An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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Friends visiting from LA

In the last few weeks, we’ve had 2 sets of friends who travelled 4 hours from Los Angeles, California to visit us. I love having guests in our house. Firstly because it’s too quiet here. Secondly because I get to see my Singaporean friends (and their families). And lastly, I get to go out and do different things with different people!

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Noel and Stella came with their 3-year old Kate and Kate’s nainai (aka Noel’s mum) 3 weeks ago;  Gill came last weekend with her husband Kevan, their 3-year old Conrad and their newest baby Allegra (who’s 2 months old). Despite the fact that they both had 3-year olds (who incidentally were born in the same year, just 3 days apart), I ended up doing quite different things and I loved it!

With the Yeos, we

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With the Petersons, we

  • had Chinese takeout from Jacky Chan Chinese Food
  • went to the Grand Opening of the new Goodwill Store & Donation Center on Rainbow (a post for another day)
  • ate at the Circus Circus buffet and also Island Malaysian Cuisine (yet another post I want to do)
  • watched circus acts and played many many games at Circus Circus (I won the Unicorn from Despicable Me 2 and Kevan pulled out 3 Smurfs from the claw machines for his son)
  • flew a giant pink flamingo kite (bought the day before at Goodwill) and went down slides (not me) at Exploration Peak Park

I love that some of my favourite people to hang out with don’t live too far away from me (even though they’ve been trying to get T and I to move to LA). And… Las Vegas isn’t all Sin City and party town vibes – it’s actually not too bad and can be quite family-friendly right? Also, we couldn’t have been able to afford all these extra bedrooms if we lived in super expensive California… So that’s another perk right, friends? Come visit!!


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Why I married T

Happy Valentines’ Day everyone! T and I don’t really believe that this day should be more special than others when you’re in a relationship. In fact, we were joking about celebrating anti-Valentine’s and robbing a Hallmark store – stealing V-day cards by the truckloads!

I don’t believe that there’s someone for everyone so if you’re alone, I’m sorry life is unfair – hey look, I’m short, fat and struggling to be a housewife. On one hand, I think some people are jerks and deserve to be alone for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, I feel sad that some perfectly kind and gorgeous people unfortunately just seem to have no luck finding love. So if you’re not a jerk, I hope life is kind to you in other ways but don’t give up just yet! And because I know that it’s not a given, I am grateful to have married someone so wonderful.

People get married for all sorts of reasons. My ex-classmate M is married to the same guy she’s been with since we were 14 (and we’re 36 this year)! Some of my friends get married because they think “it’s time” or are pressured into getting married because they’ve been with their partners “long enough”. Another old friend of mine admitted that he settled because he was sick and tired of being in and out of relationships, even though he’s not sure if she’s “the one”. I’ve also had friends who are really decent and smart people but have regretted a bad marriage (or two). Relationships not easy and it takes effort to keep things going even if you’re perfect for each other. There’s always some give and take. While I don’t believe in changing for someone or changing someone after getting together, I think it’s important to understand the need to take turns compromising with your partner. If not, you’re better off alone instead of being in an unhappy relationship.

T and I have rather different personalities – he’s an introvert, I’m an extrovert. I’m willing to try new experiences and am excited to meet new people. He’s shy beyond belief and very uncomfortable in unfamiliar environments . I don’t mind being the butt of jokes sometimes and can pick myself up quickly enough. He still feels the repercussions of growing pains especially of his awkward teenage years. He’s about 5′ 10″ and I’m barely 5′ tall. Then there’re the cultural differences and being on opposite ends of the globe (it takes about 24hrs to fly from Las Vegas to Singapore).

Here’s why he’s great for me – his quiet calm is the perfect foil to my over-enthusiatic nature and keeps me grounded; he’s smart yet not an asshole about it; and I’m sometimes glad he didn’t have many close friends before he met me – I know, I’m terrible. But I have so many people in my inner circle that I’d be torn to spend time with different people otherwise. These days however, I love that we’re making new friends together.

So anyway, to end my long rambling essay, I married T because of 3 solid reasons:

  1. he is a kind and supportive partner who accepts all that I am (even the weird stuff I throw at him)
  2. he wants to hang out with me all the time (except shopping which he hates)
  3. he encourages me to be happy

It doesn’t hurt that I think he’s got a handsome baby face and is a dependable breadwinner. Bonuses on all count!

