7 Things I Didn’t Expect About Being Married

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1. I was lonelier than before

When I was staying with my parents, I’ll get home from work at 7pm, have dinner with my family (my parents and brother) and spend the rest of the evening watching TV and laughing over the programmes. The house is always vibrant, filled with noises from the TV set, chatters and laughters.

And then I got married and moved into our new house.

Keith doesn’t finish work at the same time as me. In the first month of our marriage, he typically finishes work at 9pm and gets home at about 10pm.

My evening became this: Take a bus home, have dinner alone at the food court near the estate, shower when I get home, turn on the TV and feel super lonely because there’s no one to laugh with me. By the time he got home, showered and caught up with his social media feeds, it was already bed time.

I was quite depressed in the first month of our marriage because I constantly felt lonely. Plus, I was “homesick”, I missed my family a lot.

Thankfully, we’ve resolved this issue in the last few months, so it’s all good now :)

2. We don’t “spend time” all the time

Even when we are both at home, we may not always be interacting. We may be at a different part of our house, doing our own things.

3. “Dates” don’t come naturally

You’d think that staying together means it’ll be easy to go on “dates”. It won’t happen unless you set a time for it. Somehow, we have so many commitments: our friends, doing housework, and visiting our parents regularly. In the end, we realise we didn’t make time for each other. Now, we set Friday nights as our “sacred” date nights. We aren’t supposed to do anything else besides spending time as a couple.

4. We argue over trivial day-to-day things

Before getting married, I often thought that the stereotype of how married couples quarrel over whether to dispense the toothpaste from the middle of the tube or from the end of it, and also about the man leaving the toilet seat up, was ridiculous. Who cares for such things?! Well, we didn’t quarrel over these things specifically, because they’re indeed ridiculous, but Keith whines about my face-washing habit because I tend to get some water onto the mirror. Please tell him he’s being ridiculous ;)

5. He takes over my parents’ role. Kinda.

I thought I no longer need to put up with nags after I moved out. But boy, does my husband nag at me (sometimes). In a “parent-ly” tone.

6. There’s never-ending housework to be done

I’ve been very lucky that my mum is the one who does most of the housework when I was staying with them. But my new place isn’t big and I thought that we’ll be fine spending a few hours every weekend doing housework. I eventually realise that consistency is the key to keeping the house in a pristine state. This means there’s a need to do small chores as often as you can, or you’ll need to launch a very tiring spring-cleaning project frequently.

7. Life is still a routine

This is especially when I moved back again after going into remission. I really thought we could start doing fun projects together, plan trips and visit hipster cafes, but seriously, in between work, Daily Vanity, household chores, church and family obligations, what I can say is “ain’t nobody got time for that!”

I finally understand why all fairytales simply end with “and they lived happily ever after”, because there’s not much of a story to tell thereafter, and if there is any, it’s not quite a fairytale.

All these being said, I’m very happily married, in case you thought otherwise. Because I know that we are the kind who will work towards making each other happier.

 

7 Problems Only People With Good Memory Can Understand

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This is my sparkling brain.

 

My memory is good. My friends can all attest to this. And my memory has always been good. From the time I was two or three, my parents could count on me to remember every relative’s phone number. Before the mobile phone’s phonebook function was a norm, my ability was a great asset to them.

Later on my life, it helps that I was in every competition and activity in my primary school that requires some form of memorising, from story-telling competitions to emcee.

And if you attended my wedding, you’ll notice that I delivered my speech without any script. It was all “written” in my head a week ago, and I “stored” it there, rehearsed once more as I showered (by running it in my head) before the wedding banquet, and delivered it on the stage.

Good memory is a blessing, but it can sometimes be a curse. Here’s why:

1. It’s irritating when nobody can remember you

You’ve seen this person once at a party and were briefly introduced to him/her. You chatted for a minute, exchange niceties and either of you had to leave. One year later, you see him/her again. “Hey, Alice! It’s been a while!”

