Max here

Mum left her compurter on and went owt so I will tell you stuff about mum. (Lol she hats wen I call her mum not mummy lolol)

1. She is a big lyer
2. We dont live in Highgate we live in Archway and that is not the same place becos rich people live in Highgate not in Archway.
3. Dad is not in Hawai he is in England. I know becos he calls me on my mobile some times.
4. Mums hair is not reel she dies it
5. Granma is reely nice and looks after us a lot but mum is not nice to her. Aunty Clara is reely nice too.
6. Mum is a big lyer so dont beleave what she sez ever and also she is not very clevur which you shud know by now

She wont even notice I rote this on her blog becos she doesnt know how to chek her stats even or any thing. And dont tell her or I will get in trubble and that will be ur folt.

Whose a irritant now Mum?

 

Mentirosa 2

2 face mentirosa. I cant spell but at leest I know langages like all expat kids

PS I am not adicted to Minecraft I jus really like it.

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Expat Agony Part Two of Two

I still have a couple more woes to share before you are up to speed with my glamorous life, but you’ll be happy to know that I am at least feeling a whole heck of a lot better. Having spent a lot of time at the amazebobs hotel spa, I am now both grounded and uplifted, and I look fabulous from the tip of my toes to the top of my flaming locks. I have been: scrubbed, stroked, kneaded, nurtured, massaged, manicured, pedicured, pampered, emphatically lymphatically drained, and my Kundalini has been repeatedly activated. All rather marvellous, so I am today sufficiently restored to continue with my tale.

After the leaving do, saying goodbye to my Maserati, and then the terrible tragedy, the packing process began. Because of our enormous collection of furniture and art, and my equally vast wardrobal contents, it took five days to complete the move, with a total of 572 boxes. Argh! It was like slowly tearing off a plaster from an open wound. I’ve said it before, but I’ll reiterate: how much pain can one person endure?! Endure it, I did though. What choice did I have, given that Don prioritised his career and his own wishes over me? Zero, babeses, zero nada niente 没有.

What was good though is that we had less stuff than was estimated for the shipment, so I popped out during the week to buy more. I got a few bits of furniture from Timothy Doulton (love that shop!!) at Dempsey, and some odds and ends from Crate and Barrel. It all just went into boxes straight away, so was quite easy.

Of course, everything was done for us by the twelve strong chappies from the moving company, but that doesn’t mean that it was stress-free for me. Quite the contrary. Watching my life being dismantled bit-by-bit was shear hell. Until they did the roof terrace, I could at least take myself up there for a Veuve Click and a lounge. I was in fact engaging in that very pursuit when the time came for the packers to dismember the area. I heard clinking and realised that, for some unknown reason, there were at least twenty Veuve empties concealed behind the ornamental pool towel cupboard. Extraordinary. I do recall putting one or two back there when I forgot to take them down for the recycling, but that many?! Must not have been me. No doubt the help has been drinking my fizz all these years without me noticing. That woman! Can’t wait to see the back of her. (Though what to do with the irritants until I have a nanny in London?… Am somewhat worried about that, as 16-hour a day staff may be too pricey to justify. So unfair that there isn’t cheap help in London.)

Anyway, the next thing I knew, all of the empties were being carefully wrapped and put into a box. Ooopsy! They’re just so wild and impetuous, these moving guys. If it’s not nailed down, they pack it.

On the fifth day it was finally over, and although I felt exhausted and devastated, it was a relief to see all of the boxes gone and to close the door on my beautiful Emerald Hill Road home; and on the past. Well, I say “close the door”, but I personally wasn’t there for the final goodbye because I had a late lunch with my girlies. The children weren’t there either (they were at Camp Asia), but it doesn’t matter, I’m sure. Kids are so resilient, particularly expat kids. It was only their home. It’s not like they won’t have another one.

Boxes

My lovely life in 572 boxes…

We moved to a serviced apartment on Orchard Road as we weren’t due to leave for Langkawi until the next day. That night we all went to Andre’s for dinner to celebrate Angel’s seventeenth birthday and mark the end of the move, but it wasn’t the most fun evening everrrr despite the venue. Don seemed like he was on a different planet – very strange and distracted. The irritants were chaotic and even more irritating than usual. Even Angel was off-key and not her normal “I’m so hashtag young and hot and cool like Cara Delevingne” self. It was dull enough that afterwards I took myself off to meet Flo for a few beverages as a consolation.

The next morning, I was a bit tired and didn’t wake up until after 10 o’clock. Milly took it upon herself to pull me from my dreams, dashing into the bedroom and saying, “Mummy, where’s Daddy? Cannot find him, lah. And where’s Angel? Wasn’t she coming to the airport too? She’s going back to ‘Stralia and we’re going to Langkawi, but she was coming to the airport with us. Is she gone already?”

I got up and went to ask the helper where Don was, but she hadn’t seen him since the previous night. Not very helpful, helper. I phoned him, only to find that his phone was switched off. So, I decided to just go about my day and get ready for the holiday. I had a shower and was brushing my teeth when I noticed that Don’s wash bag wasn’t there. Nor was his toothbrush or anything else belonging to him. Then I looked in the wardrobe on his side of the bed, and it was empty. Starting to feel alarmed, I ran arms flailing to the desk. Laptop not there. Nothing of Don’s anywhere. In a horrible flash of realisation, I dashed into Angel’s room. Also empty. WTF??? I didn’t know what to do or think, dear readers. What could I do? I completed the preparations for the holiday, told the children that Don and Angel weren’t coming with us, and off we went to Changi.

So here I am a few days later – bruised and confused, but unbroken. I have heard nothing from Don, and his Singapore phone has now been disconnected. Next week when we’re briefly back in Sing (before heading to Phuket for an awesome party), I think I’ll contact Clara to see if she knows what’s going on. In the meantime, I will just focus on Me Time, and keep getting my spa on.

Flying Long-Haul With Irritants, ie. Children

Picasso's Guernica aka What it's like to fly with children

Picasso’s Guernica aka what it’s like to fly with children

It’s that time of year again when a bunch of the Expaterati are pootling off, hitherly and thitherly, on glamorous holidays or paying the piper back home. For many of us fab folk, this brings up the inevitable question of whether perhaps the children are now old enough to fly unaccompanied, or even stay behind for the summer with the help. The latter creates its own ramificatory problemations (because the people at home want to see the kids and the kids want to see the people at home), but all options suddenly become viable when faced with the hideous reality of flying for ten+ hours with our irritants.

Under these potentially traumatic circumstances, we could be forgiven for looking back longingly at our younger, child-free days, when flying was basically an airborne bar/ cinema (though even then some of us complained about how exhausting long-haul flights were), after which we would arrive at our gorgeous destination, and do exactly whatever TF we pleased. No whining, no incessant chatter. Just lovely lovely niceness. Mmmmmmmmmm.

So as much as I am loathe, dear readers, to pull you from that reverie, I am afraid that I have a duty to tell you:

THOSE DAYS ARE OVAAAAH.

Soz.

(Unless they aren’t for you, in which case whatevs and all, because oh kids are so cool and great, and stuff.)

Having been quite harsh with my insistence upon reinforcing realitification (cousin Clara the psychologist says true friends discourage self-delusion in one another, and I consider my readers to be nothing less than true friends), I can at the very least hereby thusly provide you with my tried and tested expert advice on the best ways to approach these dreadful issues.

Option 1: Fly Separately

a) Unaccompanied minors are still able to fly, as they were in the Glory Days of expat history. I believe there are now more restrictions, but cannot advise further as I do not work for an airline (I’d be awesome at that though). So you just get a different flight and meet them somewhere at the other end, or send a driver to pick them up from the airport.

b) Have your spouse fly with them. This is an excellent route, provided your spouse has no qualms about it, and will not use it in future as a source of poisonous resentment. Before pursuing this approach, I strongly suggest that you read my post on expat marital bliss and how to achieve it.

c) Have your helper do it. This is way better than 1.b) as you will be able to travel with your spouse, thereby strengthening the marital bondage, free of irritants, and you will not have to endure the hell at all. I do not personally know the practical ins and outs of this. I am not an immigration service. They have a very clear websites and you should look at them yourself.

Option 2: Sit Separately

Kids in Econ, you in Business or preferably First because it’s further away and therefore so worth the extra moolah. Sitting separately can be achieved by:

a) Bringing the help. Again, it’s not my place to advise on this or any other legal matters. I’m so over all that law stuff.

b) As once happened to moi, an airline which shall remain unnamed took Don aside during check-in and offered him, but not his family, an up-grade. Do not dismiss this offer. After an hour in the air, no jobsworth steward will dispute switching seats between spouses for touch-tag childcare. If they do, I have it on good authority that a few notes changing hands will remedy the situation (but this is, I stress, entirely hearsay).

c) Bite the bullet, buy one seat in the highest class you can afford, and apply the parental turn-taking strategy as per above.

Option 3: Fly and Sit Together, argh!!!

This is the most horrific option, but for many, the most difficult to avoid. If you want to arrive at your destination with your sanity intact and without the burden of a criminal record, I will now give you – entirely free of charge – the means to do so. You’re welcome, babeses.

a) Phene… phen… something, I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s an anti-allergy med that causes drowsiness in some children. I reiterate some because it can also have the opposite effect (as it does on Max and the Millster : ( hashtag bummer), and so must be tested in advance. Clara says we should never ever medicate our children to meet our own needs, nor to placate our anxieties or guilt as parents (and that American psychiatrists and drug companies are doing a number on young people today by over-prescribing bla bla yada yada… Clara should really chill out and have more fun, away from her job; she should totes become an expat and realise that there’s more to life than facing grim reality all the damn time). But Clara hasn’t been on a plane – five hours in, eight to go – with two wired irritants, and a hangover. So she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

b) As close as possible to the time of your flight (and overnights are best), take the kids to a crazy-making place like Universal Studios. Put them on every ride they’re tall enough to go on, regardless of protestation. Multiple times, if nec. Give them ice cream and highly-coloured frozen beverages. When they say they’re all funned out, keep sending them on the rides. Then go catch your flight. Once up in the air, feed them carbs and watch them fade. At most, it’ll be four nightmarish hours before you can switch to me time, for a few Veuve Clicks, and a couple movies that you’ve been meaning to see for ages.

c) The draining path of actually engaging with the irritants and “journeying with them”. Oh yawn. I got the text below from Doom and Gloom Expat Wifey’s blog (sheesh EVERY f***er has a blog these days!), and I can’t find the link right now, but it’s really not my job to promote other bloggers, right babeses??

So here are her recommendations. I can’t recall the name of her blog. Expat something-ish, I guess. Ok, I’ve sort of stolen it, but no one is going to enforce copyright law for blogs anyways. Ridic.

I have done many long-haul flights with our children from when they were tiny babies until now that they’re four and eight. Most of those flights, I’ve done alone because my husband is so busy with his work. I am definitely not an expert, but I’ve found things that worked for me, so I want to share them and hopefully hear from other people how they handle flying with kids. It’s hard, right? There’s no one single answer.

[Sheesh again, it’s so nauseating that she does that blogger thing of pretending to be all sweet and sharey, when actually she just wants to go viral with a popular topic, and get a publishing deal. Vom!!]

The easiest time to travel was the early months. My babies just slept and ate throughout flights, and I know it’s a bit scary for new parents, but honestly, while they’re infants, it’s fine. Hold them as much as they need, and feed them on take-off and landing if they’re awake. If they’re really upset and you feel ok about administering a painkiller, that might be the best thing to do because their ears could be hurting.

Once they can walk and are within the toddler bracket, it’s much tougher for parents. Take them for walks in the aisle and remember that, although some passengers might prefer not to be disturbed, many love young children and will welcome the opportunity of engagement that your toddler is seeking.

For the toddler years, the key to success is preparation and breaking the time down into manageable, repeatable sections, so that you feel in control. It’s about being fully aware of your own time-frame and the children’s routines, so that you can minimise their excitement of being in a different environment.