And because I know that not everyone gets this opportunity, this Valentines’ Day I count my lucky stars and will treasure the gift who is T.


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Visiting Las Vegas is more than casinos and cabarets

IMG_2770My family came for about a month to visit me and it was really nice to have them around to spend Christmas with. Also taking them to New York and Arizona to meet T’s family. It’s probably the only time both our families will celebrate the holidays together. I’m glad we managed to do many different things and create lots of memories for a long time to come. And there was no drunken debauchery, didn’t catch any shows on the Strip nor any crazy late-night partying – I reckon that’d be easy and they can do that the next time they come since it’s on most people’s Vegas agenda. To be honest though, I’d have liked to watch an X-rated show just because… (But my goody-two-shoes husband doesn’t want to partake in any of that so I’ll need to go with someone else.)

Anyway, with my mother, shopping is definitely a big part of ALL her vacations so we did TONS of that. We visited the Las Vegas Premium Outlets – North and South, Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas in Primm Valley, as well as Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets in New York. If we had time (and they more luggage space), I’m sure we would have gone to one in Arizona as well. Oh yeah and when I took them to Town Square (it’s like a giant shopping mall area where locals go instead of getting their shopping, eating and entertainment fix on the Strip), we shopped up a storm at Old Navy itself (we spent about US$90 and took such a big advantage of the post-holiday sales that we saved more than US$100, and got some vouchers for spending later). Needless to say, they went home with 30 or more bags (mostly Kate Spade, Le Sportsac and some Coach), several pairs of shoes each (US$4.99 Nine West shoes SCORE!), skincare and cosmetics (apparently the Elizabeth Arden stuff here is like 1/5 of the price in Singapore), snacks and sweets (TARGET post-holiday clearances) as well as a lot of random other things. They came with 6 suitcases (2 of them were almost all my stuff) and left with 8 full ones (mostly their brand new shopping).

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Other than the shopping, T and I took my city-folk family out for some nature walks – Valley of Fire (where we saw ancient Petroglyphs), Red Rock Canyon and (snowy cold) Mount Charleston. We even managed a picnic at Exploration Peak Park near our house – complete with a short trail walk, snacks, a potato salad, homemade egg as well as kaya sandwiches.

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Some of the touristy things we did were:

  1. Taking pictures at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign
  2. Visiting the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
  3. Walking down the Las Vegas Strip as well as Fremont Street (taking pictures of every crazy thing)
  4. Eating a buffet and trying our luck at the Rio (my Mum won $12 from the free credits they gave us)
  5. Ethel M Chocolate Factory (and Cactus Garden)
  6. The King’s Ransom Museum
  7. Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame (where we played some pinball and I won a Beanie Baby for 50c)
  8. Gold and Silver Pawn Shop (yes, the famous one on History Channel)

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My Mum and my sisters even stayed 2 nights at Circus Circus so they could fully experience The Strip (T and I live about 30 minutes away in the ‘burbs). I highly recommend that if you’re coming to visit Las Vegas, try to stay on the Strip for at least 2 to 3 nights even if it’s at a Motel6. And if you’re a friend or family, please extend your stay at our house so I can take you to other places (hahahahha…)

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There’s so much more to Las Vegas than just live entertainment, gambling and buffets. I’m glad I thoroughly made use of the time my family was here to explore the other places. It’s been great because I have never been to many of the attractions visited! Can’t wait till they come back again… *sigh* Back to boring ole housewifery…


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Making time for family

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I’ve been in the US just over 4 months and it’s been really unreal to be so far away from home. I still have debates with T over whether I should return to Singapore (and have him come with me) because I still feel lost and somewhat empty. On weekends, T tries to show me the sights and we go out to do stuff even though he might be too tired from working all week. I try not to bother him but it gets really boring here when you’re so far away from your people.

My days are spent cleaning the house, making food, watching reality TV and keeping Max the Maximum Dog company. I really don’t have anything to do except relax and be happy. T doesn’t care if the house is a mess or if I don’t bother doing anything in the day at all. I spend most of the afternoons yearning for T to return home from work and I do still get a little anxious when we are apart because at the back of my head, it’s too good to be true. And maybe, illogically,  it feels like it’ll take months before we’ll see each other again and I am so relieved when he’s back by my side.