Usually, the reply would be: I’m sorry, you are…

“Remember, we met at a party in February last year and Beatrice introduced us?”

Dammit, why can’t anyone get their act together and remember human beings they’ve been introduced to? Do I have to remind her she was wearing a red dress with ruffles details, and she paired it with a rose gold horseshoe necklace for her to believe that we’ve met? Now it makes me look like I cared so much about you when actually I could remember these because I remember everything.

(True story that happened recently: I was introduced to another blogger by a PR manager. Said blogger shook my hand and asked for my name again, obviously looking like it was the first time we met. I was so upset, I raised my voice and said: OMG! We’ve met so many times, had tea together, and corresponded via emails so many times! You don’t remember?” The last correspondence we had was two years ago. BUT STILL! Then, whatever conversation we had later was just awkward, because whatever she told me, I was thinking “Yes, yes I know already!” and whatever she asked me, I was thinking “Dammit, I’ve told you before already!” I felt as if I were talking to someone who suffered from amnesia. I just wanted to rant about this, because I seriously think this has more to do with her very poor memory than my good memory.)

2. Sometimes people think you’re a creep

A continuation from the scenario from #1. You can remember EVERYTHING the almost-stranger said to you in the previous meeting. Perhaps in that short 10-minute conversation, she briefly mentioned her family.

At the second meeting, after she reluctantly say hi and acknowledge that you probably really met a year ago, the conversation is likely to go like this:

She: “My brother plays the piano too! And he’s pretty good on it.”

You: “Oh? The older one or the younger one?”

She: “How did you know I had two brothers?”

You: “You told me at the last meeting. That your elder brother’s working at a club, and your younger brother’s in NUS.”

At this point, your new friend is likely to look very uncomfortable. She might laugh and ask: What else have I told you? She may look nervous. She may give you a discreet dirty look, like you were Facebook-stalking her or something. Hey, you were the one who told me these things last year, remember? Oh, yes, you don’t remember.

3. People don’t even remember the nice things they’ve done for you

I remember many gifts, trinkets and cards that my friends have given/made for me. But when I remind them about it, they often don’t remember at all. I know 10 years have passed since you gave me that scarf you knitted for me before I went on my trip, but I thought it’d have meant a lot to you too so you’d remember it! No?

4. You remember all the nice things you’ve done for people

These memories usually come back when that person decided to be mean. And then you recall all the nice things you’ve done for her/him, including offering to walk her home because her mother couldn’t pick her up and she was afraid to go home alone, when you were both in primary three. How dare she call me a bitch behind my back when I walked her home when she was a frightened 9-year-old?

5. You are able to catch lies better than others

Friend briefly mentioned that he overslept and didn’t manage to go for his language class that day (it was Valentine’s Day). A few weeks later, he said that he missed his language class on Valentine’s Day because he had to help his mum get groceries in the morning. You know that he’s lying, (probably about the groceries), for whatever reason (that he had to lie). But since it’s so trivial, should you call him out?

It’s worse if you catch your friend’s partner lying. Should you call him out?

If you didn’t have a good memory, you probably wouldn’t have noticed the lie. If your memory wasn’t good, you won’t be caught in a dilemma. There had been many situations where I kept my mouth shut and allowed the person to continue lying because they were scenarios where someone was lying (and bragging) in a social setting and it was just inappropriate to call the person out.

6. You remember “useless” information that no one appreciates

Like, the lyrics to all your school songs. What’s the point of remembering them when none of your ex-classmates do (at least not the entire song), and you can’t break into song with them? Anyway, you’re going to sound like a nerd for remembering the songs, because your friend is likely to say “Aiyah! I don’t even sing the school song last time. I just stood there and stone.”

And now, you look damn uncool.

Hey, I may have also stood there and stone, but I STILL remember all the lyrics leh!

