Rehab For Expats To De-Pat

Ever one to be full of fabulous entrepreneurial ideas, I have been pondering one lately which I believe has great untapped potential. The thought came over me yesterday as I contemplated the resounding success of my post on the 20 thingses I will miss about Xījiãpō.

My complex, mysterious brain threw forth the idea that there should be rehab places for the Expaterati, to assist in the transformation from expat to normal person, via means of extreme re-immersion. (Clara says re-patting, like any major change, is “an opportunity for transformation”, and I suppose she could be right. Still sucks though.) The rehabs would have the geographical locations of small, dull villages in whichever country the expat is returning to. Being from the UK, I will use this as my example for illustratory purposification.

So the rehab would be in a village far away from London, to make it as difficult as possiblé for the ex-expat to access excitement, diversity and vibrancy during the therapeutic process. They would be installed in fairly average accommodation (fully staffed, of course – let’s not push people completely over the edge!), and required to undertake mundane, but purposeful activities throughout the day. These could include volunteering at the post office (which would be super useful because I don’t think the Royal Mail have paid staff anymore), working at the village shop, doing dog-walking for local residents, or other more specific employment related to individuals’ skill-sets.

If the ex-expat has children, there will be absolutely no school bus, and therefore thusly a significant proportion of waking hours will be dedicated to ferrying said children around and sitting in traffic. Car stereos will be locked to the most tedious local radio stations, and phones or other devices will not be permitted in vehicles.

There will also be a strict requirement for community participication, including, but not limited to, organising events such as church fêtes, disseminating information on woefully boring local issues, and providing foreign language tuition for village residents, in the event that any languages were picked up during expathood. Community involvement notwithstanding, the insular nature of the locals and their strong indecipherable accents will mean that at no point will the ex-expat feel a sense of belonging to the community, and will therefore thusly experience alienation, rejection, and an inability to build relationships with anyone in said community. It may sound harsh, but this would be a particularly important aspect of the treatment, adopting, as it does, the evidence-based technique known as swamping, wherein the patient is exposed to the very thing they dread. No pain no gain, babeses!

There will also be a series of mindfulness-based DBT courses, all of which must be completed in sequence before the ex-expat is assessed as ready to leave the rehab. These will focus on issues like:

  • Being a small and insignificant fish in a large rancid pond
  • Surviving without a tan, or even a healthy glow
  • Not constantly referring to the awesome places where one has lived, and how much better they are
  • Concealing one’s light behind a bushel (in my case, the bushel is going to have to be mahusiv)
  • Getting used to the drudgery of long days, particularly if re-patting from Singas, where the days dash by
  • Only meeting new people occasionally, and accepting that they might not realise how profoundly fascinating you are

Depending on the specific presentification of the patient, there may be restrictions on behaviour or permissible activities. For example, it may be necessary to disallow alcohol consumption, the smoking of cigars, dining out, or the playing of social sports. Any activity which sustained or brought meaning/ structure/ pleasure to the ex-expats life whilst abroad will need to be eliminated for the duration of rehabilititation.

The final essential component is group and individual therapy. Clara always says that Drama and Movement Therapy is the best way to “bypass the ego and explore the deeper unconscious aspects of the self and the soul”, so that’s a must for inclusion in the treatment. Individual therapy with highly trained analysts – preferably Jungian – would need to happen up to five times a week, depending on how expatty the ex-expat is. The most expatty patients will be assigned therapists of the very highest calibre, who will take absolutely none of their sh**. Because a huge pile of that, there will inevitably be.

So I am hereby sharing my brilliant idea with the world, and I think you’ll find that it will soon be a huge success on Kickstarter. Investors, feel free to get in touch, though I will need to retain 51%. I am wondering about the name now… Perhaps The Hard Times Clinic. So heart Charlie Dickens. He should’ve kept his sentences shorter though.


Image credit: http://internationaltimes.it/

Image credit: http://internationaltimes.it/

Nearly four yrs since we lost you. If only you had gone to rehab, Ames babes. Then we’d still have lovely you. I was at a Four Seasons in Bali when I heard the news. Cried my heart out into that infinity pool.

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What’s Up With The Whitening, Babeses?

On a par with learning the local language (ie. here in Sing, saying “lah” as often as poss), it is equally important for the expat specimen to engage deeply with the host country’s culture and daily life. When people accuse you of living in a bubble – and sooner, babeses, or later, babeses, they will – you must have ample evidence readily available to the tip of your tongue, establishing categorifically that the accuser is both utterly incorrect and a mahusiv loser. Photographic evidence is highly desirable (see pics below).

In furtherance of this, I have always made it my business to experience everyday Singaporean life, such as quarterly trips to Tekka Market, hanging out at hawker centres in Joo Chiat, and once I did a food shop at a vendor other than Paragon Market Place. I even take the MRT sometimes, in order to stay abreast of what regular folk are watching on their phones. This is how I discovered two hilario Singian YouTube sensations, Dee Kosh and Mr Brown. The latter seems to have gone quiet of late, quel dommage hashtag sadface.

So as part of my ongoing process of saying goodbye to this lovely country, I decided to take the MRT today to my appointment at Expat Dental (to commune with Lady B, of course; think I’ve mentioned they do Botox now – so discrete and handy). There I was on the platform at Somerset, totes minding my own thang – other than checking out other people’s phone screens – when my least favourite member of the Expaterati tapped me on the shoulder, saying, “Hi Emma-Jane, God can you believe this stuff??”

I turned around elegantly to see Mrs Doom & Gloom Expat Wifey gesturing heatedly towards a row of billboards. Said “stuff” was a series of ads for a moisturiser:

Whitening 1

 

Whitening 2

 
“Oh hiyee, how lovely to see you!”, I replied, polite to a fault at all times, as per my modus operandi.

“Um, no babes, cannot believe it, lah! As a Photoshop aficionado, that font is just ridic!! So dull! And that shading has been brightened at least seven times, I reckon”, says moi, taking a wild guess at what might be unbelievable about the ads.

“No, no, it’s not that! It’s the product, and how they’re choosing to sell it! Look! Look at that!!,” D & G rabbitted on, as if she was talking about something that actually mattered, “It’s a huge Western brand selling a product to Asians on the premise that white skin is more desirable than dark. Look at the bottle!!.. It says ‘healthy white’!”

Then the train appeared, and I realised with horror that D & G was going in the same direction as me.

