Monday, April 30, 2007

Bookworm fantasies

There's a Bia Hoi (Vietnamese street pub) right round the corner, but what do I do? I hang out in bookshops in Hanoi!

I was going to write about the wonderful weekend I had with my friends, and how nice it was to catch up with the gang again, especially with the cheebs in town. But I didn't quite have the pics to accompany the post. But I did want to officially record that Dean makes the BEST korma in the village, and sitting round his dining table, eating with my friends, while watching (and bitching about) The Dance Floor, is my idea of a perfect night.

Anyway seeing as I'm pretty much the resident book geek, when ex-classmate S emails me a link to the website of only the coolest, and my most anticipated movie of the year - adaptation of Philip Pullman's "The Golden Compass" - I'm in bookworm heaven.

There's this amazing quiz which allows you to find out your own daemon (which, in Pullman's universe, is the animal incarnation of your soul and who also happens to be your best friend). Mine turned out to be a racoon called Philotheus. And racoons make up 578 of the over 56,000 people who have taken the online quiz.

So I've provided the link under the poll section. Thing is, daemons can change form and take a while to settle. So seeing as this is how I perceive myself, let me know if you think a racoon is really me by taking the quiz. Then find out what you are yourself.

ps: Though Pullman's opus is pretty scathing of organised religion in general and champions free will, I think any one, regardless of spiritual inclinations, would benefit from reading his trilogy. Although I loved, loved, loved it, it didn't shake my own personal beliefs and it's sad that many Christian conservatives out there are feeling threatened by the books, probably the same ones who think Dan Brown's trashy but oh-so-compelling Da Vinci Code would rock the foundations of the church. If anything, people should not be afraid to question, explore, and to decide for themselves. Isn't that why it's called faith?




Tuesday, April 24, 2007

D turns 30, and a milestone for The Camel Diaries

D & J, Singapore loyalists, standing tall for Temasek Hall

Happy Birthday to D, who now joins the ranks of those who have lived three full decades of life.

We throw a party for him at Aloha Loyang. And it is there that I have a conversation that changes the course of The Camel Diaries forever. F says to me rather frantically, "No point not showing faces anymore lah, Dean has already blown your cover!"

So this is a very brave thing, but I am now officially going to introduce faces to The Camel Diaries. For those of you who would prefer to remain anonymous, just let me know and I will respect that. But for those of you glamazon exhibitionists out there, woo hoo, this is gonna get interesting!

My fabulous friends who think my blog is too cerebral and cheem, I love you anyways

Anyway, I'm completely spent after an amazing three weeks - we've just bid a tearful farewell to MIL at the airport, after sending J off on Sunday. Amazingly, though J and us have lived in different cities since 2003, we've managed to catch up pretty much every six months in differenct cities in the world! We're also planning to head to Bangkok for a long weekend in June/July to spend some time with one of our favourite people in one of our favourite cities!

So MIL now heads back to wintry Dunedin. Had such a fabulous time, and this is my favourite photo of us in the wonderful Baguette et Chocolat in Hanoi. Thanks for the wonderful conversations, laughter and memories. I really am the luckiest DIL in the world!

MIL and DIL, Hanoi, April 2007

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Airport Humour


Sometimes, the best things about travelling are the weird little incidental things that you happen to just come across. In this case, Tokyo's Narita Airport and Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport provide some much appreciated mirth.

You gotta applaud the person who decided to write the crepe and waffle menu in first person at a cafe in Narita Airport. A first for me. Never seen before which made me think about how some dishes would be described in first person in Singapore.

Example 1: Roti Prata
I did funny dance with a ball of dough and made it flat with oil then fried it with hot griddle.

Example 2: Char Kuay Teow
I took pig lard and natural plants from ground and made friends with noodles in giant wok.

You know what? This is harder than it looks. These people are regular poets!




Then there's the charity donation box where we unload our last notes of dong as we leave Hanoi. It says our donations are "for especially difficult children".

I love being lost in translation.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Love thy feet...

I love my toes!

So now we're back in the manic order of Singapore. D's back on his feet though he's lost a whole notch off his belt.

Shoe market, Old Quarter, Hanoi (I ended up buying those lime green sandals!)