7. People forget their promises to you

People are going to promise to bring you to certain places, introduce you to certain people, buy you certain things, or go on the next trip with you. But, no, nobody is going to remember. But you.

Like that friend who promised to go to Redang with you and her sister, but then you realise a few months later, she book tickets with her new boyfriend to go with them to Redang. Are you supposed to get offended?

And if the person who makes these promises (and forget them) is your husband, he’s going to get a really, reaaaaaally hard time. I promise. And I won’t forget.

 

My Work Makeup – Complete In 15 Minutes!

One of my new year resolutions this year is to wear makeup more often. The annoying problem that I have is that I horde too much makeup but very often, I’m so lazy, I skip many important steps in the makeup regime, especially on a work day (when I’d rather sacrifice my appearance for more sleep).

This is one of my recent attempts at makeup for work:

Bringing back the #pinafore although I'm no longer a school girl. #ootd #lotd #fotd

A photo posted by Kristen Juliet Soh (@beautysorority) on

This has more or less become my “standard face” at work, because it goes with almost any getup and takes me very little time to complete. If I include my skincare regime in the morning, all I take is just 20-30 minutes at my vanity table to get myself prepared.

These are what I used:

Face

  • Make Up For Ever Step1 Hydrating Primer
  • Sulwhasoo Evenfair Perfecting Cushion
  • Make Up For Ever HD Blush in 410 Blush Coral

Eyes

  • Collection Extreme 24Hr Felt Tip Liner
  • One of my Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows
  • Make Up For Ever Smoky Extravagant Mascara in Black

Lips

  • One of my YSL Rouge Volupte Shine lipsticks

Time-saving tips for work makeup

  • Stick to the same basic products and put them in a container that you can reach out to easily. For me, I have my primer, foundation, blusher, eyeliner and mascara in a box that is easily accessible on my vanity table. I only change up my eyeshadow and lipstick colours every day (occasionally, blusher shade too)
  • I find BB cushions the most convenient foundation to use if you want to save time. Unlike usual liquid foundations where you need to either apply with your fingers (and dirtying them, hence, needing to spend time to wash them out), BB cushions also deliver a dewy finish that’s not messy because it comes with a sponge, and its formula contained within a compact case.
  • If you’re really rushing for time, skip eyeliner and go for a really good mascara instead. A good mascara that volumises your lashes well, is going to give the look of lined lash lines too. I really like the Make Up For Ever mascara that I’m using now because it is smudge-proof and gives very good volume.
  • While it is tempting, don’t skip eyeshadow and lipstick. I think they really help to perk up the face and make me look more energetic than I feel. To save time, use an earth toned eyeshadow with shimmer. I find shimmer eyeshadows easier to blend and earth colours can always complement anything I’m wearing.

You’ll probably notice that I’m using a lot of Make Up For Ever products (yes, I absolutely love them!) and they’re available at Sephora and the Make Up For Ever Academy & Pro-loft located at 36 & 38 Armenian Street #01-06 & #02-06. If you prefer the convenience of online shopping, Make Up For Ever products are also available on Zalora.

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In sickness, and in health

There’s something about the marriage vows that are exchanged at a Catholic wedding. I feel that it’s so profound yet complete, that there’s no word I want to add to or omit from it. And it never fails to touch me at every Catholic wedding I attended, including my own. It goes like this:

I,  (name), take you, (spouse’s name), to be my wife/husband, I promise to be true to you, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, I will love and honour you all the days of my life.

The priest who prepared us for our wedding and celebrated it was Fr. Stephen Yim and he reminded us to look at each other (instead of the booklet with the vows printed on it) because we are, after all, saying the vow to each other. I made it a point to memorise it.

Of course, I meant it with all my heart when I uttered those words; I’m sure Keith did too. But little would I have expected us to live out those vows in the most trying manner, just one month after our wedding.