Getting onto the train, I said, “Oh gosh, yes crikey, how funny is thaaaat?? Healthy white is so not how I’d describe the pasty peeps back in Blighty lol!! Did you know we’re probably going back? Well we probly are, and one of the biggies I am totes not looking forward to is losing my perma-tan. Argh, huh?? It’s a major problem because we’ll only go to hot places a few times a year, and the nightmare is, what happens in between?! I’ll be a pasty pasty too!! Hell, shear hell, the very worst kind of hell that anyone can endure and …” –

I had hoped that if I just kept on talking all the way to Novena I could circumnavigate the intrusion of her appallingly whiny voice, but then the inevitable occurred: I had to pause for breathe. Damn you, cruel respiration!

“What’s at least a little reassuring”, said D & G, pouncing hungrily on the silence, “is that a local charity has picked up on it – AWARE, do you know them? They do great work. But they really only mentioned it, so I don’t think they’ve taken it on as an initiative. It’s such a shame because I dread to think what the impact is on children and young people, when the message is that you’re not ok if your skin isn’t white, and” –

Now fully ventilated, I managed to interrupt her, in an effort to resume plan A of preventating her vocal interventions: “Oh I know, babes! I’m all over the body image issue. You’re probably familiar with my amazebobs campaign to have fakeness ratings put on media images. It is so worrying what that industry does to people’s self esteem, telling us that how we are isn’t good enough, but using totes faked up photos to prove it. Soooooo bad! Hashtag hate hate hate it!!! Oops well it’s almost my stop. It’s been awesome having this little chat-ski, but gotta go!!”

I swiftly stood up, hoping D & G wouldn’t do the assaultative kiss-kiss thing. Her cheekbones are like boulders! She should def go to Korea and get something done about that. No wonder her long-suffering hus took his attentions elsewhere, to a less violent visage. She stood up too though, and even now, hours later, my face feels like I‘ve been to Korea for a Gangnam Special. Ouchey.

As I dashed up the escalator, I worked hard to cleanse myself of the difficult journey, visualising that with every step I took I was putting the conversation behind me. That woman! The audacity of trying to lecture me, of all people, on self image. At least she didn’t make me late for my appointment with Lady B.

 

Me at a hawker centre:

Lovin the freshly steamed fish! Dress by Attaby: https://www.facebook.com/attabystyle

Lovin the freshly steamed fish! Dress by Attaby: https://www.facebook.com/attabystyle

 

Orange is SO the new black! You want this dress, get yourself down to the Attaby Pop Up Boutique 17 & 18 June. Click the pics for deets.

Orange is SO the new black! You want this dress, get yourself down to the Attaby Pop Up Boutique 17 & 18 June. Click the pics for deets.

And me at a supermarket that isn’t in a mall on Orchard Road:

Rockin the Carmen Miranda look

Rockin the Carmen Miranda look

 

Oui, je suis one classy oiseau

Lovely melons LOLOL. Oui, je suis one classy oiseau.

20 Thingses I’ll Miss About Awesome Singapore

coke can

I took a long trip up and down Orchard Road today because cousin Clara the psychologist told me last night that I should. She told me to go alone, given that the Froofster distracts me with inspiration for rap lyrics. The irritants were on playdates and Don’s away, so alone wasn’t beyond the realm of contemplation.

Initially Clara’s words were to, “find a place in nature to just be, and to consider the notion of change from the perspective of plants and wildlife… the natural tendency towards growth and transition as time moves on, whether we choose to embrace the changes or not”.

I explained to Clara that places in nature such as the Botanical Gardens, as lovely as they are, ain’t no Hampstead Heath. Too hot by the time I get up and out, babeses. Macritchie also awesome, but also waaaayyy too hot, and it would take me at least 20 minutes to get there, which surpasses my usual 12 minute travel limit. Plus, as I told her, if we’re talking natural habitat, that’s Orchard Road for me. I know every nook and cranny – every side street, every shop, every bar, every restaurant, probably everybody, and every floor of every mall from Plaza Sing to the Palais Renaissance.

So she said, “Ok, Emma-Jane, take a walk down Orchard, if that’s your natural habitat. If you are leaving, it’s important that you begin to process the losses, whatever those might be. A good starting point is to reflect on what you are going to miss.”

Alora, this morning I started my day by reflectiating on what I might miss, and I made a mental list as I rollerbladed the length of Orchard Road – the sun streaming through my raspberry locks.

Here are the 20 things that I know already I will miss about Singapore:

1. Waking up in the morning to see an army of helpers cleaning the cars parked beneath my window. Such a reassuring sight.

2. Being asked if I have a passion card (worst chat-up line everrrrr – still don’t get it).

3. Amusingly and so coolly peppering my speech with lahs, cans and cannots. It’s so great being able to fit in with a little bit of lingo, and it’s v important to learn the local language as an expat.

4. Walking around looking awesomely hot at any hour of the day or night, and not being in fear of my life. I can walk from the bay to home at 3 AM dressed however I chose without the possibility of later being told by a cross-examining barrister that I was Asking For It.

5. My soft-top Maserati. It’s just not on to flaunt one’s wealth quite so openly in the UK unless one is a foreigner. A bit like that quaint tall poppy thing in Australia.

6. The help. I suppose we’ll have to get a couple of au pairs (but they refuse to wash cars, so we might need to get a driver too), or bite the bullet and shell out £80k per annum for the equivalent wrap-around assistance to which we are accustomed here.

7. Putting tons of clothes on to go inside rather than to go outside.

8. Constantly meeting bundles of like-minded Expaterati types – even if they ditch you when they know you’re off-ski. We’ll stay in touch though, right babeses?! Ya, see you in Bangkok, sweets, or London, or San Fran. Totes!! There’s no bye in goodbye anymore – it’s all just GOOD.

9. Being able to take selfies without feeling #awkz. Euro peeps just don’t get how awesome selfies are.

10. Cheap taxis with such friendly uncles.

11. Sweet Singaporeans who’ll apologise to you if you accidentally crash into them while crossing the road and simultaneously Whatsapping… as opposed to stabbing you, like they do in London.

12. Whatsapping whilst crossing roads (due to afore-mentioned risk of stabbage).

13. Languid evenings of cocktails and Veuve Click on roof terraces all year round.

14. Glamorous holidays sans long flights and jetlag with the irritants. Ok so Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines are all a bit of a blur to me now, but at least I can still name the countries and largely distinguish one hotel kids club from another. (There might’ve been another county, I forget.)

