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I’ve been in New Haven less than 48 hours and already there’s been an earthquake, an imminent hurricane to be accompanied by flash flooding, and the announcement of Steve Job’s resignation.

Grand Entrance or End-of-the-World? You decide.

This summer has been a whirlwind of wonderful, and the perfect way to transition from my life in Asia back to my life in America – this time in lovely New England. I’ve spent the past couple of months in charming London, sunny Madrid, with my family in the ever-humid North Carolina, at a beautiful wedding in Virginia, on a road trip to Connecticut (my father is a living saint), and a final stint in London with zeBF.

But alas, I’ve committed myself to putting down some roots for the next few years and to putting on the scholar hat. For my friends and family who are still following along with me out there in cyberspace, I plan on continuing to blog, this time under a new heading: Suddenly in New England.

I can’t promise I’ll meet any hilariously entertaining taxi drivers or wow you with photographs from paradisaical islands, but at the very least we might be amused together and I can share with you some tid-bits of life as a PhD student.

General elections are on Saturday here, and while I’m too terrified to make any kind of political commentary, I will say that some recent headlines concerning the People’s Action Party are killing me (a la 12-year-old-boy-in-health-class style).

Pap smears…tee hee!

If you’re following the elections you probably already know that the PAP has a totally awesome superhero logo and trucks with loudspeakers that blast “messages” all over the city.  It’s like the Captain Planet of political elections.

And the Democratic party has a star trek logo. Umm… SWEET.

I can’t help but wonder how we got stuck with a donkey and an elephant. Lame, Americans, lame. Let’s get that donkey a cape or something.

Thanks, mom!

My only special request from home...

Besides you, my lovely family and friends, I’m really looking forward to being reunited with my bean grinder and French press. And of course George The Plant.

Yes, I’m the yuppie girl with the bean grinder. And yoga mat. Stop judging…

What do you miss about home?

It’s a common question in ex-pat circles, and I hear it even more now that everyone knows I will be returning to the states in a few short months. Most American ex-pats will probably tell you they miss some specific brands, some familiar food items, a favorite store (Target and Whole Foods seem to be popular responses), and the seasons.

But one response that’s generally unanimous amongst the Yankees? “I miss wide open spaces.”

It’s true: everything in the US is big. BIIIG. Our roads are wider, cars are bigger, people are larger, meal portions are super-sized, and heck – even our toilet paper rolls are thicker. There’s just a general sense of more space.

And this is what I was pondering this morning when my Dad sent me this link to pictures of Deadwood, SD – a town about 400 miles east of where his ancestors settled when they emigrated from Norway in 1882 – and the town of HBO fame.

[all pictures by John C.H. Grabill, via the DenverPost]

They make me feel nostalgic for home. It’s an America that no longer exists (and possibly never existed in the way we romanticize it today), but that reminds me of the spacious skies of my country.

The photos are currently archived in the Library of Congress. Check out the link for more images of frontier life.

Well, it’s official: I’ll be leaving Singapore this summer.

I’m moving back to the States where I’ll be working on my PhD at Yale!

As I was reminded these past few weeks,  it turns out that making major life decisions is… not so easy. I don’t think I’ve been so on-edge since, well… since I decided whether or not to move to Singapore!

It’s a bit strange to know my days in the Little Red Dot are numbered, but I’m exited to move on to a new chapter in my life and for all the exciting things on the horizon!

I suppose it’s time to make a SG Bucket List.  Who’s in for the Night Safari?

Well, I guess the title is a little misleading, but I’m feeling all Shakespearey and scholarly (because all the best scholars use words like “Shakespearey”).

Basically I’m in the midst of making a major life decision, and the question I should be asking is: “how much freeze can thy body handle?”

I’ve narrowed the next 4 years of my life down to 2 cities.  I’ll refer to City no. 1 as “Cold” and City no. 2 as “Colder.”

Or maybe “Ghetto-Fabulous Cold” and “Colder with Cows.”

Yup, from the equator to the tundra (aka New England) – that’s how I roll. I think I’ve got my mind made up. Stay tuned….

How do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Singapore like a true American? [pronounced “A-MUHR-ican”]

First you find a Turkey. Don’t worry – there are 7,000 Americans in Singapore and Cold Storage has prepared accordingly (thanks, researcher Crystal)!

Next, you should invite all the Americans you know (of the 7,000, you’ll probably know 10). Plus invite everyone else you know. And then tell them it’s OK to bring friends. Also, you should invite at least one stranger.

Basically, your house should look like the United Nations.

Once you realize how many people you’ve invited, you’ll probably want to panic. It’s OK – there’s a solution: make some Chicken Marabella.

An aside: when you realize the chicken still has a head, feet, feathers, and all its innards, don’t call your mother screaming (oops hehe). Also, don’t name the chicken. (poor little George…)

You’ll inevitably freak out the night before. This may involve pacing around the apartment, chattering incessantly, and getting very little sleep. Make sure you have the greatest roommates ever (je vous aime, S & M!) and you know 2 amazing people like this who will calm you down:

Don’t attempt to prepare alone. Try to enlist the help of some lovely, feisty Singaporean and South African ladies. Do you think mashed potatoes and stuffing make themselves?

Ideally you should invite a professional chef to this little shindig so someone can carve your turkey. It’s okay if the professional chef is British.

Warning: If you invite pretty French girls, you’ll want to keep an eye on the Englishman.

Eventually you’ll realize that you have enough food to feed an army. This means you’ll want to make sure people eat as much as possible.  Sentimental toasts, guilt trips, puppy eyes, and force-feeding are acceptable forms of coercion.

Your work is only done when you’ve given your guests so much food that they need to unbutton their pants. Bonus points if they undo the zipper.

And just when you think you might explode, continue by eating copious amounts of pecan pie, pumpkin pie, cherry pie, and draining all wine bottles in sight.


[click here for the full picture album]

I’m sitting here in the Denver airport, freezing and starving, when behold! a bakery appears! Mmmmm one last shot at an American brewed coffee and a quick muffin for breakfast.

So as I’m savoring said muffin (zucchini nut), looking at the snow on the mountains, preparing to return to my hot little urban jungle, it occurs to me:

Kiersten, you research obesity and nutrition for a living. What are you eating?? So I did what any sane person should never do in the midst of a meal – I googled the nutrition information online.


Can you believe this little sucker has 700 calories!? That’s practically half of a woman’s daily recommended intake, all before 7am!

Clearly we’re doing something wrong here, America. Several of my ‘foreign’ friends who relocated to the US will tell me how they gained close to 20 lbs (9 kg) when they moved to the US without making any major diet changes. Could it be because there’s so much hidden sugar and salt and fat in all of the food we eat?

700 calories, 40 grams of fat, and only marginally more expensive than the banana.

Not okay.

Yesterday I told you my father was becoming a cowboy. I was semantically mistaken.

In fact, papa had the whole ‘cowboy thing’ down long-before I was a thought in anybody’s mind.

That’s him with my uncle on the California ranch, circa 1960.

Aren’t old family photos fantastic?

This weekend my father became a cowboy.

Then I found the best boots of all time.

Clearly when one finds the best boots of all time, there’s only one thing to do…

Correct. Try them on. Don’t even think about mocking the boots, or I will make sure that the boots mysteriously end up under your Christmas tree (you’re welcome).

Unfortunately they didn’t come off as easily as they went on…

December 2019
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