For kids that age, one important component is to bring with you a “Magic Bag of Fun”. I like to think of this as a little like a Christmas stocking, full of fun, interesting objects they haven’t seen before. Gradually offer items from this magic bag throughout the flight – interspersed with aisle walks – and eventually the toddler will shift from exploration to relaxation, and then to sleep.

Once your kids are around the age of three or four, they’ll begin to enjoy the flight experience of watching TV and see that as a treat, in addition to time on devices, should you choose to offer that.

From there on out, it’s plain sailing, or plain flying tee hee. As they get older, they are able to stay in their seats and entertain themselves. My kids are still young, but what I hear from parents of teenagers is that it’s not about the flight anymore (that part is easy), but what it represents, be it a happy or a sad departure. I can’t speak to that, personally.

That’s what’s worked for me. Happy flying, and above all, enjoy!!

So that’s her advice and it sounds pretty reasonable (albeit incrediblé dull), if there is truly no alternative to flying with your offspring. Based on my personal expertise, I would summatively conclude that parents encountering the troublesome trouble of travelling with their irritants employ any means necessary to ease their immense burden.

I hope that I have provided effective solutions, and in exchange for my outstanding assistance, it is surely no biggie to request your ongoing support with my campaign to get a second helper by clicking here. Come on, I gave you all that for nuthin!!

How Much You Spend On Your Kid’s Birthday Equals How Much You Love Them. End Of.

I’ve been feeling quite Maxed out (LOLs, pun totes intended!) after the weekend, which is hencely why I couldn’t get around to writing until now. Yes, my little Max turned the big Zero Seven, and the birthday yacht party organised by moi (and two remote assistants in the Philippines) went down like a house on fire aboard the Titanic, amped up on Veuve Click and Spotify, without the tragic sinking business. As I said before, I knew I had to push the boat out to match Milly’s fabulous yee-haw at the casino in Sentosa last year. And push that boat out, I soooooo did! Go, me!!!

I hired a mahusiv glamorous yacht and invited a few of Max’s little friendses (well, only the ones whose parents I know like to parté), as well as all my Expaterati girlies and our general gang. The catering was a hush-hush high-end arrangement, by one of the awesomest restaurants in Sing (can’t say which because they don’t want to dilute their brand by doing private events, and only did mine as a personal favour because I’m so hot). I flew in a Taiwanese DJ to rock the dance floor and, at Max’s request, had a Transformer costume theme. Because I was doing the donkey work, it seemed only fair that I amend the theme a teensy bit to Bikini Transformer costumes. Lord knows I heart a bikini party!!

So the result, as anyone who was there will testify, was nothing short of

EPIC.

It got to 3AM, and all the kids had fallen asleep on their iPads (which just goes to show that children can exercise self-regulation with Minecraft, contrary to recent flawed findings), but us grown-ups, we were just getting started! I was in Katy Perry heaven, doing my shockingly impressive Transformer moves all over that floating dance floor. Oh yeah, bring da beat back!! It’s amazing how much a little bit of practice can do. I only spent between six and 20 hours last week watching Transformer YouTubes, and yet my physical embodiment was alarmingly on the money. It was like I actually was an actual Transformer, dancing my vehicular behind off on a yacht. I know, incrediblé, isn’t it? My talents do seem to be limitless, but you know that already, of course, dear readers. My gratitude for your appreciation is almost as boundless as my talents.

There were two sliiiiiiightly sticky moments that marred my enjoyment of Max’s party. One was when Angel, our teenage house guest (my step-sister), approached me while I was rolling out my hottest Optimus Prime grooves and said, “Um, EJ, your C-string bikini is getting pulled sideways by your Transformer truck bit, and part of your um, vajazzling is kind of hanging out and it’s… sort of… dangling…”

I was quite annoyed by her abrupt interruption of my dancing, but it occurred to me how hard it must be for her; just a young girl, thrown so recently into a new environment, away from her mother (who can’t cope, hencely me selflessly taking her in), and everything she’s familiar with.

Then I thought, naaaaaaaaw.

So I told her, “Babes, eat some food ffs so that your brain can function properly, grow tf actually up, and get some life experience before you start lecturing adults on how they look. Because yooooo, honey, do not have a cloooooooooo!”

And that made her go away.

The other irksome thing (not that the interactification with Angel was irksome – I just told it like it is, I proclaimed my truth) was Liz. I noticed that, yet again, she was sniffing around after Don. Whenever she went to the bar, there he was. Whenever she went to the loo, there he was. Whenever she went up on the romantic fore-deck, there he was. She was constantly seeking him out, like a plague of husband-devouring locusts. Vile-scented locusts, at that, as you will know if you have read all my posts.

As a practitioner of gratitude and a dedicated yogi, it was not impossible for me to rise above this woman’s persistent, assaultative, uninvited attentions towards my husband, but I did have to take time out from dancing to do some chanting in a private place. Thusly I will forever resent her for taking me away from my only son’s seventh birthday in order to cleanse myself of her disgusting heinous intent. This will no doubt surface in her own chi and, relying on the universe to sort her out, I gave myself up to continuing to have an amazebobs night. Haha, I bet she didn’t! She didn’t even come in costume. So un-classy!

Image credit: http://makinbacon.hubpages.com/hub/transformersmoviecharacters

Image credit: http://makinbacon.hubpages.com/hub/transformersmoviecharacters

Social Hierarchy Among Singapore Expats

We just had a long weekend here in Singers, and on Sunday night my lovely girlie Flo held an exquisite dinner party (or sups, as both Flo and I would call it, given our shared class origins). Her father was a renowned British judge, and although my father was merely a “businessman”, we were expats, so that puts Flo and I in the same category by merit of my famliy not being categorised according to the standard laws of the previous UK class system. I say previous because apparently things have moved on now, and it’s no longer as simple as upper, middle and lower. I dunno.

So at Flo’s sups, I was sitting next to a charming old-skool expat chappie who has been in Asia since the 1970s. A first generation expat, he told me he was the son of a baker, and his deceased wife had been the offspring of a train driver and a dinner lady.

“The great thing was that when we left the UK we basically left our origins behind. Our parents worked hard to give us a better education than they’d had, but even so we were competing with an old boys’ network that we weren’t a part of. And actually, we weren’t even competing because it was impenetrable! Ha!!,” he took a deep swig of Pinot Noir after this laugh, his round face glistening.

“Oh ha! Yes”, I said, because I didn’t know what else to say, “That old boys’ network, eh?! Impenetrable!!”

“Precisely!! It was! And that’s why Meredith and I decided to up sticks and try our fortunes elsewhere. In England we would forever be ‘proles’, hacking our way through life in a suburban semi, with occasional promotions, and a tolerable existence of hard slog… hopefully paying off the mortgage in time for retirement. So we left. And it was absolutely the best thing we could’ve done – for ourselves and for the kids. It was no less of a slog, don’t doubt that, but there was a smooth, steady progress to it, we found. And suddenly it didn’t matter where we’d come from, it only mattered where we were in the present and where we were headed to in the future. All of that nonsense, all the limitations, it was all just gone!”, he grinned his nice grin and had another great big gulp of red before continuing: “It all became irrelevant! And the terrific outcome is that our kids are now surpassing even the wildest dreams that their grandparents could’ve had for them. They had great schooling, we showed them the world, they speak different languages, and they have friends and connections all over the planet. The world truly has been their oyster, and that wouldn’t have happened if we’d stayed at home.”

“OMG, babes, that’s like so truesome!”, I insertified, genuinely fascinated now by what this ageing expat dude was pontificating about, “And although I don’t come from that horrendous under-privileged place where you come from, I can totes relate. My kids are amazebobs at Mandarin, and Max is defo on a trajectory to become a fund manager. We’ve lined up an internship for him in 2020-ish, and after that it’s gravy, baby! Mills is more of a creative soul, like me, so she’ll probably continue her burgeoning modeling career, go to Oxford or Harvard to prove she’s got the smarts as well as the hots, and then just find her own niche in the movie/ media/ arts world. I’m all about giving the kids opportunities, but letting them find their own way. This Tiger Mom stuff, argh, I’m so like whatevs!! I don’t have time to stand over them and make sure they’re doing their homework or practicing basketball and stuff. That’s the helper’s job. So these Tiger Moms, I just think they’re totes ridic, you know?!”

“Yes Gemma-Anne, you’re so right. Can I call you Gemma? GA, perhaps, or maybe just Gem? You are a bit of a gem, my dear…”

At that point I noticed that the nice round-faced chappie was sending his words not to my eyes and ears, but to my divinely arranged cleavage (which did look particularly divine that night in my Givenchy leopard print boustier-avec-tutu mini dress). And that was fine because I aim to please and it would be unutterably wrong to withhold my stunning impact arbitrarily. But I didn’t feel completely comfortable when he manoevred his hand between my legs, and I watched a perfectly round bead of saliva drip from his lips onto the pan-seared foie gras entier below.

He had been so sweet that I didn’t want to make a scene, so instead I arose from my chair, and said, “Babes, I know this sounds crazy, but it happens sometimes. I am at this very moment being overtaken by the spirit of rap! I’m such a major mahusiv creative that I never know when I’m about to get channelled. I think it’s Kanye, or maybe some dead rapper – I’m not sure – I mean, that would make more sense, right?? If they’re dead? So maybe it’s that guy from Run DMC? Alls I know, sweets, is that I gotta go. I HAVE TO RAP NOW!!”

And with that, I left my place at the table. I went to find Flo, who was engaged in deep discussion with her personal trainer, Eric. As she was clearly v busy, I decided to grab another girlie and skip off to Brix. I texted Don to tell him.

So yesterday I was thinking about what the nice, albeit a little handsy, round-faced chappie had said and I found myself in a bit of a pickle about all this class, hierarchy, and social mobility stuff.

I texted Clara with my confusion, but her extremely rude response closed the whole thing down from the get-go: “Not only are you contacting me at work AGAIN, as I have repeatedly and specifically asked you not to, but your query is beyond ridiculous, even for you. So no, I do not have time for ‘a little chat-ski’ about expat hierarchy. C x”

Therefore thusly I realised that I was alone, equipped only with my impressive resources of intellect and insight. I reflected that the problem I was so elegantly wrestling with was this-fold: if expathood makes class irrelevant in the country of origin, is there a hierarchical structure within the expat community itself?

I applied my powerful brain to the conundrum, and came up with a ground-breaking categorisation which defines the order of importance among Singapore expats, which I will share with you now for the purposes of your edification and edication.

1. The High Dips
Not everybody has the humility that I do, but I am willing to accept that I am not at the very top of the expat social stratosphere. That place is reserved for the highest echelons of the Diplomatic Corps, which is as it should be in the best possible of worlds. So in this category, we find ambassadors and all that. They might be earning less than those in the second tier down, but they have an inalienable right to superiority. Like royalty, and who would be foolish enough to question the Royals’ entitlement? No one, that’s who.

2. The Big-Packaged Elite
This is where I am. In this upper strata are the people who make a lot of money because they are making a lot of money for other people making a lot of money. In Sing, this includes financiers and consultants. Can also factor in merchants, such as wine importers. We live the glamorous life without the responsibilities of the High Dips. As we are not dips, we can behave pretty much as we like (though not to the Anton Casey extreme, of course, babeses), and we have the funds to indulge in awesomeness. As many an expat wife has been known to gleefully announce, “It’s like being at college, but with money!”

3. The In-Betweenies
Here we have the engineers, the oil people, the car people, etc. This is the population that my overly-familiar friend above represented until he made Managing Director level and then retired to a life of petite Asian girlies, and occasional attempts to feel up prime rump, such as myself.

