Monthly Archives: August 2013

Project Grateful: Grateful as IS (Day 195)

A lot of people, at any given time, are always wondering ‘Could I be doing more, Should I be doing more?’

Questions like:

1) I’m not satisfied with my career, I need a better paying job.

2) My BA is not enough I need a MA

3) My MA is not good enough I need a PHD

4) My career is not going as well as I think it should be, I need a  promotion.

5) I’m not satisfied being a housewife/tai-tai, I need something more…..

 I sometimes feel that humans in general are never satisfied.

That in itself is not really a bad thing, because sometimes ‘wanting to upgrade’ oneself helps you maximize your potential to be the best that we can be.

But the downside of the above mentality is that;  we become so conditioned to always wanting more and more, that it becomes part of our psyche. Wanting more, becomes always a habit, like a way of life.

The evolution of modern society, which constantly seeks greater levels of productivity and  efficiency, pushes humans to always want more and more and more and more and more and moreeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

But the bigger question lies therein, when do we stop wanting more?

There is no end really.

While I think its very important to always challenge yourself to be the best that you can be;  it is also equally important to take a step back and enjoy your successes, enjoy the HERE and NOW and learn to also celebrate your life as is.

So today I’m just going to be grateful for my life as it is. I’m grateful for the place that I am in, the wonderful husband that I have, the new friends I’ve made in NYC, my new extended American family, my family in Singapore and my old friends in Singapore. I’m grateful for a roof over my head and never having to worry about my next meal.

Gratitude, just plain old simple gratitude is perhaps the fundamental cure to all problems and the root of all happiness!

So remember to express gratitude today!

Project Grateful 194: Travel plans and perspectives of moving to a new country

If you remember in this post, I mentioned that I was going to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). America is huge and I feel like the need to learn to drive. To put things in context, NYC (Manhattan and the 4 boroughs) is 781 km2 large and Singapore is 721 kmlarge in terms of land space alone. I never really felt the need to drive in Singapore, but if I ever want to get out of NYC, I think driving is absolutely necessary especially in the suburbs. The entire land area of the United States is 9,826,675 km2.in case you were wondering.

Any how, I arrived at the DMV and was given;

this book

DMV book

 

However, unlike Singapore I don’t have to register for a test date. I just need to read the book and show up anytime, pass the written test and get a temporary learner’s permit, hop into the car of a 25-year-old and practice on the roads, become relatively competent and go take the actual driving test. All sounds really simple? Except we don’t have a car, so of course being the Queen of Procrastination, I went ahead and started reading

this

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and this instead!!

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Because! WE’RE GOING TO PARIS AND LONDON FOR OUR HONEYMOON!!!!!!! WOOT WOOT!!!!

I did go for my ‘honeymoon’ in the US Virgin Islands, but technically we picked that because

A) It was down south near where Kris was supposed to go for his business trip

B) 4 days is hardly a real honeymoon 😛

C) I couldn’t leave US territory while waiting for Advance Parole (AP), which is something I need before I can leave the country, while I’m waiting for the green card. Our dream honeymoon place was somewhere in Europe, I wanted Paris because its supposed to be the MOST ROMANTIC city in the world!!! (Well done tourism board of France!) and Kris wanted London because its one of the rare European cities he hasn’t visited. So because of the long wait to get my green card, I’m grateful to have 2 honeymoons. YAY!!!!!!!!

Turns out that being not able to leave the country for 6 months was a blessing in disguise.  (Let me clarify that, I can leave of course; I mean USCIS cannot detain me for leaving America. Which trust me, I was tempted to, many times in sheer frustration, because of all the difficulties we had faced with this immigration process. I told Kris plenty of times, to move to Singapore instead because it only takes 3 months (in contrast to the 24 months of more that I have to wait to get a green card) for him to get a PR in Singapore!!

However WE”RE NOT QUITTERS! Plus, it means that the past 18 months I’ve waited towards getting the Green card would have been in vain because the moment I leave the country without the AP, I would have to restart the entire Green Card application process again. You heard me right, start it from SCRATCH. i.e. circa back to Feb 2012.

More importantly his family is American and as his wife, I need to be able to enter and exit the country because he will always want to come back here, or rather we would always want the option to enter the US when we want to visit family for extended periods of time.

I cannot believe it has been 18 months + (????) more months in total that I have waited for this paperwork to be done. I think the East glorifies the West to a certain extent and my expectations of what America really is,  has been greatly (ahem) humbled. I used to think that Singapore had so much things to be improved, but coming here, I’ve realized that Singaporeans have had it pretty darn good. In terms of  (holistic) livability, I would put America and Singapore on par. Because of kinship and friendships, and my job as a teacher, I would honestly think that Singapore would be more ideal for me if I was single. But now that I’m married to an America, I guess that greatly changes the equation. However, I’m glad of this new perspective, and I know that if shit hits the fence, I can always go home. But for now, this is where I have chosen to be and I just have to make the best out of it. Realistically my life here is not harder, easier, happier or unhappier as compared to Singapore, it’s just different and humans have a tendency to always want to venture into familiar territories.