But as a final tribute to our wonderful time in Hanoi, I just wanted to pay homage to the talented pedicurist who nursed my toe back to its former happy state, and to the jaw-dropping shoe markets with all manner of footwear. Hanoi is kind to feet. And it has good cake, have I said that already?

Our favourite cafes are two social enterprises that train street kids to create culinary delights that are as beautifully presented as they are yummy. One is called KOTO (Know One, Teach One) and the other is the most enticingly named Baguette et Chocolat.

Delice in the foreground, millefeuille au chocolat in the background, Baguette et Chocolat, Hanoi

It hasn't even been a full day since our return but the charm of Hanoi seems like a lifetime away. I've bought lots of funky household stuff, like two lime green trays with egg shell design and some Vietnamese art. So I rest easy knowing that I have a little part of the city in my home. Can't wait to throw my next dinner party.

Talking about parties, I've almost finished Duet by Carol Shields (who is rapidly becoming one of my favourite authors ever!)

She writes a paragraph that almost jumps into my skin - it is that accurate. She describes the tiny minutiae of life, in this case, of a woman's thoughts at a party, and lifts it to art. It's uncanny how she hits the nail on the head! Just see what I mean...

<Excerpt from Duet by Carol Shields>

And I, am spinning. I feel my animal spirit unwind, my party self, that progressive personality that goes from social queries about theatre series to compulsive anecdote swapping. I press for equal time. Stop, I tell myself. Let this topic pass without pulling out your hospital story, your vitamin B complex story, your tennis story, your Lester Pearson snippet. Adjust your eyes. Be tranquil. Stop. I admonish myself, but it's useless. I feel my next story gathering in my throat, the words pulling together, waiting their chance. Here it is. I'm ready to leap in. 'Speaking of bananas,' I say, and I'm off.

----------

Gosh, so wish I could write like that. Such amazing stuff. Getting the same goosebumps when I read Kazuo Ishiguro or A. S. Byatt. Such a little miracle, stumbling on new favourite authors...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Easter Vacation #3: Halong Bay, Hits & Misses, and Hospitals

Sunset, Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay is stunning. We cruise on a Chinese Junk called the Dragon's Pearl, and spend the night anchored in a quiet firth. The junk, all dark wood and golden lit, felt like something straight out of an Agatha Christie novel - Death on the Nile - but oh so Indochine.

Our guide tells us that the seasons are changing, and the collison of warm and cool air results in the misty conditions. It casts an air of mystery on the limestone islands. At one point on the cruise, I put on Into the West from The Return of The King and I feel like Frodo off to the grey havens with Gandalf. Talk about having a soundtrack to your life!

If I had to describe the Halong Bay experience in a sentence, it would be this: This is the rare trip where the reality is better than what has been advertised and what I've read and imagined all combined. Nothing disappoints. From the cool misty conditions the first day, to the sunny morning the next day where most of the passengers trade their parkas from the night before to bikinis and shorts and jump into the turquoise water. The food is unbelievable, the service outstanding and the company, a happy blend of eclectic personalities from all over the world.

D braves the cool weather (about 18 degs) on the first evening and joins two other kiwi boys as they jump off the second-storey deck into the water. It's a 9-metre jump, one crew member says. I video the whole thing, wrapped in a jacket and scarf! But the next morning, I get my turn and have the most wondrous swim in the middle of the ocean. The whole atmosphere is exhilarating. Two older ladies from America do the 9-metre jump and one exclaims that she's always been scared her whole life and has never done anything like this. It's one of those moments where everything seems tinged with possibility.

So now we've been back in Hanoi a day, and Halong Bay feels half a world away from the chaotic energy of the Old Quarter.

This morning we go to the most excellent Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, where a temporary exhibition is being held on Bao Cap, the period in Vietnam where everything was state controlled and subsidised, and all essentials were distributed based on your rank in society and size of family. I'm normally a zip-through-museum type person, but this one had me completely mesmerised. I think it was the combination of first-hand accounts of people who went through that period in history, the honesty and candidness that came through in the exhibition, and the fact that all this happened relatively recently, in my lifetime at least (1975 - 1986).