4. The Localisers
These are the peeps who became expats for the same reasons everyone else did, but their needs were a tad more pressing. Hencely the compromises they were willing to make in order to exchange their old lives for new lives. They’re not on a package – they just really want to be here. I could totes empathise with their plight, but for the fact that our package is ginormous so really I totes can’t. Sorries, honies!! Cannot lah : )


Now the nice thing about this system is that there is, as we have seen, considerable scope for social mobility. You can start at Number 4 and, a few moves down the line, progress to 3 or even 2. It’s doable, in a way that it generally isn’t back home. So that’s just wonderful and I can only conclude this study with the words: Viva La Expaterati! Amen and namaste to that.

When I'm taken by the spirit of rap, I just can't help myself.

When I’m taken by the spirit of rap, I just can’t help myself.

The Theatre of Expat Families

I realise, dear readers, that I haven’t mentioned my father much lately, what with his shady doings at Shady Elms – nor Mummy at all for a v long time, and I would like to tell you for why. Firstly, in re my Wuzgunna Dad (he always wuzgunna do a ton of stuff, but never did), the thing is that it’s all rather annoying and therefore thusly bad for my chi. As expats, we choose to live thousands of miles away from our families, so I find that any contact between myself and his world means that his life encroaches upon mine in a most heinous fashion. So as long as his trophy wifey, now replaced by a nice old dear at the home, doesn’t phone me up and go on about him, I am much happier just getting on with doing my thang.

As to Mummy, she cut short her visit to us last year, leaving under a cloud on Boxing Day. She said some terribly unkind and totes untruesome things to me, which, frankly, ruined my Chrimbo, and we have hardly been in communicando since then. She has not apologised for her attacks on my self, nor has she taken any steps to make amends. Hence therefore thusly, neither have I. She sees Max and Milly on Skype each week, but this is usually facilitated by the helper, with whom Mummy has maintained a spectacularly inappropriate relationship. (As if she doesn’t know any better from her own decades of having staff! Bizarre.)

That said, I am glad that she and the irritants are keeping up their bond as I think it’s v important, particularly if we are repatting in the near future. It occurred to me today that if we do return to the Yukes, I may need Mummy for childcare or other assistance, and as she insists upon keeping up this childishness of not speaking, I suppose that it falls to me to take the first humiliating steps towards reconciliation. I had hoped it wouldn’t come to this. One of the many great things about being an expat is not needing to pay too much attention to family members back home, and a vast number of people make the decision to become expats for this very reason. For other reasons, click here to read my previous ground-breaking post on the subject.

So I am currently considering how I might approach this sticky issue, with the least humiliation possible on my part. I suppose that I must accept that all families are indeed psychotic, and whether we like it or not, even with the extreme step of moving far, far away (hmmmm, perhaps we ought to have moved even further away…), we still unfortunately belong to them.

I’m thinking all of these profound thoughts because at the weekend I saw a play about this very topic. I went to do a theatre review for the Singapore International Women and Trailing Spouses’ Association monthly magazine. The editor knows of my great literary prowess, so of course she tasked me with the task. The play is called Tribes, and I thought it was v interesting, and quite refreshingly sweary, but two obstacles unfortunately presented themselves in pursuance of my mission: firstly, I couldn’t remember how to do Pitman’s shorthand, and b) by the end of the play I was crying so much that what I had managed to write was all a big soggy mess in my notebook. I can’t even say for sure what I was crying about – it was just like, kind of really sad in a totes unfathomable way. I’m so mysterious, what with my deep emotions and stuff.

Tribes_12Sheet_draft02

Amazebobs play what I saw

I got the main synopsis, that here was a family in England who liked a shout and had some Issues, and one of their three grown-up kids (all of whom had left home, but then come back – argh I hope that doesn’t happen with my irritants!) was deaf. Beyond that, I was fairly baffed.

Luckily, in the foyer afterwards I ran into my Harvard friend, Marni, who I haven’t seen for yonks. The last time I saw her was at this awesome talk organised by SheSays (there’s another one this Thursday which I totes want to go to if I’m not out partying). I asked Marni what tf the play was really about, hoping that she would offer to ghost-write the review for me. No such offer was forthcoming : (, but she explained that her understandio of the piece was that it was: “An exploration of identity, and fitting in, and the dichotomy between needing to belong – what we give up of ourselves by adapting to a group – and our need to be separate individuals. And separation can become alienation… isolation… which is also painful. So if we look at the family entity as a microcosm for society, the play, from my perspective anyway, is a story about how we negotiate belonging and not belonging, and the inherent losses we experience, but also the gains. A bittersweet piece, I thought. And some great performances. The actors really got under the skin of the characters. There were moments when I felt that I was there, a fly on the wall in a Cambridge living room… Oh, hi!! How are you?”

I had been so intent on writing down everything Marni was saying that I didn’t notice Mrs Doom and Gloom expat wifey sidling up to us. [Why am I constantly running into this woman?? It’s like the universe is trying to tell me something but what?? Or maybe the universe is trying to tell her something. Yes that’s much more likely. It’s trying to tell her to kick back, chillax and enjoy the fabulousness with which we expat wives – we lucky few – have been blessed.]

“Hi EJ, hi Marni”, D & G said, while incorrectly doing the expat wife protocol greeting. The woman can’t even air-kiss right. She does this awful face bashing thing and because I have v pronounced model-like cheekbones, I am in agony for days after an encounter with her. It’s so not worth it.

“Marni, I’m really interested in what you were saying about the play because I found it very moving, and it made me think about my own children, and what it means for them to grow up in this transient expat community. Because it’s like we, as parents, have chosen this lifestyle for them, and they adapt, don’t they? That’s what the TCK literature says, that they become experts at adapting. And the play made me wonder about how not only are they adapting to fit in with their changing environments, but actually, all the time they’re also adapting to us, to their own family. The people who are the constants during the changes. But we’re adapting too! Or trying to, anyway!! So as an anthropologist, what’s your take on this… on how it relates to us as expats?”

She finally stopped talking and I looked at Marni, ready to roll my eyes when she met my gaze, but she didn’t meet my gaze. Instead, she turned towards D & G, as if I was invisible or deaf or something, and started chatting away with mahusiv enthusiasm.

“I think you’re absolutely spot on with that comparison. I was turning it over myself, though I don’t have children yet, and I think you’re right that expat kids – or anyone from mobile populations – have another layer to negotiate around adapting to be part of a group, while choosing also to stand alone, or to “find their own voice”, like the play refers to. From what I’ve read, it’s particularly relevant to expat kids returning to their passport culture when they fly the nest, as in the play. A lot of them do go back to their parents sooner or later, and it’s like they need to go back, so as to differentiate parts of their identity that they couldn’t explore in the course of their acrobatic adaptations. I mean, like Darwin said, ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor even the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change’. So adapting isn’t something these young people do lightly or that just happens. It’s about survival. It’s tribal. It’s about meeting ancient human needs.”

“Oh, that’s so fascinating!”, replied D & G, as if she had understood a damn word of it, when I’m sure she was as utterly baffed as I was.

“I completely agree”, D & G went on, “And I’m going to have a think about what I can do to understand my family better, and how our kids are adapting… How I can help in that process so that they find their own voices. Thank you, Marni, thanks so much!”, she kissed Marni (ouch, poor lovely smartsville Marni’s cheeks).

“Don’t thank me! The play obviously brought up a lot for you, as it did for me. Thank goodness for theatre, huh?”

D & G said she had to go, and I didn’t swerve in time to avoid the next cheekbone assault. I needed to run too because I had to pick up the irritants from a stupid kiddie party. So I didn’t manage to get more deets for the review out of Marni*. Those children. They’re the bain of my otherwise glorious existence.


*But I did manage to get this from a post Marni later put on her Facebook page, so I borrowed it, along with some of the other stuff she’d said:

FB Friends, I want to recommend a play to you. Tribes is another wonderful production from Pangdemonium, lovingly and poignantly performed by an amazing cast. We’re lucky to have them, given the current local and global funding crisis in the arts, so please go and support them in their vital work. Whether correctly attributed or not, I am reminded of this quote: “When Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war effort, he simply replied, “then what are we fighting for?'”

I didn’t use that last bit for the review because, like everything Churchill supposedly said, it has zero to do with our lives today. Obviously what we’re fighting for is the ability to buy more stuff, eat at fabulous restaurants, go on beautiful holidays, and generally have an amazebobs time. That is, quite clearly, our birthright or we’d have been born as other, more lowly creatures.

Tribes, babeses

Tribes, babeses

Expat Wives = Swans

Because Milly’s birthday party last year at the casino on Sentosa was such an amazebobs success, I’ve been stressing my gorgeous head off for a way long time about Max’s bday, coming up next month. So the coolest thing has happened, and Seth is defo right about the universe being wise and all that.

Yesterday I went to a beauty workshop held by one of my BFFs here, about Guasha. Now, Guasha itself is incrediblé. It’s basically this little curved tool thing that costs $15, and you put an ocean of coconut oil on your face (or wherever – you can do derrières, arms, legs, the whole caboodle; if you can dream it, you can Guasha it). So you run the thing over your skin, paying particularness attention to wrinkles, should you be in the unfortunate position of possessing them, and by stimulating the lymph you literally rub out said wrinkle-age. The mentalistest thing is that…

Babeses, it bloody works!! 

Ridic, I know, and I wouldn’t believe it had I not done it. Totes truesome though. Insania.

Anyways, so at the Guasha thing I met some really awesome ladeees and I so felt the ladeee luuuuuv goin down. One of them was a horse whisperer who used to be an astronaut. How cool is that??

Another ladeee was something to do with yachts (all these expat wives with jobs!! If I knew we weren’t repatting, I would definitely get one). I’d heard there’s a lot of yacht stuff here, but as I’m an Orchard Roader at <3, I rarely feel the need to venture water-wise, unless I’m on one of my fabulous holidays. Froo Froo and I are crazy about the Tanjong Beach Club, but I like to stay close to the bar and the DJ so the actual water is more of a backdrop. Like The Truman Show.

Anyhoo, yacht chick made me think that we should totes have Max’s party on a yacht!!! That would just kill all the other parties at Polliwogs, Port of Lost Wonder, or at the condo pool. Expat wives can be SO competitive (like a few months back when there was this who-has-lived-in-more-countries jam-shackery), but I choose to rise above all of that by just being a mahusiv lot better. More creative. More expensive. More awesome. That way there’s no need to compete.

So I have to get busy planning. As if I didn’t already have nuff on my plate!! I know that you, dear readers, appreciate the lengths I go to in sharing my glamorous life with you, and that takes up a lot of my time. Don, au contraire, so doesn’t appreciate. He thinks I just swan around from brunch to pedi to Pilates to high tea to cocktails to dinner to activating my hot moves on the dance floor. He doesn’t seem to get that there’s a great deal going on under the surface. He doesn’t realise that I, like most expat wives, am a swan; elegantly gliding through choppy waters, whilst underneath I’m working my hot a** off just to stay afloat.

Here’s me working my hot a** off with my personal trainer, Eva. It’s surprising how stunning I can look during a workout.

 

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Whirlwind Expat Weekend of Hotness and Roof Terrace Yoga

What a whirlwind weekend, babeses! [Apart from yesterday when I needed to get some rest. I’d paid the help to help on her day off because Don left early for NY, and I deserved a day off myself after all the hard graft of fun-ness. So I focussed on recovering my strength for the week ahead.]

The Fashion Week party on Friday night was awesome. Apparently last year Audi sponsored the whole dang thing, but this year it was left to individual brands to come forward so I think it’s awesome that H&M, out of the goodness of their Scandinavian hearts, donated their main shop on Orchard Road to the great cause. The ground floor was transformed into a nightclub, with DJs and a dance floor and a bar. On the other floors there was all kinds of fun stuff to do, so me and my girlies totes rocked the joint. I went with my friends from Oh My Beagle Couture who make gorgeous dokinis and other glam clothing items for trendy doggies. I’m their best customer! There is no dog trendier than my little Froo Froo (well, maybe that dog I did my amazebobs expat stylee rap about, but her momma was too rude, so the hound loses a bajillion trendy points for that).

