Preparing for my Aussie Visa

Wow, I've never ever had to prepare so much paperwork before this. Applying for jobs and entrance to university can't even compare to this. I'm filled with both excitement and anxiety while applying for my Australian Visa because I'm so glad that we have finally gathered all our documents in one place (and visited the notary), but I just don't know if what we have is enough. I've read forums about how some people have kept every single move stub in their relationship, and send each other love letters... But B and I are just not this kind of couple. We do have plenty of photos and documents from our joint travels so I hope that will be enough.

Anyway, we are planning to submit our physical documents next Tuesday via AVAC. It has been such a rollercoaster ride since our decision to move to Perth. We've had to really sit down and plan how to go about this especially with our statutory declarations, notarising of documents and requesting for bank slips and identity certificates. A lot of the time we were just waiting for documents to arrive one by one. Just so glad all that waiting is over for now.

I guess after we submit the application, we will need to think about some serious stuff. We're thinking that B will need to go over to Perth to look for a job and secure us some steady income, and I will be in Singapore probably doing part-time work. I'm really dreading that part that we have to be without each other )': but I guess it will all work out in the end if we just be patient.

So much uncertainty in the few months ahead... This has been really affecting me emotionally because it's hard to cope with things that I can't see coming. Like oh, suddenly I have to do that, or like, oops I did not think about that or that or that! I'm such an obsessive compulsive person so I find it hard to deal with things that doesn't go my way, especially after so much planning. I'll really need to work on that for the next few months. The authorities say it will take up to 5 months for the result of my application but i'm keeping positive that it may be faster.

Ahhh... For now, i'll just keep imagining the moment when I am finally granted the visa!


A little story about my four-legged daughter, Lux

(she's lying on top of B in this photo but I had to photoshop his nekid body out lol)

Recently, I've been missing little Luxy a lot. Because we have to create a timeline of the history of B and my relationship (as a part of the visa application), I've been looking at all the old photos, including the ones of her. It's been almost 8 months since Lux's passing and I still think about her every day.

B and I mostly keep the details of Lux's illness between ourselves and our families. I guess we didn't want to shock anyone or wanted anyone to think of Lux as being ill. I remember vividly the day that we found out that she had a large brain tumour deep in the center of her brain - apparently something that all Labradors are predisposed to. The doctor said it was inoperable and that she only had 3 months left to live. I remember looking at her happy, bouncy and excited self and thinking: how is that possible? True enough, 3 months later, her tumour seem too much for her to bear. And almost 4 months from the day we received the terrible news, we decided to let her go.

The first time we discovered she was ill was when I got shocked out of bed in the middle of the night. I remember being restless that night... I just could not fall asleep no matter how hard I tried. I kept staring at Lux's shadow and jumping out of bed when I hear noises of her feet scratching against the cupboard (just a stretch). I just felt so uneasy and I knew she was not well. She just was not herself the past few days and sometimes she would just lay still, seemingly with exhaustion.

Just when I was about to enter deep sleep, Lux had a seizure. Everything happened so fast and in a blur, I shouted for B to wake up. I was literally frozen and could not move... I just didn't know how to help her. Its the first time I have ever seen a dog seize up. She was convulsing and looked so scary to me. It is amazing how quickly and calmly B reacted - he stuffed his bare hand into her mouth so she wouldn't hurt herself by biting her tongue. Instead, she bit him. After her seizure, my hands uncontrollably shaking, I called the vet's emergency line.

The next day, we brought her in and did a comprehensive blood test. We were hoping that she had a minor food poisoning but her blood test came out fine... she was in perfect health. All her organs were  working fine. I remember being really worried and started googling for possible reasons for canine seizures. I read and read and read, and came upon this article of canine brain tumour symptoms. Lux had every single one checked. We brought her to another clinic for a brain MRI and it was then that the doctor confirmed her tumour. She was put on prednisolone - a steroidal drug that may slow down the growth of the tumour. But while this drug helped her recover, it also slowly took away her life. She started losing muscle mass to the point that her head hollowed and she could no longer get up properly after lying down. It broke my heart every time I see her struggle to get up.

Her medication gave her 1 to 2 good months where she appeared completely normal, aside from the side effects of weakened liver, extreme thirst and hunger. She was still excited and happy all the time, and for that period of time, B and I both regained hope that she may recover (somehow her brain tumour would stop growing) and have more time with us. While she still got the occasional seizures, she was able to recover quickly. We pampered her and tried to give her as much attention as we could. She loves her food and I often indulged her.

But when the third month came, she started deteriorating quickly. She started losing her ability to walk steadily, often tripping herself or losing balance, and she started losing her eyesight. She seemed so dizzy and tired all the time. Trips to the vet became even more frequent as we tried to keep up with her seizures, but there is only so much the vet can do. Her seizures were getting longer and more intense with each one... and as she gets increasingly worn out, B and I too started to feel the effects of caring for her. We worry every time we have to leave the house. Getting Lux to go downstairs for her routine pee and poo became nearly impossible sometimes and we had to do a lot of cleaning at home. When I have to be home alone with her, I sometimes repeat to myself "it will be okay, it will be okay" because I was so afraid to be alone if she were to have a seizure.