15. The tropical bird sounds at dawn and dusk. Think it’s just magpies in London now, with the occasional flock of parakeets south of the river, should one foolishly choose to venture in that direction. Not my scene, no matter how much I might miss Singaporean birdsong.

16. Geckos. Froo Froo will miss those more than I will, but I greatly prefer a gecko to its British counterpart, the slug.

17. The proximity and fabulous ease of Changi Airport. No further explanation required. Changi just rocks. We all know that.

18. Having a tan. All. The. Time. Hashtag sadface : (!!!!!

19. Countless amazebobs bars and restaurants within 10-20 minutes of anywhere on the island. In London it’s always, “See you in an hour…”

20. The expat wives’ social media groups. I’m probably going to have to start watching more TV again, or Dios help me, even get involved with the dramas of our extended families. Ugh. Just ugh. Kill me now.


So those are the 20 things I’ve come up with thus far thereinly. My fear is that there may be many more to compound my woes, should the nightmare of repatriation actually occur. I can only cling for now onto Voltaire’s conclusion that all is for the best in the best possible of worlds. I’m totes about that. Hashtag yeah baby. Everything will be alright.

Our Mahusiv Shipment

I have discovered an interesting and disturbing phenomenonema in re the situation of possibly leaving: people treat one as if one has an incurable and highly contagious illness.

I popped into Burberry For Kids to get more socks for the irritants today – how’s it possible for feet to grow so quickly?? – and found myself chatting away to the shop staff. It was only when I got a text from Eva my personal trainer saying, “where tf are you, EJ?”, that I realised I’d been in the shop for over an hour. I had been so engaged in our conversation (discussing my glamorous life, possibly moving, early childhood experiences, Jungian vs Freudian theory, and Burberry’s summer colours) that time had run away from me. So I dashed off to meet the slave-driver, and during my dash, I wondered how I had entered into such deep chats with a stranger. Now of course, my glamorous life and my complex brain are fascinating to everyone, but I don’t normally plunder the depths with shop assistants. Not even in exclusive shops. If I did, my daily shoppage excursions would leave little time for anything else!

Having embarked on the workout, it was during my 87th lunge that the realisation hit me. It took me so much by surprise that I dropped the kettle bell, only narrowly missing my toes. Thank goodness it missed because I had a pedi yesterday. The universe is truly wise and benevolent.

What hit me was this: I am lonely today. And I have been for some time now, I think, because my Expaterati girlies have hardly been in touch at all of late. No wonder I was spilling my guts out in Burberry’s! I needed to talk to someone. Poor moi : (

Therein thusly lies the notion of leaving being like an illness. Once people know that you’re probably definitely maybe relocating, they want nothing more to do with you. They prefer to invest their friendship dollars elsewhere. Until recently, I have been an expat monarch of all I survey in this intimate kingdom of Singapore. I have daintily trod the terrace of Sky on 57, looking out across the city, knowing that I am a part of this place and it is a part of me.

Now though, it’s as if I have wandered inadvertently to the other side of said terrace, my face turned towards the sea with its village of boxy floating palaces… The container ships – one of which will soon, in all likelihood, carry the contents of our beautiful Emerald Hill Road shophouse away from these gleaming shores, gradually dissolving my past into the azure layers of two oceans and seven seas.

SONY DSC

(As you can imagine, dear readers, we have a truly gigantic shipment, commensurate with our station. It seems a callous and capricious thing that loneliness can befall anyone, regardless of the size of their shipment. Hashtag baffed.)

Breaking Up Is Never Easy, I Know

(OR How to Tell The Help That You’re Leaving)

Ok, so it does now seem that we are most probably definitely leaving, at any time in the next four to twenty-four weeks. Or more. Or less. I don’t totes know. Don said I need to inform the help soon, in order for her to make arrangements and stuff. So I was like, yabbut what do I tell her? How do I tell her?? He was like, just tell her! So I was like, oh ok. Can. Maybe.

I happened to awake early enough today to witness the helper getting Max and Mills ready for school, and it was weird because I’d never noticed it before, but there was this… this… tenderness, for want of a better word.

Then in the afternoon I looked out the window when she went to meet them off the bus, and again, it was like watching a movie about people who cared about each other. OMG, how mentalist!!! It was as if I was seeing my kids coming home all happy to see me, but it wasn’t me! Hashtag crazy, huh?? I had to laugh because it was hilarious that the irritants were just as happy to see the help as they would’ve been to see me. Probably more so LOL!! I heart how adaptive children are.

Anyhoo, it occurred to me that while my children probably feel v little deep-down about our helper, she may feel a great deal about them. Therefore thusly I found myself concerned as to how I might tell her that we are (maybe definitely soonish) leaving these sunny shores. So I will use this post to explore various possible avenues for informing the overly-attached helper that she needs to seek new employment.

 

1. Tell her straight, as soon as you know. No, there could be crying. Don’t do that.

2. One night when she’s babysitting, tell her just as you’re running out the door, and hope that she’s all done crying when you get back from your fabulous evening. If she isn’t, tell her you were just kidding and proceed to option 10.

3. Book a last-minute weekend trip to Bali with the hus and kids, and leave her a nice note in the dishwasher, explaining that you unfortunately didn’t have time to tell her in person. Also remind her in that note not to put plastics in the lower section (for like the bajillionth time).

4. Get her a lovely cake for her to share with her friends on Sunday, and have a message baked into the middle layers saying she needs to find a new employer pronto. Hopefully she will have completed all five of Kübler-Ross’ stages of grieving by the time she gets back. If not, as per previously above, tell her you were just kidding and proceed to option 10.

5. Go out all day Saturday with your hus, and have the kids tell her.

6. Give her a year’s salary in cash and then tell her. If there’s crying, at least you’ll know that you’ve done all you could to ease the blow.

7. Place post-its around the house that subliminally suggest the benefits of finding a new employer.

8. Be really unpleasant and hope that she leaves of her own accord. This could backfire though because she might leave before you want her to. Plus it’s not really lawfully permissible to be unpleasant to the help in Singapore, and you could also damage both your chi and your karma.

9. Pretend to yourself that you’re not leaving at all, and then you needn’t worry about telling the help, or anything else related to moving. I am, as dear readers will be aware, not a supporter of self-deception in any form (except if it makes you happy, or other people happy, or it’s 100% justifiable on whatever grounds you yourself deem appropriate), but sometimes there is no other option for the preservation of sanity.