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Having my family here though has been a great help. My mother and my sisters keep me occupied and busy. Their company in our quiet house has been much appreciated. We have been going out (in fact, we’re in New York for the Christmas holidays now), doing stuff (i.e. sight-seeing and shopping) as well as just enjoying the space here – we live in a nice, big house in Singapore but being in a big city, there’s no way to escape the street noise and crowds.

It’s also great to have my family’s approval of my current lifestyle. My mother seems to find our house in good shape and is impressed that I “maintain” the entire house on my own. She’s been taking tons of pictures since she got here and proudly telling everyone that I can do it without external help. It’s weird to many because it’s just cooking and cleaning but if you know how she’s never lifted a finger at home in her entire life and that we’ve always had a string of maids taking care of everything… then yeah.

I must say that the Internet is great! Even my mother agrees because I’ve learnt how to do the most basic of things like folding fitted sheets and scrubbing toilets by watching videos. Thank heavens for high-speed Internet! IMG_2054While I’m deliberating whether or not to stay here for good, my family seems to enjoy what the US (especially Vegas) has to offer. There are the crazy bright lights and polished malls along the Strip and the beautiful nature reserves just over an hour away. It is comforting to know that at least my younger sister wants to come back every Spring and Autumn (when she can), and that my mother loves the cheap shopping (fashion, handbags, groceries, gemstones etc) here to stay away for too long.


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Home for Christmas

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They say home is where the heart is and you know, I’m feeling homesick right now. T and I have been decorating our house for Christmas and it’s the first time he’s ever done that in his adult life since he’s never found the reason to. We put up stuff outside the porch, some lights on our balconies and also tried to cosy up our main living area. We’re trying to keep to about USD100 in all and our tree is largely bare. Also, part of our strategy is to take the next few years to really grow the collection so that every ornament has a story, rather than everything from a pre-packed store bought box.

I usually have lots of year end activities – non-stop parties and dinners with people close to my heart (sometimes juggling 2 to 3 events in a day). This year, we get to T’s home state of New York just before Christmas to spend it with his Mom’s extended family (also doubling up as our wedding celebrations with both our maternal units). Then we get back to Vegas just in time to drive 6 hours to Arizona to spend New Year’s with his Dad and Step Mom. The best part of course, is sharing this holiday season with my mother and sisters as well! As you’ve seen from my Throwback Thursday snaps, I miss my sisters a lot. Some of the things I ALWAYS have with me are pictures of us when we were little. It was always (usually *koffkoff*) great to have them to play with (bully *koffkoff*) and be a buffer for when I get mad with my parents but still want to make sure they’re okay.

T and I have been stretching the last of our dollars and spending those treasured Amazon giftcards we got for our wedding on some furniture – especially for the empty guestroom. My sisters will inaugurate our 2nd guest bedroom in a few days’ time! When this was T’s bachelor pad, it was a junk room with lots of dusty books, game cartridges & consoles (yes plural), exercise equipment, spare computers etc. When I visited previously, we kept the door to this room shut so that I won’t have to see the mess. However, 2 months ago, I threw myself into making this room usable. It took perhaps 3 weeks to clean, throw (imagine empty drink cans and receipts from 2009), sort, dust, wipe and vacuum the entire place!

I am very happy with what I’ve done with it and it’s another milestone in putting our home together. (Okay, after I cleaned it and cleared space, T had to physically put 4 hours of elbow grease into setting up the furniture.)

Because we don’t believe in credit cards, our finances are really tight at the moment – given the tens of thousands of dollars of upfront cash expenses we didn’t budget for (travelling back and forth to see each other, getting married, quitting my job, immigration fees, Max’s cancer etc) yet this year’s holidays will be especially wonderful for T and I. I don’t think we’ll ever get to do this in our lifetime again since all our families are so spread out. I’ll definitely savour every moment in the upcoming weeks.

Happy Holidays everyone and may all of you always have the warmth of family to share special occasions, wherever home may be for you!