The highlight of the evening was this celeb dude from Taiwan spinning the decks. The crowd went crazy. They loved the guy! What I loved about him was that he was mainly playing tracks from the Spotify Fun Workout playlist, so of course I knew all the songs from the hours I spend elegantly pounding the treadmill, and could really get my moves activated in full techno-colour glory.

 
 

I also met a lady who reckoned that her hair was naturally red and mine wasn’t. What now, now?? The photos are on my Facebook page, so I’ll let you decide, dear readers.

On Saturday Don and I took the irritants to the Botanical Gardens, the aquarium, the Science Museum, and Universal Studios. Don wanted to pack in as many good dad treats as poss before escaping to the U.S. I had to leave early for my salon appointment in prep for the ANZA Singapore Orchid Ball (it’s really unfair that men just have to shower, shave and chuck on a suit! No wonder there’s all this gender inequality in the world), so I only really made it to the first part of the day. I had to go when we got to the jelly fish. Which was fine because I find jelly fish truly sick-making. Particularly the ones that look like they’re pooping bits of their tentacles all over each other. Ugh. Humans would never do stuff like that.

Don and I met back at home, and went together to the ball, though we didn’t see much of each other once we were there. We’re just both so busy with our own thing, and I believe it’s important for spouses not to be constantly in each other’s pockets. Liz was hanging around like a bad whorey smell – the smell that Lycra gets in Singapore, yes you know what I’m saying. In fact, whenever I saw Don she was there, but I’m totes cool with it because there’s nothing going on, and I am a strong, powerful, independent woman.

The ball was super doops, really well put together, and everyone looked mega hot. I just love it when people make an effort, so it was v much My Scene. Then this guy sidled up to me, and I thought, “Argh, I know you from somewhere, but like, where??!!” That happens to me all the time, and I’m never sure if I actually know someone or if I dreamt them or they look like someone else or someone on TV or what. And remembering names… Ferget it!! With the number of people I meet every day (like most expats do), I can’t realistically be expected to match faces and names. It was a bit embarassing though because he evidently knew my name, saying, “Hi EJ, great to see you!”

“Oh!”, I said, “Yes, hi… you… great to see you too! How… what… where…?”, I trailed off.

“Seth. Yoga. Tuesday evenings? Every week for the past year..?”, he said with a grin.

“Of course! Yes, I know, Seth hi, how the hell-ski are you?!”, I replied, regaining my perfect composure. He probably hardly noticed that I was scrabbling around inside to figure out htf I knew him. In hindsight, I should maybe have joined the dots a little more speedily because he has quite a memorable look. Like me, is the proud owner of a fabulous hairdo.

Pretty cool hair, huh??!

Pretty cool hair, huh??!

He grabbed us a fresh bottle of bubbles, and we got along mega-well. We have a ton of stuff in common, including the unique hair, and it was so nice chatting. We’re both great listeners, and we’re both really interesting and smart and cool and stylish. Turns out that he’s an uber expat too, so he likes doing what I like doing. He’s an expert in Expaterati issues. We spent a long time discussing travel, green juicing, meditation, yoga (of course!!), gorgeous restaurants and hotels around the globe, and hilarious things on Tumblr; and then I told him about what’s going on with our maybe repatting. He was totes sympathetic, and I realised how nice it was to be talking to someone who just got me. It was like we’d known each other for years. Maybe in a past life??

Then his wife came over. She gave me a Look (?!), and told Seth that she was ready to go home. So we said bye, and I went off to dance with my girlies. My moves were smoking of course, but at the same time my heart wasn’t really in it. I tried to get into my usual party vibe and it just didn’t work. I felt kind of… empty. Flo noticed so she got me another glass of champagne. That didn’t work either : (

I decided that I must be in a temporary inexplicable funk and that I should leave before I tarnished my party babe reputation. Don didn’t want to go, so I got a cab on my own. Once I was home, I regained some of my resilient lustre via the medium of yoga. I took my mat up to the roof terrace and yogi’d it out under the Singapore stars (difficult to stay upright in the tree pose, but I managed it by holding on to the champagne fridge). I really really dig yoga. It’s so good for my chi. I’m looking forward to the class on Tuesday as I do v much want to advance my practice.

 

 

Expat Ex-Wife Flying Solo

1408995526zolbvDespite being the incredibly resilient woman that I am, I’m really feeling quite miserablé about the prospect of returning to the UK. There is a triumvirate (thanks again to M in India for that awesome word!) of reasonation for my woes.

Firstly, the weather. London, of course, has its own micro-climate which makes it that much nicer than the rest of the country, but it is still quite crappy compared to Singas. I can’t get my head around not just chucking on Chanel flip-flops every day as I sashay out the front door, dodging clamouring fans and tourists who want in on my glamorous life. (The lack of clamouring is also not so appealing, which makes me think we should move to a house with one of those lovely blue plaques from English Heritage. I suppose we could just get the plaque made ourselves. I’d quite like one that says Charles Dickens. That would be way cool.)

Secondly, but related to the weather, is the issue of snot-ridden children. As dear readers will know from previous posts , I cannot abide by snot, and like I have said before, Crouch End is positively awash with the stuff. If Max and Milly become one of those children, I don’t know how I am going to cope. I’m all for unconditional love of our irritants, but vile effluvia raises a v real obstacle to that IMO.

Thirdly, and this the the most worrying part of my dire situation: no live-in help! Never mind my ongoing quest for a second helper, at home they have these awful laws about minimum wage and how many hours a person can work which prevent us from having even one live-in. ARGH!! And yet I have two children to look after! It’s terribly unfair because it means that either I do literally nothing else besides irritant and home-related tasks, or I squeeze in other things such as a rewarding job, a social life (which would be a fraction of what it is here), and my gruelling health and beauty regime, in which case I will be perpetually exhausted. I certainly won’t have the time to continue sharing my glamorous life with you, beloved babeses, as I will barely find the time to have a glamorous life : (

I was thinking these thoughts today at the hairdressers, and before I knew what was up-ski, I felt a big sad tear running down my cheek. I must have looked truly tragic because the expat ladeee seated next to me took pity on me, handed me a tissue and asked if I was ok. She was super sweet and reminded me of Angelina Jolie, smiling beatifically as she goes about her charitable missions. It made me think that maybe I should abandon my Kate Middleton smile and channel Angelina instead. Because Angelina is also hot and has a hot hus, so perhaps that would be a good transition for me as part of the repatriation process. I could even switch to her hairdo. Make a fresh start. Become a new repat EJ through being Angelina-ish. Ya think??

The woman told me her name was Katie (LOL #weirdness!!), and said she’d be at the salon for a while, in case I needed someone to talk to. I guess I must have because I started telling her about my life as an expat, my marriage, and my dreadfully difficult predicament of now having to return home against my wishes. The words just tumbled out of me. I even told her about when I thought Don was having an affair, and that now I think he probably surely isn’t, but actually I only probably surely think that because he said I was being ridic.

Katie listened and smiled sadly, saying, “Something quite similar happened to me actually, with my ex-husband. He met another woman here, and said I should go home with the children. I was lucky though, much luckier than some, because my business was going well, and I had just managed to get my own Employment Pass. If I had still been on a Dependent Pass, I would have had no choice but to leave. Tim didn’t want the kids cramping his style with his new relationship, so he did everything he could to persuade me not to stay. It was hard. And hopefully your husband isn’t doing that, but it sounds like what you’re going through is very difficult.”

“It so is, babe!”, I said, “And I really appreciate that you get where I’m coming from. It’s just so hard to talk to my actual friends because, you know, we’re all mainly having an awesome time all the time. And if Don is having an affair, well, that’s just… that’s just… humiliating!! What does it say about me?? Where does it leave me..? What if this whole repat thing is about sending me and the kids home, and he’s secretly planning to do a u-turn and say we’re leaving, but he’s staying?…”

When I started crying again, Katie got up from the chair, her head full of foils, and gave me a hug.

“How did you do it? How did you cope with being so massively humiliated and so horribly dumped… cast aside, like a disgusting old piece of rubbish??”, I asked, sobbing elegantly into her neck.

She gave me another tissue and sat back down, pulling her chair and the head-heater thingie closer to me.

“You will be ok, whatever happens, and you just have to believe that. If he is seeing this other woman – Liz, did you say? – then it’s really not about you as a person, it’s about him. It’s about whatever has changed inside him, not about who you are. And you will get through this. If I did it, anyone can.”

“Ok”, I faltered, unconvinced, “What did you do?”

“I moved to a smaller place with our kids, switched them to local schools, and I worked 70 or even 80 hours a week, for a long long time. Thankfully I was able to keep our wonderful helper. She is like the co-parent for me. Tim has a baby now with the other woman, and he sees our kids every few weeks, but only because I’ve insisted on it. He has only ever contributed the bare minimum, so I really didn’t have much choice. The choice was between going back to a place I hadn’t lived for years, taking the children away from the only home they knew, and seeing their father maybe once a year, as well as me losing the business I had worked so hard on, or doing what I have done. But now it’s a few years down the line, and I’ve been able to hire some people, so work has eased off. I get to spend much more time with the children. And I can even get my hair done once in a while!”

She grinned as she said that, and I wondered what my hair would look like if I could only get it done “once in a while”. As well as what I would feel like if I lived in a tiny flat, and worked for 70 hours a week. Seven zero!! That seems rather a lot.

I was deep in reflection when Katie began speaking again: “But you know, I have learned things about myself through this experience that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. There were days when I thought I couldn’t go on, when I wondered if it was really worth it… when I had a hard time believing that it would all be ok. And I wondered if I had made the right decision, or if I should’ve left. But now I see that it was the right decision, not because it was the easy one, but because it was my decision. No one else’s. I made sacrifices, but they were worth it. For me and for the children. I look at my three little girls, not so little anymore, they’re teenagers ha!… I can’t believe it!!… I look at them and I see three strong, independent-minded, thoughtful young women. And that makes everything we went through worthwhile. So you’ll be ok. Just believe that.”

My hair was finished and my mani-pedi was dry. I wanted to stay and talk to Katie some more, but she said apologetically that she had a conference call, and I thought I had better not cancel my girlies’ date for high tea at Raffles. My hair looked frankly stunning, and thankfully my bullet-proof mascara had not suffered unduly from the emotional journey I had endured with the lovely Angelina doppelgänger.

Facebook Drama!!

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Babeses, a shocking thing has occurred. The week before last I posted a few gorgeous photos of myself on my awesome Facebook page, and one of my “likers” made some unkind, and frankly totes untrue, comments about my physique. So I hastily took steps to remedy the situation and expelled the commentator from my awesome page. I did this in my quest for justice, not at all out of desires for revenge. I’m a lot like Ghandi in that respect. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, and stuff. The intention behind my endeavours is always benevolent and giving, with no expectation of getting anything back. My aim is to generously share my fabulous life, and offer v wise advice from my expert expat perspective. I have never asked for anything in return for what is effectively voluntary service to the Expaterati of Singapore and beyond.

So. Imagine my horror when the expelled commentator (let’s call her Beyoncé – not her real name, but she obv thinks she’s Queen Bee) took it upon herself to set up her own Facebook page, and recruited my haters in retaliation for her expulsion. Yes babeses, I have haters : D! You know you’ve made it when you have haters!!

Her page, “The Most Awesome Expat Page in Singapore”, has grown at an astounding rate, which just goes to show how much I’ve made it if I have that many haters! Go me!! I know this is thusly therefore the case because I have read Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick’s The Art of Social Media.

Now that’s all well and good, because I respect everyone’s right to have and express different/ wrong opinions, and I am not one to belittle the work of others. What I take issue with is the content of her ridic page. Beyoncé basically uses everything I post, and either copies it or shares it like it’s her own (she has blatantly stolen my Mannequin Shenanigans concept), OR, and this is the kicker, she screenshots my material to her page, and attempts to make fun of me!! Of me!!! Mega-LOLs. Or not… She has even started a blog that parodies mine, and every time I publish a new post, she writes her own post about my post!! What now, now?! Hashtag too much time on her hands!, am I right, dear readers??