10. Wait until the shipment date, and suggest she spends the previous evening and all the next day with a friend as a treat. Then when she returns to the house, everything and everyone will be gone, therefore thusly bypassing the need for any #awkz conversations or goodbyes. This is by far the best modus operandi for people who are too divine to taint themselves with the complications of raw human emotional expression.

 
While I was writing this post, I found my complex brain making musical connections with a couple classic chunes about separation and abandonment: Paul Simon’s Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover

 

and Flight of the Conchords’ Carol Brown

 

So I’m wondering what the depths of my unconsciousness are trying to tell me. Most bizarro. I mean, I totes heart those songs, and Jemaine will ALWAYZ float my boat, but those ditties are about the loss of real relationships. The help is just the help to me, and Don, and the irritants. She does her job, and we do ours. Super crazybobs that my immense powers of thought and reflectation conjured up tracks like this. It probably just means that I need to get out the Flight of the Conchords box set again. OMG, I could watch that at my own funeral and feel happy!!

Inequality Rocks!

As dear readers are aware, the ongoing not-knowing about whether we’re repatting or wtf we’re doing is causing me some serioso stressoso, and actually it is beginning to interfere with my fabulous lifestyle and my rigorous self-maintenance regime. I’m doing my personal training with Eva and running a ton, but I’ve been too stressed to go to yoga (which means I haven’t seen Seth this week, but you know, whatevs). Today I decided to take Froo Froo dog for a walk along Orchard Road, to clear my brain. Who knows how much longer I’ll be sashaying my way down Orchard?! A grim thought…

The Froofster, so stylish in her diamanté tutu, came upon a hound of rather more mixed descent than herself, and in the unfortunate position of being naked, but for fur. My initial reaction was to try to extricate Froo’s nose from the other dog’s intimate areas, concerned that she might catch some dreadful illness, or an even worser affliction such as to fall in love which is the worst affliction known to man and beast. Froof seemed so enamored with the mongrel that I calmed myself by means of chanting, and allowed the proceedings to unfold as they might, in spite of my better judgement. Using my third eye, I observed the encounter: this meeting of mismatched beings, this “two worlds colliding”, (RIP gorgeous, tragic Mr Hutchence, we still miss you). And a fascinating deep thought came upon me from the unlikely source of the dogs’ derrières, which served to distract me from my own predicament.

The doggies got me reflecting on this mega zeitgeist thing that all the chattering classes are chattering about:

THE SO-CALLED SCOURGE OF INEQUALITY.

Following on from my ground-breaking study on social hierarchy among Singapore expats, I’m starting to think that I should become an economist or something. I surprise myself with how much knowledge I possess on the subject. It’s like it just comes naturally to me! Amazebobs, I know.

So I for one am a mahusiv fan of inequality because without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today: vastly over-edicated, living a glamorous expat life in tropical climes, sharing said glamorous life (as well as my unrivaled expertise) with the masses, and owning a Maserati. It’s also super doops for my children because they have opportunities that other less equal people’s children don’t have, and it’s wonderful for any auxiliary staff whom we employ during our long lifetimes (made longer by proactive, preventative, private healthcare), in that they have employment. So it’s a win-win-win, I think we can all agree.

BUTTT. Butt, but, but apparently some people don’t agree. Crazybobs, I know!! Apparently some people say that it’s not ok because the rich are getting richer and the gap between the top 1% and um, all the others, is growing like never before. My response to them is, “Tell that to Dickens, babeses!”

It was abso no biggie then, and I can’t see why it’s such a biggie now.

Yet a biggie it does seem to nonetheless therefore thusly be! So like I read this v baffling New York Times article about it all and something about how things at the top become more “fractal” and stuff. I think it’s humbug jealorosity from the peeps not at the top that quite a few people now can afford to spend $179.4m on a painting, while a whole bajillion bunch of other people can’t. Can we not just be happy for those nice people who’ve worked so hard to have enough cash to spend on art? Do we even want that painting on our wall?? No, babeses, we do not. We want gigantic TVs on the wall so that we can watch Netflix and reality shows. Picasso Schmicasso.

Howsoever.

I have some non-expat friendses back in the UK who are quite unhappy about the election result (why??! Cameron will repeal the ban on fox hunting, do what-not with the Human Rights thingie, and we’ll all wake up the next day, have a cup of tea and it’ll be ok), and it’s these friendses who insist on telling me that inequality is a very bad thing.

So one friend for example – we’ll call her Miserable Marge – she goes on about the cuts in education, the National Health Service (which I think is like BUPA, but with worse hospital food), the criminal justice system, and the arts and all that. Marge says that very wealthy people can basically pay their way through life, for themselves and for their children; but families who are even marginally well-off, with both parents working, or not at all well-off, they’re struggling to stay afloat.

As an enormously empathic person, I feel for these strugglers, I really do. But my wisdom tells me that if they were meant to have money and power in this world, so it would be. Money and power are of course the most important things, as alluded to in this much-debated piece on Upper East Side housewives. (Actually, I won’t put the link in. Is the writer going to thank me for selling more copies of her book??) Maybe all those folk not in the 1% are so busy pursuing silly things like having a worthwhile, meaningful, principled, ethical existence that they’ve overlooked money and power. No wonder that they have neither!

I know what I’d rather have!!! Veuve Click at the beach club with my Expaterati girlies on an average Sunday avo, and plenty of time to create awesome expat rap. So what if my kids experience repeated “transition and loss issues”, bla bla bla?? They can have therapy when they’re older. And they’ll be able to afford it because they’ll speak six languages and run hedge funds. So I have v little time for this (frankly Communist) attitude from Miserable Marge and her cohorts.

Continuing my series of Master-Selfies, this is me paying homage to that Picasso painting. Imagine how much this version would’ve fetched! Hashtag priceless : )

Continuing my series of Master-Selfies, this is me paying homage to that Picasso painting. Imagine how much this version would’ve fetched! Hashtag priceless : )

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.

Viva Vacuousness and Other Awesome Stuff!

As likers of my Awesome Facebook Page will know, someone told me today that I am “vacuous and narcissistic”. So I was like yeah, babes, hells yeah!!! But the look I got back was like this weird inscrotable stare and I realised that the comment was meant as an insult. LOLs!! Luv it!!! Some people just don’t get it, do they?

Being the tremendously reflective, self-aware person that I am, it made me think deeply about the world we inhabit today. We truly are blessed to find ourselves in a convergence of time and space where vacuousness and narcissism are qualities to aspire to, and I hope, dear readers, that you are able to fully appreciate the beauty of this, as much as I do. Therein lies the path to true happiness and meaning, I am sure you’ll agree. Namaste to that!!