The US is unfortunately not what I thought it would be, but perhaps its due more to unrealistic/imagined expectations of what I thought it would be for me as a person and my career. I’ve read up extensively about immigrants and according to many research studies, apparently I’m not alone in feeling this way about moving to a new place. I take comfort in being validated of my emotions I guess. Ironic isn’t it? Coming to a country that champions freedom and individualism but yet still take comfort in sharing the herd mentality.

*I am SHEEP!. Bahhhh Bahhhh Baahhhh*

In all seriousness, I think moving to a new country is challenging but rewarding in many ways; most because you get to ‘start afresh’ and it forces you out of your comfort zone and my preconceived notions of the world.

I have met so many people from so many different cultures and learn so many things about them. I have forced myself to move out of my whats innately comfortable to me and to immerse/adapt myself to social situations that are unfamiliar and sometimes even frightening. I feel like (imagined or otherwise) that I now have more nuanced perspectives of what the world seems to be. I am introspective by nature and this move has made me question a lot about my life in Singapore and my role in this global world. I feel like I am now no longer just a citizen of Singapore but a citizen of the world. The world is becoming so mobile and I’m lucky enough to be able to go almost wherever I want to go (not with its associated sacrifices that come along with it), but I think the opportunity I have to be just given the choice in itself, makes me very very lucky and very very blessed. So today I am grateful for being given this opportunity to move to America, despite it not being the utopia that I thought it would be. 🙂

PS: My last statement was only said with half a pinch of salt.

 

 

Project Grateful 365: Day 193 – Grateful for lovely summer days spent outdoors!

Best part about summer in NYC? Outdoor movie screenings! So yesterday after a glorious picnic day at the Rockefeller Park we decided to trot over to South Side Seaport for an outdoor movie. They were showing Hugo and we both loved the movie!

Our day started out at  Whole foods, where we picked out some yummies before bringing our food, a book, some sunnies and a blanket to stake out by the park.

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It was a glorious day for it too!

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Check out the vintage looking bike at the left hand corner. Maybe someday we’ll move to Paris and I can ride one of those bikes along the cobbled stones with a basket. Hee! Just like in the movies!

 

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 After sufficiently lounging around, reading, eating and people watching,  we proceed to go home, drop our stuff, hastily put together another picnic dinner before trotting over to the seaport for our movie date!

The movie started at 8pm but we went at 6pm, got some front row seats and chilled/read a book while waiting for the movie to start.

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Did I also mention that its still peachs/nectarines season. I love those so much. Om nom nom

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I love summer days! (When its not too hot) Yesterday was a perfect 28deg!!

Something funny happened along our walk along the Hudson that I feel compelled to share.

I was looking at the boats along the pier when I heard my partner go under his breathe, ‘oh look at that douchebag train’.

I turned over and I looked at this massive group of say 20+ people, wearing the same clothes (girls ultra scantily clad and guys with  hats all perfectly angled juuuuuust at the tip of their head, you know like J.B) and just SWAGGGGGGERING along, blocking the entire pathway, acting like they were super cool). I just couldn’t help but giggle because he nailed that comment.

I love that my husband makes me laugh with silly comments like all.

So perfect summer days and perfect hubby in hand. My Saturday was truly something to be grateful for!

Oh look! As a bonus entry , you get to see the cutest lil spiderman in the world!

ice spiderman

SpidyBOIBOI

Philosophical musings

“The longest journey you’ll ever take is from your head to your heart”

When I 1st encountered this phrase by Gary Zukav, it didn’t quite do it for me because his philosophies were a little too ‘New Age’ for my old soul 😛

But today, I randomly came across a different interpretation of this quote that made much more sense to me.

“There is an ever-growing, Divine being-of-light inside each of us. You could call it our soul or our spirit. The way we get in touch with our soul is through our heart. We are here on the earth to evolve and to strive for spiritual fulfillment.

There is much more to life than our five senses and the typical American Dream of a house with a two-car garage. When we lust only for money, power, revenge, when we seek selfish, egotistical goals, we are pursuing illusions. We think in our head, “People will like me better when I have a pretty girl on my arm,” or “I will be happier when I have money/fame/power…” We reach outwards to material things in order to feel safe, valuable, loved.

What supersedes money, power, fame? What is more joyful than jealousy, anger, fear or hatred? It is the classic head vs. heart battle. As we experience spiritual growth, as move from physical thoughts and incorporate more and more of our inner soul/Divinity/heart into our personality and the way we choose to live, we evolve and progress. This change from an outer focus to an inner focus becomes an “empowerment of our soul,” and ultimately leads to a more rewarding and joyous life.

Moving from your head to your heart does not mean giving up your reason. It is simply connecting with the very depth of our being. It is not an abandonment of logic, but a getting-in-touch with what already exist within ourselves. Our heart is where we formulate our ethics, values, decisions, behavior choices. It is where we generate love, peace, harmony, happiness. In our heart lies our true consciousness. It is the seat of our soul.” – Reverend Victoria Ackerman

Reading about it is one thing, getting there is a whole new ball game.