I, au contraire, have v limited time because I am busy living my glamorous life rather than mocking the lives of others. That’s just not my modus operandi.

As a quick update on said glamorous life, it looks like we are repatting, but still dunno, and am totes not sure how I feel about this. Can life be as glamorous in London? I don’t recall…

Don is also v busy, travelling a lot, and returning home to the irritants like a hero from the battlefields, with gifts and promises of staying up late, and of trips to Universal Studios.

Max’s Minecraft addiction continues apace, and he now does pretty much nothing else. Which is fine because it means we don’t have to worry about keeping him occupied. I heard this fascinating radio prog about kids and Minecraft (apparently it’s a thing in the UK too! Who knew?!), and that’s basically what it concluded too, I think: that if you just give the irritants free-reign with the game, we parents no longer have to suffer the burdensome responsibility of entertaining our children. So that’s great.

Neither Max nor Mills are now kicking Froo Froo dog. It’s partly because of the amazebobs dog therapy she had, and partly because the Froofster and the Millster are currently engaged with their respective modeling careers. High self-esteem is running rampant in our house these days! Froo Froo is doing some fantastic work with Oh My Beagle and Milly decided she wanted to get her career started too, given that she is halfway to five years’ old, and I completely support that. If I had started earlier, I would no doubt have been a super model, and I would’ve saved the photo editors a ton of time because I don’t need a lot of Photoshopping to look hot (as even Beyoncé knows, if she’s honest).

Angel, my step-daughter house-guest, has also been approached to model, but she says she wants to get on in her “own way”. Something about having her own plans?? To do with a thing called YouNow..? #baffed again. Oh well, she seems happy enough, so I keep out of her way. Her mother, Chantelle, is not making much progress it would seem. She still can’t accept the fact that my father has replaced her with a nice old dear in the home, to whom he thinks he has been married for decades. The old dear is a way better match, but Miss Chantilly just doesn’t get it. She’s hanging desperately onto the past as if that would make it come back. Never happens, babeses, am I right? Move on!! That’s my excellent advice.

The helper is acting a bit strangely, and her underwear on the washing line is getting racier by the day. I keep out of that too though. It’s not like she’s my responsibility or anything.

And me, I’m just doing my Thang, having beautiful times, staying hot, being a caring mother and wife, brunching, lunching, dinnering and partying with my Expaterati gangs. Next week I have a modelling job (yes, me!!), and I’m going to the ANZA ball. It’s all go! I’m also super-excited about the elections. Hopefully those nice Conservatives will get in again. I just loved what they did with our income tax rate. Maybe they’ll lower it even more, once they’re in!! And after a few fab years with them, I reckon Boris is a dead cert to be PM in the not too distant. Cannot wait for that! He really is a man of the people. Well, my people anyway.

Expat Baby in a Tutu LOL

On Saturday, between my workout and my night out, we went to our friends’/ neighbours’ house for their baby’s first birthday party. Well I say “neighbours”, but they don’t actually live on Emerald Hill Road. They live in one of the shophouses on Saunders Road, which are for people who didn’t manage to get a place on Emerald Hill. We’re still friends with them though. The couple are both fund managers, so it’s ok. They’re quite nice, plus they’re well connected. When we got to the bday party, Flo told me that Michael Fassbender is the baby’s god father. Pretty cool, babeses!!

Just to clarify for those not so in-the-know, Emerald Hill Road where I live, is a beautiful quiet historic street off Orchard Road (which is Oxford Street/ Madison Ave equiv). EHR has amazing Chinese shophouses on both sides of the road, and lots of fab old trees and birds and stuff. V serene and atmospheric. It used to be a nutmeg farm, which makes it all the more awesome. Saunders Road runs parallel to EHR, and the backs of the Saunders shophouses share an alleyway with the EHR houses. Unlike EHR though, where our view opposite, through a mist of tropical foliage, is more beautiful shophouses, the houses on Saunders look onto… condos. Argh! Sucks to be them!!

We rocked up appropriately late, parked Max in a corner with Minecraft, and sent Mills upstairs to the playroom where the helpers and irritants were. The place was awash with Veuve Click (my kinda party – albeit on Saunders), so I got stuck in. Rude not to. Luke and Joanne, the hosts, had pulled out all the stops for their little baby princess. They had the band from Brix performing in the courtyard pool (!), and they’d flown in Mickey and Minnie Mouses from Hong Kong Disney. Obvioso they were compensating for not living on EHR.

Despite the unfortunate location, their house is gorgeous. I went out of my way to tell Luke and Jo just how gorgeous because I didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable or inferior about not living on Emerald Hill. I was complimenting them therefore thusly, to let them know that it’s no big deal and I don’t mind being friendses with them. I wished I hadn’t been so fervently complimentary though because, when Jo launched into a detailed descriptions of the renovations, it all got a bit dull-ski. She was like, “Yes, it’s so wonderful how the architect… he’s the landlord’s father, did you know that? And the landlord owns Tang’s, you knew that, right?… Well it’s wonderful how he maximised light and air flow, while putting back the original Peranakan features. So many of these houses are dark and overly-reno’d, and we were incredibly lucky to get this one.”

Because I had so authentically feigned interest, Jo then marched me around the house, pointing out the bloody lightness, airy-ness, and Peranakan-ness. Ok so yes, our house is dark, yes there are no original tiles or ornamental ceramic details or whatevs, yes we have the A/Cs running constantly, but hellooo! It’s ON EMERALD HILL ROAD!! So I had to say, “Oh babes, you are so lucky to have found this house! But what a shame it’s not on Emerald Hill! I’m really sorry (did sad face). I’m guessing it was a money thing, right sweets? I totes understand. Nothing to be ashamed of!!”

I backed up these kind words with my best Kate Middleton smile (knowing that Kate was in labour at that v moment, so I was smiling for the both of us, doubting that poor ole Kate was feeling particularly smiley right about then).

“Ha!”, Jo said, “You are too funny! A money thing!! Love it! Have you considered doing stand-up? Your dead-pan is so convincing!”

#confused #baffed

Thankfully, she kept talking.

“I saw a lot of places on both streets, and this one just jumped out at me. Love at first sight. Plus, on Saunders we don’t get so many tourists poking their noses through the gates and taking photos. That’s gotta be annoying, isn’t it?”

[Um, no. It’s AWESOME that people want to see into my house and find out about my glamorous lifestyle, and take pix, and love me because they love my house.]

“OHMYGOD yes, babes!”, I replied. “It is like soooooo annoying. I’m constantly pushing tourists out of the way just to get to my front door! I have to tell them, Guys, I’m just a regular lady trying to go about my bizniz, and peacefully coexist with you people, so will you pull-eeeeze make some space and let me get inside my house to my regular life of chilling by the pool on my roof terrace?? So so SO annoying!! But then they want selfies with me, and ask if I’m a natural redhead, and I’m like YES, boring!! Honestly, some days I think argh, why didn’t we just settle for a place on Saunders?! It gets embarrassing, you know??”

Jo laughed. And laughed. And laughed. And said again that I should do stand-up. What now, now??

When the baby came down in her birthday outfit for the cake, speeches and singing thing, I started laughing. The baby was wearing a pink tutu!! Have these people not heard of parentally-assigned gender stereotyping?! Lol, and they’re supposed to be such smarty-pantses!! Haha, it just made me laugh. Surely it had to be a joke. Hence my laugh-age…

Until I noticed that no one else was laughing and Flo dug me in the ribs, saying, “Fassbender at nine o’clock”. I glanced down at my hot Rolly to see that it was only 5.50pm, so I shot Flo a piercing look conveying, “Wtf are you talking about, it’s only 5.50, and that baby looks ridic, and my glass is empty so ffs if you see a waitress send her my way, and gosh I hope Kate is doing ok and has a girl…”

Flo totes Got It, as she always does. Within seconds, the staff were pouring me a re-fill. Praise be to the Flo-ster. Then this unbelievably hot guy starts making a speech about “my god daughter” and how fabulous she looks in her tutu. Next was the cake thing.

Just as the baby was about to singe her face, blowing out the candle, someone shouted, “It’s a girrrrrrrrrl!!!!”

So everyone got out their phones, and my goodness, how delighted we all were that Kate had had a girl!! What a great day for Brits everywhere. It was basically the best news everrrr.

Which meant that the bday princess somewhat had her moment ruined, but what do you expect when you live on Saunders? I’m sorry, that’s just how it is.

Luke and Jo tried their hardest to bring the party back to the baby in the tutu, while I realised that I’d only prepped myself for a sweet little neighborhood gathering, and hadn’t known I’d be in the presence of a celebrity hawttie. So I dashed upstairs, took a quick shower, re-did my face with Jo’s make-up, and sifted through her wardrobe for something sexier. I selected a fabulous Donna Karan outfit, and although Jo is a size up on me, it fit perfectly. I looked divine.

When I went back downstairs, Jo said, “Wow, you brought other clothes with you?! Haha!!! I love that, you’re hilarious! OMG, I have that exact same outfit! Donna Karan, right?”

Ya, whatevs babes.

I elegantly sashayed my way over to the hot guy (who had to be Michael) and introduced myself, “Hi! I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Emma-Jane, but call me EJ. I live on the better street. You should totes pop by some time, while you’re here. And I’m going out tonight to a great club with my girlies. Why don’t you come along?!”

He looked v impressed by my hotness, and I could tell that he was a tad overwhelmed when he said, “Hey, great to meet you! … Sorry but I just need to go over there, um away from you. God father duties, you know how it is, so ok, g’bye!”

It was a beautiful encounter, and it made me realise that, as much as he wanted to stay and chat with me, he had to make the ultimate celebrité sacrifice. He really had no choice but to attend to his duties. What an amazing, giving, self-sacrificing man he is.

All in all, it was a great party, and just because Michael couldn’t come out afterwards, it was still a terrific afternoon on Saunders Road. Well done our neighbours for making the best of their difficult circumstances.

 

Emerald Hill Road

Emerald Hill Road

 
 

Saunders Road

Saunders Road

The Limbo State of the Expat Wife

As expat wives assuming the trailing spouse position (which can be compared to luuuurv positions, but the individual context determines which one), over the years we say stuff like this a lot: “We find out next week/ month/ year what’s happening”. A move will be “on the cards”, or “highly likely”, or “potentially possible” for a long time, and then it will suddenly become REALITY. Or, equally suddenly, the expected location will become an entirely different location. From one day to the next.

So this means that we have a whole bunch of simultaneous arghs and yays going on, colliding with each other, and competing for space in the saner parts of our minds. Some of those arghs and yays don’t make it over to the saner parts, and wreak all kinds of havoc in the insane parts. Yes, babeses, let’s just take a moment to honour the insane parts. Just because we’re hot, it doesn’t mean we’re not human!

First, there’s the horror of losing our friendses: our Expaterati gang. The ladies and dudes who have made our lives fabulous while our husbands have been away, while our irritants have driven us to drink even beyond Veuve Click, while our helpers have baffed us, and while the stresses and strains of maintaining Skype relationships have proven too much to bear.

Then there’s the awful practical matter of the inventory, when you realise how much totes essential stuff you have accumulated, and you’re loathe to part with. Do you really need those brightly-coloured hippie baggy pants (in the American translation, not the Brit) you bought in Vietnam, when you had an awesome tan and all the world was groovy?? Hells ya! But the more you keep, the more you have to account for on that effing list.

In amongst that, for those with young irritants, is the tragic saying goodbye to their clothes and toys. So that’s like knocking another nail into the coffin of galloping ageing and eventual death. No point taking it with you if you’re not having any more kids… But to have to decide that all at once now, and have it sink in, at the same time as everything else..?! That’s hard core loss stuff, dear readers.