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From cough to cancer

I’ve been nursing a dry cough for the longest time. If I’m not wrong, it started about two weeks before my wedding. By my wedding, I couldn’t speak properly without coughing between sentences, and also was unable to sing the full song that I wanted as a surprise for Keith during our wedding dinner.

Exactly one month after our wedding, after a scary vision I had in church (whilst praying, I saw an image of thorns growing rapidly on my right lung, destroying everything in its way), I decided that I would admit myself through A&E to get an X-ray done. By then, I had been been coughing for 1.5 months, and having some chest pains (although the GPs that I’ve visited suggested there’s nothing to worry about).

To cut the long story short, I was admitted into hospital and within a few days, I was diagnosed with Stage 3.5 lymphoma. That’s cancer, by the way. It was a tumour that grew on my right lung – the exact location and shape that I saw in my vision.

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I could have died

Everything happened really quickly. Thanks to the grace of God, I actually took it well, and bravely made tough decisions to save my own life. It’s still amazing to me how I was able to be so logical despite the storm that was brewing in my life.

But what’s amazing about this was the people who stood firmly and supported me during this ordeal. Without giving my parents and brother any less credit, I must say that I was very amazed by Keith’s tenacity during this period. Y’know, because we are not blood-related, unlike my family and I?

We didn’t date for a long time. We were only married for one month. He should be afraid, and he could run away.

I suggested to him an annulment. He didn’t sign up for this, I told him. The battle ahead was going to be really tough. There was a chance that I might die. The tumour was huge: at 9×10 cm. And it was aggressive and fast-growing. As such, the treatment was going to be aggressive. I had to spend a lot of time in the hospital for chemotherapy.

I would lose my hair, brows and lashes. My body would get a lot weaker because chemotherapy destroys the good cells too. We would have to spend a lot of money to get me treated. And even after all these, there was still a chance that I might die.

And if I didn’t make it, I wanted him to be able to marry someone in the future in a “clean slate” and that’s possible if we annulled our marriage. At the same time, even if I made it, I wanted him to have the chance to “opt out” of the tough journey ahead. There are going to be struggles that “normal” couples don’t have to go through even after I finish chemotherapy and am in remission. He had to be aware of this and he had to know he will be taking on additional responsibilities.

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In sickness, and in health

Thankfully, my husband chose to stand by the vows he made to me and God. And I never stopped feeling grateful about it. With tremendous support from my family, him and a group of awesome friends, I was able to weather through the storm with lots of courage, grace and joy – yes, joy!

And one day, while praying and feeling bad about putting my loved ones through this ordeal with me, I heard God telling me not to feel bad. Because when we vowed to love and honour each other “in sickness and in health”, it wasn’t just about the healthy spouse sticking to the sick one, but also for the sick one to continue to love the healthy spouse despite her pains.

It’s true that it’s harder to love and be nice when you’re very sick. I made it my personal goal to not throw tantrum at anyone who cared for me just because I was in pain. I think I did well.

Keith may not be the most meticulous person and he blamed himself for not realising I was having fever for an entire day from neutropenia (where a part of white blood cells fall to abnormally low rates). This could have cost my life.

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But he is awesome in many, many ways: shaving his hair off as a sign of support for me, taking care of all my administrative matters while I was sick, spending nights with me at the hospital sleeping on the uncomfortable couch, praying with me, accompanying me to medical appointments, and generally being my pillar of strength in the toughest and most painful period of my life. I’d imagine that’s what God wanted Adam and Eve do for each other: to be each other’s companion and helper.

Someone asked me after I was hospitalised if we had gone to a fortune-teller to get an auspicious date for our wedding based on our eight characters. We didn’t. “Maybe that’s why you’re sick right after you’re married, perhaps your eight characters clashed,” I was told.

I don’t know what others think, and I really don’t care what they thought. If eight characters really mattered, then Keith and I must have the most compatible ones, because he complemented me perfectly. And no matter how I looked at this ordeal, I see it as a blessing. Who else could confidently say that her husband was going love her even when she’s sick and ugly (or bald, like me)?