Restaurant Week Review: La Silhouette

La Silhouette
Address: 362 W 53rd St  New York, NY 10019
(212) 581-2400
$$$$
 

For restaurant week, I went with a group of girl pals to try out french cuisine!

25+++ for 3 meals in a fancy restaurant. I love restaurant week!!!

Complimentary bread before the meal

I loved it because it was so soft and held the perfect density for bread with I love. I don’t like super airy breads that are so crusty on the outside and almost full of air pockets underneath. I love the bread under the crust to be moist and soft!

 

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Appetizer (Mine) – 

DEMI-GLACE GLAZED BONE MARROW 
Garlic Chips, Lemon Zest, Parsley, Smoked Salt, Toast

This was really good, rather heavy sort of food, so I’m glad the portion size was small. The bone marrow itself was huge, but what was scoop-able/edible was maybe 2-3 tablespoons at best. It was good, but a little heavy for me. Bone marrow loves will love this, I’m not a big fan of bone marrow but I heard great reviews about it online so I wanted to try it myself.

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Appetizer (Friend’s)

COUNTRY PÂTÉ 
Celeriac Remoulade, Pickled Radish, Whole Grain Mustard

My friend’s country pate looked so delicious/pretty that I had to take a snap! She polished it all off, so I’m assuming its super delish!

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Mains

PORK BELLY ROULADE
Cipollini Onions, Roasted Mushrooms, Sauce Charcutière

I loved this dish the best! The pork was crispy on the outside with a slightly burnt taste and super soft and succulent on the inside. All the ingredients were really fresh and came together well.  (Against adjust your expectations of serving size because the onion was only like 1 inch wide)

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Dessert 

CHÈVRE CHEESECAKE
Vermont Goat Cheese, Roasted Strawberries

This didn’t quite do it for me, simply because goat cheese is a little too funky smelling for me. I prefer regular cow’s cream cheese. The quality of ingredients was still very good IMHO despite preferring moo-moo’s cheese!

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The food was excellent, for big hungry males it might have been too little food in too big plates but for ladies, it was the perfect portion size for us. I guess the problem with taking food close up is that the camera angle tends to exaggerate the size of the food. I mean the cheese cake was about like 2 inches in diameter but it looks huge in the photo.

In short good food and great company made for an excellent lunch. Special mention must be made to the wait staff, they were IMPECCABLE! Super polite, came at the right time, left at the right time and didn’t push the checks at our faces at the end of the meal. Best part? They overheard that it was my friend’s birthday and they actually wrote happy birthday on her dessert. I mean how attentive can any service get?

You know how some fancy places can have snotty waitresses/ ushers especially when you don’t deck your self from head to toe in luxury brands? this place has NONE of that crap!

I’ll be happy to go back and pay full price for anniversaries or special occasions just because the service was so good! In the Capital Grille’s restaurant week, they put people who came for restaurant week/not dressed in designer power suits wayyyyyyy back at the end, (in front of an open window that had construction outside!!) which was kinda like -_-

So in short La Silhouette has scored it self some repeat customers!

The problem with fairy tales

I think the problem with fairly tales is that they portray marriage as an end and not the beginning. Think of Snow white, Cinderella and Rapunzel, there’s always a built up of a conflict that invariably is resolved in a marriage.

” ……and they thereby lived happily ever after ……..”

In short we’re telling all the little girls that hey, ‘Marriage solves ALL your problems.’ Not to mention that the ladies in this stories are always the victim and will eventually be ‘SAVED’ by the gallant and heroic male counter parts?

In short, I think fairy tales idealize marriage and attach a very gender-ized role to women in fairy tales. I mean there is a whole lot more implications given to this label and subjugates women as docile ,submissive, weak and in need of rescuing. I’m not the world’s greatest feminist but to teach a child at the age of 5 that marriage SOLVES ALL your problems and that a man is going to come valiantly rescue you at 25 is just going to give her a BLOODY RUDE SHOCK when she gets married.

Marriage will solve NONE of your problems, YOU have to solve your own problems.

I know I’m beginning to sound like  cupid’s evil twin but the reality of the situation is such! We really need to re-teach our stories to little girls! Let them watch Pocahontas and Mulan instead of just Cinderella and Snow White!

I mean marriage can have a happily ever after of course, but like any thing worth doing in life, it requires a SHIT load of work. It requires  unconditional love, forgiveness, compromise, compassion etc etc. I mean adapting to another person in your life almost 24 hours a day is no walk in the park!

Loving a person requires a lot of work.

I don’t mean love in the sense of chocolate and flowers, brilliant sunset cruises and romantic getaways.

I mean the REAL sort of love,

the type of love that continues to love despite being hurt,

the type of love that continues unconditionally despite being greatly disappointed,

the type of love that lets you compromise conflicting needs to accommodate another person in your life,

the type of love that trusts and continues to believe in the goodness of your being,

(which is not that easy because lets face it, nobody is lovable all the time!)

the type of love that tolerates and cleans up the mess you left behind.

(RAWRRRRR, this one is for you Kris :P)

In short I guess that:

I believe in love and I believe in happily ever after.

But I no longer believe in fairy tales.  😀

– THE END –