One thing that came through strongly for me was how communism as an ideology can never work, as humans are simply too individualistic and need to feel distinct from each other. Then there is the fantastic little ditty I see at the exhibition that perfectly encapsulates Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, while simultaneously showing that humour and hope are present even in the most difficult of times:



<23:52>

Ok, since writing the above, some distressing events have occurred. D has been suddenly struck with a severe case of gastro-entitis. All happened very quickly, and MIL and I went with him to the nearest medical practice of repute (5 km away). He was put on a drip and is staying overnight for observation, and will be looked after by the good nurses (and doctor) of Hanoi. Poor D, to be so sick away from home is so much harder. At least he has his mum and wife with him.

It's past midnight now and MIL and I have just gotten back to the hotel and had a quiet dinner of baguette and spring rolls. I'm knackered and still a bit affected by poor D's suffering. Think I'll go vegetarian tomorrow, and will also try to stay away from the alluring smoothies and fruits that are in every cafe. I don't think I can do the same for cake though. Hanoi is a very cakey city (and I mean this in the best of ways).

To all of you reading this, I wish you all the best of health. You never really think about good health until you're struck with illness. That's my big takeaway learning this trip I guess. To not take the basics forgranted (yes, I love you, oh big toe) and to celebrate the everyday miracles (like the continued existence of self-same good toe).

Oh, and I'm going to buy D some floral shorts to celebrate his (hopefully speedy) return to health.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Vacation #2: In which she almost loses a toe to a cyclist with a conical hat


Life goes on for these shopkeepers amidst the bustle of Hanoi's Old Quarter.

Today, I discover that I love my left big toe. Passionately.


As with most things in life, you take what you have have forgranted until the day it's taken away from you. I learnt my lesson in a split second. I had just left the hotel (along with MIL and D), after my breakfast of Vietnamese champions, beef pho at 7 in the morning. We wave a happy goodbye to Hanoi's most cheerful hotel staff at the Hanoi Elegance Hotel (highly, highly recommended hotel by the way), I smile, step out on to the road, forget that it's left hand drive in Vietnam, and almost get run over by a cyclist wearing a conical hat.

My left big toe feels the heat from the friction of rubber on road. It looks at me accusingly, worse still, considering that I am in my favourite Chatuchak market leather open-toed sandals. I solemnly swear that from this day forward, I will pay more attention to all my appendages.

In celebration of my intact foot, I rifle through the Lonely Planet for good manicure and pedicure places. Tomorrow, oh toe, I will treat you to a sumptious spa to make up for my careless actions.

So back to Hanoi. It's a crazy collision of noise, fecundity, culture, and an overwhelming sense of self. Hanoi has a distinct personality, and she's certainly proud of everything she stands for.

Hanoi and I strike up an immediate kinship. She, like me, is a morning person. Her people are up and about by 7am, shops open, breakfast's served up and people go about their daily lives. After nearly losing my toe, I celebrate my ability to walk and head for an early morning stroll to Hoan Kiem Lake, where many Hanoi residents are already mid-way through their morning exercises.

We make our way to the charming Ngoc Son Temple, situated on an island in the lake. We cross The Huc (Rising Sun) Bridge, built in 1885 into the grounds of the temple. We are there scarcely three minutes when it begins to shower. It's chilly (for Singaporean standards), no more than 20 degrees. The rain is a blessing, as I feel compelled to slow down (the last vestiges of my manic corporate self peters away with each drop of rain), and seek shelter under a pavillion flanked by numerous bonsai. The rain shrouds the lake in an ethereal mist.




Early morning at The Huc Bridge, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

After almost an hour, the rain doesn't show signs of letting up. MIL bemoans the fact that she has left her raincoat in the hotel, and I join her, as I think of my polka-dotted umbrella sitting neglected in my suitcase. We buy a couple of blue trash bag raincoats from an incense seller on the grounds of the temple, put them on, and make our way to a cafe to dry off.

For a country that has had to fight for its independence and right to exist time and time again, Hanoi exudes an innate sense of cool and calm. This trait rubs off on its cafe and restaurant culture. Every where we turn in the Old Quarter, more delightful, charming cafes await. Thankfully, my four years of French haven't all escaped me, and I manage to make sense of the menus (Je voudrais un croque monsieur, s'il vous plait. Et apres, pour desserts, un millefeuille au chocolat et the vert, merci beaucoup.)

Entering a Hanoi cafe is like being beamed into a different dimension. You go from bustling, frenetic streets, groggy from the smog from vehicles, through a door into a classy interior. It's like walking into a sepia-toned print, where everything is tinted with a hint of the past.