And then there’s the next location. We can get so swamped by the practical issues that need urgent resolution (which property, which area, which gym, where the best pedis are, which school, etc.) that we forget how deva’d (devastated) we are about leaving the previous place behind. If that’s how we roll, and so often we do, the deva kicks in 6-12 months down the line, and we find ourselves in the supermarket or at home in our new house, in floods of tears, thinking, “I hate this place!!”

If the move is a move “home”, to the place you lived before and where your passport says you’re from, you are officially a Repat. Don’t expect any sympathy. Other than from me!! I am here to give you tons of sympathy because when you repat, you might not slot right in where you left off, and I totes feel your pain.

When you get to the next place, you will be in a big hurry to settle in. My awesomest advice is: slow TF down. The sooner you think you’ve arrived, the worster you’ll feel if the downer kicks in. Best to anticipate the downer, and everything else is a win.


It’s not easy to feel out of control of your own destiny. Yes, we trailing spouses – male or female – make it look easy. But that is because we make it a daily practice. All trailing spouses should develop a mindfulness-based meditation practice, preferably in the presence of a Buddha water feature and a nice nag champa burn. This approach should be combined with having as much fun as possible at all times, and realising that we, we polished gems, know that this too will pass. Everything now is gone in the tiny whisper of a breathe. Savour each breathe, babeses.

So are we leaving or repatting? Argh, I dunno yet! Don continues negotiating with the gods. I’m off to do thousands of burpees with Eva, and tonight I’m heading out with my girlies. What better way to spend the limbo?

Image: http://www.records.fruityfamily.com/?p=55

Image: http://www.records.fruityfamily.com/?p=55

Expat Parenting Musings on Bintan

We’re having an amazing time on Bintan. Don and I aren’t really speaking to each other, but we’re still having an amazing time. The irritants are loving the kids’ club, and Angel has found some teen buddies via Yik Yak (what now, now??), so it’s all awesome. The pedis here are just incrediblé. You’d think a pedi is just a pedi… But come here (I won’t mention the name of the hotel spa because I refuse to ho myself), and you will find that Pedicure takes on a whole new meaning. Not just a meaning… an unending promise of a divine lifestyle via feets. All that, captured in a rapturous hour and a half of bliss, experienced as a wave of unforgettable communion with one’s soul and true self. Yes, babeses. Yes.

Apart from that, in my free time, I’ve been thinking about how annoying children are.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totes in heart with Max and Mills. But I was reclining hotly in the sun today, tossing ground-breaking ideas around my powerful brain, as I often do, and I found myself scrolling forward a hundred years from now. I thought about how women are already not that into staying at home to look after the little people. We carry them for nine months (almost ten in my case: Max was like, “No way I’m going out there”), have our bodies naturally ripped to shreds or unnaturally sliced to pieces, and then choose to breast-feed or not, co-sleep or not, baby-led wean or not, with a bunch of people telling us that what we’re doing is SOOOOO the wrong thing, regardamento-less of what we actually decide to do.

And I am starting to think that some time soon, when parents stop lying about how hard this parenting lark is, having children will become a job. Like it always has been for the default parent. I’m lucky enough to have full-time help, so there is no default parent in my case, thank eff. It sounds awful!

You may well doubt my words, but I predict that by the time our babies are fully grown, privileged peeps will start to realise the full extent of the major hell of having children. There will be the stalwarts who elect voluntationally to reproduce – they will be the exception – but beyond that, parenting will be a career which few will choose, and not everyone will be entitled to sign up for. And truesome, not everyone should be entitled to sign up for this job. Despite being an amazebobs mother myself, if I’d been tested for my commitment to child-rearing in advance, I am not totes certain that I would’ve passed. Even me!! Which is cool because some days I just want to board a plane for Vegas and have nothing else to worry about. I dunno, babeses. Maybe it’s just me.

It can’t just be me though because there’s some weird stuff going on with kids, parenting, and prevarication.

No one tells a first-time pregnant woman what it’s really going to be like, am I right? We all just smile, congratulate, and talk about the gooey stuff.

And once the kids are here on Earth, no one would ever ever EVER think they wish their kid hadn’t been born – let alonio say it ffs – except in We Need to Talk About Kevin, and that’s like one million % fiction. So no, that thought would never occur to ANY parent, no matter how delirious they are from their infant’s non-sleepage, or how tortured they feel by their teenager’s general demeanor.

So, of course, we wouldn’t wish the irritants gone once they’re here. I just wonder if there might be a huge vault of private struggle around raising kids that was never talked about in our parents’ generation (I have a vague recollection of hearing my mother blaming my father for me “being born at all”, but surely it was a dream); which those in my more open-minded peer group are now discussing. Well, I say discussing. I mean Googling. It’s all being written about on the Huff, so there’s really no need to enter into potentially embarrassing conversations about parenting in person, particularly with close friends. Best not to jeopardise close friendships by revealing too much about our children’s humiliating failures.

It’s all of this that leads me to the de facto conclusion that, pretty soon, young adults will just want to get on with their lives on Instagram or YouNow or Vine, or whatevs those things have evolved into; and they’ll be so busy with that stuff that they won’t want to have kids unless they’re paid for it. No point otherwise! Like how the increased availability of porn (not a good thing!) has resulted in a drastic reduction in teenage pregnancy (a good thing!). You and I, dear readers, are very young and in-the-now ourselves, but the mindset of these web-fluenced floozies we are raising is a separate quagmirification from whence we emerged.

I for one am not going to roll over and play dead. I’ll be hiring a team of teenage girls and boys as my social media informants when Milly hits 12. She’s four now, so in the meantime I’ll get on with my gruelling self-maintenance schedulepartying with my crew, and doing exactly what the hell I want to do, whenever I want to do it. Selfies and all other manifestations of what cousin Clara the psychologist calls “narcissism” are only stupid when kids do them. Just ask Frida Kahlo, Clara says. (No idea what she means.)

Bisous from Bintan XXX

A place to let the mind wander NAMASTE

A place to let the mind wander
NAMASTE

Getting Things Off My Perky Expat Chest

I have a couple of things on my perky D-cup chest today that I need to get off it (studies show that anxiety is 253.7% worse for saggage than breast-feeding), and chanting hasn’t helped at all. My morning green smoothie with organic kale, beetroot, coconut water of course, and red dragon fruit did help a bit, but then I got a text from Chantelle*. Hence Thing Number One on my chest.

“Can we speak, Ems? XO”, read the text.

Ems now, is it?! I think I’ve been too convincing about pretending to like her. Ugh.

When I bit the bullet and gave her a call, she said that it’s all getting much worse with my father’s dementia. She told me that he had a few moments of lucidity recently which gave her hope, but then he descended into a “worse place than before”. OMG, that use of the word “place” to describe a state of mind! I’m sure people say it just to piss me off!! It sounds great when I use it to express the beautiful empathic side of myself, but most people, let’s be honest, can’t carry it off like I can. Cannot, lah.

I thought she was going to follow with her usual woe-is-me modus operandi of: I can’t take it that my husband doesn’t recognise me and thinks he’s married to someone else bla bla bla, self-pityage diatribe. But no! Instead she told me something designed purely to upset me.

“Ems”, (puke), “I wasn’t sure whether to tell you or not, but you’ve been so open and giving towards me – offering to have Angel come to stay and all – so I feel like I owe it to you to be honest.”

Babes, I wanted to say, I didn’t offer to take in your waif ‘n stray wayward daughter. You totes guilted me into it!!

Before I could clarify the situation, and maybe even back out of the whole unwanted teenage house-guest business, Ms Chantilly continued.

“The thing is that there was this moment when your dad seemed like his old self again” – yeah, too right, OLD! And what’s a young piece of A like you doing with a rich OLD guy..? Hmmmm, allow me to a’ponder a mo… –

“And he was so sweet. He thanked me for being a wonderful wife, and honestly, I could’ve cried, it’s been so long since he’s been like that. But then he said the most terrible thing. And I don’t want to tell you, but I think you have a right to know, Ems.”

(FFS, woman! Don’t you see that I don’t care what you have to say?! Just stop calling me Ems!!!)

“He said… he said”, Chantelle started sobbing. V much back to her predictable MO, then.

“He said, Ems, that I’ve been a better wife to him than your mother ever was, with all her other men! Those are his words, hon, not mine. I’m so sorry to break it to you like this. But I thought you should know… Oh, wait… but maybe you know already! God, sorry!! You’re so close to your mum, you probably do know! I’m sure she had her reasons… with whatever was happening… all that moving around… must’ve taken its toll on the marriage, and… like you’re always saying, expat marriages can be so challenging, and…”

Chantelle was floundering around like a big fishy flounder, so I took the opportunity to interject. I arose from the silk-upholstered Georgian chaise longue upon which I had unknowingly reclined, and said, “Babes, of course I knew that! You shouldn’t be stressing about it. Yeah, Mum-ski and me are totes BFFs! She tells me everything”.

Chantelle then went into full-on embarrasada mode, thanked me again for “inviting” Angel to live with us, and, praise be to all that’s holy and decent, got the eff off the phone.

So now I know a heretofore unknown fact about yet another person, but a way less fun one than the others. It’s super fun knowing that Michelle is married to a filthy cheater, and that Liz is a husband-stalker with vagenitical cunticulitis; but this new issue of my own mother being a ho…??

I’m totes not sure how I feel about that.

 


 

Pushing the thought swiftly to one side because it’s so horrendously unthinkable, Thing Number Two that I’ve been argh-ing about is this global problem of airbrushed and photoshopped images messing with my little Milly’s head. It is NOT OK that a four-year-old girl falls over in the middle of the night, trying to “work it” with a thigh gap. Not ok at all!!

I am therefore thusly thinking about using my immense influence as a celebrité blogger to levy a campaign for a “fake scale” rating to be put on images in the meeja (media, babeses). A little bit airbrushed would be a one on the fake scale, and huge chunks cut off bodies would be fake-scaled at five. Genius, right? My idea. I know. Amazebobs.

Only prob is that I don’t know if I really have time to take on a global initiative of this magnitude. Probly, I spose. But will it interfere with my gruelling self-maintenance schedule??

Arghamundo, it’s so tricky being a parent, and a mentalist thought has just popped into my lovely, mysterious brain that maybe I should put my daughter’s needs before mine… Would that be coolio?? Has anyone else had that ground-breaking thought? Relate much??

If I’m going to do this thing, I can’t do it alone. I’ll need all of you – yes, everyone in my (philandering) mother’s aqua aerobics group, and the scrabble group too, and beyond! – to help me launch the campaign. If you’re in, please drop me a line in the comments or email me. Click share on the post if you know anyone who’s up for an awesome mission. I think we need a fab logo and catch-phrase, and I’m happy to use hot pics of myself to really draw a crowd. Hot pics that are only slightly airbrushed, and I will of course apply the fake scale to myself : )

I’m pretty lucky though. I really don’t need a lot of fake to bake. I’m sizzling already! This pic is a zero on the fake scale, my loves. ZERO.

 

Zero on #thefakescale

Zero on #thefakescale

 

 

 

* She’s my father’s trophy bride, FYI.

Only Alcoholics Shouldn’t Drink in the Morning

After my transformational parenting experience the other night, I bounded into Milly’s room on the morning of our trip to get her dressed, for the first time ever on a non-Sunday, and to help her finish packing. I wanted to reassure her that she is beautiful despite not having a thigh gap, so I was a bit disappointed to find her room empty, completely tidy, and her suitcase all packed.

“No mattery!”, I thought to myself, being the tremendously resilient person that I am, and off I cantered downstairs to make breakfast for my sweet children – another first for a non-Sunday, go me!! I was in such a good mood that I decided to make pancakes, of all things! I know!! Ambitious, but that’s me all over, as you know, dear readers.

I could see from the state of the kitchen (argh! So not Downton, babeses!! Cannot get the staff, lah) that the helper had already made pancakes; and there was apparently no one in the house other than Don, up in his office. I waved charmingly to him through the windows off the courtyard, but he didn’t see me as he was engrossed in the screens on his desk. He works so hard, bless him. Even on days that are technically holidays. Of course he’s being stalked by another bird. Who wouldn’t stalk a man like Don?

