When I was a kid, I loved to write. I use to leave notes with cute little drawings around the house for my Ma and Da to find. Sometimes I would leave them to get attention; some were more dramatic than others. When I was six years old, I wrote a note saying that I was going to run away. I left it on the table, hid under it and waited patiently for someone to read it. I watched Ma and Da walk by several times, for what seemed like hours but what was in reality more like three minutes, and then decided I would get better results if I just handed them my notes instead.

When I was seven, I wrote my first poem. It was also my last which is probably why I still remember it.

The sun was shining one day
So Cathy went out to play
But when she stepped out
It rained all about
So Cathy stayed in for the day

When you’re seven, rhyming is life.

When I was eight, we moved from the city of Chicago to the suburbs. I will never forget that year because I joined a writing contest at school. I also met my first set of identical twins named Jim and Joe. Joe always got the highest grades in the class and Jim, well, he just smiled a lot.

I feel bad that I remember so many details, but I can’t seem to remember my teacher’s name right now. One morning, Teacher announced there was going to be an essay writing contest. We could write anything we wanted about the city of Chicago. I decided I was going to write about all the graffiti I saw in the city. I am not really sure why I was concerned about that when I was eight.

The first line in my essay went something like this: when you drive into the streets of Chicago, you are not met by trees and parks but you instead you see graffiti all over the walls. In retrospect, I sounded a bit pretentious considering that I only just left my place of birth six months earlier and I was already bashing the place I called home for eight whole years.

One month later, Teacher walked into the classroom and said she was going to announce the winner of the essay contest. He or she would receive a certificate and $50! Everyone turned and smiled at Joe, including his twin Jim who was smiling from ear to ear. No surprises there.

“The winner of the essay contest,” Teacher said, “is Ching.” All heads turned back around and stared at me. I was still looking at Joe. Wait, me?! I remember at that very moment, Jim stopped smiling. I turned around and stared at Teacher. I think I stared at her with a look of shock because she said, “Aren’t you happy?” I wasn’t expecting all of the attention and certainly not to win the contest, but I felt good!

Let’s fast forward to my first job. I was working in special events and writing press releases when I was living in the Philippines. It was around that time that I decided I wanted to become a freelance writer so I could write about anything I wanted.

The very first article I wrote was about being a chubby kid and the various diets I tried in order to lose weight. I called it Famous Last Quotes of a Chubby Person. I remember being extremely happy when I started typing that article and the sense of exhilaration I felt when I finished. I still feel that way when I write today.

I decided to send my article to the lifestyle section of a major newspaper. To my surprise, I got a response immediately. The editorial assistant said they were going to use the article next Sunday and advised me that the editor may make some edits. I said that was fine and thanked her.

I was thrilled beyond belief. I had to wait seven whole days! I told my sister, called two close friends and decided I was going to surprise everyone else. My article with my name was going to be published! I was going to be famous! EVERYONE reads the Sunday paper!

When Sunday finally arrived, I was awake at seven o’clock in the morning and at the nearest convenience store to buy the newspaper. I quickly turned to the lifestyle section. It wasn’t hard to find my article; it was huge. My name was HUGE. While you may think I would be in seventh heaven; I was absolutely mortified. The editorial assistant was not kidding when she said the editor would make some edits. She decided to rename my article from Famous Last Words of a Chubby Person to THEY CALL ME CHUBBY CHING.

When I finally caught my breath, I screamed, “THEY DO NOT!” Okay, calm down Ching. It’s isn’t even seven thirty in the morning. Everyone is asleep. You could drive around, go to every store, buy every newspaper and no one would ever have to know this happened. But what if they see it online? Ugh, this is hopeless.

I decided to drive home and just sit. When my sister woke up, she said, “Well where is it?”

“I have bad news, very bad news.” I opened the newspaper and pointed.

“Oh my gosh! You changed the title. That is so cute. I am so proud of you!” My sister was always so positive and cheery. Then she says, “Well you got your article published and you wanted to see your name printed, so that’s great! Look how big it is!”

“I didn’t change that,” I said,” the editor did.”

Then she lowered her voice and said, “Well, you are a bit chubby, but it’s cute.”

I finally did share the article with my friends. It became the first of many lifestyle articles I wrote and published across various newspapers and magazines. I knew then that I had found my passion.

When I moved to Las Vegas in 2004, I focused my efforts on finding job in a casino and have worked in the same company for the past thirteen years. Today, I am happy to say I am reigniting my passion.

Welcome to In and Out of Vegas. Here I will share with you my version of this city full of wonderful, crazy indulgences and small, everyday pleasures that make it a little more sparkly than your average city. Sometimes, just because I feel like it, I may share stuff that happen outside of Las Vegas or write about my puppy, Tini. If you can go with that kind of flow, then you are in the right place.

Feel free to contact me with invitations, comments or any ideas at inandoutofvegas@yahoo.com. Please follow me on both Instagram and Facebook if you want to stay connected.


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