Traffic in the rain, Old Quarter, Hanoi

It makes me want to curl my hair (oh wait, I've done that!), paint my lips red, wave a tiny cigarillo from one hand and sip an espresso ala Catherine Deneuve. Too bad a) I hate smoking, b) coffee makes me ill, c) I don't own red lipstick.

But then again, this country is feircely anti-colonial and these cafes channel their own hybrid Vietnamese-French ambience. It's like they've taken the best from their indelible colonial heritage, and stamped on it something distinctly Hanoi. And created something that they can call their own.

It makes me think that's what sadly lacking in Singapore - in an ad I read in Tiger Tales (Tiger Airways' in-flight magazine), the Singapore Tourism Board's ad for Uniquely Singapore touts, of all things, The Gap in Vivo City. An island of 4.5 million people, with a burgeoning fashion landscape (just check out the independent labels in Arab St and Erskine Road) and they sell The Gap as Uniquely Singapore. The sad thing is, I'm not sure many people sense the irony in that. I for one, think we need to look at our neighbours and be inspired by their independence of spirit and sensibility.

Uniquely Singapore? Not until we get over our own cultural cringe and can look at ourselves in the mirror and be proud of what we see. So I celebrate my inability to channel Catherine Deneuve, I will instead, revel in my permanent suntan, unfortunate nose (that cannot hold up sunnies) and aversion to make-up. I'll try to get comfortable in my own Singaporean skin and celebrate the red and white.

Vive la Singapour!




Friday, April 06, 2007

Easter Vacation #1: Her very own pie in the sky


We have high tea today at Equinox, and dine against the amazing backdrop of the Singapore skyline. MIL has waffle for the first time and D, who is doing so well considering his wisdom tooth has just come out, becomes food photographer for the day. It's also MIL's virgin experience with the very Singaporean chocolate fountain. We feel like we're in a very posh version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - no Augustus Gloop in sight though.

High tea over, we are unable to sit down. We're just too full. I think it was the hot cross bun that did it for me. I had to have one (and I'm not even a fan), but what is Easter weekend without hot cross buns? Anyway, the rich food is just a bit too much and we decide a short walk is necessary. So we bring MIL to Labrador Park, which is just round the corner from our home.

MIL and I contemplate the very industrial sunset at Labrador Park.

It's evening by the time we get there, and the entire community is out in full force at the park. We weave our way past scantily clad joggers, soccer-mad youths, fishermen who don't appear to have much luck, barbequeing aunties, more aunties, this time parading their yappy t-shirt and booty-wearing dogs, and some very scary aunties shouting at their children to get into cars.

As I walk I think of the fall of Singapore during the war, our guns sadly pointing the wrong way, pitiful against the Japanese army invading overland via Malaya. A sudden thought occurs - and I do not mean offence by this - but I start thinking about the sort of damage a horde of angry aunties (plastic bags in the crook of their arms) could inflict in a surprise attack. I shudder and move on, though strangely comforted by the images playing in my mind.

D and I in our very own scene from Roman Holiday. Singaporean Holiday just doesn't quite cut it.

We get to the pier just in time to catch a most surreal sunset. Not so much spectacular as disquieting. A giant luminous red ball in the sky against a twist of metal. It's beautiful yet leaves me slightly on edge.

Maybe the pie in the sky just reminded me of all the food still digesting in my poor tummy.

Our very own pie in the sky

Thursday, April 05, 2007

One doodle to rule them all...

First page of The Camel Diaries by Camel-san, Petra, Jordan, May 2005 (photo courtesy of J)

One of my favourite people in the world, J (previously living in Darfur, now living in my other favourite city, Bangkok), sent this picture to me a few weeks ago. It was almost two years ago when D and I set out to meet J for our epic odyssey through the Middle East.