As her seizures became more and more intense, we were given drugs to be administered to her. One bad week of multiple seizures, the vet put a catheter in her arm and we were instructed to inject a sedative drug to help her calm down. Too intense of a seizure could cause her to over heat, causing heat stroke and brain damage. While B had experience previously with it, this was completely new to me and I dreaded using it. But as a mummy, when your baby needs your help, you have no choice but to be strong and so I did. I felt that I have no right to be afraid because Lux must be even more afraid and she needs us.

Throughout this time, B and I were asking ourselves if it's time to let her go and take the pain away from her. But every time I see her condition improve, even by 1%, I doubted my decision. This went on for a while. While I read that seizures are not painful (I really hope so), they cause dogs to be in a panicked and hypersensitive state. The first few times it happened, Lux would unrelentlessly pace the house in a robotic manner and get stuck in corners because she had no idea where she was. But as she got sicker, she just could not get up after a seizure. She would just lay there, eyes wide open, panting. She takes comfort in knowing that B is beside her and that really helps calm her down.

The last straw came when she had 2 seizures in a day, causing her to be almost immobile. The next day, we were getting some school work done, Lux had a seizure but this time, she did not even have to energy to move. Her muscles did not twitch and her legs did not move. It was really heartbreaking to see her pant and have a seizure but not be able to do anything about it. After the seizure, we decided to help her and give her a quick bath. Seizures causes dogs to lose control of their bowels, often dirtying themselves. As she laid down on the bathroom floor, B gently showered her. Her eyes were completely closed as if she was sleeping... her breathing shallow... just too tired. At one point, both of us nearly fainted because we thought she had stopped breathing. We were really scared.

It was that day that we decided that this damn tumour has gotten too big and too painful for Luxy. She has lost her quality of life, her ability to move... She does not know what is happening to her and constantly gets frustrated at herself. The vet confirmed that her blood pressure is low and she seem to have lost most of her eyesight. We decided to say goodbye to our baby at the vet and watched her sleep peacefully and pass on. I remember we each gave her a kiss and left. I cried and cried and cried so hard after that while B comfort me despite being heartbroken too. Despite that, I know that this is better for her and we must never be selfish and keep her with us because we would miss her.

We decided to cremate her. The next day, we went looking for a nice cookie tin to put her ashes in. Once, she ate an entire tin of Hong Kong's famous Jenny's cookies because of her insatiable appetite - I was so worried I had to call and ask the vet if that many cookies can upset her stomach! She seem to have enjoyed it though :) It is a nice and lighthearted memory of her that I want as a symbol of her. Not her sickness and not something representing her death but a cute and funny little memory.

I'm not exactly sure why I wanted to write this post... Maybe it is because I want to forget nothing about this period of time, despite the sadness. I miss Lux a lot and I still get a feeling that she will greet me at the door sometimes. I have her photos all over my walls and I will never forget about her. She is the single sweetest dog I have ever met, and I have had the privilege to be her mummy a short one and half year. I remember the exact moment that I first met her, the day we brought her to the beach, the number of times she pooped at inappropriate places, how she loves scratching her back (and food, how can I forget about food) and how she's always in the way. Luxy passed on just days after witnessing B's and my engagement and I really think that she is our little angel who brought us together. I'm sure she is happily frolicking in her little doggie heaven now with her friends :)

I would like to share this sweet article that B chanced upon just weeks after Lux's passing. Heartbreaking as it is, we completely understand their good intentions in doing what they did because we did the same.

Dogs just want to be loved and to love their family. When you're happy, they are happy too.

Sleep well my Bluxy, see you on the other side :)


Singapore vs. Perth, Australia: Why I decided to move

I'm not one of those people who despise living in Singapore, in fact, I never thought that I would ever leave the country. I love the energy in this country, and I love how I know can get anything I need even at 3 in the morning. Singapore is so safe and everything moves so efficiently.. We can see a doctor in five minutes, get our computer fixed within the same day and buy food within a few blocks of our homes. Despite how people often criticise Singaporeans for being kiasu and unfriendly, I still feel that we are a bunch of nice people. In almost every train ride, I witness someone giving up their seats for other people who may need it more. Sure, we may not smile at every stranger who pass us, but that is superficial. Besides, no society is perfect. Plus, the recent passing of Lee Kuan Yew and the reactions from Singaporeans really surprised me. I never knew that we could all feel so strongly about one same thing.

