Vegas 2018 part two

I love cooking shows, and I especially love cake decorating shows like Cake Boss. Cake Boss is set at Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA, and they make incredibly elaborate cakes as well as their regular assortment of pastry/bakery items.

One of the things that Buddy Valastro, the owner of Carlo’s Bakery, always talks about is how good the cannoli are. Although I’m from Boston, home to two famous Italian Bakeries with excellent cannoli, I’ve never tasted one.

There is an outpost of Carlo’s Bakery at The Venetian Hotel, and after the Drag Brunch, we headed across the street to The Venetian. Our first stop was Carlo’s, where I ordered my first cannoli.

It was exquisite. I have no idea why I’ve waited so long to try it, apart from my being a totally picky eater. The creamy inside balanced against the crunch of the pastry shell and the sweetness of the powdered sugar are amazing. Of course having now had a cannoli, when I go to Boston with the girls next week, I have to try the two places Boston is famous for, purely for comparison’s sake of course!

After we went to the Venetian, Ravi needed new shoelaces. The giant mall we went to was across the street from a Trump property. I took the opportunity to flip it off. Immature? Yes. Satisfying? HELL YES. And when I’m in New York this week, you can be sure I’ll take the opportunity to flip off Trump Tower, too.

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Vegas 2018 part one

The very first thing we did on our first full day in Vegas was to go to a Drag Brunch at Senor Frogs, located at Treasure Island. A Drag Brunch is a Drag Show with Brunch and alcohol. Two former cast members of RuPaul’s Drag Race were there, which made me really happy as a fan of the show.

If you go there are two lines–general admission and VIP. VIP gets you an open bar and slightly better seating. Although we got there after a huge line had formed so I encourage people to get there maybe an hour before brunch starts to secure a good place in line. The seating is family style, so unless you have a big party, you will be sitting with strangers. Our fellow brunch mates were quite a quiet bunch.

If you’ve never seen a drag show, don’t worry, it’s a safe space for a first timer. Be sure to bring some one dollar bills to tip the performers. It’s good manners.

Here I am with the Queens after the show, holding the Drag Brunch fan.

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A solo trip with Ravi

Since Elanor was born, Ravi and I have had very few nights away from her. The exception was when we went to Hong Kong when she was two. I had a broken leg, and managed to get pregnant with Rhi at the same time because I can multitask like a boss. However, because of the broken leg and wheelchair, we didn’t really get to do very much in Hong Kong–I still feel like I haven’t really visited there.

All of this is to say that it’s been for-fucking-ever since he and I took a break from being parents and focused on us and only us for more than a night here and there. Given the whole broken leg/couldn’t really get around thing, I’d even go so far as to say we haven’t really had time along since I was pregnant with Elanor.

However, the big bonus of living in the US–or one of them, really–is that my inlaws can get to CA a lot easier than they could SG. This year they volunteered to take the kids over April break so that Ravi and I could have a week alone. So in the spirit of having not had real quality healthy alone time in nearly a decade we splurged on a trip to Las Vegas.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen these photos, but I’m going to share them here with context.

Las Vegas is about a 90 minute flight from San Francisco. While you could technically drive it, it is between an 8 and 9 hour drive without stopping per Google Maps.

Even the airport and the flight felt luxurious because we only had to keep track of ourselves and not children. Hell even the Uber to the airport felt luxurious.

 

We chose to stay at the Bellagio because they have several things I adore–the dancing fountains, the Chihuly blown glass flower ceiling at reception (pictured), and killer room service pancakes (which you can also get in the Bellagio Cafe if you want to try them but don’t want to stay there). I’ve been obsessed with the Bellagio since I was a teen who watched way too much Travel Channel. I have watched–with a lot of interest/would watch again–a documentary about how they made the dancing fountains among others.

I didn’t take a photo of the room, although I wish I had since I have lots of good memories. But I did take this photo of the view from our room.

We had an amazing week and I can’t wait to share it with you.

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School Shootings

I worried about a lot of things when it came to moving our family back to the US. Would US schools actually be a better fit for Rhi? Would Elanor adjust okay? Would they make friends? Would their teachers be nice? Would I get along with the other parents? Tons of small little anxieties.

But the big fear was school shootings. You can say a lot of negative things about Singapore’s schools, but I never worried about a shooting in or out of school there.

There have been two school shootings since we’ve been back. Maybe three. I’ve lost track. The same old song and dance happen each time a shooting occurs. Thoughts and prayers. If the teachers had had guns. Guns aren’t the problem. Everything but guns are the problem. On and on and on and on. People get angry. People swear that we should do something. Nothing gets done.

My daughters’ school is like a lot of schools. It’s a small collection of buildings with covered walkways between them for the few days a year it rains. Lots of windows. No guards. No fence completely surrounding it–in fact, it uses the park next door for Physical Education. Sure, visitors are SUPPOSED to sign in, but there’s nothing stopping someone from just walking onto campus.