The moment is still so clear to me. I was at work in Wellington, New Zealand. It was the dying days of summer, autumn chill in the air. J and I exchanged an email where we suddenly thought how cool it would be to meet up in Petra, Jordan. J at the time had regular R&Rs cos of his hardship posting in Darfur. The idea germinated and from one email, it became a frantic series of emails exchanged over two days where we agreed, all things going well, we (D, J and I) would recon on a chosen day at the end of May at the Petra Moon Hotel, in Wadi Musa, Jordan. He would travel from Darfur, via Khartoum, to Amman, and then bus to Petra. D & I would start at the other end of the earth, leave Wellington (for good), stopover in Singapore for a week, fly to Cairo, then travel overland through Egypt, then via boat from Nuweiba to the Jordanian port city of Aqaba, and then bus to Petra.

I never quite believed we were all going to meet up until right when we saw a minivan pull up into the hotel drive way and I saw J hop out. What a feeling, just awesome! So the point of this whole long ramble is that that night, I drew the doodle that started the Camel Diaries. I swear on all I hold dear that the erm, extra appendage was TRULY meant to be a camel's TAIL! Of course, J took a photo of the faux pas and then suddenly, two years later, he skypes me the picture he took and all the memories came flooding back.

So tonight, I am sitting here, in the quiet heat of Singapore, Dave Brubeck playing in the background, revelling in the wonders of travel, of memory and of friendship.

View of The Treasury, Petra, Jordan, May 2005 (photo courtesy of D)

Talk about journeys, another of my favourite people in the world, my mother-in-law M (I am truly not kidding. She is one of the bestest people, great fun to hang out with, and who shall henceforth be known in the blog as MIL) has flown to Singapore all the way from the Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand. Home of the yellow-eyed penguin and the royal albatross. She arrives last night, bearing gifts in the form of honey, chocolates, DVDs and books! I now have my two holiday books sitting temptingly right in front of me, Duet by Carol Shields and Mister Pip, by kiwi writer Lloyd Jones.

She's staying for three weeks and D, MIL and I will be heading to Hanoi for 7 days on Sunday! She spends today wandering the city and orientating herself to Vivo City, making friends with the Nepalese bartender in a restaurant, the assistants at the optometrist, the salesman at the camera shop and the security guy in Vivo. She's Singapore's friendliest tourist.

In the meantime, D and I are slaving away at work. Today, I am Singapore's most productive employee. I have 28 things to do on my checklist, which I complete one by one until the last task (a media strategy paper which I write in one last sprint to the finish line at 8pm while listening to Red Hot Chilli Peppers). D lasts 13 hours at work straight. By the time he comes by to meet us at the quiet Island Cafe in Tangs at Vivocity, the three of us are spent after our respective crazy days.

I'm still a bit wired after my epic work day. I can't believe I'm going to have 10 days of holiday away from work. Seinfeld is now playing the background. I'm feeling slightly like that, manic is the operative word. If not for a few angels at my workplace, I'd probably have committed death by paper cut (with a squeeze of lemon) by now. Yes, it was that bad. But I survive, and have ten glorious days ahead.

To J, thank you for sending me the picture of my forgotten doodle that started this whole camel journey. I can't wait to see you in two weeks. So we may not be scampering around ruins of Crusader castles, but Singapore does have its erm, charms.

It's late now. MIL has gone to bed, and D and I are on our last bits of energy. Tomorrow our vacation begins. I love this night-before-Christmas feeling. I'm happy and I'm about to hit the road again. What a life :)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

In which she channels Mrs Dalloway and throws a dinner party


I wake up at 2pm today. The latest I have slept in in years. But it's all good, as I'm all fuzzy from the great night before.

To celebrate my 31st, I invite the gang round for a dinner party. Ambitious plans for a tapas night (based on recently acquired Ritz Carlton Asian Tapas book) quickly make way for a more realistic home-cooked meal.

The night before, I hastily scribble down my plan. On the menu:

Starters
Honey Mustard Kettle Chips
Spicy Nachos
Vegetable Crudites (capsicum, carrot and cucumber)
Organic Salsa
Cracker and Cheese platter (Dutch smoked cheddar with cracked pepper)

Side
Bruschetta (with Anchovies)

Main
Steak, Mushroom and Cheese Beer Pie

Dessert
Fudge and Walnut Brownie
Swiss Yoghurt
Strawberries

I make good time on Saturday morning, completing my epic grocery shop at Giant in Vivo City, with a side stop at Market Place for the specialty ingredients. Minor crisis was averted when S kindly lent me her rolling pin. I still can't believe that the combined floor space of Vivo (Singapore's largest retail mall) could not yield a humble rolling pin!