I can, because, he did.

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First Date All Over Again At Prive

For a good six months, the hospital has been my second home. I’ve been feeling ill even before our wedding, so while we’re newly-wedded, Keith and I have not gone on a proper “date” since we were married.

Our first date since I finished chemotherapy treatment was at Prive – where we went to for our first date.

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The first time we were there, we ordered the Eggs Ben and Eggs Royale (because I couldn’t make up my mind which to get, Keith suggested that we order both and he’ll take the one I didn’t prefer.)

This time, we ordered different things on the menu. We started with a minestrone, which goes very well with the garlic bread.

 

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The Quiche Lorraine that I had was a tad too salty for my liking.

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So was the Eggs Royale that Keith had.

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The mudpie was very indulgent, though – and a little too sweet with the generous dressing of condensed milk. This goes well with a pot of tea with no sugar.

 

 

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Overall, I don’t think the food’s fantastic but I really like the ambience there. What’s more, the place brings back good memories. I’m going back for sentimental reason.

I’m More Than Just “Fat”

I’ve always been chubby. In all my 30 years of living, I’ve never once been “skinny”, not even close. Blame it on genes or metabolism or just a lack of interest in exercise, I’ve never been slim. This being said, I don’t binge when it comes to food. I’m not particularly fond of fried food and soft drinks, and I almost never eat more than three full meals a day. And in 2013, I decided to take up a more active lifestyle, signed up for a gym membership and work out twice to thrice a week (until I was diagnosed with cancer last year). And for the record, the regular workouts only made me lose about 2-3kg, it wasn’t very significant.

Fat Is Not Fun

It’s not fun being a fat girl. I’ve been teased mercilessly since I was a child. I’ve been called names and always paired up with the biggest boy in class. Somehow, fat people are supposed to be married to fat people, according to primary school kids.

It doesn’t get better as I grew up. A guy whom I used to play music with used to tease me cruelly. He’d make thumping sounds when I walk (to make it sound like I were a dinosaur shaking the earth with every step I took), and told me that I looked like fat (and ugly) characters that are meant to be comedic in movies, and also told me that the reason why my favourite cartoon character was Garfield was because we were equally chubby.

All these teasing were totally uncalled for, and I had never been mean to him. I decided not to be friends with him anymore, left the music group and don’t ever speak to him again.

And then I attended a bloggers’ event for a detox supplement.

“You’re beautiful,” said the founder of the supplement. She then paused and added, “But only from the neck up.”

She went on to make comments about my physique and how I cannot be “lazy” and should do something about my weight. Needless to say, she spoilt my day. I went home and cried about it.

You Don’t Know Me Beyond “Fat”

This stranger, who didn’t even know my last name just defined my level of attractiveness by my weight. And even assumed my personality (“lazy”) because of my physique.

What does she mean by that I’m only beautiful “neck up”?

Well, she isn’t wrong about me being beautiful “neck up”. Don’t tell me she knew that:

  • I am intelligent. Besides doing very well academically when I was in school, I read a lot, am knowledgeable about a wide variety of subjects, am great at my work, and my friends can attest to the great conversations I’m able to hold with just about anybody.
  • I sing well. I definitely can hold a tune and have performed at several occasions, including being hired to sing at weddings.
  • I’m a great listener. Friends like to confide in me because I listen, am caring to my friends and give sound advice.
  • I’m effectively bilingual. I’m very proud to say that besides being a professional writer in English, I was also previously a recipient of a scholarship for Chinese language.
  • I’m compassionate. I empathise with those who are less fortunate and try to be kind to people in the service line. Oh, I give up my seat (“reserved” or not, on a bus/MRT or not) to those who need it more than me.
  • I am forgiving. I’ve written off many misdeeds done unto me and am friendly to those who treated me badly in the past (if they’re willing to be friendly with me, of course, it takes two hands to clap).
  • I have a great smile. And I smile as much as I can. People warm up to me easily because I am generous with smiling.