Just a short one today, I’m afraid, because I’m super busy with my important new project of creating Master-Selfies. Here’s the first one:

Pretty deep, huh? It's what Munch would've wanted, had he been lucky enough to be alive now. Poor ole Munchy, missing out on our times.

Pretty deep, huh? It’s what Munch would’ve wanted, had he been lucky enough to be alive now. Poor ole Munchy, missing out on our amazebobs era.

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.

 

IMG_4939

I’m So Hot This Week #sizzling!!

I am having a majorly mahusiv workout week so far, in preparation for my Fit For Fashion Season Two audition video (see below for a sneaky preevy, lucky dear readers!!). It’s only Thursday, and already I’ve notched up 40k on the treadmill (thank golly for Spotify), three sessions with my personal slave-driver Eva, and two, yes TWO, yoga classes c/o awesome Vikram. Ordinarily I only do one yoga class per week, on Tuesday evenings, but this week I found that I was progressing so well in my practice (it’s totes truesome that practice makes perfect because in my case it v much has), that I decided to go to the Wednesday class as well. I didn’t even know there was a Weds class! Usually I block off Weds mornings for champagne brunch with my Expaterati girlies, but Seth told me Vikram does a sesh at 11AM which he goes to, and he said I should go too, so I was like, “Hells-to-the-yeah, babes, I’m all over it!”

It was really great to hook up with Seth again, having had our nice chats at the ANZA ball last Saturday. After the class on Tues we went for a quick soya chai. We were talking about the many amazebobs physical, mental and spiritual outcomes of doing a whole bunch of down-dogs every day, and that’s when he told me about the Wednesday class. Rarely does one meet a gentleman in Singapore who is free during the day for yogi’ing AND has an awesome hairdo. A most unusual combination. I was just about to enquire as to this phenomenation when I got a text from Max: “Mummy, you said you were doing bedtime stories tonight. Milly is crying, but I’m fine.”

Argh, I’d completely forgotten that I told the irritants I would be back for bedtime. Being the wonderfully committed mother that I am, I sacrificed my enjoyment of the conversation with Seth and cantered home tout de suite. Hashtag annoying, but such is life as the default parent. If only I had a second helper, perhaps she could take on my burdensome role as default parent.

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Haven’t quite got there yet…

Then yesterday I went to the Weds yoga class and, yet again, I outdid myself in terms of both yogic perfection and simultaneous hotness. Seth suggested lunch afterwards, so we cabbed it to Robertson Quay and went to Super Loco. That place is HONESTLY the bestest Mexican restaurant outside Mexico, and I don’t say that lightly. I spent my gap year in el Distrito Federal, and have partaken of many many Mexican joints from Lexington to London to Lahore. So trust me, babeses, I totes know wtf I’m talking about. And no, the Super Loco chaps are not paying me for my glowing endorsement. (Why is no one paying me for glowing endorsements?! PS Café still haven’t named a dish after me!! “Eggspat EJ”… Come on, now!! What’s the prob here??!)

Over our huevos rancheros, I finally had the opp to ask Seth what he does for a living, and why he has time for yoga and lunch on a Weds daytime. So you won’t believe this, peeps, but Seth is actually and totally the original founder of the global chain Yo Yeah Yoga!!! Can you believe that??? OMG, Yo Yeah Yoga is like the benchmark for yogis everywhere in the Western World (ie everywhere), and here I am, elegantly spilling salsa on my top in the presence of its founder!! Too much embarrassing!!!! I started hyperventilating, so I excused myself to the little girls’ room to re-apply my lippy and to make sure I looked AHAP (as hot as possible).

It is an important principle of mine not to be dazzled by wealth, power or fame, and I thusly therefore pulled myself together, and returned to the table.

“Ok”, I said, super-nonchalantly, “But that still doesn’t explain why you have so much spare time. Usually it’s only expat wives who get to do what they want, not the dudes. You’re totes freaking me out, babes, ya know??”

“Argh, sorry babes, I totes didn’t mean to freak you out. That’s the very last thing I wanted to do!! It’s cool. It’s really no big deal. I started something, it got really big, I sold it, and now here I am. I’m back to doing yoga, like I always wanted to do, with the most awesome yogi in the world who just happens to be in Singapore.”

I tried to contain myself, gracefully mopping up the eggs/drool mélange, but couldn’t help exclaiming, “So you’re Seth Lickerberg??! Yo Yeah Yoga is your company?? But that’s like huge! That’s like in every country that matters!! OMG I’m brunching a la Mexicana with SETH LICKERBERG!!!!!”

I’m not sure what happened next because my oxygen levels dipped through excitation (my portable fitness device told me so), but apparently I began taking selfies of us both and posting them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, until Seth grabbed my hand and said, “No, EJ. This stuff, it’s really nothing. It doesn’t matter. I just enjoy your company. So please, chill, babes. Can we get back to the present – be right here right now, mindful of the joy in each new moment? I’d like that.”

“I’d like that too”, I said, with my beautiful, haunting Angelina Jolie smile (goodbye Kate Mid, you’re not sexy enough for my smile).

“Ok, well although you’re like a global icon, babes”, I went on, not wanting him to feel uncomfortable, “It really makes no differencio to me who you are or what you’ve done. I just totes heart that sexy snort you do when you laugh… Holy argh-ness, did I say that out loud??!”

“Yes, you did”, he said, with his signature sexy snort, “And that’s ok. It’s all good. Nothing is a coincidence, you know? We’re sitting here for a reason. The universe has its own wisdom. We just trust it, right?”

I can’t say for sure whether he touched my hand or I touched his. It just sort of happened.

But then I had to go. I had a shoot scheduled for my audition vid for Fit For Fashion. It’s not easy being a celebrité blogger. I make it look easy, but it’s so not. So voila babeses, see below!! To audition, click here. I cannot wait to meet those Fitness First gym gods. If anyone can make me even more ravishing and physically powerful, it’s them.