I rang the helper and discovered that she had taken both kids to the skate park off Orchard for a scoot. “Oh well, no mattery”, I thought again, “I can still… umm, I can still”… And that’s where I totes drew a blank. I had yet another weird, as yet unidentified feeling, and the strangest thing popped up in my pretty head: the empty space in our glamorous ensuite bathroom from a few weeks ago. That awful emptiness where, as it turned out, my designer loo brush had been (since then, happily replaced with even lovelier water closet ware). What now, now? Why would that vile thought invade my so sane brain?

To exorcise the unpleasant image, I walked from room to room for a while, looking for something useful I could do. Something motherly perhaps. Drawing a mega zero, I found myself by the wine fridge, and although I would never dream of drinking at 9.37 in the morning, I realised that it was a day of celebration. Chinese New Year! Gong Xi and all that!! So I opened a bottle of Veuve to toast all those gazillion nice Chinese people out there, particularly our Chinese hosts in lovely Singapore. Rude not to, and we weren’t leaving for Penang until the afternoon.

Sitting in our rooftop pool with my champers and my Facebook newsfeed for company, I stopped feeling all those ugh feelings. What’s the big dealio with morning celebrational beverages anyhoo? Nothing, right babeses? Anyone who thinks there’s a problem is ridic and crazybobs, and must have a drink prob themselves. It’s pure projection, which is v nasty stuff.

I must’ve dozed off on a lounger (due to my late night of being a great mother) because the next thing I knew, the helper was standing over me, saying, “Ma’am, Sir is looking for you. We are leaving now on the vacation”.

Argh!! I sprang into action (concealing the empty bottles in the ornamental pool towel cupboard – the helper can be so judgmental), threw the last few bikinis and lippies into my ludicrously expensive Rimowa suitcase, put on my gorgeous travelling outfit (it’s important to look one’s hottest when travelling, particularly as a celebrité blogger), and sloped elegantly to the front door, just as the limo cab was pulling up outside. I’m so good at travelling. I can do it like the back of my hand.

We really had a great time in Penang. This trip, unlike Chrimbo in Boracay, we took the help with us. I told Don that if he stuck to his “family holidays are for family” policy, Froo Froo Dog might well poop in his car. Accidentally, of course. That dog is so bold now, since her amazebobs therapy session : ).

We came back today on an early flight – early enough to attend a fab free-flow lunch date at the Westin with our Expaterati crew, and everyone was enthralled by my tales of our super lovely hol. I do totes heart Malaysia. I can see where they’re going with the whole “truly Asia” thing. I think it’s a little misleading though, because increasingly it’s more “truly Middle East”. Which is also awesome because I totes heart Dubai too.

 

Where we didn't stay in Penang.  Anyone with a proven track record in marketing, PLEASE contact these chaps.

Where we didn’t stay in Penang.
Anyone with a proven track record in marketing, PLEASE contact these chaps.

 

 

New Parenting Happenings For a (Chinese) New Year

Image

It’s Chinese NY and – although I totes can’t relate because we’ve already had a new year, so it just feels wrong – I have made an effort to get into the spirit of things. I’ve been to China Town to get lanterns, bought oranges for the neighbours, and had my nails arted-up with gorgeous tiny goat figures on them.

For the holiday, we’re off to Penang tomorrow, to stay in a spa hotelee (with kids’ club!) and to buy some awesome paintings and whatevs. I spent most of yesterday trying to pack, but didn’t really get much done because I had to go to Pilates, and get a wax, and do the nail-art. And I had a lunch with Anastacia, and a dinner with my gay BFF and his amazebobs fun-tastic crowd.

Late last night when I got home, I heard a loud thud from Milly’s bedroom. I went up to see what all the kerfuffle was about, and there was Mills, looking quite distraught. She was wearing a bikini (which, might I add, I did not buy for her), and lying in a pile of clothes, magazines, and handbags, next to her full-length mirror.

“What happened, Mills??”, I asked, in the most motherly tone I could muster at that time of the evening on a tummy full of Chinese food and Sauv Blanc.

“I fell over, Mummy. I was thinking about what to bring on holiday, and looking in the mirror to see how I could look thinner. So I was all bending and stuff, and trying to get a thigh gap. And then I fell over. And I couldn’t even get a thigh gap!”

Argh, what now, now? What does my little tub of Mills want with a thigh gap? How does she even know what that is??

A strange feeling of intense disquietude came over me, and I realised that it was something I almost never feel. It was sadness. (Ugh, hate that!) Then came another astounding revelation: I felt sad because Milly felt sad! Now we all know that I am hugely empathetic, having done a six-month counselling course, but feeling sad because my daughter felt sad?! That’s a new one on me. She cries all the time, and generally it’s just irritating.

“But what do you want a thigh gap for, darling? You’re so beautiful as it is”, I said, shocked to find that I had a tears in my eyes, and that I truly, for the first time ever, saw that my little girl is beautiful.

[OMG, but this parenting mellarky gets emotional!! Why was I not warned about this?]

Mills pulled out one of the magazines, and, pointing at page after page of photos, said, “No, Mummy. I’m not beautiful. They are. And they have thigh gaps”.

Next on my roller coaster of emotions, a different feeling crept up, though I’m not sure what it was. (Must ask Cousin Clara.)

“Milly”, I told her, “These pictures aren’t real! You know about photoshopping, right, because you learn it at daycare, ya? These pictures might as well be cartoons! They’re just Frozen without the nice songs”.

I helped her into her pyjamas, dried her tears (mine too!), and tucked her up in bed.

“You’re real, and you’re lovely just as you are, and every day you get lovelier and lovelier. Now you have a good sleep, and some sweet dreams, and tomorrow you will feel better. It’ll all be ok.”

Then I did something I’ve never done – golly, what a day of firsts! – I sat with her in bed, stroking her hair, and I sang little songs until she fell asleep.

I probably haven’t mentioned it, but I do have an awesome singing voice.

I went down to our ensuite to get ready for bed, and yet again, a ton of products fell off the slippery shelves, crashing onto the floor. Why does that always happen to me?

When I got into bed, Don was awake – due to the slippery shelves – and asked if something was wrong.

“No babes, everything’s fine. Sorry about the noise. I’ll phone the landlord in the morning about the shelves. It’ll all be ok.”

Shocking Expat Unfoldments, Part Two

As you will be painfully aware from Part One of my shocking unfoldments last week, there remain a further two shocking unfoldments of which I must divulge myself.

The upshot of the first is that my teenage step-sister Angel will be moving in with us in the near future. How exactly that came about, I do not totes understand, but Don is all for it. Between him and Angel’s unhinged mother, I am officially outnumbered : (

And so to item two: the toilet brushes debacle. I was not alone in thinking that it was the helper who had taken all of my designer water closet ware and sold them via the Real Singapore Expat Wives Classified Facebook group – was I, Momma’s View? No, I was not.

The helper did seem to be behaving particularly shiftily when I raised the issue with her, but I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. I’ve been listening to the Serial podcasts, and I felt I could do well to adopt the journalist presenter’s argh-I-just-dunno attitude; if only as good practice in the event that I go into investigatory journalism. I would be fab at that, given my legal background, and there must be a ton of stuff happening among the Expaterati that I could delve to the bottom of.

So during my presumption of helper innocence, and my consequent investigations re other possible suspects, I made myself get up unusually early last Friday, in order to gently probe the pool guy. He comes twice a week, but I rarely see him as his visit coincides with the irritants getting ready for school, which is a stress that I prefer to avoid.

My strategy of subtle probing with Mo, said pool guy, was to force him to drink three cups of tea in rapid succession, and then suggest he use the guest lav (the one where the single, much cheaper temporary replacement brush is now stationed). What I intended to do next was to nonchalantly apologise for the un-stylish toilet brush that he would no doubt have clocked, and closely observe his unconscious reactions. A tick, perhaps. A sudden flinch. Indirect eye contact. A powerful desire to change the subject, or just general defensiveness.

As I stood in the kitchen, waiting for Mo to emerge from the loo, I happened to notice that Milly (four-year-old daughter, not thus far under suspicion) was running out the door to catch her bus, in possession of a brand new baby Burberry’s handbag.

“Wait, Mills! STOP!!“, I called after her, and dragged her back out of the bus, our helper in my wake.

“What precisely is that, and where on this earth did you get it from?!”, I demanded in, like, quite a low-key way.

Milly looked nervously at me, then at the helper, and then at me. And then at the helper. And then at me.

“Auntie got it for me”, she said, pointing at the help.

Ah ha, I thought so!! It was her all along! So much for presumed helper innocence. It was only 7.56 in the morning, and already I had cracked the case. Take that, Serial!! (There’s a second season, and it’s not solved yet?? What now, now?!)

“Off you go then, lovely Mills”, I said, giving my little girl a huge motherly hug (that I got a nice pic of to put on FB to show how amazebobs I am at this mothering thing).

“Have a gorgeous day! Super handbag by the way, babes!”, I added for good measure, as the bus door closed.

WELL. As you can imagine, dear readers, I had to have some very strong words with the helper that morning.

Taking everything I know about police interviews, I asked the helper to sit opposite me at the kitchen table, and proceeded to simultaneously embody both good cop and bad cop, as follows.

“So. Milly says you got her the Burberry bag. But that can’t possibly be true, because with my eagle eye, I noticed that it’s not a fakee, so there’s no way you could afford it on the pittance we pay you*”, I said as good cop, continuing, “and anyway, I know that you are a very honest woman. You will, of course, tell me the truth. I have some cake here for you that I will give you just as soon as this matter is resolved”.

“Ma’am”, she stammered, guiltily, “I’m sorry… I am not the one who gave the bag to Milly… I…” –

At this point, I cut her off because I needed to switch to bad cop. I stood up to my full towering 5’10 height and said, “Ok, you just tell me where she got it from then because from where I’m sitting… standing… this isn’t looking so great for you! All I have to do is call the MOM, book a cab to Changi, and you’re outa here, babes! You know that, right?!”

With irritating predictability, she started to cry. Yes, dear readers, with only a single round of good cop bad cop enacted dichotomy, she was putty in my hands. Ugh. I wish people would stop crying at me.

“Ma’am, I’m so sorry, I didn’t get the bag for Miss Milly. She said you gave her money to buy! I only went with her to Paragon.”

My expert knowledge of body-language told me that the help was speaking the truth, but I wasn’t going to let her off that easily.

“Well, where did she get the money from then?!”, I demanded, harshly, but fairly I think, under the circumstances.

“I think… I don’t know, but I think… Maybe she sometime uses the Internet..? Sometime maybe on her iPad Mini, maybe at friend’s house..?”

In my agile mind, the pieces began to fall into place. I could literally feel the network connections sparking inside my awesome brain (thanks to the two-year neuroscience MSc I audited), and I knew immediately what I had to do.

I went onto the classifieds page where I had seen my loo brushes for sale – when I was too distraught to notice details, which is because of the shut-down that transpires in the amygdala in the event of extreme anxiety – and there on the screen was the name of the vendor: Milly Austen-Jones. O.M.Geee.

It’s a few days later now, and I have yet to raise the issue with the Millster (she’s an exorcist head-spinning nightmare when she’s upset), but I had such a super nice weekend on Nikoi Island with my girlies that maybe I won’t bother. So what if I nearly had the helper jailed or deported? My chi is in a fantastic place today, and Milly is loving her bag. I have to say that she has impeccable taste, and her entrepreneurial spirit is commendable . She not only created a Facebook profile, at four years of age, but she got herself onto a group too! That’s my giiiiirl!!

Maybe she’s not so irritating after all.

Part three of my expat unfoldments is somewhat less palatable. But the nice thing about it is that it can’t possibly be truesome.