And these are just some of the things I’m great at “neck up”. There are definitely more amazing things about me that I can share with you that I can do, “neck down” (I play the keyboard!).

But look, this is not a brag-fest and I’m not here to tell you all the talents and skills that I have, or the charities that I donate to or help out with.

I regret not pointing this out to that woman: I am more than just “fat”. And how beautiful I am is not up to you, a mere stranger, to decide, based on how you think I “look”. Hey, I didn’t even point out to you the number of wrinkles you have on your face and neck and that you shouldn’t be lazy about skincare so you can achieve good complexion like mine! (Insert bitchy face here.)

Although I didn’t manage to stand up to her, I decided I have to stand up for myself. From then on, I decided I would not let people like her decide how I should feel that day.

It’s Not An Easy Fight

Demons are everywhere. Sometimes it doesn’t even come in the form of an insensitive stranger, but in the reflection in your mirror – quite literally. We’ve grown up in a culture that’s so focused on the physical aesthetics that it’s hard not to bash yourself over how you look.

But what’s most important to me is to pick myself up immediately even when I bash myself over it.

This is how I look now. Finally, I lost weight. The irony is that I lost 10kg without “trying”. All my life, I’ve tried exercising, dieting, taking dietary supplements and all my weight loss were insignificant. And then I lost them because I lost my appetite when I was going through chemotherapy.

Do I feel more beautiful now than before? Yes. But not because I can now fit into a dress of a smaller size, but because I witness my own strength and bravery during the 6-month treatment – the toughest, and darkest period of my life, that I went through with so much joy and grace. I never knew I was capable of this. (And I thank God for his empowerment.)

Now that I’m in remission and am not so affected by its side effects anymore, I’ve noticed some weight gain already.

And this time, I decide to tell myself not to be affected by the numbers on the weighing scale, but to focus on being healthier, and to make sure I am as concerned – if not, more concerned – about how beautiful I am on the inside, just as the world is concerned about how beautiful I am on the outside.

Everyone ages, and our physical beauty will always be a depreciating asset. What I know appreciate with age, however, are wisdom, knowledge and a heart of gold. It’s easy to decide what you should invest in, when you put things into the right perspective.

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We Don’t Go Out Anymore!

Keith and I have set Fridays as “date nights”. Every Friday, we are supposed to spend time together, without doing work or household chores.

I was expecting us to do this:

Cony-and-Brown

In other words, hang out, eat, laugh out loud.

But in reality, this is what Fri-dates are looking like:

DVDs

After having dinner, we end up in front of the TV, watching Bluray DVDs.

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I’m not complaining, though. Because watching DVDs at home is wayyyy better than hitting the cinemas, at least to me.

1. I get to watch movies from my super comfy sofa, an experience that you can only get if you pay for a pricier ticket at the cinema.

2. I can do movie marathons if I wish. I can have any snacks and foods I wish to have while watching the movie.

3. I can pause the movie if I wish to go to the toilet or get more snacks.

4. No annoying people who can’t stop talking or can’t turn off their phones.

5. And finally, I can talk as loudly as I wish, discussing about the storyline.

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What’s more, at home, I can enjoy a very similar cinematic experience, thanks to my new Pioneer Home Entertainment System, which was my wedding/house-warming gift from Pioneer.

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We took a video of how it sounds. It’s a lot better in real life, of course. This clip is from Tron.

And thanks to the woofer that comes with the system, I can literally “feel” the cannons from Les Miserables and gun shots from Taken 2.

 

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This is why I don’t mind staying home for Fri-dates.

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I’m planning to rent the entire eight films from the Harry Potter franchise and watch them over a few days. Maybe we should do it over the Chinese New Year holidays.

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No need to go out anymore. Heh heh.