What Are Riches? #baffed twice in one week

Image credit: http://michellejoni.com/vajazzling/

Image credit: http://michellejoni.com/vajazzling/

When I was in bed on Sunday, recovering from my fabulous social exertions, I read an article in the NYT about v wealthy wives in NYC who don’t have jobs and are basically, the author writes, “a lot like mistresses – dependent and comparatively disempowered”. I found it pretty interesting because I too am a glamorous SAHM and, like these women, I have had a ton of education, I don’t have a paid job anymore, I am extremely well-maintained, and I have kids and help. Don isn’t a billionaire, though, so maybe we’re not totes similar. But I do get annual bonuses, and why tf not?? Equation as follows:

Don gets bonuses
> we’re married
> half of what he earns is mine
> he gets a bonus
> I get half of it.

Problem = ????

#baffed

As dear readers will know, I wanted to be an expat wife like my mother before me, her mother before her, her mother before her, and her mother before her who I’m not sure about, but did v little with her life. But that doesn’t mean that I have not made sacrifices for the good of our family. Yes, I gave up my career. I am schooled in English law, not Singaporean law. And Don’s job just happens to be in a field that is more lucrative than mine (oopsy, my bad as those nice Americans say), particularly given the opportunities for German motorway-like overtakings offered by a spell in Asia. We can’t all be experts in money laundering. So that’s totes been a sacrifice on my part.

As dear readers will also know, I have considered taking a job (though that would mean giving up my position on the board of the Singapore International Women and Trailing Spouses Association, which does wonderful charitable work throughout the region), and have simply not had the time to follow through. One of the reasons I was thinking about getting a job is that a whole bunch of other Expaterati women seem to have them all of a sudden. Sometimes it feels as if we’re dropping like flies, we brunchers, lunchers, and ladies’ nights goers. If I had a job, I would at least have an excuse not to spend most waking hours of every day of every week of every year with the irritants, like Don has. The excuse would be that if I had a job I’d have money and power, and those are the most important things, right? Obviously, because that’s what the author of the article said, and hers was an anthropologicalised study and therefore thusly truesome.

I was running all of these ideas through my mahusiv, thoughtful brain today during my vajazzling session. Michelle, the owner of the Vajaz salon, came over to say hello, and we got chatting. (We’re sort of friends, and abso nothing happened with me and her hus, as you know.) I told her about my whirlwind weekend of awesomeness, and about how we might be repatting. While I was saying how deva’d I feel about leaving Singers she made this little choking sound and told the vajazzler lady to go and check the schedule for the next customer. “I’ll take it from here”, she said.

She got in between my legs, and silently resumed the careful, decorative placing of Swarovski crystals. I felt droplets of liquid falling onto my fanny area (British fanny area; I don’t presently have the American fanny area done as I am concerned about sit-down-age), so I looked up (thankfully my honed stomach muscles are such that I can raise my head quite high) and saw that poor Michelle was crying into my said fanny area.

“Babes!!”, I exclaimed, being the spectacularly empathic person that I am, “What’s the matter?? It’s ok, I’ve done a six-month counseling course, so I’m completely non-judgmental. Feel free to talk to me. I’m listening.”

“We’re relocating!”, she said with a sob, “And that should be fine because I should be used to this after so many years of being expats, and Will has been offered a really great role, but this time… This time I finally felt happy that the kids were settled, and I could go back to work. So I opened this place, and I’ve worked my ass off to make it what it is today. Of course, I’m not earning anywhere near what Will is, so sure, it makes sense to go to the next job where he’ll earn even more. But everything that I’ve invested – not the money – I mean the time… the relationships… The relationships with my staff and my customers… All of that… Gone. Zero. And it’s not like Will even loves his job! He’s just grateful for the next step up, like I’m supposed to be grateful about him earning more money.”

“But, babes”, I said, super-sympathetically, “Him earning more money equals you earning more money! It’s a win-win!!”

“It isn’t, EJ, it really isn’t. Because I go back to square one, though at least with the experience I’ve gained this time, so I am grateful for that. But he continues on his trajectory. And if he decides one day, like we see so often over here, that marriage isn’t much more than a social construct, how stupid was I to prioritise his career over mine? Or how stupid was I to accept that him earning more was better for our family because more money meant more opportunities for our children?”

“I don’t know”, she continued, as my stomach muscles began to tire, “If he was a great artist who passionately loved his work and made the world a better place, maybe that would be worth the sacrifices. But he’s just a slightly rich person making other very rich people even richer. And those people don’t give a crap about us or anyone. So in the grand scheme of things, really, where is the meaning in all of this? I’ve found meaning in my day-to-day work with satisfied staff who have perfected their craft, and clients who leave here feeling better than when they walked in. Ok, so it’s not rocket science, and it’s not deep, but this is a place where people can get together – yes for the purpose of intimate adornment – but also to talk, and share, and relax. And that’s important. Forget power and money, what we do here is about relationships. And that’s worth something! That’s meaningful!!”

#baffed again, but because she seemed so upset I just nodded, and let her continue talking.

“And now…,” she went on, “Now I have to close this down, say goodbye to it and move on again. To the next place. Do all of that settling in stuff again. And once we’re in the next place, what then? I start again, set up another salon, and yes, I will do that. But all the time I’ll know that sooner or later, it’ll be over again. More goodbyes, more endings. It’s just tiring, you know?”

“Babes”, I said, “I do know. And it’s been so lovely that you’ve shared your thoughts with me. I totes appreciate that. But I have to run now because I have a late lunch, and then I have yoga. So why don’t we just go out for a drink some time, with the girlies. A few glasses of Veuve Click can do wonders with goodbyes and endings… Oh wait, argh, so sorry I totes forgot that you’re a recovering alco. Doh. Hashtag awkz!! How’s that going by the way? Actually, I’d better go before I’m late!”

I pulled on my clothes and ran off to pay. Busy busy busy!!

I’m Going to Win Fit For Fashion Season Twooooo!!!

OMG the most exciting thing has happened! So, as dear readers will know from my post last year, I was a mahusiv fan of the TV show Fit For Fashion, and as God is my witness, I vowed to apply as a contestant ASAP. I could totes win that thing!! I’m already mega-buff, but they have these amazebobs trainers from Fitness First, and I think they could make me even buffier.

So, guess what?! Auditions are now open for Season Two!! I need to get my act together rapidamenté and do the audition video because the deadline is 31st May. Argh! I’m so busy right now, what with my burgeoning modelling career, and Singapore Fashion Week, and being an awesome mother and wife, and managing the help, and hanging out with my girlies, and stressing about whether we’re repattting or not, AND I’ve been approached to do a theatre review! So swamped!!

