the RNC. It would be funny if it weren't so cruelly false for those who do not share the Republican party's God-ly view of the world. Tax cuts that enrich the haves and stick the bill to the have-nots and the future have-nots, constitutional amendments to discriminate against an entire segment of the American population, deceiving the world and launching an unnecessary war against a defenseless nation.

There is nothing compassionate about declaring war on the poor and there is nothing compassionate about declaring war on gay and lesbian Americans. And there is certainly nothing compassionate about killing innocent civilians based on lies and deception. It is a farce to say that the Republican party's platform is based on compassionate conservatism. It's nothing more than political acrobatics to veil the hateful and uncompassionate policies of the Republican party. Putting a centrist face on the RNC by wrapping around the theme of compassionate conservatism is a pathetic attempt at distracting from the Republican party's most hardline, radical, christian fundamentalist right-wing platform ever. It's a smokescreen and it must be uncovered and destroyed.

More >>

30 :: sneaking in
28 :: too busy
24 :: christian wrong
23 :: hallelujah
23 :: teddy
23 :: you call this service?
21 :: choice
20 :: top up already?
19 :: brrrr
18 :: ivan the terrible
17 :: obsess completely
15 :: thirteen part deux
14 :: thirteen
11 :: preparation
10 :: beautiful st john
09 :: one year & one week later
08 :: transcendent
07 :: relaxed
03 :: bliss
01 :: flunking the test
01 :: farcical

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