In all its positives and the advantageous of being in Singapore, I don't think its suitable for me. Aside from the superficial reasons (hot and humid weather, flash floods, and human congestion on the MRT) , being in Singapore is not healthy for me, personally. Many others will agree with me when I saw that Singapore is an immensely stressful country to live in. People are put in a rat race that never seem to end. I may have just graduated from a local university, and while that may be a hugely significant achievement to some, I still get that uncomfortable nagging feeling inside that keeps trying to tell me "Nope, it just got started! (cue evil laugh muahaha-)". Because I know that the next step for me is to find a good paying job, if I am lucky, and continue to slog away just so that I can earn promotions and pay raises! It's like a never-ending competition against myself.. but for what? Just money?

I'm fearful of the kind of life that will commence once B and I get our jobs here. In Singapore, people typically work 10-6, which means that we will probably be able to get home the earliest at 7pm, before heading to bed at 10pm for another day's work awaits us. And I am being fairly optimistic. Where is the work-life balance that everyone talks about? I fear that I will not be able to spend time with B. I see all the other young couples starting their life together.. but not really together. It's really sad to see. (No time make baby even?!?!)

While money is not the most important thing to me, I appreciate that it is absolutely necessary in life. Let's be practical, how are we going to live happily without money? I don't need a luxurious life or branded goods but we need to pay our bills, pay our future childrens' school fees, get a car to move them and their grandparents around etc. Singapore is also not exactly the environment that I want my future children to grow up in. We have a world-class education system but maths and science (and the unconvincing art classes) are not all I want my children to learn!

Some say that I am worrying unnecessarily.. got my head too far into the future, perhaps.. but I do it because I don't want to be caught in my mid 30s thinking, "Shit, this is not the life I imagined myself living...". While academics are no doubt very important, I want my children to learn about the world outside of the classroom. I want them to learn about the value of being kind, the different types of plants and animals... discover their love for sports.. use their free time to work on something they love. All these seemingly random things are better than being stuck in a tuition centre on weekends. You can say that I wouldn't need to put them in a tuition centre but what happens when all the other kids are and they lag behind and feel crappy about being it? I don't want my children to be put in that rat race so early on and constantly feel that they must be better, or that they are not good enough. It's unhealthy. There is so much more to life!

From a more perhaps, selfish, perspective, I feel that being in Singapore does not allow me to live the life that I really desire. At the age of 23, I can't cook anything other than a simple fishball soup-thing. I can't tell the difference between most fishes packed in NTUC and I have a fear of touching raw meat. I want to be able to have the time to cook for people (because really, feeding people makes me happy) and learn how to make awesome dishes. How can I be a mummy who doesn't know how to cook, right?! But Singapore's hectic lifestyle would not allow me to do that after work everyday, at least, without a domestic helper, or "maid". And for many reasons, I do not want a maid because, for one, it always feels uncomfortable to me to have to dictate what another person should do and pay them such a meagre amount. Besides, I am perfectly fine doing lots of cleaning. The real issue here is time pressure.

I have already given up so many of the things I love to do -- I used to do art, paint and sew -- but because of the lack of time (as always), I can't do them anymore. I would love to be able to embark on little projects in my free time as a way to improve myself and learn new skills, same with cooking. I miss art so much sometimes that I just go online, look at paintings (in the midst of doing my uni weekly readings) and wonder if I will ever get to pick it up again. This concept of "no time" really scares me because it is able to take so much away from me! No time to spend with B, no time to see my future children, no time to relax... There is so much more to life and I don't want to speed past it, regret and waste any moment of it.

(picture taken April 2015 at Margaret River Chocolate Factory Swan Valley in Perth)

There are so many things that I have said that I "don't want" here... But things that I DO want, will be hard for me to leave. I have my loving family, my cute little dogs, my life in a familiar place, my comfort zone... I have only been to Perth twice and there are still many things that I am not used to and I don't know of. It's going to be a whole new culture for me to adapt to and it is pretty freaking intimidating. Aside from B and the in-laws, I will practically have no one.

But what I do know, is that there will be work-life balance and much more opportunities for both B and I to expand our lives. I can foresee it to be challenging most definitely, but at the same time exciting and rewarding. The first few years will be tough but I believe that by working hard and persevering with our decision, we will be able to make it worthwhile. I am not clouded by images of an ideal life - that moving to Perth will suddenly make our lives perfect like being on an extended holiday, but I just think that it is a place that will provide us with the kind of intrinsically fulfilling life we are looking for :)

The slow pace, clear blue skies, clean and crisp air, decent pay... Ahh I just cannot wait! Of course, everything written here is solely my perspective. B has his own reasons but I am just thankful he gets me and agrees that being in Perth would be healthier for both of us. Most of my life, I have been someone who is very kan chiong... and recently, I feel that it is going way out of control. It would be nice to reconnect with my heart and the sane side of me again :)

(Sunsets in Perth are one of my favourite parts of the day!)

This is the first time I have ever done anything so so big and I'm so excited! Just keeping lots of faith that things with slowly work out! First thing to do now.. get more documents ready for the partner visa. *cross fingers and takes deep breath*