Photo credit: www.bergdorfgoodman.com

Photo credit: www.bergdorfgoodman.com

 

* Not that we do pay her a pittance. We pay her twice the going rate. I’m not having any staff of mine going round the island saying they’re inadequately waged!

Mummy’s Expat Visit

Well, it has been an idyllic few days, now that Mummy is with us, in the bosom of our happy little family. Except Friday, that is. Her first full day here, I was really terribly ill, so I had to stay in bed until dinner time. I totes don’t know what was wrong, but I was completes knocked for sixes. It can’t have been the sangria because nothing red ever disagrees with me due to the de facto fact that red things synergise with my hair. Perhaps it was a 12-hour mini-bout of the dreaded mycoplasma. I just don’t know.

My absence was no prob though. It turns out that Mummy, too, has a new BFF: our helper! Argh!! Embarrassando!!! I hope it won’t get out among the Singas Expaterati. (I can see from my WordPress stats that I have almost no readers in Singapore, so I’m sure it’ll be fine.)

Although Mummy visited us twice previously, it was when we had our old helper, Maria, so she hadn’t met the current one. Unfortunately, we had to let Maria go. The problem was that Milly’s first word was “Maria”. Lordy knows, I tried to overlook the matter, I really did. I thought for a long while that Milly had a speech impediment (inherited from Don, presumably), and that she was trying to say, “Mummy”, but it kept coming out as, “Maria”. Eventually it became clear that this was not at all the case. So Maria had to go. I didn’t tell the children (or Maria, until the cab had arrived to take her to the airport while Max and Mills were at school), and I immediately hired a replacement who met my requirements, including lactation. I can’t bear the sight of clinging, crying children. It super upsets me.

Anyhoo, back to the now.

For some reason, Mummy had reverse jetlag, and woke up on Friday morning full of beans, and raring to go. Once the children were packed off, Mummy asked the helper if she could give her a refresher tour of a few places: China Town, Arab Street, and Little India. They also did the fab boat ride from Robertson Quay down to the Merlion, and somehow managed to squeeze in lunch at… wait for it… a Philippine restaurant at Lucky Plaza!!! Utter weirdness, given how many fabulous eateries there are here. She hadn’t let on, but apparently my mother has been learning Tagalog in her extremely ample free time. What now, now?!!

So the disgraceful upshot is, she and the help are bezzie mates, which I find mega-inappropes, and I know you’ll agree with me, dear readers (comments always welcome, PLEASE I AM BEGGING YOU TO COMMENT. WHAT DO YOU WANT, BLOOD?!!). I only heard about all of this when I sashayed down the stairs in my negligée on Friday evening, to find the two of them and the children in fits of laughter, speaking Tagalog! Mummy started to reel off the details of their day, and I told the helper, in no uncertain terms, to get back to work, and put Max and Milly to bed immediately. Froo Froo dog looked as relieved as I felt, once the irritants had been spirited away to the upper floors. I couldn’t have all that loud laughing and speaking helper-lingo. The adjoining courtyards in shophouses create a noise vacume, and we have highly auspicious neighbours on both sides because that’s the type of person who lives in my area. What would they think??

I considered having a word with Mummy to explain that this new found friendship of hers is totes not on, but then she produced all the stuff I’d asked her to get me from Harvey Nix, and I remembered what a sweet and doting mummy she truly is. I suggested going out for a slap-upski dinner somewhere, my treat, but bless her, her reverse jetlag had re-reversed itself, and she said she needed to get her beauty sleep. And from what I saw, she really mega did.

We finished our lovely chat about everything she had brought for me – we bond so well over Alexander McQueen – and she tootled off to bed in our Shangrila guest room. I wasn’t tired though, and the mini-mycoplasma had miraculously cleared up. I checked Facebook and saw that CJ was at a bar on my street (he’s an avid FB poster, which I LUUUUV), so I popped on some slap and killer heels, and off I went for another night of the usuo awesome fun-ness. I knew I couldn’t be out too late because of Milly’s birthday party the next day, but I can totes hold my bevvies, so two bars and a pool party later I can honestly say that I was FINE when I got home at 4. About 4. It was probably 4.

Mills’ party in the kiddie area of the Marina Bay Sands casino was nothing short of the best Expaterati kiddie party everrrrr. All of my genius fantastico plans worked out exactly as strategised, and the glam mummies in attendance so obvioso knew that the bar has now been raised to FEEERGET IT, IT’S IMPOSS TO BEAT THIS, BABY!!!! It was written all over their faces. Who says that botulism prevents authentic expression?? I’m so intuitive and empathic though, perhaps only I could have picked it up. (If I become a celebrity instead of a life coach, will all my wisdom be wasted? Shame, as my beautiful mucho-loved South African moved to Canada friend would say. Mwa Mwa, luv ya!)

The party was amazebobs, and probably the best one of the decade past, as well as the decade to come. At 6 PM the children (and my mother) got shipped out in limos and SUVs, so that the mummies could have a proper chat about helpers, husbands, handbags, and holidays. I’d booked an after-party table at Ku Dé Ta, which, according to my sources, was supposed to be next to where David Becks was dining. The Beckster was nowhere to be seen, but who should I encounter in the lift up..? The doors swooshed open at the 33rd floor, and there stood Will.

I’m so exhausto now that I can barely type. I’ll have to get back to you about what happened Sat night. Plus Don just got home from his trip, so I’d better go be the wifey. You know what I’m saying, Expaterati ladeeees!!!!

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Hanging With My Expaterati Crew on an Average Sunday Avo

Considering that weekends are the worst time of the week for an expat wifey, this one hasn’t been too shabby.

I got a good chunk of time at the gym and by the pool yesterday, because Don took our spoilt little people to see Penguins of Madagascar at the Platinum Suites. Unfortunately, he forgot to take jumpers for them, to counter the fierce A/C, so even with the duvets, Milly got frostbite in one of her toes (which has curtailed her kicking of Froo Froo dog, so it’s not all bad), and Max came home with a nasty runny nose. UGH. I cannot stand snotty children. That was one of my reasons for wanting to exchange London for Singapore’s climate: so many snotsville children. Crouch End is positively awash with kiddie nose juice.

One problem with this climate though is the sweating. I don’t do it myself, of course, but lots of people do, most notably FMAWG*. Their petite Asian girlies don’t seem to mind, which is v odd because:

1. They don’t sweat themselves. Even in my Bikram class (that’s hot yoga, to my dear non-yogi readers).
2. Asian blokies also don’t do it.

So, I am serioso at a loss because why would you want to cross over to the FMAWG team, when your own team doesn’t do the disgusting sweating? Wait. Oh yes, silly me… KA-CHING!!! Haha, what was I thinking : )?!

Anyhoo, so in the evening we left Max and Mills with the help, dashing quickly out the door amidst sounds of hysterical crying from Milly about her toe, and sneezing from Max. Crikey-O-Riley, it was good to get out!! We went to Din Tai Fung for dinner – my current fave food go-to. I think I’m addicted to dumplings!! I can’t get enough of them (hence the extra gym time, babeses). I might need to spend a week or two at a detox farm in the Philippines next year, to de-dumpling myself!

In the last two weeks, I’ve been to every branch on the island at least once. I was a bit bummed at the Sentosa one though. They charge for water! Bit of a low blow, given that Singapore has such amazebobs tap water.

Then yesterday after Max’s golf and Milly’s ballet (golly, it was an uphill struggle forcing her into her point shoes with that frostbitten toe!), we went to the Tanjong Beach Club with our Expaterati Crew. Every expat should have a crew to hang out with, preferably several different ones, but one really solid one will do. We rocked up early enough for the family slot, and then when the pool closed to kids (3PM), our respective helpers arrived in cabs to schlep the irritants back home. We don’t always ask the help to work on Sundays, but this was an exception and she was handsomely rewarded, so she was more than happy to forfeit her day off. Thank phewy, as well, because after swimming for hours, Max’s cold was even worse. More snot!

Once they were gone, we hot mammas changed into our raunchiest cut-up swimsuits lah, switched from diet coke to margaritas, and got our Ibiza on!! Ya, baby! That’s how we roll at the T Beach Clurb on an otherwise average Sunday avo! Suck that up, rainy Londrés!!

Don left to get ready for his trip tomoz, and Liz had to go too because she ate some dodgy pepper crab last night, but otherwise the crew was out in full force (except Michelle and Will… WTF is up with them?). Take that, you volleyball-playing twenty-something posers! What we lack in skin tone, we make up for with our vast experience of long term hotness, and our amazebobs dance moves. You can’t get those 90’s moves vicariously. You had to be there!!

The more margaritas I had, the better I looked, and my groove got more and more smokin’.

So, I got home around 11 tonight, and opened a Veuve Click for a bit of a catch-up on Facebook. I can do that kinda thing because I’m off-duty tomorrow morning. Nothing until pilates and a late lunch date. One of my girlies had posted this super coolio thing that’s happening this week:

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I’m totes thinking I should go, having looked so great today. I could win that thing, right??

 

 

 

* FMAWG: Fat Middle-Aged White Guys (but my discussion on this topic includes the non-fat ones too)

Expat Kid Bday Party

It’s Milly-Moo’s fourth birthday party next weekend. Her actual birthday is the week after, but I needed to schedule the party for a weekend when Don’s away, so that he feels guilty about missing it. I am having to work mega-hard to make it the best party in her class, and there have been a few tough acts to follow already this school year.

Because we don’t live in a condo and the Port of Lost Wonder is booked solid, the pool party option is out. So, I decided to hire the kiddie section of the casino at Marina Bay Sands. There’s no actual gambling, of course. They use sweets instead of chips. Adorablé, right?! There’s also a dance floor with VIP area, and for the $20,000 hire fee, they throw in the DJ, which is nice. I was thinking of doing it myself, to practice my mixing, scratching and mash-up skills, but then I realised I would be too busy looking hot.

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Marina Bay Sands Casino

I’m getting a pink limo to pick up Mills, me, and some of her little besties, with their mummies. Cocktail attire, natch. No shorts and flip-flops at MBS, sweetie! (Please would someone tell David Beckham that!! Save him from himself!)

Food-wise, it’s sushi (healthy AND Asian; my genius idea of course!), 100 Krispy Kreme donuts, and one of those totes trendy cakes made entirely out of fruit. All the Expaterati kids’ parties have them, so you just sorta hafta. And what happens is hilarious! The kids get so excited when they see the colourful cake, and then they realise it’s all fruit, and their little hearts break right there on the spot! Haha!! I can’t wait for that bit. It’s the highlight of most birthday bashes I’ve been to with Max and Mills.

For the bevs, I’m doing mocktails: alcohol-free Singapore Slings and Piña Coladas. I’m also getting a few cases of Mini-Me Möet. It looks just like the real thing, but contains no booze. I think it’s so clever of these drinks companies to start embedding the drinking norms of our society as early as possible.

I am still working on the activities and games, probably including a piñata and pass the parcel, with samples of beauty products inside. I’ve been speaking to Mac and Stila about sponsoring the event. We’re haggling over the finer details because I want them to provide a make-up artist for the little girls free with the sponsorship package, but I also want waxing and ear-piercing thrown in and they’re just not responding well to that request.

Anyway, it is all in hand, and thankfully the gift is sorted. I got her a three-foot tall Expat Girl Doll. So cute! She has a little LV suitcase (I chose that over the North Face backpack option), gorgeous mini-Prada shoes (I chose those over the Doc Martins), and no sense of identity whatsoever on her sweet perma-grin face. She talks too! In four different languages, she says, “I love you”, “Where’s the airport?”, and “Bali again?!” LUV IT!

Lastly, but in no way leastestly, Mummy arrives next week, in time for Milly’s party. I haven’t seen her since August, so it’ll be fabbo to hear all the goss from her aqua aerobics group and her online scrabble crowd. She’s terrif. The kids are so looking forward to seeing “Gam-ma”, (or Glammy Gammy, as Don calls her). I’ll have to fill her in on the situation with my father and that woman.