You probably don’t know this amazing fact about me, but I’m a v serious theatre buff and I did a three-day course once on Shakespeare, contemporary theatre, and how to become a professional theatre critic, but sheesh it was a long time ago. So I’ll have to brush up my skills, babeses, and that could take at least an hour on Wiki and YouTube. It’ll be a miracle if I can pull it all together, but I believe in miracles, and I know that you’re all right behind me. My chi really thanks you for that, even though of course you, as my dear readers, get so much out of what I do for you, and you’re therefore thusly way more grateful to me than I could possibly ever be to you. No thanks necessary, blush. Oh, blogging! It’s just one big gratitude party!!

The photo shoot I did this avo went ridic well (can’t wait to share the pics!), and I have to canter home now to supervise the help supervising Max’s homework before the fabulous Fash Wk party at H & M tonight. He gets an awful lot of homework, but I suppose needs must if he’s to be a fund manager one day. The main problem for me is keeping track of his assignments. He’s nearly seven, but he has abso no clue how to manage his time or even what homework he’s supposed to be doing! I’m thinking of taking matters into my own hands, and out-sourcing it all to a remote personal assistant in the Philippines. I could just have the school email them instead, and then I wouldn’t have a constant stream of inscrutable messages clogging up my inbox. Genius, I know.

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On Not Being Able to Shop

I’ve been a little bored today (I know!! Shock, horror, right?!) because everyone I know was at the Diane Von Furstenberg talk for Singapore Fashion Week, and I couldn’t go because I had to take Milly for an urgent dental appointment. Kids! The bane of my existence.

The appointment lasted just long enough to miss half of the DVF, but not long enough to take up the rest of my morning. There weren’t even any Mega Threads on Facebook : (. As I was at a loose end, I took myself off down Orchard Road, and was hit by a dreadful new insight (I wish I wasn’t so keenly self-aware; it truly is a curse, not a blessing). I wandered through the shops from Orchard Central to the Paragon to Taka, then on to the Ion and Tang’s and Wheelock and the Forum and the Palais Renaissance, and it was just as I was getting my third coffee of the morning at Tanglin Mall that I realised that there was absolutely nothing I needed to buy. Not even vaguely needed, and I am running out of places to put things at home. The helper has, for some reason known only to herself, stopped tidying away my stuff in the bedroom and in my dressing room. Instead she just leaves things pretty much where I’ve dumped them, and puts them into piles that get higher and higher. One of the piles fell over yesterday and Froo Froo got taken out by a Tampax box and a v heavy pair of socks. She nearly lost an eye! I need to have strong words with the help about this hazardous issue. Maybe I’ll send her a text later.

So it felt really depressing that there’s a ton of nice stuff out there to buy, and I couldn’t buy any of it!! I don’t think this has ever happened to me before, and it was quite upsetting. While I was waiting in the coffee queue at Brunetti’s, guess who appeared, to brighten my day (noooooot!!)… Mrs Doom and Gloom Expat Wifey. Ugh. I didn’t want to risk getting into conversation about the last time we met (when I happened to mention that her hus engages in intimate relations with his male PA), and she gave no indication of recalling it, so I asked her if she was going to any of the Fashion Week events. I told her I’m going to an awesome party this Friday night at H & M, and I’m struggling to get an invite to Victoria Beckham’s thingie on the last day. Annoying!

“Oh hell no”, she said, “I’m not going to any of that nonsense! A celebration of vanity!! An Emperor’s New Clothes charade of telling fools they need more stuff, stuff that’ll end up in landfill! Better to send money to Nepal than spend it on lining corporate pockets! What a complete waste of human endeavour. It disgusts me how much these brands are making. The margins are obscene! And I don’t know if this is true, but I heard that the so-called high-end shops – god what a stupid term – don’t even pay rent here… Can you believe that?! Because their presence alone is so valuable to the big malls. Madness. I hope it’s not true.”

“Uh yeah, I heard that too, but it’s defo not truesome”, I said when I could get a word in, “Because someone in the um… high-end retailing business told me it’s not, and why would they lie?”

D & G stared at me, like she thought I was making a joke, and I decided to just keep on talking.

“And I don’t think it’s that fair to say that because something is expensive it’s a complete waste of human endeavication. Most of this stuff is amazebobs, and super well made and lovely, so designer items will be a credit to anyone’s wardrobe for years to come. Investment pieces, you know?”

“Ha, ‘investment pieces’! Lol!! You really buy that idea? That’s what they say when they’re trying to persuade people to part with ridiculously huge sums of money for things that no one actually needs! And you say ‘for years to come’, but this time next year, or even in a few months’ time, there’ll be another range of Chanel espadrilles that makes the last ones look dated.”

I noticed that I hadn’t inhaled or blinked for ages, such was my dismay at the anti-capitalist ranting to which I was bearing witness.

I grabbed my skinny decaf latte from the counter, and said, “Babes, I gotta run! Great, as always, chatting to you. You have such interesting thoughts. Ok byeeee!!”

I didn’t wait to hear her reply, and dashed downstairs to Cold Storage. At least I always need food! And it was lucky I did because they had a fab offer on for Marlborough Sauv Blanc (must tell thousands of expat wives about that via the FB groups… Wait, actually no must not because then they’ll sell out). After sorting out the delivery order for 60 bottles, I made my way back down Orchard, stopping at Chanel to get a new and improved pair of espadrilles. I realised I’d been salivating when D & G mentioned them, so it was indeedy fortuitous that she reminded me! The shoe cupboards, at least, have apparently remained within the helper’s self-assigned remit, and there is ample space for more footwear. Thank goodness for that!!

SO EXCITED ABOUT FASHION WEEK!!!! Can't wait to get some investment pieces (as soon as I've made some space in the wardrobe).

SO EXCITED ABOUT FASHION WEEK!!!! Can’t wait to get some investment pieces (as soon as I’ve made a bit of space in the wardrobe).

Do Expat Wives Heart Alcohol Too Much? (& if so, WHY?!)

FullSizeRenderI’ve been reading a super interesting new weekly series on women and alcohol by an awesome health and fitness guru hottie here called Aimee Barnes. I personally don’t have a prob with the devil drink, as you know, but I am told that it’s not unusual for excess drinkage to occur in our Expaterati community. It has shaken me up a bit though because I thought only alcoholics shouldn’t drink in the morning. Aimee’s point in last week’s piece is that “alcoholic” shouldn’t even be how we’re thinking about this. And now that I apply my massive brain to the matter, I’m thinking, actually like, yes Aims babe.