Also, was pleasantly surprised by the good cuts of meat available at Giant. I quizzed the poor butcher there, until I was completely convinced that that the tender chuck steak I was purchasing would be suitable for my uses. To the poor butcher who served me, my humble thanks and my official endorsement goes to you on this blog (haha, some consolation. poor chap!).

Good friends S and F also nicely volunteered to come over early to help with the pie assemblage. They came in the afternoon bearing a most lovely chocolate birthday cake from Four Leaves, as well as a few styrofoam packs of durian. D gamely tried one (his first in some time after an unfortunate experience some years back) and this time said that it tasted like cheesecake flavoured with onions. Oh, and of course, said rolling pin and extra flaky pastry. Which was the saving grace of the day.

Step 1: Fill the pastry shell with steak, mushroom and beer pie filling.

There was something very satsifying about rolling out pastry on a marble-top surface. As S, F and I channeled our Martha Stewart instincts, D watched the rugby (then later became chef extraordinaire and made the bruschetta all by himself!).

It's a real sign when, now in our 30s, we start exchanging pie recipes and tips on baking. Talk about friendships and lives evolving! So S completely amazed me with her culinary genius and decorative eye for pie details. F further impresssed with her artisan creation of pastry leaves complete with delicate veins.


Step 2: Spread grated cheddar on top of pie filling, then cover with pastry sheet. Decorate with leftover pastry.

Honestly, considering that I have just emerged from a personal low at work this week (shan't go into details, suffice to say I hopped into a cab late on Thursday night and burst into tears after telling the cab driver my address. A culmination of tiredness from being sick and my team making a rather hideous and embarassing mistake. Anyway, scared the poor cabbie...), Saturday's dinner party preparations was panacea to the soul. It was so lovely hanging out with old friends, and putting things back into perspective. Realising that sure, work mistakes and faux pas will happen time and again, and that all of us, at one time or another, will go through extreme patches in our work (and personal) lives. But to have the support and good thought vibes from friends, well, to borrow from the Mastercard ads, that's priceless.


Step 3: Brush pastry with egg yolk and bake at 220 degs

Fashion doyen D stumbles into our place in the late afternoon, joyously inebriated after his day out at the fashion fest. We decorate a pie in dedication to him - yep, you guessed right, that's a wine glass with bubbles. He sprawls out on our couch, and cools down over chilled water. He refuses durian as the combination of thorny fruit and his current happy state might just prove to be a slightly toxic cocktail. We ply him with carbs in the form of chips.



Z arrives next, happy from his bumpy uphill ride into our estate on his bike. To my great happiness, I realise Z is a fellow anchovy lover. You are welcome in my house anytime, now that you have passed the anchovy test. Woo hoo!

The first pie is served - thankfully, it tastes better than it looks. A success! I'm glad I chose Tiger over Guinness - the texture of the pie filling is lighter than if I'd gone with stout I reckon.

We agonise over whether to wait for K before starting on the next pie. But there are hungry men to be fed so we start first, but leaving a few choice slices so she can have her pick when she comes. When K arrives, the party is complete and we gather round and tuck in.

It's one of those hot, humid Singapore nights - air thick with moisture with the vaguest hint of rain to come. But though it thunders, it remains dry, and we make do with two fans blasting and D's Karl Lagerfield hand-held lady's fan that gives off the exotic scent of sandalwood.

K surprises me with a most singular, gorgeous Indian silk top she got from her recent trip to Kerala. It's absolutely gorgeous. The others get me The Sims 2. There is a story behind this, which will have to be taken offline, but I'm completely tickled. I foresee many nights ahead with poor (long-suffering) D sighing as I stare at the screen all googly-eyed. But lovely presents aside, I'm surrounded by great friends, good food and interesting conversation. It doesn't really get any better than this for me.

A cyber geek, but a fashionable one nonetheless

So it's 2am when we wind down, all slightly droopy now. I'm amazed that D is still lucid (he who normally is in bed reading by 10pm!). It's his bash next - he turns 30 in three weeks! Yes I'm going to delude myself with the fact that until his birthday, I have a 29 year old toy boy to do my bidding, muarharhar!

So to the gang, thanks for the shared memories. You've made a girl real happy. Here's to another decade of precious, inane trivialities.