Nothing to stop someone with a gun just walking onto campus.

There are those who say the answers are metal detectors, campus security, clear backpacks, and other measures that amount to security theater. Because if I’ve learned anything about guns in America from my nearly forty years on this planet–(a) they’re never going to be banned so someone with an agenda will always be able to get one (b) campus security leads to abuse of students of color not protection of students–oh, and lest we forget, campus security ran when it came to Florida–campus security has never stopped a gunman from mowing down our children (c) there’s always someone with an axe to grind, and (d) none of that would have stopped the shooter at Sandy Hook elementary who murdered twenty children all the same age as my two and six adults and it wouldn’t stop a shooter who took aim at the playground at my children’s school.

I am probably like most parents who aren’t rabid gun nuts. I hug my children a little tighter. I call my representatives. But I still send my children to school each day. I push thoughts of guns pointed at their playground from my head. I try not to think about what if a fifth grade boy decides to bring a gun to school because some girl wouldn’t go to a dance with him. (And yes, I’m pointing at men–when was the last time a woman committed a mass shooting in America and what percentage of shooters are women? White men are by far the most dangerous group to have access to guns.)

I have to push my fears out of my head. How can I function otherwise? Do I never take them to a movie because of the mass shooting in a movie theater a few years ago in San Bernadino, CA? Do I never let them go to school or to college? I can’t live—can’t let them live—with that sort of fear.

But every time I hear about another school shooting, I wonder how many more will happen before something is done, and I worry that the answer is infinite. Especially in America, home of the NRA with their stranglehold on the legislative branch, and the misrepresentation of the second amendment which provides for a well regulated militia not individual ownership of assault rifles.

Dear children of America–we’re failing you.

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Showers

After all my years of complaining about how much I missed hot showers in the US, after all the boiling showers I took on vacation…..

I find myself showering in the more tepid temperatures familiar to anyone in Singapore.

Oh, the irony.

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Giving Up PR status

While we were in Singapore last December, we made the decision to renounce our PR status. Moving back to Singapore just isn’t going to happen, and while it felt like a security blanket to know we could, especially given the current US administration, it no longer made sense to hold PR status.

Renouncing PR is shockingly easy. We filled out some forms, made an appointment with the same office that gives you PR, and in less than 30 minutes we were just Americans visiting Singapore.

I honestly had expected something different. It had been so challenging to get the PR that it seemed too easy to give it up.

I don’t really have any advice, except to say that if you have PR and you choose to give it up, be certain it’s the right choice.

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California is starting to feel like home

I didn’t expect to ever say the words California is starting to feel like home. But it does.

I like our little house. I have traded the occasional ant infestation and the even rarer roach sighting for the occasional spider (even in my car, WTF is with that). The walls are thin, causing much drama between Elanor and Rhiannon when one or both of them is trying to play music–I definitely miss the concrete walls of our home at the Aston.

I still miss Singapore’s weather. Our part of Northern California (or NorCal as it’s generally called) has very odd weather. You need a jacket first thing in the morning, but can wear shorts by lunch, but need that jacket or sweater again once the sun goes down. I miss the easy predictability of weather in Singapore–it will be super hot so wear shorts and a tank top with flip flops, and bring an umbrella just in case (when) it rains.

I miss that both our condos had pools. Granted, most pools here are heated or only open during the summer months of May-September/October (roughly). Our local Y (think community center with a gym, pool, basketball court, classes, and childcare) has an indoor pool that we occasionally go to, but it requires more effort than just going outside does.

I miss my friends. But I chat with them all the time on WhatsApp.

But apart from those things, we’re settling in, finally. Everyone is making friends. I even joined my school’s PTA (parent teacher association) Board for the next school year (the school year here is late August to early June). I have moms I can call and who can call me if someone is going to be late for pickup or to schedule playdates.

I love my car. Rather than pick the cheapest model we could rent, as in Singapore, I have leased a minivan that I picked out. It has features like Android Auto, which uses my phone to show Google Maps on the screen, and bluetooth. I can play my music, podcasts, audiobooks, or listen to satellite radio. My seats can be heated. I can flip down the third row to accomodate larger purchases like IKEA furniture rather than hire a service to bring it.

I’m getting to know my way around. I can find the school, the Little Gym, Target, two grocery stores, my physical therapist, and other locations without GPS. Landmarks are becoming familiar to me.

This is all part of the adjustment process, and I went through it in Singapore as well.

But I think one of the biggest things that affected how I feel about California is that we went to Singapore (a post for another day) in December and I was struck by how much it didn’t feel like home. I have had the same disjointed feelings in Boston, where the landmarks have changed and I no longer can easily navigate my way around. Which left me with the question of where is home?

California is starting to feel like home. I’m not there 100% yet, and I may never be there 100%. But I’m more than 50% of the way. And that’s good enough for now.

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