As you also know, I’m not one to say no to a beverage on a night out with my Expaterati girlies, or at fabulous parties, and occasionally I do like a bit of Veuve Click on the roof terrace. Purely at times of celebration, of course. Or commiseration, of course. Or, when all else fails, because all else has failed, of course. Apart from that, I can totally take it or leave it.

I have, howsoever, known some Expaterati ladies who are far worse than me, and the thing is, as long as you know at least one person who’s worse than you, you’re good to go. Aimee didn’t exactly say that (at all), but I’m putting my own expert spin on this. Otherwise I’d just re-blog her stuff, right?! And what would be the point of that??!!

The v sad thing about said drinky-ers is what Babe Barnes writes re lost potential. I believe that’s a majorly good point because when I think about the expat boozers I have known – partic the ones who gave up their careers to become trailing spouses – it makes me wonder about what they’d be doing with their time, in the absence of alcohol. That said though, therefore thusly, they are often having an amazebobs time and tons of laughs, and I am v much in support of that.

I think.

This evening I was thinking about all this over a few glasses of NZ’s finest, and I got myself into a bit of a pickle. So if it’s true that expat wives like a drink a little too much, but it’s making them feel happier than they would be otherwise, what exactly is so wrong about that? I decided I needed to speak to cousin Clara the psychologist, even though she told me quite categorically not to contact her at work. It was just a quick question or two.

I Whatsapped her, saying, “Babes, soz, just a quickie! It’s kinda important for expat wives everywhere. EJ x”.

“Ok, I have 15 mins before my addictions group”, came the reply.

Once we were speaking, I put my first question to her: “Why do expat wives drink, if indeedy they do?”

“Alright, Emma-Jane, I’ll do my best to answer your question this time, but please, in future, stop trying to contact me at work unless it’s an emergency.”

“Yes sure, babe, but it kind of is an emergency because it’s quite an important issue, don’t you think? There are like a bajillion expat wives who need clarification on this, and I’ve Googled it and Bing’d it, but not much comes up, you know, so we need answers, and fast!! I need to get to the bottom of this!”

“Ok…”, Clara did the long pause thing, as these patronising psych people are prone to do, and then finally said, “In answer to the why, you could equally well Google alcohol use disorder in general, and then apply it more specifically to the population you’re talking about. The issues are the same: unprocessed or unmanageable loss, anxiety, and sometimes also past trauma. In the case of expat spouses, those issues can be compounded and re-enacted with each transition, when very real losses occur and recur. So you know as well as I do that if there is a transition every few years, that equates to a potentially serious build-up of unprocessed material, which in turn becomes increasingly unmanageable. It’s particularly difficult if the person is a parent, because then they’re likely to prioritise their children’s emotional wellbeing over their own. And you also know that expat marriages can be more challenging than those among stable populations, given the upheavals, uncertainties, frequent separation, and the fact that the couples really only have each other as the consistent adult presence along the way. So whilst that can have a strengthening effect in many cases, it’s still a significant source of anxiety, and it’s common that one party will end up carrying the anxiety on behalf of the other.”

That last bit made sense because I was feeling extremely anxious on Saturday, and Don just seems to be going about his business, totes relaxed, like he always does. I told Clara about that (she doesn’t read my blog because she’s too busy, which is like completely fine), and said that could be why I had maybe a little too much to drink after my turbulent emo journey with the Angelina Jolie looky likey.

“But”, I added, “That doesn’t mean that I have alcoholic usage disorderedness, right, because I was going out anyway, and I had a really great time with my girlies. So, you know, having a really great time made me feel a ton better, and we all had a lot of fun, and just because we were drinking… I mean… So ya, we got a bit tipsy and stuff, but it was a laugh. What’s the big deal, really? That’s kind of my other question: if it makes you happy, why the hell is it so bad??”

I heard what sounded like a sigh from Clara, but she’s all upset about the election result, and about how the National Health Service is going to be destroyed, yada yada, so it was probably about that rather than about our chat. I can’t understand why people don’t just get private health coverage, like in America. It works great there, right?? Oh everything is better in America. My turn to sigh LOL!!

“Emma-Jane”, Clara said, “I have to go and do my group now – while there still are groups available on the NHS for people who need so much and get so little – but I hope I’ve answered at least part of your question. Alcohol use, or use of any mood-altering substance or behaviour, is a way of managing difficult feelings. I like to see it as the psyche striving for balance, albeit in a distorted way, which unfortunately takes its toll on the individual and everyone close to them in the long-run. So if you take nothing else from our conversation…” –

I was v interested in what she was saying, but at the same time there was a Mega Thread happening on RSEW* in the form of a hashtag anonymouspost by a lady whose hus (presumably a FMAWG) had run off with a petite Asian girlie and wanted nothing more to do with said her, so I couldn’t completely concentrate on Clara’s words. I tried, believe me that I did!! But with every passing second there was a new and exciting comment. OMG, people were all over it!! I used to watch pay TV with a glass of wine, but here, with the Facebook groups, I can sit back in my roof terrace jacuzzi pool and see great drama unfolding for free!!

I got so caught up in the thread that I only realised I was still on the call with Clara when she shouted, “Emma-Jane!! Are you there? I have to go now!”

Argh, these psychologists can be so precious about their time.

“Ok, babes,”, I said, mostly wanting to return my full attention to the Mega Thread, “I’ll let you go. So interesting and I think you’ve really nailed it there, sweetie. But I need to run too. Speak soon! And babes, ffs cheer up about the stupid government stuff!! That’s my advice to you! You’re welcome!! Byeee!!”

 

 

 


* Real Singapore Expat Wives Facebook group. Over 8,000 members since last Autumn, go them!! The original group, Singapore Expat Wives, from which the RSEW admins were expelled, must be quaking in their 11,000 member boots. Hahaaa! As exciting as the Melbourne Cup and fox-hunting all rolled into one!! Thank goodness sanity will hopefully prevail on the latter when Cameron brings it back. I really don’t get what all the fuss is about! It’s just a bit of fun!!

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

The Fake Scale, Babeses!

So here it is: my awesome idea for a more responsiblé media that no longer pretends the images they’re putting out into the world are necessarily reflective of reality. The page is here, so when you have a second, dear readers, do check it out and let me know if you’d like to be one of my lovely Co-Captains in this mission.

 

FS demo 1 star  FS demo3 stars

 

Mahusiv thanks to Petra from Creabuena for the fabulous wand icons. Damn, she’s gooood!!!