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Dear 16 year old self…

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Dear 16-year-old Self,

It’s okay to be fat and have weird rectangular eyebrows – unfortunately you’ll overpluck them in the next few years, yet fortunately in the future, they have this thing called eyebrow embroidery. Your friends now won’t understand the kind of music you listen to, the books you read or the kind of movies you like. But it’s okay, you’ll meet a huge community that does… eventually.

You’ll spend the next half of your life finding yourself and getting into a lot of trouble before finally realising that you’ll only be happy with the standards you set for yourself. It’ll be tough and heart-breakingly so but not impossible.

The best things in life, aren’t things. You’ve never been particularly worried about material wealth because your parents have always given you more than enough. Sometimes though, you forget that you already have it all, but not often… so that’s still okay.

Your life’s journey is largely full of bumps and self-discovery. Lucky for you, you’ve always been surrounded with special people who strangely always catch you when you need them. If you want to count your lucky stars, just look around you – even if these “stars” sometimes say things to discourage you and make you lose your way. They are not trying to get you down, but they do anyway. It’s still okay because you always find a way to pick yourself up.

There are so many things you’ll end up doing that you could’ve never imagined now. School’s actually not half bad (you actually do make it to University… SURPRISE!) and you’ll be gainfully employed for a long time after you graduate. Work won’t be hard because you’ll love all the jobs you land and surprisingly, all your colleagues. I won’t spoil it for you now but you do end up finding your dream job – you can’t imagine what it is because it doesn’t exist in the entire country just yet.

It’ll take another half your life (and a little more) before you finally meet your life partner – partly because you’re really picky and you refuse to settle for just anyone. Along the way, every other person you meet and date will help shape your thoughts, beliefs and resolve even if they inadvertently break your heart. And at the end, you’ll outdo your expectations – he’s awesome! Yes you’re still fat but what’s great is, he doesn’t care. This person encompasses all the attributes you hold dear but you’ll be surprised if I tell you where he lives and what he’s doing now (you haven’t heard of D&D yet) – look out for something called the Internet.

Life is awesome even though it isn’t perfect. It’ll be a constant battle to love yourself but at least you’ll ALWAYS have hot showers, a cosy bed, great music and nice clothes (okay you actually wear quite shitty clothes till your late 20s when you stop being conscious about hiding your fats).

Love,

You


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Welcome to America

I’ve been here just over 3 months and I’m feeling really home sick. I know that some people take longer vacations than this but I think I came somewhat unprepared for all this. T and I got engaged in early April this year and quickly decided that being apart was something that was going to be really hard to do – emotionally and financially draining.

What was equally hard was to jump to the decision to leave my family and friends behind, and give up my dream job. I was in the perfect place, at the top of my game and making a great salary for what is not even work to me. While I was leading a largely frivolous existence and have little savings, I am definitely not in debt and everything I have is mine.

Never thought I wanted to leave Singapore, never ever expected to marry someone who’s from a completely different culture half-way round the world, never expected to have to give up so many important things all at once.

But the sacrifices you make are just part of the journey… It’s a give and take. Now, T takes care of me by sorting out the 10, 000-item long list of stuff we need to submit and go through in order to convert my tourist visa to permanent residency. I’m not kidding.

We have to prove that we’re in a legitimate relationship (affidavits from friends and family, photos, joint bank account etc), that I’m a decent person they want in this country (no criminal records in the US or Singapore) and that he’s able to support me (T’s income tax, letter from employers etc).

While he’s doing most of the work for this and I understand why it’s important to be so thorough, I’m still exasperated at the tedious and lengthy process. Just give me some papers so that I can work and you can make tax money off me already! I’m going to be beneficial to your economy! If not, let me know now so that I can go back to my wonderful life and job in Singapore, take my husband with me and start our family there. I’m 35 going on 36 and we want to start a family soon. It might be a stretch, but we definitely don’t want to be in a situation where I’m pregnant, broke (I’ve basically been on a 3 month long holiday with no income in the foreseeable future) and deported!

So yeah, my immigration woes have begun but we’ve been married just over a month and things are better than I imagined. I reactivated my long-forgotten OKCupid account yesterday to delete it completely and I re-read my profile just to see what I was thinking then. Realising now that I have practically everything I was looking for and more, I just want to say online dating works (but be careful), true love waits and all those other cliches apply now.